Saturday, 30 October 2010
Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Season 1, Episode 3 'Witch'
Writer: Dana Reston
Director: Stephen Cragg
What's the sitch?
Buffy is looking to expand her interests at Sunnydale High. First stop is trying out for the cheer leading squad, something she used to do in her last school. Unfortunately her fellow cheerleader wannabes are being injured by an unseen force. One bursts in to flame, another goes blind and then Buffy herself becomes mystically poisoned. Giles suspects witchcraft – black magic. But who would want to hurt cheerleaders and why? The gang sets out to identify and then stop the supposed witch, whoever he or she may be, before Buffy succumbs to the dark magic that's rapidly killing her.
What's the sitch beneath the sitch?
The first non-vampire story, Witch is also the first episode of Buffy to use genuine honest to god metaphor for the trials and tribulations of teenage life. It's domineering parent syndrome with a vile mother insanely jealous of her daughter's youth who uses dark magic to relive her own youth though her rather clutzy teen offspring.
Who's giving us the wiggins this week?
The witch of course. And a cute black cat that makes Giles (and us) jump. “Nice...kitty...” he murmurs, getting over the shock.
Why it rocks
1. Metaphor. Like I said, it's the first time the series uses the supernatural as a metaphor to highlight teen troubles. And it does it in a fun, creepy and clever way.
2. A Buffy hug. Buffy is really sweet in this episode as she tries to befriend poor Amy.
3. Creepiness. Witchcraft is presented in a cosily familiar way with a cauldron and a spell book and...um...a familiar (the cute black cat that freaks Giles). So far so Harry Potter. But the episode also manages to make witchcraft properly creepy. Witness Amy's mum's attic room where she does her spells. Those dolls are icky. Plus the poor girl in school who loses her mouth. And Amy's mum's final horrible fate which is something that amusingly continues in to next season with Oz saying how the statue's eyes seem to follow you around the room. Heh.
4. Xander loves Buffy. Xander fretting over asking Buffy out is charming and funny with the audience cheering him on and hoping for the best. His present to her is cute but is mostly there as a plot point.
Why it sucks
Nobody seems to question Giles hanging around with students quite as much as he does. Nowadays he'd be put on a list.
Does anyone else ever use the library? What are the school paying Giles for? Actually this turns in to a knowing and running gag later on in the show.
Again with Giles; the poor guy gets knocked out in the first of many head traumas to come. This is one cliché I hate in TV land.
Buffy does her rendition of the Village People song Macho Man. Buffy dances in to her kitchen wearing her cheerleader outfit singing, “Macho macho maaan. I want to be...a macho man.” Seeing her mum making fresh orange juice, she bounces up to her and says, “Oh, hey, juice.” This never fails to make me laugh. Perfectly timed, perfectly silly, perfectly Buffy.
Dialogue to die for
Xander: “I laugh in the face of danger. Then I hide until it goes away.”
And another thing
We see Giles' car for the first time – the knacked out old Citroen.
Amy (Elizabeth Anne Allen) becomes a recurring character but is doomed to turn in to a rat for three years and live in a cage with Willow before finally being restored to human in season six. She is also one of the main villains in the season 8 comic book continuation.
How many stakes?
Plunge three and a half in and watch it dust. 3.5 (out of 5)