Why it's less fun to be a vampire slayer
Don't pretend you haven't noticed that ''Buffy the Vampire Slayer'' has become a little -- pardon the expression -- morbid. As the characters prepare to wrap things up by facing off with The First, they seem to have less fun than ever.
There's a good reason for this shift: Each season, the major villains seem to get more challenging. Sometimes the challenge comes from the opponent's inherent power, like when Buffy's crew faced Glory, the vengeful god. Other times there are complicating factors, like when the threat came from beloved best friend Willow, corrupted by her addiction to magic and her desire for revenge. But now that the gang -- ranks swollen with proto-slayers -- is facing the villain to end all villains, the show seems to be struggling to balance its usual dose of action and horror with its signature cleverness and humor. It isn't easy to kid around when you're fighting the source of all evil.
There's little doubt that Buffy and company will find a way to overcome this adversity, as they always do. But the First can't be destroyed. All they can hope for is a change in the circumstances that led the First to try to eraditcate the entire lineage of slayers. The disruption caused by Buffy's reanimation has to end. In other words, she has to give up her life to save the world. Again. Knowing this now, with almost half of the season left to go, can the suspense be sustained?
The good news is, with Buffy's coliseum-style slaying of the ''Neander-vamp'' in the latest episode, aptly titled ''Showtime,'' there could be a temporary break from the heavy plotline. The First has to find a new agent to replace the Turok-han, and that should allow some time for a few lighter stories. Maybe we'll see some funny conflicts as the neophytes continue to receive training, or maybe the human characters will have some time to develop. Does Willow have a new girlfriend in slayer-wannabe Kennedy? Can Andrew make the transition to useful good guy? Will there be conclusive evidence that Giles is still alive? And when is Faith coming back, already?
What story lines would you like to see during this reprieve?