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Buffy Returns

I’ve got to admit, a part of me wanted to jump for joy when I heard Buffy the Vampire Slayer was making a comeback. I’ll just as readily admit that I was about as out of the loop as you can get on the fact that a comeback was even in the works. So forgive me when I tell you that I was surprised to hear the new feature film version of Buffy won’t involve Joss Whedon in any way.

Whedon’s maintained both franchises by publishing ongoing serials through a partnership with Dark Horse Comics, but the new effort will not have the imprimatur of Whedon, who is revered by “Buffy” fans and has not been in favor of the project.

– Dave McNary, Variety.com

Now, this is cause for fanboys and girls to be concerned. I’m not writing off this film, I won’t do that to any film, but a complete re-imagining of Buffy doesn’t seem entirely necessary to me. Personally, I still believe the TV Series run has legs to carry a feature film and I believe the fan community that supported the series for seven seasons would flock to the theaters to reunite with the crew.

I appreciate the viewpoint of Warner Bros. and Atlas Entertainment, of course. By remaking the classic now with a new vision behind it, you open Buffy up to a whole new group of fans. With a little luck you don’t alienate the traditional fans and you can move forward with double the fan base. It’s been done recently, with 2009’s Star Trek remake coming to mind. Star Trek was able to introduce the franchise to an entirely new group of viewers, while not alienating the majority of the existing community.

But what this speaks to more is the permanence of franchises. Fans have put a lot of time and effort into Buffy, the same way fans have put time into Star Trek. One feature film, seven TV seasons, and countless comics. Buffy has been a major impact to an entire generation of pop culture enthusiasts, and they are currently in danger of throwing those efforts away. Trek had the built in plot device of alternate realities, allowing the pre-existing universe to exist side by side with the universe created by J.J. Abrams’ 2009 film. In theory, we could still get a TV series to follow up Voyager with few issues conflicting the latest film.

Buffy, on the other hand, will have to work far harder if it hopes to maintain its current cult following. Yes, Buffy is rooted in the fantastical and supernatural. In the past, it has even dealt with the concept of alternate realities. But not in a way that ensures their existence. In fact, the path to making this film coexist with the original series may be so convoluted and muddy that it could alienate the original audience anyway. This is why I fully expect this film to be a completely different Buffy.

I hope the film is a success, and I hope that it stays true enough to not alienate people who have put a lot of time into Buffy. My biggest worry is honestly cheapening the memories of one of the finest written TV series I have watched.

Categories: TV, Writing
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