Binge Watchin' TV Review: Buffy The Vampire Slayer
Welcome to Binge Watchin,’ where we take a look at some of the best TV shows available on streaming or disc that have a great catalogue of seasons to jump into and get sucked into the beautiful bliss of binge watching! From crime, action, comedy, drama, animation, etc., we’ll be evaluating an assortment of shows that will hopefully serve as a gateway to your next binge experience.
Series: Buffy The Vampire Slayer
Number of Seasons: Seven Seasons, 145 Episodes
What’s the show about?
Buffy Summers is your average teenage girl. She goes to high school, wants to make friends, and she also happens to kill vampires. She is the “Chosen One” or “The Slayer,” the one girl in all the world who has the power to fight the undead, demons and everything else that goes bump in the night. Buffy, with the help of her loyal Watcher Rupert Giles, as well as her friends Xander and Willow, not only battled the “Big Bad” every week, but must also deal with the many issues of being a teen living on top of Hellmouth - also known as the Sunnydale, California. The series follows Buffy and her “Scooby Gang” through the trials and tribulations of high school, college and on into adulthood where they often face challenging, horrifying, complex and even humorous situations.
Why should I watch?
Well before Joss Whedon impressed us with THE AVENGERS, the writer/director brought his campy feature film starring Kristy Swanson as BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER to the small screen with tons of fun dialogue, scary villains, and a wonderful cast of characters. Yet it wouldn’t have worked without Buffy herself, the intensely charismatic Sarah Michelle Gellar. From her very first moment on-screen as a “troubled teen” facing her first day at Sunnydale High, she was instantly appealing. As her character grew from season to season the actress gave Buffy a remarkable amount of depth with equal parts heart and humor. While I enjoyed the hell out of Ms. Swanson in the feature, it wasn’t until I was able to watch Sarah Michelle Gellar truly blossom in what may be one of the best female roles ever explored on television.
As great as Gellar was, Buffy was made all the better thanks to a fantastic ensemble with the terrific Anthony Stewart Head as Giles, Nicholas Brendon as Xander, Alyson Hannigan (who was not the first choice) as Willow, and so many others. A few of the standouts included Julie Benz as vampire Darla, Emma Caulfield as Anya, a vengeance demon terrified of rabbits, and the bad to the bone Eliza Dushku as the rogue Slayer Faith. And then you have two of my all-time favorite TV villains ever, James Marsters and Juliet Landau as Spike and Drusilla. There are far too many names to mention, needless to say this incredibly game cast made it is so much fun watching. The early seasons also gave us Charisma Carpenter as Cordelia “Cordy” Chase, a girl who could throw out an insult as quickly as Buffy could stake a vamp! And you also have to give props to Kristine Sutherland as Buffy’s frustrated but adoring mom Joyce.
Each season of Buffy presented one “Big Bad” who would become a constant pain in the neck for Buffy and the gang. While season one’s The Master (Mark Metcalf) was a bit long-winded and not all that terrifying, and the scientifically engineered Adam (George Hertzberg) in season four was a bit dull, yet there were tons of other great villains that amped up the series. You had Glory (Clare Kramer) from season five, Adam Busch added a touch of humor to his crazed nerd Warren in season six, and then there was the previously mentioned recurring role of sometimes heroine and sometimes psycho Faith (Eliza Dushku). And of course, I cannot credit Spike and Dru enough. In the fantastic second season, they were the Sid and Nancy of genre television and man were they on fire together.
From early on the series managed to balance reality based horrors with the supernatural in satisfying ways. Sure sometimes the metaphors didn’t quite translate all that effectively. You had season four’s “Beer Bad” and season six’s “Doublemeat Palace” both leaving a bit of a bad taste on the palate. Yet every season offered up some astonishing episodes. “Passion” from season two was heartbreaking, as well was that same season’s final two episodes “Becoming Part 1” and “Becoming Part 2.” Season 3 offered up a chilling what if with “The Wish.” Season four featured one of television’s creepiest villains with the Gentleman in the almost completely dialogue free “Hush.” Season five traded fantastical horror for a chilling look at the reality of death in “The Body.” And I can’t forget the masterpiece that was the musical episode from season six, “Once More, With Feeling.” And then there was the final episode “Chosen”… my only complaint is that it was over too quickly.
With the help of Whedon and several other talented writers on the series, “Buffy speak” was a thing. It is witty and still enjoyable to immerse yourself in all these years later. Clearly not a single teenager - my own young self included - has the quick and clever repertoire that these characters had, but it worked wonderfully. The dialogue was instantly quotable and something to try out on your friends, yet nearly every actor on the show brought it to life perfectly. And while some of the special effects may not hold up today, and perhaps a couple of performances aren’t as perfect as they should be, Buffy is still addictively binge worthy. All these years later, it is hard to resist, from the cool theme song by Nerf Herder, to the final conclusion of each episode. Buffy The Vampire Slayer is, and will always be, a favorite of mine. It is one that I continuously thank Mr. Whedon for bringing to life.
For me there were many highlights, and while I actually have a real soft spot for the unpopular season six - a darker and dare I say edgier season - I have to officially give best season to the fantastic number two. A huge part of that is the intense energy offered by Spike and Dru, as well as the huge emotional arc that Buffy and her then love, vampire Angel (David Boreanaz), went through. By the end of this incredible season I was completely invested in the fate of Buffy and it never went away. And again, the brilliance of the episode entitled “Passion” proved that Mr. Whedon was willing to sacrifice a great character in order to create some seriously powerful drama. That particular episode still tears out my heart every damn time.
Joss Whedon changed the way we look at the pretty young girl who is on the run from a dastardly villain. Helpless no more, Buffy fought back and fought back hard. This groundbreaking series still holds up marvelously aside from the occasionally weak special effects - hey, it was the 90’s - and the occasionally hokey episode. Looking back however, the Buffyverse is still alive and well thanks to home video and it ranks as one of the most iconic and groundbreaking shows ever produced. And while that final season didn’t quite blow me away the first time around, it is much better than I remember thanks to the ability to binge watch. Buffy The Vampire Slayer was funny, scary, heartbreaking and clever. If you’ve never watched Buffy and you enjoyed AVENGERS, it’s a no-brainer. If the apocalypse comes, I'm calling on Buffy!
CLICK IMAGE TO OPEN GALLERY & SEE MORE PICS...