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"The music of pain." (or at least adolescence)
on November 7, 2000
For a first time screenwriter, Joss Whedon's "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" was a good effort for a feature film. I thought for sure the series was going to tank. When I started watching halfway through the first season, I quickly found that I was wrong. "Buffy" simply blossoms on television. I've been hooked ever since.
For the first time, Whedon has provided us with all the terrors of high school (remember those?) in a horror genre setting. Not only that, but he provides a confident, cool FEMALE character to trounce the bad guys. Whether you're a fan of the genre or a teenage feminist, Buffy (Sarah Michelle Gellar) provides a niche for the unpopular misfits in high school, but looks upon them as heroes. Were you as uncomfortable as Xander (Nicholas Brendon)? As geeky as Willow (Alyson Hannigan)? As quick with an aphorism as Oz (Seth Green)? The series proves that high school is indeed survivable no matter who you are, even if you're cliquish Cordelia (Charisma Carpenter). And in the end, the more unpopular you were - possibly the more important you were to your teenage community.
Mix in your favorite teacher (or librarian) played by Anthony Stewart Head (who should play "Doctor Who" after he's done with "Buffy") to be the requisite horror genre British pseudo-scientist, and Buffy's single mom (Kristine Sutherland) and you're all set to go with the most intelligent sci-fi TV series possibly written for this age group. (The next closest thing being the intelligent, yet non-sf "Freaks & Geeks".)
I'm not kidding. It's amazing how quickly these characters grow in the first season and their responses remain true to life despite the extraordinary situations they're thrown into. Creator Joss Whedon has become one of the most talented writer/directors working in the industry today, despite the fact that "Buffy" is most of what he's been doing for the last five years.
As far as what you get in this box set, you're in for a treat. This is the full first season, not just the half previously released on VHS; including the season finale "Prophecy Girl" - where we see just how heroic Buffy really is, despite her adolescence and fear of death. Also present throughout the series are teenage issues of emotional/sexual conflict ("Teacher's Pet") and problems with acceptance ("The Pack"). Specific highlights also include Whedon's commentary for the two part premiere as well as the first appearances of Angel (David Boreanaz) and Jenny Calendar (Robia LaMorte).
Remember, Buffy's not JUST about vampires. In fact I think it's safe to say that vampires are secondary to the emotional undercurrent of the show, if not a particular episode's plot. Forget "Felicity" and shove off of "Dawson's Creek", this is the one for the adults.