Where to start?

Liz Bent

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I may be the only person in North America who has never seen "Buffy the Vampire Slayer", with the possible exception of my mother.

Is this the kind of show where you must start at the beginning, or are there certain seasons or episodes that stand out that can watch first? I don't have tons of spare time for watching TV, even good TV.

Your thoughts?
 

j d worthington

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Hmmm.... My first exposure to the series was coming in on the last ten minutes of "The Puppet Show". In fact, I didn't know what the show was until I had been watching it a few minutes; it just seemed quite witty and very odd and wonky... but It piqued my curiosity. The next week, I saw the entire episode ("Nightmares")... and was blown away by how well the episode was done, and the level of the writing. After that, I began trying to catch up on the rest of that first season, and continued with it (and Angel) thereafter.

So no, you can come in later, though I would suggest beginning with the first season at least.

Also (though it seems an obvious thing to say), it is uneven; at its best it is one of the best things put on television. At its worst, it was self-indulgent and just plain off. Fortunately, I'd say the latter is seldom the case....

Anyway, if you'd like to begin at the beginning, here's Wikipedia's entry on the episodes:

List of Buffy the Vampire Slayer episodes - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
 

j d worthington

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You might watch the movie while you're trying to figure out where to start with the TV show.

Personally, I would hesitate before recommending the film. Joss Whedon himself has problems with that one, as he was not (if memory serves) allowed to develop it the way he wanted, and it is seriously flawed as a result. The series, on the other hand, does a very good job at balancing humor, horror, and drama, and what you need to know from the film is briefly dealt with here and there during the first two seasons (where relevant).
 

J-Sun

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Yeah, I agree - start with season 1 but just be aware that, while it's great, seasons 2 and 3 will be even better. I just wouldn't start with them. You gotta start with Buffy meeting Giles and Willow and Xander (and Cordy). Transfer student! New school! I totally won't burn down the gym this time! (Which actually is a movie reference but no big deal.)

Another thing to note is that BtVS is the master of the season arc. Some episodes are "monsters of the week" and some are "big bad" episodes but really every episode ties into the several main plot threads and the major one each season. It's definitely not one to watch various eps out of order or to skip completely. I mean, it's not so tightly woven that you couldn't do some of this, but you'd be cheating yourself of the full effect. And, of course, the seasons follow the characters through their school years and Buffy's birthdays and various holidays are major episodes and so on. It's a very additive, historically conscious show.

Man. It's time for me to break out the DVDs again, though I've also been hankering for Firefly and I'm already in the middle of some stuff.
 

Liz Bent

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I guess next holiday I get I'll be sitting down and watching Season 1 episodes back to back. A lot of people have recommended this series, so it's been on my list of things to investigate for a while.

As for the movie, I suspect it only would be good to watch (?) if I were already familiar with the show and its characters. The Firefly movie was only good because friends of mine made me watch episodes of the show first, so I understood the characters. I've since watched that entire series.
 

pyan

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You might watch the movie while you're trying to figure out where to start with the TV show.
Sorry, dask, I agree with jw - don't watch the movie first. Start with series 1, then work through them.

Personally, I wouldn't bother with series 7 either, but that's a biased and jaundiced view...:D
 

J-Sun

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Sorry, dask, I agree with jw - don't watch the movie first. Start with series 1, then work through them.

Personally, I wouldn't bother with series 7 either, but that's a biased and jaundiced view...:D
Actually, it's 6 that I couldn't stand. 7 wasn't great either and I don't own either season on DVD but 6 was the first Noxon/UPN season. It did have a great pair of episodes in "One More with Feeling/Tabula Rasa" and 7 had at least "Conversations with Dead People" which was pretty good but, for me, Buffy ended with season 5.
 

thaddeus6th

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I'd avoid the film.

When first aired I missed the first season but saw most of the second, which I rather liked. I didn't have any problems getting to grips with the backstory. Probably best to start off with season 1, though.
 

j d worthington

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To me, season six was rather good, but a bit hard to watch. I recently saw a panel with several of the major players (and Whedon), and I wasn't off on that, apparently; they found that they were going down a particularly dark road there, even after they'd decided to do a "lighter" season.

Season seven was definitely hit-and-miss, but had some very fine stuff as well as some which was very much "off". Altogether, I'd suggest watching these as well, but be aware that the series was going in a rather different direction at that point....

Oh, and as for "Once More with Feeling"... make sure to get the full-length version; it has been edited for broadcast in syndication, since it ran about ten minutes over the usual hour format....
 

dask

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Two things about the movie: I remember liking it and I barely remember anything about it. Besides, I wasn't so much recommending as suggesting. Sometimes if you don't know where to start, start at the beginning. If you've never seen it how are you going to know you're not going to like it regardless of what others think?
 

qwigwog

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Well, my recommendation:
The first season isn't very good. It was a nice watch for the afternoon time when it was running at a real- time, but today it's just seems a little bit silly and childish.
Watch a couple of episodes- maybe until the episode "Angle"- so you can know the characters and the whole plot concept in general. then, skip to season two, which is amazing, for my opinion. If you will get curious about the early episodes, you can watch them after you will learn to like the show (which I sure you will like!)
 

J-Sun

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Well, I get that viewpoint (and welcome to the Chrons!) but I see it differently (as I've already vaguely expressed).

"Angel" is ep #7 and you can't miss the excellent #11 ("Out of Sight, Out of Mind") or, obviously, the finale (#12, "Prophecy Girl"). So it doesn't save you much and even the worst ep has something great in it. The two-part premiere is essential, then "Witch" is superb and shows you that it's not just vampires. "Teacher's Pet" is relatively weak but still has some really funny and insightful stuff. "Never Kill a Boy on the First Date" is an essential episode for showing what it's like on the inside for the Scooby Gang vs. the outside. "The Pack" is a jaw-dropping exercise in amazing TV that resonates through the series and leads to one of my favorite Principal Snyder lines later -
probably a slight misquote: "That's the kind of fuzzy-headed liberal thinking that leads to being eaten!" - kind of like Buffy admitting she snuck out to a party and had a drink and Giles says, "Yes, and you were very nearly devoured by a giant demon snake. The words 'Let that be a lesson to you' are a tad redundant at this juncture"
. Then, yeah, "Angel" actually isn't my favorite episode but it's absolutely unavoidable (as are the earlier Angel appearances) for getting the resonance of later events. I'll admit "I Robot, You Jane" is not the best but it shows how "plugged in" the show was in '97 and, hey, Willow. (
Cordelia's expression after Willow tells her to hit "deliver", and she does, is priceless
). I don't much care for "The Puppet Show", though. But "Nightmares", while I can't think of anything in it that is absolutely required, is a pretty good one. (Even it has resonances later such as
Buffy's fear of becoming a vampire and being buried alive and all
.) The guest kid and the story are effective.

I dunno - season two is still better but season one's pretty great, to me, IMO.

(Sorry, I used to be on BtVS boards and forget it's not old times. :))
 

qwigwog

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Well, I will start from saying that I loved "I Robot, You Jane". But I guess that it's a matter of personal taste?

My goal, when writing this comment to Elizabeth Bent, was to draw her into watching the show. Of course that if you want to understand the show in a deep and meaningful way, you have to watch season 1. But I think that if you are just a beginner to Buffy- well, it's more important for you to watch the best episodes when you are stating your opinion on the show, and not stating it on the the first and weaker season- but on the best one (which is season 2, of course).
 

J-Sun

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Well, I will start from saying that I loved "I Robot, You Jane". But I guess that it's a matter of personal taste?

My goal, when writing this comment to Elizabeth Bent, was to draw her into watching the show. Of course that if you want to understand the show in a deep and meaningful way, you have to watch season 1. But I think that if you are just a beginner to Buffy- well, it's more important for you to watch the best episodes when you are stating your opinion on the show, and not stating it on the the first and weaker season- but on the best one (which is season 2, of course).
Yeah, for the record, don't get me wrong - "not the best" of Buffy still leaves a long, long way to go before that becomes "not good" and I don't dislike "I Robot, You Jane". As far as best season, I've always been torn. It is really hard to argue against season 2 but it's also hard to ignore Faith as well as The Mayor. All I can say for sure is that seasons 2 and 3 are the best. As far as starting with season 1 or not, it is just a half season, though, so it's not like you're too far from getting to the best. I really don't know what it would be like since, while I've still never seen the movie, I started with the first episode of the TV show and it just feels like some resonances would be missing if it were otherwise.

But I think we all agree on the basic point: wherever you start, start! :)
 

devilsgrin

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you have to watch from the start. its simple. There are a couple of weak seasons... 4 and 6 being particularly bad throughout.
I enjoy season 1 coz its the intro. 2 because its the best...Spike, Drusilla, Angel... 3 - more cordelia, faith... 4. Is the worst season. tried to be all mature and grown up... didn't work properly. 5. Glory Glory Hallelujah! i loved Glory. My favourite of ALL the villains. Made season 5 special and rather unique compared to some of the others. 6. Was pretty bad for most. Too mopey. Too tangential... too much magic. 7... some episodes are fantastic. some are bad... its like all 6 others seasons spread over 1 in its bumps and dips. But some of the best episodes of the series are in season 7. including the final episode with is my favourite (aside from Once More With Feeling and Hush, oh and the episode where they reveal who and what glory is... loved that)
 

Liz Bent

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I've reached a bit of a conundrum- my husband doesn't want to watch the series! So I guess I will have to watch them on my own. :(
 

Ursa major

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As for the movie, I suspect it only would be good to watch (?) if I were already familiar with the show and its characters. The Firefly movie was only good because friends of mine made me watch episodes of the show first, so I understood the characters. I've since watched that entire series.
The film is not a spin-off from the TV show. The film came first (1992; the TV show started in 1997) and apart from Buffy, none of the characters from the film appear in the TV show.


I've seen the film, and while I can't remember much about it (which should tell you something about how good it is), I do recall that the film is nothing like the show except both have vampires and a slayer.
 

Bluebird

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I'd definitely start from the beginning as it really is a coming of age kinda show. It does take its time to get going with its little half season opener, but it really leaves an impression and sets up the tone of the show.
 

soulsinging

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I've reached a bit of a conundrum- my husband doesn't want to watch the series! So I guess I will have to watch them on my own. :(
Has he seen them before? Any guy that can't appreciate Joss Whedon needs his head examined :)

I loved Firefly for years but somehow never saw this. I started in January of this year coincidentally and watched the whole show in roughly a month. It's fantastic!

As people have said, skip the movie and start with season 1. It's flawed but engaging and lays some important ground work for later events and relationships. Some of the seasons are a little uneven towards the end, but it was still one of the most consistent shows I've seen.

Love the character of Anya in the later years.
 
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