Buffy Reflections: Season 1

This has been a long time coming. Of all the shows I’ve known I needed to watch, Buffy the Vampire Slayer was always near the top of the list. From the subject matter to the clearly rabid devotion it inspired in its fanbase to the fact that it’s the longest running thing that Joss Whedon ever created, there was never a doubt that it would fit in perfectly with the rest of the media I take such delight in geeking out over every day. The only thing that’s been holding me back is that, once again, it’s the longest running thing Joss Whedon ever created. 144 episodes over seven seasons, to be precise—Not something to dive into lightly.

But it just so happens that I have friends who like Buffy. A lot. One has seen every episode something like four times. Last year they spent several months going through the whole series and, luckily for me, they have every intention of repeating the feat, only this time I’m along for the ride. We began around a couple of weeks ago, and have managed at least an episode on most days. It’s pretty addictive. As we make our way through the show, I’m going to post reflections on each season chronicling my long overdue indoctrination into Whedon’s first phenomenon.

I’d heard very few encouraging things about the first season (which is probably part of the reason I never took the initiative to start it on my own). By most accounts it was a rocky start that barely reflected what the show would eventually become, and at only twelve episodes there were some who advised just skipping it all together and starting with season two. Not an approach I ever really like to take. Even if it wasn’t great stuff, I was willing to do a bit of slogging if it would earn me a more complete perspective on the series and even a slightly greater appreciation for what would follow.

Imagine how great it felt, then, to find that I genuinely liked nearly every episode. Even the one about the evil hyenas (oh who am I kidding? Especially the one about the evil hyenas). Sure, it’s obvious that the show is finding its footing, testing the waters, working out what it wants to be. And of course the production values aren’t anything to write home about, but they’ve got that endearing, low-budget earnestness that can be plenty effective if you’re willing to meet it halfway.

But what really matters are the characters, and they’re wonderful. Buffy is Whedon’s prototypical badass, pretty, clever action-girl. Willow is so adorable it hurts. Giles is probably my favorite—so gloriously British. Xander…well a lot of the time he’s not annoying.

I’m sure they’ll all gain new dimensions as the show goes on, and the already really solid writing will just get sharper.

Happy to say I’m already a Buffy fan, with the knowledge that the best, of course, is still yet to come.

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