This site will work and look better in a browser that supports web standards, but it is accessible to any browser or Internet device.

Whedonesque - a community weblog about Joss Whedon
"You cant just throw people at all your problems, dear."
11943 members | you are not logged in | 23 April 2014












May 17 2010

Buffy versus The New York Times. Watcher Junior recaps what the press thought of Buffy's first season back in 1997.

Interesting! I didn't know that BtVS was considered a family show
Where does it mention 'family show' anca (is it one of the linked full reviews because I haven't read those - i'd say 'yet' but I doubt i'll bother at all, them being pretty much the definition of 'old news' ;) ?

He finds amusing the concept of a feminine powerful girl as the main character, writing “What a bother, when there are split hair ends to worry about.”

And on the day the words 'missing the point' were redefined ...

Still, it was (apparently) after just the opening two-parter so as the article says, if anything it's a lesson about judging a series after only one or two episodes.
The article contains links to Parent’s Television Council which started ratings with Top 10 Best & Worst Family Shows on Network Television.
Those should really be the "Top 10 Best & Worst Shows Shown During What Is Considered To Be The Family Hour". But it's not as snappy.
Yeah, looking at the Fourth Season list it has Buffy, 'Family Guy', 'Ally McBeal' and 'Action' which I wouldn't really consider "family" viewing in the sense of "You can watch these with children of any age" so it must just be "at a time when younger children will still be up" (which is a slightly literal take on "family show" IMO). AFAIK for instance 'Bones' is on at 8 pm in the US (pre-watershed by UK standards) and I personally wouldn't let a young child watch it in a million years (way too much violence/gore).

The article contains links to Parent’s Television Council which started ratings with Top 10 Best & Worst Family Shows on Network Television.

Cool, ta anca, assumed it'd be something like that.
(see how much I mean what I say ? Two times, that's how much !)

[ edited by Saje on 2010-05-17 12:23 ]
(triple post ! What do I win ?)

[ edited by Saje on 2010-05-17 12:21 ]
To be fair, the first season alone is far from the show's best work. I wouldn't have been all that complimentary either. And as far as I'm concerned, a spot on the "worst" list by the Parents' Television Council is the same as a medal of honor.

I do love how over time, it got from that review to this one: http://www.nytimes.com/2000/10/01/arts/television-yes-she-s-a-vampire-slayer-no-her-show-isn-t-kid-stuff.html?pagewanted=1
I know I'm in the minority, but I thought season one was pretty neat. Sure, the show got better over the years. And sure, season one was cheesy. But the show was always cheesy, it never stopped being cheesy. Vampires always did kung-fu. The special effects were often crap no matter what season it was. They had no budget for location shooting and Sunnydale looked about as big as my living room. This was a WB show. But the acting was always there, the emotions were always true, the characters were always compelling and watchable and their chemistry was always perfect. The show was just fun right out of the gate. Yeah, we got "Teacher's Pet". But we got "Where the Wild Things Are" in season four (probably the most boring episode the show ever aired--and it featured Buffy having sex for an hour! A script has to be pretty rotten to make that boring) and the potentials in season seven so there were always missteps. Pound for pound, I say season one measures up, and I think if it was twenty-two episodes instead of thirteen the fandom might have a different opinion about it. The interpersonal relationships deepened as the seasons went on and the show's mythology especially became more complex, but season one wasn't just filler; it gave us a great extended story about the Master and Buffy being forced to face her destiny, not to mention Willow finally beginning to let go of Xander, and the seasons that followed had the advantage of season one laying the groundwork. Pity about the plot holes though. But then again we got those all the way through season seven.
I know I'm in the minority, but I thought season one was pretty neat.


I like it as well. Especially The Puppet Show. Some of Buffy's most memorable lines come from the first season.
Short skirts, yes. But did Buffy ever wear hot pants?

I missed the pilot the first time it aired. The first episode I saw was The Witch, and I was hooked.
But did Buffy ever wear hot pants?

That sounds like the sort of thing i'd remember (she wears shorts a couple of times IIRC but not hot pants). Corrections though, will be even more gratefully received than usual (particularly if accompanied by photographic evidence ;).

Season 1 isn't my favourite (may even be my least favourite in the same sense that I have a least favourite arm) but it lays a lot of the groundwork and already has in place a lot of the elements that made the show great (the sense of humour, the emotional depth etc.). As hellmouthguy says, it maybe doesn't have the resonance of later episodes but then a show needs history and the weight of shared "experience" between viewer and characters to create resonance and that only comes with time. Put it this way, I watched it and knew for a certain fact that i'd be watching season 2.
I don't think it's any 'medal of honor' and would like to see more shows be decent without all the sex and violence. I don't know why people think they HAVE to have it on TV. That said, not all of Buffy was as big a problem as they want to say...and it was never intended as a 'family' show or one for young kids, no. More like a teen/adult type of thing.

The early seasons were not that bad, though, it wasn't until later that things went a little overboard at times. I might just feel that way though because I never cared as much for seasons 6 and 7 save a few episodes, and enjoyed seasons 1-5 most of all. Spuffy was just never really my thing, and neither was Willow/Tara (I'm more a Willow/Oz or Willow/Xander fan myself).There was some sex and obviously violence though aside from Faith and some other cases, it was mostly buffy kicking demon and vamp ass. There was the sex with Angel, but it wasn't like there wasn't consequences from it afterward. As for the big Riley scene in s4, I never did like him, so I don't care for that ep.
I don't think it's any 'medal of honor' and would like to see more shows be decent without all the sex and violence. I don't know why people think they HAVE to have it on TV.

Because both are a part of real-life and capturing aspects of real-life and presenting them in a novel, interesting way is one of the things that makes great fiction great.
^^It has been an ever growing trend in just about every form of media to include more sex and violence as a way of making it more 'edgy' or 'realistic' or whatever, and it's starting to get extremely tiresome imo. The art of excellent escapist fun (of which I would include early-Buffy) is slowly dwindling away.
Always fun to see what people original thought of things that went on to be hugely successful and/or influential. I love that it says the The New York Times got it wrong with 'Psycho' and 'Night of the Living Dead'

I can understand some of the thoughts on Buffy season 1 though. It has a very b-movie feel to a lot of the episodes, particularly when the Master is around. I always feel that the moment Spike kills the Anointed One in Season 2 and says the line "From now on, we're gonna have a little less ritual... and a little more fun around here," is a big moment of change for the show, in which they decide to ditch some of the more hammy elements (not that it all went, but there was a better balance.) That isn't to say some of Season 1 is not brilliant. I like 'The Witch', 'Prophecy Girl', 'The Puppet Show', 'Nightmares'... all great episodes.

As for the Parent's Television Council, I am one to see it as a badge of honour. It even managed to get to number one for a season. I don't think it really deserves to be considered a particularly edgy or offensive show though, with exception of the sixth season. It was always very subtle with its adult themes and certainly never felt like it was out of its way to shock the audience (maybe that is just UK perspective though.) It certainly wasn't a kids show, but I don't think it had anything in it that wouldn't be fine for a teen audience.

Sex and violence are things that have always, always been present in story telling. Freud even named a complex after such a tale.

If something pushes people's buttons so much that they are offended by it then it also makes them think. I don't think there is anything wrong with that (excluding obvious boundaries, of course.)

[ edited by Vandelay on 2010-05-17 16:14 ]
I don't think most people do much thinking when they're genuinely offended to be honest - the reverse if anything, they tend to become outraged and then proceed as if being outraged is an end in itself rather than a motivator to question the situation being presented to them.

That said, I do think that anything that tries to actually say something is going to offend someone and that, therefore, offending people isn't a reason not to do something (not saying be offensive for the sake of it, i'm saying if offending folk is a by-product of saying something worthwhile then offending folk shouldn't necessarily stop you saying it).

And the obvious boundaries are the first ones to cross IMO (at least partly because the obviousness of boundaries changes with the individual). Not necessarily in execution but in aim (i.e. you don't need to show child abuse to discuss child abuse, 'Nightmares' being a good example there).

(spot on about sex/violence and stories though, as I say they're part of life and stories are about life. Comes with the sickle)
There was the sex with Angel, but it wasn't like there wasn't consequences from it afterward.

I just don't know what to make of this comment. You say this as if it were a good thing. Take a minute to think of all the people who died as a result of Angel losing his soul. Yes, I know we're talking about characters, not real people, but the "consequences" were horrific and far out of proportion to the "sin" of two people in love expressing that love through physical intimacy.

And whatever you make think of the concept of Willow and Tara, their on-screen relationship was quite discreet, particularly in contrast with Buffy and Spike.
We showed them!
I don't think most people do much thinking when they're genuinely offended to be honest - the reverse if anything, they tend to become outraged and then proceed as if being outraged is an end in itself rather than a motivator to question the situation being presented to them.


I suppose my statement was a bit false. I think it should probably be rephrased to "If something pushes people's buttons so much that they are offended by it, then it will make some think."

Having said that, I still think the original statement stands for some, including myself. In the last year or so, I have been offended by two films. The first was 'Teeth', for its depiction of all the male characters as rapists or abusive, and the second was 'Antichrist', for its complete misogyny. Both occasions made me stop and contemplate the issues they raised, probably more than if I had not been offended by them.

That isn't to say both of those films were brilliant because of the offense they caused me. 'Teeth' was an interesting piece, but ultimately not as good as it could have been, whereas I came away from 'Antichrist' admiring it very much, even if it made me dislike Lars Von Trier intensely.

And the obvious boundaries are the first ones to cross IMO (at least partly because the obviousness of boundaries changes with the individual).


True, but, as you say, there are somethings that should remain obscene, in the classical sense of the word (off-stage.) I just added that "obvious boundaries" comment to avoid anyone making any straw man arguments.
I don't get offended if there's sex and violence and they're integral to the story, but sex and violence solely for titillation - especially violence - will generally piss me off. (Although I must interject here that My Escapist Entertainment - as in My Happy Place - there is no lack of the sex. And as it stands, obviously porn will have both these things solely for titillation, but I'm not talking about porn here - that's obviously a different conversation.)

BtVS Season One brought us this lovely Bad Acting scene:

"Oh, Oedipus, Oedipus, unhappy Oedipus, that is all I can call you and all that I ever shall call you."

Without which the world would surely be a poorer place - it makes me laugh every time I watch it. I wish Joss and Co. had expanded it into "Oh! Oedipus" so we could've watched the whole thing.

About bad early reviews - I've just finished reading Diana Rigg's compilation No Turn Unstoned and it turns out that Shakespeare, Dickens, Ibsen, Shaw - all the major novelists and playwrights were panned early on - and later on - in their careers.

About the "Parents Television Council" - well, I'll mostly leave that alone *coughSpongeBob SquarePantscough* except to note that there is one of their positions that I'm actually down with - their advocacy of unbundling cable packages/tiers - though for somewhat different reasons.

I don't want to pay for all that sports and religious and family-safe programming that I'm not ever going to watch.


ETF: typo

[ edited by QuoterGal on 2010-05-17 20:41 ]
The first season was'nt that good, but was there, with Prophecy Girl, that the show get me (the lead role having a death profecy and really dying was great).

I know I'm in the minority, but I thought season one was pretty neat.
I just started to watch the show cause I liked the movie(even losing a driver's class to rewatch it on tv). Beat that!

Short skirts, yes. But did Buffy ever wear hot pants?
If she borrowed clothes from Faith.
A little off topic, but is it true that there was some discussion in UK about Amy Pound's skirt size?

And whatever you make think of the concept of Willow and Tara, their on-screen relationship was quite discreet, particularly in contrast with Buffy and Spike.
ActualSize
IMHO, the "Under Your Spell" floating was more strong than the B/S moments, but being from a country where there was military dictatorship censoring everything for a long time, I'm allways happy when artists are abble to circumvent the cuts with smart creative solutions.

In the last year or so, I have been offended by two films. The first was 'Teeth', for its depiction of all the male characters as rapists or abusive, and the second was 'Antichrist', for its complete misogyny.
Vandelay
I did'nt saw "Antichrist" as misogynist, just as a bad, violent movie (not for my taste). The same could "misognist" argument could be applied to Dogville (this time LVT get it writght).
I felt the vibe when I found one of the crticis pigeonholed BtVS as "satire." My writing style has soem similarites to that of Dr. Joss and His Bunche and back in the early 70s when I wrote a (horribly bad) world-takeover novel in high school, my teachers thought it was satire even though I meant it dead seriously.

I do agree that just because sex is real, it doesn't mean it has to be there in everything. Lots of things are real.

As to the Parents' Television Council, well, full disclsoure, that's my wing of the chamber politically, that's just not all that I am. But, given that Billy Ray Cyrus was or is on their board, I think that's the real reason why I'd enjoy seeign him play opposite Amber Benson in a musical, and it doesn't evne have to be the Sound of Music, just because I'd have fun imagining that (whether they really would be or not) they'd be awkward with each other b/c of the PTC thing. I'm mean :-).
I think it should probably be rephrased to "If something pushes people's buttons so much that they are offended by it, then it will make some think."

Yep, agreed, that seems pretty close to my "trying to actually say something" take on it - people aren't offended by the banal (not specifically anyway. Banality can frustrate and annoy in the abstract but not really outrage, that seems true by definition).

I do agree that just because sex is real, it doesn't mean it has to be there in everything. Lots of things are real.

Of course. No-one here is saying it has to be there in everything, that would be an example of the straw-man argument Vandelay was keen to preempt. For me though it absolutely had to be there in Buffy for instance since the show was, among other things, a rites of passage story and portraying (particularly in long-form) a rites of passage story without addressing sex just wouldn't be honest, wouldn't capture the truth of being human the way Buffy did.
True, it was definitely needed to deal seriously with certain themes in the Buffyverse.
S1 is supposed to have a bit of a campy, b-movie feel -- it takes off from those situations & symbols. With S2, we get to the proper ground of the show with "School Hard", the definitive rejection of the Anne Rice mythos -- "Do people still fall for that Anne Rice crap? What a world!" -- but its suddenness tends to put the innovations & intelligence of S1 in the shadow.

You need to log in to be able to post comments.
About membership.



joss speaks back home back home back home back home back home