Saturday, March 15, 2008

I finished re-watching Season Four of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Season One of Angel last week. I think the former has some good things (Willow and Tara in particular) to offer, but it also feels unfocused and the Big Bad isn't very impressive (if they cut Adam out, it wouldn't affect the season's story arc much at all).

As well as Joss Whedon and his writing staff handle the emerging lesbian relationship of Willow and Tara, the network partially undercuts those efforts by demanding that the characters be shown doing nothing more than holding hands and occasionally hugging, which can be immediately contrasted with the kissing and romping in bed that heterosexual Buffy and Riley engage in during the season. As usual for American television, the queer lovers must have a passionless relationship. The network allows a kiss in Season Five, but the problem is only truly rectified in Seasons Six and Seven, which is when the show switched to a different, more open-minded network.

I was talking to a friend last week about the continuations of Buffy and Angel in comic book form. I haven't read any of them yet, but the plot summaries I've perused have left me a bit cold. One of the things I like about the television shows is how they're grounded in a certain level of reality due to the limitations of television and special effects budgets. I'm not convinced that removing those limitations is for the better.

That said, after some reflection I think the real issue for me is that I feel like I've already been told a complete story about the characters and I don't necessarily need more to feel satisfied. Buffy is essentially the story of Buffy, Protector of Sunnydale. The show begins with her arrival in town and concludes with the town's destruction. End of story. Angel ends on a cliffhanger leaving the fates of several characters up in the air, but think about it--a core theme of Angel is fighting the good fight no matter the odds, and the final scene nails that idea perfectly. Again, end of story.

For now, I'm not interested in the comic books. Who knows, perhaps after re-watching the complete runs of both shows I'll change my mind.

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