Well, I made it! Buffy Rant Part 1

Three weeks, only skipping one day, where I posted every day. It wasn’t quite an essay a day like I had intended, but it was certainly a post a day.

I didn’t get around to some things. The Ginormous Buffy Rant for one thing. Part of that is that our library is teasing us. “Hey, you’re second in line for Angel Season 5! Just have to wait for the next person to hand it in, and then the next person after that!” I’m fairly certain, because of the timing of the seasons being checked out, that other people decided to do the same thing we did and watch all of Buffy and Angel in order. I’m less certain, but I highly suspect, that one of the first people to get to Angel Season 5 lost it for a while and held up the line, so to speak.

I think I’ll write the first part of the Buffy Rant now, since I have time. I was going to wait until I had seen every episode and all the episodes that have commentary but dang it, I’m in the mood and Brain Demands It! (The next few paragraphs may be boring, but they become important later. Just think of them as a prologue.)

When I first decided to watch Buffy The Vampire Slayer, I didn’t. I first heard of it from my English teacher in England the year before I moved back to the U.S. By the time I was able to watch it, season 3 had already begun and I think it conflicted with something else I wanted to watch, but I don’t remember exactly what. I saw the very end of the penultimate episode of season 4, as well as the parts of the finale (which, you can imagine, was very confusing). I remember parts of a couple episodes from Season 5, including Buffy’s battle with Glory at the finale (but I didn’t stick around for the end). I saw a little more of Season 6. I remember most of the amnesia episode, I remember the beginning of the musical episode, I saw the episode where Warren frames Buffy for murder, and I saw the entire episode after the one where Warren gets the orbs (trying to avoid spoilers). I saw one more episode from Season 7 and part of the finale. Then, because of the shows changing times or ending or whatever, next year my sister and I decided to watch Angel Season 5 starting in the middle of it. I managed to catch a couple reruns including the Halloween episode from Buffy season 2 and an episode near the end of Angel season 4. Then, last year I decided to get Buffy Season 1 for my sister for Christmas so that we could start seeing the whole shebang from the beginning.

So when I started watching Buffy I knew a few things about the “future”. I knew Angel was going to survive and have his own series. I knew Buffy was going to survive at least until the end of season 7. I knew that Willow and Xander were both going to survive at least until near the end. I knew that at least one of them was actually going to get killed off and brought back to life before the end (again, trying to avoid specific spoilers). I knew that Willow was going to get into magic and that was going to have serious consequences. I knew that Angel was going to team up with his buddies and take on a giant evil conspiracy at the very end of his series.

There were some serious gaps in my knowlege, however: I didn’t know who Cordelia, Faith or Oz were. I didn’t know who Fred was. I wasn’t aware of when and how Angel became Angelus the first time (so that, and the ramifications of it, was a surprise). I knew about the Angel and Spike connection, but not how Darla and Drusilla were involved with them. I didn’t know any of the relatively minor but cool supporting characters like Johnathan, Amy and Joyce Summers (I knew about Warren, but that’s it). It was like I started reading at the end of a book, which I would never do, but that DVDs weren’t all available until last year.

HEY, YOU CAN START READING AGAIN NOW! All right, rub your eyes and get that glazed look out of them. I needed to write that all down for context. Here comes a little of the actual Big Essay:

I’m fairly certain that the seasons of Buffy and Angel that I enjoyed the most were the first three seasons of Buffy. There are two big reasons for this:

1) The third season of Buffy was the last time the whole original Scooby gang was together. (Ms. Calendar doesn’t count because she was never really a member of the Scoobies.) I say this because Cordelia and Oz had really earned their place in the Scoobies. Despite his “champion” status Angel began as a Scooby, so he counts too. Faith didn’t really count as a Scooby because she didn’t ever hang out with the rest of them. (You may disagree with those last two statements based on your definition of Scooby.) So when some of the gang split at the end… It was actually all right. If not for reason 2

2) In mid-season-4 it was made clear that some of them were written out as opposed to merely gone for a time. Angel had his own series, so a few of them were simply “over in Los Angeles” and the crossover episodes during Buffy 4/Angel 1 really helped. But by the end of Buffy 4, some of them were really gone, at least one of them for stupid reasons (that rant is coming up) and things were just never the same.

So what did I like about Buffy 1-3? Almost everything. I really sympathised with the “core four” of Buffy, Xander, Willow and Giles. I dug the action and the whole fighting against the forces of darkness thing. I thought it was great when Angel, Cordelia and Oz joined the Scoobies. I thought Ms. Calendar and Kendra were neat, even though they technically weren’t Scoobies because they didn’t hang out with the gang. Spike and Dru’s first appearance reset the tone for the entire rest of the series, and they were two of the best villains ever. Joyce Summers was the perfect Mom. Even the relatively small roles of Johnathan, Amy, Wesley and others who did or didn’t show up later really added to the whole coolness of the show.

The villains were involved in the heroes’ lives and not just because they were menacing. A small town in northern California really could be the central nexus of supernatural weirdness (Hey, the “Hellmouth” thing was a pretty good excuse). The mixture of comedy, drama, romance and suspense was pretty much perfect. People died from monster attacks, the good guys fought each other and the whole town was annoyingly clueless for most of the time, but it the end they all came together and graduated from High School. Oh, and they saved the world too. But man, they sure graduated. School was out for summer, mmmm hmmm.

I’m not saying they should have ended the series there, but seasons 1-3 were, at worst, the least annoying seasons of the entire Buffy/Angel saga.

More to come. My work schedule is going to get rather hectic rather quickly thanks to rapidly increasing numbers of hungry holiday shoppers, but I’ll try to fit it all in as much as I can.

EDIT: Dang it, I forgot to mention Anya! Yeah, even Anya was there at the end of Season 3, though she wasn’t a Scooby yet. Another reason to like the first three seasons.

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