Thursday, January 15, 2009

Buffy Retrospective: "Welcome to the Hellmouth" & "The Harvest"

The Good Ol' Days

One of the first things the viewer will notice when watching earlier episodes of Buffy are the regrettable clothing choices people made in the mid-late 1990s. Low points in the premiere include Xander's mushroom shirt. I will make an effort to highlight glaring wardrobe errors along with some of the more favourable choices made over the years. I'm a big fan of the Master's leather jacket; it's so well tailored.

Xander in his ugly green mushroom shirt
Source: mouthfullofdust
You'll also notice some big honkin' computers. Hacking was deemed to be pretty cool at the time, and Willow's computer geek status came in handy for the first few years of the show until she began to rely more heavily on magic and until the general public realized that most of the stuff she was doing was pretty unrealistic. While sci-fi/fantasy viewers can suspend their disbelief to a great extent, but this proves more difficult when characters in a sci-fi show are doing something that happens in the real world. I would argue that because Willow's hacking wasn't unrealistic in a supernatural way, it couldn't really be sustained as a plot device to the extent it was relied on in early stories.

Watching Seasons 1-3 make me miss the library. I think it's safe to say the Sunnydale High Library is my favourite recurring set of the series. I find books and wooden furniture very comforting, so the library has particular appeal for this reason. The fact that nary a student outside the Scooby Gang ever set foot in the place was not only convenient for the characters, but served as a testament to society's increasing neglect of the printed word.

Buffy in the Sunnydale High Library
Source: Buffyverse Wiki

Humble Geek-Infested Roots

It's particularly interesting to consider how the characters changed over the course of the series, in terms of both personality and physical appearance. Buffy matures and I think she gets funnier; Xander was once a scrawny teenager; Willow goes through the most drastic change in wardrobe to coincide with increased self-esteem; and Giles becomes less stuffy and loses the tweed.

Buffy has a long history of bringing back characters who don't necessarily seem all that significant on their first appearance. A couple of them are introduced in the premiere. With the way Darla runs off from a little splash of holy water, few could anticipate how important her character would become, particularly during her arc on Angel. Harmony, who comes across as just one of Cordelia's hangers-on, also makes the move to LA to provide a substantial amount of comic relief on Angel. Most recently, Harmony appears in Issue 21 of Season 8.

Harmony Kendall in Season 1 and Season 8
Sources: mouthfullofdust; Dark Horse Comics

Random Observations:
  • I'm so glad they eventually had Anthony Stewart Head record the little "In every generation..." blurb at the beginning of the episodes. The original guy's voice is weird and does not suit the show.
  • You may recognize the guy Darla kills in the teaser. He's Carmine Giovinazzo and he plays Danny Messer on CSY: New York now.
  • Nerf Herder's theme music makes me happy to this day, as does the opening credits sequence.
  • Angel was sort of a douche with his whole "mysterious stranger" schtick
  • Who is cuter than Alyson Hannigan? Nobody, that's who.
  • Cordelia is probably the funniest part of this episode. Her delivery is spot on.
  • Though we grew accustomed to the vampires bursting into dust when killed, it really added a lot visually. Watching people collapse is really boring in comparison. For examples, see the movie.

Favourite Quote: "Excuse me, I have to call everyone I've ever met right now." -Cordelia

End of the World Prevention Tally: 1 (I'd say preventing the Harvest counts since it would have inevitably lead to the Master opening the Hellmouth)

No comments: