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Buffy The Vampire Slayer

Bang-up ’Buffy’ box set sends stake through heart of undying fan

Kyle Meikle

Sunday 4 December 2005, by Webmaster

Fanaticism, I think, is a lot like a better version of herpes. A sometimes brief, sometimes extended but always torrid affair with someone (Stanley Kubrick, Fiona Apple) or something (Harry Potter) you love leaves you dazed and confused and infected for life long after the said someone or something is gone. Kubrick’s death leaves you wondering how much better “A.I.” would have been had he directed it; Apple takes a slow six years constructing her extraordinary “Machine;” J.K. Rowling is writing the seventh and final “Harry Potter” installment as we speak.

Lucky for us, as the years go by and the meds kick in, the flare-ups become fewer and farther between. Sure, they range from the mild (a guest spot on a shitty sitcom, a lackluster live album) to the moderate (a decent spin-off, a reunion tour) to the entirely severe (an awesome adaptation, a definitive box set), but they never quite approach those first dizzy days of infectious fandom.

I had one such flare-up over Thanksgiving. The morning before I left for break, I picked up a weighty and not-so-mysterious box from the mail center. This, it seemed, was the moment I’d been waiting for. This was the expectedly belated, just-shipped birthday present from my parents I’d been waiting for. This was the “Buffy, the Vampire Slayer Chosen Collection” I’d been waiting for. Seven seasons, 40 discs and 144 episodes all in one glorious, shining box (Mr. Pointy replica sadly excluded).

Unfortunately, I had to explain the contents of my mystery box to nearly everyone I ran into that day. What did I get in response? Laughter. Jeers. Sarcasm. It seems the name of “Buffy” still warrants a requisite grin or two from those who are uninformed of its brilliance. Seriously? Go to hell. I mean, Buffy’s already been there, like, twice.

To say that “Buffy” is my favorite TV show ever would be a tragic understatement. For someone who subsided on “Seinfeld” and “Simpsons” reruns through most of high school, Joss Whedon’s dark and daring dramedy was one of few programs that ever held my attention for a full 50 minutes. I initially scoffed at the series when my older sis introduced me to it in 1997, but by the time I reached the ninth grade I was sporting a Sunnydale High School shirt, earned the nickname “Angel” in my geometry class (as per my gel-fringed hair) and toted a tin “Buffy” lunchbox about school. Anyone who knows me also knows that my inspired-by-the-show-screenname once led me to be mistaken for two hot young females rather than one nerdy, high-school aged “BtVS” fan. And then, of course, there’s the Buffy action figure I got for my 16th birthday (I say action figure because saying “doll” would just be embarrassing).

By the time I reached college, however, “Buffy” had — thanks to near unanimous critical praise and an ever-growing network of nerds like me — overcome its schlocky moniker and achieved at least peripheral status in the pop culture pantheon. Though my interest in the show waned slightly after graduating high school, a visit to campus by Jane Espenson (one of the show’s most prominent writer-producers) during my sophomore year re-riled my slayer sympathies and found me more devoted to the show than ever.

“Buffy” may lack the kinetic, addictive quality of “The O.C.” or the tear-jerking melodrama of “Dawson’s Creek” (my other primetime faves) — but the show’s very refusal to settle into one definable genre is exactly what makes it so infinitely watchable. Witness the writers mercilessly toy with tongue-in-cheek references to high school and college demons as Buffy tries to slay both; marvel at the most heartbreaking (and probably only) mortal-vampire love affair ever to grace the small screen; watch as Sarah Michelle Gellar effortlessly evolves Buffy from stake-wielding Valley Girl to grown-up surrogate mom with major mortality issues.

This is the stuff of genius, from the demon-makes-us-dance musical ep (“Once More, With Feeling”) to the demons-stole-our-voices silent ep (“Hush”) to the sex-is-evil one-two punch of “Surprise” and “Innocence.” Even more brilliant? All of the aforementioned episodes are from different seasons (sixth, fourth and second, respectively). There’s nary a weak link in the Buffyverse.

Thus, on that fateful November evening with “Buffy” box set in hand, I barely knew where to begin. Executive producer (and geek god) Joss Whedon never turned his back on the show and, well, it shows.

I spent most of Thanksgiving break revisiting the best of the “Buffy” bunch before settling in for the long haul; Buffy and Angel’s tormented romance, Willow’s transformation into sexy lesbian witch, Spike’s struggle with or without a soul — they all play out equally well on repeat viewings.

I have a feeling this outbreak won’t go away soon. I’m barely two discs deep and there’s always a whole world of love, hate and pain just an episode away. So thanks a lot Mrs. Freddie Prinze, Jr. You gave me herpes.

3 Forum messages

  • I’ve been watchint Buffy faithfully since the very first episode aired way back when. In fact, I’ve been buying the DVDs as they’ve come out and watch at least one episode a night, often two. I added Angel to the end of the cycle and now have 12 seasons that I just cycle through. It’s awesome, I love the show and expect I will always watch it as I have been for over 10 years.

    I feel like one of society’s elite because I have found this show when so many other people are too blinded by their own shortcomings to even give it a chance. To hell with them, I can enjoy this show all by my lonesome if necessary.

  • GRRRRR ARRRRG I got into Buffy in reruns on FX and am a complete dy-hard lifelong fan. I started buying the Seasons on DVD ( I have 5, 6, & 7) I wish the new boxed set of the entire show would have come out before I started my quest to own every single ep. ever made. (I MUST HAVE THEM ALL). I simply cannot get enough BUFFY. Its funny that the show’s title is BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER, when the other characters are the real interesting ones. Buffy is fine and good, but EVIL WILLOW could do a show by herself. So far, season 6 is my favorite. Witty humor, cool chicks kicking butt, what more do we need people! Yes, people make fun of me because I know everything Buffy, but I can live with that. I have 2 teeagers that don’t quite get it but don’t worry Joss... I am determined to get them hooked to. And finally we have a Vengance demon.. who is afraid of bunnies. bunnies it must be bunnies!!! God I love that!!! Joss we need a new series!!
  • I’ve been watching BtVS since 6th grade, now I’m in 9th. Basically I started watching it on FX cause I didn’t know what channel it was on until season seven, so now almost 4 years after I started watching it I’ve seen all of the episodes in seasons 1-6 except 5 episodes and most of season 7 (Damn FX changed times half way thru season 7, and right before they aired the ones I missed on the WB, but I only had missed a few!!) and I have seen almost all of Season 5 of Angel (cause of Spike and I had too see how Angel would handle "Chosen") Also I know a whole lot about BtVS and some about Angel,and a-lot about James Marsters. Most people don’t get why I like it,so I tell them to watch it a few times,but don’t watch a whole season or you’ll be wanting to see all of them!! Which is true! The way I see it is that being addicted to the Buffyverse is in a way like herpes but at the same time is not like it at all, cause the Buffyverse has sex!!!!