BUFFY SLAYS 20!

Colour me slayed! Childhood memories of the show that saved my world. A lot.

BUFFY SLAYS 20!

Colour me slayed! Childhood memories of the show that saved my world. A lot.

How do you write about something to which you have been intrinsically linked for most of waking life?

How to find the words to communicate feelings about a piece of work that literally shaped who you are?

Where do you begin? Well in the words of the Chosen One herself...

 

"Why don't we start with, 'Hi, I'm Buffy!'"

 

My first memory of 'Buffy the Vampire Slayer' was a trailer that aired on BBC2 in 1998. Already, the show was into its second season in the US, but because my family didn't have Sky, this was my first encounter with the Slayer (Comma. The.)  My initial reaction was likely similar to most viewers...

"Buffy? That's a dumb name!"

I was nonetheless intrigued. It seemed cool and something I'd want to give a try. I'd been obsessed with the Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers, with Kimberly Hart, the quippy Pink Ranger, being my favourite, so this strange new show about a girl with superpowers seemed right up my street. 

Unfortunately, I had Cub Scouts on Wednesday nights and couldn't watch. Also, I was 9. I couldn't really let television dictate my extra curricular activities. That would be a recipe for disaster in my parents eyes. So no Buffy for me. That was that. End of story.

Or was it...? 

Almost a year later and I had decided not to continue onto the Scouts with the older boys and so had my my Wednesday nights free. Now, according to this site, the first episode of Buffy that I saw aired on October 31st, 1999. Which was actually a Sunday. However, I have a firm recollection that Buffy aired on Tuesday or Wednesday nights at 6:45, just after The Simpsons. But anyway... the very first episode of Buffy that I watched was HALLOWEEN.

How apt.

Now the episode is kind of a classic, the first of three All Hallow's Eve outings for the Scooby Gang, in which the dastardly Ethan Rayne uses magic to turn all the Sunnydale residents into their Halloween costumes. What I remember from the episode, however, is the awesome, opening fight sequence between Buffy and a vampire in Pop's Pumpkin Patch. I have vivid memories of how exciting and action-packed it all seemed, to the point where I learnt the fight choreography and began practicing it...alone...in my garden.

Ah, childhood.

From then on, I was obsessed, recording every episode I could, buying books and posters and enshrining my room with all the Buff stuff I would get my hands on! 

When the boxsets FINALLY came out on video, they were so expensive. It would cost maybe £30 for an 11 episode set of half the season. A few years later with the arrival of DVDs, the price increased to between £60-£70. Compared with today, with online streaming and the value of DVDs vastly decreased, that price seems both hilarious and extortionate. 

The next two episodes that deeply resonated with me were, I ONLY HAVE EYES FOR YOU and Season 2 finale, BECOMING -- both slamming my ten year old brain with heavy thoughts about love and sacrifice. I felt so grown up. I even got an 'A' at school in which I totally ripped off Whistler's speech from Becoming:

 

"Even if you see them coming, you're not ready for the big moments. No one asks for their life to change, not really, but it does. SO what are helpless? Puppets? Nah. The big moments are going to come, you can't help that. It's what you do afterwards that counts. That's when you find out who you are."

 

Nifty stuff, right? Thanks for that 'A', Joss. 

At the end of Becoming, Buffy gets on a bus and leaves town after the devastating ramifications of the past 24 hours have left her homeless, expelled and without anyone to turn to. As a ten year old, this was something I could not comprehend...and I wept. Not only because what had happened to Buffy was so heartbreaking, but because what I thought it meant for the show. I genuinely believed that there was no turning back from this moment and as a result, there would be no more episodes.

Thankfully, I was wrong.

 

"I'm Buffy. The Vampire Slayer and you are?"

 

Season premiere, ANNE, arrived at the end of Year 6 when I was on a school trip to the Isle of White. I'd gotten my Mom to record it for me while I was away, but a sneak peek of Buffy returning home on a small TV in the hotel games room had me reeling. I feel like this was early 2000 and with SCREAM 3 also coming out, there was so much to be living for! Good times!

By this point, throughout the entirety of Seasons 3 and 4, I was tuning in every week. I remember getting into a debate with classmate, Sunny Singh, over Season 4 episode THE HARSH LIGHT OF DAY. He was convinced that the villainous Spike returned to the show looking for a ring of some kind. I was having none of it. I was the biggest Buffy fan and Sunny was emphatically wrong. What I didn't realise is that Sky 1 was airing episodes almost up-to-date with America and BBC2 was way behind. Oops!

I was able to catch glimpses of newer episode when I was at other people's houses and thankful got to watch Season 5 finale and 100th episode, THE GIFT, unspoiled, on the day it aired, but that wasn't enough!

Across the road from me, my neighbours, Craig and Sally, DID have Sky and so when Season 6 aired, I would arrive at their house once a week with a VHS tape and ask them to record it for me. 

Around this time, however, many of the VHS boxsets had arrived and so much of Seasons 5, 6, & 7 I would binge watch on video... before binge watching was even a thing. I did miss the innocent times of tuning in week-to-week to find out what happened my precious Scoobies, but at the same time, I couldn't wait!

I was furious that my Season 7, Part 1 boxset had a mistake. Episode 11, GONE, was actually missing and instead had been replaced by Episode 12, POTENTIAL. I hastily returned the boxset to WHSmiths the next day, to an utterly baffled clerk, who had no idea what I was going about. 

As time has journeyed on, Buffy the Vampire Slayer has stayed with me. I have made some of my greatest friends based on this show. If I have every felt alone, or anxious or just plain bored, Buffy has been there. As a kid it taught me pop cultural references no teenager should ever understand. As an outsider, it made me feel included. 

Television (and the world) has moved on, reading back over my words and counting the number of times I mentioned VHS tapes puts into perspective how much it has moved on, but Buffy has stayed with me. And I think it always will. 

What do you say about something to which you have been intrinsically linked for most of your waking life?

I guess you just say...

Thank you.