|In Short:||Do I even need to say anything? It's Buffy!|
|Recommended?||Is there anything higher than "Hell yes!"?|
|XANDER:||"Do I deconstruct your segues?"|
|-- "Some Assembly Required" (02.02)|
Ah, Buffy. Where would geekdom
be without thee? Well, for me, I wouldn't even be writing for
this site if it weren't for Buffy (via a long, winding,
and sometimes inconceivable logic chain that would be much too
convoluted to attempt to fully explain here - suffice to say
that directly due to Buffy the TV show, a) you, dear
reader, now get to read my ramblings for this site and b) I
now the best techniques for removing oil and tar stains from a
Bunny Suit). It is always interesting to think about how such a
great show came from a movie that...well...really had some
problems. How would things be different in the world if the
movie had been much more successful? What if the movie had been
closer to Joss' original vision? Lucky for all of us, we don't
live in the parallel universe that must deal with such
occurrences, and in our universe, the Fates conspired
to bring us the TV show of Buffy the Vampire Slayer in
all its glory.
So why was the show so successful and meaningful when the movie was not (which is not to completely disparage the movie - it definitely had its moments, but it just does not compare to the TV show)? First, the tone was changed from the comedy with some dark overtones of the movie to dark and dramatic infused with humor (as was the original intent of the movie). Having a more serious tone allowed the show to tackle serious issues with just the right amount of humor thrown in to be entertaining whilst still maintaining the social commentary desired. I don't think the concept of "High School as Hell" would have worked nearly as well had the tone of the show been the same as that of the movie. And that concept itself was one of the main reasons the show connected with so many people. It dealt with real issues and problems, just from a supernatural stance.
The TV show also allowed Whedon (and his team) to showcase their writing talents better than a single movie could. I know people might get tired of hearing of the excellence of Whedon’s writing (actually, I'm pretty sure that that is a physical impossibility - praise of Joss Whedon’s writing has the effect of 4 cups of coffee; it's been scientifically proven!), but it is touted so often because it is true. For me, this was the first TV show in which I actually paid attention to who the writer was week-to-week. The episode that caused this, for those keeping score (with the new Geek Speak Magazine Offical Bingo Game! Buy one for Grandma today!), was "Lie to Me" from Season 2 - still my favorite all-time Buffy episode.
One thing I always appreciated about the show (besides, of course, being able to admire every week the shy-computer-geek-turned-sexy-lesbian-witch hotness of Alyson Hannigan's Willow, but that's just a given) was how each season had its own story arc that came to a (usually) logical, complete conclusion. While the characters did mature and evolve over time, and various threads connected each season, there were (usually) no unanswered questions by the time the season finale would roll around. The mythology of the show grew deeper over time, but not convoluted (unlike, say, Lost or Alias). When having a Buffy-a-thon (which you should all be having on regular bases. In fact, I think doing so becomes mandatory as part of the recently passed Health Insurance Reform bill here in the US. I'm sure there is evidence that watching Buffy helps you live longer and healthier), it is easy to choose a season to watch and know you will get a complete story.
I could continue to gush about the show (the characters, the acting, the action, the writing [I am contractually obligated to commend the writing of Joss Whedon as often as possible]), but I suppose that I should acknowledge that the show was not always a slam dunk, it was not always hit out of the park, sometimes the show would fumble the ball, and whatever other sports metaphors I can attempt to use. (Note: This is the portion of the review where I attempt to be fair and balanced, all while realizing full well that both I and the audience know that this entire "Buffy had problems" paragraph is purely superficial. Yes, I am apparently the Fox News of reviewing in this instance). There are certain episodes that really just don't work and, in fact, could be construed as plain dumb ("Bad Eggs" from Season 2 or "Doublemeat Palace" from Season 6 come to mind) and later seasons in general (read: Seasons 6 and 7) did not live up to the standards set by the previous seasons (I, personally, was greatly disappointed in Season 6, despite the geeky-amusement of the Trio). Still, as someone once said to me, Bad Buffy is (usually) still better than most other things out there - it's like pizza. You can have a bad pizza, but it's still pizza. You may now commence discussion of which Buffy character is best represented by which type of pizza topping.
But for every bad episode, there are many, many, many good ones (we're back to gushing again). And Buffy the TV show was able to push some boundaries of show-making that wouldn't have been possible in movie format, with episodes such as "Hush" from Season 4 that had no dialogue whatsoever for the majority of the episode (and was, somewhat ironically, nominated for an Emmy for best writing, though, alas, did not win [darn you West Wing!]), or the episode "The Body" from Season 5 in which there was no background music at all, making dealing with the death of Buffy's mother that much more powerful. And entire pages could be written about "Once More, With Feeling", the musical episode from Season 6. Had there been further seasons, perhaps they could have combined all of the above into a musical episode that had no dialogue and no music whatsoever (meaning it would end up being either a) the entire cast dancing with no sound or music, or b) the entire cast just sitting around staring at each other the entire time… and I'm sure it still would have been brilliant.
But I'm sure I have been preaching to the choir here (also knowing that you have been playing the Geek Speak Magazine Drinking Game, which involves counting the number of cliches, metaphors, and, if one was really daring, the number of parenthetical asides used in each of my reviews). Without the TV show of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, the plotlines of other Slayers would not have been explored, which means that we wouldn't have Faith. And that's just not a world worth living in, in my opinion. The fact that the show itself was brilliant was just icing on the cake.