Thursday, April 03, 2008

Buffy the Vampire Slayer

I have been rewatching Buffy the Vampire Slayer with Alice, who has never seen most of the episodes before. I rate BtVS very highly, even though a few people I have encountered dismiss it out of hand. There are certain reasons to put people off- some people will be turned off by the fantastic elements of the show- after all it is full of vampires, demons, a gigantic preying mantis and coyotes that possess people at some points... Along with this one could also dismissively class it as a teen drama, and indeed it does have these elements, particularly in the second and third seasons, where Buffy and Angel's relationship takes centre stage most of the time.

The thing is, it has so much more to offer. Yes, it has teen drama elements, but it matures as it continues for some amazing moments, both euphoric and tragic, for the latter see the episode "The Body" in the fifth season for a truly amazing episode.

Buffy has it's ups and downs, but through it all it is extremely witty and enjoyable, managing to combine drama comedy and action reasonably seamlessly, and even musicals in the wonderful "One more with Feeling" in the sixth season. It has it's share out of outstanding episodes- the two I've just mentioned, Hush and pretty much every season finale are pretty astonishing.

It's difficult to pin down a favourite season. The first season is easily the weakest, having some extremely shaky concepts for episodes, and really it was just finding it's feet. Each season afterwards, however, has something going for it. To my mind the third and fourth seasons are probably the strongest, having some excellent elements. Some people dislike the fourth season, but I suspect that was simply because the formula was radically changed- characters went to college, some left forever, and new characters were introduced, and the themes began to get more adult. Season 3 introducted Faith and the Mayor, both amazing characters, Faith portraying a scarred human being and a possible reflection for Buffy, and the Mayor was just a wonderful villain.

The later seasons, particularly 6 and 7, are the hardest to like. 6 is obsessed with pushing the characters into horrible places, so that any happiness anyone finds is cruelly taken away throughout. Yet despite and also because of this, it provides incredible moments of drama, and has some fantastic episodes along the way.

Season 7 suffers in a different way. Unlike the previous seasons of Buffy, where the main villain for the series would reccur occasionally, but allow time for the characters to explore subplots, this was all about the main plot, and apart from the occasional one off, season 7 is all about the main opponent, The First. Still, it deals with this well and excitingly, and manages to leave a fairly good conclusion for all the characters.

There were more stories to tell, it seems, but not on television, so now season 8 has been moved into comic form. It seems good, although it can't replace the series, and I find myself frustrated by how little content there is to each comic, I go through them far too quickly.....

I don't really have a point here, other than to stress that BtVS is an amazing series, and I miss it a bit....

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