The first season of Buffy The Vampire
Slayer
hit DVD in January. Here’s my opinion of
that set.

Cast

Sarah
Michelle Gellar
as Buffy Summers

Nicholas
Brendon
as Xander Harris

Alyson
Hannigan
as Willow Rosenberg

Anthony
Stewart
Head
as Rupert Giles

Charisma
Carpenter
as Cordelia Chase

David
Boreanaz

as Angel

Mark
Metcalf
as
The Master

Crew

Written and Directed by a variety of people. The
IMDB has a list of
the people involved in all the seasons right here.
The driving
creative force comes from Joss
Whedon
.

Original Airdate

Buffy The Vampire Slayer: Season One
originally aired between
May 3 1997 and June 2 1997.

Premise

Joss Whedon got sick and tired of seeing the little
blond cheerleader
get shredded and eaten by the creature in various
monster movies. He
created Buffy, the little blond cheerleader who will
kick the ass of
the creature that traps her in the alley.

Relation To The Movie

This excellent TV series follows an abysmal movie. A
few
modifications were made, such as Buffy’s age (which
didn’t really
settle down until the second season) and the way
vampires die.
Also, the actors playing the roles that are in the
movie have all been
changed. Finally, the biggest difference would have
to be the
quality.

High Point

The best of these twelve episodes, in my opinion, is
the seventh
episode, “Angel.”

Low Point

The low point of the season has got to be the fact
that they obviously
hadn’t planned things out very well when they started
out. The first
two episodes make references to the souls of
vampires. This dialogue
conflicts greatly with, well, just about every
episode from then on.
There are other minor details, like the year of
Buffy’s birthday
changing depending on which computer to use to read
her file in “I
Robot, You Jane.”

Quirky, Nagging Doubt

Does anybody else get the impression that Xander’s
nightmare in
“Nightmares” was originally intended to involve
Nazis? He made a
comment about Nazis early in the episode, the set his
nightmare was
filmed on had at least one swastika on the wall, and
his nightmare was
something completely different, and rather lame. I
get the feeling
that somebody told them they couldn’t use the
original nightmare after
the set had been built, and they came up with a last
minute
substitute.

The Review

This series goes out of its way to include the
traditional horror
movie setups, and find original things to do
with them.
(They even open with that sort of thing in the teaser
to the first
episode.) I give it 5 out of 6.

The effects were made on a plainly limited
budget. The
vampire morphs looked cheesy, the tentacles in
“Prophecy Girl” looked
rubber, the final shot in “Witch” looked pretty poor,
the beast in
“Teacher’s Pet” looked like a bad puppet, etc. The
money just
couldn’t cover the aspirations of the writers. I
give the effects 2
out of 6.

The story is where this series shines. Most
TV series will
start off with a collection of independant episodes
so that people can
watch them whenever they get around to it. This
series doesn’t do
that. Instead, it writes each new episode as just
the next part of
the lives of the characters. While a lot of episodes
will make sense
on their own, they often make references to past
events without
filling in the details with long exposition. The
full season DVD
releases are a great way to really show off the
subtle strengths of
the scripts. Unfortunately, some of the “freak of
the week” episodes
have villains that aren’t quite as threatening as
they should be, like
the creature in “I Robot, You Jane.” I give the
story 5 out of 6.

The acting this season had its ups and
downs. It was a small
show on a small network, so it couldn’t pay for big
names. Instead,
they found some people with talent, and some other
people with looks.
Nicholas Brendon and Alyson Hannigan are both
excellent, and they
really play on screen like people who’ve been friends
for life. Sarah
Michelle Gellar is competant, but not spectacular.
Anthony Stewart
Head and Mark Metcalf were perfect in their limited
roles. David
Boreanaz was hired for his looks rather than his
talent. (Joss admits
as much in the commentary over the first couple of
episodes.) I give
the acting 4 out of 6.

The emotional response this set inspired was
uneven. The
always lame creature-in-the-computer plot was
tiresome, while the
season finale was fantastic. For the season overall,
I’d have to give
it 4 out of 6.

The production was as limited by the budget
as the effects
were. I disagree with Joss’ comments in the
commentary; it looks like
it was filmed on 16mm film. This is even more
apparent when the
season is being viewed on DVD. The blocking was
often ham-handed,
probably because they were limited by the fact that
they were filming
in a warehouse and not in a studio. The directors
were very good,
Bruce Seth Green in particular, which helped to
compensate for the
limited technology they had to work with. I give the
production for
the season a 4 out of 6.

Overall, this is a great series that doesn’t
really shine
until you can watch a set of consecutive episodes in
order, as you can
with this DVD release. Unfortunately, they were
still finding their
footing and their niche at this point, and the truly
long-term arcs
didn’t come about until later seasons. (This may be
because the first
season was 12 episodes instead of the typical 22
episode run.) I give
the first season 4 out of 6.

In total, Buffy The Vampire Slayer: Season
One
has earned 28
out of 42.

Additional Notes And Comments

This DVD set is missing something that all DVD
releases of TV shows should have: a “Play All
Episodes” button. It’s got to be easy to do, but
it’s often neglected.

You can buy this from Amazon.com or Amazon.ca