I often encourage others – friends, family members, coworkers, acquaintances, perfect strangers, imperfect strangers – to watch Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Not as often as I recommend Firefly, mind you, but frequently enough that those close to me would probably call it a habit.
Occasionally, someone actually listens to me.
When that happens, I immediately start apologizing for Season 1. Well, first I get a little giddy and use the word “awesome” a lot. Then I engage in what I see as necessary preemptive measures – efforts to convince the potential convert not to give up until he or she has made it through the first season and given the second season a chance.
Buffy was a mid-season replacement, and Joss was still struggling to find the show’s voice throughout the first season. It’s definitely the weakest of the seven seasons. It’s also dated, it’s filled with awkward exposition, and it features a Big Bad who’s trapped underground for eleven of the twelve episodes.
Having seen S2 through S7, I feel compelled to repeatedly apologize for S1 because it’s just not as good.
This is perhaps unfair. To Buffy. To Joss. To my friends. But I do it every time. Sometimes more enthusiastically than others, depending on the soon-to-be initiated.
The thing is that nobody “prepared” me for S1, and I was hooked after the first two episodes.
When S1 was first released on DVD (yes, I know that was a long time ago), a friend of mine asked for the set for her birthday and then encouraged me to watch it with her. No preamble. No “it gets better; just give it a chance.” Just “Watch this. You’ll like it.”
And I did.
So why, if I was so willing to go on the S1 journey with no awareness that the show would become so much better, do I assume everyone else will give up and walk away from it before giving it a chance to reach its potential?
Why do I worry so much that my friends, family members, and other initiates will fail to stick with it long enough to experience episodes like Surprise and Innocence, Hush, The Body, The Gift, Once More With Feeling, and Chosen . . . not to mention Band Candy, Tabula Rasa, and Storyteller?
In this series, I shall explore Buffy with the help of a newbie – a friend who has never seen the show (or any other Whedon show) and is prepared to share her experience as she watches for the first time.
I admit, I have given her the apology speech. Several times, in fact.
Will she make it through all seven seasons?
As of this moment, I do not know.
All I can say is that I sincerely hope so; if she can just stick it out through S1, I’m sure she’ll love it as much as I do.