|Anya's Hallowe'en suit - like Bishop |
Len Brennan, she is terrified of rabbits.
It's tricky to define what makes Buffy such a good show. I should confess that part of my joy is probably taken from my naive assumption that a show with a name as seemingly foolish as 'Buffy the Vampire Slayer' must be awful. How nice it is to have one's prejudices slashed like this - if only the same thing could happen to my view of Tories. So, part of my enjoyment may stem from this astonishment. However, the bulk of it is down to the character arcs. In fact, they are more viaducts than arcs, given their complexity. Buffy, for example, undertakes challenges and difficulties that shape, distort and bend her into one of the most complex characters I've seen in a TV show. She dies at least twice (by Season 6 - I won't tell you how or why) and has family members come and go like Pop-Up Pirate. She has a turbulent love life revolving around the undead themselves, and hates herself for it. Her best friends are regularly put in mortal danger by her very existence. She holds the fate of every living creature on Earth in her poor hands. Watching her life billow and crease and occasionally fall apart is great fun. The supporting cast have just as convoluted and myriad plotlines that weave and twirl around each other, creating a colourful, emotional and hilarious tapestry of death and despair. The oxymorons mount up due to the very dichotomy at the heart of the show - it's a true horror-comedy.
So, a complex, involving show that makes you scream, cry and chortle in equal measures? Yes; that's precisely what Buffy is. A sample episode - the Emmy-winning 'Hush' from Season 4 - had me squirting hot tears of terror at regular intervals, thanks to the menacing yet oddly camp withered-headed villains that steal the voices of a population, leaving an episode almost devoid of dialogue (usually the show's strongest suit). The characters resort to crude charades-style miming to convey the plot to each other, and to us. Yet this is, of course, where the humour comes in - confusion, bewilderment and misunderstood gestures are always a grand source of amusement, after all. So I dilly-dallied between fear and amusement like a man on a waltzers filled with twirling axes.
So, fifteen years late, I am discovering a show that has shocked me with its quality - a show that I am actually extremely sad to have missed the first time round. I can only imagine how it would have impacted my impressionable little brain back then. It even has an episode that is entirely in the form of a traditional musical...