It was 20 years ago today, as the old song goes, that the first episode of Buffy The Vampire Slayer was televised on the long-gone and much-missed WB network. The show, based on a moderately successful but mediocre movie, survived an uneven first season (i.e. some of the first season episodes are really, really pathetic) to become one of the great pre-Golden Age television programs.
Or maybe, as Lucy Mangan wrote in The Guardian today,
“The Sopranos is generally held up as the inflection point for television-as-art – the moment the medium matured and had to start being taken seriously. But Buffy was there first and doing extraordinary things before the conflicted Mafiosi hit the screen…”
—from “Buffy the Vampire Slayer at 20: the thrilling, brilliant birth of TV as art”*
The Scooby Gang, and friends. And foes.
A personal story.
Back in 2002, I became seriously ill with what’s now called COPD. I went to my doctor on the morning of 12 November, and she immediately sent me to the ER at Washington Hospital Center. I didn’t get a room until a few minutes after 8 PM, but there was a silver lining, because once I had access to a TV set, I was able to catch most of that night’s episode of Buffy.**
I was hospitalized for three weeks, and instructed to recuperate at home for more than six weeks after that. During the entire time, my wonderful mother–who had turned 80 on the day I was admitted to the hospital–called me at least twice a day, just to make sure I was all right. The only time that was off-limits for phone calls was Tuesday night, between 8 and 9 PM, when Buffy was on TV.
So, yeah. I guess you could say I’ve always been a fan.
In this fan re-mix, Buffy takes on the most horrible vampire of all, with predictable results.
Another Bonus Feature
Here’s the original, never-aired pilot episode for Buffy, with a different Willow and a much sillier tone.
*The entire article, and the related stories on The Guardian site, are worth reading.
**It was a great episode, too! “Conversations with Dead People”.