Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Buffy


I just finished all seven seasons of "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" and it is possibly the best written sci fi show ever broadcast.

Dammit.

I wanted to hate it. I did hate it. I spent a decade hating it. There was no way it could be as gripping or groundbreaking as "The X Files" which ran against it. It was too WB. Too teeny. Too angsty. Too soapy. I didn't care how many of my friends praised it, I was never going to watch it.

But something funny happened a year ago. I watched the dvds of "Firefly" and was one of the 34 people who saw "Serenity" in the theater. And I loved it. So I searched out Joss Whedon's run on "Astonishing X-Men". I loved that too. Then I recalled he wrote the screenplay for "Toy Story". Everybody loves that. Maybe Buffy was worth suffering through Sarah Michelle Gellar.

144 episodes later I still don't like her. But I love the show for two reasons. The first is why I like every Joss Whedon project; the quirky humor, the deep characters and plots with unexpected twists all over the place. But the second reason may be pure luck.

When a show runs seven seasons, it has to reinvent itself at least once. "Star Trek: the Next Generation" and "Deep Space Nine" did it well. "X Files" did it badly. But no one did it better than "Buffy". The show was running smoothly as a high school soap parody. But by the end of season three, the characters graduated. Worse, two of the core cast left for the spin-off "Angel". Buffy's next season at first dealt with college but dropped the thread for a more adult approach. What if the characters had to suddenly grow up? What would happen?

And that's the genius. Whenever the show took a risk, it lived with it. Unlike other shows which took a "reset button", "Buffy" grew with every plot twist. Ludicrous ideas were given logical weight. Characters who came in for one episode became cast members. Villains became heroes. Comic relief became tragedy. And it all worked. It didn't happen on "Angel". It may never happen on tv again. By the final episode, I needed to own the series.

But I still like "Firefly" a little more.

4 comments:

Moinca said...

Hooray!!! Welcome to the Sunnydale Side! :)

Brian Kunath said...

Dammit! I thought I could live and die without ever seeing a Buffy episode. Now I have to give it a try.

Dave said...

Agreed. I saw firefly and really liked it. I've seen a few Buffy episodes and...hurk...gahk...I...liked them to.

monica said...

hee hee, buffy is quite powerful, no?