What then to make of "Buffy the Vampire Slayer," the new Monday-night series on the fledgling WB network? Not to worry. Nobody is likely to take this oddball camp exercise seriously, though the violence can get decidedly creepy.
Based on the 1992 movie, the television series, created by Joss Whedon ("Toy Story," "Twister"), stars Sarah Michelle Gellar ("All My Children") as 16-year-old Buffy, recently transplanted from Los Angeles to SunnyDale, Calif., which just happens to be sitting above the mouth of hell.
That concept isn't too much of a stretch. Given to hot pants and boots that should guarantee the close attention of Humbert Humberts all over America, Buffy is just your average teen-ager, poutily obsessed with clothes and boys. One difference: she is a vampire slayer, a chosen position for only one girl in the world. What a bother, when there are split ends to worry about.
With a couple of trusted friends and an older vampire watcher, who is Giles the school librarian, played by Anthony Stewart Head (whose British accent will be familiar from those long-running soap-opera commercials for instant coffee), Buffy drifts reluctantly from one spooky adventure to another.
She uses karate skills, crucifixes, wooden stakes, plus occasional holy water, to dispatch dreadful night creatures who cackle things like "Bring me something young; the earth will belong to the old ones." The series doesn't fear ageism.
In the episode titled "The Anointed," Buffy is so taken with a serious young man that she ponders getting a volume of Emily Dickinson to impress him, an event that Giles says would be "grounds for a national holiday." But her big date with Owen (Christopher Wiehl) is interrupted when the local vampires act up again.
Off she runs to the cemetery, followed by the intrigued Owen, who has to admit that "she is the strangest girl." Owen even helps her subdue the villain, later complaining: "He tried to bite me. What a sissy!" After the menacing vampire is shoved into a burning furnace, Buffy says sweetly, "I was hoping we'd finish up at Ben & Jerry's."
Buffy's mom blithely takes an oh-kids-nowadays approach, observing sagely that "everything is life and death when you're a 16-year-old." Meanwhile, viewers are warned that "90 percent of the vampire-slaying game is just waiting."
But you don't have to wait too long for the action in any episode. As Buffy changes from one skimpy outfit to another, Giles gleefully promises: "I'd say the fun is just beginning. We may stand between the earth and its total destruction."
The series is fun, but that's a thought to make you really shudder.
Buffy the Vampire Slayer,
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Buffy the Vampire Slayer,