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.

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