On this week’s Yesflix/Noflix we’re going to sink our teeth into some vampire-centric TV on Netflix. Now, if you know anything, you’ll know that vampires on the big and small screen tend to cycle in and out, and generally will stick around so long as the theme is presently trending. One semi-decent vampire related thing turns up and all of a sudden you’re drowning in movies and every TV show is cramming the buggers in left, right and centre. Our screens become saturated with them and people get bored; then it’s back in the coffins they go for another few years.
We’re dealing with vampire shows that look like they’re here to stay, one of these is a show so infamous in its cult status that it’s used as a comparison for everything that’s come after. I am of course talking about Buffy The Vampire Slayer. Going head to head with the Buff-meister herself is a relatively recent show I was pointed to and told, under oath, was the best thing since Buffy: The Originals, which is a successful spin-off of The Vampire Diaries. When you hear that you can’t but at least give it a chance, after all, Buffy is pretty old now even by my standards. Unfortunately, since this is Yesflix/Noflix, one of these has not reacted well to the sunlight of modern times.
Yesflix – Buffy The Vampire Slayer
Was there ever a single doubt in your minds that Buffy was going to drop kick its competition out of the window and collapse a flaming building on its head? Despite being made over a decade ago there is no show that holds a candle to it in terms of story, characters, humour or “holy shitsticks!” moments. The great thing about Buffy is that it’s complete; you aren’t going to start watching, get hooked and find the show ending in the middle of a narrative or find something that doesn’t get tidied up. It’s there, it’s awesome and it’ll autoplay on Netflix.
If you’ve been living under a rock since the 90’s and have managed to avoid any exposure to all forms of pop culture, Buffy The Vampire Slayer is a show based on the cult movie of the early nineties and revolves around the daily messed up lives of a teenage girl and her friends as they battle evil. Buffy herself was one of the popular individuals at school, a cheerleader, who finds herself the chosen slayer of her generation, the only one in the world picked to knock teeth out of the monsters hiding under the bed. Normally, this would entail a life of solitude, pain, night time monster slaying and her young and inevitable death. But Buffy chose to break quite a few rules along the way. She’s going to outlive high school, fight through college and she’s going to do it surrounded by family and friends. There was only one Slayer, but that didn’t mean she had to take everything on alone.
One of the great things I always found with Buffy was the ability to create amazing villains. I’ve never watched a show where I was consistently secretly hoping the villain won but were openly thrilled when they didn’t. The Mayor is still to this day possibly one of my favourite villains of all time; hand sanitizer be damned. If there was one thing I loved about them all it was how flawed and Human they could all be, villains included. Even when they appeared to be anything but. From Glory’s almost childlike madness to Adam’s twisted and misguided search for meaning and purpose, all the way to Willow’s pain and grief fueled rage. Every villain that followed the Master was unique, well put together and played by some amazing actors. It remains one of the greatest shows I’ve ever had the privilege of watching and it’s well worth another watch.
Fans of Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD, Arrow and The Flash will LOVE this!
Noflix – The Originals
You get the feeling they tried quite hard with the show. There are some stellar performances from some great actors but there’s just no cohesive direction. No one grows emotionally, no one seems capable of picking an agenda and sticking to it. All of the characters lack true Humanity; anything we can really relate to. At most it seems to be merely a façade put on in order for a story arc to make sense and discarded almost immediately after; turning personality traits on and off is no way to go about characters. Two seasons of the show have seen some of the most unnecessarily convoluted stories ever played out on TV. Absolutely NOT in the same league as Buffy.
If you’ve never watched The Originals, it’s a spin-off of The Vampire Diaries and follows the three virtually unkillable original vampires, Klaus, Rebekah and Elijah – individuals with so much emotional baggage they should really be committed for their own good and the safety of everyone around them. It’s difficult to keep track of and subsequently care about them as characters when they kill former close allies on a transient whim and have mood shifts like the Autumn breeze. Any time you do think they might just be likable you find yourself reigning yourself in pretty much immediately because it’s not simply a matter of if they go and ruin everything on purpose, but when. The majority of supporting characters seem to lack any kind of agency and appear only as tools to move the storyline forward. They become dispensable pawns. In Buffy, stories progressed and flowed according to where characters emotions were at a point in time. The heartache Buffy felt sending Angel to Hell might not have affected her the same way at a later stage in the show. That’s not present in The Originals, the characters don’t grow in any way and any change is usually so the story will line up and won’t be any more confusing. As such it becomes a tiring and all round frustrating watch at many points.
Are there even any villains in The Originals? Is everyone even an answer?
I’d stake them if I thought that would be the end of it.