A trip to the Santa Monica set of UPN’s “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” reveals several telling traits immediately: Buffy really likes Ben & Jerry’s ice cream (a half-dozen empty containers fill her non-functioning freezer) and her hometown of Sunnydale must love the movie “Dude, Where’s My Car?” because it’s still showing almost two years after its release at the Sunnydale cinema. (Actually, the movie is a favorite of executive producer Marti Noxon.)
Though the series was down last season — it got too dark, the humor disappeared, the plots weren’t well paced — it’s not out. Executive producer Joss Whedon said the upcoming seventh season will return to the show’s roots, figuartively and literally.
Sunnydale High, which was blown up when Buffy (Sarah Michelle Gellar) and her friends graduated, has been rebuilt. Once again, it’s located over the “hellmouth,” a portal that unleashes demons into the world.
“The city planners of Sunnydale are really stupid people,” admitted co-executive producer David Fury.
Buffy’s sister, Dawn (Michelle Trachtenberg), will enter high school, and Buffy will spend time there working for a school-based community outreach program. The characters will both relive aspects of high school and relize how they can’t relive it.
Xander (Nicholas Brendon) and his construction crew are involved in building the new school, and he’s become financially successful. He’ll use that new-found wealth to attempt to woo back demon Anya (Emma Caulfield), whom he left at the altar last season.
Standing in the midst of the Sunnydale main street — facades built in the parking lot behind the warehouse that houses the show’s sets — Whedon said this season will bring back the humor.
“We wanted to go to a dark place and explore the dark side of [Buffy’s] power, her relationships and how hard it is to enter the adult grown-up world, and boy, did we succeed in showing that it was hard,” he said. “Not everybody was glad we did that. This year we’re doing sonething different, partially in response to that, but mostly because we do something different every year.”
Whedon said recent seasons have explored the freedom of college, the importance of fmaily and the fear of enterting the adult world. This year is about being drawn back to school and showing Buffy once again empowered and taking a leadership role.
“Last year she really lost herself, and I think the audience really felt that lack,” he said.
Whedon said returning to the high school setting appeals to him because he only got to tell high school stories for 2 1/2 seasons before the characters graduated.
“That was the only time I felt bad, like I’d lost something,” he saud. “When they graduated, I was like, ‘Wait, I went through more bad things! There’s more pain I haven’t talked about yet!'”
Vampire Spike (James Marsters), who had his soul restored in the season finale, also will be connected, but Whedon wouldn’t explain how. He would say Spike’s reinstated soul won’t lead to a repeat of Angel-with-a-soul stories.
“Everything we’ve done has been done before. The trick is to do it differently and have it mean something new,” Whedon said. “[Unlike the Angel situation], there’s no [gypsy] curse. And also no mousse,” referring to the look sported by David Boreanaz, who plays Angel.
Whedon is planning to bring back many past characters this season, including the vampire slayer Faith (Eliza Dushku), evil demon Glory (Clare Kramer), the nerd Warren (Adam Bush), vengeance demon Halfrick (Kali Rocha), Tara (Amber Benson), crazy vampire Drusilla (Juliet Landau) and ditzy vampire Harmony (Mercedes McNab).
Former librarian Giles (Anthont Stewart Head) will appear in at least 10 episodes.
The contract for series star Gellar expires after this season (Caulfield said she’ll leave at that point, too), but Whedon didn’t rule out continuing the series without Buffy.
“I’m game for almost anything,” he said. “It’s an incredibly strong ensemble, a very strong . it’s a huge universe we’ve created and an incredible cast of actors. There are definite opportunities for different kinds of shows.”
Because of Whedon’s work on The WB’s “Angel” and his new Fox drama “Firefly,” two “Buffy” spin-offs are now on the backburner: the Giles-starring BBC show “Ripper” and a “Buffy” cartoon series.
Original article at Post-Gazette