Created by Joss Whedon
Written & Directed by Various
Long before there was ‘True Blood’ and ‘The Vampire Diaries’ there was ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer’ a little midseason replacement show that went on to run for seven seasons across two networks and will live on in the hearts and minds of pop culture fans all over the world.
The show catapulted the already successful Joss Whedon to the stratospheric heights that would eventually land him the gig of directing a little move called ‘The Avengers’ (or for those of us in the UK ‘Avengers Assemble’).
For those who may be coming to the part late on ‘BtVS’ it was originally shown on the predecessor to The CW which was The WB. When The WB wanted to lower the licensing fee for the show at the end of its fifth season it was decided to take the show elsewhere and the finale two seasons aired on the UPN network. It was the merger of UPN and The WB which brought about the network we now know as The CW.
Whedon often comments in interviews that the decision to make ‘BtVS’ a midseason replacement was one which enable to make the show such a massive success by allowing the creative team to put together almost the entire twelve episode season before any episodes had actually aired.
The complete season one box set was released on DVD in the UK on 18th October 2004 in an awesome crucifix style box but we’ll get to that in a minute. The episodes released in this box are:
- Welcome to the Hellmouth
- The Harvest
- Teacher’s Pet
- Never Kill a Boy on the First Date
- The Pack
- I Robot, You Jane
- The Puppet Show
- Out of Mind, Out of Sight
- Prophecy Girl
High points of the season are difficult to pick out because there are just so many. Two part opening ‘Welcome to the Hellmouth’ and ‘The Harvest’ brilliantly setup the characters and their universe, taking points from the not-so-successful movie and rewriting them in Whedon’s original vision.
The only real low point in the season for me was ‘I Robot, You Jane’. I was never a fan of the story as it seemed like a tenuous reason to have a robot villain. The concept was greatly improved upon in the season 2 episode ‘Ted’.
‘BtVS’ became famous for the format of its story arc, often introducing ‘big bad’ characters early in the season and escalating their story until reaching a massive climax in the season finale. Due to the truncated nature of season one there’s not as much room for the long running arc but Mark Metcalf’s character of The Master does manage appearances in six episodes.
From the outset the writing on ‘BtVS’ is outstanding. The pop culture references have become the stuff of legend and often written about in dissertations of its generation. The analogy of real demons alongside the demons of life struck a chord with audiences thanks to the balance of comedy, drama and horror.
‘BtVS’ never strayed away from tough subject matter but aside from events in later seasons when it really began taking massive creative leaps there was always a supernatural element to cushion the blow of major plot twists.
Extras on this box set are:
- Commentaries on ‘Welcome to the Hellmouth’ ‘The Harvest’ ‘Witch’ ‘Never Kill a Boy on the First Date’ ‘Angel’ and ‘The Puppet Show’
- Interivew with Joss Whedon and David Boreanaz
- Hepburn music video ‘I Quit’
- Cast biographies
- Pilot script
- Screen saver
- Photo gallery
‘BtVS’ was never famous for having a wealth of extras on its DVD releases but it was always made up for by the quality of a Whedon commentary. These are always worth a listen for both their humour but also the anecdotes on shooting the episodes themselves.
Technical specification wise the show is in the original broadcast 4:3 aspect ratio and sound is 2.0 surround. Video transfer holds up well for a show from 1997 but effects look a little dated.
Aside from the show itself the star of this DVD is the brilliant crucifix style packaging it comes in. Later season of the show would be housed in a stylish book but season one was given the special treatment it deserved.
Checkout this image of the unfolded packaging:
Many of the shows on TV today wouldn’t exist if it weren’t for the trail blazed by ‘BtVS’ and you can now pick this DVD up second hand for under £3 on Amazon so if the show has alluded you up to this point it’s time to start the marathon.
Complete series box sets and slimline editions of individual seasons are also available.
I watch the show from start to finish annually so its time for me to grab the popcorn and my steak and dive back in to the hellmouth for 2013.