A Little Voice Inside My Head Said Don’t Look Back, You Can Never Look Back

June 24th, 2009 by | Tags: ,

I believe I was the very last person in the world to discover hulu, but when I did, I was very pleased to see that the first few seasons of Buffy the Vampire Slayer were on it.

“Fantastic,” I thought.  “I can put them up on my computer when I have to clean up, or fold clothes, or  just whenever I feel like seeing some of my favorite episodes again.”

So I cue up the first episode of the first season and I begin to fold my collection of shirts that, due to the ongoing fascination of the fashion industry with short women’s shirts and low-cut women’s jeans have to be stretched out strenuously after every wash to have even a prayer of covering my midriff, and I am happy. 

For a while.  To the ‘font of nothing’ line of Xander’s.  And then – then I begin to get irritated.

“Well,” I think, maintaining my good cheer, “This is the pilot episode.  They’re establishing character.  It’s bound to be a little rocky.  I’ll go forward a couple.”

And so I do, while I pair up matching socks, or at least my not so very mismatching socks.  And then I get to the usual awkward motormouth dialogue that springs out of every character in the show. 

“Never mind,” I think.  “I’ll just run down the list of episodes and find one I want to watch.”

So I scan the list and I find nothing.  Three seasons of nothing.

I used to love this show.  I used to have passionate discussions about this show.  This show was fun, and an inspiration.  What happened?  Has it really gotten so bad that I prefer concentrating on the task at hand?

There are a lot of reasons that things lose their shine for us.  Sometimes it’s as simple as growing accustomed to them.  I’ve seen each and every episode of that show.  Some of them I’ve seen several times.  The bloom has to go off the rose eventually.

Sometimes we view them from a different place in our lives.  I was exactly the same age as the characters on the show when it aired.  Now I’m over ten years older than them.  I just don’t care about high school as much anymore.

And sometimes a show can be the victim of its own success.  Remember when every crime movie in the world was striving to be Tarantinoesque?  Whedonesque stuff wasn’t quite as prevalent, but that kind of dialogue did spread through a lot of different media.  What was original and quirky then has become more aggravating than entertaining.

And yet, I can’t help but wonder what else awaits me as I revisit the things I used to love.  (Damn I hope I can still enjoy swing sets.)  Would I do better to set my shortboxes on fire than re-read them?  Should I stay away from my Batman:The Animated Series DVDs?  Say it ain’t so, childhood memories, say it ain’t so.

Similar Posts:

Post to Twitter Post to Facebook Post to Reddit Post to StumbleUpon

11 comments to “A Little Voice Inside My Head Said Don’t Look Back, You Can Never Look Back”

  1. Nothing useful to add to your conclusion.

    You may want to revisit Buffy in another ten years or so. There is a lot of meat of those bones, although you’d have to relearn to watch it as an adult, rather than through the fog of youth. I was young enough that I thought Voltron was cool when I first saw it and old enough to realize Power Rangers was stupid when it hit the air. I was lucky not to catch Buffy until I was in my late twenties and the show had just finished up. I also came in on the middle of the fourth season, which permanently skewed my view of the show.

    Although, if you don’t appreciate the motor-mouth dialogue and the games the writers are playing with it, maybe a later revisit wouldn’t help any. That’s what keeps me coming back to Whedon’s film work – and missing from far too much of both his and the Buffyverse comic work (although, Buffy season 8 seems to mostly have worked that out).

  2. Don’t be too dispirited, not everything’s like that. Some things just catch hold of us and we only care for them in the moment, not noticing when the novelty’s worn off… for some things, that’s really all that attracts us to them. Novelty. What is fresh and new. Other things really do have staying power, true quality which will endear itself to us on a level so deep that we will never grow tired of it. Otherwise, where would Superman be? Or Doctor Who? Or any number of things that have kept fans enthralled for their whole lives through (for better or for worse)? Who can say. Maybe it’s just that you can’t enjoy Buffy on the same level as you’re used to. Who knows? After that disappointment has worn off, you may come back to it and find a new appreciation, on a new level you have yet to realize you’re on.

  3. I can’t comment on buffy, because I never liked that show, but Btas holds up ok if you don’t mind the occasional off model character. the backgrounds more than make up for that, though.

  4. I still think seasons two and three are the “purest” Buffy experience ever, which is ironic since I started watching it with season four. Season one was a show trying to find it’s groove and season four onwards was a show trying to find a way to work in a new status quo (one that changed in every subsequent season.)

    I still love a lot of the episodes from that time, but there were a few annoying “creature of the week” filler episodes which padded it out. Still, the creepy Angelus stalker episodes, the Mayor in general and any episode where Xander or Giles got to shine were all worth it for me.

    As for BTAS, they definately seem to hold up to rewatching in ways a lot of shows from my younger days (like Transformers) don’t.

  5. Batman is fine, even better now that I’m older, but alot of stuff, GI Joe, transformer, alot of stuff just don’t work anymore

  6. Don’t worry, B:TAS will blow you away if you haven’t seen it in a while. I rediscovered it a little over a year ago after not seeing it for ten years… and it is even better than I remembered. I’d go so far as saying it is THE best cartoon ever made. The music… the voice-acting… the amazing plots for the episodes! You’ll fall in love all over again.

    As for Buffy on Hulu, a friend of mine who also happens to be rewatching BTVS on hulu introduced me to hulu last week so that I could finally watch Dr. Horrible’s sing along blog, which I had heard about on NPR of all places but had never experienced in all of its ‘Whedonesque’ glory.

    I’m one of those people who LOVE to go back in time and revisit old playgrounds. I re-read books. I re-watch shows. And I re-read comics, too. And that’s why I cringe nowadays seeing SO many references to ‘current’ events and ‘pop culture’ things in comics… references that make sense today, but in ten years, I fear that they’ll spoil the re-reading experience. Maybe that’s just me. Yeah, that’s probably just me. 🙂

  7. @Laura: I usually love it, too. Why, Buffy? Why?

  8. “I was exactly the same age as the characters on the show when it aired. Now I’m over ten years older than them. I just don’t care about high school as much anymore.”

    That’s exactly my attitude to it now, as well. Buffy felt like ‘my’ show when I was younger – I was at high school, then they graduated at the same time I did, and had to deal with the whole post-school thing that I did, but with the added bonus of cool monstery stuff.

    I can still enjoy it, but it’ll never mean as much to me as it did in (oh dear) ‘the old days’.


  9. It’s because Buffy was never good, that’s why. B:TaS, however, remains super sweet. I just rewatched Mask of the Phantasm a month or so ago and it’s still the best Batman movie.

  10. I hope this doesn’t happen to me. I bought the entire series of Buffy the Vampire Slayer on DVD a while ago (Amazon sold the set of all the seasons for only 70 euros), but haven’t started watching it yet, it’d be a real shame if I didn’t enjoy it.

    But yeah, this is something that happens with things from our childhood/adolesence. What’s that Buddhist saying about never stepping into the same river twice, because both you and the river will be different? As we grow, our taste, outlook, and mind develop, and something we once enjoyed can seem unimpressive, trite, or even annoying when we look upon it with older eyes.

    I actually encountered this with Batman: The Animated Series. A couple of years back I was going through some old videotapes and came across one with an episode on it (the first one in which Ra’s al Ghul appears, IIRC), and I didn’t think it was very good at all, the animation, voices and plot were all dissapointing compared to my recollection. Sometimes it’s better not to try to go home again, cause the old place just can’t live up to your memories of it.

    This isn’t always the case, thankfully, I was a huge Babylon 5 fan when it was on the air, and when I rewatched the whole series on DVD, I was still blown away by how good it was. I did find, however, that I was also appreciating it in a different way than I used to. My taste/outlook/mind had developed in such a way that I was able to get whole new things from it that I hadn’t experienced or thought about before, which really added to the enjoyment.

    @Laura: “And that’s why I cringe nowadays seeing SO many references to ‘current’ events and ‘pop culture’ things in comics… references that make sense today, but in ten years, I fear that they’ll spoil the re-reading experience.”

    There may be an upside to that, I think. IMO, a few of the joys of revisiting something are the emotions and memories it calls up that are related to it (this is not necessarily a concious thing, sometimes it’s just the feeling you get when you revisit something).

    Because references to current events and pop culture are now so heavily utilized in comics, you may actually find that upon rereading, these references call up entirely new streams of emotions and memories that have nothing to do with the comic, but everything with the reference. When you for example reread the recent Thunderbolts issues in which Barack Obama appears, it could trigger your memories and emotions of the night he was elected, and you’ll be reminded of how you felt then.

    Instead of spoiling your rereading experience, these references may actually enhance it in unexpected ways.

  11. Sometimes you’re better off imagining it in your own head. This happened to me with He-Man, Thundercats, the old transformers, and GI Joe. It just don’t hit you the same. It’s better to just see your favorite childhood hero on a t-shirt, and think back. Oh and thanks to my wife, none of my socks match.