Wednesday, 4 November 2009
During the original run of the Buffy the Vampire Slayer series, there were two major camps: fans of the movie and fans of the series. It’s died down since the series ended, but there are still rabid fans that despise the other incarnation of they’re favorite slayer.
Until the past few years, I was firmly in the movie fan category, and was a rather disappointed 12 year old when I first watched the series. I remember reading about the new Buffy series in TV Guide, but when I first watched it 1997, I didn’t recognize it. If you can’t tell, I love all things camp! The more ridiculous and campy a movie or series is the more I’ll probably enjoy it. The series was lacking the purple spandex and took itself far too seriously for my liking. Then I just became anti-anything that had to do with the WB, so it took until the 6th season episode, “Once More with Feeling” for me to finally change my mind. Through the years I’ve grown to enjoy and love the series, thanks to some research on Joss Whedon and the complete series on DVD.
I might love the series now, but I still prefer the movie–even if it’s a “bastardization” of Whedon’s original script. I’ve found my favorite episodes of Buffy tend to be the most over the top ones. For example, “Once More with Feeling” or the one where we follow Xander around for a night, while Buffy and Co. try to save the world in the subplot. My love for the movie probably explains why I prefer Spike to Angel (not as a love interest) and the nerd villains of Season 6–because they capture the over the top humor from the original film.
I realize Kristy Swanson isn’t nearly as kick-ass as Sarah Michelle Gellar in the role, but she captures the frivolity of a cheerleader from the valley who’s realized her life plan–involving graduating from high school, going to Europe and marrying Christian Slater–has been permanently interrupted by a pre-determined destiny involving mythical creatures. Of course, the difference in characterization is partially due to the fact the series and the film introduce Buffy in two very different places (in the series, she already knows she’s the slayer and has seen the destruction it causes to her, her family and her friends).
However, I must say the biggest reason I love the film was the way Buffy can sense vampires through menstrual cramps. The character of Buffy was created by Joss Whedon as a response to the horror genre tropes, where bubbly, blonde “cheerleaders” are usually the first to die. Buffy is unsuspecting and that is her appeal. However, taking something that every woman deals with (menstrual cramps) and turning it into a super power to help her fight evil was brilliant. I know I wish my monthly cramps would signal something more than the shedding of my uterus. Don’t you?
Anyway, this stemmed from the news I just received (and I realize I’m probably slow to the game) that they are trying to “relaunch/remake” the film for 2012. It seems it won’t involve the TV Series cannon nor Whedon in the production, which makes sense as his original script underwent so many changes to make it “lighter.” However, I have one request: keep the cramps!
Saturday, 26 September 2009
I don't know how many people remember the TV series Popular from the WB's 1999-2001 seasons, but it's an awesome gem that suffered an early death by cancellation. Before I get into the reasons I love this show, let's go over the history of the WB circa 1999.
The WB launched in January 1995 and for the first two years didn't really have any "hits" outside of 7th Heaven, and to a lesser extent the Steve Harvey and Jamie Foxx Shows, though I personally enjoyed Unhappily Ever After, and to a much lesser extent Sister, Sister. Then Buffy the Vampire Slayer aired in March 1997, which changed the WBs course forever. Instead of focusing on broad comedies or family oriented dramas, the powers-at-be decided to go for the teen market, and quickly following Buffy's success, they churned out Dawson's Creek that catapulted the station and it's stars to the stratosphere. Following James Van Der Beek and company, the WB launched Felicity and Charmed in the Fall of 1998.
The WB wasn't the first station to reel in the teen market, but it was the first one to cater primarily to teenagers. Fox had Beverly Hills, 90210, but also The Simpsons, and Married With Children--while popular with the younger demographic, they weren't aimed specifically at teenagers or about them. ABC had TGIF, but Sabrina, the Teenage Witch and Boy Meets World, didn't have the bite that the hour long Dawson and Buffy had.
Dawson, Buffy, and 7th Heaven shaped every program the WB launched until it joined to form the CW Network. The "Dawsons" were shows about young adults, featured impressive dialogue for the character's age groups, love triangles, relationship dilemmas, and never really found an audience beyond the teenage girl demographic. These included, Felicity, Young Americans (a Dawson's Creek spin off), Hyperion Bay and D.C. (back-to-back shows with Mark-Paul Gosselaar that both failed), Glory Days (which could be considered a Buffy but it's from Kevin Williamson), and One Tree Hill. The "Buffys" obviously had supernatural aspects and loads of action and included Charmed, Angel, Smallville, Supernatural, Roswell, Birds of Prey, Tarzan and a few others. Finally, the "7th Heavens" were family or generational dramas: Everwood, Jack & Bobby, Just Legal, The Mountain, and Related. Gilmore Girls is perhaps the only one I hesitate placing in the "7th Heaven" category, as the character development and dialogue quite easily fit in with the "Dawsons," it's ultimately about the family of relationships between Emily, Loralei and Rory.
So here we are, 1999 and the WB is in full swing, they launch a Friday night schedule, Angel, Roswell, and Popular. Although a dark comedy, Popular was generally scheduled around the other successful teen dramas, which did not make for good bed fellows. It was never very successful. It was pure camp at it's best, and bad, forced drama at it's worst. Personally, I believe the show was canceled due to the second season, which became a train wreck when the writers/creators/producers attempted to conform to the "Dawson" genre by adding drama and loosing a lot of the comedy. Of course, the comedy also suffered when Leslie Grossman negotiated her contract to allow her every 4th week off due to the intensity of her performance as Mary Cherry. Understandable, but with her out ever fourth episode or so, the writers, who relied on the character for most the humor, created dramatic story points to make up for it--unsuccessfully. However, while the second season was the final straw that canceled the show, I think the reason it was unsuccessful was because it's gay.
I mean it. It might not have any openly gay main characters, but it has a gay sensibility, aka it's one of the campest show's I've seen on network television. Mary Cherry is a straight up drag queen, Ms. Glass (aka "Sir" aka "Claw) is a closeted, butch lesbian who deals with her own sexuality through the course of the show, and most importantly, it doesn't fall into the homogenized "Buffy," "Dawson," or "7th Heaven" genres, which is why it's the only WB show I ever watched (excluding Buffy which I only started watching a few years ago after it had been off the air). The only other show that ever attracted my attention like Popular, was the short lived Gross Pointe--a satirical look at Beverly Hills, 90210. Much like Popular, Gross Pointe parodied the other network shows.
This is only the beginning of a series of posts I will be writing about Popular. For my birthday, I received the complete series on DVD and I plan to write an article on the most notable episodes (if not all/the majority). Eventually, I might do the same with other WB shows, but seeing as I only have Buffy on DVD and I don't know if I could ever get myself to watch even a whole episode of Dawson's Creek, we'll see how that goes.
Sunday, 16 August 2009
Saturday, 15 August 2009
Wednesday, 8 July 2009
This is my brain child and my first attempt at this sort of thing. Next week is WALL-E and Persepolis, and we end it the Friday after that with High School Musical 3: Senior Year and American Graffiti! I hope who ever reads this and is in the area will stop by and check it out.
For more information visit stilwellfilm.org or stilwellfilm.blogspot.com.