What is the lasting appeal of Buffy the Vampire Slayer? Why do fans keep quoting and discussing episodes five years old? Was it the fine cast of actors and actresses? Yes, the acting was all you could hope for in a TV show, usually better. Was it the great production and direction of each episode? Yes, each consecutive episode and season raised the bar for what you came to expect from television as a visual medium. These things made for a good television show but what made BtVS great was the superb writing, the attention to character development on a week to week basis. Episodic television had never seen anything like this. A show that could be accurately described as a fantasy-comedy-drama. The subject matter was engaging enough. Buffy, with her close friends and allies Willow, Giles, and Xander, would battle the forces of evil across the town of Sunnydale CA. Vampires, demons, werewolves, and monsters of all shapes and sizes would be stopped week-in and week-out. An interesting premise alone isnt gonna keep people comming back every week. The jokes helped. Pop culture was laughed at and with each week. Buffy's writers were as good with a subtle one liner as they were with elaborate visual gags. Thats what you hear most people discussing when the subject of BtVS is brought up. How funny and how witty this show was. They are correct of course the show was laugh out loud funny and sly, with a knowing wink, kinda funny all at the same time. Of course there was the dramatic element as well. The ability to tell an interesting story and to have it filled with monsters and fighting, yet at the center of that story have very human content was at times breathtaking. Now we come to it. Why I wrote this review. Why I think BtVS is such a great show. The writers, though putting the characters in fantastic situations, never let the action dictate the characters responses. The characters became so well devolped because it was as if they were making their own realistic decisions when facing a problem. The show to me was about choices. Not the kind we were accustomed to seeing in most television, choices without the fear of consequenses. No, these problems the characters faced and how they solved them could have unforseen consequenses that stretched for the rest of an episode or season, even for many seasons. With each new episode the characters grew as a direct result of previous decisions. They made good choices, and best of all, they made bad choices. They were human, or nearly so. The writers allowed the characters to live, not to be contained by formula, even when Buffy saved the world for the third time or another of her close friends switched teams and became evil. That is why Buffy the Vampire Slayer continues to surprise and impress after all these years. The characters of BtVS, though fictional, were still the sum of all their past experiences and choices. Just as you the reader have been shaped and influenced by the countless choices you have made in your life.
Buffy the Vampire Slayer is the kinda show that makes you want to defend television even after its near death at the hands of "reality" programming. Well thats it, my first posted review here at tv.com. I'm sorry if i didnt spend enough time on the cast and crew, or the debt BtVS probably owes to other shows like Twin Peaks or the X-Files but those are subjects that can be considered on their own in the future.