Monday, 12 March 2012

Happy 15th and 20th Birthday to BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER

2012 marks two anniversaries for Joss Whedon's signature creation, Buffy the Vampire Slayer. July marks the 20th anniversary of the release of the original 1992 movie starring Kristy Swanson and Donald Sutherland. More notably, however, Saturday was the 15th anniversary of the TV series starring Sarah Michelle Gellar.

Joss Whedon created the character for a spec script he shopped around Hollywood in the early 1990s. He was inspired by the idea of inverting the traditional horror movie open with a monster chasing a girl and killing her. Instead, the girl fights back and kills the monster, because that's her job. Whilst the 1992 movie (directed by Fran Rubel Kuzui) was a modest success, Whedon was unhappy with the degree to which his script was messed around with. In 1996 he was offered the chance to helm a TV spin-off and seized the opporunity with enthusiasm. Buffy the Vampire Slayer premiered on 10 March 1997 and ran for seven seasons, concluding in 2003. It also spawned an arguably superior spin-off, Angel, which ran for five seasons in 1999-2004.

The series was notable for combining drama and humour, whilst its ensemble cast was impressive. It made Joss Whedon a cult star, along with several of the cast (such as James Marsters and Allyson Hannigan) as well as kicking off the career of David Boreanaz (now famous in the States for his role in the long-running Bones). Ultimately it led to Whedon being picked to write and direct the movie The Avengers, due out this year. It wasn't the most consistent series in quality - arguably only the second and third seasons were reliably excellent and the rest were highly variable - but when it was on form it was very entertaining, with several episodes (such as the inventive, almost dialogue-less Hush and the unrelentingly dark The Body, an impressive take on loss and grief) that are borderline genius.

The future of the Buffyverse appears in doubt these days, with apparently the studio that owns the rights more interested in pursuing a movie remake rather than anything new in the existing setting.


Salt-Man Z said...

Not sure I agree entirely with your final paragraph. The universe lives on in comic form. Whedon himself is, after all, helming the official Season 8 and Season 9 comic series, among others.

Wastrel said...

I'm not sure I'd call the second and third seasons reliably excellent. The second has excellent episodes, but, even more than the first, also suffers from some weak monster-of-the-week stuff. The third takes a hard turn onto the angst-highway, and the individual episodes suffer for it, because it doesn't really fit the format that it's trying to stick to (i.e. the angst works better later on when it's all angst, than when it's still meant to be funny but gets highjacked by angst-banditry) - I think people overestimate the third season because the season-arc was the best the season managed (both in its content and in the way it was integrated into the series as a whole, rather than being a sudden 'right, next couple of episodes are boss fight' thing), and because some of the episodes connected to the big arc were really, really good. But there was a lot of dross there as well, in between the good bits.

[Personally, I think the first season was the best - it's both the most frightening and the funniest - although production values are lacking and there are a lot of bad episodes]

Anonymous said...

True, S2 and S3 were excellent, but after that, the excellence came from the overall feeling and consistency of the series. Following seasons all expanded on the rules of the universe and past storylines in such a beautiful way, even the inevitable "filler" episodes had a tie in the overall arc.

Joss Whedon shines when he is given enough time..which makes me want to pull a Catelyn Stark again, clawing my face and crying my eyes out laughing like a maniac thinking Fox cancelling Firefly.

Elfy said...

That makes me feel positively ancient. The series for me hit it's high point in S2 & 3. Other seasons had individual moments of brilliance and they were all well worth watching, but for me personally, it never quite recaptured S2 & 3 for quality.

Bibliotropic said...

I would argue that "Angel" is the suprerior show. I've just finished watching the first three seasons of "Angel," and while it does have strong characterization, a darker premise, and a much more mature tone in places, it falls short in many places. For one thing, season 1 and the first half of season 2 may as well have been the same thing for all that the plot dictated, and not much happened. It seemed to be a lot of "monster of the week" and stuff being set up for events far down the road, and not all of it was interesting to see. I also really dislike the way that Angel's character changed. Sure, as manic-depressive as he was on Buffy, it didn't exactly make for very enjoyable scenes, what with him being mopey and broody all the time. But then he goes to being flat-out bipolar at times, and I'm left wondering who the hell this guy is and why he's so different from the Angel established earlier. I understand that people change over the course of years, but we're talking about a rapid change when compared to how he was previously portrayed, and it's not protrayed very well.

It could just be the nostalgia talking, since I grew up on Buffy and didn't much enjoy Angel when it first aired, and I've only recently started watching it. But the show really does have its problems, and I would be one of the ones to argue that it's far from being superior to the show that spawned it in the first place.

Adam Whitehead said...

ANGEL has some issues, and probably BUFFY has a couple of stronger individual episodes than anything on it, but I think ANGEL is more consistent. BUFFY took a while to find its feet and what it was really capable of, and then it may have peaked too early. Even Joss Whedon said it was a mistake to do the Angelus arc in Season 2 as it was really the most gut-wrenching thing they could do to Buffy and maybe should have held onto it for longer. BUFFY also had quite a few flat-out horrendous episodes, whilst ANGEL only had a couple that I would say were unwatchably bad.

I do think ANGEL's beast season - but also the craziest season of TV Whedon has ever been involved with - is the fourth, simply for the strength of the interconnected story arc (up until the last couple of episodes, anyway, when it goes rather weird).