Season 1, Episode 5 - “Never Kill a Boy on the First Date”
Original airdate: March 31, 1997
Project 310 re-watch date: Dec. 26, 2008
This is one of the longer episode titles in the 7-season run of the show, and it features another of Buffy's attempts at a normal life in her first year in Sunnydale. In "Witch" it was cheerleading, in “Teacher's Pet" it was homework, now it's dating.
Buffy's paramour, Owen, with his brooding and his love of poetry and his chronic ignorance of Cordelia's advances, is basically a lame pre-Angel version of Angel. It's almost like the writers were giving Buffy's ideal qualities in a man a test run before applying them to a more long-term character.
The more I watch these early episodes, the more I feel bad for Xander. I kind of just want him to come out and tell Buffy how he feels (then again, when he does finally do that, it backfires completely, so maybe he had the right idea with his whole "pining from afar" method).
For those that care about these things, the main demonic story features the rise of a powerful vampire known as "The Anointed One". The big reveal at the end -- that The Anointed One is a child vampire -- is kind of shocking the first time you see it, but loses something upon re-watching. It also doesn't help that The Anointed One turns out to be the lamest Buffy villain this side of The Trio.
One of the things I really like about this episode is the sarcasm level is off the charts. Buffy even calls Giles out on it at one point. The writers really had the biting sarcasm down in these early seasons (the credit for this episode goes to the duo of Rob Des Hotel and Dean Batali). As the tone of the show got more serious (pretty much right in the middle of season 2), sometimes the humor fell a little more flat. But it's right on point here.
Two more things about this episode, and then I'm done:
1) the line "Hello, salty goodness", when Cordelia sees Angel for the first time is reused in Season 4 of Angel in the episode "Spin the Bottle", when the Angel team loses their memories and Cordelia re-meets Angel for the first time. Knowing this, the line is even funnier here.
2) The music in this episode is very late ‘90s, but very good. The choice of songs fit with every scene. This was actually a staple of shows on The WB during this time (I was a regular “Charmed” viewer too, and music was a big part of that show).