[Article by Mike Marinaro]
It all began during a LAN party at a friend’s house in 2004 when SuperJer of all people insisted we watch this great show called Firefly. With a bit of prying he convinced the 6 (or so) of us to head down to the “movie room” and watch the pilot (he had downloaded copies of the episodes on hi
s computer). After watching the pilot, “Serenity,” and “The Train Job” I was very interested in seeing more. I ended up buying the DVD set and tearing through all of them only to fall in love with the show more. By the time the credits rolled during “Objects in Space,” my favorite Firefly episode, I was seriously depressed: there was no more. All of my other friends at that LAN party had also ended up purchasing the DVD set.
Fast forward about six months later. I’m sitting at my computer, still weeping over the fact that there’s no new Firefly to watch after revisiting the DVD set. So in a desperate attempt to find more material like Firefly, I decided to look up what the creator of it had done before. To my shock I found out he was the one responsible for Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel, two shows I thought very little of at the time. “Corny show about a hot girl who makes sometimes-funny quips and kills vampires. No thanks” I had always thought to myself. Now fueled with the knowledge that Whedon had created ‘Buffy,’ I decided to go out on a limb. I guess I must have also been extremely bored that day because I impulsively bought S1 on DVD. I didn’t feel nearly as bad at the purchase knowing that S1 is only 12 episodes and I didn’t spend too much money on it. So I began plowing through S1. Right from the first scene in the first episode, “Welcome to the Hellmouth”, I knew the show was better than I had previously thought. The guy and girl break into the school, the girl is scared, and there are creepy noises in the dark. I’m expecting something typical to happen like a ‘vampire’ to jump out the dark and kill the guy while the girl screams. Instead the girl turns out to be a vampire and kills the boyfriend!
After finishing S1 I was impressed but didn’t think the show was anywhere near “great.” The “I’m only 16 years old” scene in the season finale,”Prophecy Girl”, was the first sign I saw that showed that this series could go somewhere more personal and tell actual important stories like my favorite show at the time, Star Trek: The Next Generation, had. Normally I wouldn’t have bothered watching more let alone buying more. However, I had read online (mostly in amazon.com’s S2 review section) that the show got a lot better in S2. I wanted to just download the episodes and then decide on a purchase later but the downloading wasn’t happening fast enough, so I splurged and picked up S2.
While there were a handful of episodes that were pretty entertaining in the first half of S2, nothing really struck me as purchase-worthy material. I was beginning to really get worried I’d wasted my money on this set. Then came the two-parter “Surprise” [2×13] and “Innocence” [2×14]. This is the first time the show had really made a serious impression on me. I loved what I saw but was still concerned that the Angel situation would get resolved within an episode and that there would be no consequences from Buffy not being ready to do the deed at the end of “Innocence” [2×14]. But then “Passion” [2×17] came along to wash all my fears away and blow me away in the process. I had been tearing through these episodes pretty quickly, but this episode left me numb. I literally couldn’t move after the credits rolled. I had to eventually get up and walk into my room, get on my computer, and simply go online and see if other people agreed with me that what I’d just seen was very unique to television. I was comforted that other people were as shocked as I was. “Passion” [2×17] is the episode that turned me into a massive fan.
I can see in retrospect it began with “Innocence” [2×14], but this is when I knew I was proud to own this DVD set. I knew what I’d just seen was one of the best TV episodes I’d ever seen in my entire life. It ranks up there with ST: TNG’s “The Best of Both Worlds” and arguably beats the TNG episode in shock value (and that’s no easy feat). I thought I’d hit the top, but then came along the emotional truck-slamming-into-you that is “Becoming Pt. 2” [2×22]. Words cannot do this two-parter justice. This episode was somehow better than “Passion” [2×17]. I cried for the first time ever, while watching film, at the end of part two. I’d gotten teary-eyed a couple times before, but never had I actually cried before while watching film. “Becoming Pt. 2” [2×22] is simply the best entertainment on a television set (or in a movie theater for that matter) that I’d ever seen in my life (and it still is). It is powerful, meaningful, gut-wrenching, and still absolutely hilarious (e.g. Joyce and Spike). I never thought TV could ever be even close to this good before.
Throughout all seven seasons of ‘Buffy’ the characters continued to change, evolve, and cover new ground. Every season felt new and fresh and had a unique tone to it. I love all the seasons because the writing managed to stay consistently high for the entire duration of the series. I’ve now seen the entire series completely three times and it is now my favorite TV series, finally dethroning ST: TNG. I also own the entire series, have gotten two friends hooked on the show (though many others just won’t give it a proper chance), and am completely obsessed with articles, interviews, and any kind of intelligent dialog regarding the show. I am now writing reviews for the series in an attempt to begin unraveling the many layers of complexity and depth that exists beneath the surface.