Buffy the Vampire Slayer
This article was obtained from TV Guide, 1997.
By Jeff Jarvis

      I can't decide whether to praise Buffy for being different or to make fun of it for being so B-movie cheesy. I think I'll do both.

      Buffy certainly is unusual. It's not every night you see vampires lurching into prime time (unless you count the bloodsuckers on certain magazine shows). And you have to give points to Buffy's creators for deciding that their heroine, the vampire slayer of the title, should be a bouncy (if ever-so-slightly trashy) teenage girl, a Gidget for the '90s. She's played by Sarah Michelle Gellar, best known as Susan Lucci's daughter on All My Children. (Isn't it embarrassing that young Sarah won a Daytime Emmy and moved on to her own show while her TV mom is still waiting for her first award?)

      In each generation, we're told, one girl is born to become the world's only vampire slayer, and this time it's our Buffy. She takes on the role reluctantly, of course; she'd rather lead a normal teen life of cheerleading, flirting, and modeling clothes -- the life her clueless mom (is there any other kind on TV?) thinks she's leading. But the truth is that Buffy left her last school after burning down the gym (because it was filled with vampires). Now she lands in her new school in the town of SunnyDale and struggles to fit in once more. The popular girl of the moment, Cordelia (played by the wonderfully named Charisma Carpenter), checks her out and gives her a "cool" quiz. ("John Tesh?" she asks; "The devil," Buffy replies, and passes.) So all is well until -- wouldn't you know it? -- we discover that the town happens to be built over a gigantic vampire pit and the undead are coming up to suck Sunnydale's lifeblood.

      Each week, under the guidance of her "watcher" (Anthony Stewart Head as the eerie school librarian), Buffy does in the bad guys with the usual weapons: wooden stakes, crosses, fire, and sunlight, not to mention her Bruce Lee-like talent for kicking and her own cool wit under fire. "Well," Buffy says at the end of the premiere episode, "we averted the apocalypse." All this is quite cute. So are the inside jokes. My favorite: The school library is such a dark and frightening place that no student ever ventures in there; this explains a lot about the '90s.

      But at the same time, even Buffy's fans will have to admit this show is cheesy. Sure, some of that is a style statement: Buffy wants to be campy, kicky, even joyfully tacky. But that doesn't explain the direction, which is fit for home movies. Or the acting, which sometimes doesn't reach the standard of miracle paintbrush infomercials. Or the special effects (the vampire master waves his hand and the picture turns wiggly), which look as if they could have been made on an old Macintosh. Or the vampires' makeup, which appears to be left over from an after-Halloween sale of Star Trek alien faces. Buffy is a B-movie for TV. But there's one thing you can usually say for B-movies: They're fun.

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