BUFFY SEASON ONE REVIEWS
#1 Welcome To The Hellmouth (Series Premiere) : After burning down the gym at her old high school in LA, Buffy relocates to Sunnydale High with her mother, hoping to make a fresh start and put her life as the slayer behind her. Sadly for Buffy, her move has been made aware to Rupert Giles who is the resident librarian and who has been sent by the council to train her for her duties as the slayer ? which are needed more than ever after a boy is found dead in the girls locker room. Will Buffy be able to prevent the Master from roaming the earth and making vampires the dominant species once again? Only time will tell?
REVIEW: Well as series openers go, this accomplished pretty much everything it needed to. It introduced all of the major characters while keeping their back story to a minimum, introduced the villains and overall set the tone for the remainder of the season and to a lesser extent the next three seasons. I thought Sarah Michelle Gellar was terrific as the slayer - she has good presence and can convey the right intensity or vulnerability as called for as an actor and the other actors are equally terrific. On this show there is something for everyone. We have Willow as the resident genius, Xander as the guy who just wants to fit in but seemingly never does, Cordelia as the resident beauty and Giles - who is basically a walking encyclopedia. I found that the production values were high and that everything moved along at a comfortable pace and that for the most part it was an enjoyable ride for the hour. *** out of 5
#2 The Harvest: As Willow searches for information on the Harvest, Buffy goes after Jesse but is already too late. The vampires attack the bronze to begin the ceremony and Buffy must intervene to save everyone.
REVIEW: In TV lore, there is a common belief that the second part of an episode is generally worst than that of the preceding one (in some areas Welcome to the Hellmouth/The Harvest aired back to back but in syndication it has been broken into two separate episodes) but this one defies that. It was nice to see Gellar cut loose with the slayer and kick some vampire hinny at last (her kick at Angel in the series premiere doesn?t count) ? though the directing could have been handled a little better. I thought the plot of her trying to rescue Jesse was believable ? though I was amazed she took so long to figure out that it was an obvious trap ? with the master converting him to a vampire. If I were a slayer and entering an obvious trap, I would have flashed a crucifix in front of the person beforehand ? that way it would ensure no surprises (of the dubious kind) later on. Overall, a really nice episode but check out the scene where Buffy kicks Luke at the Bronze ? you can easily spot the stunt double. *** out of 5
#3 The Witch: When students start dropping out of cheerleading tryouts by spontaneously combusting, going blind and losing the power of speech, Buffy and her posse suspect a powerful witch is in their midst. Buffy herself soon becomes the target of a deadly spell as they discover the witch's true identity. Meanwhile, Xander finally musters up the nerve to ask Buffy out on a date but in the throes of a witch's spell, Buffy's response isn't exactly as he'd hoped.
REVIEW: After all the excitement from the first two episodes, I suppose it was inevitable that the consistency would break some time and this episode was just the one to do that. While not really awful, it just plodded along with no particular hurry and really the only reason I can recommend this is for the continued development of the central characters - otherwise avoid. * out of 5
#4 Teacher's Pet: Xander and the other boys in a biology class come under a spell from a beautiful substitute teacher who is harbouring a dark secret that threatens to destroy them all.
REVIEW: Perhaps the second strangest episode of the year this introduced the sexy Natalie French as the man hungry praying mantis who wants to breed her offspring. With that premise the episode could have ended up a mess but thanks to the direction of Bruce Seth Green ? he kept the episode moving along and the script by David Greenwalt provided the usual horror and comedy we have come to expect from a standard Buffy outing. Overall, not great but an improvement (easily) over the Witch. ** out of 5
#5 Never Kill A Boy On the First Date: Buffy tries to maintain some semblance of a normal teenage social life by opting for a hot date instead of helping Giles protect Sunnydale from a violent vampire prophecy. As she's blinded by love, Buffy ignores the signs of the dark forces aligning against her. Meanwhile, while Buffy's being romanced, the Master is plotting her demise by invoking the wrath of the "Anointed One" - a great warrior vampire that is the Master's most powerful weapon against the slayer.
REVIEW: This is one of my favourites from the first season but some of the elements were shockingly bad. Every time a TV series centres around a female action hero, it feels compelled to present her as a love-stuck character which suddenly falls for a guy we just happen to see but who she has been obviously pining after for ages. This time around we have Buffy madly in lust with a teenage kid called Owen. She throws herself about in the most obvious manner & wants nothing more than to go out on a date with but of course the token vampires turn up and ruin her date - even convincing her at one stage that they have killed him. With that out of the way, it must be noted that the episode moves along at a breathless beat & is otherwise quite enjoyable. **** out of 5
#6 The Pack: When Buffy and the rest of Sunnydale High endure the annual field trip to the zoo, Xander and some other kids sneak into the quarantined hyena exhibit, but leave in an altered state. It's up to Buffy, Giles and Willow to discover the cause behind Xander's bizarre behaviour and reverse the transformation before it's too late. Meanwhile, Xander's new aggressive demeanour doesn't play well with his old friends.
REVIEW: Hmm, what to say about this one? Without a doubt it was one of the most original premises Buffy has ever come up with up but I felt bad for Principal Foodie (now we know why he was named that) as the pack devoured him - or as Willow said "ate him up." Combining the usual humour twists with action and compelling dialogue this is one for the archive. *** out of 5
#7 Angel: While Buffy grows more and more annoyed with Angel's mysterious disappearing act, she can't deny her growing obsession with him. Meanwhile, it's killing Xander that Buffy doesn't have a clue how he feels about her and as he vents his frustration to Willow, she knows all too well how he feels. In the underworld, the Master is incensed that Buffy has taken the lives of so many members of his family and summons warrior vampires to annihilate her.
REVIEW: I liked this one quite a bit as it explored the past crimes of Angel and his connection to Buffy. The episode was suitably atmospheric and everyone got screen time - which was put to good effect. One of the strongest yet. **** out of 5
#8 I Robot, You Jane: Buffy and Giles face a demon spirit who has been trapped since the Dark Ages and is unleashed into cyberspace. Meanwhile, Willow has fallen for a cyber-beau whom she met online and Xander and Buffy are wary of who this anonymous wooer may turn out to be.
REVIEW: Quite relevant given the allure of the Internet and its impact in present-day society. I thought the episode mixed the usual good humour, horror and self-parody we have come to expect from Buffy and overall this one, while not overly riveting, was an entertaining diversion. *** out of 5
#9 THE PUPPET SHOW: Sunnydale High School's annual talent show serves as a backdrop for murder when Buffy must catch a knife-wielding stealer of human organs. Meanwhile, the new principal is a discipline-loving brute who forces Giles to run the talent show and orders Buffy, Xander and Willow to perform.
REVIEW: I'm not really sure what to make of this one. The premise did not really inspire me or interest me that much to be perfectly frank. The idea of a talent show offered a chance for the usual horror slapstick scenes but overall, I came away less than impressed. ** out of 5
#10 Nightmares: The world of nightmares and reality become one when everyone in Sunnydale is living out their worst fears. While Xander comes to school in his underwear and Giles is unable to read, Buffy must unravel the mystery before reality unfolds completely into the world of nightmares.
REVIEW: Now this is more like it. I really liked this one and thought it was a nice reversal of the "Nightmare on Elm Street" lore. Sarah Michelle Gellar, in particular, was riveting to watch as she tried to deal with the various nightmares and it was suitably scary to see her confront her greatest fear - that of becoming a vampire herself. Strong stuff. **** out of 5
#11 Invisible Girl: Buffy and Cordelia become unlikely allies to combat an invisible spirit that has targeted Cordelia and everyone around her. Meanwhile, Angel goes to Giles to warn him that Buffy could be in grave danger.
REVIEW: Finally we get an episode that revolves around that self-centred cheerleader - Cordelia - and what a treat this was too. If any more proof were needed that Charisma Carpenter is a talented young actress, this delivered it in spades. At times bitchy, whiny, heroic and courageous, Cordelia was absolutely entertaining to watch in this outing. Hopefully the writers will give her more turns in the spotlight in future? Overall? One of the best this year and a nice build-up to the season finale. **** out of 5
#12 Prophecy Girl (Season I Finale): Buffy wants to resign from her life of slaying when Giles uncovers an ancient prophecy that spells out her deadly fate, as the Master's ascension from the Hellmouth is at hand. As the earth begins to crack open, Xander, Willow and Cordelia face an army of demons and the prophetic end of the world. Meanwhile, Xander finally asks Buffy to the prom with equally disastrous consequences.
REVIEW: Just when you thought Buffy could not get any better, they delivered this episode. This is the hands down, best episode from the series to date and for once the continuous build-up throughout the season has been worth the wait. Writers on other shows (such as Star Trek Voyager/Deep Space Nine) have attempted to do similar arcs but the pay-off has been less than worth it. Perhaps they should pay more attention to the writers that script Buffy? They could certainly learn a thing or two! Getting back to the episode itself, this has become a fan favourite and one can easily understand why. It delivered everything a fan could want - kick-ass action sequences, beautiful direction and dialogue, meaningful relationships, the final confrontation between the Master and the Slayer, etc. Anyway, this was an absolute blowout way to end the year and I definitely look forward to Year II. ***** out of 5