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March 19 2003

(SPOILER) BtVS 7x21 'End of Days' Written by Jane Espenson and Doug Petrie; not, as previously told, Marti Noxon.

Marti Noxon will apparently be writing and directing 7x20 instead. Also-- I've only seen a handful of Gilmore Girls episodes, but I liked them a lot, and I think Jane is a great fit.
Spoiler Slayer is reporting that episode 21, tentatively titled "End Of Days" will be written by Espenson & Petrie. It had reported early in the season that Marti Noxon would pen that episode, but she's moved on to a different project: a pilot episode for a nonBuffy related series, as was reported in a previous Whedonesque thread. I take from this that Noxon was assumed early on to be the one to pen that episode, but some unknown activity behind the scenes has changed that. Joss Whedon is slated to be the head writer for episode 22, tentatively titled "Chosen." It's unknown according to Spoiler Slayer who's doing episode 20. I don't suspect Noxon will be heading any episode for the rest of this season. I'm betting she's unofficially left the series a little early.

It's also important to keep in mind that although one or two names are usually put on the front page of any given Buffy script, each script goes through a complex process where the editing process sometimes involves many pairs of eyes and hands. The rough outline is mostly Whedon's. He tells the writers where the show's going and asks them to fill in the details that'll get him there. For any given episode, the first drafts are written by the people whose names are on the front page, but pieces may get fleshed out by others and then approved by the named writers. I'm assuming on either an official or unofficial level, no script makes it to production status without getting the final nod by Whedon, and rewrites are probably going on all the way up to the point of shooting, probably often giving the actors a couple days or less to memorize their sides.

It's very much a group effort, although it's obvious to many where one person's influence can be seen over others. It's something I personally haven't mastered, but I'm learning. All the shows have a similar feel, but some episodes are noticeably darker than others, while some hit the laughometer better than others do.

I think dialogue exchanges tend to be funnier and more on target when Espenson's name is connected to a given episode, but that could just be my opinion.

"It's smellementary. Also, I'm sure there's tons of stuff like this. You know, procedures we can use that don't involve magic spells. Just good solid detective work. And we can develop a database of tooth impressions and demon skin samples and I could wear high heels more often."

Some of Dawn's best dialogue yet was in "Same Time Same Place" which was an Espenson episode, and the scene between Anya & Willow during the locator spell was absolutely priceless.

"It did get a little sexy, didn't it?"

Douglas Petrie isn't quite as good with the funny, but captures darkness of the soul and angst very well. Who will ever forget the scene where Spike confided in Buffy that he got his soul back, in "Beneath You"?

"Why does a man do what he mustn't? For her. To be hers! To be the kind of man who would nev— ...To be a kind of man.."

*shiver* The earlier draft version of that scene didn't have that dialogue though. I think someone else tweaks his dialogue before it hits the screen. Maybe sometimes it's Espenson and sometimes it's someone else. However, Petrie is deliciously descriptive at capturing moments. He paints scenes and sets up action very well. It's like Petrie's better at aiming a scene in the right direction than Espenson is, but Espenson is better at the delivery. She hits the target better.

So if Petrie & Espenson are joining forces for the next to last episode, here's hoping they draw on each other's strengths and hammer out the best episode ever. If Espenson lets Petrie aim, and then Petrie lets Espenson shoot, that's precisely what we'll get: a sendup to the Finale not to be missed.
FYI, Noxon stated in an interview last summer that she would be writing Episode 21 — it wasn't just an assumption. Obviously circumstances have changed. Petrie and Espenson are my two favorite writers (after Joss, natch) so I couldn't be happier.

Anybody here able to see Jane at Ball State this weekend? (Good ol' Muncie Indiana.) I hope a transcript appears somewhere.
Actually, Petrie said that Joss was responsible for writing that entire last scene in "Beneath You."

And TvTome said Marti is doing 7x20, but tomorrow they may say Sisqo is writing it...I personally can't see how anyone as invested in the show as Marti is going to back out a few month before it's over anyway.

Jane Espenson thinks the writer has great influence over their script:

"The first draft turns a dozen-page outline into approximately 52 pages of action and dialogue. People outside the writing process are sometimes disappointed to learn that we are following a detailed outline. They feel that there can be little creative work left to do in the actual writing, but this is not the case. This is, in fact, the most exciting and freeing part of the process… every word spoken, every punch thrown, is spelled out by the writer at this stage. For me, this, more than during filming, is when the episode actually becomes *real*."

And she says that Joss and Marti do look over every script last:

"After the first draft is turned in, the writer gets another set of notes. These may be light or extensive, but on a Joss Whedon show, these rarely result in a rethinking of the episode. The broken story remains the same, although the words expressing it may change. Even an extensive note session rarely lasts more than an hour, and usually is much shorter than that. The writer takes these notes and in the next few days, produces a second draft. Buffy scripts usually go to a third draft and sometimes a fourth, but by the end of the process the changes become very small indeed – “change this word” or “cut this joke.”

At the end of the process, Joss or Marti or Tim usually take the script and make a quick rewriting pass of their own. This produces the SHOOTING DRAFT."

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