If I hadn’t already told you my age in a previous post I’d be ashamed to admit that the Buffy The Vampire Slayer tv show came out when I was in college. Since I’m not, I will say I am really bummed about this fact and not for the reasons you probably think.
See way back in the ’90’s when I was living it up college style, I was dating this guy who had a major thing for blondes and liked to rub my face in it…and he really dug Buffy. I was 20 and as dumb as most 20 year olds are (no offense y’all but seriously – even if you’re an awesome 20 year old you will vastly improve as a human being with age, I swear it). His obsession with Buffy lead to my obsession with avoiding it at all costs for a very long time.
I apologize for the folly of my ways.
I don’t apologize for calling that dude I dated a total jerkface back then.
In order to make up for my past transgressions, I have resolved to spread the word of Buffy far & wide.
Just because you come to something late doesn’t mean you can’t embrace it wholeheartedly. I get it when people make you feel left out or kind of like an idiot for not being part of the “original fanclub”. I prefer to say “Mwahahahaha, let me lead you down the rabbit hole, grasshopper.”
So until I get bored with it, I’m going to do Five by Five Fridays where I get my Duchess of Buffonia jibber jabber on. These won’t always be lists but, I’m going to kick off my first Five by Five Friday with my 5 favorite episodes from Seasons 1 & 2…
A lot of people give those first couple of seasons some serious flack for being too cheesy. While I think the acting is a bit cheesy at time, the writing is generally not and the amazing fodder for callbacks in later seasons is pretty outstanding. The ability of the Buffy writers to callback small moments or entire past episodes from season to season becomes the gift that keeps on giving to fans of the show. Besides, Season 1 is only 12 episodes so it’s really no big time commitment and the future callback enjoyment is worth the time.
In no particular order (because this was actually a lot harder to pare down to 5 than I anticipated it being) – my 5 favorite episodes from Seasons 1 & 2 of Buffy. . .
Season 1 – The Witch (episode 3)
This is one of the first episodes where Buffy touches on a somewhat deep topic. The episode has a backdrop of parental expectations and the lengths some kids will go to meet them. It’s also a lesson in the lengths parents will go to live vicariously through their children.
We’re introduced to Amy (who comes back later on in the series) and her ex-cheerleader mother. Amy has lost a lot of weight and is training with her mother so she can make it on the Sunnydale cheerleading squad.
Buffy is trying out because. . . well. . . she’s Buffy.
Amy struggles with her mother’s expectations of having a daughter follow in her footsteps while Buffy struggles with Giles to live up to his expectations of how a Slayer should behave. Whenever I hear about those child pageant reality shows, I think about this episode.
It ends up being some pretty deep stuff for a show about a cheerleader vampire slayer. It’s also a wonderful little hint of things to come.
Favorite episode quote – “Hmm, that much quality time with my mom would probably lead to some quality matricide.” – Buffy
Season 2 – School Hard (episode 3)
Spike & Drusilla’s first episode. Honestly, if I were putting these in order it would probably be my favorite from the first couple of seasons…. potentially my favorite from all the seasons.
As an actor, I love this episode for the incredible chemistry and commitment that James Marsters and Juliet Landau put forth as Spike and Dru. It makes me absolutely giddy.
As a show fan, you’ve been waiting a couple episodes into season 2 for the new “Big Bad” that Buffy will face and when you meet Spike for the first time you realize you are in for one hell of a season ride.
In this episode, Buffy desperately tries to put on a good daughter “song & dance” for her mother only for it go straight into the crapper when Spike and a company of vampires crash Parent-Teacher Night at Sunnydale High.
There’s a lot of fantastic one-liners and I had to choose 2 favorite quotes for this one, both from Spike, because I feel like the first one isn’t complete without the second.
Favorite episode quote(s) – “*You* were *there*? (chuckles) Oh, please! If every vampire who said he was at the crucifixion was actually there, it would have been like Woodstock.”
“I was actually at Woodstock. That was a weird gig. I fed off a flowerperson, and I spent the next six hours watchin’ my hand move.”
Season 1 – The Puppet Show (episode 9)
This is one of those goofy stand-alone episodes where Buffy isn’t dealing with any season-long “Big Bad”. It’s just a strange little one-off with students turning up dead while the high school talent show looms large. A more rational person might question why this school remains open with the death count constantly rising with each episode but. . . **placing finger on your mouth** shhhhhh. Just go with it.
Instead, the “Scooby Gang” chases after a demon possessed ventriloquist dummy that they believe is harvesting organs. I know. Creepy, right? It’s pretty amazing watching a puppet wield a giant chef knife. Meanwhile, Cordelia’s tragic singing of “The Greatest Love of All” and the bonus end credits scene of Buffy, Xander, and Willow destroying an Oedipus Rex scene are hysterically funny. It’s these types of juxtapositions that keep you coming back for more.
Favorite episode quote – “My predecessor, Mr. Flutie, may have gone in for all that touchy-feely relating nonsense, but he was eaten. You’re in *my* world now. And Sunnydale has touched and felt for the last time.” – Principal Snyder
Season 2 – Bewitched, Bothered, and Bewildered (episode 16)
I’m attempting to not be a super spoilery jerk so let’s just leave it at – there’s a lot happening in season 2 as they go into this Valentine’s Day themed episode. Xander talks Amy into helping him cast a love spell and Buffy is pondering Angel’s next moves. The episode that immediately follows this one takes our Scooby Gang on a dramatically dark ride that doesn’t really let up for the remaining season so this episode really ends up being one of those “laugh it up before the $#!tstorm” episodes. Xander getting hit on by every chick (including teachers and mothers) in Sunnydale is giggle city. Oh, and Buffy gets turned into a rat.
Yup. . . welcome to the Hellmouth. 🙂
Favorite episode quote – “Oh, yeah. I remember coming on to you, I remember begging you to undress me… And then a sudden need for cheese.” – Buffy
Season 1 – Nightmares (episode 10)
The content of this episode is incredible when you consider it’s in the first season. It deals with one of the most serious issues across all of the seasons – child abuse. While everyone’s worst nightmares are coming true, Buffy keeps seeing a little boy. As the story progresses, we discover the little boy is in a coma and that his inability to face his worst fear is keeping him from coming out of it and also causing everyone else’s nightmares to come to life. But who can blame this child for not wanting to face his darkest fear?
Another notable moment is Buffy’s crestfallen face as her father tells her she’s the reason for her parents’ divorce.
Favorite quote – “I’ll sleep better when we find this guy. Nothing like kicking the crap out of a bad guy to perk up my day.” – Buffy
Out of Sight, Out of Mind – A great episode with a familiar face, Clea Duvall. She plays a girl who actually manifests the invisibility physically that she feels socially. For anyone who has ever felt less than popular, this one’s for you.
Teacher’s Pet – Xander falls for a teacher who turns out to be an over-sized preying mantis. An episode that gets called back multiple times, I’m pretty sure he still hasn’t lived this one down even in the comic books.
Halloween – We are introduced to a figure from Giles’s past who opens a costume shop in town. Everyone who purchased costumes there ends up turning into what they’re dressed as. Unfortunately, that means The Slayer is dressed like an 18th century noblewoman. Hijinks ensue.
Every damn episode with Spike & Drusilla – Honestly. . .James Marsters and Juliet Landau elevate the acting on this show tenfold the day that Spike & Drusilla show up in Sunnydale. From their first episode in the series to their continued appearances on Angel, Spike and Dru are absolutely riveting to watch. Their history, relationship, and absolutely bat$#!t insane choices they make keep them a continually entertaining part of the show.