Saturday, 23 October 2010

All Things Buffy

Who would have thought that a show about a teenage cheerleader would have such an impact? I think the first time I heard about Buffy the Vampire Slayer (BtVS) was in an article in Time Magazine (I'm not sure when exactly) but the article discussed this new breed of empowered heroines that were making their presence felt in TV. Women like Sheena Queen of the Jungle, starring Tanya Roberts, The Relic Hunter as played by Tia Carrere and of course, BtVS, starring Sarah Michelle Gellar.

The first appearance of BtVS was in a 1992 movie starring Kristy Swanson. Now personally, I liked the movie. I thought it was quirky, funny and just neat. It generally got panned I believe, but at the same time I think it attained cult status as the precursor of the TV series. This was Joss Whedon's trial opportunity to present his idea and it almost blew it for him.

However, gladly for countless future fans, Joss was able to get the idea for a TV series accepted and off he went. It took awhile; Buffy didn't air until 1997, but it was definitely worth the wait. For me personally, and I'm speaking as a then-42 year old man, it did have a strong impact on my life. The year before my marriage had broken up and I was adjusting to being single again and living on my own. My confidence wasn't great and there were many other negative things going on. The good things in my life remained my two girls and my two dogs.

Now I'm not implying that BtVS changed my life or anything like that. I had to do that on my own, learning to be happy in my own skin, so to speak, and to adjust to a new life style where I only got to see my girls weekends, sort out my finances, etc. But when Buffy came along, it also coincided with a number of positive changes.

In 1998, during the second season, my oldest girl told me of a community online, the Bronze Beta where people liked to talk about the show. She knew that it was a show I really enjoyed, as did she. It just so happened that my older brother had given me his old PC and this one had enough strength that I could now get onto the Internet. So of course, the first place I went was to this site that my daughter had told me about.

Talk about an eye opener. I was brand new to the Internet, hadn't a clue about posting boards, didn't know how to post, etc. I also figured that a site dedicated to a teenage vampire slayer would be inhabited by teenage girls and if I tried to post there, that I'd just be perceived as some sort of weirdo. Well, after checking out the site for awhile, I realized that, in fact, the majority of people that frequented the site were middle aged professionals. So I became a regular poster. The good thing about this was that it allowed me an opportunity to interact with people my age or thereabouts; something I wasn't really able to do, living on my own as I sorted things out in my life.

BtVS introduced me to the Internet, not only the Bronze, as it was called in one of it's earlier iterations, but it introduced me to the outside world and got me comfortable with using the web. I've got to say, those first months were heady and exciting. I was now using IM to talk with my new friends, involved in various role playing games online where we each took roles from the show and made up our own stories. It might seem silly now, but at the time, it got me out of my shell, got me communicating again.

The next thing that BtVS introduced me to was the Posting Board Party (PBP). Each year, in November, a committee had an online auction to allow Buffy fans to register for the upcoming PBP; a charity event held in Los Angeles, where 300 - 400 Buffy fans could party, enjoy each other's company and possibly meet cast and crew of the TV series. I started posting at the Bronze in Oct 98 and didn't try to attend the PBP in 1999 as I was still a 'newbie' so to speak and didn't really know that many people. However the following year, having now become a regular poster at the Bronze, met many friends from around Canada and the US, I decided to try and get tickets to the 2000 event. And I succeeded. It turned out to be a fantastic event, I got to meet many people I had only talked to online and I got to meet so many of the cast; having lunch with Mark Blucas aka Riley Finn, and meeting many others at the main event. (Amber Benson / Tara in the photo across).

Jumping ahead somewhat, I did attend one other PBP, that being the final in 2003. At that one, I brought my wife, Jo, who I had met online at the Beta. She attended the PBP in 2002, came to see me on the West Coast for a visit, then came back summer of 2002 to stay. At the PBP, we were interviewed by the Buffy magazine crew as one of many couples who met while watching/ discussing BtVS online and followed on by getting married.

Of course that is the greatest, most positive influence on my life that BtVS had. Jo and I got married Aug 2002 and are still happily sharing our lives.

Of course, BtVS the TV show also spawned so many other things. I used and may still have the Buffy board game. You can see the Buffy beanie bears at the top of this post. There were also action figures, nice Xmas presents for my girls.

One of the happiest off shoots of the TV shows was the arrival of the comic books series, based on the show. In a previous Blog, I had mentioned that I know longer purchased comics once my family moved back from Germany. I was at university and moving on with my life and felt that comics were kind of juvenile. Once my two daughters came onto the scene, I did continue a family tradition of putting a comic in each of their Xmas stockings, as I did enjoy that. However, that was about the extent of my comic purchases. 

One day, lo and behold, while I was in a newspaper shop, that also sold comics, I saw a Buffy the Vampire Slayer comic. Of course, I had to buy it, just to see what it was like.

 Well, suffice it to say that it started my love affair with comics all over again. I now have an extensive collection of the BtVS series and some of the follow-on series. They were good stories, well-written, well-drawn. Many were written by the  writers on the show, which made them even more interesting. A comic dealer in Victoria told me recently that the Buffy comics were still the most popular by far of those being produced, a testament to the ongoing popularity of the show, even 7 years after it went off the air. A comic season 8 came out in 2007 and is still being drawn. Excellent storyline as well.

As well as the more standard comics, a number of graphic novels have also been produced, mainly based on story lines found in the comics and combined into a graphic novel format. The nice thing about them is they combine a popular storyline under one cover and are big enough to fit nicely on a book shelf.

Finally, there also quite a number of novels published based on the series. Original novels have been written by Mel Odom, Christopher Golden and Nancy Holder, amongst others. I did read a few, enjoying Child of the Hunt, about the Wild Hunt, a group of mystical beings that hunt souls in Sunnydale and Immortal, about an Immortal vampire. My personal favourite novel was the Gatekeeper Trilogy, written by Christopher Golden and Nancy Holder. In some ways, it reminded me of Stephen King's The Talisman, in that it also has a parallel universe to Earth, where people can travel along pathways (here called the Ghost Roads) to get to other locations on Earth. It was very interesting, very accessible and most enjoyable.

I've kind of nattered on a bit about the TV series, but I honestly don't think there have been too many shows that have had the impact on pop culture as has BtVS. I can think of the original Star Trek as another, maybe the X-Files when it first came out. BtVS spawned so many other things; spin offs, comics, books, conventions, etc. The successful Angel series, which ran for 5 years, came out of Buffy and made David Boreanaz a household name. At least one album was produced, based on music heard on the series. The series still runs today on many networks. The wife and I have just refreshed our interest in it, watching our Much More Music network, which has shown the complete 8 seasons. Excellent!

Anyway, just to finish off, if you've never seen the series, read any of the comics or books, you should explore. It's great fantasy and some of the very best and innovative episodes seen on television. I must mention two of my personal favourites. The first is Hush, in which the characters lose the ability to speak and pretty well the whole episode is done in silence. The Gentlemen, the demons who cause this are one of the scariest ever shown on BtVS, I think. The other is the classic, Once More With Feeling, this being the musical episode. It was fantastic and a show that must be seen.

Enjoy Buffy!!


  1. It's amazing that this franchise has survived in one form or another for almost 15 years already.
    It obviously resonates with people of all ages, I know it did with me... and it certainly made an impact on the lauguage of youth culture. Just as an example 'My Bad' was an expression never used before the show, but today it's ubiquitous. Of course there are many other examples eminating from the show that as you say has had a profound effect on pop culture... and we should know.
    Mind you I'm biased, since I'm the other person mentioned in that article. ;o)
    Jo xx

  2. It definitely shows the quality of the team that made Buffy and its follow-ons. It hit a spot with me as well, as you well know. :0)

  3. Aaaaw!!! That is just too cute! It was meant to be!!! I’m so happy for the two of you!!!!

    I think I have to check out the Gatekeeper trilogy! I used to watch BtVS when it started in 97. I’ve always found vampire fantasy books/tv-shows/movies interesting, although I don’t enjoy all of them. For me it started out with Dracula in 93.

  4. We've been watching Buffy again as one of our tv networks, Much More Music, started showing it. It was a unique show. My daughter has been introducing it to her boyfriend.

  5. Maybe Jo should post a comment on Benitas blog about BtVS? Benita wanted to start watching a new tv series with her son. He can`t possibly have seen BtVS since he was born in 95 (or something like that). I think they aired Buffy in Sweden at the same time as in Norway and North America.

  6. I'll mention it to her if she doesn't read this comment. It's very interesting how popular the show was all over the world.


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