There are some things you can’t state often enough. The Aston Martin DB5 was the greatest Bond car ever. The Empire Strikes Back is the best Star Wars movie. And Buffy the Vampire Slayer is one of the seminal TV shows of the last 50 years. In the top 10. Not open for debate.
So it’s particularly noteworthy that now you can get all seven seasons, 144 episodes’ worth of slayage, 40 discs’ worth of ground broken by creator Joss Whedon, in one handy box. Behold Buffy the Vampire Slayer: The Chosen Collection. And behold a colossal missed opportunity.
On the surface, Buffy was about a pretty blonde who killed vamps every episode, with a werewolf or a demon thrown in for variety. But the greatest weapon in Whedon’s formidable arsenal was metaphor. Adolescence is a breeding ground for all sorts of insecurities that can be extrapolated to end-of-the-world dilemmas: the girl no one notices who actually disappears; the picked-on nerd who might snap…and kill; the boyfriend who totally changes once you sleep with him. And by confronting them all, Buffy (Gellar) and her Scooby Gang — Willow (Hannigan), Giles (Anthony Stewart Head), and Xander (Nicholas Brendon) — evolved and matured as they went from high school to college to real life, even to the afterlife.
Buffy did what all great genre fiction does. It allowed us to look at ourselves through a fantastical lens, and see who we truly are: at once stronger than we thought we could be and weaker than we’d like to let on. And, as with most great genre fiction, the establishment just didn’t get it. Buffy was never nominated for a best-drama Emmy, probably because it was a show about a hottie who dusted vampires. But many of us fell for the girl, and the show, with a white-hot passion.
That geek lust explains why some were disappointed with Fox’s first Buffy DVD sets. The handful of commentary tracks, documentaries, even the occasional full script couldn’t satisfy our jones for more dirt. And now, in offering a $200 collection that, let’s be honest, only the diehards are gonna buy, Fox has still failed to deliver the mother lode of extras. A few new docs and an admittedly nice Whedon-hosted roundtable featuring some of Buffy’s most valuable players don’t cut it. Where are the audition tapes, so we can see why Charisma Carpenter, Selma Blair, or Julie Benz wasn’t fit to be the Slayer? Where’s that first abandoned pilot, with Riff Regan playing Willow? Where are the deleted scenes? I find it hard to believe that someone as geek-to-the-core as Whedon wouldn’t have saved this stuff; why not let those of us willing to pony up for this set — and you know most will be buying these seven seasons for a second bloody time — finally have the goods?
Buffy the Vampire Slayer is a titanic achievement, one worth holding on to so you can show your children. If only The Chosen Collection had lived up to it.