Buffy the Vampire Slayer: 10 Years

Today marks the ten year anniversary of the premiere of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Tv.com has dedicated their front page to the series anniversary with tons of pictures, articles and clips to watch

Wikipedia is also marking the ccassion by making today’s featured article.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer is an American television series that aired from March 10, 1997 until May 20, 2003. It was created by writer-director Joss Whedon under his production tag, Mutant Enemy. The series narrative follows Buffy Anne Summers (played by Sarah Michelle Gellar), the latest in a line of young women chosen by fate to battle against vampires, demons, and the forces of darkness. Like previous slayers, Buffy is aided by a Watcher, who guides and trains her. Unlike her predecessors, Buffy surrounds herself with a circle of loyal friends who become known as the “Scooby Gang“.

The series usually reached between four and six million viewers on original airings. Although such ratings are lower than successful shows on the “big four” networks (ABC, NBC, CBS and Fox), they were a success for the relatively new and smaller Warner Brothers Network. Reviews for the show were overwhelmingly positive, and it was ranked #41 on the list of TV Guide’s 50 Greatest TV Shows of All Time. The WB network ceased operation on September 17, 2006 after airing an “homage” to their “most memorable series”, including the pilot episodes of Buffy and its spin-off, Angel.

Buffy’s success has led to hundreds of tie-in products, including novels, comics, and video games. The series has received attention in fandom, parody, and academia, and has influenced the direction of other television series.

Review: Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Season 8 – Episode 1

So this morning I awoke to an advanced copy of Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 8 in my email in-box. Apparently, The Powers That Be have been listening. Either that or there is some very nice individual who felt my pain at having to wait another week. For which ever reason, I’d first like to say thanks. Now, allow me to get to the review portion of the review. Mind you this post will have SPOILERS, so you might want to wait until next week if you want to stay mondo surprised.

The Cover

The cover is great. With the credits pushed off to the side, there is a real focus on Jo Chen’s beautiful cover of Buffy. Though I’m not a big fan of the title on her shirt, I managed to get over it.

The Episode Summary

The first part of the episode is guided by Buffy’s voice over. She sets the stage for us, explaining how she’s still not used to being called ma’am. We also get information on how many Slayers are active (somewhere around 1800). Like any season premiere of the show, you are dropped right into the middle of the action. Buffy and a squad of Slayers are being dropped by helicopter into a ruined church. As they move inside we see Xander Harris at Command Central in Scotland watching their every move on a series of screens. Xander dishes out orders and keeps the wheels in motion. He tells Buffy, everything is in place, its time to move.

A solid kick to the church door and the Slayers are in. Three massive demons are waiting for them and through a series of tactile maneuvers the Slayers successfully dispatch them. Upon further inspection of the scene, two bodies are uncovered, one bearing a strange scar or tattoo on his chest. Buffy concludes the marks are self inflicted and that these individuals where looking for a fight. She sends the image off to Xander and we call scene.

The next page takes place on a helicopter. Two military officials, one who I would consider High Brass are discussing their displeasure with the recent creation of these female terrorist “cells”, one girl in particular “a charismatic, uncompromising and completely destructive” individual who had no problem destroying her home town. Turn the page to reveal Crater Sunnydale, one massive hole in the So Cal landscape. The military is camped out on the crater’s edge. A team has been sent down into the crater, to search for bodies and take mystical readings. Suddenly, one of the team members is attacked by….

Back at Slayer Central, Xander and Buffy share a scene. The two friends are bouncing ideas back and forth on the strange symbol Buffy found. Xander suggests that Buffy speak to her sister, which Buffy is hesitant to do. The slayer sucks it up and joins Giant Dawn in the castle courtyard. Yes, I said Giant Dawn. Dawn, who now stands at about 60 feet is obviously the victim of some type of magic or spell. Dawn has absolutely no desire to speak with her older sister and insists on confiding only in Willow. The girls begin to quarrel and Buffy storms out tossing one of the best lines in the issue at Dawn.

Alone on a castle balcony, Buffy tells us how she misses her home, her mom, the Gang, churros, and most of all sex. “Great muppety Odin, I miss that sex.” One wonders if that sex she’s referring to was with Spike. She then expresses her frustration over Dawn and her secret, knowing that Dawn’s sexual encounter with a boy at school is what resulted in the growth spurt. Most of all, she’s pissed that Dawn won’t talk to her about it.

The final act takes place at an undisclosed military location. The same Top Brass is conversing with a military scientist. We are informed that two individuals were recovered from the Sunnydale Crater (almost a year after the cataclysmic event). Subject One is a female, and Subject Two is some horribly deformed male. the scientist hypothesizes that they stayed alive by feeding on “whoever else was trapped in the crater.” The females first words upon extraction were, “I’m going to help you kill her.” She demands, in exchange for cooperation, access to all magical hardware, a weapons lab for her “boyfriend”, and lots of cheese. By this point any Buffy fan should know before they turn the page that the female, Subject One, is none other than Amy Madison.

The Review

I’m extremely impressed with every page in this comic. The art was great, the dialogue was classic Whedon as was the story. I’ll admit, first I was a little overwhelmed by the action, it was alot to take in. But the scene with Xander and Buffy researching the symbol definitely felt like old times. I could hear the actors in the dialogue I was reading.

I’ve always felt that Season 7 of the show was an excellent place to end the series, leaving it open for a film, tv movies, or some form of continuation. The best part of the finale was that it set the stage for something grander, and that’s what the season 8 comic is going to do. The comic can work on a scale that the show never could have afforded. And it is no doubt going to blow the mind of any fan.

In similar regards to the finale, I thoroughly enjoy the theme of dealing with the effects of changing the world. All of us want to do that, but very few ever consider the repercussions of something so colossal. I’m glad to see Whedon addressing this.

Favorite Page

17. Buffy’s scene with Xander.

Favorite Line

Giant Dawn: I could squash you like a flea.
Buffy: Your butt looks big in those giant pants.

Conclusion

I couldn’t be happier with the first issue. My only complaint was that it ended and I have to wait another month to see what happens next. I’ll certainly be grabbing a copy when it is released on the 14th. I’m looking forward to seeing some other character appearances in the upcoming issues, especially Giles, and some twists and turns that only Whedon can pull off.

4.5 out of 5

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The Heroine Returns

This article is from the LA Times:

‘Buffy’ creator Joss Whedon has the heroine returning for a comics-style Season 8.
By Kate Aurthur, LA TIMES

WHEN audiences last saw the cast of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” in May 2003, Buffy and her friends had won a nearly apocalyptic battle between good and evil. Their hometown of Sunnydale, Calif. — also known as the Hellmouth — was a gargantuan pit as a result. After peering into the crater, Buffy, played by Sarah Michelle Gellar, walked away with a smile, and the television series came to a close after seven seasons.

On March 14, “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” will return in comic book form. Joss Whedon, “Buffy’s” creator, has written the first five issues and will oversee — or “executive produce,” he says — the whole arc as if it were a television show. Whedon has enlisted former “Buffy” staff writers, along with a few writers from the comic book world, to join him in continuing the story, which is scheduled to run for at least 30 issues to be released monthly. Whedon, the show’s fans and the series’ publisher, Dark Horse Comics, have deemed it “Buffy Season Eight.”

“When you create a universe, you don’t stop living in that universe — I know a lot of the fans didn’t,” Whedon said. “But I was surprised to find myself back in it so firmly as well.”

It’s yet another reinvention for “Buffy,” which Whedon turned into a TV series after being disappointed with the results of the frothy 1992 movie, starring Kristy Swanson, that he had written. So, in summary: “Buffy Season Eight” is a comic book run like the television series from which it came, which itself evolved out of a feature film — a classic evolving specimen for this era of ever-shifting media platforms.

The common element is Whedon, 42, the movie-TV-comics auteur behind “Buffy,” “Angel,” an “X-Men” comic series, the screenplay of “Toy Story,” and the flop television show “Firefly” as well as its movie resurrection, “Serenity.” In recent years, he has expressed frustration with both the television and movie businesses, but the less pressure-filled world of comics has been a constant.

Scott Allie, senior managing editor at Dark Horse Comics, knows his company is benefiting from Whedon’s urge to create more “Buffy” stories. Excitedly and without hesitation, Allie said, “Oh, it’s gonna be huge.”

A moderate ratings success on the WB and for its final two seasons on UPN, “Buffy” nevertheless inspired as worshipful a cult as you can find in the pop landscape. It told the sneakily dark coming-of-age story of a young woman who was special, in that she was chosen to save the world from vampire-led evil, but yearned to fit in. Buffy was surrounded by loving friends and family, bad boyfriends, and demons. Her high school was literally hell, she died a couple of times during the series, and as her tombstone once read, “she saved the world — a lot.”

Since the show ended, “Buffy” fans have made do with what was left to them. Across the Internet, the show continues to be parsed: its feminism, its use of language, its influence on current shows such as “Lost,” “Heroes” and “Veronica Mars.”

More concretely, a public sing-along of the show’s musical episode, “Once More With Feeling,” has grown so popular that its inventor, a film programmer from Brooklyn, is planning a “Rocky Horror Picture Show”-like national tour. Penguin recently published “The Physics of the Buffyverse,” a book in which science writer Jennifer Ouellette explains the principles of physics using examples from “Buffy” and its spinoff, “Angel,” which ran from 1999 to 2004.

“It really was like being home again,” Whedon said wistfully about returning to “Buffy.” ” ‘Oh, here are my old friends. They’re so funny!’ You can hear their voices so specifically. It was a comic spoken in the voices of actors you worked with for seven or eight years.”

Whedon, interviewed over lunch at the Four Seasons Hotel in Beverly Hills, looks like a ruffled college student. A third-generation television writer, he has a deadpan delivery but affects voices as he talks to illustrate or emphasize important points. “Buffy” was known for its characters’ tone and banter, and hearing him is like listening to the show — making its translation into comics reliant on, or at least greatly enhanced by, a reader’s familiarity with the original.

Or, as Jane Espenson, a former writer and co-executive producer of “Buffy” who has signed up for comic book duty, put it: “The voices of those characters are in my head forever and ever. The reason characters talked like that on ‘Buffy’ is they talked a bit like Joss — and we all ended up talking like Joss.”

Season 8 begins

DARK Horse’s Allie said that the voices come through in the comic’s dialogue, and the visuals will reward fans. “You don’t have cute Sarah Michelle Gellar running around, but you’ve got good-looking characters and much better-looking monsters.”

Oregon-based Dark Horse, one of the country’s largest comic book producers, has published works by Frank Miller and Mike Mignola and also many tie-ins with Hollywood, such as “Star Wars,” “Alien vs. Predator” and “The Mask.” Dark Horse published the ancillary “Buffy” comics that came out during the show’s run, which Whedon had little to do with. There were “Angel” comics too. Later, Whedon co-wrote a series that bridged the gap between “Firefly,” his canceled Fox show, and “Serenity,” the movie rebirth of it in September 2005.

All the while, Allie was interested in a “Buffy” comic that “replaces the TV show in a way we never could do before.” A year ago, he opened an e-mail from Whedon, and it unexpectedly contained the script for the first issue of “Buffy.” Allie remembered thinking, happily, “Oh, OK, so you’re going to write this?”

Until then, Whedon had been hopeful that a series of TV movies based on “Buffy’s” costars would be produced by 20th Century Fox Television, the studio behind the television show. The movie spinoffs would be able to get around the inconvenient truth that Gellar no longer wanted to play Buffy by sending fan-favorite characters like Willow (Alyson Hannigan) and Spike (James Marsters) on their own adventures.

“It was a pipe dream ultimately, because I think the studio thought they could do this for no money — that everybody would show up because we’re all buddies,” Whedon said. “But I don’t think they noticed that everybody seems to have careers. It was an unrealistic business model. And once I realized that, I just decided, ‘I can find a man to draw them instead!’ ” (20th Century Fox Television declined to comment.)

In the year since Whedon wrote the first issue, he and Dark Horse worked on finding the right artists and assembling a team of writers. From the “Buffy” world, Espenson, Drew Goddard, Drew Greenberg, Doug Petrie and Steven DeKnight have said they will contribute; from the comics side, Jeph Loeb and Brad Meltzer joined the project; and Brian K. Vaughan will write the four-arc series after Whedon’s first five issues.

Vaughan’s series will focus on Faith, a recalcitrant slayer who was Buffy’s friend, then her nemesis and finally her ally. “When I sat down with Brian to talk about his arc, that was the closest I’d been to a writers’ room since I left television,” Whedon said. “You know what? It felt so great.”

Espenson said she’d like to write “comedic stand-alone” issues throughout “Buffy Season Eight.” She said: ” ‘Buffy’ was a show that Joss ran from top to bottom. I liked working for Joss as a show runner, and I hope he’s really, really running this.” She paused, and laughed: ” ‘Tell me what to do, Joss, and I’ll do it!’ ”

Some work situations run more smoothly than others.

As Whedon was getting “Buffy Season Eight” up and running, he was supposed to be writing and then directing a high-profile comic adaptation: the movie version of “Wonder Woman” with Warner Bros. After having been associated with the long-gestating project since March 2005, Whedon announced he was quitting last month on the fan site Whedonesque.com, writing, “We just saw different pictures.”

When asked to elaborate, he didn’t really. “I don’t want to go into it too much, because they still own that script,” he said. And then: “I cannot tell you what they wanted. Because they never told me what they wanted. When I asked them, ‘Well, what is it that you want?’ They said, ‘We cannot tell you.’ I can tell you what they didn’t want: Me!” And then: “And they treated me extremely well; I’m not trying to slam.” (Warner Bros. declined to comment.)

Many roads ahead

BUT Whedon is clearly unhappy about the experience and the time wasted: “You know, when you get into a giant thing like ‘Wonder Woman,’ to add up to nothing — it’s going to be four years between projects. I don’t have that many four years.”

He said he will now focus on “Goners,” an original screenplay he wrote and is developing to direct for Universal that he called “a ghastly tale of female empowerment — something new for me!”

He would also like to return to television, after telling Variety in 2004, “I have a bitter taste in my mouth with where TV has gone in the past five years.” Whedon said the experience he had with “Firefly,” which was canceled after 11 episodes, taught him what guarantees he would need to go back. “I don’t want another ‘Firefly.’ I can’t do that. It hurts too much,” he said. “I’ll learn to golf or something instead. And that, by the way, is not going to help the golf world.

“But because of the new media, because of DVDs, because of the Internet, there are so many new avenues that basically I feel like I can go back to TV when I have the power to set up a paradigm wherein I know I can complete a story.”

For now, he has more “Buffy” stories to tell. Espenson said that, knowing Whedon, she was not surprised he came back to “Buffy.”

“It’s about youth. It’s about feminism,” she said. “Strength and learning who you are. It’s hard to imagine a franchise that captures as much of Joss’ soul as this one does.”

But in reflecting on it himself, Whedon wonders. “I was like, ‘Am I really an artist of integrity, or am I just grieving for my mom? What’s going on here?’ I have so many questions about why I do that — why I go back to that well when I could be moving forward.” He hesitated, then said: “But the fact of the matter is when you work with people you love, you want to work with them more. Same goes with characters.”