DVDs in Review #88: Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Season One

Category: , , , , By Rev/Views

It's rather incredible to think back and realise that not only did Buffy the Vampire slayer originally debut in 1997, but that it's also been over and finished (excepting the comic book continuation) since 2003. That's six odd years now that the final curtain was called on the show, but it feels like only yesterday that it was on our screens (if you're watching it on DVD or on repeat then it might have been yesterday).

The first season pretty much picks up from where the 1992 movie left off, Buffy (played by Kristy Swanson in the movie, but more iconically portrayed by Sarah Michelle Gellar in this series) has moved to Sunnydale after the events in the movie resulted in her expulsion. Having previously discovered she's 'the slayer', been trained by 'the watcher' Merrick, discovered Merrick killed by the vampire Lothos and then defeated him during the senior dance - she's now looking to live a more normal life.

Which she does, for all of about thirty seconds before another watcher named Giles finds out about her and she discovers that Sunndale is a weirdness central filled with oddness that rivals Eerie, Indiana or Split Point Lighthouse in the 'how odd is your town' stakes. So while she and her mother get a fresh start at life Buffy finds herself trapped back into her own destiny as only she can save mankind (if not her who else?) as the Slayer.

The first season follows Buffy's introductions to Sunnydale and the people who will become her friends - specifically Xander and Willow, two semi-outcasts in school society; Giles - the watcher and librarian and Cordelia Chase - a popular and shallow girl who develops as the seasons progress. Also running through the season is the mystery of who Angel is and what he wants along with a religious cult of Vampires headed up by one ancient vampiric menace known as 'The Master'.

The season itself does show it's age, this set hasn't been cleaned up for the new HD/digital age and as such the quality of the filming does suffer. Likewise it is more than fair to say that occasionally the performances given by the cast are a little ropey. Only Anthony Head (Giles) and Charisma Carpenter (Cordelia) manage to consistently provide a solid performances, but it is always worth remembering that the most of the cast are young and inexperienced in this season. They grow up and perfect their acting over the later seasons a great deal. Alyson Hannigan is great as the nervous and inexperienced Willow (but she'll always be Lily Aldrin to me from now on) and Nicholas Brendon is great fun as Xander, he's not as funny as he is later on, but he does have his moments in this season.

Likewise Sarah Michelle Gellar gives a slightly uneven performance, she doesn't have as much presence as she does in later seasons. Of the guest stars it's David Boreanaz (Angel), Robia LaMorte (Jenny Calander), Julie Benz (Darla) and the brilliant Mark Metcalf as The Master who really shine out and give great prescence on screen. Especially Mark who is nothing short of fantastic in all that latex and prosthetics, how on Earth he isn't on screen more often is a mystery to me.

Now it might sound a little like I'm ragging on the show when I say that the performances from the cast are a little uneven, but they are. Likewise some of the one off stories are a little wobbily at times as well. But this is because it's a show in it's infancy, one with plenty of growth to go before it becomes the show we all know and love.

Despite these minor grips the first season remains a fun and witty experience, the dialog is as great as you'd expect from Joss Whedon and several of the episodes are nothing short of brilliant. It's a solid freshman performance from the show and you can see why it managed to endear itself into the hearts of so many viewers and secure itself a second season.

Commentaries from Joss Whedon
Interview with Joss Whedon/David Boreanaz
Cast Biographies
Photo Gallery
Music Video
Pilot Episode Script (Good read for any budding script writer this one is)

Aspect Ratio: 4:3 and 1:33.1
Episode run: 12
Languages: English, French
Number of Discs: 3
Subtitles: French, Dutch, English HOH
Rating: 15
Region 2
Run time: Approx 528 mins


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