Buffy the Vampire Slayer

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Buffy the Vampire Slayer [pilot: episodes 1 & 2]

Welcome to the Hellmouth / The Harvest
Reviewed December 1998
Reviewed 3rd & 10th May 2001 - Thursday

This is a sequel to the Kirsty Swanson film , not a remake of it - unlike most pilot episodes of shows based on movies. Gellar is accepted as Swanson's character, newly moved from L.A. (site of the movie) to a small California town. She starts to settle in, and befriends a couple of nerds called Willow (played by the delectable Alyson Hannigan ), Xander (Nicholas Brendon) and Jesse (Eric Balfour - Haven ).

However, her past as a Vampire Slayer follows her, in the shape of two people in the town. One is the school librarian, who introduces himself as Giles the Watcher, played by television's Gold Blend man (Anthony Stewart Head - Merlin ). The other is a villainous vampire called Luke, played by Brian Thompson ( X-Files - he has been an SF villain so often you will recognise him immediately).

As in the film, the vampire hordes seek to slaughter the town's attractive human teenagers in order to free their leader - and Buffy the reluctant Slayer is the only one who can stop them!

Once TV pilots were shot as TV movies, then cut into two parts; this show was filmed as two separate episodes, and actually has two different directors. The plot is very similar to the Swanson movie - the original writer Joss Whedon is now Executive Producer, and has managed to turn his big-screen flop into small-screen success.

One of the best features of this version is the new actress in the title role. This reviewer first saw Sarah Michelle Gellar (whose initials also stand for Sub-MachineGun!) in Scream 2 and I Know What You Did Last Summer (IKWYDLS) - two roles very different from that of Buffy the fresh-faced 16-year old. In Scream 2 she plays a sensible sorority girl/film student who has the memorable line You've got a hardon for (James) Cameron and beats up the pathetic killer before ... Well, I won't spoil it for you.

In IKWYDLS she plays the town's beauty queen (and sister of Mortal Kombat star Brigitte Wilson ), who tempts her drunken BF into the back seat of his car by promising I'll let you do things to me. Unfortunately for her, in IKWYDLS she was not up against a second-rate slasher as in the Scream sequel.

As Buffy, Ms Gellar has ample opportunity to display her talent - and although she is playing a character five years younger than herself she does so marvelously.

SMG does not carry the show by herself. Her on-screen rival as teen babe of the decade is Alyson Hannigan - who while admittedly more attractive than her is also a more talented actress; Hannigan's character is dowdy and even nerdish, something far removed from the actress herself.

The other supporting actor of note is Giles the Watcher. Tony Head shows there is more to him than just a coffee-addict - but not much more; the character is little more than a thin stereotype.

All in all, however, this is an extremely entertaining show. An interesting heroine, witty dialogue, intelligent characters and entertaining plots all come together to create something that is reminiscent of the first season of the X-Files , before Chris Carter's show lost its bite.

Rating: 80%

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Buffy Buffy the Vampire Slayer [Season 1, Episode 3] The Witch
Reviewed January 1999
Reviewed 17th May 2001 [Thursday]

Buffy decides to join the School Cheerleading squad. She is still nice and round-limbed, not the bag of bones from later Seasons. However, it seems that one of the other girls, Amy ( Elizabeth Anne Allen ), is sabotaging the try-outs by witchcraft.

Giles (Anthony Stewart Head - Merlin ) uses witchcraft himself, and it is a pity he did not use magic in more episodes. Instead the writers made him into a useless stereotype.

Like many episodes of the show, the supernatural threat is a metaphor for a problem teenagers face. Here it is Overbearing Parent syndrome.

There are a few nice touches. The idea of mindswop was used in a later Season, and the ending seems a reference to the original movie The Fly . Also, the cheerleaders' music is used in a film where Eliza Dushku starred as a cheerleader!

Buffy Buffy the Vampire Slayer [Season 1, Episode 4] Teacher's Pet
Reviewed January 1999
Reviewed 24th May 2001 [Thursday]

Angel drops by to remind everyone he is still in town. His mission is to warn Buffy that a murderous super-vampire is in town. Of course, in later years it becomes apparent that Angel could easily wipe out such a vampire himself. Giles is equally unavailable when it comes to fighting evil.

Not only is the villain a push-over when it comes to Buffy, he is even more scared of Ms French ( Musetta Vander ) - the new Biology teacher who takes a shine to Xander. Xander is happy but Slutty - err, Buffy - is spiteful. Why doesn't she find someone her own age? Later, we discover that Buffy assumed Xander was not a virgin.

Poor Ms French, all she wants to do is find a father for her children. And let's face it, the reason for living is sex!

Cordelia ( Charisma Carpenter ) only has the briefest of appearances. She discovers a corpse, then talks about it to a Counsellor.

Buffy Buffy the Vampire Slayer [Season 1, Episode 5] Never Kill A Boy On The First Date
Reviewed January 1999
Reviewed 31st May 2001 [Thursday]

Buffy wants to date a guy called Owen (Christopher Wiehl - Jericho ), because he is quiet and broody and reads books. Cordelia ( Charisma Carpenter ) wants him too. Unbelievable or what? Buffster gets frustrated when her Slayer duties get in the way, and Xander gets jealous. Buffy could have any man she wants.

The Vampires plot to create the Annointed One.

Buffy Buffy the Vampire Slayer [Season 1, Episode 6] The Pack
Reviewed January 1999
Reviewed 7th June 2001 [Thursday]

The episode was great - this reviewer intended to go out, but stayed in to watch it, and now I wish I had gone out and videotaped Buffy so I could watch it over.

A trip to the zoo turns bad when Buffy's male associate Xander (Nicholas Brandon) and four of his tough kid classmates (including Jennifer Sky ) are possessed by Hyena Demons. He gains confidence, but becomes a bit of a bastard. Oh well, nobody's perfect.

The possession acts as a disinhibitor, and in Xander's case allows him to express his true feelings about Buffy. Naturally, she cannot cope with having her sad, nerdish love slave transformed into a confident, capable individual and promptly cures him.

The problem with the episode is this. Xander rejects his long-time hanger-on, Willow (Allyson Hannigan) in brutal fashion - I won't have to look at your pasty face again [maniacal Hyena laughter], and this is portrayed as being negative. However, Buffy rejects Xander by hitting him with a desk, among other things, and we are supposed to empathise with her?

Let's face it, rejection is rejection - and this reviewer feels for Xander. In his place a smart man would just refuse to speak to Buffy ever again, and thus deny her the opportunity to hurt him again.

Buffy has a thing for Angel, which is sick in itself. This gets a mention, even though Angel and Cordy do not appear this episode. But when Xander wants to make love to Buffy, this is meant to be perverse.

Apparently zebras mating is like the heimlich but with stripes.

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Buffy Buffy the Vampire Slayer [Season 1, Episode 7] Angel
Reviewed February 1999
Reviewed 14th June 2001 [Thursday]

One of the main story arc's from the Pilot Episode is concluded, and one potentially vital character is removed permanently from the series.

Buffy discovers the truth about her Amor, Angel. It turns out that this show is the precursor of Twilight , since she has a guardian vampire with a soul who watches her sleep.

The episode builds to a climactic battle with Darla ( Julie Benz ), the female vampire. She wants Angel for herself, although so does Cordelia so that alone does not make her evil. However, she has a plan. First she sets Angel and Buffy against each other. Secondly, she takes a couple of pistols with her. Nobody bothered trying this for another six Seasons.

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Buffy Buffy the Vampire Slayer [Season 1, Episode 8] I Robot, You Jane
Reviewed 25th February 1999 [Wednesday]
Reviewed 21st June 2001 [Thursday]

This episode we get to see Willow finally get one of these relationship things Merkins are always talking about. However, this relationship is carried out over e-mail, and the BF turns out to be a robotic demon called Moloch the Corruptor. Oh well.

Moloch has a small cult of followers to do his bidding. They include a High School computer nerd named dave (Chad Lindberg - Supernatural ) How the cyber-demon recruited them in a day or two is not explained. Also, he can somehow watch people via the screen of a Mac desktop - one without a web-cam!

The problem with this storyline is the way on-line relationships are portrayed. Buffy and Xander are concerned about Willow, because of the danger that she might be the victim of what would later be called catfishing. However, Willow instantly rejects her loving boyfriend once she finds out he falls short of her expectations - how typically female! However, this reviewer cannot see a MALE character getting away with such brutal rejection of a suitor - not without being vilified for it! See Season 4 for further details.

On a plus note, Giles the Librarian is actually seen talking to a ... female! Yes, the overgrown nerd finally gets a chance at a relationship himself; one can only hope the lady in question (computer teacher Jenny Calendar - Robia La Morte ) turns out to be a recurring character.

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Buffy Buffy the Vampire Slayer [Season 1, Episode 9] The Puppet Show
Reviewed 3rd March 1999 [Wednesday]
Reviewed 12th July 2001 [Thursday]

A demon is collecting body-parts from members of the school's talent contest - and one of the entrants has a ventriloquist's dummy with a life of its own!

An Evil Entity goes about dismembering the members of the school talent show. Meanwhile, Buffy and Co suspect that a ventriloquist's dummy is involved ...

In the strangest of coincidences, Quark himself (Armin Shimmerman - Star Trek: DS9 ) has a cameo as the new School Principal. Naturally he is also a leading suspect!

Cordelia ( Charisma Carpenter ) pops up briefly in order to sing very badly. This leads on nicely to her career choice of Actress in the Angel spin-off show.

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Buffy Buffy the Vampire Slayer [Season 1, Episode 10] Nightmares
Reviewed 10th March 1999 [Wednesday]
Reviewed 26th July 2001 [Thursday]

Nightmares start to come true - and for someone like Buffy, those nightmares are more terrifying than a normal person could ever imagine ...

Buffy dreams about her unavoidable confrontation with the Master. However, her greatest fear is rejection by her father. After all, her mother kicked him out and divorced him so Buffy feels that he has abandoned them. Luckily, Giles fears losing Buffy because he has a father's love for her.

Despite this being only a dream, this episode is the last one in which Buffy's father appears. He does not even return to Sunnydale for his ex-wife's funeral, or to check on Buffy during the months she spends legally dead.

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Buffy Buffy the Vampire Slayer [Season 1, Episode 11] Invisible Girl
Reviewed 17th March 1999 [Wednesday]
Reviewed 2nd August 2001 [Thursday]

An invisible girl ( Clea DuVal from The Faculty ) with a grudge against the school's May Queen wreaks havoc for Buffy and the Slayerettes. Finally, Cordelia ( Charisma Carpenter ) gets a role worthy of her title billing. We see that Cordy is more than a one-dimensional bimbo ... Also, Harmony ( Mercedes McNab ) pops up long enough to fall down the stairs.

The original story was written by Joss Whedon himself, and resembles the Halo Jones story, I'll Never Forget What's-his-name. The director is Reza Badiyi, an Iranian who directed many episodes of Mission: Impossible in the 1960s.

The downbeat ending is straight out of X-Files - and this reviewer has to say, this show is FAR superior to the average M&S episode!

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Buffy Buffy the Vampire Slayer [Season 1, Episode 12 - Finale] Prophecy Girl
Reviewed 31st March 1999 [Wednesday]

Buffy faced a prophesy that she would die at the hands of the head vampire, the Master, in this climactic final episode to Season 1.

Angel, Giles' girlfriend, the Annointed One and Cordelia ( Charisma Carpenter ) all make obligatory Guest Appearances.

We do not have to wait long for Season 2 , though - it starts next Thursday. And we even get to see a trailer to announce the new slot!

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