Monday, July 06, 2009

Random Buffy Observations

I've just finished watching the first three seasons of Buffy the Vampire Slayer on Hulu. I don't have a lot to say about that hasn't been said before and better by folks on a thousand different sites, I'm sure, but a few observations.

It's always fun to do that double-take that comes with seeing someone who was an anonymous bit player then, but who turned into a significant player on a subsequent show. The invisible girl in the first season ep "Out of Mind, Out of Sight" later became the FBI agent in pursuit of Sylar in the first season of Heroes. Late in the second season, an episode about Xander joining the swim team featured Wentworth Miller, later to star in Prison Break. In the pilot episode of Buffy spin-off Angel, one of the vamps who gets dusted pre-credits is played by Josh Holloway, now better known as Sawyer on Lost.

The third season credits rock. The theme song benefits greatly from the cutting of the scream and the addition of the gong at the end (okay, I'm pretty sure it's actually a tolling bell, but I just love to say "gong"). One weird thing I noticed; in the first ep of the second season, they added a silly whoosh sound effect to the shot of Buffy firing the crossbow. Then in the next episode and all subsequent episodes, the sound effect is gone.

But apparently someone on the show was determined to work in at least one sound effect in the credits, because in the third season, there was another, less silly whoosh in the shot of Giles swinging a torch. No other sound effects tied to any of the other action, just one torch whoosh. But somebody had to go to the effort of mixing that in there. Weird.

I know that it's been a long tradition in fiction to make characters smarter or stupider depending on the needs of the plot. I remember reading a comment one time about the Justice League, that they had in their ranks two scientists (Atom and Flash) and three aliens from worlds with super-advanced technology (Superman, Martian Manhunter, Hawkman), yet when they all got together, they would all turn to Batman and say, "What's the plan?"

But on Buffy, the characters veer to even more ridiculous extremes. Xander is the classic nebbish, cowardly and klutzy, until a vampire attacks, and then suddenly he turns into Batman, beating up vamps left and right. Similarly, Giles is all thumbs whenever he tries to train Buffy in combat. But when Giles is alone, suddenly his old Ripper instincts leap out and he's beating folks up left and right. And when Wesley comes into the picture, Giles suddenly becomes Errol Flynn, able to outfence Wesley while reading the paper in his other hand.

The show really suffered when it lost both Cordelia and Oz. They were characters who provided necessary counterpoints to the main cast. Oz was never adequately replaced, and Anya was a poor substitute for Cordelia.

Moving on to the first season of Angel now.

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