DVD Review: Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Seasons 1-7

by Pat Johnson

Through all the TV and movies I have seen, the one entry that receives my unconditional highest praise is Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Upon reading my first sentence, I can already guess that I have split my audience into people who say, "Oh, you like THAT show" and those who are already fans. Since the fans already are on board with my perspective and reading just to see what aspects I praise most, I'll direct the first part of my review to the nay-sayers.

First off, I used to be one of you. I had heard people describe Buffy as a funny satire or a vehicle for some hot girls. I assumed that it was a supernatural take on high school, something akin to the lovechild of My So Called Life and Sabrina the Teenage Witch. I was curious, but not really interested. However, when the first season came out on DVD, I indulged a whim and rented the first disc. I blew through the first four episodes and turned right around and watched them a second time with my roommate. I was hooked.

Every subsequent DVD release was an instant purchase. The season cliffhangers (most notably the ends of seasons 2 and 5) were crippling because my only venue for watching more was cable TV (where there was no guarantee of continuity). I even contemplated buying an Australian DVD player so I could watch season 6 a few months before the American release. My fandom surprised me because while I'd watched a lot of shows, I always resisted calling myself a fan. Too many negative connotations. However, with Buffy, I know it's great and I enjoy sharing it with others who once thought as I did.

Looking back over the seven seasons, I have come to realize that Buffy is one of the greatest achievements in television history. My reasons for thinking this range from the deeply nuanced and believable characters to the incredible (before 'incredible' I tried snappy, clever and hysterical none expressed the milieu of my appreciation) dialogue that (clearly) defies thesaurus adjectives (and the rules of grammar, syntax and parenthesis use). It all comes down to Joss Whedon. His superhero ability is creating great characters, making you love them, and then torturing each and every one until you beg for more. For the fans, I reached deep into my memory for a few kernels of brilliance that I could share, but I came up with too many - "Hush," "Once More With Feeling," "Band Candy," "Surprise/Innocence/Passion," "Restless," "The Body," "Chosen," and on and on. Simply put, there is more greatness packed into each season of Buffy than some shows ever achieve. If you consider yourself a television aficionado or even just a viewer with good taste, watch, enjoy, discuss. The only danger you face: Buffy raises the bar and most shows limbo under it.

Contact: pat@king-sheep.com