I keep hearing about Buffy on this board...

I have never watched an episode of Buffy, and figured I never would, but I keep hearing about it here, so I have to ask:

If I were to watch one episode (seemingly all seem to be available on Hulu) which should it be?

I could start with the first episode, but usually a series gets much better later on.

Any suggestions?

Start with the first episode (it’s a 2-parter). The reason some of the later ones are awesome is because of stuff you learn earlier in the series.

“The Body” - it really showcases Whedon’s writing ability, and his deft hand with character. It’s a downer, though.

The best stand alone episode is Hush, but it’s very different from the other episodes. That means it’s good if you want to show a friend just one awesome episode, and it may hook them, but it’s a little misleading. They (you) may be disappointed that they’re not all like that if you see it first.

The best episode, period, is The Body, but that one is 10,000 times better if you know the characters and history.

Really, I think the best way to go about it is to begin at the beginning. Remind yourself that these were made 14 years ago and on not much of a budget to start with, so the effects are going to look cheesy as hell to you today.

Hush is the answer.

It’s true that it’s a standout episode and, for that reason, it’s different than the run of the mill. But unlike The Body, which isn’t going to be very effecting if you don’t know the characters and is, in format, completely different than the typical ep, Hush is more along the lines of the type of stuff the show usually does. I disagree with WhyNot that it’s so, so different than the typical episode – it’s just very well put together. There is a big section of formal experiementation in the episode, but it doesn’t take up as much time as you might think, and after all, the show does a lot of formal experimentation from time to time. (It’s hard to talk about this stuff without spoiling it.)

You could also start with the opening two parter; it’s very well done and gives an excellent sketch of the world and characters, but it is necessarily filled with exposition, some of the characters aren’t yet pinned down, and it drags a bit in part two before the climax.


I’m so glad I read about Buffy on this board and started watching. I’m only in Season 4 so far, but I just went ahead and started at the beginning (yay netflix streaming!). While I kinda felt like Smallville or any other show in that vein at the beginning, it was enjoyable, and I was majorly hooked halfway through the first season. My husband was away with the military at the time, and I’d put my daughter to bed and stay up until 3 or 4 in the morning just watching watching watching. I watched the first two seasons in under a week, but then when my husband came home I’ve slowed down quite a bit. Awesome show!

I’d actually recommend ‘Angel’ or ‘Prophecy Girl’, the two stand-out episodes of series 1 that are heavy in series mythology. There isn’t so much earlier stuff that it’s hard to come in at that point, and they showcase the strengths of the show a little better than the true series premiere.

And even if you do watch these two, remember that even they are weaker than what comes later. Decent episodes, but the show doesn’t get its full act together until mid-Season 2.

If you’re only ever going to watch one, I’d make it “Pangs,” because I’ve played it at Thanksgiving and even people who didn’t watch the show were amused. As much as season 4 was my least favorite, “Pangs” and “Something Blue” are two of the best episodes ever (from a humor standpoint).

And if you don’t like it enough to watch the whole series you should still watch “Once More With Feeling” (Season 6, episode 7), the famous musical episode. A demon has basically caused people to burst into song ala a movie musical, and it’s a great episode that spoofs musicals but also really advances the plot of the series. (Characters will find themselves telling each other things in their songs that “I’ll never tell” ordinarily so people begin to learn important secrets.)

Short clip

Stay away from the “famous” episodes (Hush, The Body, Once More With Feeling). They’re great episodes if you watch them as part of the whole show’s run, but IMO they’re not suitable for determining whether you’d like the series.

My suggestion is The Zeppo from season 3. It’s a standalone episode with minimal spoilers, and it should give you a fairly good idea of the show’s humor and style once it hit its stride*. I started watching the show (in syndication) in late season 2, and The Zeppo was the episode that convinced me that the show is something special.
*As you predicted, the show takes about a season to find its footing.

Just popping in to say that I’m also a relative newbie to Buffy, which I didn’t start watching until the Chiller channel started running it last November. I got a bit backed up because a friend who was a long-time Buffy fan wanted to watch a lot of the episodes with me, so I’m only halfway through season four. However, based on what I’ve seen so far I hardly hesitated when Amazon offered the full set for $70 a week or two ago.

Pangs is probably my favorite episode, actually. :slight_smile:

I agree with this (I don’t particularly remember “The Zeppo,” but I’ll take your word for it). The famous, fan favourites are not the ones to introduce someone to the series.

I like the two part S3 finale Graduation Day where the high school gets blown up.

Sure, there’s some spoilers. But with Buffy I never saw it in order anyway. I always caught episodes in reruns.
I never had a problem following the story.

I quit watching after season 5. Too depressing and miserable. The show lost it’s humor and took itself too seriously.

Ok but that is a pretty big spoiler in your first sentence, and maybe some people would at least like the choice of entering relatively spoiler free.

Anyhow this is always a big question of how to introduce a newbie. It’s always tempting for we the enlightened to recommend some of the episodes that showcase the brilliance just to demonstrate that we aren’t crazy about loving it. Really though this just springs from the fear that someone will take our advice to watch the show and suffer through only the cheesiest and most embarrassing parts before giving up and thinking less of us.

The fact is that the show is a slow burn and all the highest highs are earned moments that are infinitely better with the background information and attachments. Starting at the beginning is always the best as long as you go in knowing (as you apparently do) that most of the greatest shows have serious growing pains for the first couple years.

While not the best the show has to offer, the pilot is in the spirit of the show as a whole and does give you an indication of whether or not the long haul will be worth the investment for you. If you hate hate hate it then it probably won’t get much better. If you find some charm in it despite how campy and outdated it is today, then you’re in luck because it only gets better from there, with a few bumps along the road. Take your time and enjoy seven seasons of some of the best TV has to offer, many of us envy you for it.

That’s my advice anyway.

I started watching it but never could get into Buffy. Unlike other Whedon shows like Firefly and Dollhouse it never grabbed me.

I added some spoiler tags to aceplace’s post. Let’s be careful about spoilers in this thread, please.

Okay, “The Body” is just about the worst possible introduction to Buffy I can think of. It’s fantastic television, but it’s almost entirely unlike anything else in the entire series. Similarly, the gimmick episodes like “Hush” or “Once More with Feeling” aren’t great entry points, either. What you want is an episode that showcases all the facets of what made Buffy a great show. It’s got to be funny, with a touch of drama. It’s got to have some hints about the overarching plot, but not be so mythology heavy that it overwhelms the new viewer. And it should deal in the major themes of the show, such as growing up, the responsibilities of adulthood, and the stresses of being a teenager.

With that in mind, I submit the season three episode “Band Candy” as the best entry point.

“The Zeppo” is a close second, but is hindered by the fact that titular star of the series is barely in it. A good introduction to Buffy should focus on Buffy, not one of the supporting cast.

:confused: I didn’t realize I spoiled anything. After Columbine, the network censorship of that Buffy episode was front page news for weeks. I thought everyone would remember that. Anyway, sorry for any spoilerage. It wasn’t intentional.