Tuesday, 26 May 2009

Staking the Cash-Cow

I know I've been dreadfully lax when it comes to blogging, but work and IRL have distracted me lately! However, this little tidbit of news has finally driven me back to my keyboard. Now, I heart Buffy. I am what they call a Buffyaholic and proud of it - I adore the characters and the incredibly rich universe that Joss Whedon created, and writers like Marti Noxon and Jane Espenson developed. I would love to see a movie/further series with Buffy & co, penned by Joss and directed by him or by one of the core Buffy writers I know and love. In fact I'm pretty sure I'd give non-vital organs or kill a man in order to make this happen.

This will not be the case with the preposed new Buffy film from the Kuzuis. Empire has already highlighted a few problems with the planned new film here, and if the new film does involve a Buffy-reboot/remake with the characters in the original 1992 film (which I also like, making me in the minority) then there will be a new and re-cast Buffy, something that just sounds made of wrong. If Kuzui Enterprises Maru-nate it then it could work: having an alternate-reality/alternate-future, starting where the film left off, with Buffy still in LA, still 16, and re-writing her future from there (although there's still that pesky re-casting to worry about; SMG*'s too old to play 16). It would more than likely be clumsy at best, an utter failure and insult to us fans at worst, but it has a chance of working.

I've also thought up a couple of ways they could do a successful, fan-pleasing new Buffyverse film:-

1. Involve Joss Whedon.

2. Ask Joss Whedon to be involved, and listen to his ideas.

3. Seriously: Joss Whedon.

4. Call the new film "Chosen" (echoing the show's finale) and have the film follow the adventures of one of the girls Chosen after the events of the end of the show. They could even set the film immediately after the end of the show: the film could pick up with a girl who's suddenly found herself with all these funky new kick-ass powers: the strength and skill to fight the vampires, demons, and the forces of darkness - as some people might say. Buffy and the Scooby Gang need never get so much as a mention, thereby avoiding those pesky problems with character rights and ownership, and that would also ensure no trampling all over the 'verse and ruining it for the fans.

5. Same as above, except set it some time after the episode "Chosen"; the Slayer followed in the new film is aware of the Scoobies, Buffy, Faith et al, but they don't appear (unless Kuzui involve Joss Whedon, seriously, do it); instead the new leading lady has been trained by Giles, Buffy & co and sent on her merry way to fight evil. Perhaps the new Slayer's been sent on a particular mission by Buffy..? Could work. If the Whedonmeister's involved, or Kuzui manage to get permission AND get original cast members on board, perhaps there could be an appearance or two by a character from the show (and/or from Angel).

6. Set it pre-Buffy. Could be decades, maybe even centuries BB**. That would explain away where Buffy and the Scoobs are and why no familiar characters will appear. It would also leave the way open for a new Slayerverse to be created - as long as the writers took care to stay true to the 'Verse That Joss Built (using the right terms, having Watchers and the Council as a feature, using the same names if the same demons appear as in the show, etc) then it could work.

Options 4 and 5 leave the way open for a new series/franchise, which has been mentioned as desierable by the official announcement. The problem with 6 is that as stated in the series Buffy's the longest-lived Slayer. If a new show/franchise was created off the back of the preposed new film (which is a bif "if"; it would have to score big at the box office and/or get a real cult following and lots of fan-following potential for a second film/new TV series to be green lit) then they'd have to make sure their Slayer du jour was killed off before she exceeds Buffy's eight years as Slayer (if you count the film and each season as representing one year - which the show did), or risk the Wrath of Geekdom.

Of course, if the new franchise became successful then Kuzui might just not give a shit about staying true to the facts of BtVS, and depending on whether or not a majority of the new fans were also Buffyaholics then the fans might potentially not care that much either. It would also be unlikely that the producers of the new franchise would be willing to risk killing off a popular Slayer (if she was popular, of course - we could end up with another Kendra on our hands, who the fans would be more than happy to see go down in flames) and replacing her with a new Slayer.

It would make for great storytelling if they had the balls to do that, though - call the show something ambiguous like Chosen rather than feature the name of the Slayer in the title, a la BtVS, and be willing to have the lead die, a new Slayer Called in her place, and then for the show to follow the new Slayer instead. A great finale for any new series (and this is getting waaaaaaaaay ahead of things: if there's a new film, and if it's successful, and if it's decided to have a new TV show pick up where the film left off, and if the writers/producers are willing to kill off the main lead, to end the show for good after one or more series) would be to have a behind-the-head shot of a blonde girl, with Merrick (could just do a recast; the series did) simply saying "Buffy" - then cut to black. Would make an awesome way to end any new series/film franchise, IMHO.

If they set a BB film far enough in the past, they wouldn't have to worry about "catching up" with the original film and show - although you do end up with the burden of having to get the historical detail right (or at least right enough to pass casual inspection by the average viewer) and it could end up pricey - any location shoots would have to be fixed and edited to make it look like the past. Wouldn't be too much of a problem if it was set in the 60s, 70s or 80s - but then you get to the issue of Nikki Wood. Hell, the new film could have Nikki as the star Slayer - but that might infringe the rights of the show (get Joss involved. Honestly.) and she comes with a definate sell-by date: Spike kills her in 1977.

That would throw another spanner in the works - by the time it comes to killing off Nikki, James Marsters would have aged far too much to realistically play the immortally young Spike; never mind character-rights. That could be side-stepped, of course: the film franchise/show could end before Nikki's death; have a behind-the-head shot of Spike's signature platinum locks in a face-off with Nikki, recreating their first meeting as shown in BtVS, which could end the show; or some clever re-casting or editing could be used. That's all an aside, though; setting the new film in the 60s or 70s could involve the new franchise ending with Nikki being Called.

However, I am not in any way involved with the creation or development of the potential new film - more's the pity. So I'm pretty sure the chances are Kuzui Ent. will try to remake/reboot the original film, and unless they end up with a writer good enough to Maru-nate it they'll just bollocks it all up and ruin it for the fans.

Will it suck? Probably. Will I see it anyway out of a crazed devotion to Buffy? Certainly.

* Sarah Michelle Gellar

** Before Buffy

Of course, the Kuzuis have stated the new film will NOT be a prequel or a sequel, despite the huge fucking idiocy of recasting Buffy and remaking the original film, so all my great ideas are good for nothing.