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Discussion of 1.01 "Welcome To The Hellmouth" - Aired 3/10/1997 (WB-US)

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#81
I thought the library in the unaired pilot was more aesthetically pleasing, however, it really wasn't appropriate for a high school library. Though the library used for the regular series seemed to be lacking.
 
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#82
A few thoughts and notes on the first episode :)

The opening scene was set-up nicely, and quite unexpected that the girl (Darla) turned out to be the "bad guy". And yes, the window smashing in the science lab did make me jump!

Another favorite scene was the dream sequence with some nice foreshadowing of what was to come (although you don't know this of course when you're watching it) you see the cross that Buffy receives in the ally and the start of the Harvest.

Overall I thought the Vampire make-up was very well done, considering the age of the show and all. Also, you could definitely tell it was a 90s TV show because of the scene with the band playing in The Bronze. Having a musical segment with a band rocking out on stage is quintessentially 90s!

Why was the locker room bolted shut when Buffy went to investigate the dead body? (stuffed in the locker by Darla) You'd think the forensics would be there and the body taken away by paramedics. Who would close the room up like that with the body lying there? That made no sense to me.

Also, Buffy is immensely strong, just breaking off a table leg with no effort to make a Vampire stake as she is searching for Willow hehe :D

But overall a good episode. Some great scenes and some really funny dialogue too. Anthony Head is perfect for the role of "The Watcher", he and Willow are my favorite characters so far :)
 
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#83
A few thoughts and notes on the first episode :)

The opening scene was set-up nicely, and quite unexpected that the girl (Darla) turned out to be the "bad guy". And yes, the window smashing in the science lab did make me jump!

Another favorite scene was the dream sequence with some nice foreshadowing of what was to come (although you don't know this of course when you're watching it) you see the cross that Buffy receives in the ally and the start of the Harvest.

Overall I thought the Vampire make-up was very well done, considering the age of the show and all. Also, you could definitely tell it was a 90s TV show because of the scene with the band playing in The Bronze. Having a musical segment with a band rocking out on stage is quintessentially 90s!

Why was the locker room bolted shut when Buffy went to investigate the dead body? (stuffed in the locker by Darla) You'd think the forensics would be there and the body taken away by paramedics. Who would close the room up like that with the body lying there? That made no sense to me.

Also, Buffy is immensely strong, just breaking off a table leg with no effort to make a Vampire stake as she is searching for Willow hehe :D

But overall a good episode. Some great scenes and some really funny dialogue too. Anthony Head is perfect for the role of "The Watcher", he and Willow are my favorite characters so far :)
Well that is because she is the Vampire Slayer and has great strength, makes perfect sense to me:D

Just yesterday I started my re-watch, and like others will do an episode by episode review.

While season one isn't the best (in fact I would say its my least favourite) I do think this is a strong pilot episode. It sets up the characters and themes which are to come without giving too much away. It also has the perfect mix, of action, drama, comedy, horror, romance and great pop culture references.

Highlights:

The opening scene really just sums up what the show is all about, as from the start Joss is playing with the viewers expectations. A bit like the opening of Scream it really hits you in the face, and highlights that this is not going to be your typical Sci-Fi show. It is quite scary, and Julie Benz is a great actress and just commands the screen.

The meeting of Buffy and Xander is really funny. In fact the handling of there realtionship is one of the highlights of the opening season.

It takes the Willow character awhile to come out of her shell, but considering it is the first episode Alison nicely underplays the part giving a very natural feel. The banter with Xander is also quite fun, and does remind me of the kind of things real friends would say to each other, just that its a little more post modern.

The first meeting of Buffy and Giles in the libaray is a great scene too. Its good how they hint at some of the back story, but also hints at how Buffy is looking to move on with her life, and maybe has denial issues over the whole Slayer thing. And father daughter-chemstry is there from the start. I must say that I prefer Giles from seasons 1-4. He plays the charming snob perfectly, making for the perfect fish out of water character, while also showing great warmth and sharp wit. In later seasons he just become a little too stiff and took himself too seriously. That is the character more than the actor.

Also the scene with Buffy and Giles at the Bronze is a really funny scene which brings the characters to life. The actors play off each other nicely here, and the best part is Giles destain for the teenagers behavour:) SMG also brillaintly sells the numbness of the character at this point, as we see her resigned to life as the Slayer, and her evy to other normal teenagers.

The slow burning nature of the Cordelia characer is one of the hooks of the first two seasons. Again this shows just how the show likes to play around with peoples expectations. Normally a character like this would be a light comic foil who over time just fades into backgroud, either that or she would be a super bitch and nothing else. But over time she does grow a really distinct personality which is different to everone else's but also compliments the other Scobbies well. It is also a clever character as the direction of her in the first season mirrors what Buffy used to be (in the movie), or what she could have become if she had not matured. That is partly why it is interesting her they tease a friendship between the two early in the pilot. The only draw back being that CC at this point wasn't the best actress, and while she has the right vocal delivery for the part, her performance doesn't seem that naturally, but of course she improves, and has a nice supporting part in this opener, and some good lines, the best of which was, "Excuse me while I call everyone I have met ever!".

The ending is also a nice cliffhanger, and a pretty fun fight seqence also. Some nice back and fourth dialoque between SMG and Benz make this seem for me.

Lowlights:

Fluttie. The guy just never convinced me as school head. Snyder was ten times better. Fluttie was an uneven character who I the show never defined. Was he stuck up? Was he nasty? Was he a nervous geek? Did he really have the best interest of the students at heart, damned if I know! Also the actor didn't really bring anything to the part to solve these problems. But the scene in his Office when Buffy first arrives is pretty amusing, and I like his reaction when he starts reading about her past history...:cool:

The Master. Not the best ever Buffy Villain for me. Yes Mark Maltcafe (points for guessing which 90s sitcom he appeared in) does his best to inject some comic life into him, but watching it now the character just seem very dated, and it is hard to believe him as a threat to his followers or anyone.

Jessie. He is really wet behind the ears and just seems like a slightly more creepy version of Xander. A bland character who thankfully was done and dusted (see what I did there?:p) after the second part of the pilot.

Despite these minor draw backs it was a very promising first episode.

7/10 
Oh and Angel is very bland and a little creep in this episode, should have mentioned that too. I do think that DB improved over time, and that the character got more interesting possibly from the third season onwards (of course then in his own show).
 
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Black Thorn
#84
I'm just re-watching this episode and I have a question about Buffy carrying the stake in her school bag. Why is she carrying it? She's adamant that she doesn't want to be the slayer, that she wants nothing to do with it, that all she's worried about is school and fitting in. Plus its not like vampires will attack her at school during the day. She goes the Bronze at night without a stake which would be a more logical time to carry one.

I know from a writer's point of view its done to help Xander piece together that she's the Slayer but there is the scene in the library were he over hears Buffy and Giles talking about it.
 

Buffy Summers

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#85
I feel like after a year or so of being the Slayer Buffy would always have a stake, in that "be prepared" kind of way. And even if she didn't want to be the Slayer anymore, she isn't stupid lol
 

sk

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#86
Kinda out of nowhere I decided to start watching Buffy today.
Not sure if I'm actually gonna do a proper re-watch but it was great fun to so some Buffy again. It was a long time since last.

One moment I just love is when Principle Flutie starts to repair Buffy's school record, that he just had teared apart, when he realize what it actually said.
So funny. :)

Another great one is Giles frustration when Buffy spots a vampire in the Bronze in her very own way.
-But you didn't... hone.

That moment has always been a favorite.
I remember when I first watched Buffy I only bought the first season on DVD to try it out.
But that specific scene, when Buffy used her own skills to spot the vampire, made me decide to buy the entire series. I actually pressed paused and went to the computer to order them directly. lol
I felt that this show seems brilliant and deserved to be watched.

/SK
 

Give Us A Kiss

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#87
Is it me or this is the only episode where we see Xander on a skateboard ?

I couldn't help but notice how Buffy was very anti-slaying during most of the episode, because it caused her to get into loads of trouble back in LA (such as burning the school gym...).
 

Fuffy Baith

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#91
Is it me or does Jesse feel like an exact copy of Xander in this episode. Just a bit less aware of his nerd status!
Yea pretty much. They're bros. lol. Actually do we know how long Jesse and Xander were friends? Cause we know Xander and Willow have been friends since they were little kids. But were Willow and Jesse friends? Neither of them seemed really affected by Jesse's death, so I'm guessing maybe he only knew them for a year or two. A friend they met in high school. But yea, basically Jesse was a character written to die, so they didn't really put a lot into him.
 

Foxy

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#92
Maybe the underdeveloped version of Xander. Jesse wants Cordelia. Later on, Xander dates Cordelia.
I never thought of it like that.

Yea pretty much. They're bros. lol. Actually do we know how long Jesse and Xander were friends? Cause we know Xander and Willow have been friends since they were little kids. But were Willow and Jesse friends? Neither of them seemed really affected by Jesse's death, so I'm guessing maybe he only knew them for a year or two. A friend they met in high school. But yea, basically Jesse was a character written to die, so they didn't really put a lot into him.
I think that they implied that they had been friends since they were young. I feel like Jesse was more the third wheel in the group of nerds rather than them being a close knit group. I think Xander and Willow were the two close ones, but just accepted Jesse because no one else wanted him. I wish they had developed him a bit more and then after like episode 4 killed him. This would have given the fans a little bit more attachment to the character. I understand what Josh wanted to do with the pilot episodes (push the boundaries) but I feel it would have had a greater impact than this.
 

thetopher

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#94
But were Willow and Jesse friends? Neither of them seemed really affected by Jesse's death
Maybe like a 'high school friend', just hanging around because of shared 'persecuted nerd' status?
I never saw closeness between Willow and Jesse; Xander and Jesse were the solid buddy types with the way they interact.
 

Jam

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#95
Let the rewatch commence!

20 years later and the subversion of Darla being the vampire, not the victim still works so well! Television has progressed so much since 1997 but – from my experience with new viewers – you still don't expect that plot twist. It's a subtle lingering shot but I love that the library doors are one of the very first things we see. Setting aside the movie, it's interesting how we begin the series with Buffy already knowing that she's the Slayer and I think that could be considered another subversion, since so many shows begin with the leading character(s) discovering this new world in the pilot.

The gleeful look on Giles' face as he slams down the VAMPYR book (do we ever see that book again? What exactly is in it?) and then nonchalantly saying "my mistake" is a scene that always make me laugh. As is Aphrodesia saying, "What kind of name is Buffy?" and also Angel's jacket.

I wish the Slayer dreams element was more prominent throughout the series; I'm not sure why, but I like them.

The shots of Buffy searching around the Bronze for the carbon-dated vamp - before she almost stakes Cordelia - are so pretty with all of shadows against the colourful posters.

Welcome to the Hellmouth definitely is not the best episode, but it does everything that it needs to do pretty well and I can't think of anything that I would change. The scenes in the Master's lair are kind of weird but they feel very season one, so ultimately they're fine. Also: everyone looks so young! They have no idea of all the drama that's to come. At this point, Buffy is certainly the most multidimensional character and Sarah does a great job at portraying Buffy's desire to have a fresh start and fit in, and her resistance to slaying. Of course the show evolves a lot but the most jarring thing to me from early-Buffy will always be how simple the dusting effects start off.

Tagline for Welcome to the Hellmouth: "This is Sunnydale. How bad an evil can there be here?"

Now let's see how long I can commit to discussing every episode...
 
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#96
Let the rewatch commence!

20 years later and the subversion of Darla being the vampire, not the victim still works so well! Television has progressed so much since 1997 but – from my experience with new viewers – you still don't expect that plot twist. It's a subtle lingering shot but I love that the library doors are one of the very first things we see. Setting aside the movie, it's interesting how we begin the series with Buffy already knowing that she's the Slayer and I think that could be considered another subversion, since so many shows begin with the leading character(s) discovering this new world in the pilot.

The gleeful look on Giles' face as he slams down the VAMPYR book (do we ever see that book again? What exactly is in it?) and then nonchalantly saying "my mistake" is a scene that always make me laugh. As is Aphrodesia saying, "What kind of name is Buffy?" and also Angel's jacket.

I wish the Slayer dreams element was more prominent throughout the series; I'm not sure why, but I like them.

The shots of Buffy searching around the Bronze for the carbon-dated vamp - before she almost stakes Cordelia - are so pretty with all of shadows against the colourful posters.

Welcome to the Hellmouth definitely is not the best episode, but it does everything that it needs to do pretty well and I can't think of anything that I would change. The scenes in the Master's lair are kind of weird but they feel very season one, so ultimately they're fine. Also: everyone looks so young! They have no idea of all the drama that's to come. At this point, Buffy is certainly the most multidimensional character and Sarah does a great job at portraying Buffy's desire to have a fresh start and fit in, and her resistance to slaying. Of course the show evolves a lot but the most jarring thing to me from early-Buffy will always be how simple the dusting effects start off.

Tagline for Welcome to the Hellmouth: "This is Sunnydale. How bad an evil can there be here?"

Now let's see how long I can commit to discussing every episode...
Very true:) The opening is one of my favourite first scenes of any show. And most shows would start with the lead discovery they have are different or something happening to them to make them different. This is a fresh twist on it. Not only does Buffy know about her gift, but she's actually running away from it.
 

Jam

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#97
Very true:) The opening is one of my favourite first scenes of any show. And most shows would start with the lead discovery they have are different or something happening to them to make them different. This is a fresh twist on it. Not only does Buffy know about her gift, but she's actually running away from it.
Yes, it generates some interesting conflict where Buffy isn't running from her calling because her world has been flipped upside down and she doesn't know what life as the Slayer entails, she's running because she already knows firsthand of the badness it brings.
 

AnthonyCordova

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#98
(I’m not going to comment much on what has been pointed out often before, but I am going to go over each episode quickly from start to finish in both BtVS and AtS and offer a light commentary about each one.)

The early dream sequence was well made. I like how it used images to convey the historical context of the slayer. We see flashes of images that indicate a depth of history, of shadowy figures that look like they were of a different time and place, etc. I feel already situated into the story of the slayer, in a small but real way.

Xander has got the same kind of hair cut I had in high school, lol.

What drive’s a young woman to be so mean! You know, Cordelia’s sass is considerable, and she has an uncommon sharp tongue, but despite all of that, girls like her were not so rare when I was in high school, despite the obvious dimension of caricature that comes with Cordelia’s character. She really laid into Willow at the water fountain there with rare verbal skill though.

Willow’s excitement for books and learning reminds me of my own early attachments to books and libraries and learning too.

Two very typical high school boys (Xander and Jessie) by my experience as an American. What is Xander talking about in his beginning lines, lol.

Everyone tends to run on when they speak to each other, another lol.

It’s really easy to forget after watching the show so many times now, but Giles started out a very disciplined and committed watcher to begin with on the show. In the beginning he was as unyielding in his strictness as any member of the watcher’s council we’ve seen on the show. The degree to which he evolved over the length of the show is profound. It seems like Wes gets more credit for that, but Giles changed and adapted just as dramatically.

Contextualizing Buffy is very important in this episode, and the writers made sure to make this obvious. She’s a young girl that still doesn’t quite appreciate the gravity of her situation, and how much it exists beyond the sheltered world she grew up in. Yet despite whatever she experienced before Sunnydale, (and is there a comic out about these early years somewhere? And that strikes me as a good place to possibly write fan fiction too,) she still naively believes she can just flee those circumstances and events and get on with a normal life. So we see how the trauma of her prior experiences cracks her own self-image too. Despite all of her best efforts though, she is being made to deal with the facticity of her set of circumstances, and you can see the dillema play out over her face and in her words. It’s interesting to observe and contemplate.

I cringed watching Buffy hit all of those sharp corners in the crypt fight with Luke.
 

GoSpuffy

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Black Thorn
#99
I'm starting an episode rewatch and I'm going to try and watch the series in chronological order instead of jumping around watching my favourite (read Spike centric) episodes. I've watched the later seasons way more than the early seasons and I never rewatch S1. The first thing that springs out to me is how much younger SMG looked. I like her with the baby face! I can see why I kept watching as the humour I love is there right from the beginning. This episode seemed to try and have more of a horror vibe than later seasons and I'm glad they lost that. The filming does seem more low tech than later seasons and I'm not a fan of the master. I like how Buffy didn't like how Cordelia was treating Willow. I like how the characters were introduced to us. I love the Buffy Giles relationship and I'm looking forward to watching that develope again. All in all I liked the episode and it was better than I remembered. Right off the bat I didn't like Cordy or Angel so it's interesting how that has stuck with me over the years. I remember being so happy when they left sunnydale for LA.
 

Fool for Buffy

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Something I noticed in this episode in my latest rewatch that gave me more appreciation for it was that I saw exactly what I love about everybody specifically just by watching this episode.
Buffy had a fun personality, good taste in people, a rebellious but loyal attitude and a badass fighting style.
Xander was funny and relatable and could be brave if necessary.
Willow was smart shy and sweet with a clearly very complex and awesome character just waiting to come of out its shell.
Giles was funny, nice but disciplinary like a father, and British.
Angel was dark and mysterious with a story to tell and an agenda to fight.
Cordelia was bitchy but not bland and was blatant but not stupid.
It may seem like not that big of a deal, but I was impressed because you usually need to get to know characters and see them in different scenarios to find out what you like about them. But on Buffy you can literally see all of it just with introductions. And just watching any random episode of Buffy certainly doesn't provide that. In fact almost none of them do.
 
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