If you like your horror mixed with comedy, action, and an amazing variety of monsters, then grab a sharpened stake and binge-watch “Buffy the Vampire Slayer.” Created by Joss Whedon and starring Sarah Michelle Gellar as stylish superhero Buffy Summers, Buffy slays all television competitors.
Title: Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Year it began: 1997
Where it can be seen: Amazon, Hulu
Who’s in it: Sarah Michelle Gellar, Alyson Hannigan, Nicholas Brendon, Anthony Stewart Head, David Boreanaz, James Marsters, Michelle Trachtenberg
Typical episode length: 46 minutes
Number of episodes to date: 144
Brief plot description: Buffy Summers, the world’s sole mystically empowered Slayer, learns that her new California hometown of Sunnydale sits atop a Hellmouth teeming with demonic creatures. Mentored by her Watcher, librarian Rupert Giles, Buffy uses both her skills and her close friends to fight evil.
Why it’s worth watching: Immersing viewers in its surreal landscape of vampires and demons, “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” builds a strangely attractive world where plucky friends working together can meet any challenge. With razor-sharp writing, quirky costume work and an incredible cast of characters, Buffy builds seven seasons of top-shelf television with excellent action, engaging story arcs and emotional depth. Gellar offers a performance for the ages as Buffy, who combines grace, power and vulnerability as she develops through her literally hellish high school years into a uniquely responsible adult. The show avoids a simplistic narrative of a singularly powerful superhero by continuously stressing the importance of collaboration and friendship. A true team player, Buffy forms strong bonds with such key friends as Hannigan’s perkily brilliant Willow Rosenberg, who becomes adept in both scientific and mystical arts, and Brendon’s overemotional but always brave Xander Harris. The show presents Buffy’s emotional reliance on friends and family as a strength rather than weakness, offering us a protagonist whose emotional intelligence is as powerful as her punches or kicks. The show adds a dark romantic texture by creating flawed love-interests, including Boreanaz’s Angel, a brooding vampire with a soul, and Marsters’ punk-rock poet vampire, Spike. You simply cannot go wrong binge-watching any of the seven perfect seasons of this otherworldly masterpiece. – Randy P. Schiff