About a month ago Trippy loaned me seasons 1 & 2 of the late 90s cult classic series - Buffy the Vampire Slayer. What stared out as a "pass time" routine each afternoon, quickly turned into an all out obsession! Putting aside the obvious fluff factor, the cheezy lines and the overdrawn out fight sequences; the series surprisingly does offer the viewer a lot to think about and of course throws in the occasional Apocalypse now and then.
Season 1 & 2 were quite mindless. 1 was all about Buffy pining for good Angel and 2 was her pining over bad Angel. It was season 3 that really got going with the development of characters and more challenging story lines other than the usual - New Demon in town - Buffy and Scoobie gang do research - Buffy kills Demon - sequence.*
With Angel outta the scene - off to do his own thing in the series spin off, season 4 introduced the Oh-so-hunky Riley Finn as the Slayer's new love interest and let's just say that he was a heck of a lot more interesting that Angel ever could be. I'm a fan of the tall and dark.... but let's leave the broody out ok?
Thanks to Riley, we were introduced to The Initiative a supposed top secret government agency that sent military men (all very hunky) to track and study various Demons or Hostiles as they called them. Things got tres interesting when Spike was bagged and tagged by the Initiative and released back into the world unable to do harm to any human thanks to a behaviour modifying chip in his brain. This new twist lead him to become a reluctant ally of the Slayer all the while plotting his revenge. Spike's new persona and added air time gave the series a much needed boost in both story line and ratings not to mention some classic one liners he spits out! Season 4 also reintroduces us to Anya - sans Vengeance powers and strangely full of lust for Xander. Still adjusting to her new human form, Anya's character stumbles through everyday life with a charming grace of her very own, and a complete inability to filter her innermost thoughts. Gee, I wonder why I relate to this character so much?!
Of course all cannot be well in Sunnydale or else it wouldn't be the charming Hell Mouth that we all know and love.
Season 5 sees Riley leave, Buffy mourns (again), a "new" 14 year old sister for the Slayer - who turns out to be a ball of mystical energy millions of years old; Giles buys a magic shop; Buffy's mum dies (natural causes); Xander and Anya heat things up, Willow and Tara getting their lesbian groove on and Spike inexplicably falls for the Slayer! And oh yeah... Buffy dies - again!
With Buffy's mum dead and Giles' impending return to England, the gang find themselves for the first time without a strong adult presence. Season 6 is all about them moving forward in life and fighting the demons of adulthood and reality as much as the icky, gooey trans dimensional ones. Willow really gets her groove on as a full on Wicca and by some truly dark and powerful magic resurrects Buffy back to life little realizing that her friend was actually at peace in a heaven like world. Buffy has huge problems readjusting to life back on Earth and those problems are compounded by very real issues like financial troubles and the worry of raising a teenager alone. Anya and Xander meanwhile are deep into planning their wedding but of course any semblance of true love on this show should always be looked at with suspicion! Before the happy event can take place, Sunnydale suddenly resembles the set of a Broadway musical in an episode that ranks as my all time favourite - Once Again with Feeling.**
The underlying topic of humanity is manifested even in the "villains" that Buffy faces this season. Not Gods or Demons, but a trio of nerdy social rejects who combine forces to make hell for the Slayer and in true comic book geek style want to "take over the world". As the season progresses, the trio turn from being bumbling inept stooges to a very real threat and inadvertently cause the death of Tara. Driven wild by grief, Willow reaches out to forces so dark that her entire personality is transformed into a Wicca so powerful. Hellbent on revenge - even if it means killing a human - she wrecks havoc all around and very little can come in her way. While its always left to Buffy to save the day, this time around it is Xander who manages to tap into the spark of humanity left in Willow and thereby releases her from her dark alter ego.
With Sunnydale back to "normal", the gang takes stock of what nearly happened and rejoices in their getting through yet another close call. Little do they know that far away in the deepest of Africa, Spike having been driven to the edge by his love for Buffy has regained his soul.
Season 7... here I come!
*FYI, I love the fact that there was tie in between the Scooby Doo movie starring Sarah Michelle Gellar and the show.
** MUST get a copy of that soundtrack.