Sell me on _Buffy_.

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Jack Briggs, Dec 20, 2001.

  1. Jack Briggs

    Jack Briggs Executive Producer

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    I'm coming from a vacuum here. And here's how complete a vacuum: [sacrilege]I've only seen part of one episode, and I never saw the film upon which the series is based.[/sacrilege]

    *hushed silence*

    But I'm intrigued. I am fully aware that critics praise the show for its smart writing and engagingly developed characters. However, because the subject matter never really appealed to me, I skipped out on the party. Now I am wondering if I made a mistake.

    Everyone seems to like the program. And Jeff Kleist's phenomenal--and aptly titled--"eternal" thread testifies to the incredible following Buffy the Vampire Slayer has here at HTF.

    Because the show is a cult hit that gets a lot of press, even I am aware that it has moved from the WB to UPN, and that somewhere along the way, the show's protagonist was killed and subsequently recurrected. No problems with that concept; if Mr. Spock can be resurrected, I'm willing to concede such to a latter-day teenage Van Helsing.

    So, I want to know two things: What is it about the program that appeals to you, and how would you recommend that a novice--i.e., yours truly--get into this phenomenon?

    Thank you for your patience.
     
  2. Ken_McAlinden

    Ken_McAlinden Producer
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  3. Rich Malloy

    Rich Malloy Producer

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    First of all, forget the movie. Whatever camp value some may get from it, it's essentially unrelated to the TV series.

    (I've actually never seen it!)

    If you really want to approach this correctly, I'd suggest watching season 2 in its entirety (my favorite), immediately followed by season 3 (the consensus favorite, I think). The first season has some brilliant episodes - "The Pack" being my favorite - but season 2 is really where they hit a groove IMO.

    Two strategies: either wait until the DVDs are released or until the FX rotation starts over. The DVD would be preferable (and worth the wait) if you happen to work for a living - otherwise, it's damn near impossible to make it home in time (if you work regular hours). Catching an episode here and there simply won't do it. You'll enjoy them, to be sure, but you won't begin to appreciate the rich tapestry that is the Buffyverse.

    I don't know what your favorite TV programs tend to be, but the only series that approaches Buffy in terms of its own originality as a narrative and its personal mythology is TWIN PEAKS. Lesser fare like The X-Files lacks the overall arc of Buffy - a cogent narrative (at least through season 5) that one cannot even begin to appreciate until the second time around. Unlike the X-Files, this series knew where it was going all along. Unlike Star Trek, it gets there without all the lame television cliches and standard characterizations.

    And, to the consternation of some viewers, the series has resolutely refused to spin its wheels, or cover the same ground, or try to live up to past expectations. It has constantly evolved over the years as its characters have grown up, and the issues it takes on become different, more adult, more serious. It's a demanding show that never condescends to its viewers, often leading them instead into areas they may not want to go... until they get there!

    Here's a good description from a non-fanboy site (the high-falutin' critic, Gary Mairs, of culturevulture.net):

     
  4. Jodee

    Jodee Screenwriter

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    Jack, do you have FX?

    The first season starts all over TOMORROW (December 21st.) The first two episodes of the series will be shown at 6 and 7 pm. And the entire series will run again daily.

    I am a Buffy "newbie" myself. I had never seen it and always heard how good it was, etc. But I hate coming into a show blind, so I never started watching it. However, when Buffy reruns begain on FX in September, I added it to my ReplayTV schedule and in a week or so, I was hooked!

    So now I'm a Buffy addict just 3 months later. (And I'm almost done seeing all the episodes!

    What do I love about it? It's funny, dramatic, and action-packed. The characters are well-written and the dialog is clever. It is a series that rewards the dedicated viewer, by picking up plot lines and running with them on an ongoing basis. Characters & situations that would be "one-off" throways on other shows, are often mentioned and re-introduced seasons later.

    This show makes me laugh and cheer, and sometimes even cry.
     
  5. Rich Malloy

    Rich Malloy Producer

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  6. Cal S

    Cal S Stunt Coordinator

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    I was like you a few months back, when FX started the run, I started watching. Now I'm hooked. I agree with pretty everything the guys above said. I really like the tone, the humor and the characters. Satrt watching tomorrow and give it a couple of weeks and you might be hooked as well.

    But like it was said above, the first season has to get it's legs. By the second season, it's really good.
     
  7. Patrick Sun

    Patrick Sun Moderator
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    Plus, the 1st season was only 12 episodes, just enough to get your feet wet, but not enough to drive a nice meaty narrative that became season 2 and 3.

    To be honest, I enjoy watching a woman kick some ass, so Buffy was a natural predilection for me, but damn, oh damn, this series features some truly witty observations on the human condition, that to deny its greatness when it can easily be thrust upon you with daily taping of the FX Buffy episodes is to deny yourself a nice desert on a daily basis not once, but twice a day!

    Get with the program, and start watching the FX Buffy's, Jack! Start with tomorrow's installment, and give it a few shows for it to hit its stride. And pay attention! What you see as throwaway bits usually comes back later on in surprising ways.
     
  8. Steve Felix

    Steve Felix Supporting Actor

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    In addition to the above comments, it's a great show because there is a vision and a purpose behind it (at least in 2-5, haven't seen 6 yet).

    -Unlike The X-Files, which in retrospect was just endless shock value, it's usually going somewhere that's been set up months or seasons in advance; there are constant pay-offs which are what X-Files lacked.

    -It embraces change like other shows only pretend to.

    -Characters have epiphanies that are surprising yet earned and honest.

    -If the show was on NBC and simply named "Slayer," Joss Whedon would likely have shelves full of Emmys. (and maybe wouldn't have been totally ignored by the Golden Globes folks today)

    -It is frequently hilarious.

    -It is frequently tragic.

    -As has been said, the only show to compare is The Sopranos.

    -And much more!

    I also didn't watch when it was new for the reasons you mention, but it turns out vampires are not the subject matter. If you can start watching on FX tomorrow, do... you'll be through season 1 (which isn't bad at all compared to most TV) in about a week, and then you shall be hooked. Otherwise, I think I'd wait for the DVDs.
     
  9. Robert Ringwald

    Robert Ringwald Cinematographer

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    Season 1 has its moments, but don't let it give you a real idea of what the show is about. It doesn't get cooking until the second season.
    I like that the show can simply be whatever it wants. There can be a fully emotional episode (the body, which is one of the best episodes of any show ever!) yet still have scenes that can make you laugh. And it can have scenes involving characters we care about in life threatening situations, cut to a joke, and cut right back. The best part, is that it works.
    Joss Whedon who created the show (supposedly) reads every episode script before it is filmed, and always puts his own little bits in them. This gives the show a constant running story that isn't ever left, or changed too much.
    The show has always stayed right by its roots, it's made for the fans. [​IMG]
    There are episodes where a character will mention a joke or scene that happened over 3 seasons earlier, and real fans will usually always catch them.
    Then there's the hints and little parts thrown in that don't make sense for over 2 seasons. Tell me that isn't some of the best foreshadowing in the world. [​IMG]
    Sometimes it's just the little things, supporting characters pop in and out every once in a while, and they always grow. A character (chanterelle) can go from having one line in a season 2 episode, to having a large portion of another episode (in Anne), and then move on to have an even larger role in an episode of Angel, playing the same character, only more mature and grown up.
    The only problem with Buffy seems to be the negative talk spouted by those who have not seen it, not seen enough to give a valid opinion, saw the movie and disliked it...thus banishing the show, or don't think a show called Buffy the Vampire Slayer can be involving or smart.
    Buffy is and always will be my favorite television show. It's constantly brilliant, and really appeals to its core audience. And don't write it off as a teen show, I know people over 50 who watch it (my grandma), and my mother is hooked, along with my dad.
    I was once like you, I didn't start until the second season because I didn't think that the show could be that good. By the time the middle of the second season rolled around, I blew off anything to get home by 7 on tuesdays. [​IMG]
     
  10. Steve Felix

    Steve Felix Supporting Actor

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    We were wrong... FX isn't starting over till Jan. 1. Tomorrow they're showing Beer Bad, which some would say is the worst episode you could possibly start with.[​IMG]
     
  11. Danny R

    Danny R Supporting Actor

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    You sure? FX's schedule and TV Guide says that the first episodes, "Welcome to Hellmouth" and "The Harvest" are tommorrow (Friday), with Christmas themed episodes on Monday and Tuesday, and the normal Season 1 schedule resuming on Wednesday.
     
  12. Dan Paolozza

    Dan Paolozza Stunt Coordinator

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    Hey Jack,

    The heart of why I like the show so much is it's unbelievably well executed "sci-fi" aspect; it uses its custom, fictional "universe" to exaggerate, symbolize, or simply make a point to the human condition. At the core of this "discussion" is a central morality which secures the protagonists as "heros," not simply "interesting people and relationships." The writers and directors often manage extremely entertaining and interesting ideas despite a sometimes "ridiculous" setting, which I find brilliant. That is, where under normal circumstances one might think something silly, cliche or childish, you will often be hit with something profound or superlative and find yourself taking it quite seriously.

    In the best of times, the show compliments this "core" quality with superior wit, clever dialogue and/or situation, and/or inside-jokes and outside references which enhance the ambience.

    The acting is as good as it gets in a sci-fi/fantasy series, and many would maintain that comment against any contemporary television show, no just compared to the same genre.

    The show does have its weak points, sometimes isolated and sometimes extended throughout a season - but they do not mount a solid case against watching the show. The only reason I can think of why you wouldn't: if you can't "access" the setting and tone of the show, if you can't get past the vampires and such, then it's just not your thing and you won't be entertained.

    My wife can't stand most sci-fi, and used to loathe Buffy as well. The other day, as one of my friends tossed in the typical chuckle when I mentioned my favorite show, she threw in "Actually, I have to admit...Buffy is a pretty great show..."
     
  13. Steve Felix

    Steve Felix Supporting Actor

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    Danny: I think the schedule officially changed just today. They're showing the main Angel storyline through the rest of the year.

    Off topic: It's really odd that the title of FX's new show "Rampart" was just changed to "The Shield" in ads and on their site. After all that advertising had already been done! (You know what I'm talking about if you watch FX Buffy)
     
  14. Derek Miner

    Derek Miner Screenwriter

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    Everyone here has thrown in some great background and thoughts on what makes Buffy something special as far as TV goes. I can only add a little of my personal experience that drew me in.

    I was aware of the existence of the program for a while. I knew a guy who had become hooked on the first season and was very enthusiastic about taping every episode. Then Entertainment Weekly did a special Buffy feature somewhere in between the third and fourth season. This issue, incidentally, has become an important reference tool for me.

    I happen to work at a broadcast facility, and one weekend on a dreadfully long overnight shift, I found a feed for Buffy the Vampire Slayer on the satellite dish. The episode was "A New Man," a fourth season episode where Giles, the show's "father figure," had been turned into a demon. This episode gave me a quick tour of all the characters, as Giles goes around to the regulars attempting to get help. The way that this situation played out interested me a lot because it didn't feel like typical a sci-fi or monster show. It was incredibly funny.

    Over the next few months, I started to watch these Sunday morning feeds on a regular basis and I found myself really liking the characters and the humor. As I began to get more episodes under my belt, I started to realize the larger picture the writers paint over the course of a season. In the end of season four, where I started, the theme was that of friends drifting apart and ultimately realizing they needed to work together to save the day.

    The beginning of season five introduced the perplexing storyline of Buffy's sister Dawn, which was a mind game that I couldn't resist. Because they kept this plot going through the ENTIRE SEASON, you had to watch it all to get the answers. But in addition to this, there were a number of other themes that continued over the course of the episodes, and in a much more intricate fashion than the previous season.

    Until FX started reruns recently, there was little help for me to see what I had already missed. I rented the video that contained the pilot episode, "Welcome to the Hellmouth," and caught a couple episodes here and there on tape and in very occasional reruns on the WB (like their one-off airing of "Earshot", a third season episode, around the time I started watching the show).

    So that's how Buffy The Vampire Slayer became my favorite show.

    I'm not the kind of Buffy fan who insists that you should watch the episodes in order (although it helps a lot with the recurring plotlines), and I do think you could start anywhere and still find the show interesting. But since the show is beginning from the start on FX soon, you can't really go wrong there.
     
  15. Ken_McAlinden

    Ken_McAlinden Producer
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    Good grief, you are right. FX is showing isolated packs of episodes hilighting specific story arcs and are not starting with the first season again until January 1.

    Regards,
     
  16. Jeff Kleist

    Jeff Kleist Executive Producer

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    Jack, my disciples have already said all I could say
    You cannot resist much longer, forsake thy false God Kubrick and come embrace the love of Lord Whedon [​IMG]
    Seriously, Season 1 is a fun romp, Season 2 is what will blow your mind. It's too bad you just missed "The Body" last Tuesday, it's been heralded, and not just by me as one of the finest hours of television ever written. It's also true that payoffs come YEARS later. One of the head writers was quoted as saying they bumped into Joss pacing back and forth, and asked him what he was thinking about, and it was an episode not airing for about 18 months, because he wanted to make sure it all fit. The man is a genius
    Watch the original movie AFTER you watch the series. Like Alien Ressurrection it was altered from his original intent
    Don't forget this is also the man who wrote Toy Story [​IMG]
     
  17. Patrick Sun

    Patrick Sun Moderator
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    Jack, don't start watching the FX Buffy's until Jan. 1st, 2002! If you watch all of the episodes shown between now and then, you miss out on a lot of character/plot development.

    Exactly how much of Toy Story did Whedon write? There seems to be a bevy of writers listed for credit on that film.
     
  18. Cal S

    Cal S Stunt Coordinator

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    Don't start waching until Jan. 1st.

    They're right, the schedule has changed and you don't want to start with the Beer episode.
     
  19. LarryDavenport

    LarryDavenport Cinematographer

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    I can't get any of my friends interested in Buffy. They'll tune in to an isololated episode and be totally lost and turn to something else. (Plus they, like the Emmy's, refuse to take a show called "Buffy: The Vampire Slyer" seriously.)

    Buffy is a show that should be experienced in chronological order beginning with episode one (you could start with the movie, but it's not absolutely necessary).

    What keeps me coming back is not the "monster of the week" but watching the characters grow, from 15-16 year old high school kids to young adults. Watching Willow go through her changes (sexually and magically) and Buffy and Xander struggling to grow into adulthood (who would have thought Xander would turn out to be the most "adult." I also love the romantic aspect of the show (Xander & Anya, Willow & Oz, Willow & Tara, and especially Buffy and Spike!).

    Most people in the HTF thread seem to disapprove of the whole Buffy-Spike romance, but I believe if you watch all the episodes with Spike in it, it seems like it was always meant to be.

    Buffy is in my opinion the best written and acted show on TV right now. Sarah Michelle Geller is a highly underrarted actress and it will be interesting to watch her career after Buffy. Hopefully she will trancend the "WB" market and start being offered rolls in more mature films (as opposed to the Scream/Scooby Doo rolls she is doing now).
     
  20. Jack Briggs

    Jack Briggs Executive Producer

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    Okay, gentlemen, consider me sold. And I will take into consideration the advice regarding starting the cycle from the beginning on January 1. However, I am tempted simply to check out an episode that may seem out of context if I don't know the story arc (and this reminds me a bit of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine).

    Another thing that impresses me here is that the show seems to have an elaborately developed mythology. I like that kind of stuff.

    All of you have offered fascinating comments here. Thank you very much.
     

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