Buffy The Vampire Slayer Retrospective:
Buffy the Vampire Slayer has all the ingredients for the perfect television series cocktail!
Packed full of drama, suspense and comedy, its down to earth characters and gripping storylines capture the imaginations of children, teenagers and adults alike. With super-sexy characters, both male and female, and fantastical yet grounded in reality stories lines, the series was almost certain to be a success.
A mere tike when the series began in 1997, I was mesmerised by the show and Buffy quickly became my hero. A friday night ritual began in my house, with Friday Sweeties followed by Buffy & Angel on Sky One. My entire family would settle down to watch the show week after week; my mother, father, sister and brother all every bit as enthralled as I was. Which is a perfect example of a seriously diverse group of people and goes to show the formidable universal appeal that Buffy the Vampire Slayer wields.
With its’ unique fusion of ass-kicking drama and humorous high school shenanigans, the first season of Buffy paved the way for a stunningly successful television series.
Delightfully dark at times, Buffy’s storylines are a combination of captivating, scary and endearing. Every episode was masterfully created with its’ own tantalizing story, skillfully ensuring the entire audience is teetering at the edge of their seat. Saving the world on countless occasions and faced with unforgettable bad guys week after week, it’s no wonder Buffy generated such a cult following.
The most memorable episode for me is the `Hush` episode from series 4. To this day `The Gentlemen` absolutely horrify me, gliding so sinisterly with those horrendous smiling faces. `Hush` sees a group of disgusting demons whose faces are permanently plied into eery rictus grins, floating into Sunnydale and stealing the voices of the helpless citizens to prevent them from screaming while the gather the hearts they need.
The episode is both horrifying and frustrating to watch, as the victims are incapacitated, unable to make a sound. Terrifying, sinister and so intensely compelling, this particular episode was nominated for an Emmy due to it’s brilliant direction.
Another of the most memorable episodes is the musical themed `Once more, with Feeling`, (series 6) which sees a demon come to town that forces the people of Sunnydale to break into song, revealing secrets at any given moment. Hilarious as always, the episode is bursting with the signature humor the series is so famous for. As Joss Whedon’s first attempt at writing music, the episode was a risky gamble but paid off with a roaring success as the fans absolutely loved it.
By the sixth series, the show really progressed and matured. One of the best things about Buffy was its’ ability to continuously change yet maintain its’ universal appeal and that kept it fresh and relevant throughout the shows seven season run.
The stories transform and the relationships between the characters, who undergo the painful transition from adolescence to adulthood, but the writers managed to maintain the humor and the reliability that the fans adore. Young fans, such as myself, followed Buffy from their younger years right into their teenage years, so the maturing stories and relationships were well received as we developed along with the characters.
The stories begin to get more complex, and notably darker as the phenomenon grew larger and while it is true that Buffy is most notably renowned for its unmistakable humor, one-liners and seriously amicable characters, I would be remiss not to explore the serious, somber and heart-wrenching aspect that is perfected as the series matured.
The writers were extremely skilled in terms of bringing us dramatic storylines, intense emotional scenes and depicting extreme heartache in a hard-hitting way. I would imagine I’m far from the only one to shed a tear when Joyce Summers died in an incredibly well put together episode `The Body` in series 5. This ep is completely heart-breaking and raw as we are taken on an emotional roller coaster viewing each of our favorite characters as they react to the devastating news of Joyce’s passing.
A triumphant example of a serious episode of Buffy, it’s a personal favorite of mine because of how close to the bone, hard-hitting and intense it is. The scenes in which Buffy finds Joyce are almost painful to watch, they are so raw and emotionally visceral. Dawns’ reaction is also incredibly heartbreaking to watch, and to finally witness Anya breaking down is so significant and cutting to long time watchers and fans. Joyce is a character we fans grew up with and we share in the devastation that the episode so gracefully depicts, which credit to the writers elevates Buffy into a separate league when it comes to excellently devised teen fantasy/horror TV shows.Tags: angel, buffy, buffy the vampire slayer, faith, joss whedon, spike, willow