The California town of Sunnydale was lucky: it was founded directly over the Infernal Abyss. God’s vampires, demons, and other incarnations of the forces of evil creeping out from there, would have long turned our planet into fiery Hell, if not for the Chosen, who are born among people once a generation. Today, a vampire slayer share falls to a high school girl …
We have seen hundreds of times how brilliant ideas in inept hands turned into mediocre works. But the reverse examples are not more common than vampires on the street on a sunny day. The concept of the series “Buffy” at best would suit a thrash horror movie, and not a cult television show. However, the first impression is misleading: the most famous series of Joss Whedon turned out to be that diamond in a mountain of glass that you do not expect to find at all – but, once you see it, you never get tired of admiring it.
How did Buffy start?
In 1992, almost never-known then, Joss Whedon wrote a script in defiance of Hollywood cliches in which a fragile girl did not die at the hands of monsters, but became their worst nightmare. At the Twentieth Century Fox studio, the script was accepted but disposed of in its own way. As a result, a banal comedy about vampires was released, which did not earn special laurels at the box office.
Fortunately, the idea of a “school horror” was not completely buried. A few years later, Weedon was offered to film a television series based on his plot developments. In March 1997, The WB Network launched the first episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, which lasted seven seasons, making it one of the longest-running science fiction shows in history.
It would seem that what might be of interest to the series, in which for 144 episodes a miniature blonde fists and kindly knocks the crap out of the monsters that have flooded the California Sunnydale?… It’s not about the illegibility of the American public: the brainchild of Jos Whedon has a number of objective advantages.
One of the main trump cards of the series, paradoxically, is vitality and relevance. Yes, the characters constantly came into contact with the supernatural, but sometimes much more trouble was caused by banal everyday troubles: poor grades at school, unrequited love, conflicts with teachers … In general, everything that surrounds any normal teenager – the main consumer of fantasy series. It was easy for the audience to empathize with the heroes who lived almost the same life as themselves, only a little more interesting and rich – with the hunt for vampires and saving the world.
And the stories in Buffy were for every taste. Cross-cutting plot lines coexisted with independent series: comedic, dramatic, romantic, many of which were shot no worse than full-length films. Those who watched the show series after series did not remain unprofitable: in each season a new powerful opponent of Buffy and her friends appeared.
Buffy’s no less significant advantage was sparkling humour – unobtrusive, organically woven into the outline of the story. In addition, in a light form accessible to the younger generation, Joss Whedon constantly talked about serious, truly important subjects. The series grew up with its heroes and spectators.
The growing popularity of “The Vampire Slayer” has led to the fact that simultaneously with the fourth season of “Buffy” Whedon and The WB launched a spin-off of the series – “Angel”. Some characters who did not have enough space in the original source, including the title hero, migrated to the new show.
The vampire’s bloody journey ended when certain enemies revived his human soul. Terrified by his own atrocities, the vampire decided to atone for his guilt. So Angel ended up in the company of Buffy – and the one who was called to exterminate the night bloodsuckers fell in love with one of them. However, after the first night spent together, the vampire essence of Angel unexpectedly returned, and it was worth a lot of work again to embark on the path of good. It became clear: this pair has no future. Angel made a difficult decision – to break off relations with Buffy and leave Sunnydale.
Having settled in Los Angeles, Angel soon met with half-demon Doyle. He revealed to the vampire that some higher forces decided to make Angel their knight, the protector of the weak and oppressed. So begin the adventures of this hero.
The Angel is darker, more serious, and more adult than Buffy has ever been. Angel not only fought evil but also constantly fought the demon within himself, seeking to atone for centuries of atrocities. The style of the initial season looked like a half-serious parody of classic noir detectives, but by the end of the first year, the emphasis had shifted. Noir was replaced by urban fantasy, however, also not without teasing the cliches of the genre. Mixed in perfect proportions, a parody and a mystical tragedy at the output gave an almost flawless series about the supernatural in the modern world. “Angel” constantly used well-known stories, but so elegantly that they began to play with new colours, and the brilliant play of the actors and amazing dialogues compliment the already impressive picture.
In “Angel”, Whedon managed the incredible: without losing the virtues inherent in his first series, he brought a lot of fresh ideas to his world and thereby, finally securing the glory of one of the best storytellers of modern television science fiction.
From apocalypse to apocalypse
A good tradition of the Buffy series was the annual salvation of Sunnydale, and at the same time the rest of the world from the next Great Evil – in each of the seven seasons, his role goes to a new damn charming and equally negative hero. All the adversaries were distinguished by their savagery, a fair sense of humour and eccentricity: what, for example, are the evil goddess in the image of a chic blonde or the Original Evil, which takes the form of any dead person.
More often than not, most ordinary vampires, of course, suffer from the hands of Buffy and her friends. Local bloodsuckers are canonically afraid of sunlight and creeds, instantly turn to dust if they pierce their hearts with a wooden stake, and multiply, allowing a person to taste their blood. Night hunters are the result of mixing the blood of ancient demons with human, so vampires, in everyday appearance resembling people, can spread into grotesque monsters.
The main feature of local vampires is that gaining superhuman strength, speed and immortality, they will forever lose their soul, and with it the ability to experience shame or compassion. Therefore, they do not even try to resist the thirst for blood, receiving undisguised pleasure from murders and cruelties. Naturally, such behaviour can continue only until the first meeting with the fighter, so the vampire age is short, and they have no time to gain any special abilities. However, there are exceptions.
The fighters themselves were born almost the same way as vampires. Ancient wizards combined human and demonic essence in a simple girl, endowing her with unprecedented strength and speed. Since then, this force has been transmitted after the death of the fighter to the next girl, called to pick up the banner of the fight against night bloodsuckers.
Not powerful vampires of the darkness alone. It was no coincidence that Sunnydale was located on the very border between the world of people and Hell: the black magician Richard Wilkins founded the city with far-reaching intentions. Of course, his plans were destined to be covered with a copper basin, but before meeting with Buffy, he managed to be the mayor of Sunnydale for more than a century. And perhaps the most original opponents of the fighter were three comic-addicted losers who decided to become supervillains. Despite the clumsiness and stupidity, the guys spoiled Buffy and her friends no less than the Original Evil, which the fighter of the comrade defeated in the series finale.
Music of extermination
The musical accompaniment of “Buffy” and “Angel” has always played a significant role in the series. The music conveyed the mood and atmosphere of the series, and some heroes – rocker Oz or music lover Lorne – cannot be imagined without their inspired singing.
Only one episode of Buffy is completely devoid of music – The Body, in which the brave fighter lost her beloved mother. But another series, “Once Again with Feeling,” is a true forty-minute musical. In 2002, the self-titled album with songs from this episode was released. Also, during the existence of the series, three more soundtrack records appeared.
From time to time, the composition of the “Scooby gang” replenished with new … personalities. Angel and Spike are two vampires with souls; Werewolf-musician Oz, school diva Cordelia, former demoness Anya, a member of the special forces unit for hunting monsters Riley and the younger sister Buffy, created with the help of magic, Don.
After moving to Los Angeles, Angel made his own team. His main colleague was the beauty Cordelia – a failed actress, prophetess and fearless fighter against evil. Another ex-character of Buffy, an unlucky colleague of Giles Wesley Wyndham Price, turned out to be a real storehouse of knowledge about the other world and an indispensable employee of the detective agency Investigations Angel. Then a seasoned vampire hunter Charles Gunn, the brilliant scientist Fred Berkele, and the green-skinned demon music lover Lorne joined the friendly detective team.
Frankly, such comrades-in-arms troubles are sometimes no less than good. Either they will quarrel because of a loved one, or they will awaken an ancient evil inadvertently, or they will simply be temporarily damaged by reason and begin to let their best friends into consumption. The personal troubles of the characters “Buffy” and “Angel” become no less important plot engine than the next confrontation with evil, and watching them is sometimes even more interesting than the main story.
And, despite all the problems associated with Buffy and Angel’s companions, the thought runs through both episodes as a red thread: it is our friends who make us who we are. Only with their help we can perform the most incredible feats, fight and win, no matter how strong the enemy.
Vampires, magic, demons – all this does not exist in the world for the first millennium. It would be strange if organizations that were somehow connected with the supernatural were not hidden behind the facade of modern society.
To fight against otherworldly forces at the state level, the US military created an office called the Initiative. She owns a huge laboratory deep below Sunnydale, where top-secret research is being conducted. Once they brought up a cross between a man, a demon and a cyborg, and of course, the ubiquitous fighter had to deal with him, instead of passing the first session! In general, the effectiveness of the “Initiative” could only be compared with the grace of an elephant dancing in a china shop.
And all because of the lack of style and traditions that the Rangers have in abundance. Over the centuries of existence, this organization has accumulated a lot of information about the manifestations of the supernatural on Earth and in adjacent dimensions. Each fighter is assigned one of the members of this secret society – a mentor and assistant. The rest, meanwhile, is preparing potential Chosen Ones. Rangers themselves occasionally ventured to confront especially dangerous demons; however, the fighters are awful. Not surprisingly, as soon as they got in the way of the Original Evil, the headquarters and leadership of the organization ceased to exist.
So now, the Los Angeles corporation Wolfram and Hart has no competitors. Behind the facade of the law office is a demon-led corporation whose interests extend to many worlds. Truly, all the evil in the world is from lawyers: to save the criminal from the term or to get the maniac out of the world for the employees of Wolfram and Hart – just spit. And the main purpose of the corporation’s existence was to prepare the universal Apocalypse.
In the plots of Buffy, you can find many parallels with Star Wars. Moreover, during the series more than once there are direct references to the George Lucas Saga. The fact is that Joss Whedon and other Buffy screenwriters are big fans of Star Wars.
- When the vampire slayer Faith at the end of the third season turned out to be on the side of evil, Buffy says about her: “She switched to the Dark Side of the Force.”
- The vampire Spike, having first learned that Angel is fighting on the side of the fighter, exclaims in horror: “You were like a father to me, man … You were my Yoda!”
- At the beginning of the fourth season of the series, Sander is trying to guide Buffy on the right path with the help of the Jedi code, although without success.
- And here is how the unfortunate villains who are about to avenge the death of Willow’s girlfriend are panicking: “We have moments before Darth Rosenberg turns us all into java burgers, and no one here has enough midichlorians to stop her!”
For seven years in a row, the brave Buffy waged an unequal struggle with the forces of evil, twice died and returned to life, found and lost love, friends, a goal in life … But everything comes to an end: in May 2003, the series was closed. For about a year, the brand was supported by the fifth season of Angela, but then it was taken off the air and he, although the final episode clearly hinted at the need to continue. Of course, such a successful project could not just sink into oblivion.
Shortly after the first season of Buffy, the Pocket Books began publishing books based on the universe of Joss Whedon. In total, about two hundred novels by various authors were published on both series, and far from all of them paid due attention to the traditions of the world.
Comics did not lag behind – but here the quality control was even less. Discrepancies with the television source in painted stories are not uncommon, so many of them are not considered canonical. However, today it is in the comic book industry that the life of the world of Buffy is warmer: for several years IDW Publishing has been publishing graphic stories from the past and future of the characters of Angel. And in the spring of this year, the Dark Horse publishing house launched the Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season Eight series, on which Whedon himself and the writers of the series are working. From these comics, Buffy fans can find out what kind of adventure the Scooby Gang would expect in the eighth season of the series.
At the turn of the century, five console video games about the adventures of a fighter were released, in the two-thousandth appeared desktop role-playing versions of both series, as well as a collectable card game. Officially, these lines have been abandoned for several years, but among fans of “Buffy” still continue to enjoy considerable popularity.
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The world of “Buffy” continues to live, albeit not as active as its numerous fans would like. The potential of the universe is far from exhausted, although Joss Whedon used almost all the well-known themes of mysticism and urban fantasy in it. Ghosts, mummies, werewolves, ancient orders, crazy wizards, parallel worlds, demons and even Count Dracula – it would seem, what else can be added to this list?
However, at the end of each season of “Buffy” and “Angel”, the fans remained confident that now all the fresh ideas had been exhausted, and then the plots would be drained from the finger. And each time, Joss Whedon found how to surprise him with his own spoiled audience.