When Buffy the Vampire Slayer first came out in 1997, I had no expectations and actually didn’t watch it. The only exposure I had to the franchise was the movie, which I thought sucked. Turns out creator Joss Whedon felt the same way, as Hollywood screwed his script up. I was a TV freak back in the 1990′s, but never bought into the concept of the WB channel until Buffy Season 3.
I eventually watched Buffy Season 1 three times in full. The show was innovative, funny, different, and was character driven. Vampires on TV was not a new concept at all, but female empowerment in a comedy/horror setting was.
The characters used modern pop-culture lingo in a very natural way. Whereas you hear that all the time in fake reality shows, it came off very well in 1997. The main theme seemed to be that high school was hell, which is something most of us agree with.
The show was a comic book come to life thanks to the over-the-top violence and nonchalant view of death and magic, and the stupidity of the average citizens in the town.
The main storyline was the rise of the ancient vampire called The Master. We are desensitized to villains like that in 2010, but ten years ago it was really something major to see a sarcastic, witty yet equally deadly version of Nosferatu.
The stand alone episodes each features the various personalities of Buffy’s crew: Xander, Willow, Cordelia, and Mr. Giles, along with the various other people in Sunnydale. These episodes were a wicked mix of sci-fi, mock teen horror, and comedy.
However, like many shows just starting out, Buffy Season 1 has some stinker Monster of the Week episodes that seem like poor parodies of Tales from the Crypt. Also, I’m not sure if Joss Whedon had it planned to make each character grow and change, but the personalities are by the book Enneagram Average caricatures. For me, there was no chance Cordelia, Xander, Buffy, Giles, or Willow would ever change but they did after Season 1. Again, don’t know if it was intended from the start.
Later on Xander would make fun of some bad episodes in Season 1, so it’s all good..lol
Watching Season 1, Buffy the Vampire Slayer seems to be a dark and post-modern version of other high school coming of age TV shows. Like most fantastic TV shows, Season 1 is always the hardest since everyone is learning chemistry, and there are usually production issues and a low budget.
The episode plots are pretty formulaic and set the tone and background for Season 2. Little did any of the viewers know that Buffy the Vampire franchise would soon skyrocket from a cult WB show to an international phenomena that made untold millions of dollars.
Xander and Cordelia are extremely unlikable in Season 1.
Willow is a female version of Peter Parker, but even more nerdy if that’s possible.
Mr. Giles is a one-dimensional stuffy English professor type.
Angel seems like he’s from 21 Jump Street.
The Master’s whole plan was bring out The Anointed One (dead little evil boy Messiah) but I never took the kid seriously. The entire storyline was dropped early on in Season 2.
After Buffy dies in the last episode of Season 1, Xander uses CPR to bring her back. Little did we know that her death created an entire new line of replacements (just like DC Comics does with Green Lantern).
Buffy’s mom is very lame and out of touch, and Buffy’s dad is out of the picture. This is important because it shows why Buffy is so self-reliant.
20/20 hindsight or foreshadowing? There is a Willow lesbian reference in Season 1.
It seemed as if Jenny Calender would be a recurring character for a long time.
The only truly stiff actor is David Boreanaz, but Angel’s back-history is just too cool.
In many ways, if I was a fan in 1997, I would be content with the show continuing the same routine and formula- having Buffy and friends battle monsters in high school- but Joss Whedon pulled a fast one on us and made everyone grow and pulled the rug from under our feet as the seasons marched on.
Whedon and everyone associated with the show created the backbone in Season 1, but truly pushed it to high heavens as more fans and money started flowing in.