First there was a movie. It wasn’t great, but it was memorable. I saw the movie on VHS for the first time and thought…meh. It didn’t blow me away, but the reason it was memorable was because of the title. Buffy the Vampire Slayer. It was intriguing and different. I can’t say I remember the advertising for the film and it wasn’t something I was looking forward to seeing, but I loved the horror and vampire genre so I wanted to see it. It starred Kristy Swanson, Donald Sutherland, Paul Reubens, Luke Perry, Hilary Swank, David Arquette, Rutger Hauer and in an un-credited role even Ben Affleck. It didn’t do great and after it was made into a show we found out it wasn’t made with Joss Whedon’s vision in mind. That was the summer of 1992.
Fast forward (That's a VHS pun kids) to March 10, 1997. The WB aired the first two episodes on a Monday evening. I remember watching and falling in love right away with Buffy Summers and the actress portraying her, Sarah Michelle Gellar. She would be my first celebrity crush and I still hold a special place for the woman in my heart. But as the show progressed, Joss Whedon’s genius writing and creativity would take hold of my heart.
Buffy was my first real geek obsession television show. I loved every episode. I loved the storylines and how they carried over the entire season and series. I identified with Xander Harris immediately. I was the same age as the characters so I was very easily able to identity with their day-to-day lives…sans the vampire and demon fighting. In reality, I’d be the first to probably die in a world like that. It sounds crazy but I grew up with these characters.
Any Buffy fan has their favorite characters, favorite episodes, favorite seasons, and favorite relationships. I could spend hours talking about this show and if I’m not careful, I probably will. Eventually we’ll have a podcast episode dedicated to Buffy as a whole, the movie, the television series, the comic book. For now, I’m just celebrating the birth of a phenomenon.
If not for the success of Buffy, we likely wouldn’t have shows like Alias or Veronica Mars. Joss made it cool for a leading female action star. He, not the Spice Girls, defined girl power. I’m not a female, so I can’t speak to the power he gave to women but I can watch the show and the shows it inspired and see strong female characters, at times stronger than their male counterparts in the same show.
The show had its own language. It had its own universe, which included its own alternate universe as seen in “The Wish” and “Doppelgangland.” The show had its fans while it was airing, and even to this day people are watching it for the first time and becoming fans. Joss would go on to create the spin-off Angel, Firefly, and Dollhouse. All were great, but in my opinion, none had the success of Buffy. Firefly was amazing, and has its loyal fan base (myself included) but without Buffy there would be no Firefly.
Joss has gone on to find mainstream success with The Avengers and his comic book work with Marvel and Dark Horse. I’m a big fan of Cabin in the Woods and Much Ado About Nothing and of course Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along blog. I love Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and cannot wait for Avengers: Age of Ultron. As much as I’m a diehard Buffy fan, I’m also a huge Joss Whedon fan. He pays attention to exceptional writing, character work and he has an obvious affection for his fans. He has a resounding and precise voice. I can identify lines in episodes of his shows that maybe weren't written entirely by him, but he had a hand in writing the script. You can feel his attention to detail with each of his characters and each of his story-lines. I look forward to his future work as much as I look forward to each new issue of Buffy the Vampire Slayer comics. It all started this day seventeen years ago with “Welcome to the Hellmouth” and “The Harvest.” And to this day, I can watch the entire series and enjoy every episode…even in Season Six which most fans seem to hate the most. Thank you Joss, for the memories and the stories.
What’s your favorite Buffy character? Favorite episode? Favorite season? Did you watch the show as it aired or binge watch it after the series was removed from television?