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20 Years Ago...

Buffy the Vampire Slayer first aired on television 20 years ago this month. I did not watch it at the time, because I had seen the movie — which sounded right up my dark comedy alley — and it did not live up to expectations. Also: very small child in the house led to very little TV viewing. Back then, we didn't have such high expectations for TV shows — except for Twin Peaks — so I felt safe in my assumption that the show would not be an improvement over the film. I'm very glad to have been wrong.

To celebrate, I'm going to post any little tidbits I can remember have found interesting about the show, focusing on 4-5 episodes at a time.

But first, THE MOVIE:

1. Buffy does NOT burn down the gym at Hemery High.
2. The historical slayers/watchers (all played by Kristy Swanson/Donald Sutherland) make their debut here and not in "Fool for Love".
3. Let's all be thankful that the movie's menstrual cramp-vamp-radar was scrapped for the show.
4. Buffy's partner-in-slayage/love interest is a pretty greaser called PIKE. Is it really plagiarism when you're stealing from yourself? I say no.
5. Paul Reubens might have been the funnest thing in the whole undertaking. How can he be more entertaining than Rutger Hauer? IDK.

The UNAIRED PILOT, which you can download at Buffyworld.com, has a couple of interesting deviations from "Welcome to the Hellmouth":

1. A different Willow. Questions? Comments?
2. Jonathan makes his first appearance here, but doesn't show up on the air until "Inca Mummy Girl". (Danny Strong also auditioned for the role of Xander. I have thoughts on this.)

What do you remember about these "prequels"?



This entry was originally posted at http://rebcake.dreamwidth.org/45937.html. Please comment here or there using OpenID.

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( 20 comments — Leave a comment )
trepkos
Mar. 1st, 2017 10:05 am (UTC)
Yeah, Rutger Hauer did not shine in this film! I found the Willow in the pilot too wet, but I'm not sure that's why they changed her. I seem to remember Harmony was in the pilot, too. I think Danny might have pulled it off, but he's so small (I've met him - he is really small), it might have been a problem when he was involved in fight scenes. You'd be expecting him to get injured or abducted every five minutes.
rebcake
Mar. 1st, 2017 08:21 pm (UTC)
Interesting point about the fight scenes with tiny!Xander. I think my disbelief was so thoroughly suspended for other things in the show that it wouldn't have mattered. It's just...I went to see this drag version of Buffy last year, and all the "girls" were towering over scrappy little Xander and it made certain things about his character work SO MUCH BETTER. The yapping puppy thing was v. v. clear. The guy playing Angel wan't exactly hulking either, FWIW. And we know that Danny can pull off suave and commanding, so "The Pack" would've played much the same, I think.

I think you're right about Harmony in the pilot. Huh. They certainly didn't wait to bring her into the aired versions! (Of course, Mercedes McNab arguably had the biggest "name" among the other child actors they used, having been featured in the highest grossing film. Sarah had the Emmy though, so maybe not.)

Yeah, I'm torn about the Willow. Alyson brought a sunniness to the role in the early days that the other actress didn't...but she's not particularly "outsidery" in her appearance and demeanor. IDK, that lack-of-confidence act covering for SUPREME self-confidence is a wrinkle that sort of works for how the character developed.
thenewbuzwuzz
Mar. 1st, 2017 10:49 am (UTC)
"menstrual cramp-vamp-radar" Do I want to know how exactly that worked?... :D
rebcake
Mar. 1st, 2017 08:25 pm (UTC)
You do not. However, I'll tell you anyway! The "spidey sense" vaguely referred to the show — and that's a whole discussion in itself — was explicitly shown in the movie as the Slayer clutching her abdomen and doubling over in pain whenever vampires were near. *sigh*

I'm so glad to see they didn't keep that particular piece of business.
thenewbuzwuzz
Mar. 2nd, 2017 03:33 am (UTC)
Because what better way to ready her for the fight... it's not like pain would be distracting and dangerous.
Thanks for expanding my mind!
snogged
Mar. 1st, 2017 01:15 pm (UTC)
I'm really glad they changed the Willow. I adore Aly Hannigan's portrayal so much.
rebcake
Mar. 1st, 2017 08:30 pm (UTC)
I do think Alyson did an amazing job, but it's a little hard for me to buy her as an outcast. Except inasmuch as all people see themselves as misfit outsiders.

That's a bit of an issue with mass media in general: everything gets prettied up and you've got Aileen Wuornos played by Charlize Theron and that's just the way it is.
baudown
Mar. 1st, 2017 01:28 pm (UTC)
I ADORE Alyson Hannigan as Willow. But I have to say, my reaction on seeing PilotWillow was, "Huh. What a surprise. They replaced the chubby, frizzy-haired girl with a thin, very attractive girl who has to play against type in order to portray a nerd." The fact of it really bugs me, despite my love of Hannigan's wonderful performance.
rebcake
Mar. 1st, 2017 08:39 pm (UTC)
That is it precisely.

It sort of echoes my rage at them killing off Fred, and yet loving the character of Illyria. You can't have one without the other.
eurydice72
Mar. 1st, 2017 07:15 pm (UTC)
I did not know Danny auditioned for Xander. Huh. That would've been interesting, to say the least. Completely changing all the dynamics, because would Willow have been crushing on him then? And so much more.

I didn't end up watching BtVS until the end of S5 because the movie is one of my mother's favorite movies of all time. (Because she has the dumbest sense of humor, and an obscene level of adoration for Rutger Hauer.) I had to put up with her mimicking Paul Reubens' death scene for months afterward, and it completely soured me on giving the show a chance.
rebcake
Mar. 1st, 2017 08:55 pm (UTC)
Okay, that is hysterical! I seriously do not know a single person who LOVES the movie like that. I sort of did before I saw it...but loving the concept is not the same as loving the real thing. (Oh, I think I just came up with some deep dating advice on the fly.) But yeah, as much as I enjoyed Paul Reubens performance, I don't think it can be recreated by just anybody. No wonder you stayed away.

I don't see why Willow couldn't have a crush on Danny!Xander. She ends up going for Oz, after all, so height isn't her trigger. And we know that Danny can bring the charming like whoa! If I were Willow and he was twinkling at me, right at eye level, I'd probably be gonzo for him, too.

All this is colored by seeing a Buffy drag show last year, in which Xander was much smaller than everybody else, and his yearning and yappiness were totally understandable in that context. Nick, like Alyson, is really too much of a hottie, in some ways. Of course, it's hard to imagine Cordelia with Danny!Xander...



Edited at 2017-03-01 10:38 pm (UTC)
shapinglight
Mar. 1st, 2017 09:05 pm (UTC)
I have not seen the film or the unaired pilot so can't really comment that much, except to say that after reading what you've written here, I'm really glad they didn't go with the movie version of Buffy's vamp-dar in the show.
rebcake
Mar. 1st, 2017 10:23 pm (UTC)
I'm a completist, so I had to see ALL THE THINGS.

There's something to said for every version, I suppose. It might be why I read so much fic, and why so many of my favorite episodes are the ones where everything is different: Halloween, Band Candy, Doppelgangland, Something Blue, etc. Just call me Alternate Reality* Girl.

*The really real reality isn't doing much for me, nowadays.
shapinglight
Mar. 2nd, 2017 07:15 pm (UTC)
*The really real reality isn't doing much for me, nowadays.

Me neither. :(

Speaking of alternate realities, or AUs, or whatever, I'm currently posting Family Reunion to A03.
beer_good_foamy
Mar. 1st, 2017 09:51 pm (UTC)
I loved the movie when it came out. When I heard there was a TV series years later, I somehow managed to get a hold of a tape of the first two episodes and was sorely disappointed. It took me years to get into the series.

Of course, in retrospect, the movie really doesn't hold up all that well... There are some really good things in there (though there's something off about Rutger Hauer - Rutger Hauer of all people! - being a bit too flat as the main villain). And flying vampires, sheesh. I do like Kristy Swanson, and Donald Sutherland, and wee tiny Hilary Swank. And this bit, I really love:
Merrick: (Dying) You do everything wrong...
Buffy: I'm sorry, I take it back!
Merrick: No. Do it wrong. Don't play our game.


The pilot... It's clunky, but it has a few moments. I like the original Principal Flutie. I like the little anthropology moment where Xander identifies the different cliques. Willow... I love Alyson Hannigan so I'm happy with the change, but it's a bit of a bitter pill that they felt they had to make the change.
rebcake
Mar. 1st, 2017 10:37 pm (UTC)
Your memories are so much clearer than mine! I don't remember Hillary Swank or original!Flutie at all! The clique anthropology thing has been done in every teen movie ever since — I think they got scooped by 1995's Clueless, so understand why they didn't keep it in. The flying vamps...way too "Lost Boys". Tsk.

That bit with Merrick is sort of the point, isn't it? *nods*

I'm of two minds on the Willow replacement, like you. I can't resent Alyson, but I sort of resent the Way Things Are.

I didn't watch the show (except for 2 episodes) until it was off the air, so you didn't do too badly.
feliciacraft
Mar. 2nd, 2017 02:36 am (UTC)
I really should watch the movie and the unaired pilot.

Hehe, Pike. At least Buffy wasn't called Bunny or something in the movie. :P

Has it really been 20 years, though? Wow.
rebcake
Mar. 2nd, 2017 09:10 am (UTC)
Both are interesting in their own way. When you're hungry for Buffy content, lots of things will do the trick.
frelling_tralk
Mar. 2nd, 2017 11:06 am (UTC)
I feel like Danny Strong would never have been cast as Xander because he wasn't tall enough, he has stated that he never even got a callback, and he guesses that he just wasn't what they were looking for. I believe there was a vague idea early on for Buffy/Xander to be eventual endgame, which is partly why they hired someone who was way too muscly and conventionally good-looking to be playing the nerdy character, Joss admits that in the commentary with, 'this is tv, get over it'.

I think he was always interested in having the young characters date and try out different pairings, I believe there's a rumour that Joss originally wanted to cast Cordelia with a black actress, and then caved to network pressure when they said that well they wouldn't be able to have any mixed-race couples in that case. He wanted to be able to mix the character pairings up without any constraints

And I think that the actress for Willow just wasn't as good as Alyson anyway, but honestly I'm surprised that she made it as far as the unaired pilot, I can't see the WB being comfortable with having an overweight actress as one of their main leads. It's never actually unattractive people (er with all due respect to the actress, I mean she looked fine other than being heavier than the WB norm) being cast as the nerds for tv. I always thought they did a good job with the casting of Willow in the end though, clearly Alyson was in no way unattractive, but I could buy her playing an insecure and mousy character in a way that you can't with a lot of these super gorgeous actresses just having a pair of glasses or something thrown at them to play 'ugly'

Edited at 2017-03-02 11:09 am (UTC)
felicia_btvs
Mar. 4th, 2017 12:05 am (UTC)
Hi! This is Felicia Craft. While my old LJ account is suspended, I'm hoping to be able to keep up with a few communities with this new journal. Hope to be back soon!
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