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Whedonesque - a community weblog about Joss Whedon
"You have the emotional maturity of a blueberry scone."
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June 05 2003

The unaired Buffy pilot. "Wherein a brunette Buffy goes to Berryman High, meets a very different Willow, and finds Giles in a huge 2 story library...and the audience goes "huh"?".

There's also a very funny recap of the pilot here.

Anyone here seen the pilot? I've still yet to get a chance to download it.

Yeah, I've seen it. It's worth the watch. This article describes it pretty well though, so there are not likely to be many suprises in it left for you.
yup i've seen it and i agree that even tho' it's not perfect, the potential was there - it still drew me in. if this was the pilot i had seen on tv 7 years ago i would have still kept coming back for more.

the most stand-out flaw in the unaired pilot is the casting of willow. it has nothing to do with the fact that the actress isn't particularly pretty (this has been a popular, albeit shallow and misguided, criticism by many others) , she just didn't spark in the role. i personally don't find alyson hannigan particularly attractive - her looks aren't what make willow so charming, endearing, and real, it's the depth of performance.

[ edited by t r a c y on 2003-06-05 11:20 ]
I've seen it. It drags a bit, but I think that's because the music is just... some music they threw in just to have some music.

I LOVE the huge library.
I've tried to watch it, but for some reason (and let's NOT start the Mac vs.Wintel debate) I can't seem to get the .asf format it comes in to play on my Mac. With any player, Quicktime or Windows Media. Anybody else have that issue? Suggestions?
I saw it a few years ago thanks to a friend who had a first-generation copy on videotape. Great stuff. And I have to agree with Prolific - the huge library rocks.

MPlayer for Mac OS X will play almost anything.

Although I'm surprised that Windows Media Player for Mac OS X doesn't work for you.
I found a DivX version of it on Limewire once. Much better quality than the WMP one.
The thing that cracks me up about it is the vamp-dusting.... they hadn't spent the money to get the effect right for the pilot, so Buffy pauses for an extra-long time after each staking and the vamps sort of fade away.
It pops on eBay every now and then, and I found a copy at Midtown Comics in NYC. Buffistas will find it an intriguing historical document, and often very funny in an entirely unintentional way. The writing is actually quite good. The real problem is that the pacing is dreadful. There are long pauses in the dialogue, even between taunts and would-be snappy comebacks. The fight scenes are especially sloooow. When we watched the other night at our post-finale wake, someone called it the high school drama club production of Buffy. That pretty much sums it up.
Yes I have seen the pilot and the thing is you really need to take into account why the quality is at the level that it is. It's just a pilot. Had a network gone with it, post production would have cleaned up any of the messes that you see. In fact in a way they did. Actually they went back and reshot it. Much of the pilot is an early draft of what eventually becomes the first two episodes: Welcome to the Hellmouth & Harvest. The pilot was a kinda test. There's a lot of pilots out there which never see the light of day. It's rare that the pilot of a tv series ends up becoming the first episode to air.

Whedon and the people who were with him from the beginning were working on a low budget for the pilot just to show the networks what they had in mind in bringing Buffy to the tv screen. As pilots go, for a tv series that was genre-specific, I think Buffy's was way up there on quality and showmanship. You can see where money affects quality though, especially in the area of special effects. Also notice the difference in the scenes surrounding where Xander discovers the stake in Buffy's handbag. In the pilot, that and a lot of other expository information is presented in one take, outside. In WttH, the stake scene is separate from other parts of that take in the pilot, and shown inside in the hall. It works a lot better.

So the pilot that's circulating around with Riff Regan in it was like a dress rehearsal, and shouldn't be criticized for its limited budget or hasty special effects. It was just a dry run through to showcase the potential of the series. It gave a good idea what Whedon had in mind, and was enough to give any executive the decision to greenlight the series.

Personally I would have liked to see Riff Regan playing Willow. It's probably best for the series that Hannigan ended up with the role, but Regan didn't have enough time in the pilot to really show any chops. Regan's also made appearances in tv series like Blossom, Roseanne, and Doctor Quinn Medicine Woman. It would have been nice to see more well-shaped women represented in the Buffy tv series. Most of the regular women in Buffy are painfully anorexic looking, except for Tara. Amber Benson is hands down the most beautiful woman ever on the cast, partly because she's not all bony and gaunt.

Originally Charisma Carpenter tried out for Buffy and Sarah Gellar tried out for Cordy. Imagine how the series would have turned out had their roles been reversed, with Gellar playing Cordy and eventually going over to the Angel tv series and Carpenter playing Buffy. Both ladies could have pulled off either role with equal professionalism, but that slight change in casting might have subtly affected how the writers and producers approached the storytelling. And would Charisma have ended up getting the job of Daphne in the Scooby movies? I shudder at the thought.
It's really annoying when people call it "the unaired pilot." It's just a production pilot, of course it's unaired, it was never meant to be aired. It was just used to try to get networks to pick up the show.
Thanks for the tip Vamp_Insurance, MPlayer woiked like a charm. It was certainly interesting to watch.
"Wherein a brunette Buffy goes to Berryman High, meets a very different Willow, and finds Giles in a huge 2 story library...and the audience goes "huh"?".

I just thought of a better line (borrowing from Spike):

"Wherein a brunette Buffy goes to Berryman High, meets a very different Willow, and Giles in a huge 2 story library... and wackiness ensues."
I got this "Unaired" PIlot on tape, it's fun to watch it and see how far the show has gone.
I agree with the "Unaired" note, it's different, from say Birds of Prey Unaired PIlot, which was unaired because they had to change the actress who was playing the villain, but it was pretty much the same that they end up showing when they started to broadcast the show.
I have the pilot. If anyone wants to see it just mail me and I can msn it to you.

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