Thursday, February 7, 2008

Welcome to the Hellmouth

Alisa says:

I must admit to having watched this episode in preparation for this post way back at Christmas time. In fact, I watched 8 episodes in one sitting hoping for inspiration to hit me for what I was going to say here. There's so much I love about Buffy and so many interesting discussions to have but for me ... just not about Season 1.

I think in part, Season 1 hasn't lasted the distance for me. It's the season I have seen the most number of times. I can spot all the credit shots. I know a fair proportion of the dialogue by heart. I have lost none of this knowledge with the passing of time. I was unable to watch *any* Buffy after the final episode (just, you know, cause, like that was the last one n'all) and so it's been a good few years since I last watched Welcome to the Hellmouth.

I think in part for me, I discovered Buffy in reruns. My mother and uncle (who will forever be cooler than me, and I'm okay with that) discovered Buffy when it first aired here in Australia, late at night on Channel 7, I guess. They tried to get me to sit down and watch it but I was too busy and not interested. Then I moved to Israel for about 8 months and for some reason, I happened to catch an episode, I think maybe mid-Season 1, late on a weeknight and I got hooked. I tried to catch as many as I could find (I think I even learned enough modern Hebrew to be able to read the TV Guide and figure out when it was on and what channel etc) on free to air in Israel. When I came back to Australia, I either watched the whole season in rerun or managed to catch Season 2 and later tracked back down all of Season 1 and watched that then (it's bad that I can't remember back that far, isn't?)

So what I am trying to say is that Welcome to the Hellmouth is not the episode that sparked my Buffy-love and it just doesn't seem amazingly engaging in retrospect. Buffy for one, looks sooooooooo young. And perky. She is wayyyy darker later on. And *all* those short skirts! And bra straps! Season 1 is good for bad clothes spotting. Look out for Angel's first appearance - is that a velvet jacket? I think it might be. Willow never ever looks as dowdy as in the pilot. And there is I think my favourite scene with the two outfits choice before Buffy checks out the Bronze for the first time: Hello! I'm an enormous slut! and Hi would you like a copy of the Watchtower? (I may have paraphrased just a little.)

And I must confess here that I was actually a fan of the original movie (I had a thing for Luke Perry. I was young.) so for me .. I was all like um? what? when this series first came out. Back then, I did not know that a spinoff TV series could crap all over the original movie. It hadn't been done before.

But as always ... there's the great Joss humour. The very best line of Giles' right at the end of the episode: The world is doomed.

So ... Welcome to the Hellmouth. It's Sunnydale. It's on a hellmouth. There's vampires and demons and quips. You'll get used to it.


Rachel Holkner said...

I remember watching this episode when it first aired in Australia. I had seen the ads (never heard of the film), thought teenage girl fighting vampires - awesome! and sat in front of the tv all eager-like.
It wasn't what I was looking for - I really thought it would be darker, but it's all sunny and California and, like, whatever! But the one thing that kept me watching through these first painful episodes is Cordelia.
Not only is she the only character perfectly nailed from the beginning, but she gets all the best lines, "I don't want to interrupt your downward social mobility", "I would kill to live in LA, that close to that many shoes!?" and the exchange she has with poor doomed Jesse, "Would you like to dance?" "With you?" "Well, uh, yeah." Well, uh, no." Which I heard really happened to Joss as a teen. Wouldn't happen nowadays, nosirree.

Alisa said...

Yeah I wanted to talk more about the sunniness of Episode 1. I suppose it's actually a lovely metaphor - Buffy rocks up at a new school in a new town, thinking she has that Slayer thing behind her. Now she's gonna be "normal" and do "normal" schoolkid things - boys, hanging out with new friends in the local nightclub (how is that ever YA? But nevermind).

And then there is this slow slide into the dark and the dangerous and the life-or-death struggle with evil, day in and day out. And she just gets dragged out of the sun and into the darkness and shadows.

It's powerful and it's a powerful journey.

But ... it's like really glary coming in at the beginning where it's all bright and perky. And I'm not sure what it says about me that I prefer the brooding depressed Buffy to this shiny one.

Ben said...

I definitely prefer Buffy's character in later series...

alisa said...

I think in part, Buffy was still finding her feet, both SMG as the actor and also Buffy as the character (writers, plots etc).