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Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Season 1 (1997)

Cast: Sarah Michelle Gellar, Sarah Michelle Gellar, Nicholas Brendon, more...
    see all cast/crew...
Studio: 20th Century Fox
Genre: Television, Cult TV, Comedy TV, Horror TV
Languages: English, French
Subtitles: English, Spanish
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A mid-season replacement in early 1997, Buffy the Vampire Slayer quickly established an identity separate from the jokey 1992 feature film that spawned it. An unlikely mixture of action, drama, horror, and comedy, the 12-episode first season effectively cross-pollinated The X-Files, Beverly Hills 90210, and Dark Shadows to become a sleeper hit for the fledgling WB network. Series creator Joss Whedon and his writers set out to literalize the idea that high school is hell, examining teenaged angst and sexual awakening through the lens of supernatural metaphor. The two-part opener established Sunnydale, CA, as an otherwise idyllic small town situated atop the mouth to hell. Witches, demonic hyenas, a sexy praying mantis, and, of course, vampires stalked the streets outside Sunnydale High, their various evils reflecting the raging hormones and social Darwinism within. With the show's edgy take on high-school life driving the wildly varying plot lines, a tightly knit ensemble quickly took shape. Former soap star Sarah Michelle Gellar played Buffy Summers as a reluctant hero, desperately clinging to shopping, cheerleading, and girliness to escape her calling as the mystically empowered Chosen One. Alyson Hannigan, as the geeky Willow Rosenberg, and Nicholas Brendon, as the Slayer-smitten Xander Harris, quickly became Buffy's sidekicks as well as her closest confidantes. They would remain the core of Buffy's "Scooby Gang" for the show's entire run. Charisma Carpenter, as icy teen queen Cordelia Chase, provided not only caustic humor but also a glimpse of the Buffy who might have been, if responsibility hadn't been thrust upon her. And veteran British actor Anthony Stewart Head played the role of fusty mentor Rupert Giles with a mixture of comic bumbling and fatherly wisdom. Although they would never become series regulars, frequent guest stars Kristine Sutherland, as Buffy's long-suffering mom, and Armin Shimerman, as the ineptly Napoleonic Principal Snyder, provided the typical teen pressures that would complicate Buffy's secret identity for the first three seasons. Meanwhile, sexual tension and a dark link between Buffy and arch-nemesis The Master (Mark Metcalf) arrived in the form of enigmatic dreamboat Angel (David Boreanaz). By the end of the season -- when a recently drowned Buffy sprang back to life to face down The Master and attend a sock hop -- the show's organic mixture of disparate genres was a fait accompli. ~ Brian J. Dillard, All Movie Guide

Disc One contains episodes 1-4:

  • Welcome to Hellmouth
  • The Harvest
  • Witch
  • Teacher's Pet

GreenCine Member Ratings

Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Season 1 (Disc 1 of 3) (1997)
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7.80 (168 votes)
Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Season 1 (Disc 2 of 3) (1997)
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7.82 (179 votes)
Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Season 1 (Disc 3 of 3) (1997)
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7.93 (188 votes)

GreenCine Member Reviews

"Buffy" season 1, disc 3 by Saroz November 19, 2004 - 10:31 AM PST
1 out of 1 members found this review helpful
The third disc of "Buffy" season one contains these episodes:

"The Puppet Show"

Ah, Principal Snyder makes his presence immediately felt. Between his oozing malevolence and Giles' amusement, this episode has one of the funniest teasers of the series. On the whole, actually, this is the funniest show of the season, and very good in the character department; everyone gets something significant to do and their share of funny lines to say. The actual plot is quite creepy, for a nice counter-balance, by playing on the old fear of living ventriloquist dummies. Sure, the concept of Sid is more than a little hokey, but it somehow manages to work. The twist towards the end of the show is unexpected and clever, and the end credits sequence is a blast. An oddity, but a highly entertaining one at that. 8.5/10


This episode would rate a little higher if Joss Whedon hadn't tackled the world of dreams again, much more successfully, with the season four finale "Restless." As it is, what we have here is a very nice little collection of set pieces that never quite feel connected. All of the regulars get some good material to work with, and Xander's nightmares are especially fun, but the end result is stretched a little too long and, worse, the solution is far too quick. How and why dreams start to come real on this particular day, sparked by this particular source, is never quite explained - except to say, in typical season one style, that it's something to do with the Hellmouth. The Master and his Anointed One seem thrown in entirely as a bit of filler; having Angel show up with nightmares of his own would have been more interesting. 8/10

"Out of Mind, Out of Sight"

Finally, after little more than cameos since the two-part premiere, Cordelia actually gets to be the focus of an episode. Though she hasn't developed into the more consistent character of seasons two and three, it's nice to see her first few steps towards character development. Like "The Pack," this is another high-school metaphor story, and as such it works very well; since the identity of the culprit is given away in the second act, and we know what their motivation is, it becomes more a case of "What will happen?" than "Whodunnit?". That allows the story to be tense, and at the same time, quite sad as well. Unfortunately, the final ten minutes cheat on our earlier emotional investiture, rendering the whole thing much more simplistic and over-the-top than it ever should have been. 7.5/10

"Prophecy Girl"

The first half of this episode is the best writing and acting the show has seen yet, and the best for some time; Buffy's breakdown in the library and Willow's massacre aftershock are particular highlights. When the focus shifts back to the Master, though, things start to go a little silly. It doesn't help that he's hardly the most frightening enemy to begin with; the Anointed One is even goofier, and now we're asked to be monumentally afraid of both. As a result, then, what should be quite tense and scary never quite manages to get beyond...well...oddly out-of-character for the villains. The victory march to the theme tune is just about the final straw in cheesiness - thankfully, though, the quality of the side-plots just about keeps everything afloat. It's a good finale, but in too many ways, it doesn't gel together quite right. 8/10

Finally, the disc includes biographies for the main cast, and - culled from the VHS release - brief comments from series creator Joss Whedon on "Angel" (from disc two) and "The Puppet Show."

"Buffy" season one, disc two by Saroz November 14, 2004 - 12:49 PM PST
2 out of 2 members found this review helpful
The second disc of "Buffy" season one contains these episodes:

"Never Kill a Boy on the First Date"

The first decent dusting! Finally, after five episodes, the Master actually comes off as a threat - not easy with the pointy face and the silly voice. The team bickering is also running like clockwork, now; Xander's dating advice is especially good. The story is simple, but no doubt one that needed to be told early on in the show. Thankfully, Owen's a pretty likeable guy, so the dating stuff is easy to watch, even if the Anointed One subplot is ultimately the more engaging. The next-to-last scene is a crusher, and though the final revelation is important, the episode probably should have been reworked to end with Buffy and Giles' discussion. 7/10

"The Pack"

There's an underlying thread of cruelty in this episode that makes it, at times, very hard to watch. I mean, it's just not nice to make Willow cry! More than that, though, it's hard to see a kind, lovable character like Xander turn into a coarse, hateful guy - and that's what ultimately makes the concept so successful. Yet again, as with "Teacher's Pet," a kindly adult influence is murdered, but this time, the rest of the episode matches the horror. Unlike so many this season, it's not about kids bumbling into stupid situations, nor another stage in the Master's plan; it's something much more direct and horrific. Nicholas Brendon plays his altered role perfectly, and for once, a slow-motion music interlude actually adds to the ambience. It's also interesting to see the early seeds of the Angel/Xander rivalry, as well as - probably coincidentally - the Oz/Willow relationship in later seasons. 9/10.


A strangely dour and talky episode; I haven't been able to keep my attention fully on it either time I've seen it. David Boreanaz is finally - thankfully! - given some interesting material, which is a blessing since his character's name is on the episode. His performance still isn't the best, though; that honor belongs to Julie Benz, obviously making enough of an impression as Darla to reappear throughout the "Angel" spinoff. The whole thing seems unusually light to take up a whole episode, possibly because of the Master's continuous inactivity, and the fact that Buffy's friends are only marginally essential to the plot. It was a necessary episode, yes, but it's nowhere near as good as a lot of fans make it out to be. 6.5/10

"I Robot...You, Jane"

Man, this thing was dated the instant it was broadcast. It can never quite decide what it wants, so it alternates its treatment of online relationships from overly creepy to laughably daft. Who actually ever said "jacked in" by the late '90s? Why do all the computers talk? And how is it Sunnydale High doesn't have any firewalls or virus protection? Aside from the techno-gimmickry, though, it's not awful - and if nothing quite fits together at the end, it's not for lack of the actors' trying. Alyson Hannigan plays her part well, even opposite an expressionless robot, and the Jenny/Giles bickering is quite funny. Were this part of the season's plot arc, I'd be less forgiving; as it is, it's moderately entertaining filler. 6.0/10

Finally, the disc includes a photo gallery for the entire first season, and - culled from the VHS release - brief comments from series creator Joss Whedon on "The Witch" (from disc one) and "Never Kill a Boy on a First Date."

"Buffy" season 1, disc 1 by Saroz November 13, 2004 - 11:09 PM PST
3 out of 3 members found this review helpful
The first disc of "Buffy" season one contains these episodes:

"Welcome to the Hellmouth"

There's no way I would start a prospective fan with this episode. Everything about it screams "pilot" - the heavy-handed dialogue, the corny fights, and most of all, the stagy acting. As with the actual, unscreened pilot, nobody but Nick Brendon seems comfortable with their character yet; Angel and Giles have some particularly clunky moments. The first 'dusting' effect looks ridiculously cheap, and slow as hell to boot. Whedon's script somehow manages to rise above all of this, but in hindsight, it really doesn't stand up to repeat viewing. 5.5/10

"The Harvest"

The second half of the story is a little better and a little worse, all at the same time. The story itself has better pacing, but the cast never really sells the idea that they would ever team together to plan a strategy, let alone fight evil on any grand scale. Anthony Stewart Head starts to come into his own by the end, but the rest are just as bad as before in fact, this is a very rare episode where even Willow seems more dense than cute. The Master makes a completely ineffective villain, too, standing in his lair and gurning while Luke gets all the action. The worst scene, however, has to be the inept one where Cordelia and Harmony gossip while attempting to program in BASIC. When the long-haired boy joins in, he acts like he's about to break into song. Six seasons too early, pal... 6/10

"The Witch"

Things are finally starting to snap into place. The main cast is completely 'on,' with special points for Sarah Michelle Gellar for her hyperactive scenes, and Nick Brendon for...well...pretty much the entire episode. Even Kristine Sutherland has her share of decent lines. The script is witty and fun, with a great twist. It also has a horror element strong enough to feel convincing, unlike the 'scream, run, scream' antics of "The Harvest." It's just a shame this episode wasn't followed up more quickly; Amy would have made an interesting semi-regular. 8/10

"Teacher's Pet"

This is the first of several 'friends in trouble' episodes this season, and arguably the least successful. The very concept of the thing doesn't lend itself well to the show's limited budget, and most of the effects - the "Exorcist twist" comes blazing to mind - look really, really lame. The monster's costume isn't too painful, since they manage to keep it in the dark, but it's still not great. On the other hand, the cast seems to be having fun: Nick Brendon is on autopilot, sadly, and David Boreanaz still isn't being given very good material, but the moment where Giles questions the legality of Willow's methods is the funniest yet. The framing sequences - where Buffy first learns to trust, and later remembers Dr. Gregory - are also quite nicely done. 5/10

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