ridicule. (_cynical_beauty) wrote in thebuffyreview,

Season One

Episode One
Welcome to the Hellmouth

Written by Joss Whedon
Directed by Charles Martin Smith
Air Date: 3-3-97

Buffy Summers is a high school sophomore that has transferred to Sunnydale High School after a bizarre incident at her old school (she burned down the gym).  She meets her new watcher, the school librarian, Giles, and is reluctant to associate herself with him.  She is struggling with her destiny as the vampire slayer.  "Into each generation, a slayer is born..."

The episode starts with a bang.  Two teenagers break into the school at night and the audience is introduced to their first Sunnydale vampire: Darla.  Even before the credits are rolling, we see a vampire kill a boy in the school hallway.  The viewers are automatically drawn in and from then on out, the action and mystery never stops.  For monster fans everywhere: Buffy has a nightmare in one of the first scenes and what appears to be vampires, zombies, demons, etc, march and attack in flashes and an over-the-top dream sequence.  Thinking about the it even now makes me drool.  The audience is aware right from the beginning that this isn't just any show.  But, fear not typical horror-hating teenagers...once Buffy begins her first day of school, we are sucked into a typical 90's high school, backed up by cute, summer-y music and Xander on a skateboard.  It is very reminiscent of Dawson's Creek or some of those other popular television shows from the 90's.  The mystery is not left behind for very long, for  we are quicky made aware of Buffy's mysterious past.  We know that she was kicked out of her old high school and we know that there is something supernatural going on with her.  We just aren't sure what it could be.  The answers are delivered to us in a series of humorous and ridiculous conversations with the principal and Giles.  Buffy is so smart in this because not only can it hold the horror-fanatics interest with vampires and mystery, but poppy teenage girls love it for the school and Buffy's classmates.  Rather than drag it out, everything is revealed to us in good time so as not to bore or frustrate the audience.    The horror is surprising in some parts, but not too shocking for the regular audience.  It is quite obvious that Whedon intended the show to be a tongue-and-cheek homage to classic horror films, regardless of what some viewer's or haters will say.  The vampire make-up is a cheesy, even over-the-top, but very fitting to the horror classics.  The Master reminds me of Count Orlick in Nosferatu (the 1922 silent film based on Bram Stoker's Dracula) and I can't be sure if Whedon intended it to be so or not.  Regardless, that is what I took away, adoringly, from the series, so I am sure no one can argue.  Even the script is cheesy, especially once Angel shows up.  (For example, "you're standing ont he mouth of hell".)  It's funny and witty, the sort of thing most television today is lacking.  Any viewer lacking in a sense of humor should definitely turn the series off right now because the fun never stops.  The set is interesting, including both the library and The Bronze, and it definitely hides what little budget they must have had when creating the show.  The graveyard is unrealistic, however, being that it is just in the middle of nowhere (and entirely over-dramatic and huge).  Of course, could you expect anything more from Buffy the Vampire Slayer?  I honestly like the placement and absurdity of the graveyard, it's just so unexpected and witty.  The music is fantastic, at The Bronze and during the suspenseful scenes.  Two thumbs up.  :D   My only complaint is that most of the actors seem forced.  Out of everyone, Sarah Michelle Gellar is definitely the worst, being that she is anything but natural.  Luckily, Willow and Xander begin to loosen up as the episode goes on.  Cordelia and Giles are the only characters that start out perfectly and remain so throughout the entire episode.  Giles is obviously the most dynamic of the characters.  He is mysterious, different and thoughtful.  All things that the other characters are lacking.  Cordelia seems like the token high school snob, in which she plays very well, and Willow and Xander are stereotypical dorks.  I would almost go as far as saying that it is somewhat offensive (at least on Xander's part).  The episode ends with a very disappointing "To Be Continued", though when it was originally aired, it was two hours (including both Welcome to the Hellmouth and The Harvest).  If this were the first episode that I had ever seen of Buffy, I would have definitely tuned in for more.

As a whole, I give this episode a C+.
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