Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Buffy Blogthrough: 1.3 "Witch"

Most mornings, to warm up my brain I write & edit 150 words on yesterday's entertainment — a TV episode, movie, news item, or whatever. Now that I've got Lady Hotspur watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer, I've decided to post these exercises so you & she can enjoy them too!

1.3 "Witch"

broadcast: March 17, 1997
writer: Dana Reston
director: Stephen Cragg

Part of what makes early Buffy appealing is how it dilutes the teen melodrama by couching them in a comedic-heroic tone. This week's subject is parental pressure on children. Buffy auditions for the cheerleading squad despite her mother's lack of enthusiasm (Joyce was on the yearbook staff). Their conflict parallels another blonde student, who's pressured by her mother, once the pep-squad leader, to excel at an activity she's ill-suited for. This being Sunnydale High, someone uses witchcraft to eliminate the competition, a predictable plot except for one clever turn: the mom has swapped bodies with the daughter! This magic twist makes literal the theme of mothers living through their children—a dramaturgical tactic unavailable to realistic dramas. Still, the plot does resolve itself conventionally (though the witch's fate caps the episode nicely). The richer drama is on the margins, in Joyce's displays of maternal clumsiness and in Xander's bumbling crush on Buffy.

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