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March 12 2003

Buffy Out With a Bang, an article from Australia summing up BtVS, with a few small errors and speculation.

[ edited by Robo-Ritter on 2003-03-12 18:59 ]

A pretty good try at summing up in an attempt to attract a few more non-viewers before the end.

I'm predicting that once all the episodes are out on DVD, they'll be yet another 'generation' of fans. When they wrap up the series, there will be people who truly understand its epic place in television history. Some tv shows tell stories from one episode to another. Some tv shows tell an ongoing story with plots sparking and petering out and swelling and sometimes exploding in and out with forced climaxes culminating in season finales and premieres. Buffy The Vampire Slayer is inspired, intricately executed, and stands up to scrutiny, within the confines of its own internal laws. It's like a tapestry. Whedon and his writers used the confines of the television series to their advantage in storytelling. They often colored outside of the lines, but the structure of the series is both astounding and outstanding.

Buffy The Vampire Slayer almost consistently tells a self-contained story every episode. Each episode can stand alone, from the classic Monster Of The Week structure to its combination of lip service and loving tribute to practically every genre of storytelling in the history of mankind. Military. Scifi. Horror. Romance. Action adventure. Family tragedy. You name it. It's in here. There's something in Buffy that anyone can appreciate if they just give it a chance and look for it.

At the same time, each episode is like a chapter of a novel, consisting of seven separate complete stories: The Master's Release, The Curse of the Angel, The Mayor's Ascension, The School of Life and Death, The God's Hunt for the Key, The Hardest Thing In This World Is To Live In It, and The Culmination. Each of these seven seasons simultaneously stand alone like seven different books, and also merge together into one epic tale that has all the modern conventions of the turn of the millenium, while also being as powerful as the ageless Iliad.

Over one hundred little stories. Seven major tales. One all-encompassing epic.

THEN you have the character arcs! Each major and supporting role has their own tale to tell, and each of these separate plot arcs for each character weaves in and out of the other structured arcs like vines slowly climbing up an ornate wall.

At the top of the food chain is Buffy. She's given this incredible gift, and she struggles with this heroic and tragic life that's thrust before her and the quote unquote "normal" life that she had always taken for granted until that day in L.A. when a Watcher first approached her. She's never completely let go of the desire to live a normal life, despite all the abnormalities which show up all around her.

Willow's blossoming and deflowering and her going from a mousy little girl afraid to sing before an audience to a grown woman who has spat at an Egyptian god. Xander's search for his place in the universe and his need to belong and make a difference. Giles acceptance of his place as a third generation Watcher, then losing that mantle, and getting it back, only to find he was no longer really needed. What does a parental figure do when your child has become an adult? How do you fill that emptiness? Where do you belong?

From the main four characters who have been with the series since the beginning, to the erratic repeating appearances of characters like Amy, Jonathan, Faith, and Clem. There's a story in each and every character.

Tara's act of defiance from her family turning her life from inside a long but silent mold of those who claimed to love her, to a vibrant and loving life with a family she chose. Do you want to live like a rock at the bottom of the ocean or like a comet streaking through the sky?

Dawn's realization that her life was a lie, and her slow evolving from whining about it to making the best of what she has. Spike's journey from wanting to be the Big Bad to just learning to want to BE. Anyanka's journey from human to demon to human to demon to human again, and realizing when one's goal is to take the lives of others, no matter how noble the intent, the emptiness it leaves behind...

The series poses questions, and when it answers those questions, the answers satisfy while also posing all new ones. Most television shows are unable to balance this. The answers are unsatisfying and the new questions become frustrating and cumbersome to the audience. Not Buffy. The eloquent yet snazzy writing from the dialogue to the use of the concrete life that an audience can relate to spun on its heel with the eccentric and the strange. The brash and daring performances of the actors. The risky yet delicate meshing of provacative makeup, cut of the edge music, and outside-the-box approach to costuming, it all adds up in a way that has never been seen before on television and never will be seen again. There are imitators, but BtVS took all these elements and combined them in an entertaining and enlightening manner.

If there was one word to sum up the entire series, it would be "redemption." All the characters have some regret or some desire or some actions of their past that return to haunt them. Sometimes we see the action happen before us, like when Willow turned dark after losing Tara, or Faith's fall from Slayer to Murderer. Other times the regret happened generations ago, like with Spike or Angel. Still other times it's the potential of a fall from grace, like Buffy's reaction to seeing Faith accidently kill a human, and knowing "there but for the grace of God go I.." Redemption is the ongoing theme throughout the series, but the same theme is approached from so many angles.

It's over one hundred episodic tales. Seven novels. One epic. Then yet still as many stories to tell as there are people populating its fictional world. You can look at a beach en masse, focus on a few handfuls and make a sand castle with it, or marvel at the grains of sand in your hand. It's the same beach but you can look at it in so many ways. BtVS is like that.

So yeah. Any attempt to get a few more non-viewers before it's all over is good. Yet I strongly believe, though this series never achieved the positive critical reaction from the mainstream that it richly deserves, it will not be forgotten when it leaves the airwaves. Like The Honeymooners, I Love Lucy, The Fugitive, The Twilight Zone, Star Trek, Hill Street Blues, The Prisoner, Happy Days, MASH, and All In The Family, Buffy The Vampire Slayer has cut its place into television history. It will be remembered as one of the giants.
It's already being remembered as one of the giants.
By the way, beautiful post, Zachsmind.

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