Sarah Michelle Gellar, Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Credit: Buffy: Richard Cartwright

We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again: Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Joss Whedon’s horror/romance/ comedy/soap opera is one of the best shows on TV. It’s that rare thing: epic storytelling on a low-budget scale. After all, Whedon sets his tale of a young girl destined to fight the forces of evil against the innocuous backdrop of a high school. And as he reveals on the nuts-and-bolts commentary for the two-part pilot (”Welcome to Hellmouth” and ”The Harvest”), the production could only afford to build a single Sunnydale High hallway.

Sadly, this collection also feels a little bargain-basement. While the 12 episodes, spread over three discs, look about as good as can be expected for a midseason replacement that was shot on 16mm, the extras are a little paltry. Aside from the commentary, there are just a couple of interviews with Whedon, the original pilot script, and a few biographies. For a show that launched so many youthquaking stars (Sarah Michelle Gellar, Alyson Hannigan, David Boreanaz), where are the screen tests, or for that matter, outtakes, deleted scenes, or alternate takes? On the commentary, Whedon details one crucial dialogue scene, in which Buffy explained why she didn’t want to be a Slayer, that had to be reshot because the tone was all wrong. Why not allow viewers to compare and contrast?

It may be nice to catch up with such a terrific show from the very beginning, but, to be honest, one expects more from a boxed set for a series that’s thrived on the love of obsessive fans.