Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Buffy the Vampire Slayer-the show with the soul

In 1992 a strange little movie came out about a girl destined to be a vampire slayer. It was cheesy and kind of stupid, full of cliche'd lines and the average stereotypical 90's teen movie slang that no real child ever used, and it was pretty much expected to be forgotten forever. Then Joss Whedon had an idea to take the strange little story and turn it into an entire TV series about a blonde trying to defeat the undead and still manage high school. This show could've easily been just as big a flop as the film, with the exception of the magic touch of Whedon's writing and the awesome characters he created. This of course, was Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

The premise was simple, Buffy Summers, an all-American high school girl is chosen by destiny to be a super hero against the forces of the night. She happens to move to a little town called Sunnydale California, which just happens to be located on a portal to Hell, and her mentor, a watcher named Giles just happens to be the librarian there. She makes friends and has monster of the week adventures for several seasons. Along the way Buffy meets her on-again-evil-again boyfriend, a vampire with a soul named Angel, played by a young David Boreaniz. What really made this thing come alive was the spectacular characters Whedon wrote these people to be. Buffy is a sarcastic teenager who wants nothing more to live a carefree life but has nothing but worries and cares as she's constantly being tasked to save the world. Throughout the series she creates a  fantastic juxtaposition within herself between trying to maintain the innocence of youth with the responsibilities of being an adult.
Surrounding Buffy are her best friends, Xander and Willow. The pair are lifelong best friends who meet Buffy when she moves in and join her in her quest against evil, being nicknamed the Scoobys. Xander has actually been a subject of study in college level gender studies classes, since his character is just an awkward teenage boy from a low income home trying to become a man despite being constantly overshadowed by women, namely Buffy, who are stronger than him. Willow goes through what's probably the most dramatic character shift throughout the series, starting out as a shy and introverted computer nerd and progressing to being a full fledged witch and lesbian. Homosexual tones aside, She's a perfect example of finding oneself as well as learning to adapt to one's mistakes, since at one point her witcheness gets out of control and she becomes the villain for several episodes.
Of course, nobody can forget the infamous tragic romance that is Angel. The vampire was cursed by gypsies to regain his soul, which seems like a stupid idea for a curse, except that it causes him guilt for all the evils he committed as one of the world's cruelest vampires. It also makes him a good guy, there to help Buffy defeat the many evils she must face, and easier on Buffy when she falls in love with him. Unfortunately the curse has one nasty little side effect that nobody ever tells him, should Angel ever feel a moment of perfect happiness, the curse will break and his soul will be removed once again. The reason why someone should've told him this is that he experiences that one moment of happiness when he sleeps with Buffy, a plot point emphasized in every horror movie since forever that as soon as the teenagers have sex the monster will come to eat them. Buffy ends up having to kill him, but before that his soul is restored, but then he comes back and they have this whole thing of we-shouldn't-be-together-but-we-love-each-other that puts Edward and Bella's to shame, and he goes off and stars in his own spin-off. Whedon was able to write this soap operaesque romance in a way that actually gave it emotional weight. You know you're watching a show about vampires falling in love with teenagers, but it somehow get's pulled off right. It probably helps that Buffy is a fully realized, fleshed out character with more back-story then "She's from Arizona", or the fact that when Sarah Michelle Gellar, the actress playing her acts she actually puts fourth effort, but that's probably just a mystery for the ages.
Despite the title, Buffy and the gang fight a whole wide variety of different monsters and villains throughout the course of the series. Everything from plot convenient demons, rogue slayers, the aforementioned allies turning evil, and some science gone wrong Frankenstein critters show up throughout the series. Even some of the vampires they run into are pretty unique and fun to watch. One of my person favorites is Drucilla, a vampire driven mad by Angel back in his darker days. She's cruel, weird and just unsettling. She feels more like an Anne Rice character then a character on a teenage melodrama, and it works really well.
So if you aren't a die hard fan, or you've been burned by the recent attacks by shiny vampires, don't let it stop you from checking Buffy out. It's a fun adventure with a lot of heart and witty dialogue that keeps you laughing as you fall in love with the characters and remember what it was like to be young, in love, and a stake in your hand.

1 comment:

  1. Oh Buffy. Such a great series.

    I'd like to point out that the original movie, Buffy the Vampire Slayer was written by Joss Whedon. But the original script that Whedon wrote and the script used in the movie were very different. The original movie is cheesy fun but doesn't compare to the relative campiness or charm of the tv series.