Can I call ya Joss? I have called you that that several times already during My Year Of Buffy, but like a bad Muggle never asked permission. As part of my quest to conquer your most famous work, I figured supplementing all the episode lookbacks with a Report Card rounding out every season struck my overworked brain as a good idea.
Well, it seemed like a good thought at the time, Joss.
So, onwards we go with my SPOILER FILLED glance at what you did on the first season of Buffy The Vampire Slayer.
And like any first season, it has its ups and downs, shows promise and pain, and lays out groundwork for so many character and plot developments. All in a shortened twelve episode block.
While this may sound obvious Joss, not every series do this. Some just ignore what came before and go all higgly piggly all over the place. Looking at you Star Trek Enterprise and that thing called War Of The Worlds.
You begin season one Joss by quickly jumping Buffy, Giles and the future Scoobies into the narrative. Every character, good, bad, and annoying are clearly defined and for me, figuring out who to root for right away was easy. I give you enormous credit for this Joss.
And extra House Points to you for having the tremendous integrity of honouring the three, possibly four fans of that awful terrible movie that spawned this great show. By making periodic mentions, even in the vaguest ways possible to what happened in the film, you give hints at a previously existing history for Buffy and Slaying.
But back to your awesome characters Joss.
Your main creation, the star Buffy Summers strikes hard right away as not only a tough fighter who does not always use her head in battle, but we also see how being the Slayer takes a toll, magnifying normal teenage problems and adding a life death aspect to them. Alienation, angst and asking for more down time is just a few of the issues Buffy collides with here. If Angela Chase became The Chosen One, that would be just like what you have here Joss. I wonder if that was originally part of your design?
Joss, I really have to sigh now. Willow and Xander are problematic for me.
I love Willow. She is smart and funny and cute and has a quiet naiveté that comes out whenever she tries to gently help people along. I can fully see her becoming a better Giles than Giles in terms of knowledge and coaching, which would please me to no end. Is that the endgoal here Joss? Don’t tell me, I am just giving a happy thought to a past that has already happened. But one thing Joss, her lack of self confidence sometimes can be a terrible detriment. Her backbone growing this season makes me happy. Keep that up Joss and I shall be joyful.
As for Xander, I kinda tolerate him for Willow’s sake. He can be whiny and idiotic and mean, and his constant puppy love chasing Buffy around got real old, real fast. Methinks you beat that dead horse a little to much. His main function appears to be funny lines and being ceaselessly loyal, which is good and all for Buffy, but I hope he does more in future seasons Joss. His other saving grace is Willow. She sees something in him, hopefully more then a crush, and that tells me their long history must have some high points. I cheer for them as a couple, they feel quasi Hermione and Ron-ish. And that is a good thing Joss, so don’t let me down.
Giles feels like a cypher so far. Book smart and socially ignorant, his more human side took abit too long to show. It wasn’t until Nightmare I actually felt like I truly liked him. Sorry Joss.
People I hate? While I know Cordelia becomes a central person later on and shows up your spinoff series Angel, she has to die here. Promptly. Until she joined the Scoobies, I cared not a whit for her at all. The Principal was disposed of fairly quickly, for which I am eternally thankful to you for. Also, Buffy’s mom is another pain in the butt who comes across as clueless or uncaring, and I hope she gets better or kill her off soon. Drop a piano on her Joss.
Last, and definitely not a ray of sunshine at first, is the massive fan favourite Angel. Did you ever think of how big the character would become? The hurt tortured Vampire needing love? You are a genius and a prophet. As for Angels initial introduction, what starts as cute foreshadowing very fast becomes annoying. Popping in and out with moody warnings is something even the Scoobies find aggravating. But Joss, you got me when The Big Reveal slams out, as my mind snapped. Angel, the Vampire with a soul, all because of a curse. Dang! Great backstory, great twist, and great romance blooming. Buffy And Angel Forever! Nothing better happen to this cute couple Joss or you will answer to me.
You gave The Scoobies plenty of villains this season, which is good because some of the meteor freaks, er, Hellmouth attracted creatures did not always work. The praying mantis teacher, the hyena possession, and the demon in a robot stand out as monsters that were painful to experience. I know weekly television and finding your way is not always a fun prospect Joss, so I firmly believe I and the rest of the Whedonites are very forgiving. Thankfully you also gave us The Master, the puppet and the invisible girl, which more than made up for those failures.
Peppering all this season is your trademark of action and social topics. Your Buffy, to put it mildly, can kick butt and I am fairly certain a stunt double was not used very often. As for your crusade for thinking, the various issues such as bullying, parental abandonment, sex, rape, child abuse, and the big one, death, all get the wonderful Whedon treatment you are so known for, with spectacular results. Even if the creature main feature flops, the real cause you are championing will shine through. And we get to top all these pieces off with your humourous, in character lines that show real wit and intelligence.
Overall, this premiere season was not half bad Joss. The great episodes and good parts of others make it far better than most shows starting up. All in testament to your vision and character work.
…is currently reading Zen And Now by Mark Richardson