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Customer Review

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).
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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