I remember that night like it was yesterday.
It was March 10, 1997. I was in 7th grade, turning 13 in just 10 days. I was working on my homework at the computer in the basement family room, where early evenings were dedicated to the mindless sitcoms Channel 11 offered. I watched “Growing Pains”, “Who’s the Boss?” and “Mad About You” reruns regularly between 5-7PM – they made a great soundtrack for my adolescent homework time.
“Mad About You” was coming to an end as I was finishing my homework. It’s funny how specific moments stay with you forever… I’ll just never forget how it happened. As the credits finished rolling, The WB programming began. The creepy-voiced narrator teased the premiere of a new show, and said “Virginia, 1866. The frequent disappearance of Civil War Widows shocked an already grieving community. These events ended when Lucy Hanover arrived in town… 41 bodies were found near Union Station but shortly after the arrival of this young woman, the murders stopped… now, in 1997 it’s starting all over again… something strange is happening in Sunnydale.” His creepy monologue was intercut with spooky scenes of mysterious activity, murders, and other creepy stuff, and the slogan “For every generation… there is only one slayer” appeared on the screen. I was intrigued.
After some exciting action-y cuts, a young woman said “if we don’t find her… there’s gonna be one more dead body in the morning.” My pre-teen self thought “Ooh! Mysteries! Vampires! Excitement!”, and I closed my books, threw myself over the couch, and prepared to watch the 2 hour premiere of Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
I’m so glad I randomly watched this show. To this day, I’m still a huge fan of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Yes; Buffy. Yes, I know it’s a show with a silly name. But it’s actually incredibly smart. The writing is clever. The acting is quality. The show was and is a real treat.
The first season aired on Monday nights for 12 weeks. It was a short season, a mid-season replacement, and I can remember recording the episodes on my parents’ VCR when I wasn’t going to be home. [Yes, I’m aware that’s dating myself with a VCR reference.]
The main story arc of season one was the Master Vampire trapped underneath Sunnydale and his desire to get free and fight Buffy. There were also other great “monster of the week” style episodes, a subtle subplot of Buffy coming to terms with who she was, and a slow build romance between Buffy and Angel, the vampire with a soul. What made me love the show so much wasn’t necessarily the vampires, monsters & other supernatural elements (although I did love those things!), it was the empowerment. I could feel it. Even as a 12 year old geeky kid. Buffy, and her friends, were social misfits. They certainly were not the “cool kids” from school, and even they made a real difference in the world. They went unnoticed by the rest of school, but they mattered. And they made it cool for me to be different. As an adolescent misfit myself, that was key in my development and confidence. Buffy helped shape me, and give me the confidence, be myself, enjoy my weirdness, and eventually, come out as a gay man. It’s hard to believe that a TV show can have that much of an impact on someone’s life, but it can.
The big finale of season one aired on a night I wasn’t home. I have such a clear memory of watching the taped finale with my sister, sitting in front of the TV later that night. I even remember being a little scared! The Master Vampire was free and was Buffy was destined to die. The show came to it’s big finish and I was enthralled. Yes, he bit her and Buffy died, briefly. But, fortunately she was revived. She would live to slay another day. I cheered in excitement and anticipation of her future adventures.
Over the course of the show, not only did I fall in love with the story, I also found another great love of my life, musical score. Some of the most beautiful pieces of musical score are featured in Buffy by one of my favorite composers, Christophe Beck. I recently bought an amazing album of his, and other composers’ works, and I absolutely love it. 20 years after the show began airing, and they are still releasing material from it! My interest in his work led me to discover the world of score. Today, I listen to a wide variety of score… but that’s a tangent for a whole ‘nother blog post.
I also became a huge fan of sci-fi/fantasy and mystery, especially reading. I have so many interests that I can directly attribute to Buffy. The Fever Series, Lost, The Giver, The Man in the High Castle, The Handmaid’s Tale, Mark Edwards, Anita Blake, Donnie Darko… the list is endless. All future blog post ideas.
I watched Buffy religiously for seven years and 144 episodes. It spawned an entire generation of “TheWB” teen-focused dramas. Buffy launched the highly serialized sci-fi/fantasy programming that we take for granted today. It was a big deal. A trendsetter.
I own all of the episodes on DVD and still regularly watch them. It’s also streaming on Hulu. Buffy is the perfect the “I’m having a bad day” show, or the “Rainy Sunday afternoon” show, or the “Just because I freaking feel like it” show. And I love it. Always have, and always will. If you haven’t seen it, you absolutely must check it out.
In future blog posts, I’d love to write about some of my favorite episodes, and feature my Buffy collectible memorabilia. Do you guys love Buffy? Would you like to see and hear more?