For those who read my entry on the reboot plans, one can safely assume that I have become a big fan rather quickly. As of now, I have just started Season 5 of Buffy and Season 2 of Angel. Because I don't want to make individual posts for each separate season I finish, I will review a few in one, just so you aren't overwhelmed by the number of Buffy posts. :)
Hands down, this is probably the corniest season when it comes to special effects; anyone can see that the small budget flashed bright on the empty backroad at midnight. But for what is was, these 12 episodes handled every necessary element to telling a story very well. The first few episodes failed to disappoint despite the art of slowly introducing the universe so the viewer can invest time and give a crap. Getting into Buffy was fun for me because of the things I don't see often in entertainment: witty dialogue, compelling characters, and great dry, tongue-in-cheek humor. (Do you realize how seriously underrated dry humor is? Even my friends don't get it... -_-)
Pros? The main monsters in each episode are all interesting and not what I'd ever expect. Sadly, the badass monsters start to fade away by season 3. *sniff* But fortunately, the overall pacing and storytelling were very well executed, which continues throughout. I have fallen for more plot twists in the first two seasons of this show than any other. And might I add that Xander is hilarious, Willow is awesome, Giles is cool, and Angel is awkwardly cute? XD
Cons? Every character developed in fairly small, but reasonable steps... except Angel. Once episode seven played, I had almost had no idea how two episodes ago he and Buffy were "eh" and then magnets happened to pull them together in one scene. Then by episode 12, Giles mentions how "poetic" it was that a "vampire [is] in love with a Slayer." *snickers* Okay, show. If you call undeveloped and unexplained romantic magnetism happening in such a short time without showing any sure connection between them... go ahead and continue that "poetic" stuff. Gimme a barf bag.
Fortunately, that didn't take away the fact that this season was very impressive; furthermore, the vampire mythology was very interesting.
Probably my second favorite, Season 3 relied a lot more on conflict between characters, developing them into being far more three-dimensional. The drama is finally taken in a more serious fashion as previous relationships matured (like Buffy and Angel no longer clinging to each other every two seconds...) There were so many episodes dedicated to certain characters that the Big Bad sat at the back of the shelf, collecting dust until one of the main characters betrays everyone.Because of the excessive emphasis on the cast, the villains barely satisfy. Even the Master from Season 1 had better screen time than the Mayor. Otherwise, nothing new and exciting turned the world upside down: it's just Buffy and the gang finishing senior year of high school.
Pros? Again, the plot runs slowly, but characters shine bright here. Xander gets his own episode, "The Zeppo," while it mocks the cliches in the series (everyone arguing about the apocalypse and who should be the sacrifice was a scream.) Oz grows to be such a likable member of the gang that he becomes the only rope of sanity to go through part of Season 4 (my hopes were too high.) Faith, the new Slayer, is... well, a bitch; at least Cordelia is tolerable, but still useless. Spike makes a hilariously brief appearance.
But for what plot there was, by the time we get to "The Prom" the gang's changing relationships are depressing, but enjoyable. Hand down, by "Graduation, Part 2," if you bonded with any characters at all, this episode gets emotional.
And of course, the season could have been better with character development if the Mayor and Mr. Trick were better established. But at least Faith is interesting despite my dislike for her.
In general, the show constantly makes fun of the cliches in horror films, especially when the usual plot devices come along (EX: bad guys talking while torturing someone; taunting in battle; holding someone hostage; etc.) Humor, drama, horror, vampires that don't stray too far from what's commonly accepted... so why not? From these seasons combined, I'll give Buffy the Vampire Slayer a 4.5 out of 5.
Onto reviewing Season 4... *groans*