Buffy The Vampire Slayer

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Just The Facts

  1. Fantasy/drama TV show that ran for 7 seasons from 1997 to 2003.
  2. Title character Buffy Summers is the one girl chosen in her generation to fight evil, i.e. the vampire slayer. This leads to much staking and witty banter.
  3. Started out life as a movie that nobody really saw or cared about.
  4. Created by Joss Whedon, object of worship for much of geekdom. See also: Angel, Firefly, Dollhouse.
  5. Spoiler alert: Angel is a vampire.

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Cracked On Buffy

Latest News:

According to the Hollywood Reporter, Buffy is set to be remade, or rebooted, or reimagined, or reconstituted as a new feature film. It's not going to feature any of the supporting cast we all love, and possibly not even Buffy herself. Currently in the stage of development where some person who owns the rights thinks it might be neat to do something with them, it may be a while before we're pointedly not going to see a movie that is raping our childhood memories of a couple of years ago.

Now on to the recap:

Season one of Buffy was patchy. It was largely monster-of-the-week type episodes, while the main characters are introduced, fleshed out, and/or killed off in the first episode to mess with your expectations. There is an ongoing storyline about "The Master", who somehow earns that title despite being one of the least threatening or adept major vampires to appear in the entire run. The major supporting characters have unfortunate relationships that flesh them out as Real Genuine People; Xander with a giant insect-lady teacher, and Willow with the internet. A demon, I mean. A demon who lives on the internet. This being 1997, he probably manifested most efficiently as a text file.

There's enough sharp writing and attractive teenagers to get it renewed for a full, 22-episode second season.

Season two was fucking awesome.

We have a plan to anoint some evil kid as vampire leader, but Spike and Drusilla turn up and are much more interesting and fun characters and so Spike pulls the kid into sunlight and burns him the fuck up. Meanwhile, several episodes later, Buffy and Angel get it on; the former as a just-17 year old girl losing her virginity and the latter as a 250-year old demon-infested man who has been killing and fucking through centuries. Of the two, Angel does not take it well. In nailing a hot teenager, he has a moment of "pure happiness" which makes him lose his soul and become evil. This actually does make sense in context, but the important thing for the viewer is that soulless Angel, aka Angelus, is about four hundred and six times cooler than broody, woe-is-me Angel.

Angelus starts watching Buffy sleep and drawing pictures of her to freak her out (though we realise that, post-Twilight, this may not work any more), he kills Willow's fish (the bastard) and then moves on to objectively worse things, such as murdering Jenny Calendar and setting the body up for prospective-lover Giles to find in a manner so deliciously evil I can only implore you to go watch.

Angelus joins up with Spike in a plot to suck the whole world into hell. Spike comes to the realisation that he'd rather not live in hell, and also that Angelus is probably boning Drusilla, so becomes a snitch to the Slayer.

Not pictured: Angel's penis.

Not pictured: Angel's penis.

The final two episodes, Becoming parts 1 & 2 are among the best this show came up with. There's vampire backstory, a slayer murdered (by the way there was a second slayer for a while, just go with it), GENUINE EMOTIONAL INVESTMENT, sword fighting, softcore pornography (sorry, not really) and snappy dialogue. The gang work on restoring Angel's soul but just as they succeed, the portal to hell opens and Buffy has to impale her murderous vampire lover and send him to hell to save the world.


Season three was pretty good too.

We get a new slayer - Faith - to replace the Kendra, who turned up when Buffy died briefly on time and was then killed herself by Drusilla's fingernail. Faith is a Bad Girl, who tells stories and being naked doesn't take her mystical calling very seriously at all. She becomes the protégé of Sunnydale's evil Mayor Wilkins who is just about the most genial and avuncular (I learned this word recently) guy you'll ever come across. More on him in a paragraph or two. Faith's arc is basically her enjoying being evil more and more; firstly by dancing with various guys in a club (a gateway to evil) and later by killing a guy and helping the mayor in his plans to become a giant snake. More on this in a paragraph or two.

Faith-based initiative

Buffy's story for this season is being depressed over having sent Angel to hell, happy that he appears back for some reason, then depressed again because he's in seriously bad shape. From being in hell. Then when he feels better, Faith shoots him with a poisioned arrrow; see picture above. Guy can't catch a break. Except for getting his own spin-off series, I guess, which runs parallel to Buffy from season 4.

Meanwhile, Xander is dating Cordelia and Willow is dating Oz (<3) but then there are complications and entanglements and also Oz is a werewolf, which doesn't cause as much trouble as one might think.

Now, as promised, I discuss the mayor. Richard Wilkins is a seriously pleasant man, who happens to be indestructable and harbouring plans to turn into a giant snake on graduation day and fuck some shit up. He does this, but is exploded. The giant snake is some of the worst CGI I've seen on TV but this was ages ago when TV was just getting into computer effects and the story is what matters, people, jeez.

Bonus note: This season has the episode "The Zeppo", which follows Xander on a donut run while there's an apocalypse happening elsewhere. This is actually a fantastic hour of television.

Season four is, I feel, unfairly maligned. The transition to college isn't perfect, and Riley is kind of a dull character, but while it has what is generally regarded as one of the worst episodes (Beer Bad), it also contains what is considered the best - Hush. With none of the series' typical banter, this episode has everyone lose their voice due to the creepy guys in the picture below, and somehow comes out as a damn near masterpiece, with an Emmy nomination for writing.

Anyway, the main story here is that there's a secret underground (literally) government branch called the Initiative who are looking into tackling all the demons and monsters and such that they can't wiretap. They have captured a returned Spike and put a chip in his head that causes agonizing pain if he tries to hurt a person. This doesn't happen if he hurts monsters, and, since he likes hurting things, he joins up with the Scooby Gang in their mission to hurt monsters. Buffy starts dating Riley Finn, highly ranked agent, neither knows the other's secret identity, farce ensues. Also in this season, Willow goes gay and gets together with Tara, to the dismay of Oz, who returns from figuring out what it means to be a werewolf.

Complain about the overall arc if you want, but some of the stand-alone episodes are excellent. Hush was already mentioned above, the Halloween episode "Fear Itself" is genuinely unsettling at times and has one of the funniest closing lines for anything ("Actual size"). The Thanksgiving episode where Chumash Indians attack the house, featuring Spike tied to a chair getting stuck with arrows. "Something Blue", where everything Willow says comes true, leading to wackiness! And Superstar, where background character Jonathan is suddenly the protagonist and everyone is in awe of him.

There's other things about a monster - Adam - being pieced together from bits of other monsters and nuclear weapons and is eventually defeated by the power of friendship or something.

The main story finishes with one episode to go, so the last one is a long, weird, awesome dream sequence about the source of the slayers' power and also the cheese man. With all of the weird things that make sense over the course of this show, he makes none.

Season five had Dawn in it. Dawn is Buffy's little sister. What's that, you ask, there was no mention of Buffy ever having a little sister, you can't just throw in random shit and act like it's always been there. Welcome to fan reaction when this first aired. As it turned out, there was a proper reason for Dawn's appearance (she was made by monks to hide a key and everyone had memories inserted, again, just go with it), but none of this accounted for the fact that Dawn was pretty goddamn whiny and annoying.

The plot of this season is a god named Glory, in the form of a sassy blonde, trying to find this key. She's pretty strong, being a god and all, but has a weak and fleshy alter-ego in Ben, the body she was forced into in order to live on our plane of existence.

There's lots of good character stuff in this season which isn't all that hilarious to write about, so I won't, but I feel I should mention episode 16, The Body, where Buffy's mother dies. The episode is just everyone finding out about and reacting to this and it's achingly sad. Seriously, you'll cry. It's tragic.

Anyway, this season also has fun stuff like the sex-bot, Xander being split in two, Quentin Travers, another sex-bot, Giles killing a guy for the greater good and Buffy dying at the end. A natural, emotional end to the seri...

Season six is somewhat unpopular. In previous seasons, the harshness of real life has been dealt with through metaphor, using demons and monsters to represent growing up and the challenges involved. In this season, the harshness of real life is dealt with through displaying the harshness of real life. Not to say that we don't get metaphor, there's the MAGIC = DRUGS thing going on, Willow is addicted to MAGIC and has to go visit her MAGIC DEALER to GET HIGH ON MAGIC. There's an air of sadness and struggle surround the season, Buffy has to get a fast food job because money becomes an issue, the main bad guys are pretty non-threatening and ineffective. The self-loathing filled Buffy/Spike sex is a bit icky too.

None of this matters a damn because this season had the musical episode. Sweet, sweet musical episode. There's a demon that makes everyone burst into song, and reveal their true feelings about things, and this stirs a lot of shit up about various characters and their relationships - through song; Xander and Anya's impending marriage, Spike really wanting to bone the slayer and Buffy having been dragged out of heaven when she was brought back to life at the start of the season. By the way, Buffy was brought back to life at the start of the season.

There's other fun stuff in the season too, the everyone-loses-their-memory episode "Tabula Rasa", ("Randy Giles? Why not just call me Horny Giles? Or Desperate for a Shag Giles?"), everyone-gets-trapped-in-the-house episode "Older and Far Away". It balances out the depressing and the occasional tedious parts. The Big Bad changes from real life, to the three nerds with their various advanced technologies (freeze ray! invisibility ray!) to Dark Willow, brought about when Tara is offed by a stray bullet, whom Xander talks out of destroying the world. Because she's ADDICTED to MAGIC. Beware kids, drugs can make you destroy the world. And dye your hair.

Season seven is the Final Battle against the First Evil and its finality demands Capitalisation. The First Evil has no form or name of its own (other than "The First", I suppose), to display this, it takes on the appearance of all the series' major villains over the course of a neat little speech. For the season, it spends most of its screen time in the form of a really hot Buffy. This leads one to wonder whether regular-Buffy's becoming stringy and tired-looking is actually a production choice and not just Sarah Michelle Gellar becoming stringy and tired-looking.

This season gathers the Potentials - all the girls in the world who might become slayers if Buffy gets stabbed in the face or something. They all collect and live in Buffy's house like a violent sorority, and train to fight the First.

Of course, lacking a form of its own, the First sends a bunch of surrogates to kill everyone in its place. Firstly, "über-vampires", that are more animalistic than the cuddly, Harmony-type vampires we're used to. They cause trouble, Buffy uses killing them as a means to teach the potentials how to kill things. The next source of trouble is Captain Malcolm Reyn Caleb, preacher and eye-gouger. Over the course of this, random background potentials get offed like popcorn, if one killed popcorn, until they come up with the solution: Drugs! I mean, magic! Willow sets off a spell that turns all the potentials into genuine, ass-kicking slayers.

The slayer collective takes to fight to the First and crowds into the Hellmouth (this, by the way, is the mouth to hell located under Sunnydale. The first episode was called "Welcome to the Hellmouth". FYI). There's a big fight. Sunnydale caves in. Anya dies. Spike saves the world and is rewarded with a recurring role in Angel's show. Good times.