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Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Welcome to the Hellmouth

Giles: "You are the Slayer. To each generation a Slayer is born, one girl in all the world, a chosen one, born with the..."
Buffy: "...strength and skill to hunt the vampires, stop the spread of their evil, blah blah blah, I've heard it, okay?"

What is the basic function of a pilot episode? To introduce you to the characters and the basic theme of the show, and to get you hooked, right? For what it's worth, "Welcome to the Hellmouth" does introduce us to the characters and to the Hellmouth, but it certainly didn't hook me right off the bat. In fact, the entire first season was only so-so, although I enjoy it now in retrospect. Most fans report that they got hooked on the show at some point in season two. Which is true of me as well.

The very first person we see is an innocent-looking blonde who is not what she appears to be, and then we meet Buffy, also an innocent-looking blonde who is not what she appears to be. (I sense a theme here.) In fact, Darla biting her victim in the darkened, eerie-looking high school and the frightening images in Buffy's initial prophecy dream are a striking contrast to the bright sunshine, palm trees, rock music, and witty repartee.

The dialogue is, in fact, exceptionally witty and the characterizations are deft. Buffy pleased me right off the bat by preferring Willow and Xander to Cordelia and her crowd, although it's clear that her past choices were different. We learn about Buffy's checkered past at Hemery High through conversations with Principal Flutie (I loved him ripping her transcript into pieces, and then carefully taping it back together), and Buffy's mother, who has no idea that Buffy's previous school problems were all caused by vampire slayage. Fate must have led Buffy and her mother to the Hellmouth, since it cannot be a coincidence that Giles is there, waiting for her.

Buffy's new friends learn about her being the Slayer in the very first episode. Xander stumbles upon Buffy's secret by accidentally eavesdropping in the library, and Willow learns the truth after almost getting bitten by the fashion-challenged vampire who picks her up in the Bronze. (Buffy's philosophy is that life is short, seize the moment, tomorrow you may be dead. This is not a good thing to tell Willow, since it indeed almost kills her.)

Last but not least, Buffy is stalked by a dark, mysterious stranger in a dark alley near the Bronze, and they become acquainted after she pummels him to the ground. It's Angel, although we don't learn his name in this episode. David Boreanaz doesn't seem much like Angel, yet; his clothes look too fancy (is that a velvet jacket?), and he delivers his lines awkwardly and smiles too much. But he certainly is "gorgeous in an annoying sort of way," and he leaves us wanting more. There are subtle hints that he is a vampire; he gives Buffy a cross – in a box, where he won't have to touch it. And he tells her, "Don't worry, I don't bite."

Bits and pieces:

— The show opens with a saga sell: "In every generation..."

— Buffy is sixteen, and a sophomore.

— When we first see Buffy, she is in bed having a prophecy dream about the Master, the bat-faced, imprisoned vamp who is this season's Big Bad.

— We learn here what a Slayer is, what a Watcher is, how vampires function in the Buffyverse, and how someone becomes a vampire ("it's like a whole big sucking thing").

— We meet Buffy's mother but don't learn her name.

— Cordelia shows her colors early ("know your losers" and "the softer side of Sears"), somehow managing to be obnoxious, cruel, and funny, all at the same time.

— Willow and Xander have been friends at least since they were five. Willow is good in school. Xander is not so good in school.

— Jesse (Eric Balfour) is geeky and funny, and is in fact a lot like Xander.

— Even the classes at Sunnydale High are scary. Buffy's first class is about the fun part of the Black Death.

— The Bronze is in the bad part of town, half a block from the good part of town.

— At Hemery, Buffy burned down the gym because it was full of vampires. A little call-back to the original movie.

— The one-hour version of "Welcome to the Hellmouth" ends with a cliffhanger, although the episode was initially shown with "The Harvest" as a two-hour series premiere.

— References to dogs seem to be a standing joke on this show. Here, Buffy mentions that she just wanted to "have some friends, maybe a dog."

— Note from later: I started reviewing Buffy during its run at the beginning of season three, and it was my very first reviewing project. I wrote reviews of seasons one and two as soon as we started getting reruns, but way before the end of the series.


Cordelia: "I would kill to live in L.A. That close to that many shoes?"

Cordelia: "Of course, we do have to test your coolness factor. You're from L.A., so you can skip the written, but let's see. Vamp nail polish."
Buffy: "Um, over?"
Cordelia: "So over. James Spader."
Buffy: "He needs to call me."
Cordelia: "Frappaccinos."
Buffy: "Trendy, but tasty."
Cordelia: "John Tesh."
Buffy: "The Devil."
Cordelia: "That was pretty much a gimme, but you passed."

Cordelia: "Willow, nice dress. Good to know you've seen the softer side of Sears."

Aphrodisia: "The new kid? She seems kind of weird to me. What kind of name is Buffy?"
Girl: "Hey, Aphrodisia."
Aphrodisia: "Oh, hey."

Buffy: "To make you a vampire they have to suck your blood. And then you have to suck their blood. It's like a whole big sucking thing."

Giles: "Zombies, werewolves, incubi, succubi, everything you've ever dreaded was under your bed, but told yourself couldn't be by the light of day. They're all real."
Buffy: "What? You, like, sent away for the Time-Life series?"
Giles: "Ah, yes."
Buffy: "Did you get the free phone?"

Buffy: (holding up a sexy dress) "Hi! I'm an enormous slut! (holding up a floral dress) Hello. Would you like a copy of The Watchtower?"

Joyce: "Are you, uh, going out tonight?"
Buffy: "Yeah, I'm going to a club."
Joyce: "Oh. Will there be boys there?"
Buffy: "No, Mom. It's a nun club."

Angel: "Truth is, I thought you'd be taller or bigger, muscles and all that."

Willow: "When I'm with a boy I like, it's hard for me to say anything cool, or witty, or at all. I can usually make a few vowel sounds, and then I have to go away."
Buffy: "It's not that bad."
Willow: "No, it is. I think boys are more interested in a girl who can talk."
Buffy: "You really haven't been dating lately."

Buffy: "I didn't say I'd never slay another vampire. It's not like I have all these fluffy bunny feelings for them. I'm just not gonna get way extracurricular with it."

Buffy: "You're like a textbook with arms."

Cordelia: "Excuse me, I have to call everyone I have ever met, right now."

Giles: "The vampire is not dead?"
Buffy: "No, but my social life is on the critical list."

Buffy: "Okay, first of all, what's with the outfit? Live in the now, okay? You look like DeBarge. "

Three out of a possible four stakes,

Billie Doux reviewed all of Buffy and Angel, so she knows the plural of apocalypse.


  1. Finally! A Buffy review that people can comment on!

  2. This is exciting! I found your site several months ago because I was watching Buffy for the first time. I fell in love with the show, and I now consider it my favorite of all time. I enjoyed reading your reviews while watching it, and now I look forward to reading the comments.

  3. In honor of you adding Buffy to your Blog, the wife and I have decided to give Buffy a third go around. This is our all time favorite show. Although season one is no classic, it's still a great setup to what was to come later in season 2. Look forward to re-reading all your reviews, and commenting on some of the episodes.

  4. Thank you so much, Suzanne. And MrDre, what a lovely post. I'll look forward to reading your comments.

  5. so im obssessed with this site. i go on it all day every day. im obssessed with buffy and have been since it started. i watch it every single day. im the biggest fan, and im sooo thanfull for this site

  6. Wow, Antoinette. Glad you're enjoying the site.

    And I thought *I* was a big Buffy fan! I was pretty deeply obsessed when Buffy was airing; at one point, as soon as a new episode aired, I'd watch it a second time the same night, and a third time before I posted a review. If it was an outstanding episode, I'd go for four. When I moved to Los Angeles, I went to every Buffy event that I could. I was massively depressed when the show ended, even though one could argue that it was time. Buffy is still my absolute favorite show ever.

  7. Re-watched the pilot this morning. As often as I watch this show, I tend to give the first season a miss as it failed to impress me either the first or second time through.

    It is weak, but as Billie points out, it does set up a lot of the future and gives us a lot of information.

    Arguably, only SMG and AH show any acting chops at all. DB, as gorgeous as he is, is extremely weak. Luckily, he improves as do the others.

  8. The BUFFY RE-WATCH is on! Post your comments, rate the episode, choose your favorite quote, anything goes! Except -- remember, no spoilers for future episodes. If you'd like to talk spoilers and foreshadowing, join the discussion

    (And if you have a moment, tweet the link and like it on Facebook. I'd love it if we got some momentum with this thing!)

  9. When Buffy premiered, I was in graduate school in Texas and utterly miserable, for a bunch of reasons. I thought "Welcome to the Hellmouth" (and "The Harvest"), since they initially aired together were fluffy and fun and the dialogue was clever, but that was it. If I'd known it would eventually become my favorite show ever, I would have paid more attention.

  10. It had been a few years since I last watched this episode, and it was a lot of fun to go back to the beginning. I was smiling widely throughout, especially when those classic opening credits rolled. I'm not sure how well this pilot works for the uninitiated, but it works pretty darn well as a "first introduction" to a world and characters that have already become beloved favorites. Great dialogue, trademark cutting the seriousness with humor (I particularly loved Giles's line about getting the calendar with his Time-Life series), and lots of fun character-specific beats. I felt like I got a good taste of Buffy, Giles, Xander, Willow, Cordelia, and even Joyce. Angel felt off, and that velvet jacket was awful, but most everything else worked.

    Everyone looked so young! Except for Cordelia. Granted, she looks younger than she does now, but even back then, she looked like a woman pretending to be a high school student.

    Why on earth was Eric Balfour getting "and" status in the guest credits back then? It was 1997, right? He wasn't that well known then, was he?

  11. Okey… season one was never a favorite of mine, I watched it out of order the first time, and whenever I re-watch the series I tend to start right from season two. Initially I decided to join this re-watch on a “skip some episodes” basis and since Billie’s review is very complete I thought I could safely rely on that and my memories. So today I started reading the review of the pilot without watching but the second I read Buffy: "...strength and skill to hunt the vampires, stop the spread of their evil, blah blah blah, I've heard it, okay?" I stopped and went to see it :)

    The pilot is much better in retrospect.
    I remember liking Buffy more, but this time she was too chipper and chatty for my taste.

    Chris – regarding acting skills, I had an opposite impression, I think every main character was good enough for pilot, especially Alyson Hannigan. As far as Boreanaz acting – he wasn’t bad or good but he had such a small scene in the pilot, that it seemed he just didn’t quite know yet what he is to convey it properly.

    My favorite part of the episode was Buffy’s talk with Willow at the Bronze.

    Not the best pilot, but not the worst either…. watchable… and even re-watchable :)

    Jess – I thought the same – how young they all looked, especially Sarah.

  12. The pilot is definitely better in retrospect. I enjoy it now. Sarah Michelle Gellar was the youngest of the cast, only nineteen at the start of the series. Charisma Carpenter was the oldest, and she never looked like a high school student to me, point.

  13. Somehow I've seen these two episodes (Welcome to the Hellmouth/The Harvest) so many times I have them practically memorized. That isn't to say they are particularly good, but when introducing friends to a series it's good form to watch at least one episode with them. C'est la vie.

    Even if the acting is spotty in places, it is clear the chemistry between all of the leads is solid from literally the first scene. Xander has excellent comic timing, Willow has an earnest innocence and intelligence, Cordelia is snarky and oblivious, Giles is aloof and stuck in a specific role, and Buffy is head-strong and smart and far nicer than her movie counterpart.

    All of them felt like fully formed characters, even if there were growing pains in the season. As for this episode, it sets up everything very well. It brings us into the world, exposes us to the threats our heroine will have to face, and introduces the group dynamic fairly succinctly.

    I've seen far... far worse pilots. In fact, I've seen the original pilot for Buffy, talk about a total change. If any of your are curious you can check it out here; http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hyo9v7QFvKc (the video quality sucks, but it's only 25 minutes long so there isn't much of an investment).

  14. OH GOD the original pilot! It's...painful. It really is. It's shocking the show got an order off of that thing, to be honest.

    I first started watching Buffy in reruns on cable (this was after I was watching Angel regularly), so I already knew the tone, the setting, and all the characters.

    I agree with Chris on Boreanaz. He really grew into an actor on this show. Compare him here with season 2. It's crazy. Btw, the Angel I know and I love would never have worn a velvet jacket. It was an odd wardrobe choice, especially considering the lighting in that scene.

    Too add to the 'adults clearly playing high schoolers category,' I submit Nicholas Brendon. Kid is not 16.

    I adore Cordelia. She has such a hilarious way of blowing people off. "Don't you have an elsewhere to be?"

  15. “In every generation, there is a chosen one.”

    From the opening scene, I knew this show was going to be different. The pretty blonde girl turns the tables on the self-assured guy. How do you not love that??

    As a pilot, this did its job in that it made me want to keep watching. But, I agree with the others who have commented that it is better when you know the world and the characters. My favorite dynamic here is Giles and Buffy. I love the fact that he doesn’t take no for an answer and is as snarky to her as she is to him. “But you didn’t… hone,” always makes me laugh.

    I’m watching this on Netflix, so some of the songs are going to be all wrong. Grrr Arrgh.

  16. It's fun to see how young everybody looks and how different their characters will be at the end. But as a pilot, it was ok. I think in today's day and age it would have gotten the hook pretty fast. In fact, everytime I watch this pilot, I'm kinda amused at how corny it is. But the dialogue was great and the acting was pretty good. But as much as I love Buffy, this episode wouldn't have hooked me.

    I like the history behind this show. Joss Whedon wrote the script for the movie but they butchered it so bad that he wanted nothing to do with it. I think he felt compelled to make the tv show to get the bad taste out of his mouth lol

  17. This comment has been removed by the author.

  18. Yeah, sorry, I deleted Mark's comment. Mark, we do have a spoiler thread you can post it on:


  19. Oops, I didn't notice the deletion. I deleted my response and am reposting just the second part.

    Sunbunny, I definitely had a similar thought about Nicholas Brendan looking too old for high school, but I think he gets away with it a little better than Charisma because the goofy immaturity of his character. He brings a physicality to Xander that makes him seem younger, even though he occasionally looks too old. Cordy, on the other hand, plays and dresses at being slightly older and mature, which only emphasizes the fact that she's not a convincing high school student.

    (Of course, I've started to realize that television has completely warped my sense of what an actual high schooler looks like. When I see real ones out in the world I always think they are middle schoolers!)

  20. I was a fan of the BUFFY film (I actually watched in the movies), so when the promos were running for the TV series, I wasn't going to miss it.

    BUFFY premiered, if I recall correctly, during a dearth in horror TV series and a lack of good horror films. The only horror show I can think of from the winter and spring of 1997 is THE X-FILES and that was SF/horror, leaning heavily on the SF.

    BUFFY filled a void for me.

    I remember that I thought Darla was a little off in the opening, so I didn't buy into her being a victim, though I didn't think she was going to be a vampire. I thought she was going to kick the guy's ass, not bite and kill him.

    I had read Carol Clover's MEN, WOMEN, AND CHAINSAWS: GENDER IN THE MODERN HORROR FILM in a college writing class, so I knew of (and liked) the concept introduced in that book -- The Final Girl. So I appreciated what Whedon and Sarah Michelle Gellar were doing with that concept and bucking it by making The Final Girl a kick-ass super-heroine.

    I didn't then and I don't now care for the way the vampires vamp out. It irks me.

    I was only a few years out of high school in 1997, so I could still semi-identify with the setting, though not entirely identify. I went to an all boys Catholic high school and I worked all through high school.

    I was able to identify with elements from each of the characters.

    I had Buffy's empathy for the outcasts (I still have that!).
    I had (and still have!) Cordelia's mouth and snide delivery.
    I was shy (though not as shy) like Willow (I'm not shy at all anymore).
    I'm still a klutz like Xander.
    I'm a geek like Giles, though not a classy geek like Giles. I'm more like Giles now -- instead of being at a club, I'd prefer to be home with a cup of tea (Bovril, bleh!) and a good comic book.

    I didn't like Angel. He was too smarmy. I did like how Buffy first met him -- kicking him in the back from the high bar. That is just cool.

    You can see how secure Whedon was in his writing and how he was going to handle the series overall in the scene at the Bronze when Buffy and Giles walk past Darla as she's flirting with Jesse.

    The marching vamps in Buffy's dream freaked me out -- it was HELLA creepy!

    I still adore the opening theme.

    BUFFY instantly became my favorite TV show as it aired. BUFFY bumped THE X-FILES and MELROSE PLACE down the list. I recorded the two-hour series premiere and every episode going forward. I never missed a "live" airing.

  21. Whoops, forgot you reviewed this as two separate episodes, Billie.

  22. This was pretty much my first introduction to anything vampire. I'd heard murmurings of how great this show was, so after loving Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog I checked it out. I only watched this and The Harvest, stopping because I didn't enjoy the creepy/campy factor. I dislike most horror, and unless I grew up with a show/movie, older special effects bugged me.

    BBC shows helped me get over that, and then led me back to Buffy, with Being Human getting me more comfortable with a show about vampires and Merlin showing off the talents of Anthony Stewart Head. Dr. Horrible led to watching NPH's How I Met Your Mother, letting me see how awesome Alyson Hannigan was. So by the time I finally gave this episode another try, I was ready to fall in love with it. Still took me until season 2 to finally fall, but it was well worth it.

  23. Katie - It's so funny that all those shows led you to Buffy, while for me, Buffy led me to (some of) those shows. Clearly, it was fated that you watch Buffy, as every show you watched led you closer and closer to it... :)

    I'm just curious, did anyone else besides HBR fall in love with this show in the first season?

  24. A friend of mine has be watching Buffy. I'm currently in Season 6. Season 1 wasn't my fav but I have to say going back and watching the 1st episode was extremely enjoyable. What stands out the most to me is how much each and every character has developed over the seasons. It's nice to see characters who are no longer in the show by season 6.

  25. I was the same age as the characters are supposed to be in the pilot when the show aired, sweet 16. I immediately fell in love and planned my social calendar and work schedule around it. It had me from the first scene with the pretty school girl who turned out to be quite different than what you would expect, vampire! I was and still am all about girl power. The only difference in watching it this time was I thought Giles was hotter than Angel. What?! I will tell you that Giles became my favorite character, though.

  26. Thanks for having this rewatch! This is my third watch of Buffy, and I still feel the same way about the pilot. It provides an interesting hook, but if the show hadn't improved, I doubt I would have stuck with it despite all the recommendations I received to watch it.

    I agree that the characters were easy to like from this very first episode. The witty banter is fun right away, too. I am looking forward to a lot more and better yet to come.

  27. Katie -- I got into Bones before Buffy, so it was David Boreanaz who got me here in the first place. But, once I went through both Buffy and Angel, I was never able to watch Booth in quite the same way again.

  28. You're right Billie. This pilot is much better in retrospect. I remember back then, after a few friends begged me to watch Buffy from the beginning, I wasn't impressed. I soo categorized this as a silly teenage high school drama.

    But, having watched the whole Buffy series now four eight rounds, I kinda have changed my opinion on this pilot. It quickly goes into the Buffy dilemma - how to have a normal life while being a slayer - a metaphor for being a teenager and to fit in. Although this pilot has some cheap "scary" moments, that Buffy story somehow makes you want to see more. And I wouldn't have lasted until season 2 if there was nothing interesting and potential about the show. Still, so far I'm at silly-school-drama-mode, but...curious. So in the end, the pilot somehow worked.

    SMG wasn't the best of actresses in this first bunch of episodes.
    I always thought that the Master was a bit OTT.

    Isn't it amazing how young every one looked? Especially Julie Benz and David Boreanaz.
    The dialogue in this show is absolutely first rate.
    Wasn't Willow just adorable? You can't help falling in love with her.

    I noticed for the first time that in the opening credits there was a "and Eric Balfour" (later Six Feet Under/Haven), which means he is an important character. Without spoiling anything, let's just say that the opening credits in Buffy has always been very important...

  29. ChrisB, I feel the same way. Although I saw Buffy/Angel before Bones, I sticked with Bones for a couple of seasons, but then I realized I couldn't wipe out the Angel persona from David. So I dropped Bones...

  30. I watched Bones faithfully for quite a few seasons until I couldn't stand Emily Deschanel anymore. I never had trouble separating Angel and Booth. I do have trouble on occasion separating Angel and Reese from Person of Interest. They're similar in a number of ways and sometimes when I watch the show I can hear David Boreanaz's voice resaying whatever Jim Caviezel has just said.

  31. sunbunny -- I'm with you. I watched Bones for quite a while, but the Brennan character just got more and more odd and, finally, I couldn't take it any more. I left when the baby was born in a scene that took absurdity to a whole new level.

    But, I realize that it is also thanks to Boreanaz that I found another show I love. I was on the boards and a lot of people who had loved Bones in the past where raving about Castle. It didn't take long for my allegiance to switch.

  32. Chris - I wouldn't watch Castle for YEARS because it was such a blatant rip off of Bones (which apparently was a blatant rip off of Moonlighting, but I'm too young to remember that). I finally got over it. If you discount the later seasons of Bones, I think it was better, but taken as a whole, Castle kicks its butt.

    I quit before the baby. I think it was the episode that flashed back to their first case. It just felt too much like rewriting the canon for me.

  33. This was such fun. I think we sometimes forget that Buffy was something really new. That's why I fell in love with it. Not many kick-ass female leads then and there still aren't. It was hard to resist a show that took a lot of TV stereotypes and turned them on their head. I had to restrain myself from watching the next episode. Buffy led me to many other shows and I have absolutely loved everything that Joss Whedon has done - even the space western (seriously who else would have thought of that?) Best idea ever. Can't wait for the next episode.

    1. You're right, kick-ass female leads are rare. The '90's was a rare time in TV in that my three favorite shows had strong female leads who could fight: Buffy, Nikita, and Xena. All were written with humor included, but were basically deadly serious dramas.

  34. Sunbunny, I can totally see the Angel/Reese connection! I saw a few seasons of Bones, and I can definitely see differences between Booth and Angel. I also think Allison Hannigan does a great job of playing Lily on HIMYM totally different from Willow. I love them both, but Willow will always be my favorite.

  35. Wow, HBR, a true, true fan.

    BUFFY maintains a solid #2 spot in my all-time favorite TV series.

    #1 The original DARK SHADOWS

    Nothing will ever bump BUFFY down.

  36. First of all, thank you for this re-watch! I can already tell it's going to be so much fun.

    I actually didn't watch the whole Buffy/Angel series until about three years ago. I was 11 years old when it first came out, and while I remember watching some stuff when I was little, it's understandable that I couldn't really connect with it (what can I say? I was way more into Sailor Moon back in the day).

    I decided to watch it because an online friend of mine was obssesed with Giles and pestered me about it. I promised to give it chance and somehow ended up with DVDs for the seven seasons and the five of Angel.

    I'll confess that when I first watched the Pilot I found it a bit boring. On the up side, I'll say that the characters and the witty banter have always been there, but I still feel that the pilot suffers a little from too much exposition and from taking the corny/creepy atmosphere to the limit. Even while re-watching, I can still tell that the show doesn't exactly know its footing yet, and therefore doesn't know what it's strong points are.

    Despite all that, I think the pilot stands as an interesting introduction. The characters are great, the plot is original, and even today I think it's surprising that the hero is a tiny blonde teenager.

    One of the reasons that made me stick by it, too, was the vampire mythology. By the time I started watching three years ago, I had read Anne Rice, watched some True Blood and tortured myself with Twilight (among other stuff). I love vampires, and I think it's smart of the show to make them be ugly and beast like in their "transformation". I'm so used to the whole vampire as the prettiest creatures in the universe that you will beg to be bitten thing that I find it very refreshing that in this show they're shown as predators.

    On other, shallower notions, the fashion of these first seasons is something I will always find weird. I watched this thing in 2009, and it always strikes me as funny the way teenagers dress in this show. Just a thought.

  37. Bea, I was thinking about the fashion throughout, too! I remember dressing like Buffy in high school. I had the same type of dresses and shoes and wore my hair the same way.

    I also love the way the vampire mythology is set up from the very beginning. There are no redeeming qualities at the beginning. It is clearly black and white. But with Joss Whedon, you're always in for a surprise.

  38. Bea,

    I agree that I like the use of the monster faces in this show versus other vampire shows and movies. It provides a strong visual metaphor for the dual nature of these beings. It also plays well with the appearance versus reality theme that we see in so many others ways in the show as well. I think I read that Whedon got the idea from the movie Lost Boys, which I have subsequently watched. It is very good, so you might want to check it out.

  39. Wow, what a dose of nostalgia re-watching this pilot was. I think it's been at least 8 years since I saw it last. I can't believe it's been so long.

    As noted in the review, it's not the best of pilots, but this time around I just had a huge smiling on my face watching it from start to finish. So glad this re-watch is happening so I have an excuse to relive this wonderful series.

  40. I'm so excited to finally have a chance to catch up with the re-watch!

    Everyone's comments are right: the pilot really is better the second, third, fifth time around. I was dreading slogging through the first seasons, but I'm enjoying myself so far.

  41. Okay, my semester is over and I can now join in--even if I'm a little late to the rewatch party...

    As a newbie, there were a few things here that made me happy:
    -Alyson hannigan
    -Nerds and a librarian as heroes
    -witty dialogue
    -the Black Death lesson

    On top of those, I'm trusting all of your experience and just letting the show play out. Hopefully I'll be caught up in the next few days with the rewatch schedule and I can comment right along with all of you...

  42. Ok, I'm starting the rewatch now. Way behind, but I plan on watching one or two episodes a day. If real life doesn’t come in the way, I’ll catch up.

    I really liked the pilot, I had no remembrance it was that good. The characters were well established (and so darn likeable), the plot built up well (I was so worried when Buffy saw Willow talking to the vampire) and, even though the scenes with the vampires were cheesy, I was completely onboard throughout the whole thing. Giles and Buffy together are already lovely to watch. They have such a father/daughter vibe going on already. I love it.

    I also liked Boreanaz. I had the impression he was awfully bad on those early episodes, but even though his line deliveries are not on spot yet, he already has such a screen presence. What a charm.

  43. I'm a bit unusual in that Season 1 is actually my favorite season. I think the first Buffy episode I ever saw was "When She Was Bad" (2.1), possibly as a rerun, and the next one was, I think, "Anne" (3.1)- an episode I recorded to VCR and watched so many times that it's practically memorized (after that, I faithfully followed the show). I really liked both episodes so I bought the Vhs tapes then available for Season 1 (they only had the two part pilot, "The Witch", "Never Kill a Boy on the First Date", "Angel", and "Puppet Show"). For years, I wondered about how Season 1 ended; I had also missed most of Season 2.

    Eventually, I got all the Dvd sets. I was pretty disappointed with the last episode of Season 1 ("Prophecy Girl") which gave a surprisingly unimpressive end to a villain that had been built up as quite powerful (The Master), so I liked the episodes where he was brought back (like Season 3's "The Wish").

    Anyway, despite the weak ending, I still love Season 1 (yes, I know I'm unusual). I like the show in general thereafter as well quite a bit, though the extent to which I liked each Season varied greatly.

    There were definitely episodes I didn't like, but the quality of the writing was such that even those episodes usually had interesting elements anyway.

    I think the last time I did a complete run through of the entire Dvd set was about four or five years ago (don't remember exactly), so I'm probably overdue for another run (some individual episodes I've seen too many times to count; some that I didn't like so much, I've only seen maybe two or three times). The timing isn't great for me right now in terms of work, but I'd kind of like to participate in the re-watch in spirit, and am wondering if it's okay if I chime in every now and then.

    And I'd like to add, in general, terrific site, great reviews.

  44. Thanks, intp, and it's never too late to post a comment anywhere on the site. It's pretty much our thing here, which is why the site is set up the way it is. The only thing to keep in mind is that we don't post spoilers for future episodes because a lot of our readers have mentioned that they read along when they're experiencing a show for the first time. For Buffy and Angel, though, we have a spoiler thread where you can post anything! (See the links at the bottom of the review.)

  45. Just started watching for the first time. I will only give this a shot because the majority of people say it gets better when the second season starts.

    One question; How come Buffy didn't recognize Angel as a vampire, since she said (to someone) she could recognize them just by looking at them.

    Great site btw.

  46. Welcome to the Buffyverse, Hein! It does indeed get a *lot* better; it slowly becomes exceptional. It's my favorite show ever.

    Re: your question -- I don't know. There are some inconsistencies in early Buffy because Joss Whedon was finding his way. It also could be because there is something specific about Angel that I can't talk about without spoilers.

  47. Hello Billie,

    Since i just finished the episode called "Angel", i believe i understand why Buffy didn't know about Angel.

    Even though it might not be explicitely explained, it works as an answer.

    Thank you.

  48. What makes Buffy great can be summed up in three words. Sarah Michelle Gellar. I can't imagine this show with any other actress. She is so small and sweet, but when she gives the bad guy her deadly stare...OMG. Plus no one can say one word or make a small sound with a bigger impact. The way she says what or huh when confused or does that whining noise when overwhelmed, she cracks me up. Fierce and funny, I worship her.

  49. I just started re-watching Buffy with my 11 year old dtr, and popped on to look at this review. I just realized that the last paragraph before the 'bits and pieces' contained a spoiler re: Angel's nature... seeing as how particular this site is about spoilers I thought you may want to know :) I never noticed before because I knew it before I watched the show, but my daughter doesn't know yet! Thank you so much for this site, btw!

  50. Hi, Nonei, and sorry about that. :) There aren't many spoilers on the site. But I sort of hate to change the review since it's one of my oldest.

  51. Buffy is also my favourite show it bumped Press Gang off #1 for me (as an aside Press Gang is a show likely unfamiliar to most which featured a British actor playing American called Spike, vs Buffy which has an American actor playing a British vampire called Spike!). My fav characters are all strong women Buffy, Lynda (my name sake form Press Gang), Veronica Mars, Aeryn Sun (Farscape) and Charlotte King (Private Practice).

    I must have watched the entire series about 10 times, but still notice new things all the time.

    I came late to Buffy by way of Angel due to the cross over episodes in Angel's first season circa 2000. Ended up borrowing my neighbors season 1-3 DVDs, got caught up and was hooked from then on. I was older than the characters, in my mid 20s but the banter was great, the perspective fresh and it was shown late night here in Aus so perfect viewing right before bed.

    I like the later seasons best, but watching the early seasons shows how much the show evolved and cast acting chops improved. It always strikes me that David Boreanaz was very much the starving actor.

    It's hard to have a fresh perspective on the pilot where you start with more mature versions of the characters in later episodes. When you rewatch your impressions are tainted by how you know what is coming.

    Im well overdue for a rewatch.

  52. Hi Billie,

    I've been reading your reviews since Smallville was still on the air and I still love reading (and rereading them). As the series finale of Supernatural looms close and as my daughter and I were looking for something to watch together (because we just finished watching Dawson's Creek), I remembered how many times I saw you mention that Buffy is your all-time favorite show. I had thought about it before, being that Firefly is my favorite show, due in no small part to Joss Whedon's writing, so I suggested it to her and she said it sounded good. I've told myself I'm going to stick with it at least to some point in season two, since so many people say it gets better then, but I am already looking forward to it. On watching the pilot, all I could think about was how silly and childish the show is (though that could just be a knee-jerk comparison to Supernatural). My daughter immediately was incredulous that the school didn't shut down for the day and start offering counselors after the students found the dead body in the locker. And the vampires look so cheesy! Well, I'm glad you weren't too impressed with the first one, as well, since that gives me hope for the future. Is there a particular episode that you think is the real hook in season two? Thanks again for all of your reviews on this site!

  53. JBA, if I had to choose a season two hook, it's "School Hard." It introduces my favorite character.

    I do hope you and your daughter like Buffy. If you don't, don't feel bad. Everyone's mileage varies. Although when Supernatural began, everyone was calling it "Buffy with dudes." :)

  54. I've never really understood why people compare Supernatural to Buffy. To me, Buffy with dudes is Smallville: a show about a superhero in high school. The "monsters" Clark Kent fights are a little different, but the structure of the episodes and the type of side drama (the romantic entanglements, the yearning to be a "normal" teenager) are much more Buffy-like.

    Supernatural is much more like the X-Files. A typical episode consists of the two brothers heading somewhere in the U.S. to investigate reports of some strange occurrence and then it plays out like a police procedural with a supernatural (or sci-fi) twist. And the brothers are not (well for most of the sereis) superhuman.

  55. This pilot episode was okay for what it’s worth. Not that great but heck, it still does a good job at introducing the main characters I guess. Buffy is an interesting character, we come to know as the episode goes on that she is a vampire slayer and hoped for a clean slate as she moved in to that new town called Sunnydale with her mother, going to that new high school. Unfortunately, some vampires had other plans and although the episode might not be awesome in and of itself, the vampires’ motives are quite clear and that’s a good thing as far as the episode goes. 7/10. Good but the best part lies ahead.

  56. Season 1 of BTVS might not be everyone's cup of tea, but it has an especial place in my heart. I think the big difference between this season and the later ones relays in continuity. For me, the first 12 episodes function as small units, each one tells a different story, with a different mystical or magical case and with its respective closure. We still do not get to know much about the lives of the characters or their love lives, which does happen in later chapters. Although I really enjoyed the plot that is being put together in the later seasons, there is something about this lighter format that I really liked, especially because I started watching Buffy in an attempt to find a series that I liked as much as Sabrina the teenage witch. Definitely the resemblance is greater in the first episodes with the big time 90s energy, gorgeous outfits and the sarcastic teenage blonde main character, which has to face her responsibilities regarding a fantastic world. Anyways, I just finished watching BTVS yesterday and being able to read this reviews and all the comments after every chapter was really enjoyable, as I read in another comment it felt like watching it with friends. I guess now its time to start watching Angel ;)

  57. Anonymous, thank you so much, and welcome to Doux!

  58. I’ve seen the odd Buffy episode here and there, but I’ve got some time off work so I finally decided to give the show a go. I really liked this first episode, it was very 90’s, kind of reminded me of charmed. Looking forward to following along with your reviews.

  59. Somewhere along the line the Comet network reruns, which show 2 eps per evening, got offset so that they show first an even numbered episode and then an odd numbered ep. That means that one evening's broadcast will show a season finale immediately followed by the next season's premier.

    In Welcome to Hellmouth, at the end of Buffy's first big conversation with Giles, Buffy says "Oh, come on. This is Sunnydale. How bad an evil could there be?" Now, even coming in cold, just from the title of the series, it's predictable that this is a line will turn out to making really bad assumptions about the town of Sunnydale. However, when seeing Welcome to Hellmouth beginning the minute after the series finale ended, that line struck me as laugh-out-loud funny.

    Beyond just being a mildly amusing anecdote on its own, the point to this is: The context in the viewer's mind changes how they perceive things that they're watching, even if they're not thinking about direct connections. This, in turn, I think has some implications for some of the discussions in this thread about new viewers skipping ahead.

    I think that an argument could be made that one major reason why BtVS takes off when it does is because that is after some pathos has been added to the show's mix - which comes from adding complexity / depth / layers to characters - especially Buffy. I also think that knowing some of the background behind those shifts in Buffy's character can help make things resonate more for the audience.

    I understand why School Hard has been suggested as point to which one might, especially as the point at which you start all of the episodes again (though, maybe also could skip from School Hard to Halloween). However, because of what I said in the last paragraph, I think that I would recommend watching a few select episodes in between. The ones that I would suggest for that purpose would be Angel, Prophecy Girl, and When She Was Bad.


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