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September 18 2004

A Darker Buffy. A fan's thoughts on what Buffy would have been like had it aired on HBO or Showtime (contains adult language).

Yesterday, I was looking through the referral page and came across this. It intrigued me as it seemed relevant to the debate we've been having here about Joss having his own show on a cable network.

And I also liked the dark re-interpretation of the Buffyverse. It does make you wonder what Joss could produce if he wasn't limited by the restraints imposed by terrestrial television networks.

Interesting read, Simon. Although I have to disagree with many of this fan's assessments. BtVS, despite being superficially clothed in tv teen garb, has always been dark and even dangerous -- even in season one. Death and self-sacrifice are raised brilliantly in season one. Not light little subjects, those. The fan says he/she wants Buffy to *really, really* fall in love with Spike despite his having a terrible dirty secret. Uhhh...what about Buffy's love for Angel? What Angel did to Druscilla was horrible beyond words. What Angel did to Jenny Calendar was evil. Yes, Angel was Angelus while doing these things but BtVS and AtS both raise the idea that the demon Angelus always exists in Angel. Even when Angel has the upper hand against Angelus, he slips and slides at times perilously downwards into Angelus-tainted darkness. As for Spike, he tried to rape Buffy in Season Six yet she comes to his basement lair repeatedly in the first two eps of Season Seven despite herself and not yet knowing that Spike has regained his soul. An attempted rape victim drawn despite herself to her insane attempted rapist? (I like Spike, so please don't attack me, all Spike lovers. As lovable in some respects as Spike is, there is no doubt that the writers intended him to attempt to rape Buffy.) Not telling any of her friends or family that she visits him secretly? Uh, not a light little subject there. As good as My So-Called Life was, it didn't deal with this level of dark despair.

I could go on indefinitely about how dark BtVS and AtS are.

I've long been a champion of Joss having a show on a cable network that would let him do his thing unimpeded. But I'd argue that part of the success of BtVS and AtS so far is that they both brilliantly subvert the mediocrity and limitations of terrestrial tv and suggest all sorts of dark, terrible, dangerous, perilous ideas, events and feelings that are cloaked in metaphor. Metaphor usually trumps literal presentation, in my opinion. Especially when the subversive ideas presented by Joss & Co. slip under the radar of the idiot censors and land in the minds of young people who might otherwise not watch an HBO or Showtime presentation. In the case of BtVS and its terrestrial tv presentation, all it takes is a little imagination to see beyond the teenybopperness and the cutesyness and feel the horror of what is so often suggested.
Nicely done, phlebotinin. Agree totally that Buffy and Angel are already very dark places indeed. Angel maybe even more so (LA vs. Sunnydale, Hellmouth notwithstanding, I think LA wins the Dark Bowl.)

When I'm Buffyvangelizing (just bought season 1 for some friends after I kind of pulverized them into getting interested), I always stress the dark elements of the shows. Oh, I slip in the clever banter and such (and some oddball remarks: "Oh...*that's* not a stake..."), but I always return to the great themes the shows explore, and how dark and malevolent a place the world can be.

I don't think Joss needs cable to stretch his mind and ours, and kind of hope he doesn't go crazy with "Serenity" and get an R rating. For one thing, it'll reduce the gate, I have to think, and for another, he doesn't need to.
It annoyed me how the person wants to turn BtVS into a marilyn manson music video.
Lizard, I have to disagree with you about the R rating. I have a teenage son (17) and neither he, nor any of his friends are ever interested in seeing a movie that is PG. Maybe sometimes a PG-13, but not often. An R rating would increase the gate, IMO.

In addition, I don't think an R rating carries the stigma it once did. Most major releases with adult themes have that rating these days. I'm hoping he gets the R. Joss has never been one for gratuitous, well, anything, so I imagine very graphic sexy and/or scary imagery would only contribute to the story he wants to tell.
I would like a R rating so Serenity could really go all-out with the Reavers. But having a PG-13 gate would probably mean more people seeing the movie. Its why all of Marvel's films(except Blade and The Punisher which would be pretty watered-down if they weren't rated R) are PG-13, so all the teenagers can see the flick.
Willowy, my point was that I hoped that the enhanced liberty (which sometimes degenerates into license) that film offers doesn't tempt Joss into gratuitious stuff simply because it's possible.

eddy, I see your point regarding the Reavers, but I'm wondering if they might be even scarier if we never get to see them. It worked on the TV show well enough!
"but I'm wondering if they [Reavers] might be even scarier if we never get to see them. It worked on the TV show well enough!"

Yes, Lizard. Oh boy, yes. I loved the fact that we never saw the Reavers, only their handiwork. No matter how skilled someone is at cgi, an unseen Reaver is the most scary Reaver to me. That way your imagination can build and rebuild this human bogeyman in more and more horrible ways. Once a Reaver has been shown to you full frontal, it's locked into that version plus it's now just another monster, IMO.
I think if the TV show had kept having Reaver episodes, and than never showed them, well I would have become increasingly frustrated.

With the film, not showing the reavers, if the reavers play a large part, would be dissapointing to most everyone in the audience.

The unseen threat angle can only take you so far.
Well actually, they are human, so I'm betting that they'll look like the guy who was making himself into a reaver, lots of piercings etc. It wouldn't just be another monster to me.

And why would they use CGI? I mean human.
Okay, so no cgi. But I'm still a fan of the unseen or the suggested/hinted at. The guy on Bushwacked wasn't as terrifying to me as what I was still imagining a full-fledged Reaver to be.

If Joss shows Reavers full frontal I've little doubt that I'll find some way to love it. I'm just saying what's worked best for me so far. I wasn't frustrated by lack of Reaver viewing in Firefly at all.
Couldn't get past the comparison of BtVS with "Saved By the Bell". I understand this is one fan's appreciation and interpretation, but I think she missed a large % of what Joss was doing with the setting and the humor of Buffy if this is what she really thinks.

In short, this is why I don't read fanfic. I can't deal with the way other people wilfully (it seems to me) misread what's going on. I know I know, this is my failing. But I thought the ideas expressed were, excuse me, rubbish. If she believes that nazi costumes, corsets, and full-on sex would have added *one iota* to the show, she is as shallow as she appears to concede she is. And BtVS not being *elegant*? Piffle.

Having now read the comments above, I think Phleb more than adequately dissected much of the wrongheadedness of the piece.

And I still love watching S1.

[ edited by SoddingNancyTribe on 2004-09-18 21:33 ]
Funny that Underworld was mentioned, I liked it but couldn't help thinking how much better it could have been, and how fantastic it could have been if Joss had written and directed it.

The whole relationship with Selene and the guy was all 'dark and moody mystery' with no grounding at all in reality, no humour, no spark. I could not figure out at all whay she saw in him, they hardly spoke fifty words through the whole movie.

It's what makes BtVS so great, the fact that we know these people, they're not just wire work two dimensionial stereotypes.
"It does make you wonder what Joss could produce if he wasn't limited by the restraints imposed by terrestrial television networks."

Exactly what i've been saying for months now Simon.

Joss has managed to create three tv series so far that have each tested the limits and expectations of the audience and this has been whilst he was restricted to the rules of network television. The possibilities of what he could achieve at HBO or a similar channel are quite frankly endless.

My dream continuation of the 'verse, as i may have said here before, would have to be a team show featuring Spike, Faith, Andrew, Dana and Illyria in the lead roles. It would be called something along the lines of "The Council" and have the five anti-heroes working for Giles' newly reformed Watcher's Council as a special mobile unit assigned to do all the dirtier jobs that need to be dealt with.

Doing something like this on HBO would be the best possible idea because it could be told in 12 episode arcs (the normal season length for that channel) with each season dealing with a specific threat rather than having several standalone episodes as we have been used to. With characters like Spike and Faith it would also be nice that we could have a little realistic foul language as well.

Basically this would be the slayerverse for those of us who have grown up with this story and now in our mid twenties (in my case at least) are ready to see these characters in a more grown up setting.

Joss, if you read this and want to develop this idea further feel free, it's yours, no charge. ;)
I think one of the things that BtVS could've done better (to make it more gritty, more real) would've been to stop casting people who looked like they should be doing shampoo ads. Everyone was far too pretty, far too neat. Far too Gap-ish. 'My So-Called Life' wasn't like that and it was a far greater show because of it. Rayanne looked exactly like that girl you secretly wanted to be, Brian looked exactly like that boy who you did that science project with that time, Rickie looked exactly like that boy you saw getting shoved around in the halls everyday... Buffy never had that element of reality. The characters always looked made-up and costumed. A-l-w-a-y-s.

I don't agree with a lot of that "dark Buffy" scenario. I think, with the writers involved, it would've probably been awful. Maybe with a different team of writers it could've worked. But not with the ME team they had.

I think Joss Whedon occasionally wants to be Stanley Kubrick or David Lynch.. but he can never quite get over his Frank Capra/ Mel Brooks qualities.
Except for the blokes constant references to 'sexuality' i think he had some really good ideas. I always felt the show wasnt dark enough a times.
I think Buffy (and Angel, of course) was very dark, specially in S6 and S7. I`m happy for the way the show go. No need for more dark.
You know, I think Joss did an okay job with his own version.

It always kind of bothers me when someone overly criticizes, and I feel this person over did it, Joss's work because it's obvious that what he did was extremely successful and loved by millions of people. Some of this person's ideas were good but anyone can take someone elses work and add things here and there and make it a bit better. I think there was much darkness in both BtVS and AtS. I will never, ever forget Angelus snapping Jenny's neck, Faith torturing Wesley, Xander's eye being destroyed by Caleb, Giles murdering Ben and I could go on and on. Joss's vision was perfect and he showcased it wonderfully. I always watched enthralled, begging for more. Yes, I feel Firefly had the potential to be even better. Joss had mastered his craft by the time he created Firefly and we were able to appreciate him even more for his creative genius. I wouldn't change a thing (well, with the exception of Fox canceling Firefly before it even began!!). Of course things could've even been better if Joss had had a free hand but I think he was able to convey to the fans what he wanted. Yes, Willow and Tara weren't allowed to kiss because of network restraints but most fans agree that their love story was one of the best of the verse. Joss created that for us without us having to see sex and tongue thrusting. We got it because he told the story beautifully.
You know, it hadn't even occurred to me before reading this thread that "Serenity" might be anything other than PG-13. That's the most money-making rating and Joss operates so well within it for tv, it just seems logical it will carry over to the BDM. I agree with the folks that don't want the Reavers too exposed, ie too de-mystified. Show too much, scare too little.
It's shame that Buffy wasn't on HBO or some 'racier' network. Maybe everyone could have seen the really good parts of Smashed and Dead Things that were just too much for UPN. ;)
eddy:"It annoyed me how the person wants to turn BtVS into a marilyn manson music video."

That sums up perfectly what I felt with a lot of her descriptions. The show would've been better if the vampires dressed kinkier and had hitler jugend child minions? Spike would've been cooler with high shiny boots and a collar? O-okay. I'm all for darkness, but that is just superficial nonsense. Hey I could give Joss a wish list for wardrobe, but really, not what the shows were about I think.

Also the main gist I got from her piece was that she wanted more darkness, more kink and less humor. Thing is, the unique combo with the humor is what made the show attractive to me in the first place. Joss has always said he hates 'camp' or when they say Buffy was 'campy' and I think he's right. The humor is too dry witted and offhand, and delivers just the right amount of occasional tongue-in-cheeckness that he prevents it from really becoming cheesy or campy. It also grounded things, and kept them regonizable in an every-day way. Kept it from becoming *about* the dark things and the scary stuff which was all just mostly metaphor to begin with. With her ideas it would seem to become about the dark and weird stuff itself.

I also think Joss already did a fine job of making the characters ambivalent and giving everyone their faults and darker sides. To make every character as dubious as she suggested would just have resulted in me not being able to like or identify with any of them.

Phlebotin "I like Spike, so please don't attack me, all Spike lovers. As lovable in some respects as Spike is, there is no doubt that the writers intended him to attempt to rape Buffy"

I agree with most of what you say about those situations, but I gotta point out again that while everyone always remembers Angel was soulless during his monstrous deeds, no one mentions that Spike was soulless too during the AR. Any way you cut it, to me, the relationship with Angel was actually more dangerous.

As for the girl's remarks about Firefly, that comparison is not fair for several reasons:
1.When Joss made Firefly, he was a seasoned veteran of a TV creator. When he made Buffy S1, he was starting out.

2. 7 years of Buffy, 15 eps of FF. Can't really compare that either. Let's see 7 seasons of Firefly, what happened to the characters or the Reavers and see if it still compares the same way.

3. Kinda different styles of shows. Different genre, different premise, etc.

blwessels"You know, I think Joss did an okay job with his own version."

It always kind of bothers me when someone overly criticizes, and I feel this person over did it, Joss's work because it's obvious that what he did was extremely successful and loved by millions of people


I agree. It started out interesting (the article I mean) but it quickly degenerated into a fan saying how SHE woud've done it according to her personal tastes. (Which apparently is Marylin Manson videos, as eddy said) And then the line that Joss did an okay job too?? Ugh. Full of yourself much?

And I think there was plenty of darkness too already, as blwessels lists. Also they were very good at suggesting dark things without explicitly showing them which can be more powerful anyway. (Also, Brian Thompson scared her more in the X-Files? O-okay...)

Which brings me to

zz9"Funny that Underworld was mentioned, I liked it but couldn't help thinking how much better it could have been, and how fantastic it could have been if Joss had written and directed it."

Yeah I was thinking that too. Underworld look pretty, but it was vapid. I guess this girl enjoyed the goth S&M outfits. And hey, far be it from me to tell Kate Hudson not to wear tight vinyl, (And hey, Buffy and Faith look fine in it too) but to hold up Underworld as an example of what Buffy could have been? Nothing much happened in Underworld! The vamps mostly sat around in their outfits in their mansions looking cool and meaningless. Joss went way further in his shows in many ways than this movie.

As for the Reavers, yes they were scary, not being seen, but you can't keep that up forever, and whatever they look like it will be less scary than the fear they showed so far. Still, there are ways around it maybe. Partially show them, leave still till to suggestion and keep it 'fear of the dark'. I wonder what Joss did with them for the movie.
Re: Bad Kitty's comment about casting shampoo models, I don't remember which season it's on, but on one of the commentary tracks Joss actually comments on that, saying that Brendon was far more attractive than his character should have been and he goes on to comment on the casting process.
I think that was during the commentary for Welcome to the Hellmouth Heliograph, over the scene where Buffy and Xander first meet.
Re: Shampoo models. On "My So-Called Life" everyone was pretty darned model-like too: Clare Danes, A. J. Langer and Jared Leto aren't exactly average. But Danes was actually 15, as compared to 20+ for the cast of BtVS when that show started. (Charisma Carpenter was the oldest at 27!)

I think that there's an aside about the typical "over-age" TV show high-schoolers on one of the Buffy S1 commentary tracks.

Sunnydale High, too, was an imaginary version of a California H.S., with all the colorful-overdressing that entails (see, for example, "Clueless.") The network, I expect, was sold on Buffy as 90210 with vampires. High on slang, light on teen angst.

My So-Called Life, in contrast, was supposed to "look" like a real high school, angsty as all get-out.
I absolutely LOVE vampire based films, TV, etc. I found Joss' version of this genre to be the most entertaining in every way.

"Underworld" was boring to me. I missed the humor! It's hard to enjoy the genre because I compare everything to Joss' work. "What would Joss do?" is ever present in my mind.

I absolutely loved the Hammer films of the '70's with Christopher Lee. I used those films to compare others to until Joss came along and took over the genre.

Changing the outfits the way this girl wants to seems silly to me. It's stereotyping. Bad idea. Stereotypical vampires? Bleh.

Angel was 'darker' than Buffy, both were equally amazing. Why do people who supposedly love these shows want to mold them into something else? Where's the love then?
i'm not sure that anyone here counted on me being a regular reader (& recent member) of whedonesque. when simon asked if he could link to my entry, i made my decision with a great deal of trepidation because i knew that i'd be all but flamed for viewpoints aired in a personal journal entry. granted, that journal entry is in a public forum, however, it's a journal entry, not a published piece. i'm also an adult woman (i'm almost 30), with a background in literary criticism, feminist & performance studies. i'm neither a girl, nor someone who glorifies marilyn manson & i though underworld was crap (although beautiful to look at).

that being said, i think one of the central problems is the view of criticism & interpretation. many people who love whedon, who love what he did, still dissect his work & ask "what if." many do not. for myself, a sign of loving someone's work (warts & all) is the willingness to discuss its content, its message, and its meaning indepenent of content and authorial intent once its executed and on the screen, and into the mind of the viewer. each viewer has a different interpretation. canon meaning is limited to what is seen on screen. any opinions based on that are intepretation. and if a viewer can make a case for something off-the-wall, bully for her. "willfil misinterpretation" implies that there is one true interpretation, which there isn't. else whedon fans wouldn't spend hours conversing, writing, thinking about shows that are over.

a single paragraph about wardrobe in a portion of my journal entry that is almost a year old has been taken out of context to suggest that i have no understanding of what i watched when i saw BtVS & AtS. everyone here has a different understanding because what we bring to the table when we watch TV is different. expecting that everyone come away from BtVS & AtS with the same experience must follow from insistence in one true interpretation.

what i wrote was an exploration of ideas, not a list of things that i would do, or that joss should have done. suggestions for TV fantasy are reading between the lines of canon, and sometimes those readings fail for one person or another. positing different conclusions, different directions, different wishes isn't a hallmark of hubris, it's a sign the viewer (reader, etc.) cares about the work enough to ask questions of it, hold expectations. and most of the criticism you read in my journal entry ventures into the realm of wankery, of pushing the fandon envelope, rather than grounded discussion. and without a general knowledge of the writer, readers are left to their interpretations, which more often than not takes the work out of the context in which it was written, which in this case was a personal collection of thoughts, fantasies, and wankery. simon happened to find it & thought it begged some interesting questions; i still think it does, particularly concerning fear.

fear was something i deeply desired from BtVS/AtS. my only personal instance of legitimate fear in BtVS was caleb. not merely fear for the characters, but genuine fear, the kind you take away from the viewing experience, the sort that makes you leave the hall light on when you go to bed. that's the fear i got from twin peaks, from david lynch at large. it's what i wanted from whedon, with his own unique flavor. he has the tools to do it, because he makes us fear for his characters, it just didn't carry that one step farther. other viewers may not want or need that. other viewers might be so put off by david lynch that they can't see whedon's calls & responses to twin peaks, or those observed connections may be ones that i've made, but no interpretation here is more or less valid.

i feel strongly that good literature, & by extent good film & TV, asks more questions than it gives answers. david lynch & chris carter succeeded at that. whedon took that idea further, evidenced here by passionate responses to the questions i was posing for myself. all things considered, whedon did very little that i'm patently dissatisfied with, and most of that dissatisfaction stems from the limitations of network TV standards & practices that whedon was already struggling with. simon linked to me because of the current discussions here concerning what joss could do with the freer realm of cable. i expected it to engender disagreement & criticism, just not of my personal character or my worth as a fan.
automated alice,

I absolutely agree with you about Twin Peaks. I felt the same way as you're describing. I was completely frightened, happily so. The content, filming, all of it, scared me to death, this all while it amused me. It was wonderful. There has been nothing like it since. The Bob/Leland thing sent me reeling for weeks. Amazing.

The episode of Buffy that instilled fear, albeit briefly, was the one where Angelus killed Jenny Calendar and left her body for Giles. Giles' anticipation, the rose petals, the note...very intense stuff when her dead body was found instead. I felt his pain.

The tone of Buffy/Angel is what I find missing in other shows of the genre. Don't get me wrong, I love that fear you're speaking of that TP had. Lynch is Lynch, though. Same as there can be no other Joss.

I wasn't reading your journal as an interpretation, but as how you would make changes. Sorry if what you meant to convey escaped me. (And I didn't mean to call you a 'girl'...lol, it's the clothing thing that made me think you were younger...sorry!)
What phlebotinin said, great post.
We do try to tell our posters to comment on the articles rather than the authors. Giving this thread a quick glance, I don't think the comments are that bad. Some of the posts are borderline, perhaps, but nothing too serious, as far as I can see.
I held forth at length in a post above but I can't resist chiming in again...this is an interesting discussion.

I loved - *loved* - Twin Peaks, and I'm a huge fan of David Lynch's work in general. Joss is clearly a fan of Lynch's (this is mentioned in his commentary for "Restless" and in various interviews I've read). Twin Peaks is dark all right; its flavor of darkness is also creepy-shuddery in ways that differ from the darkness of BtVS and AtS. I'd still argue that BtVS and AtS raise subjects just as dark as those raised in TP but this darkness is often juxtaposed with Joss's inimitable genre-bending humor.

One thing that nobody seems to be mentioning here (please correct me if I'm wrong) is that Twin Peaks was aired on broadcast tv! It was subject to the same kinds of limitations as Joss's work. Lynch, like Whedon, brilliantly worked around these limitations and in my opinion created something more magnificently creepy and thought-provoking than the shove-it-in-your-face literal violence of his R-rated film, "Wild at Heart." I despise censorship but sometimes I have to admit that artists thrive in special ways when forced to cleverly subvert imposed conventions and expectations. I am a fan of Sopranos and Six Feet Under, but I have to say that these cable shows do not impress me more than BtVS and AtS despite the fact that the formers' creators have a freer hand.

automated alice, you are more than entitled to your own opinions and interpretations about Joss's work. We should all agree to disagree gracefully. I'm sorry if you feel attacked, although I agree with Caroline that no-one has crossed the nasty line here.
I disagreed with some of it (particularly the idea of Xander- to me, he represents the every-day 'innocent' who still fights back) I liked other parts. My favorite line was the bit describing Spike, though. With broken glass, indeed.

As a sidenote, EdDantes said:
2. 7 years of Buffy, 15 eps of FF. Can't really compare that either. Let's see 7 seasons of Firefly, what happened to the characters or the Reavers and see if it still compares the same way.

What I have been saying for months, and my friends have agreed after they've watched Firefly, and one of the reasons I still bear a grudge against Fox...
I may be the sole voice of dissent here, but frankly, the vision presented in the linked entry rather excites me. Don't get me wrong, I love Buffy & Angel. I love them as they are now.

But I would also love to see some alternate universe version where the show is dark as all get-out. Where the horrors of high school really are scarier than anything in the world. I'd love to see the version that leaves me breathless and terrified every week. Chilled to the bone with the creepy "otherness" of vampires and with a mordant sexuality infusing everything (not to say Buffy is not a sexual show - it's one of the few on television that acknowledges that almost everybody is attracted to everybody else they willingly spend time with on some level).

While I disagree about making Giles darker (I think ASH's performance turns what could have been an entirely foppish role into something dark... because it's always just lurking under everything), but I do think that Xander could have been more ambiguous. Much as I absolutely adore the character, there were currents of true teenage screw-up that surfaced a bit too infrequently for me.

Again, love Angel and Buffy as they are right now. But I'd be lying if I said I wouldn't love seeing a much darker version.
This whole discussion is becoming truly silly. Anybody who doesn't see the inherent darkness and how it informs and suffuses Buffy and Angel is just spoiling for an argument.

Over and out.
Frankly, given the way many people monitor most of the major boards, I would've been surprised if you weren't at least a lurker here Automated Alice, and I never have written anything about any article that I wouldn't be prefectly okay with the authors themselves reading.

I called you girl because you were a female and that's all I knew. It was not a term of derision, merely of gender. To me 'this woman' would have more of an insulting tone to it somehow. Sorry if that came across wrongly, it certainly wasn't intended. Your age and other personal knowledge of you we don't have, but then we can't, can we?

And I (or eddy) couldn't know wether you liked Marilyn Manson or not, but what you described you wished the vampires in Buffy had been like certainly literally fits the bill. Hitler jugend minions, shiny boots and collars? I would still describe that part of your vision as such. Again, no offense intended, but that's what it sounds like to me.

The main thing though is that if you write a big piece like this, and have it be posted, people are going to discuss it, and odds are some people will disagree with you. And since this is a board where we discuss those things, some people will write down that they disagree with you. And we're all great admirers of Joss' work and lines like "it was saved by the bell with vampires", Not sure what else you were expecting. And yes on many boards you would be flamed, but I don't think this is the board where that's been done.

It was an interesting piece and if some of my words came across as too harsh(I don't know if you were reffering to me, I'm just saying) I apologize, but I didn't really say anything that I usually don't say around these parts and it's still just my opinion.
Lizard - not denying the inherent darkness of Buffy and Angel. But they could be much, much darker if one were to carry them along to a certain path. I've spent my life dunked in horror films - your Hammer chillers and AIP Poe cycle stuff on up to Hellraiser and May.

There's always another step down the path. There's always a little further you can push things. And I'm interested in that.
I have to say that, to me, Buffy and Angel were just the right amount of darkness. It was dark without making it completely unrealistic. You could still see that 'world' being possible, especially in Buffy. You could imagine more realistically that maybe Sunnydale existed a few towns over. If you make something *so* dark, you start to take it further and further from reality and possibility. I think one of the attractions of Buffy was that it was sort of mundane, everyday people tossed into extraordinary situations, and into an underworld they didn't know existed. But an underworld that didn't take over the outerworld.

Angel was a bit darker in tone. But still plausible, nonetheless. It was more the 'reality' of the underworld of Buffy. While the Buffy folks lived in the outerworld, they worked the underworld. Angel and Co was more submersed in the underworld. As the show went on, they had less and less contact with the 'outerworld'. Eventually, they were working the underworld completely from the inside. And yet, this all still remained realistic, given that we know the underworld exists in that 'verse.

Buffy was more about fighting the evil from the outside. Using the light to fight the dark. Angel was more about knowing the dark intimately and fighting it at close range and eventually all the way inside. Fighting the dark with your own knowledge of the dark. But still fighting it with a basis in the good, the light. Angel was about getting dirty and dark to protect the outerworld.

Hmm, I'd never really thought about the contrast like that. That's why I love these shows. Always new angles to think about. And I guess it's why I loved Angel and Buffy both, but in such different ways. I think BtVS was more about finding your goodness(even if you dip into the badness) and using it as a weapon. Angel was about finding your darkness and using *it* as a weapon for good.
It always bugs me when people claim that season 6 of Buffy was so great because it was "dark"...as if the show had never been dark before...
"It always bugs me when people claim that season 6 of Buffy was so great because it was "dark"...as if the show had never been dark before..."

I don't understand people either liking or disliking S6 just for it's supposed darkness. To me S2 was the darkest season of the entire show. There was always darkness in the show. In S6 they explored the dark sides of the sweeter characters, sure, but....

I'll grant them one thing, S6 was SHOT a lot darker. Look at the scenes that take place in S5 in say, Spike's crypt. Then look at similar scenes in S6. They're just a lot darker, literally. As in less light visually. I think that's probably an subconscious factor for people.
I think that would be it actually EdDantes. Season 6 was intended to be seen as dark, whereas the previous years were all dark by default.

The darkness i saw in season 6 came from the characters attitudes towards themselves and each other rather than anything that they were facing. To me it wasn't so much a dark season as a depressing season which may well be why i, and so many others, didn't enjoy it the first time around.

Now being able to watch it as a complete season it is far more enjoyable (my third favourite in fact) but originally you were often left feeling more than a little down after watching an episode of season 6.
I'm not sure how much would change if Joss had taken Buffy or Angel to HBO or Showtime. Joss seems to be a fan of older ways of doing things. That to be too explicit would ruin the moments that he creates. It seems to me that things are scarier when I imagine them in my own head rather than being shown them explicitly. I would turn to Samuel Taylor Coleridge's "Christabel" as an example. It has been a while since I've read that poem but I remember distinctily that Coleridge never described what happened to Christabel because he thought that what the reader could think of was far more scarier than what he could think of. If you want something a little more recent than Coleridge, what about Hitchcock? I find Hitchcock to be far more scarier than almost anything I've seen. I won't watch Psycho and I never will watch Psycho. The shower scene (which I've seen in numerous clips) is far too scary for me. I don't get in the shower without thinking about that scene. I'm 26 years old. I only say that because I probably shouldn't be afraid to get in the shower at 26 and I never not get in the shower but I always have some trepidation on my part and probably always will.

I am not sure if being more explicit would mean better tv. Seeing a bloody face with a blood drenched shirt does not scare me or make me think dark just violent. I like violence, don't get me wrong, but in its place. The end scenes in Kill Bill are very violent and bloody and I loved it! But you know what's darker and scarier - when michael madsen buries uma thurman alive in Kill Bill 2. Actually, I would love to have seen Buffy's return from the grave like that. I was just using the above to illustrate the difference between violence/bloody and scary/darkness and when used properly that both are effective but which scene affected you more?. This might also be a Hitchcock quote, "The implication of violence is much worse than actual violence". I think this is why the reavers (rievers) are so scary in Firefly. We never see the reavers, only some not too explicit scenes of their handiwork. And the fear the cause in others especially those who do not show that much fear - Jayne, Mal, Zoe.

While I might enjoy some of the descriptons and machinations from automated alice I'm not sure if I would like it in buffy/angel and I'm not entirely sure that having Buffy and Angel on a pay station would necessarily mean better shows.

I just thought of another example - Howard Stern. I think that Howard Stern's funniest moments were when he was trying to be censured by WNBC rather than Howard Stern today. It seemed to me that he was much more creative in his attempts to circumvent the censures than he is now. I am not a die hard Howard Stern fan, though, so I could be wrong. I'm basically judging from his movie and what I have listened of him (which is not a small amount).

I seem to have run out of gas. I just had a call from a client and now I can't seem to remember where I was going with this. I apologize if my thoughts seem disjointed or incomprehensible and any typos. This might be my second time posting on this site but I absolutely love this site and read it everyday.
I can see what you are saying jaw, Deadwood aired in the UK last night and there seemed to be a lot of swearing just for the sake of it.
What i would hope for would be that Joss would find a nice middle ground.

Rather than milk the freedom HBO gave him to the fullest extent and have his characters swearing and his female lead topless for the sake of it he would simply create a slayer show exactly the way Buffy and Angel developed except that he would be able to add the adult themes as they became neccessary to the storyline.

In the defense of Deadwood i would say that the swearing was a very accurate representation of the time and place the show deals with. It definately seemed masively over the top, especially when you are used to the usual Sky One family viewing, but it was realistic considering the subject matter so i was okay with it.

I won't be taping it for my nephew to watch the way i did Angel but still enjoyable adult entertainment.

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