‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer’ Spin-Off Shows You Never Saw, But Wish You Did.
Let’s face it, Buffy the Vampire Slayer had the odds stacked against it. No one had ever taken a movie that failed to make any sort of impression with audiences and decided to turn it into a television series before. Why would they? Well, defying expectations became commonplace for Buffy and its creator, writer Joss Whedon. Not only did the resulting show receive far more acclaim from the critics and fans than the film had, it became a pop culture phenomenon that ended up running for seven seasons. And it spawned a spin-off in the form of Angel, which ran for five seasons of its own. Yet despite all that, Joss had more ideas to expand the universe; ideas that weren’t driven by greed, but rather an excess of concepts and stories that deserved to live on their own.
Former Buffy executive producer Marti Noxon (creator of Sharp Objects and Girlfriends’ Guide to Divorce, and co-creator of UnReal) explains, “As the show started to function a little more smoothgly and he had a little bit more time, unlike the rest of us who would go home and take a nap, Joss goes and creates another show. Joss would say to me, ‘What’d you do this weekend?’ and I’m, like, ‘Well, I went to the mall, saw my brother, worked in the morning on Saturday. What did you do?’ and he’ll reply, ‘I wrote a couple of songsm I did a comic book, I created this new show, and I’m working on a novel.’ Also, as the characters in the universe developed, we started to see possibilities in all of them. I look at almost every character on Buffy and I think, ‘Wow, they could have their own show.’ As you start to see the richness of that world, you realize there’s all this potential for spin-offs.”
Take a look at the spin-offs you never thought you needed, until now.
Buffy the Animated Series
The one that came closest to being realized was this one, which would have been produced under the guidance of showrunner Jeph Loeb, now in charge of Marvel Television.
“It was an opportunity to do the things or the jokes that we only did in the writers room,” says Joss. “But with the animated series, we had a chance, while being cool, scary and empowered, to be really whimsical. It would have been a return to the adolescence of year one and very freeing. A completely different kind of fun than the live show or the comics.”
Adds Jeph, “We had put together a class A animation team. We had all 13 stories for the first season and nine scripts that were all written by Buffy writers and myself. I spent a year and a half over there running the show, but it just sort of stopped, everything was put in a box and we waited. While there were darker aspects, the show was absolutely geared to go a little younger, simply because of the nature of animation. What would be the point of doing an animated version of the live-action show that’s exactly the same?
Joss admits that when the characters graduated from high school, he got a bit choked up, believing that there were more stories to tell, but not willing to defy the reality of the actors aging.
“That opportunity in animation,” he says, “was a well to draw from forever, and the relationships could be fluid within the boundaries of the show. One of the points of the show was that even though things may look like they’re set a certain way, some days your best friend is your worst enemy.”
Notes Jeph, “The show was about the grounding principles of Buffy as a metaphor for high school anxieties; high school troubles and how they manifest themselves. Joss feels that the metaphor is never stronger than when you’re in the middle of high school and you’re trying to figure things out. So Buffy has moved to Sunnydale, she’s friends with Xander and Willow, and she has begun to accept her role as the Slayer. But there were stories that fall in between the stories that you know and love. Then there are just certain things that the budget of the live show would not allow that we would have been able to do. That’s the most fun.”
But these dreams never came to be since no network was interested in the animated series.
“‘Teenie Buffy’ was the first script turned in,” adds Joss. “We wanted the toughness of a Batman show, really good action, strong hero, but at the same time the completely off-center humor of The Simpsons. But we couldn’t find a home for it. Nobody seemed to want it, and it blew my mind. I feel like I’m standing here with bags of money. It’s Buffy Animated, what more do I need to explain here? People were just like, ‘We’re not doing that sort of thing, we have a different agenda,’ and I’m wondering, did I miss the memo where this wasn’t a cash cow? I had the Buffy writers writing it and the Buffy actors wanting to be in it. What did I miss?”
Faith the Vampire Slayer
Eliza Dushku became a recurring character in Buffy as Faith, the powerful and dangerous and ultimately redeemable vampire slayer. When the series was finishing up its seven-year run, for a time the possibility of spinning her off into her own series seemed very real.
States Marti, “That’s certainly one of the things we talked about, but I don’t think that’s where Eliza’s career goals were. It’s too bad, because if she were interested, that’s a show I can totally see. She’s a reluctant TV star, which is a shame because she’s so good. We tried, believe me. It’s funny, she’s the fan of many Buffy folk and not the biggest Buffy fan. It doesn’t seem like she’s enough of a geek for the show to say, ‘Yes, I want to do this no matter what the cost.'”
“I feel kind of bad, but I also needed to get something going.” admits Eliza, who, instead had chosen the series Tru Calling, playing morgue attendant Tru Davies who is spoken to by corpses and then propelled backwards in time to save them. “We created this character five years earlier and it’s the kind of thing where I wanted to be standing on my own two feet a little bit and not be following in Buffy‘s footsteps. I love the show and have so much respect for the writers and everyone, but if it was going to be that kind of a commitment – which God knows these kind of things are – I felt it needed to be something new. For me, I never wanted to kind of lock myself down into television, because of the long contracts and commitments – it’s six years – and I’m a really severe sufferer of ADD. What if I don’t want to do this anymore, but I’ve signed on the dotted line? But when Tru Calling came up, it was such a cool story and character.”
Tim Minear, executive producer of Angel and American Horror Story, is the one who came up with the idea for the potential show. “The show was basically going to be Faith, probably on a motorcycle, crossing the Earth, trying to find her place in the world. The idea of her rooted some place seemed wrong to me. The idea of her constantly on the move seemed right to me. Oh, and she broke out of prison on Angel, so there would have been people after her,” he explained.
This would have been a co-production with the BBC and shot in England, with the focus on the impact his dark past is having on Rupert Giles’ (Anthony Stewart Head) life.
Recalls Marti, “In our discussions, we realized because of the style of the show and the fact that it was a BBC series, we wouldn’t have felt as beholden to hit every act break with a cliffhanger. The situations wouldn’t necessarily have had a monster in every episode. There would always be a supernatural element, but it wouldn’t have to be quite so genre. It would feel a little more like Prime Suspect with monsters. Giles’ past is pretty dark. We were going to get to grow him up and show him in situations with women and all kinds of good stuff that he didn’t get to do on Buffy.”
“I hope one day it gets made,” says Anthony Stewart Head. “It’s a lovely, lovely story. Kind of a ghost story. It’s also about a man investigating his own soul. It’s classic Joss Whedon.
It’s no secret that Joss is a huge comic book geek, having contributed scripts to some of the biggest comic book series ever published, but when he created Fray – the story of future slayer Melaka Fray – for Dark Horse Comics, the intention was always to see it one day make the jump to film or television.
“It took place 200 years in the future,” explains Joss, “thinking there’s no way this could ever affect the Buffy universe, so it would be safe.”
Laughs Marti, “The opportunity to actually be the author of Fray was too enticing for Joss. His passion for all of this is genuine; I don’t think he’d do something that he really didn’t want to do. He’s had ample opportunity to exploit Buffy in ways that he has not, and ample opportunity to produce other shows he would get credit for and money for that he didn’t feel passionate about. Anything he does do, is because he wants to see it.”
The waiting game continues.
Original article at Lifestyle Magazine