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Buffy_the_Vampire_Slayer

Buffy_the_Vampire_Slayer

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Published by: dlavery on Apr 14, 2011
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BuffytheVampireSlayer 
(USA:TheWB,1997‐2001;UPN2001‐)
ProductionDetails:Writers:JossWhedon,MartiNoxon,JaneEspenson,DavidGreenwalt,DavidFury,DouglasPetrieDirectors:Whedon,JamesA.Contner,MichaelE.Gershman,DavidSolomon,DavidGrossmanProducers:Whedon,FranRubelKuzui,GailBermanCast:BuffyAnneSummers
(
SarahMichelleGellar)WillowRosenberg
(
AlysonHannigan)Alexander'Xander'Harris
(
NicholasBrendon)RupertGiles
(
AnthonyStewartHead)Anya/Anyanka
(
EmmaCaulfield)DawnSummers
(
MichelleTrachtenberg)Spike/WilliamtheBloody
(
JamesMarsters)Angel/Angelus
(
DavidBoreanaz)Faith(ElizaDushku)CordeliaChase
(
CharismaCarpenter)Daniel'Oz'Osbourne
(
SethGreen)RileyFinn
(
MarcBlucas)TaraMaclay
(
AmberBenson)
Goodmovieshavesometimesbeenmadeintogoodtelevisionshows;RobertAltman’s
M*A*S*H
(1972),forexample,wastransformedintoalong‐running,popularTVcomedy(1972‐1983),thefinalepisodeofwhichgarneredthehighestratingsinAmericantelevisionhistory.
BuffytheVampireSlayer 
maybetheonlyexampleofabadmoviethatbecameasuperiortelevisionseries.Nowinitsseventhseason(2002‐2003),
Buffy 
,ahybridizationofteendrama,humor,andhorror(itscreatorJossWhedondescribeditinaBBCinterviewasacrossbetween
MySoCalled
 
The Collected Works of David Lavery 2
Life
and
TheX‐Files
),premieredinmid‐seasonontheWB“netlet”in1997andbecame,despiteratingsthatwouldhaveledtocancellationonthemajornetworks,oneof“TheFrog’s”signatureshows.Though
Buffy’s
Nielsensgenerallyrankeditinthebottomthirdofprime‐timeprograms,itattractedalargeenoughshareofthehighlysoughtyouthdemographictomakeitlucrative.Abouttogointosyndicationafteronehundredepisodesandembroiledindifficultcontractnegotiations,
Buffy
movedinFall2002torivalUPN,anetlet,betterknownforprofessionalwrestlingthanqualitytelevision.InFall1999,
Buffy
hadspunoff
Angel,
itselfanexcellentseries,thatremainsontheWB.Asecondspin‐off,
Ripper,
starringAnthonyStewartHead,wascreatedforBritishtelevision,andanAmericanTVcartoonversionof
Buffy 
islikewiseindevelopment.
Buffy
tellsthestoryofBuffySummers,asouthernCaliforniapost‐feministgirl(Johnson),a“Gidgetforthefindesiecle”(Siemann)livinginSunnydale,atownbuiltoveracenterofdemonicenergy—a"Hellmouth."(Intheshow’sLovecraftianmythologydemonsweretheoriginalinhabitantsoftheearth,andvampiresaredemon/humanhybrids.)Astheseriesbegins,Buffyhasalreadydiscovered(inthemovie)herchosenroleasthe"onegirlinalltheworldwiththestrengthandskilltofightthevampires."HavingmovedfromLosAngelestoSunnydaletoescapeherpast,shewouldprefertobeanormalteenager,buthernewhometown,plaguedbyvampires,demons,andotherevils,willnotpermithertoignorehercalling.Withtheongoinghelpofher“ScoobyGang”friends,Buffycontinuestobattlenotonlytheforcesofdarknessbutherowninnerdemons.BeginningwithSeasonFour,BuffyandtheScoobiesheadofftocollege(attheUniversityofCalifornia,Sunnydale)butwithnoletupintheenemiestheymustconfront.Withgreatwit,emotionalrealism,apocalypticexcitement,andthebestspecialeffectsasmalltelevisionseriesbudgetcanbuy,
BuffytheVampireSlayer
standsastheperfectexampleofwhatSarahVowellcallsa“longhaul”series,capableofperpetualself‐renewal.Exhibitingsomeofthebestwritingontelevision,ithasalmostneversettledforsimplesolutions,easymotivation,orsuperficialcharacters.Fromthebeginning
Buffy’s
ensemblecasthasbeenoneofitsgreateststrengths.AllmajorandsomeminorcharactershaveacquireddevotedfansintheUnitedStatesandabroad,inspiringadoringwebsitesandgeneratingprolificfanfiction.Soattentivehas
Buffy
beentoitsfansthatdevotiontothebadguySpike,aonce‐vicious,bleach‐blonde,punkvampire,resultedinhiselevationtomajorcharacterstatus.Neuteredbyacomputer‐chipinhisbraininSeasonFour(“I'm
 
The Collected Works of David Lavery 3
sayingthatSpikehadalittletriptothevetandnowhedoesn'tchasetheotherpuppiesanymore”),Spikehasbeenpainstakinglymorphedintoahero,until,attheendofSeasonSix,hetoo,likeAngel,hasreacquiredhissoul.
Buffy
hasgeneratedamultitudeofancillarytexts.Officialtie‐inbookslikethetwo
Watcher’sGuides,TheMonsterBook,
scoresofnovels,comicbooks,andscriptsofthefirsttwoseasonsareavailable,andtheserieshasgarneredagreatdealofcriticalattentionaswell.Atthiswriting,twobooklengthcollectionsofessayshavebeenpublished(WilcoxandLavery;Kaveney),atleastthreemoreareontheway,and
Buffy,
like
Xena
beforeit,
hasinspiredaninternetscholarlyjournal:
Slayage:TheOnlineInternationalJournalofBuffyStudies
(http://www.slayage.tv).InOctoberof2002,“Blood,Text,andFears:ReadingAround
BuffytheVampireSlayer 
washeldattheUniversityofEastAngliaintheUK.ANorthAmericanscholarlyconferenceisplanned.Scholarsandcriticshavefound
Buffy
acomplextelevisiontext,richinculturalsignificance,investigatingitswittyandpun‐filleduseoflanguage(“AnySlayercanbrandishaweapon,”OverbeyandPreston‐Mattoobserve,“butforBuffytheVampireSlayer,thetongueisaspointedasthestake”),itsmetaphoricdepictionofthehorrorsofhighschool,itssubversionofthetraditionalfamilyandcreationofsubstitutefamilyunits,its“self‐consciousandplayfulinversionoftheconventionsofthehorrorgenre”(Johnson),itshighlypostmodernintertextualityandself‐referentiality,itshighpopcultureIQ,itsenergeticfanbase,itsreligiousthemes(seeErickson,Playden),itsdepictionoflesbianism,otherness,andminorities,itsstatusasafeministtext.ThoughseriescreatorJossWhedonhasofteninsistedhesetouttomakeafeministtelevisionseries,
Buffy 
issometimesdescribedas“postfeminist,”andsomeonthepoliticallefthavequestionedtheshow’sfeministcredentials,disturbedbythesometimessexuallyprovocativeappearanceofSarahMichelleGellar,especiallyinhermanyextra‐diegeticappearancesasamodel(seeDougherty,Helford,Pender,Vint).Othershavebeentroubledbyitsfailuretoincludesignificantminoritycharacters(seeEdwards).Totheever‐recurringcriticalquestion“is
BuffytheVampireSlayer 
agroundbreaking,empoweringandtransgressivetext,orisitspoliticalpotentialcompromised,commodity‐drivenandcontained?”Penderoffersthefollowingtentativeresponse:“
Buffy 
isatelevisionseriesthatdelightsindeliberatelyandself‐consciouslybafflingthebinary;thejuxtapositionofmundanerealityandsurrealfantasyinthelivesoftheSlayerandherfriendsevokesaworldin

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