Buffy Is Dead Long Live Buffy!
Since the announcement that Buffy the Vampire Slayer is leaving WB for the UPN -- a network currently not carried in Austin -- I've been getting a lot of e-mails from people thanking me for Buffy coverage and asking what to do should UPN not return to Austin. I don't have any clear-cut answers on the latter, but I'm happy to provide the former, because, well, I'm a fan. But along with the thanks has come some other interesting information. Many Buffsters watch in spite of grief from their significant other (usually a male), and/or they keep their praise for the show to themselves because they are male, think they are too old for the show, or are tired of explaining why BtVS is so great to people who don't get the humor (the title, for example -- what a hoot).
One thing all of these readers, regardless of their reasons for being closet Buffsters, agreed on was that the last episode of Buffy was a beauty. I heard tales, secondhand and online, of viewers being truly moved when Buffy leapt to her death to save the world (hey, if you don't watch Buffy, it's best to move on to the next section now). Tears were shed. Foreheads were slapped as it became clear which of the Scoobies would go down, a topic of online discussion for weeks. The thing was, writer and creator Joss Whedon told us several episodes earlier what would happen: "Your gift is death." Only many of us could not imagine that it would be the Slayer herself.
This is going to sound waaaay goofy to anyone who is not a fan, but I was proud of Buffy, and proud of how Whedon brought this chapter of his epic tale to a close. Mind you, I understand that Buffy is played by an actress named Sarah Michelle Gellar, and that Whedon is a writer, and that it's all fiction. I don't walk around in a Buffy wig acting out the previous episodes (though if I did, I would pretend to be Willow). But the end brought an enormous sense of satisfaction, because Buffy finally realized her bigger mission. She finally realized that her life was about more than the men in her life. In fact, the episode came down to the women in her life. Still missing her recently deceased mother, willing to kill anyone who messed with her sister (who was going to be sacrificed by the evil Glory at the expense of the world), Buffy pushed through the pain to make the ultimate sacrifice. Sure, it's an old-fashioned notion -- dying for a cause. But there is something noble and mysterious and brave about it, too. And in a delicately played scene, we witness Willow moving into her next phase of power, and Buffy (in that profound humor BtVS does so well) helping her understand what we already knew: "You're the powerful one -- don't get all jelly-belly on me now."
It was a perfect end to a near-perfect season. Heck, whatever the flaws, I don't remember them now. And if this is the last episode of the series I ever see, I could live with it. Maybe. Who am I kidding?! Gellar and crew are signed on for two more years. Once the long, hot summer begins to burn itself out and all the buzz starts to hit the Internet, I know I'll be itching for my Buffy break. The quest for UPN begins.
What Was That?
I was all set to rave on the premiere episode of TNT's WitchBlade, but after watching the screener of the premiere episode, all I could do was scratch my head and ask, "What the hell was that?"
Readers of this column may remember that I had high hopes for the new series, spun off from the TNT movie that aired last summer. Yancy Butler stars in the series as New York detective Sara Pezzini, based on the comic book series of the same title. Pezzini ("Pez") is trying to learn the secret behind the WitchBlade, a mysterious piece of ancient jewelry that glommed on to her and gave her super-duper powers. The problem is, the thing is unpredictable, not to mention a little on the flea-market-garish side, which you'd think would make it hard for her colleagues to miss, especially when it starts glowing and buzzing a bright crimson.
The movie did a good job of setting me up. The movie left me curious. The movie sucked me into wanting to know who all those spooky guys running around and enamored of the WitchBlade were. Instead of instilling a sense of mystery and intrigue, the series premiere only created confusion as the characters spoke with an air of gravity that was at first puzzling, then maddening, and finally laughable. I can't imagine how a person unfamiliar with the comic book or the movie will fare. Maybe it will get better. But from such a promising beginning, the series steps out on the wrong foot. Check it out for yourself, Tuesday, June 12, 8pm, on TNT.