Buffy the Vampire Slayer

March 21, 2014
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Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Since the dawn of man, humans have been terrified of the dark and the creatures that go bump in the night. Buffy the Vampire Slayer is a TV show takes place in a world where hellish demons and nightmarish monsters are real. However, to keep from being purely horror, Buffy the Vampire Slayer uses humorous dialogue to add levity. The use of clever dialogue, assortment of supernatural creatures, and inspired scenes of violence make Buffy the Vampire Slayer a truly great show.
I first watched Buffy for two reasons. The first was to revisit a childhood memory. When I was much younger, so young that I just barely remember the event, my sister and father watched Buffy together. I remember the colorful three-part VHS box collection of the first six episodes. While I do not know what happened to those VHS cartridges, they made an indelible impression on me. Watching Buffy as a teenager is a way to revisit that simpler time. The second reason I watch Buffy is because of Joss Whedon – its director/producer. I watched the Firefly series and movie, the first works of his I experienced, and was infatuated. I knew that if Whedon could produce something so captivating, his other seminal work would almost certainly be incredibly interesting as well. I learned that he had also produced and directed Buffy. I quickly devoured all two hundred forty-four episodes of Buffy and its spin-off show Angel. These episodes were even better than Firefly, though very different. I have little to criticize about the productions, but I do note that because the filming took place in the nineteen-nineties on a low budget, the film and special effects do not rise to the level that viewers expect today. However,the superior quality of Buffy in all other aspects more than makes up for the outdated production values.

Buffy revolves around the life of teenage girl – Buffy Summers – as she comes of age while bearing incredible responsibilities. She all but wears the weight of the world on her shoulders. With her are her steadfast friends Xander Harris – loyal to a fault – and brilliant Willow Rosenberg. She is guided by her mentor –“Watcher” – Rupert Giles. Throughout the series other characters come and fade from the spotlight, but these four form the core of the show. Every episode takes place in the fictional town of Sunnydale, a small, rather affluent sleepy California town that has dark side.
The context in which Buffy the Vampire Slayer takes place is a world unlike any other. Before man evolved, pure demons roamed the earth. For millennia, they battled each other for dominance. As time passed, however, many of them were expelled from this earthly dimension. Importantly, before leaving, the last of the greater demons mixed his blood with that of a primitive human, resulting in the creation of the vampire race. The demons that were not expelled devolved as humans took control of the planet. They became weaker and more humanoid, creating a race of demons “native” to the earthly plane of existence. One girl in every generation is chosen by the forces of good to battle these to fight the forces of darkness embodied in the vampires and demons. This girl is known as the Vampire Slayer. This universe where good battles evil serves as the backdrop for the encounters between Buffy, the then-chosen Vampire Slayer, and the vampires and demons seeking to prey on humans.

The monsters in Buffy the Vampire Slayer are either redefined versions of creatures well known in literature and myth such as the vampires or newly imagined hellish creatures inspired by the darkest mythologies from around the world. Vampires are creatures without souls. The human soul is evicted and replaced by a demon’s soul stretching back to the pure demons that
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once walked the earth. Though classic methods, i.e. stakes and holy water, can destroy them, vampires have been reinvented as far as when they die they turn to dust. Additionally, when beams of sunlight touch their skins for more than a split second, the vampires burst into flames. On the other hand, Buffy the Vampire Slayer features some truly unique creations. The gentlemen, inspired by dark fairy tales, are floating disfigured smiling monstrosities in suits that use unnamed shambling creatures in strait jackets to hold down victims while they carve out the victim’s heart, all the while wearing a grin reaching from ear to ear. Ultimately the truly frightening monsters on Buffy the Vampire Slayer give it a darker undertone, creating an interesting dynamic relationship between the hellish environment and the levity of the dialogue.

The dialogue in Buffy the Vampire Slayer, frequently humorous, is one of its best qualities. Particularly effective are witty plays on words, especially those embodying adult humor. When he loses his memory, Spike, a British vampire and former villain turned reluctant good guy, says, while reading from the jacket he stole, to Giles, the man he believes to be his father, “Made with care for randy. RANDY! RANDY GILES? Why not just call me horny Giles or desperate for shag Giles. I knew there was a reason I hated you!" Additional levity is injected by off-the-wall comments made by characters such as Oz. When a character reacts to Buffy’s plan to stop the evil mayor by exclaiming, “I personally don’t think it’s possible that we can come up with a crazier plan”, another character responds, “We attack the mayor with humus . . . he’ll never see it coming”. Another instance of great dialogue occurs when Buffy finds Spike lurking in the street. She says to him, "What are you doing here? Five words or less.” He responds, with a smug grin on his face, counting words on his fingers. "Out for a walk . . . b****."

Buffy the Vampire Slayer features violence in every episode. Often it showcases Buffy beating the odds by defeating multiple creatures. These scenes usually include both fantastic and realistic displays of aerial acrobatics and martial arts. However, every so often, she confronts a creature even she as a slayer cannot defeat alone. In these instances, she must rely on unorthodox methods of slaying. The Judge, a supernatural demon sent to “separate the righteous from the wicked and burn the righteous down” cannot be defeated by “any weapon forged,” according to an ancient prophecy. To defeat this demonic juggernaut, Buffy steals a Bazooka and blows him into a thousand pieces.
Remembered by the six million weekly viewers, Buffy the Vampire Slayer has unsurpassed name-brand recognition as almost every television viewer is aware of the series. The show won two Emmy’s, eight Saturn Awards, and three lesser awards. Additionally, Buffy the Vampire Slayer was nominated for eight other Emmy’s, six more Saturn Awards, a Golden globe, and twelve lesser awards.

I recommend Buffy to just about everyone, and no one who has carefully watched it has told me they didn’t like it. Any lover of action, romance, or drama will enjoy Buffy the Vampire Slayer. It has a truly universal and transcendent appeal. Most of the seasons are free on Hulu, and all of the shows are found on Amazon Prime Video and Netflix.

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