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on 13 May 2003
Introduction - Who Watches "Buffy" and Why?
First, let me say that "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" is the most influential and significant TV show of the last decade. It is the darling of critics and audience alike; it has become a worthy field of academic study (there are two published journals on the show, and here at the University of Oxford, there are many unofficial professors of Buffy Studies); and it will easily retain this crown for years to come.
Review - Why Buy this Collection?
If you already know much about Season One and wish to know about the DVD specifics, please scroll to the section below.
For those of you who are new to "Buffy", you're in for a treat. Season One, while not the best example of "Buffy", at least lays the foundations for the largest character development and plot arcs of any show in the world. What make Buffy good are those long threads of story that stretch for seasons, occasionally intertwining, or being left only to be picked up again years later. Added to this are snappy, culture-reference-laden dialogue, some extremely witty observations on life, and more allegory, metaphor and symbolism than Proust or Joyce.
The Episodes
While they tend to be monster-of-the-week, Season One's episodes are necessary in understanding character motivation. The show was a mid-season replacement, after all, so 12 episodes allow insufficient space to develop huge storylines. The budget was also half that of subsequent seasons, so do not take the sometimes-corny effects as standard. Nevertheless, Buffy doesn't need swishy effects to be good, and there are some excellent standalone episodes, such as "Witch", as well as some wildly poignant episodes such as "Angel" and "Prophecy Girl", which do develop some storylines and demonstrate perfectly that mélange of horror, laugh-riot humour and raw emotion at which the show is so adept.
The Quality of the Collection
The boxset itself is rather attractive, a lovely blue and silver affair that folds out into a cross shape. Unfortunately it doesn't match the other six season collections, but then again it highlights why Season One is different from the rest. There are three discs, and the visual quality can be rather grainy at times - but I watched it on a DVD-ROM drive with flatscreen TFT monitor. The audio quality is fine. The extras, though, are rather disappointing, the only good one being a Joss Whedon commentary (look for those in all the seasons, they are always funny and informative) for the first episode (and JUST the first one - no "Harvest" commentary, even though it's the second part).
Conclusion
To perorate this rather lengthy review, I would say that although "Buffy" didn't come into its stride until Seasons Two and Three, and despite the average nature of the extras, nothing can diminish the sparkle that is present in every episode. The humour and the emotion - realized beautifully by all the cast - are there in abundance, and signify the beginnings of an amazing journey through demons, slayers, and that most terrifying of phenomena: life.
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I am a relatively new Buffy fan starting at the beginning, with no real sense of the direction future seasons may have taken. The first twelve episodes of Season One certainly provide a wonderful introduction to the subject at hand, succeeding fabulously even when storylines wander into really weird places. Few television shows could grow and prosper with such plot points as a substitute teacher who is actually a giant praying mantis, a girl who takes the concept of being invisible to everyone around her much too far, and an ancient demon who comes backs to life via the Internet. In Sunnydale, a town residing directly over the Hellmouth, anything can happen and be accepted for what it is by both the characters as well as the audience.
There are many strengths to this show: Joss Whedon’s vision, commitment, and talent; sharp writing by all concerned with different writers all moving seamlessly in a fictional world larger than themselves; excellent special effects; a genuinely unsettling atmosphere wrapped around a seemingly bright and sunny one; etc. The greatest strength of the show has to be the actors, though. Sarah Michelle Gellar is gorgeous as well as exceedingly believable in her role as the Slayer; Alyson Hannigan is captivating as the quiet, demure Willow Rosenberg; Nicholas Brendon brings an incredible amount of humor and teen-based reality to everything that happens as the Chandler Bing-ish Xander Harris; Charisma Carpenter is the quintessentially vain prom queen whose character Cordelia Chase really only begins to belie her stereotypical image toward the end of the season. Topping them all, though, is Anthony Head in the role of Rupert Giles, the Watcher whose job it is to train and prepare Buffy in her role as the ordained Slayer. His aura of professionalism, commitment, intelligence, and kindly authority injects a necessary dose of believability into an unbelievable world. I’m rather ambivalent toward Angel (David Boreanaz), as I tend to share Xander’s feelings of dislike for this mysterious man in Buffy’s life.
One feels as if one knows these characters from the very beginning, identifying a great deal with some if not all of them. Buffy just wants to be a normal sixteen-year-old girl, sometimes resisting her destiny as the one and only Slayer standing between the world and the apocalypse. Xander is simply brilliant and hilarious to me as the normal guy trying to deal with impossible things as well as his undisguised and unrequited love for Buffy. Willow is the smart and geekily unpopular kid who possesses a greater strength that she realizes, pining silently over Xander in the final ring of a weird little love triangle. Eggheads like me, of course, celebrate the efforts of the scholarly Giles and identify with many of his old-school feelings and arguments. It is not often that we are blessed with a librarian hero.
Season One has two dimensions to it. First, it lays out the vague history of Sunnydale’s newest student Buffy Summers, introduces the responsibilities and functions of the foreordained Slayer, and exposes us to a wide cross-section of the dangerous monsters that one would expect to converge on a place referred to as the Hellmouth. Second, it assembles Buffy and her gang of friends into the first dream team of vampire slaying and other miscellaneous demonic extermination. Buffy does most of the work, of course, but everyone plays a part in thwarting the incredibly threatening things that seem to rise up continuously in a town somehow still referred to as dull and boring. At this time in Buffy’s slaying career, her enemy is the ancient vampire named the Master; his attempts to free himself from his underground tomb and return to the surface serve as the backdrop of most of the major action of the season, leading up to a direct confrontation between him and Buffy in the final episode.
Perhaps no other show on television has given us so many great zingers and one-line catch phrases, digging deeply into the world of popular culture. It also provides an impressively realistic look at youth and some of the issues young people confront in the normal, non-vampire world. Buffy is about much more than slaying vampires, vanquishing demons, and the like. Buffy, Xander, and Willow in particular deal with problems each of us have faced before alongside the type of evil threats that can be found only in Sunnydale, and it is this aspect of the show that truly connects with many of its fans.
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on 21 April 2005
Starting off as a very poor film at the Box Office, Joss Weadon (or the people at Fox) rather decided decided to turn it into a series by creating 12 great, phenomanal episodes. Not really knowing what was going to happen, they set it onto the world like the vampires of the night and all of a sudden, Buffy turned into an overnight success that had audiences hooked from the very beginning.
Every episode of this wonderful First Season has been restored and put onto a wonderful DVD box set that is well worth every penny. While it is only short compared to every other season done, this season is well worth watching and has some of the best episodes ever done. While it doesn't include a great amount of extras, the episodes themselves are well worth the price alone.
The season starts off with "Welcome To The Hellmouth", a wonderful episode that introudces all your favourite characters, Xander, Willow, Buffy and Angel. Starting off very simple with a story about a kid being bitten by a vampire and Buffy finding out that she has been sent due to the fact that the school is standing on the top of a Hellmouth. Also beneath the Hellmouth is The Master, an ancient vampire who plans to escape from his prison to eat all the inhabitants of Sunnydale - the town where this series is set.
Eleven other episodes follow. Not every episode has something to do with vampires. Some are about witches, hyenas, puppet shows and an invisible girl. All of these episodes have something to offer in the world of Buffy and all of these episodes are brilliant masterpieces that Joss Weadon and his crew have wonderfully created, putting hard work and effort into all twelve episodes.
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on 24 August 2006
Buffy The Vampire Slayer originally began as a spin-off show of a 1992 film by the same name that enjoyed limited success. Despite this, the creator Joss Whedon pitched the concept of Buffy The Vampire Slayer - the series to several studios before eventually getting picked up henceforth bringing about the creation of one of the most loved and successful series of recent years.
In the original film, Buffy was cast as Kristy Swanson but to bring a younger, fresher look to the series and probably also to distance it from the mediocre film, Buffy was recast as Sarah Michelle Gellar, a relatively unknown actress at the time. The series proved to be a hit for Sarah Michelle Gellar succeeding in making her one of the most recognisable TV actresses around the world.
Buffy The Vampire Slayer is based around the story of Buffy Summers, an until recently normal teenage girl who discovers that she is the chosen one, a warrior of the people who's duty is to rid the world of the scourge of vampires. After moving to Sunnydale with her mother Joyce Summers (played by Kristine Sutherland) and enrolling at her new school she meets her new watcher who goes by the name of Giles, an academic who's purpose is to help and protect the slayer in the course of her duties. Her watcher just happens to be the school librarian and is played by respected British actor Anthony Stewart Head.
In this first season, Buffy is made to feel an outcast as her slayer duties and efforts to keep her identity a secret leave her displaying particularly odd behaviour so she inevitably ends up making friends with others classed as outcasts by the 'in' crowd. These people go by the name of Xander Harris (played by Nicholas Brendan) and Willow Rosenberg (played by Alyson Hannigan). The 3 friends help Buffy with her duties as her secret is revealed but they all end up being ostracised by the cool crowd (especially Buffy), headed by Cordelia Chase (played by Charisma Carpenter). Their dislike of each other is prominent through a couple of seasons.
In all Buffy seasons, there is usually a nemesis that the slayer has to deal with who runs throughout the entire season even though there are other self-contained stories for each episode. In this season the arch-enemy is known simple as 'The Master' an incredibly old powerful vampire who has been kept in a mystical prison below Sunnydale's streets for nearly a century. His intention is to open the Hellmouth that Sunnydale is built on releasing not only himself but untold evils onto the world. The only thing Buffy has to do is stop him...
Appearing in this season is vampire with a heart Angel (played by David Boreanaz) a 200 year old vampire previously called Angelus cursed with the return of his soul by gypsies after he slaughtered members of their family. Despite being a vampire, Angel caanot kill humans as his soul has brought back his conscience so spends his life drinking animal blood and trying to atone for the death and carnage he imparted on the world during his time as a killer. He also becomes Buffy's love interest and succeeds on playing this part for several seasons.
The first show does consist of episodes which are perhaps not as mature as later seasons but they are all still in high school so that's understandable. I also think that perhaps Joss Whedon was not 100% sure at that time what target audience he was aiming at. Examples of a couple of episodes are Xander being possessed and taking over the characteristics of a hyena, Willow releasing an ancient demon on line after scanning some mystical text onto a computer and even a talking, living ventriloquist doll.
Buffy spawned seven seasons and also a spin-off series called Angel starring David Boreanaz in his own show as the lead character. This show also achieved success. Buffy The Vampire Slayer cemeted the careers of a lot of people on the show and was sadly missed when it finished.
This series is a must for all ages and there really has been nothing since that has come close to the originality that made this series such a phenomenal success worldwide.
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on 4 December 2000
Beautifully presented and packaged and great value for money this is what a lot of Buffy fans have been waiting for. Fox has been quite generous in squishing the entire series into one set rather than splitting it. This may be partly because the first season only ran for 12 episodes so I'm interested to see what they do with future seasons.
In terms of extra it's pretty good. Not as many features as a lot of movies have these days. But a lot more than most TV based DVDs (which often have none). Commentry from Joss is a rare treat.
The episodes themselves are a mixed bag. More single epsiode ideas than the story arcs that would follow in later series. No big mid-season two parter and a single epsiode finally. But the genesis of what was to come is here.
It only gets 4 stars for two reasons. Seasons 2 and 3 are better and I need room to move. Also the picture quality is less than perfect. This is no fault of Fox's, the first 2 series were filmed in 16mm so there is little they can do to improve picture quality for the DVD format.
I really hope they continue to release series in this format. As such this is a must have for the serious Buffy fan.
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on 10 April 2002
This box set is the best of the lot. When you watch it time and time again you still get all the excitement and emotions you felt the first time you ever watched it. And best of all you can watch the scooby gang make friends all over again. If you are a big buffy fan this box set is a must.
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on 14 July 2010
Buffy the Vampire Slayer is/was a hugely successful American television series which ran for seven seasons and is now sorely missed by many (including myself). All seven seasons have been released on DVD not once, but twice. The first release was in fancy collectors editions, which is what I personally own, but the more recent releases are in a amray style case (normal style), which looks far plainer but is much cheaper. While I personally own the original version, my son owns this one.

---The Season---

Buffy Summers would give anything to be a normal high school student, unfortunately that's something that's just not meant to be. For Buffy is the one girl in all the world, imbued with superhuman strength to aid her in her battles with vampires, demons and other supernatural nasties. She is the Slayer, scourge of the demon underworld, and she's moved to Sunnydale, which just happens to be sited slap, bang on the Hellmouth.....let the battles ensue....

Although the programme was still in it's infancy, the first season still has all the elements that made the series a must-watch. The mix of drama, comedy, action and teenage angst is there from the very first episode, and although I've watched the season many, many times I still find myself laughing at some of the quirky one-liners. If anything I find myself laughing more as I know what is coming, and this makes some of the comments even more ironic.

One big difference between this season and those that follow is the fact that almost every episode is standalone, although there is a theme running through the twelve episodes, it is not as involved as those that follow. This makes the entire season more accessible for the casual viewer, especially as the characters are only just evolving. Another difference is the production values, the special effects aren't quite up to the same standard as say season seven. For all these minor faults, this is a great introduction to the Buffyverse, and I do enjoy watching it time and time again.

---The Presentation---

This is the new presentation, all the contents are exactly the same as the older version it's just the packaging that has changed. Instead of the fold-out as a cross case, the three discs are housed in a standard case, which then fits into a cardboard slipcase. Now, considering how much I love the "book" format that seasons 2-7 came in, it's going to sound strange to say that I prefer this newer presentation of season one. My reason for this, is that my own copy of the season is starting to look very battered, my son's newer version looks so much better, and it's easier to get the discs out. As with the original version, the discs are nicely printed, everything follows a blue theme and the physical presentation is far better than I could manage.

The picture quality is reasonable but not the best it could be, there is noticeable graininess during dark scenes, which is occasionally off-putting. Audio quality fairs better, the volume level is loud enough and the 2.0 surround sound adequate, as always there are scenes that would benefit from the upgraded 5.1 sound, but that would be too much to ask. The menu system is easy to navigate, and there are no motion menus (thank goodness), the only problem here is the lack of a "play all" function.

Being a fan of the programme, I like my special features, and while there are nowhere nearly enough, there are a few in this set. Just so you know there are far fewer than on the later seasons, and they are not as in-depth or interesting. There are a couple of commentaries (for the first two episodes) which were, I suppose, ok to listen to, with a few snippets of background information. The trouble is they were by Joss Whedon, who creates great shows, but is not the most fluent orator. Other "special" features on the first disc include a very short interview with Joss Whedon and David Boreanaz, which was mildly interesting, the original scrïpt of the pilot, which gives about five minutes of fun pretending to be the characters and some DVD ROM features that insist you install a software DVD player. The features on the other two discs are even sparser, with there being a music video, "I Quit" by Hepburn, which is actually quite good, a rather pointless photo gallery and trailer and even more pointless written biographies. All in all the special features are ok but not really special, and don't add an awful lot to the overall package.

---Technical Bits---

Rating : 15 (I'm not too sure as to why this is rated 15, there's nothing there that has disturbed my younger children, they all know it's not real. But if you (or your child) tend to scare easily then you may want to exercise discretion.)
Running Time : 8 hrs 42 mins
Region : 2 (PAL)
Video : 4:3
Audio : English/French
Subtitles : English/French/Dutch/English for the hearing impaired

---Final Words---

As a huge fan of Buffy it's a given that I enjoyed this season, and would therefore recommend it to anybody that's ever caught one of the later episodes and enjoyed it. However, I am recommending this new packaging, above the older fancier version, at it is far more robust, and even if you do own the later seasons in the book format, the first season doesn't actually match those anyway. The special features may be on the sparse side, but as the price is so low this boxset represents tremendous value for money.
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on 14 June 2004
This is were it all started (not counting the Movie of course). Buffy Summers moves to Sunnydale after being expelled from her previous school in LA after setting the Gym on fire (to kill a horde of Vampires threatening the school).
12 episodes of (in general) one-shot stories. Even though they are one-shots the continuity they set up is pretty well adhered to throughout all 7 Seasons of this marvelously crafted show.
This first season introduces us to the mainstays of the series. Buffy Summers (Sarah Michelle Gellar), Willow Rosenberg (Allyson Hannigan), Xander Harris (Nicholas Brendon) and Rupert Giles, Buffys Wathcer (Tony Head). These 4 make up the Slayer and the Scooby Gang who foil various nefarious plans for evils domination of the world.
Also introduced in this first season are Cordelia Chase (Charisma Carpenter) and Angel (David Boreanaz) who were, along with others, mainstays of Buffy for the first 3 seasons before Angel got his own eponymously titled show which also saw Cordelia as an important supporting character.
This season sets up the world which Buffy will exist in for 7 years. Sunnydale was built on a Hellmouth (an area of mystical convergence) and so sees more than it's fair share of 'funny goings on' and monsters/demons, particularly Vampires.
During this Season the main 'Baddie' is the Master, an ancient Vampire, who is trapped in a church which was sucked underground in an earthquake. The Master was a superb villain who sets alot of things in motion for future seasons, such as the calling of another slayer after he kills Buffy (temporarily) in the finale of this first season.
If you are a fan of Buffy you must own this first Season as it sets everything up for the future. If you are not a Buffy fan then you should start here and this will set the groundwork for the rest of your life as a Buffy fan.
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on 5 January 2002
This boxset made its way into my Christmas stocking and I have absolutely relished it since! I've been a fan since the beginning and this is the best way to watch Buffy - on DVD! While the picture is grainy at times and dark episodes such as Angel don't look as good as they could have, this is probably due to the lower budget and, hence, the lower quality film used. It's not an issue to be dwelled on, as the episodes look better than they do on video or on transmission. The sound is also definitely better than the VHS copies, meaning the DVD wins hands down (not surprisingly). Of course, there are also a (leniant) number of extras too. If you're a fan who purchased the 'Welcome To The Hellmouth/The Harvest' video, then you'll already be familiar with the fun little trailer and the brief interviews with Whedon and everyone's favourite Angel, David B. There's also a fun-to-watch-a-couple-of-times-but-never-again music video in the shape of the cheesy Hepburn track 'I Quit' (which would have been better included on the Season Three or Four DVDs, as the clips and sets are from this era), as well as a nice little photo gallery, cast biographies (which are more interesting than you may think but contain info you'll only skim through once or twice), and the scripts for the first two episodes - while these are handy to see what the actors see on the page, while also giving us a glimpse at what was cut and what was changed, they're not very well put together and a big chunk of what happens on screen is missing from mine (maybe all copies, I'm not sure). There's also a slim little guide to the first season which is a rather cool addition, yet a little pointless if you already own the first Watcher's Guide book. However, the 'big' extra is the commentary courtesy of the master, Joss Whedon - informative, witty, and enthusiastic (though there are a couple of lengthy pauses, mind). The extras in their entirety make for a nice improvement on the boxset and the episodes, though, and the episodes themselves are a mixed bag. The first season is fun to look at now and again to see how the characters first startd out, to see all the bits and pieces that are referred to over and over in the following seasons (as we all know Buffy is a continuity-extravaganza) and to see how big the regulars' hair used to be! However, with the exception of the opening two-parter, the episode 'Angel' (which opens the door for the big epic love story between vamp and slayer) and the emotional and rip-roaring finale, this is all filler and not much killer. While many of the fillers are fun, they're just not that important in the big Buffy picture - while they are funny and introduce lots of recurring characters that we'll see again (Jenny Calendar, for instance), they're just not all-out-there experiments. However, this is where it all began and to understand the brilliant seasons that follow, you MUST purchase this NOW! Expect gorgeous girls, tangled relationships, fangs galore, Emmy-worthy performances, a freshness missing from later seasons, and above all the tremendously layered scripts. A must-have must-see item! Have fun slaying...
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on 3 December 2001
Okay, I read the for and against arguments and I was stuck between giving it a 3 or a 4 - but considering what an excellent show it has become I couldn't settle at a miserly 3! The fact remains this 'isn't' the best series. It never could be - like all major series it's where the story begins. Take early episodes of all major runs (Stargate - Star Trek Next Gen - for example) and you are going to stumble on some pretty poor episodes. This is where the series finds it's feet and you learn to love the characters.
But - let's face it - if you are going to collect Buffy then these are also pivotal episodes you can't afford to be without. And as for the extras - not really an issue. You just want to watch these as part of the whole and then get into the subsequent seasons where the story really begins to move. You won't want to linger here but there's enough to hold your interest.
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