Episode Reviews (135)
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A very impressive start!
I am new to this show, and as a matter of fact, would probably have never heard of it if it were not for Ursula Buffay's porn film, "Buffay the Vampire Layer" on the show Friends. I was hoping for something interesting, as I share a fascinating for the supernatural, and the series premiere delivers wonderfully. The episode is funny, exciting, dark and even thrilling. The opening and closing scenes are unpredictable and the highlights of the episode. Great start and eager for more!moreless
it is really great start for the show that gave us 7 fantastic years of Buffyverse where many of us want to live and actually partly live in.
"In every generation there is a Chosen One. She but wait, no way. such girl as Buffy Summers can't be alone even in the first day in the new place -- Sunnydale High School. she immediately finds the friends: Willow -- too smart girl, Xander -- too funny guy, Cordelia -- too... (well, just too :), Angel -- too handsome vampire, and Giles -- too old librarian to hang out with the 16-year-olds :) and it's the beginning not only of the great show or of the war between Scoobies and forces of darkness, but it's the beginning of the "fantastic four's" friendship that will last till the end, it's the beginning of the pure love between the Slayer and the vampire that will lead to painful consequences. and it's really beautiful! it's something you've never seen before. it's something you will carry through the life. it's something you want so hard. and it gives the hope that we'll have it someday.
it's the beginning, the very powerful one, that made fans all over the world watch every single episode of "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" and re-watch the show again, and again, and again...
FAVE SCENE: Buffy/Willow first talk on the school yard.
FAVE QUOTE: Buffy (to Giles): Prepares me for what? For getting kicked out of school? For losing all of my friends? For having to spend all of my time fighting for my life and never getting to tell anyone because I might endanger them? Go ahead! Prepare me.moreless
"In every generation there is a Chosen One. She alone will stand against the vampires, the demons, and the forces of darkness. She is The
Those are the first words of Buffy's first episode, delivered in a breathless rush that precedes the series' opening scene, in which a meek teenage girl roams the halls of a darkened high school with a slicked-up lothario, then turns the tables on him by pulling a monster face and chomping down on his neck. Five minutes into Buffy The Vampire Slayer and Joss Whedon's already developing themes: high school is dangerous, desire is dangerous, and beautiful girlswell, you get the idea.
Much of "Welcome To The Hellmouth" is dedicated to introducing the cast and the premise, which Whedon and director Charles Martin Smith accomplish fairly fleetly. Our heroine, Buffy Summers, arrives for her first day at a new high schoolwhile the soundtrack plays a song with the lyric "we are the anti-heroes"and from her mom's worried tone and Buffy's first meeting with the principal, we quickly learn that she was kicked out of her last school for torching a gym full of vampires.
When in history class, while the teacher lectures on ancient plagues, Buffy has her first encounter with curt, curvy popular chick Cordelia, who initially seems sweet and helpful, until she starts picking on the two people who were first friendly to Buffy at Sunnydale: smart-mouthed slacker Xander and sweet, wallflowery Willow. It's a dilemma for Buffy, right off the bat: Her mother wants her to fit in at her new school, and the easiest way for her to fit in would be to click with Cordelia's crowd, which Buffy is certainly pretty enough and hip enough to do. But she also been gifted with special powers that require to take a stand against evil, and while Cordelia's not exactly demonic, she's certainly not that nice.
Once we meet the last major cast player, Rupert Gilesthe school librarian, who doubles as Buffy's "watcher" and an expert in all things supernaturalwe're plunged into the plot, involving a clan of vampires preparing for "the harvest" by bringing young bodies down to their pasty master. The best place to find those bodies is The Bronze, a nightclub with post-grunge bands playing nightly. Drawn into the danger at The Bronze, Buffy manages to embarrass herself in front of Cordelia, then she fails to keep Xander's friend Jesse from getting vampire-ized while she goes scrambling after Willow, who's picked the wrong time to get flirty in a room full of predators.
There are a few kinks with "Welcome To The Hellmouth," including some dialogue that sounds more faux-clever than actually clever, and an overall flatness to the action/horror sequences that will carry over into Episode Two. But there are some poignant moments too, like when Buffy first meets Angel, the mysterious stranger who we'll learn in "The Harvest" is a vampire tortured by a conscience. And I especially liked the scene where Buffy prepares to go clubbing and mutters to herself, "I used to be so good at this," already mourning the normal teenage life she's lost for good.
So, all in all, a good introduction to the show, establishing the characters and the premise quickly and cleanly, before ending on a cliffhangermoreless
"Live for today, because tomorrow you might be dead"
In this episode, we are introduced to new girl Buffy Summers, who also happens to have a secret life as the one and only Vampire Slayer. As far as pilots go, pretty good! The characters are introduced in a fun way that holds true throughout the series (thankfully they went with this version, and not the unaired one- eek!). The fast-paced and witty dialogue is impressive, unlike most pilots. Definitely love this one way more than the unaired version.
A great balance of action and comedy, however, I found it to be a bit more icky than future episodes. The underground layer with its pools of blood, for example, were a bit much.moreless
The attitude and the costuming are really where this show starts. The witty banter between characters, the references to pop culture, the satire of high school... and throw in those vampires and it's the equation for success. A little corny at times, but who doesn't enjoy comedy in their drama? This series is the starting point for so many aspects that have become staples. Hooray for Buffy.
AWESOME! Take it from someone who knows!
FOR THOSE WHO HAVE NEVER SEEN BUFFY AND ARE THINKING ABOUT IT:
I have 4 notes. SHORT Ones I promise!
1: All I can say is ignore the 90's styles and references, remember that the graphics were CUTTING EDGE when this was made, and forgive them little things that show their budget was not fantastic because THOSE THINGS GET BETTER!!!!!!!!!
2: Yes it's old but this show is not cliche. It's pioneer!!! Today we think... vampires and girls guh!!!! AGAIN?????
BUFFY WAS THE FIRST! Cute little teenager and dark handsome 100+yo vamp? Who do you think invented all this stuff?
Buffy Summers was THE FIRST decent female heroine on TV. She doesn't need rescuing (anyone think women on TV may have regressed a little since then - ahem, Elena and Bella); she's smart, capable, and also dealing with all the normal problems of life (Growing up! Only in high school for the first 3 seasons!... heh heh heh LOVE WHAT HAPPENS TO THE HIGH SCHOOL lol). Plus she can kick some serious butt all on her own! Strong females are a MAJOR theme throughout the series... also, side note, first lesbian kiss on American TV.
3: Buffy is FUNNY! Classic Joss Whedon humour (eg. Firefly). They take the piss out of themselves all the time. This show has a smart script! ... Maybe you do have to go a couple of episodes in to see it really flower but there it is. Stick with it and you won't regret it. NOBODY I have introduced this to has, and that's quite a few people.
4. It's one of those shows that keeps getting better. Characters who start out one way evolve fantastically into something else over an acceptable period of time. My personal favourite is Season 5... then 7... then 6... then 2.... DO NOT WATCH THEM OUT OF ORDER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
They ended it after 7 seasons because they didn't want to be one of those shows that goes on forever and ends up sucking. JW specifically said he wanted to end on a high. It ends REALLY well!
That's it... I think. I hope I've convinced you to give it a go, because no, it probably wouldn't have lasted in today's market, but that's because it wouldn't have been given the chance to flourish. How many shows do we complain about that ended before anyone had the time to realise how good it was?
There is a reason this show still has a cult following all over the world 10 years after it finished.moreless
This is about average of first season's episodes.
This is barely a good episode. This should make us to be sure to watch this show again and provide most important information about show. Does this episode do that? I would say barely. There are some scenes that are worth to remember. Like when Buffy first arrive at sunnydale high or Snyder is meeting Buffy at his office. Also the scene when Buffy first time meets Giles is worth to mention. Basic information about show's main storyline is provided by Giles at scene when Giles tells Buffy about her destiny, fair enough way to do it but not great. End part of the episode is not very interesting. After all I think that this is about average of first season's episodes.moreless
Welcome to the Hellmouth
This series is my favorite television show, period, and I hope that you'll feel my love for the material while I analyze it. My goal with these reviews is to provide a focus on the characters rather than the plot and to thoroughly and clearly explain why I see things the way I do. Even if you don't agree with me, my hope is that you'll still understand where I'm coming from. Regardless of all of that: welcome!
Series premieres are a tough cookie, much like (but in most ways less tricky than) series finales. While "Welcome to the Hellmouth" is not one of the very best series premieres I've ever seen, it is still pretty good and certainly better than most out there. The key things the episode does right are (1) establish a set of likeable characters with some depth and/or the potential for a lot of growth, (2) establish its own voice with very fun, snappy dialogue, and (3) set up some thematic underpinnings that will fuel the show as a whole for a long time to come, but also more immediately in the first season.
There are a series of important scenes in the episode that are quite adept at weaving introductions with character depth and theme. The opening scene of the series actually has quite a bit to like about it. For one, it gives us the initial mission statement of the show: high school is hell. More than that, though, it also sets up the concept of subversion, which ends up playing a big role throughout the series and is often tied to Buffy herself. This scene conveys the dangers that lurk in this universe while also subverting our expectations of how the scene will play out. One would expect based on both conditioning and the way the characters are acting that the blond girl here is about to be the victim of the bad boy who's lured her into the school for mischief. Instead the blond girl turns out to be the 400 year old vampire Darla who takes him out. The expectation has been subverted, and it won't be the last time. Even to this day I feel this scene remains clever and serves a wonderful introduction to some of the core themes of the series.
For me, a show is only as good as its characters. This is an area where a lot of other quality shows end up falling short for me. Without being able to understand and identify with anyone, it's difficult to emotionally invest in anything that's happening. While we all know that these characters will evolve into tremendously complex and well-developed adults, what we see here in "Welcome to the Hellmouth" are mere children; children that are completely innocent and ignorant of both the horrors and wonders that lie ahead of them. Most of the main characters are drawn with decent depth and also have a lot of room for growth. I admit that if that growth had never been capitalized on, this episode wouldn't rub off nearly as well as it does.
I enjoyed how we're introduced to all the major characters and how they first interact with each other. The first conversation we see between Xander and Willow nicely establishes several basic characteristics: Xander has the hots for Buffy, Willow's both smart (we find out with computers too a bit later) and adorable, the dialogue between the characters while not quite fully refined yet is snappy, playful, and fun, and that Eric Balfour's Jesse needs to go away quickly and he does. Overall: a definite success.
A brief exchange with Joyce the caring but somewhat clueless mother -- aside, the first real scene we get with Buffy is in the principal's office with Mr. Flutie. This scene is just entertaining in general, what with the report card being ripped apart and subsequently taped back together again, but it also establishes his trademark 'sensitive' personality and the first hints at Buffy's futile urge to be normal.
After the meeting with the principal, Buffy bumps into someone in the hallway causing Xander to immediately flock towards her. It's amusing and telling that his first words to Buffy are "can I have you?" This little statement speaks to early-series Xander quite succinctly in his romantic pursuit of her throughout S1 and his hatred and jealousy of Angel that grows through S2 and S3. Jesse's capture and subsequent death in "The Harvest" [1x02] goes on to setting up his hatred of vampires in general on top of these other issues. It all starts with these revealing words here.
Things get interesting when Buffy meets Giles for the first time. Giles, himself, actually rubs off as a little one-dimensional to me to start off with though. Whedon went a little bit overboard with the stuffy British persona early on. Buffy, on the other hand, is drawn very nicely showing off a bit of complexity and depth right from the start. Sarah Michelle Gellar is immediately comfortable in this role and largely carries this episode. When Giles says "I know what you're after" and throws down the Vampyr book, Gellar portrays the humanity and hurt in Buffy with wonderful subtlety.
In my eyes, the entire episode is anchored on the subsequent interactions between Buffy and Giles as we see their interesting relationship begin to form. When Buffy returns to the library after finding the dead guy in the locker we get to see the first glimpse of one of her most intriguing characteristics. In regard to the vampire attack Buffy says "and I don't care." Giles responds, "Then why are you here?" Despite Buffy's desire to leave all this slayer stuff behind, she still feels the pull to help others nonetheless, often sacrificing of herself and her desires in the process. This little scene resonates throughout the series. "The Gift" [5x22] is an example that offers a nice capper of how this quality will manifest itself over the years.
Another key scene between the two of them that furthers this discussion is on the balcony at the Bronze. Buffy is envious of the crowd's ignorance down below thus symbolizing her feeling of being superior to them, in both strength and knowledge, but at same time feeling inferior to them due to the weight the burden of being the Slayer puts on her (a topic "Conversations with Dead People" [7x07] specifically sheds light on) at the danger that surrounds them. Giles tells her that there is "so much you don't know about them, about your own powers," and he's completely right. Oh how true this statement is, both literally and thematically.
Giles tells Buffy, amusingly, to "hone" her senses to locate a vampire in the crowd something that is and will be effective for her down the road but she instead spots one by using a personal strength rather a supernatural one: recognizing outdated clothing. This entire conversation is the very first hint of what makes Buffy a unique slayer. Buffy doesn't submit to things, but instead subverts them using her power both external and internal in new and unexpected ways but almost always for the better. This scene also ties into the very first scene of the series with Darla in how we experience a reversal of expectations.
All of this talk about subversion also nicely connects with the villains. The Master and his followers while fairly corny very much represent the old way of things. This group of vampires the Order of Aurelius -- is trying to instigate the return of the old ones. While they wait for their moment they live below ground and only go up to feed or make more of their kind. Buffy as a character and as a show are all about subverting the outdated and the old. This is why Buffy will defeat the Master in "Prophecy Girl" [1x12] and why Spike will gloriously scorch the Anointed One in "School Hard" [2x03] with a proclamation about less ritual and more fun. Down the road, we also see how this theme ties into the patriarchal nature of the Watcher's Council and Giles' involvement in it. All the seeds are planted right here, in "Welcome to the Hellmouth."
Unfortunately, though, the episode certainly isn't without flaws. Obviously the music score is just terrible, being corny, overly synthesized, and trying way too hard to be surprising and suspenseful making it neither surprising nor suspenseful in the process. The production values are mediocre at best, the villains are extremely one-note and trite (which becomes a bigger problem in "The Harvest" [1x02]), and the secondary characters rub off as overly simplistic.
Despite the episode's flaws, though, it gets the most important things right. At the end of the day the plot takes a back seat in "Welcome to the Hellmouth," which is precisely why it succeeds so well. It launches this wonderful series on the right foot in terms of the core characters and has strong thematic relevance to boot. Funny likeable characters will take you a long way in a pilot episode. This is a very solid start to the series, one that provides some initial depth that launches the incredible journey that awaits both the characters and the viewer.
A Solid First Episode
A lot of the characters seem one-dimensional so far; they present no depth or interest (Xander, Cordelia, Giles, and most definitely Jesse), which needs to be established in the first episode. Jesse is a disaster waiting to happen, if he is going to be on the show, he needs to do his job and get the hell out of there. Not only is Jesse one-dimensional, to me he seems to be better suited as a plot device (it's a good thing he does leave). He also just seems like an extension of Xander, and seems to be a third wheel. The Villain characters are also far too one-dimensional, not only that, they are clichd. The Master and his followers are pretty cheesey, and provide only a small interest.
I didn't really appreciate the setting either. The idea of it is actually fine; it's the way it was set up at night. At night you can tell that they were filming this in a warehouse. For example, when Buffy meets Angel, the lights in the alley don't look much like streetlights to me. Also, when Buffy has Angel pinned you can see, in the background, the warehouse door open up into daylight. This setup was pretty sloppy; I mean the least they could have done was shut the door.
There are also problems with the plot as well. For one, there isn't much plot at all, not until the end at least. The episode focuses way too much on establishing the characters, which in many respects is a good thing, as long as you're not overcrowding the plot. They should have developed the plot and the characters at the same time. We're rushed into the plot at the end of the episode, rather than building ourselves up to a decent cliffhanger. So far all we know is that the Master is stuck underground and wants to get out. They make the plot too unimportant to the audience so that the audience doesn't appreciate the cliffhanger as much.
What happens in most first episodes, happens in this one as well. The actors tend to overact in their roles because they are uncertain on how to act out their character. This problem distinguishes the first few episodes from the rest of the series, in terms of acting at least. Plus David Boreanaz isn't a very good actor at this point.
The score is awful. It is way too cheesy and it over exaggerates, making the moment less than it is. The score adds nothing to the show, in fact it seems to take away from this episode, and makes the episode a little boring.
Alright, let's get into the more positive aspects of the episode.
Despite some discrepancies in the characters they are well established and each character has their own unique personality. Buffy is very spunky and tends to live in the now causing conflict with her "slayerness" as she attempts to have a normal life; Xander is very boyish, geeky, and comes off as a bit of a loser; Willow is cute, nerdy, and seems to be very smart, she also has a crush on Xander, which becomes a huge part of her character down the road; Giles is dedicated to his job as a Watcher, which brings him into conflict with Buffy, as Giles seems to represent part of her slayer qualities; Cordelia is the bitch of the show, who is completely devoted to being popular and doesn't care how much this might hurt someone, just as long as she stays popular, she also seems to represent who Buffy was, which is probably why Buffy appears to have success talking to her at the beginning of the episode; Angel is mysterious and is definitely hiding many things which becomes more apparent in the next episode. I like the chemistry and relationships all these people begin to develop, it definitely becomes a big part of the show.
I also like the way they name the town: Sunnydale. It has a certain irony to it: SUNNYdale. The name sounds so lighthearted and happy, when in fact the town is most certainly not.
The plot also offers a nice way for the characters to interact and connect through problems. The plot, though not well established yet, is entertaining so far.
The theme of this entire series is presented to us quite clearly without it having to really be mentioned: in the end you must except who you are, even if you don't like it. The fact that Buffy goes after Willow to save her from the vampire, shows that she is drawn to her duty as a Slayer, even though she doesn't want it and never asked for it.
Overall, I enjoyed watching this episode, despite some of its flaws. The plot needs to be more addressed, and the production setup and actors need to improve. Other than that he characters are well established and have room to grow, despite minor problems, and the theme and meaning of the show become quite clear to us in this episode.moreless