Wednesday, November 24, 2010

21st Century Buffy

What do I think of the recent announcement that Warner Brothers is going ahead with a Buffy the Vampire Slayer motion picture reboot sans Joss Whedon? My first reaction is, I think it's a horrible idea and it sucks! io9 features the official press release here.

Here's what Joss Whedon had to say about the announcement ("I have strong, mixed emotions"), and this is what the Whedonesque commenters are saying here and here.

Joss Whedon's specialty is producing exceptionally strong characters that we can really wrap ourselves into and identify with. The actors tended to become strongly intertwined with their characters, to the point that it was difficult to separate the actor from the character. No other TV shows have grabbed me the way Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel have, and it's all because of the character development.

A few things I fear about a Buffy remake is the potential for the characters to be changed to the point where they're completely unrecognizable. For example, Buffy could turn out to be someone who spends more time fighting the Forces of Darkness with her iPhone apps than with her fists, and a Spike-like vampire could turn out to be a woman. Worse yet, most of the characters we've grown to love will probably be completely discarded, as though they've been erased from photos during Stalinist purges.

Also, Buffy fans have always considered the series to be a show that stands out by itself. By producing a new Buffy movie during the middle (or hopefully, the waning days) of a pop culture vampire craze, we run the risk of BtVS being remembered as just one more franchise that's lumped together with Twilight, True Blood, Vampire Diaries, etc.

The biggest thing I fear is that the new movie could supplant the original Buffy the Vampire Slayer TV series in people's memories. For example, do people now mostly remember Maverick as being a 1957 - 1962 TV series starring James Garner, or a 1994 feature film with Mel Gibson (albeit I admit Garner was also in the feature film)? A few years ago I told a woman who's actually a little bit older than me that I enjoyed seeing The Producers again, and I was surprised that she automatically assumed that I meant the 2005 Nathan Lane/Matthew Broderick remake rather than the much better 1968 Zero Mostel/Gene Wilder original version.

Despite all of this, I still might manage to keep an open mind if the new Buffy actually gets filmed. One recent example of a successful remake I can think of is the new Hawaii Five-O that's currently being aired in the U.S. on CBS. All of the new versions of the characters are completely unrecognizable from the originals, but the show works because the new characters are almost just as compelling as the old ones thanks to some fairly spiffy writing. If the producers don't screw up too badly, the whole Buffy reboot thing just might work!

Idle Thoughts. There are a lot of article out there about the remake, but I might as well include this link to a LA Times Hero Complex article, "Joss Who? Meet the Writer of the New 'Buffy the Vampire Slayer' Film".

I wish I had more time to get into the whole issue of, how much will the remake take as canon from either the original movie and the TV series? They both seem to exist in somewhat parallel universes. Whedonesque commenters posted their thoughts about Kristy Swanson (the original Buffy) wanting to appear in the remake here.

Sweet and Adorable Alert!

I've sanctimoniously stated in the past that I don't want to enable paparazzi photographers who make their livings by violating the privacy of celebrity children. However, there's been such a flurry of adorable photos of Satyana Denisof being posted online lately I knew I'd reach a breaking point sooner or later. It's hard to pick out just one source to link to, but I'm particularly fond of this post from the UK's Daily Mail, "Is Alyson Hannigan's Daughter the Happiest Little Girl in Hollywood?" I chose this because I loved the combination of the lovely photos coupled with an actual article.

And I fully admit one of the reasons I love this photo set is because it shows a lot of interaction between Alexis and Satyana.


P.S. Did I forget to say that Satyana is about the cutest little thing in the world now? I'd like about three of her for Xmas.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Hulu Plus Buffy

I was delighted to find out last night that Hulu is offering one free week of their Hulu Plus programming to U.S. viewers, where all seasons of their TV shows are available for viewing. After that, it costs $7.99 per month to continue the service. As usual, we're required to enter credit card information before we sign up for the free service.

My understanding is that viewers who had already been paying $9.99/month will be credited for their $2.00 monthly differentials in the next billing cycle, and will also be credited for one free week of service. Hulu posted a lot of good additional information in this blog post.

I don't have time to look this up today, but I think I found in my online travels last night that if you previously paid some sort of Sony PS3 monthly network charge, the fee is waived if you subscribe to Hulu Plus. (The above-referenced Hulu blog post says "All PlayStation 3 owners with a PlayStation Network account, which is free, can download the Hulu Plus application".) Regardless, it's worth looking into if you have a PS3 system.

After doing a little bit of due diligence where I determined that it appears we can cancel at any time, I decided to take the plunge. My original intention was to see if it would be possible to cancel before I get hit for the monthly charge, but I might go ahead and decide to keep Hulu Plus around for a while. In the meantime I'll give updates about their actual billing practices.

Naturally the first thing I wanted to see was a new (for me) Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode. (I've only seen Seasons 1 -3 and the second episode from Season 4.) The episode I immediately chose was Season 5's "Fool for Love", since I'd always been intrigued by what I'd read about Spike comforting Buffy while she was crying on the back steps of her house. What a goldmine the episode turned out to be since it hits on key themes regarding Spike's human background, and also his early relationships with Angelus and Drusilla. This Buffy episode will be invaluable to me when I resume my Angel "reviews", since my next real post will be about Season 5 of Angel's "Destiny".

"Fool for Love" also keyed in on some twin subject matters I've been wondering about for a long time: what mistakes do Slayers make when they get killed, and what qualities did Spike have that allowed him to kill two Slayers? I wish I had time to get into it more, but, judging from the flashbacks, to me it looked like the Slayers were more keyed into the fight than the kill. Spike, of course, had this famous piece of dialogue where he informed Buffy,
Death is your art. You make it with your hands, day after day. That final gasp. That look of peace. Part of you is desperate to know: What's it like? Where does it lead you? And now you see, that's the secret. Not the punch you didn't throw or the kicks you didn't land. Every Slayer... has a death wish.

Even you.

The only reason you've lasted as long as you have is you've got ties to the world... your mum, your brat kid sister, the Scoobies. They all tie you here but you're just putting off the inevitable. Sooner or later, you're gonna want it. And the second- the second- that happens...
From where I'm sitting, Buffy the Vampire Slayer consisted of two distinct TV series: Buffy at Sunnydale High School in Seasons 1 -3, and Buffy post-Sunnydale High in Seasons 4 -7. My first impressions are that the Buffy episodes at Sunnydale High were highly entertaining, while it was more challenging to sit through the later seasons. I'm also thinking that James Marsters could act circles around just about everyone else in the Buffyverse, and his character Spike was the sole reason the series continued on as long as it did. I am certainly looking forward to finding out if I'm right or wrong.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

See You Again, Don't Know When

It pains me to say this, but I've decided that I need to take a break from I Heart Wesley W-P for an unspecified period of time. Long story short, I'm working close to full-time, I'm the personal representative of the estates of three people who've passed away over the last two years (what was I thinking when I agreed to all of this?), and Christmas will be here before I know it. My last post wasn't one of my best efforts, and I really think I'd be better off waiting until my life settles down before I start blogging again.

I fully intend to come back; I just can't give you a time frame. In the meantime, I might pass along a few minor interesting tidbits that I find along the way.

And good grief! Don't be afraid to leave a comment! I'll still be stopping by to see if anything's going on around here, and I'll still be answering my emails.

Peace and Love, and Happy Holidays to everyone out there.

'Til we meet again.


Saturday, November 6, 2010

Beautiful Loser

Alexis Denisof as Wesley Wyndam-Pryce,
from Buffyverse Dialogue Database

There are some scenes in Angel where the dialogue says it all, with "Lineage" from Season 5 providing us with at least three great examples. The first instance occurred when Eve cast Wesley's reckless endangerment of Fred within the larger context of Angel's inherent mistrust of Wesley. The second instance occurred when Angel confessed to Wes that he was just starting to understand that Wesley was the one who made all of the hard decisions. The third instance occurred in this less wordy (but still effective) scene where Fred and Wesley were talking about how he killed his "father" in order to save her life.

I've tried to gloss over these scenes in previous posts, mostly because deconstructing the dialogue seemed like overkill. However, I know I'll have this nagging feeling of unfinished business hanging over my head until I get this done, so, here I go.

Angel and Eve and Wesley. I've discussed in the past how Eve is not one of my favorite characters in Angel. Sarah Thompson seemed to be miscast, and it's hard for me to separate the character from the actress when I watch the performances. What irritated me the most was how Eve would clumsily explain the obvious, apparently for the benefit of the more ignorant members of the viewing audience. Paradoxically, some of my favorite dialogue sequences in the entire series involved Eve, with this scene in the Season 5 premiere episode "Conviction" being a good example (particularly the part about evil going "next door".)

I felt that Angel was overreacting a bit in this scene when he chewed out Wesley for putting Fred's life in danger. There were obviously other issues involved besides Wesley's momentary lapse in judgment. Luckily for me, I achieved an almost immediate catharsis when Eve strode into the office and declared, "Kinda hard on him, weren't you?" She then pointed out, "I think you're making too big a deal about this. And from what I understand, her wound wasn't all that severe." That was definitely a true statement, since I can't watch Angel's and Wesley's reactions to Fred's wound without thinking of a short but hilarious scene in I'm Gonna Git You Sucka, where hero Jack Spade (Keenan Ivory Wayan) similarly overreacted to a minor papercut (click on the "'Film" button) that he received under urban battlefield conditions.

Eve also nailed it when she continued on that Angel might have also been irritated with Wesley because he "Focuses too much on the big picture? Overlooks the people involved?" and for being "Willing to risk anything... or anyone... for the greater good."

Similar to how I described Buffy and Faith in a much earlier post this year, Angel and Wesley had an interesting yin/yang thing going on, where their seemingly contradictory styles and philosophies actually complemented each other. This was the opposite of Angel's relationships with Spike and Gunn, where these similar alpha males regularly butted heads in their quests to become top dogs. Angel was Numero Uno by just about everyone's standards. Wes was never going to be the hero of epic proportions, and, for the most part, he actually appeared to accept his first lieutenant status throughout Season 5.

Although the lyrics don't come close to accurately describing Wes and Angel's relationship, I can't help but think of Bob Seger's song, "Beautiful Loser", particularly this verse,
He's your oldest and your best friend
If you need him, he'll be there again
He's always willing to be second-best
A perfect lodger, a perfect guest
As Angel hinted in this scene with Wesley later on, he never really understood Wesley's better qualities, probably because he never took Wesley all that seriously. His exact words were.
"You do what you have to do to protect the people around you. To do what you know is right, regardless of the cost. You know, I never really understood that. You're the guy who makes all the hard decisions, even if you have to make 'em alone."
He could have also continued on that rather than accepting Wesley as an equal, Angel historically considered Wesley to be more of an irritant, or the guy who got in the way of Angel's more emotional, full-speed-ahead approach to problem-solving.

I always thought that the Angel/Wesley relationship should have been explored quite a bit more in the series, and we're fortunate that someone at Mutant Enemy made the decision to include this above-referenced scene in "Lineage". Although their relationship became seriously strained at times later in the season (particularly when Wesley was briefly convinced that Angel was responsible for Fred's death), the steady and solid foundation of their friendship was enough to keep them going through even the worst of times. Perhaps working through the adversities of late Season 3's unfortunate events, where Wesley kidnapped Connor and Angel tried to kill Wes, eventually brought the two of them closer together as a result.

Fred and Wesley (Mostly Idle Thoughts). Regular readers are probably tired of hearing me talk ad nauseum about how I never found Fred and Wesley's relationship to be all that convincing. In other words, I never felt that they were "made for each other". Although Wesley was obviously obsessed with Fred, there were seldom any moments where I felt that Fred absolutely could not live without Wesley.

Wesley couldn't help but make a positive impression on Fred when he saved her life by killing his cyborg "father". As an aside, I can't help but notice how certain emotions can continue on for a long time after the fact. Perhaps this has something to do with stress hormones still lingering in the system? Regardless, even though Wesley realized almost right away that he actually killed a cyborg, it took him a while to get over the notion that he was fully capable of murdering his own father.

As I mentioned in my last post, Fred had this irritating quality of seeing the best in everybody: "Part of you knew. Even if you can't admit it to yourself, part of you knew it wasn't him", which forced the other party to openly admit his guilt in excrutiating detail: "No. I was sure it was him. You were there. I killed my father." I really should cut her some slack, because Fred was simply being her wonderfully nurturing self.

I've commented in the past about Wesley's generosity in gracefully giving up Fred to Knox. I would like to add that, although it seemed like a selfless act, Wesley might have been a little too wrapped up in his self-congratulations, since he totally missed out on the fact that Fred was starting to develop some feelings for him. Similar to how she just let the matter drop when Wesley pulled away from her in this closing scene from Season 3's "Billy", Fred also let the matter drop when Wesley gave her up for Knox. I'd like to think that she was letting Wes savor his little moment of moral triumph before starting in on him again, but I doubt that. Instead, I think Fred was once more being the confused little waif, perhaps feeling obligated to spend time with Knox since, after all, she did encourage his attentions for quite some time.

More Idle Thoughts
. I consider "Lineage" to be the best episode of the ill-defined "early" part of Season 5. Kudos to Drew Goddard (and to any other uncredited writers who may have had a hand in this episode) for churning out some absolutely outstanding dialogue.

The creators of the After the Fall comic continuation series did a beautiful job of exploring Wes and Angel's friendship, ending with Angel's poignant "Thank you, rogue demon hunter" as Wesley faded away for the final time.

If I was really ambitious, I'd try to do a post linking Wesley Wyndam-Pryce with Charlie Brown.