Tales from the Cultural Wilderness - Journal

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2011-02-06 Entry: "Buffy The Vampire Slayer - "Welcome To The Hellmouth / The Harvest""

This might be less a synopsis and more a ramble-along, as I've seen these particular opening episodes more than a few times...

Aspect Ratio: 4:3
Audio: Stereo? I forgot to check...

Buffy Summers - Sarah Michelle Gellar
Xander Harris - Nicholas Brendon
Willow Rosenberg - Alyson Hannigan
Rupert Giles - Anthony Head

Wow, Julie Benz looks young in the opening scene of this show. Admittedly, I love the way they play with the conventions in this opener - the jock who used to go to the school, and the scared girl accompanying him in his break in, but she's the vampire (and he's from CSI isn't he? Is that Danny from CSI: NY?). More bopping-around-the-room-worthy theme music with this one.

Ah, Sarah Michelle Gellar while she still had a job (and no-one had yet noticed she can't really act... or maybe she just got sucked into the black-hole that is the Freddie-Prinze-Jnr-zone). Xander's the obvious goof-ball, and Willow's dressed as a nerd and knows stuff about maths. Jessie's sort of "the other guy" at the moment, which is pretty much all he needs to be, as he's here just as a character-foil for Xander's growth and to show that not everyone can survive the vampire-related-shenanigans.

There's a lot of library related hints in the opening of this episode - do you think they're trying to tell us something? Cordelia's clearly the head of the social scene but she's a bit of a bitch, and Buffy's clearly had some character growth since her cheerleading days as she's clearly feeling sorry for the taunting of Willow.

I like Giles' level of glee at meeting Buffy and pulling out the "Vampyr" book. Buffy's clearly trying to keep a low profile, but the dead body isn't going to make that easy.

I don't know what it is about this, but the picture quality really isn't all that great.

Oh look, creepy stalker guy... oh, no wait, it's just Angel, who, let's be fair, once we get some back story, is creepy stalker guy. Playing mysterious stranger and giving her gifts is so not the best way for things to turn out well.

So, our first view of the Bronze, and it's basically a warehouse with a stage at one end and a bar at the other. There's a bizarre seating-cum-pool area in the middle where the stairs are. Giles shows up - gets the 4-1-1 on The Harvest and Buffy's incipient crush on tall-dark-and-brooding - and points Buffy at the vampires.

The whole "master rising from a pool of blood" effect is very silly. Why was he in the pool of blood anyway? And how does he just rise up out of it as if by magic? And the first of Sunnydale's eleven cemeteries puts in an appearance. Why does Darla play the victim here when Luke shows up? She's encountered Slayers before, so presumably she must know what she is just from the initial fist-fight?

Okay, so part 2, and Jessie's been taken, Buffy has to spill the whole deal to Xander and Willow. Willow shows that she's got a slightly criminal streak having decrypted the City Council's files. Buffy's standing jump over the school gates is pretty impressive, especially backwards. Oh look, creepy stalker guy is back. But how did he get into the mausoleum considering it's daylight. The subterranean entrance is padlocked and he doesn't have the key, so he didn't come in that way. Was he there all day? Did he go in while it was still night and wait for her? That takes the creepy-stalker vibe to a whole new level.

So Jessie gets turned, Xander and Buffy get trapped underground with an army of vampires trying to break into the room, and Willow manages to ruin Cordelia's computer-class work. The Master does quite an entertaining job with his minions. And Giles and Willow do more research. Considering they have an hour and a half, there's quite a lot of filler "research" in this.

And so, back to the Bronze for the army of vampires. Jessie's already there dancing with Cordelia. Buffy is grounded but sneaks out anyway. It's nice that she wears Pike's leather jacket to the fight. But she does drop Mr Pointy, which isn't the best way to fight a vampire. Luckily Luke is a moron and she can trick him with the whole "sunrise" thing.

Vampire Checklist: They're dead, and they're faces are deformed, but only when they're feeding. Holy water and crosses burn them. Beheading, fire, stake through the heart and sunlight turn them to dust. Making more vampires requires the whole big sucking thing. No mention of mirrors yet.

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