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Sunday, November 28, 2010

If Buffy Minus Whedon is Bad, You Will Never Remember It

I've been reading the coverage (it crops up and dies down, and has been for the past year) of a refreshed Buffy, The Vampire Slayer produced by people involved in the original movie. Which is to say, the Buffy reboot would be a remake of the film without any of the characters or concepts that Joss Whedon and company attached to the television series in its seven year run.
If you never watched the tv series Buffy, what's at issue here is that while the movie was a vampires-in-high-school farce adventure, the TV series was a West Wing-funny, long-running, fantasy soap opera parody. They were utterly different in tone, and the TV version was successful whereas the film was not, and everyone seems confident that what made the difference was the iron-fisted creative control of creator Joss Whedon, whose unique voice permeated the show. Not so the film, where Whedon was but one voice. Point, Whedon and seven years.

My first instinct to the idea of a reboot without Whedon is: bleah. AKA Casino Royale, and not the fantastic James Bond reboot starring Daniel Craig, but the bizarre 1967 failure that happened because a group of creatives (we use that term even when it doesn't fit) had the rights to make a James Bond feature outside of the popular cycle. Remember this one? No?
So the most likely result here? Yes, they make a Buffy reboot without Joss Whedon, and it slips instantly into oblivion next to 1997's The Saint and all those Star Trek stories written after Gene Roddenberry died. Oh, wait, that one doesn't count.
And while we're at it, having the original creator onboard doesn't always help; witness Dan Curtis' own short-lived reboot of Dark Shadows in the 90s-- which I haven't seen. Maybe it was brilliant but didn't catch on.
Which is to say, who the heck knows if a Buffy remake would be any good? My personal feeling is still this: why again haven't the producers simply offered Joss Whedon boatloads of currency to write and produce their Buffy for them? Wouldn't that be the most logical way to proceed?
But if that doesn't happen, rest assured that if the reboot isn't any good, you'll never remember it.


  1. I take exception to your use of Casino Royale with regard to a Buffy reboot. The 1967 Casino Royale was already a parody of the over series, and should be categorized with movies such as Top Secret or Mad Mission. It is only notable because it did gain the rights to one of Fleming's titles; the first in fact.

    You bother to mention all the Star Trek titles written after Gene Roddenberry, and don't bother to mention that License to Kill through Die Another Day were not Ian Felming books, all of which were written after his death. Why are these not reviled?

    While I do not agree with your assertions, I am happy to see that you admit that there is a possibility that a Buffy reboot might be good; I'm just disappointed that you chose the easy option of criticizing, rather than the more novel and interesting tactic of imagining how a new perspective might actually enhance the character, or what could be done to make the movie a good one.

  2. It's a GREAT point about the later Bonds not being based on Fleming at all.

    But what I'm saying is this is essentially a thankless task. Of course it could be good-- but why *bother?* Why use the goodwill of a brand that has almost no value outside the TV series they're ignoring? Why not just create a new, Buffy-like high school vampire hunter and avoid the whole mess?

  3. I'm one of the few people on the planet who liked the original Buffy movie. Donald Sutherland and Rutger Hauer trying comedy--loved it. I tried to get into the series, but it never clicked for me. (Except for David Boreanaz--love seeing a local guy make it big!) And don't start me on the boring Dark Shadows reboot. Snoozer.

    So, Jason, you're saying that a certain teeange character with a well-known name would be the right candidate for a new series? :D I'd watch that.

  4. You know, I was not thinking of Alex Van Helsing when I said that, because Alex is more superspy that Buffy, but yeah, of course I'd love to see an adaptation. Never can tell!

  5. PS-- the one thing I think is not cool is people dissing the screenwriter chosen to reboot Buffy. I mean: anyone would take this job if offered it. It doesn't make them worthy of insults.

  6. Agree completely, Jason. It's just as tough for screenwriters to break in as it is for fiction writers. More power to this guy/gal. We're all just trying to make rent.