Mark Watches ‘Buffy The Vampire Slayer’: S01E01 – Welcome to the Hellmouth

In the first episode of the first season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Buffy becomes increasingly irritated at the prospect of living up to her destiny. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to start Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

You know, I always go through this when I start a show or a new book, especially one with a namesake as large and popular as this one: How did I never get into this before? Somehow, over the course of the last fourteen years, I’ve not seen a single second of this show. I avoided every discussion of it, my friends never told me to watch, and I’ve blissfully wandered through life without knowing anything important about the show. And now, at the end of 2011, I’m going to watch all 144 episodes. Christ. That’s like…fuck. I’m not going to finish this until THE SUMMER. WHAT THE FUCK.

I’m not going to think of that right now. Instead, let’s get this first part out of the way:

THINGS MARK KNOWS ABOUT BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER

  • Sarah Michelle Gellar is Buffy.
  • David Boreanaz is Angel and he’s buff? I don’t know. Isn’t he on Bones?
  • Joss Whedon wrote it.
  • There’s someone named Spike?
  • There are vampires, I assume?
  • Wasn’t this on the WB when it aired here in California? That’s probably why I didn’t watch it, because my sister was obsessed with the WB, especially Seventh Heaven, and that show’s morality made me want to vomit and WHY AM I TALKING ABOUT THIS.
  • There’s a show called Angel and I’ll be watching some episodes in between Buffy ones for proper clarity and to get the full story. Well, we’ll figure it out when we get there.
  • Oh, there’s a musical episode! They hold a screening of it every year at Comic-Con. I’ve never seen it and I don’t know where it is. We should do a liveblog for it, shouldn’t we?
  • Vampires?
  • There will be slaying?
  • I mean, it’s in the title, so she has to do that, right?
  • How hilarious would that be if she ended up never slaying a single vampire?
  • This is a reminder not to ever give me a television show. I will troll the audience/my employers constantly.
  • Well, now I’m hopelessly off-topic.

So that’s where I stand right now. Somehow, by the sheer virtue of destiny or something, I don’t know a single plot to any second of this show. Not by osmosis, not by association, not by pure luck. I am going to watch this show in a beautiful state of ignorant bliss, and y’all get to watch my brain shatter into a billion pieces.

It should be repeated now that my site has a couple sets of very specific rules regarding commenting, and I know there’ll be a lot of new people around here. So: read the Site Rules. Do not spoil me. Is something happening in the future? Don’t post it. We use rot13.com to discuss any and all spoilers; it’s a cypher site, so that’s what all the gibberish is down below. If you have to ask yourself, “Is this a spoiler?” don’t post it. rot13 that shit, okay? Additionally, since this is a wide and varied community, I do my best to keep things as open and accepting as possible, which means that we discourage and disallow problematic language in the concepts. If you are told not to use a word/slur around here, please help us out to create a safe space for all commenters and go along with us. It’s just one site, okay? I want everyone to be able to watch Buffy together without feeling like they can’t have a conversation here!

And finally, it’s about goddamn time that I start watching Buffy The Vampire Slayer.

I HAVE A LOT OF THOUGHTS
Here are the vast majority of them

  1. Oh my god, the cold open is so cheesy and I love every second of it.
  2. Okay, I genuinely did not expect that Darla (that’s her name, yes? I believe she says it later in the episode, right?) was the actual vampire. That’s a clever misdirect.
  3. It’s funny how much the opening of this show feels so unbelievably 90s to me. This is what American television was like when I was growing up. I mean, if it wasn’t for the vampire (and the very overt sci-fi and fiction references later in this episode), this would seem like any other sitcom or drama for teenagers on TV.
  4. First thing that completely impresses me: This is not a show about Buffy discovering that she’s a vampire slayer. She comes to Sunnydale with a history. She’s already the slayer, and now she wants to escape that.
  5. SHE BURNED DOWN THE GYM AT HER LAST SCHOOL. WHAT THE.
  6. Oh my god, Principal Flutie, could you just give a forty-five minute rambling monologue to me? Here’s your topic: glazed donuts and their ability to call to you no matter where you are when you see or smell them. Discuss.
  7. The introduction of Willow, Xander, Jesse, and Cordelia is really awkward and jumbled. Look, I am not expecting perfection from this show; I know some of this shit will be dated or weird, and I’m totally okay acknowledging that and allowing Whedon to immerse me in this world. Still, not my favorite bit of exposition.
  8. Willow, can we hang out? I’m just going to call it right now: She’s my favorite character. Alyson Hannigan plays her with such a sincere sense of cluelessness that’s kind of refreshing? Like, Willow isn’t a fool at all; she’s rather matter-of-fact about things, like Buffy actually asking to hang out with her. She just doesn’t believe it would ever happen. I like that. She’s fascinating to me, and she doesn’t feel like a cruel joke.
  9. On that same note, I want to like Cordelia, but she’s written with just a single layer and there’s not much to her Regina George thing isn’t entertaining or funny. It’s kind of realistic, but I want more from her. I’ll patiently await some character development on her part.
  10. Xander you are SO AWKWARD. I don’t know how I feel about him yet. I’m not a fan of him constantly following Buffy around? But…well, I have to wait to talk about some of this. Hang around until the end of this list.
  11. ERIC BALFOUR. I forgot he existed!!! Oh god, he was on Seventh Heaven for a bit, wasn’t he? I swear, I will never mention that show again after this review I SWEAR. He’s not a very good actor, is he? I don’t think I’ve ever seen him in anything besides this and That Show I Won’t Mention Again.
  12. GILES. GILES!!!!!!!! OH MY GOD. Okay, maybe I will like him more than Willow. IT’S POSSIBLE. oh my god what is a Watcher I don’t get this at all. 
  13. A stake is a standard defense tool in Los Angeles. I love that Buffy barely commits to making this lie. She is hardly trying at all.
  14. So, back to #4: The dynamic this show has in the pilot is so fascinating to me, but when Buffy confronts Giles about the dead coach, she’s insistent that she doesn’t want to follow her destiny. I honestly expected this show to abide by the same trope I’ve seen a thousand times: Buffy is a regular girl, then discovers she’s ~special~ and then she has to deal with this!!!11!! Instead, we are long past that point. Buffy has been slaying vampires for a while and is now fed-up with this destined role, preferring for some peace and quiet instead.
  15. And now let’s talk about the other fantastic thing this pilot does: It doesn’t make Buffy’s secret a plot point for longer than twenty minutes. I don’t necessarily think this would have been a bad thing to watch, but I’ve seen it before. How many ways can you write that sort of stuff? Instead, Joss Whedon has Xander, Jesse, and Willow all find out about Buffy and vampires by the end of the very first episode, drawing them into the action pretty much immediately. THIS IS WONDERFUL.
  16. Oh, hello there Angel! You’re rather dapper. Is he another slayer?
  17. What is a Hellmouth IS IT A MOUTH OF HELL that would make sense.
  18. OH GOD. I have to laugh at the Bronze. It is the most horrific 90s stereotype ever, both extremely accurate and based entirely on fiction at the same time. YES THIS IS POSSIBLE DID YOU WATCH THIS SCENE. So much grunge and flannel and bad blouses in five minutes! The thing is….we didn’t have anything like this in Riverside. I mean, we had the Showcase Theater and the Barn (R.I.P. to both of them), but they were explicitly venues for alternative music, not this weird combination between an all-ages bar like thing and a music venue. Plus, these type of scenes make me laugh because I’m pretty sure it’s impossible to hear anyone talk in these venues.
  19. OH MY GOD IT’S THE ALIEN BOUNTY HUNTER FROM THE X-FILES.
  20. No, seriously, I want to like Cordelia. She’s going to find out about Buffy and they’ll become friends, right?
  21. Oh, so vampires dress like sleezy background actors in Scarface? Cool.
  22. The Master? That’s the third thing I’ve seen with a character with that name. I wish all three were The Master from Doctor Who, especially if it were always John Simm.
  23. What is the Harvest? WILL THERE BE PUMPKINS?
  24. I can’t help but laugh at the vampires using a cemetery. REALLY.
  25. OH SHIT SHE SLAYED A VAMPIRE IN THE FIRST EPISODE. Well, that was quick.
  26. Okay, I promise I’ll go easy on season one. But the fighting seemed staged and wooden to me. Is it explained how Buffy is so strong and agile? Did she train? (PS: THAT IS RHETORICAL. DON’T ANSWER IT.)
  27. A CLIFFHANGER IN THE PILOT? NOT FAIR. THIS IS NOT FAIR.

I definitely gotta say: this shit is fun.

[PS: Big sloppy thank you to Sadie, who designed the header for me. LOOK HOW AWESOME IT IS.]

About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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