For as fanatical as I am about all things Danzig in music, there is a certain television creator that I would also be willing to follow into the Hellmouth. Joss Whedon. For the sake of this writing, I am going to pretend that I have only seen the first episode of Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., as any further episodes mentioned can only weaken my tale.
I had seen a few things that Joss had done prior to 1998, like episodes of Roseanne (funny) and Alien Resurrection (terrible), but my initiation to the Whedonverse proper didn’t occur until Buffy the Vampire Slayer‘s second season, episode #13. I had seen the Buffy movie and righteously dismissed the show, thinking, “Why make a show about that piece of shit?”. While my question was valid, I was proven wrong. Had my friend Joe and I not been so horribly bored on Tuesday nights, we never would have broken down and gave the show a chance.
Oh look, how sweet. We tuned in at right about this point. Buffy and Angel bone and then it would seem like Angel was going to vomit from revulsion. But then he goes into an alley and starts weeping in the rain. We found this so funny, that this dude gets the hot chick and goes outside to cry, that we had to see what happened next.
The next week, “Innocence” aired and we got some context. It wasn’t long before the absurdity fell away and I was hooked on the plot. Angel goes from lover to arch nemesis, killing Buffy’s friends along the way. It was actually gripping. It didn’t hurt that Sarah Michelle Gellar was downright foxy.
After that storyline and the finale to the second season, I figured the show was never going to get that good again, so I stopped watching. The following year, I’m over at Hector’s house and, once again, there is nothing on television. We’re sitting in the kitchen, which didn’t really make any sense as not only did he not have cable, but this TV was the size of a small microwave with an identical reception. We’re flipping channels and we see Buffy is on. I try, in vain, to tell him that the show was pretty good and nothing better was on. He waffled until I told him that the girl from True Lies was on-screen and she was hot now. The episode was “Faith, Hope & Trick”, Dushku’s first episode of the show.
The episode wasn’t that great but I knew I didn’t want to miss a week of a show with her in it. I doubt I told him this but, from that point forward, I was only going to hang out on Tuesday nights if Buffy was on the menu. I finished the third season without fail and thought it was nearly as good as the previous one. Then, Season Four happened and everything fell apart. I almost jumped ship then. The only saving grace was the Faith story arc (y’all know why by now). The fifth season is severely underrated, in my opinion. The premiere episode with Dracula was fucking hilarious. The fact that they got Rudolf Martin to play Dracula, a month before he played the historical Vlad Tepes himself, should not be overlooked. It did introduce little annoying sister Dawn in the biggest “what the fuck” moment in the show’s run but that was forgiven due to the Xander lines about being a buttmonkey and covering his referring to Dracula as “master” by following it up with “bater”. Then there was the Buffy’s mom dead episode, “The Body”. And the flashbacks with Spike in “Fool For Love”. Great stuff. The only downside to that season was the continued use of Riley Finn, the meathead boyfriend of Buffy. He should have died at some point. That, and the end (at first, anyway). My friend Steve can attest to me actually bellowing “No!” when Buffy jumps into the portal in the season finale.
What in the hell was I supposed to do now? The title character in my favorite show was dead. Little did I know at the time that Whedon was going to bring her back in a mostly forgettable sixth season. If it weren’t for the musical episode, I don’t know if there was anything worth watching before that season finale.
The last season came and was largely okay. It did bring back the use of Angel crossovers since it was the last season. They just weren’t allowed to say Buffy’s name over on the WB/CW/POS. It was with this plot device that they brought back Faith. Knowing that was the plan, I had decided to go back to watching Angel, even though the first season was a dud. I felt I needed some context for when Faith showed up and ended up liking the drawn out story of The Beast and Cordelia being possessed.
These two seasons also introduced me to the two main cast members of Whedon’s failed program, Firefly. I actually resented these actors and their characters because I thought they were hording in on the Buffyverse. Once again, Whedon proved me wrong.
Late in 2004, with all of Buffy and Angel off in the sunset, I was badgered to death at Books-A-Million by Ren Fair addict and co-worker, Dawn. The irony of that name being the one to do this is not lost on me either. She kept saying that I would like Firefly because I liked the other two shows and to just give it a try. I got the lone boxed set for Christmas and opened it the day before that. I finished watching by the early afternoon of Christmas Day. This show was different but had a lot of the same charm of the other shows. I was Buffy age when I watched Buffy and Firefly consisted of older folks than those shows, which I was becoming at the old age of 25.
Lucky me, when I found out that those characters’ stories would move on the following year in the film, Serenity, which I saw twice on opening day and a third time within the week. I absolutely love that movie. It may have been the greatest thing Joss Whedon had done ever. That is, until The Avengers, which I will stop talking about as I’m willing to bet there’s a future blog post about it.
I have all of the Buffy and Angel seasons on DVD, I bought Firefly on Blu-Ray (after having the DVD), I have purchasedSerenity three times (twice on DVD, the original and special editions, and once on Blu-Ray). I have both seasons of Dollhouse on Blu-Ray, even though it’s bad (again, you know why). I may even buy that new show to pair with The Avengers, even though I’m not enjoying it. Why? Because, in Joss, I trust.
You see, I happened to tune into the show at precisely the right times that would convince me to watch. It’s Kismet, no? Not only would I have never watched the vampire-infested programs but I also never would have been tempted to watch Firefly and, therefore, Serenity. I may have been prejudiced against The Avengers, which may just be my favorite movie ever, because of that. What a strange confluence of events that led me there. And I never would have watched if it weren’t for a soaken wet Sarah Michelle Gellar or a gothed up Eliza Dushku. Thank you for those, and so many other, visuals, Sir Whedon.