by Billie Doux
In March 1997, I was in graduate school at the University of Texas. And I was miserable. I didn't like Texas, but UT had offered me the best deal and it was one of the best schools in my field (information science). I was trying to finish quickly by taking too many classes, so I was constantly doing projects and writing many, many papers, and I was working part time on top of it.
When "Welcome to the Hellmouth" and "The Harvest" aired together on March 10, 1997, I watched it. But honestly, I wasn't impressed, I thought it was goofy and the high school setting made it feel way too young for me, and I didn't watch every episode in season one. Fortunately, I gave it another try when season two premiered. By then I had gotten my masters and had taken a twelve-month contract job in Mississippi to hold me until I found a more permanent job. (I didn't care much for Mississippi either, but I liked the Gulf Coast.)
When season three was airing, I taped every episode (remember VHS?), rewatched and practically memorized the dialogue, talked about Buffy with my friends at work (by this point, I had a more permanent job in Virginia). And I was compelled to write about every episode. I sent my weekly Buffy ramblings to my online friends. Which is why my reviews are signed with my name at the bottom — because they started out as emails to friends.
If season three hadn't been so amazing, that might have been the end of it. But season three was amazing. When season four began and Angel was spun-off, I started reviewing Angel, too. Eventually, I started looking for an online home for my reviews, and found one. Okay, I found three (they're all gone now). Eventually, I started reviewing a couple of other shows, too.
In late 2000, when season five was airing, I applied for the professional job of my dreams in Los Angeles and to my complete and utter surprise, I got it. Honestly, I didn't move to L.A. because of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, but proximity to the actual place it was filmed made the show an even bigger part of my life.
It started with Sunnydale High School. When I was interviewing for the L.A. job, I stayed with an old friend and, knowing my obsession with Buffy, she took me to see Torrance High School. After I moved, my new apartment in L.A. was very close to Sony Pictures Plaza (Wolfram & Hart) and I passed it all the time. This inspired me to hunt down and visit a few other Buffy/Angel locations. My favorite, after the high school, turned out to be the Angelus Rosedale Cemetery, which is where they shot when they needed a cemetery bigger than the one that they created in their parking lot.
The best thing about Los Angeles, other than the weather, is that a lot of movie and TV people can attend local events without having to fly. From 2002 to 2004, I attended a lot of Buffy-related celebrity thingies: four autograph events, a science fiction convention featuring David Boreanaz, the last Wolfram & Hart revue, and a political fundraiser thrown by Joss Whedon that featured a lot of his favorite actors. That last one was my favorite experience as a fan. It was amazing.
I also went to a small club in Santa Monica to see James Marsters sing. In fact, I went twice, in November 2001 and February 2002. Considering that both times there was a huge crowd and no seating so that we all had to stand huddled together and that the second time, we waited for hours for Marsters to show up, which was embarrassing because I had brought along a non-Buffy-fan friend, it was still worth it.
The final season (seven) might not have been a great one for the show, but it was for me. Since I lived relatively close to the warehouses in Santa Monica where Buffy was filmed, I stumbled into the opportunity to watch them film scenes on location, in the street. This is not as much fun as it sounds since it mostly involved sitting on a cold curb for hours, but how many people can say that they actually saw their favorite show being filmed? What with the events and the filming, I saw nearly every member of the cast of both Buffy and Angel, and talked with most of them. I also met several of the writers. And Joss Whedon, twice.
Back in the late nineties, I was an aspiring writer and had produced two and a half not-very-good novels. When I started writing about Buffy, my reviews weren't really reviews; they were rambling, brief, and somewhat unfocused. But as the show progressed, I must have gotten better at expressing myself, and I even acquired something of a following.
In 2004, I finally started my own web site and posted my already existing reviews of Buffy, Angel, Alias, The Dead Zone and Lost. Initially called BillieDoux.com for obvious reasons, my site later went through a couple of transformations as other writers eventually found me and joined up to review other shows, and eventually became Doux Reviews. We now have over 7,000 reviews and over 40,000 comments, and the site gets bigger every day. Reviewing television shows has become a huge part of my life.
So what does Buffy the Vampire Slayer mean to me?
It was and is my favorite show ever, even supplanting Star Trek. Buffy was so fascinating, unusual and complicated that it got me started writing episode reviews, which I am still doing eighteen years later. Buffy is the reason Doux Reviews is here at all. Honestly, I can't believe it's been twenty years since I saw "Welcome to the Hellmouth" back in Texas. I don't know what my life would have been like if I'd never seen it, but it would certainly have been different.
Happy birthday, Buffy!
Billie Doux loves good television, especially science fiction, and spends way too much time writing about it.