Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Let the Slaying Begin

Magnet # 189:  Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season Four Cast Photo

Material:  Metal, Paper, Mylar Shell

Purchased By:  Me

This was the day back in 1997 when the first television episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer aired. I remember hearing about it at the time and wondering why a movie that bad could ever be made into a television show. It would take me a few years and a good amount of buzz to start watching Buffy, but when I did, I was pretty much blown away. At its best, this show made for one hilarious, action-packed, riveting hour of television. There are few shows that can match one of the best episodes of this one. If you've never given this great show a try, but have been curious to do so, I definitely recommend it.

Joss Whedon created the whole Buffy concept and, as I mentioned before, turned it into a movie back in 1992. Kristy Swanson played the title character with supporting actors such as Luke Perry, Donald Sutherland, Rutger Hauer and Paul Rubens (yes, Pee Wee Herman). Apparently, the script Whedon had written was a great one, and Hollywood insiders were pretty impressed. Unfortunately, it fell into the wrong hands and what should have been a dark, yet funny, story about an empowered young woman fighting vampires ended up becoming a campy, uninspired mess. It did okay at the box office, but many - myself included - never expected to hear more about the film or Buffy again. But at least one insider, a Fox executive, remembered the incredible original script and approached Whedon a few years later to see if he was interested in turning it into a television show. He agreed, and the Buffy redo was on. They tied in a little from the original film, having Buffy, now played by Sarah Michelle Geller, move from L.A., where she'd lived in the movie, to Sunnydale, where all of her new adventures would unfold.

By taking on more responsibilities himself, Whedon was able to turn the entire Buffy concept around. With his knack for hiring exceptionally talented actors and creating completely three-dimensional, memorable characters for them to portray, he was able to bring together a cast that was instantly appealing to viewers. And when Whedon was closely directing the path of Buffy, it was one of the best shows on television. The concept of the show centered around the high school student Buffy Summers, the Chosen One who had the powers to kill vampires and other monsters. According to the legend, one girl each generation became the slayer. Surrounded by loyal friends who joined her on the battlefield, Buffy went on to fight every supernatural foe in Sunnydale.  The first season was a decent start, but the second season was when the show really took off.  That's when Buffy's vampire boyfriend Angel turned evil and she had to take him down.  Season three, when Buffy faced a rogue slayer (yep, there were two by then) and the town's gleefully wicked mayor, only raised the bar.  And by season four, some of the best Buffy episodes ever were coming out that featured her trying to deal with college and slaying.  But eventually, Whedon left the show to work on other projects and it suffered.  A lot of fans say they lost interest in the show in season six, when Buffy's best friend Willow turned evil.  Personally, I agree with a minority that claims the show was never as good after it introduced Buffy's little sister from out of nowhere at the beginning of season five.  Most fans agree that the final, seventh season really wasn't that good.  But I watched Buffy all the way through to the end - they still had some plotlines and characters that held my interest.  However, when all of the seasons were released on DVD, I only bought two, three, and four - I knew I had no interest in rewatching any shows past those.  But the final seasons aside, Buffy was truly a great show that changed the rules of what could be a hit on television.  It proved that fantasy and science fiction shows could be taken seriously and appeal to a mass audience.  Who knows how many great shows that are on nowadays might not have ever been made without Buffy's influence?  Thirteen years later, this fantastic show still holds up and its influence can be seen in shows ranging from Doctor Who to Smallville to Lost.  I'm so grateful that one failed movie didn't cost pop culture one of its best heroines - and supporting casts - ever.

2 comments:

  1. Wow! You're really a Buffy fan & expert. Do you ever find others who share this interest? Seems like it would be fun to exchange favorite sequences and other acpects of the series.

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  2. I have a few friends who like Buffy and, yes, it's fun to talk about our favorite characters and scenes from the show.

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