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The Cultural Catchup Project: Hellmouth [versus/and/within/without] High School (Buffy the Vampire Slayer)

Hellmouth [versus/and/within/without] High School

April 20th, 2010

You can follow along with the Cultural Catchup Project by following me on Twitter (@Memles), by subscribing to the category’s feed, or by bookmarking the Cultural Catchup Project page where I’ll be posting a link to each installment.

For those who have waited patiently for me to get through the fairly short first season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, a process which has taken a week longer than it would have under normal circumstances, you’ll have to wait a little bit longer: while I’m about to get to “Prophecy Girl,” which everyone seems to be labeling as the show’s turning point, there’s a few observations I want to make about the show before I get into the finale and trying to contend with what the season is accomplishing.

Like any first season, this was obviously a learning experience for Whedon and his crew of writers – to borrow the ominous message from “Out of Mind, Out of Sight,” Whedon’s job was pretty much to “Look, Learn, Listen” to the effectiveness of these episodes. What struck me about the three stories which lead into the finale (“The Puppet Show,” “Nightmares,” and “Out of Mind…”) is that they all offer subtly different takes on the show’s central premise, each using the Hellmouth (which, yes, I’ve discussed before) as the source of a different kind of phenomenon: while the diversity speaks to the endless potential to the Hellmouth, the varying quality of the episodes indicates that even subtle differences in function can heighten the dramatic interest in a pretty substantial fashion.

And yes, you’ll have to read my thoughts on that before I get to the finale, so long as your patience hasn’t run out already.

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