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This article is about the TV series. For other uses, see Buffy.
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Buffy the Vampire Slayer logo

Buffy the Vampire Slayer is an American television series created by writer and director Joss Whedon, which aired from 1997–2003. It featured the exploits of the Slayer, Buffy Summers and her group of friends, the Scooby Gang, as they protected Sunnydale from vampires, demons, and the forces of darkness.

The show is currently being replayed on the Chiller channel, ABC Family, Logo, T+E, and Pivot.

Premise

Format

Buffy the Vampire Slayer is in serialized format, with each episode involving a self-contained story while contributing to a larger storyline, broken down into season-long narratives marked by the rise and defeat of a powerful antagonist, commonly referred to as the “Big Bad”. While the show is mainly a drama with frequent comic relief, most episodes are blend different genres, including horror, martial arts, romance, melodrama, farce, science fiction, comedy, and even, in one episode,[1] musical comedy.

The series’ narrative revolves around Buffy and her friends, the “Scooby Gang”, who struggle to balance the fight against supernatural evils with their complex social lives in the fictional city of Sunnydale. The show mixes complex, season-long storylines with a villain-of-the-week format; a typical episode contains one or more villains, or supernatural phenomena, that are thwarted or defeated by the end of the episode. Though elements and relationships are explored and ongoing subplots are included, the show focuses primarily on Buffy and her role as an archetypal heroine of the Slayer.

As the title suggests, the most prominent monsters in the Buffy bestiary are vampires, which are based on traditional myths, lore, and literary conventions. Although, as the series continues, Buffy and her companions face an increasing variety of demons and supernatural creatures, as well as unscrupulous humans. They frequently save the world from annihilation by a combination of physical combat, magic, and detective-style investigation, and are guided by an extensive collection of ancient and mystical reference books.

Storyline

Production

Origin

Writer Joss Whedon says that “Rhonda the Immortal Waitress” was really the first incarnation of the Buffy concept, “the idea of some woman who seems to be completely insignificant who turns out to be extraordinary.”[2] This early, unproduced idea evolved into Buffy, which Whedon developed to invert the Hollywood formula of “the little blonde girl who goes into a dark alley and gets killed in every horror movie.” Whedon wanted “to subvert that idea and create someone who was a hero.” He explained, “The very first mission statement of the show was the joy of female power: having it, using it, sharing it.”[3]

The idea was first visited through Whedon’s script for the 1992 movie Buffy the Vampire Slayer. The director, Fran Rubel Kuzui, saw it as a “pop culture comedy about what people think about vampires.” Whedon disagreed: “I had written this scary film about an empowered woman, and they turned it into a broad comedy. It was crushing.”[4] The script was praised within the industry, but the movie was not.[5]

Several years later, Gail Berman (later a Fox executive, but at that time President and CEO of the production company Sandollar Television, who owned the TV rights to the movie) approached Whedon to develop his Buffy concept into a television series.[4] Whedon explained that “They said, ‘Do you want to do a show?’ And I thought, ‘High school as a horror movie.’ And so the metaphor became the central concept behind Buffy, and that’s how I sold it.”[6] The supernatural elements in the series stood as metaphors for personal anxieties associated with adolescence and young adulthood.

Early in its development, the series was going to be simply titled Slayer.[7] Whedon went on to write and partly fund a 25-minute non-broadcast pilot, that was shown to networks and eventually sold to the WB Network. The latter promoted the premiere with a series of History of the Slayer clips, and the first episode, "Welcome to the Hellmouth", aired on March 10, 1997.

Cast

Main Cast

Recurring Cast

Crew

Executive Producers

Joss Whedon was credited as executive producer throughout the run of the series, and for the first five seasons (1997–2001) he was also the showrunner, supervising the writing and all aspects of production. Marti Noxon took on the role for seasons six and seven (2001–2003), but Whedon continued to be involved with writing and directing Buffy the Vampire Slayer alongside projects such as Angel, Fray, and Firefly. Fran Rubel Kuzui and her husband, Kaz Kuzui, were credited as executive producers but were not involved in the show. Their credit, rights, and royalties over the franchise relate to their funding, producing, and directing of the original movie version of Buffy.[4]

Writing

Script-writing was done by Mutant Enemy, a production company created by Whedon in 1997. The writers with the most writing credits are Joss Whedon, Steven S. DeKnight, Jane Espenson, David Fury, Drew Goddard, Drew Greenberg, David Greenwalt, Rebecca Rand Kirshner, Marti Noxon, and Doug Petrie. Other authors with writing credits include Dean Batali, Carl Ellsworth, Tracey Forbes, Ashley Gable, Howard Gordon, Diego Gutierrez, Elin Hampton, Rob Des Hotel, Matt Kiene, Ty King, Thomas A. Swyden, Joe Reinkemeyer, Dana Reston, and Dan Vebber.

Jane Espenson has explained how scripts came together. First, the writers talked about the emotional issues facing Buffy Summers and how she would confront them through her battle against evil supernatural forces. Then the episode’s story was “broken” into acts and scenes, and act breaks designed as key moments to intrigue viewers so that they would stay with the episode following the commercial break. The writers collectively filled in scenes surrounding these act breaks for a more fleshed-out story. A whiteboard marked their progress by mapping brief descriptions of each scene. Once “breaking” was done, the credited author wrote an outline for the episode, which was checked by Whedon or Noxon. The writer then wrote a full script, which went through a series of drafts, and finally a quick rewrite from the show runner. The final article was used as the shooting script.[8]

Broadcast

Buffy the Vampire Slayer first aired on March 10, 1997 as a mid season replacement for the show Savannah on the WB network, and played a key role in the growth of the Warner Bros. television network in its early years.[9] After five seasons, it transferred to the United Paramount Network (UPN) for its final two seasons.

In 2001, the show went into syndication in the United States on local stations and on cable channel FX; the local airings ended in 2005, and the FX airings lasted until 2008 but returned to the network in 2013. Beginning in January 2010, it began to air in syndication in the United States on Logo. Reruns also briefly aired on MTV. On November 7, 2010, it began airing on Chiller with a 24-hour marathon; the series airs weekdays. Chiller also aired a 14-hour Thanksgiving Day marathon on November 25, 2010. In 2011, it began airing on Oxygen and TeenNick. On June 22, 2015, it began airing on ABC Family.

In August 2014, Pivot announced that, for the first time, episodes of Buffy would be broadcast in high-definition and in a widescreen 16:9 format authorized by the studio, but not by any of the series’ principals.[10] The transfer was poorly received by some fans, owing to a number of technical and format changes that were viewed as detrimental to the show’s presentation.[11] Series creator Joss Whedon and other members of the original team also expressed their displeasure.[12]

Title Sequence

Main article: Buffy the Vampire Slayer title sequence

Each episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer features a title sequence, presenting each show’s cast members, consisting of clips from the show itself. The “Buffy the Vampire Slayer Theme” was played by pop punk band Nerf Herder.

Music

Buffy the Vampire Slayer features a mix of original, indie, rock and pop music. The composers spent around seven days scoring between fourteen and thirty minutes of music for each episode. Christophe Beck revealed that the Buffy composers used computers and synthesizers and were limited to recording one or two “real” samples. Despite this, their goal was to produce “dramatic” orchestration that would stand up to film scores.[13]

Alongside the score, most episodes featured indie rock music, usually at the characters’ venue of choice, The Bronze. Buffy music supervisor John King explained that "we like to use unsigned bands” that “you would believe would play in this place.”[13] For example, the fictional group Dingoes Ate My Baby were portrayed on screen by front group Four Star Mary. Pop songs by famous artists were rarely featured prominently, but several episodes spotlighted the sounds of more famous artists such as Sarah McLachlan,[14][15] The Brian Jonestown Massacre, Blink-182,[16] Third Eye Blind,[17] Aimee Mann[18] (who also had a line of dialogue), The Dandy Warhols,[58] Cibo Matto,[19] Coldplay, Lisa Loeb, K’s Choice and Michelle Branch.[20][20]

The popularity of music used in Buffy has led to the release of four soundtrack albums: Buffy the Vampire Slayer: The Album, Radio Sunnydale, the "Once More, with Feeling" Soundtrack, and Buffy the Vampire Slayer: The Score.

Trivia

  • According to Rotten Tomatoes, the series has scored an approval of 80% of critics and 90% of audience.[21]
  • During the course of the series, Tara and Anya were the only main characters that died (Seeing Red and Chosen) since Angel and Spike were both sent to a hell dimension (Becoming, Part Two) and The Amulet (which was found latter by Lindsey McDonald) trapped Spike’s essence after closing the Hellmouth (Chosen).
  • The “Grrr Arrrg” monster at the end of each episode (mascot for Mutant Enemy Productions) is something that a lot of people watch through the credits to see. But if you watch at the end of "Becoming, Part Two", he walks past and says "Boo hoo, I need a hug.” At the end of "Once More With Feeling", he sings his "Grrr arrrg.” In the Episode "Bargaining, Part One", Tara gives Giles a small monster as a goodbye present, "Something to remind you of Sunnydale," and then goes "Grrr arrrg.” At the end of "Amends", the monster is wearing a Santa hat. At the end of "Graduation Day, Part Two", the monster is wearing a mortar board.
  • Buffy and Willow were the only characters who appeared in every episode. Because it would have been difficult to incorporate a storyline for him, Xander is missing only from "Conversations with Dead People".
  • A lot of the Scooby Gang’s dialogue was based on how Joss Whedon really talks. As a result, this irreverent style of speech is often called "Buffy Speak".
  • There have been several lines throughout the series have referred to Tuesday ("There’s a demon trying to destroy the world and it’s just another Tuesday night in Sunnydale" in "Revelations" and "Dawn’s in trouble. Must be Tuesday" in "Once More with Feeling"). These are references to the fact that, in the USA, Buffy was aired on a Tuesday.
  • In total, eighteen actors and actresses played the same character in both Buffy and Angel: Sarah Michelle Gellar (Buffy Summers), David Boreanaz (Angel), Alyson Hannigan (Willow Rosenberg), Charisma Carpenter (Cordelia Chase), Seth Green (Oz), James Marsters (Spike), Alexis Denisof (Wesley Wyndam-Pryce), Julie Benz (Darla), Juliet Landau (Drusilla), Mark Metcalf (The Master), Eliza Dushku (Faith Lehane), Tom Lenk (Andrew Wells), Mercedes McNab (Harmony Kendall), Alastair Duncan (Collins), Jeff Ricketts (Weatherby), Kevin Owers (Smith), Julia Lee (Anne Steele), and Zitto Kazann (Kalderash Elder).
  • All series regulars, except for the five original cast members (Gellar, Brendon, Hannigan, Carpenter, and Stewart-Head), have been guest stars before being promoted to the main cast.
  • Only five episodes of the show do not feature any Vampires. They are "Witch", "The Pack", "I Robot, You Jane", "The Puppet Show", and "Fear, Itself". All but "Fear, Itself" are in Season One, which was when the show was still working with a monster of the week structure.
  • Seth Green and Chi Muoi Lo are the only actors to appear in both the original film and the television series. While Green’s scenes were not included in the film, his image was nevertheless featured on the original video cover.
  • When discussing the series to Empire on the show’s 20th anniversary, Joss Whedon stated that he wants Buffy "to be remembered as a consistently intelligent, funny, emotionally-involving show that subtly changed the entire world… or a small portion of pop culture. You know, enlightenment is the slowest process this side of evolution. It’s very hard to have come up in the 1970s, to be raised by a feminist and then through the Reagan era and then, God help us, two Bush eras. Feminism, which hopefully will become an obsolete term by the time I’m dead, is a really important thing. Changing the way people think about women and the way they think about themselves is what I want to do with my life. There are other stories I want to tell, but that’s the most important thing to me. If Buffy made the slightest notch in any of pop culture in that direction, well that’s pretty damn good."[22]

See Also

References

  1. "Once More, with Feeling"
  2. "Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Television with a Bite." Biography. A&E Network, via Buffy the Vampire Slayer (Season 6) DVD set.
  3. "Welcome to the Hellmouth" (1997) DVD Commentaries
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 "The Watcher's Guide, Volume One"
  5. "Buffy the Vampire Slayer". Rottentomatoes.com.
  6. "Interview with Joss Whedon by SF Said". Shebytches.com. Archived from the original on May 12, 2010.
  7. "The Art of Picking TV Titles: 9 Do's and Don'ts"The Hollywood Reporter, March 09, 2012. Retrieved January 11, 2018.
  8. "The Writing Process". JaneEspenson.com. Retrieved January 18, 2018.
  9. "WB revisits glory days"Variety. Archived on February 18, 2012. Retrieved January 11, 2018.
  10. "With BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER Coming to HD, Can a Blu-ray Be Far Behind?". Nerdist, August 22, 2014. Retrieved January 18, 2018.
  11. "Fox's sad attempt at revamping Buffy is ruining the slayer". The Verge, December 15, 2014. Retrieved January 11, 2018.
  12. "Fox is making Buffy widescreen and Joss Whedon isn't happy". The A.V. Club, December 15, 2014. Retrieved January 11, 2018.
  13. 13.0 13.1 "Buffy: Inside the Music". Buffy the Vampire Slayer (Season 4) DVD, 2002.
  14. "Becoming, Part Two"
  15. "Grave"
  16. "Something Blue"
  17. "Faith, Hope & Trick"
  18. "Sleeper"
  19. "When She Was Bad"
  20. 20.0 20.1 "Tabula Rasa"
  21. "Buffy the Vampire Slayer". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved January 11, 2018.
  22. "Buffy The Vampire Slayer Turns 20: Joss Whedon Looks Back". Empire, March 09, 2017.

External Links