I'm not a Buffy fan. (Though I did enjoy the original movie a great deal, but I'm told that's heresy.)
I've seen possibly as many as ten episodes total, and probably none in the past two years. (And the most recent one I saw was an old rerun.) I kinda enjoy seeing it now and then, especially when Bhadrika or someone else who knows the show well can pause the tape every few minutes and fill me in on backstory. And I really like what I've heard of Joss Whedon—there was a great interview with him on Fresh Air some months back (before my car stereo died), and I liked the way he talked about the show. But somehow the show itself never really grabbed me.
But I do like musicals, so when people told me this week's episode was a musical and that it was done brilliantly, I decided to give it a try.
(But first we watched the first episode of 24, which I thought was actually pretty good. Nice pacing, nice technical gimmicks to make the timing thing work (at least, it looked good on the big TV on which I was watching it), interesting story, and lots of eye candy of both genders. I may just have gotten unused to the looks of TV actors, but yow, at least half the cast is gorgeous. As for plot, I only hope that the stuff that looks blatantly obvious will turn out to be red herrings; so far one obvious element has been proven to be a red herring, so that's a good start.)
So. Buffy. I probably know more about the show, the characters, and the plotlines than anyone else who never watches it; I hear a lot about it from friends. So that may account for why I adored this episode. But really, I don't think you needed to know all that much. In fact, beyond the basic premise of the series, I don't know that you needed to know anything except that Buffy's friends recently resurrected her. I think that's an advantage of the musical format: it's an easy way for characters to spill their guts without having to resort to heavy-handed soliloquy.
Which wouldn't make a difference if it weren't done well, but it was. I laughed out loud several times in the first five minutes of the show. I got a lot of things wrong—I forgot about having heard about Anya's bunny-phobia, and in fact I forgot entirely about having heard about Anya, and I thought it was Buffy who was singing about how scary bunnies are; that was presumably funnier for people who knew the relevant background, but it was plenty funny for me. Ditto the big song between Xander and Anya; I had no idea who these people were, but it was a good song, and gave all the information necessary, and had at least one laugh-out-loud line in it. And I loved the big centerpiece number about walking through the fire—good words, good tune, good ideas, nice bringing-things-together.
I was impressed that all the actors did their own singing; I'm told Sarah Michelle Gellar initially wanted her songs dubbed, but then saw the lyrics and realized that with that much character development in the songs, she had to do 'em. And I thought she did a perfectly creditable job, though I admit to being no judge of such things. (Others who were present at this viewing said all the actors did okay with the songs, though only a couple did a really good job.) I'm told that the guy who plays Giles has done musical theatre, and in fact is related to Murray Head, who played Judas in JCS in London among lots of other big roles.
I suspect it's the first time that a lesbian sex scene has ever been set to music in a prime-time TV show, though I admit I'm a little out of touch with TV.
But I think the most impressive aspect for me was the fact that Joss Whedon wrote all the words and all the music. The man clearly has a future on Broadway if he wants one.
Anyway. I doubt I'll start watching the series regularly; I suspect I'd have pretty much the same reaction I've had in the past, fun but not compelling enough (to me) to keep me interested long-term. And since I don't have a TV, it takes some effort to go see it. But it was definitely worth the time spent away from editing tonight.
One thing, though: how come every woman in the Buffyverse has shoulder-length straight hair and is of generally similar height and build? Except Buffy, but even hers was in the same general length and style range in most scenes. Or maybe it's just me; I'm not so good at observing details of such things sometimes. But I did manage to confuse Buffy, Anya, and Tara at various points in the episode.