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Date Posted: 02:49:22 12/28/07 Fri
Author: Charles Phipps
Subject: Re: Man if I could only get this to Joss' ears... (AS6 & BS8 REVIEW)
In reply to: Charles Phipps 's message, "Man if I could only get this to Joss' ears... (AS6 & BS8 REVIEW)" on 01:55:49 12/28/07 Fri

*Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Season 8*

Buffy the Vampire Slayer is a series that has a problem that a lot of fans can never really work their head around. The stories must work on a meta-textual and textual level. In many respects; Buffy the Vampire Slayer is Joss Whedon's version of Mel Brooks' Blazing Saddles, Space Balls, or Young Frankenstein. It's a series that is played "straight" by the main characters despite the fact that events frequently veer off into the absurdly humorous. Unlike Mel Brooks, the heroes of Buffy the Vampire Slayer never break character even when they're facing a gigantic Demonic Robot.

At the end of Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 7, Joss Whedon made his femminist statement about the empowerment of women by allowing the "Slayer Force" (for lack of a better term) to be spread amongst all the women in the world who have the potential to be Slayers. Then he proceeded to destroy Sunnydale California to put an end to any possibility of continuing the storyline there. It was an appropriate, if rather obvious, ending that reminded this member of the audience of G.I. Joe's Public Service Announcements. That the people in the audience were the REAL heroes and could carry the lessons from this story into real life. Since, well, you too could be a Slayer.

The question becomes, could Joss Whedon take advantage of the change in mediums? No longer confined to a back lot, Joss could certainly have pretty much unlimited special effects. That means no more goofy looking monsters because the actual horror couldn't be created in real life. Also, you could set a story anywhere in the world. Yet, there's a danger there that it won't feel like "Buffy" anymore.

So, far, I'm pleased. The "Big Bad" of this season is clearly set up in the first issue and it's also clear that Joss Whedon doesn't intend to keep the current villains around forever but we'll have a decided arc followed by a conclusion. I like stories that have a beginning, middle, and end. This definitely looks like it's shaping up to be one.

Plus, best of all. Everyone seems to be in character.

I think I like the character development that everyone is getting in their newly assigned roles:

Buffy has removed herself from her angst-ridden past and returned to being a wise-cracking superhero that she does so well. The fact she's the world's best Slayer and acknowledged as such is just part and parcel for the series. Plus, it's interesting they're not ignoring the romantic element to the character.

Xander is no longer being treated as a deputy to Andrew (a character I loathed with the fury of ten thousand suns due to the fact he continually upstaged my favorite character) but now getting to play a full-fledged Watcher. I enjoyed the fact he's moved from construction towards being a genuine hero.

Willow has since broken up with her girlfriend (the controversial second romance not working, primarily because Kennedy was just not interesting) with her personality restored to its original self. We see a lot of Willowisms and she's continuing to use her incredible spells to aid those around her.

Dawn is a Giant, As in she's a Giant in the Jolly Green Sense. That's funny and her role as comic relief is more than enough to entertain me.

So, the Scooby Gang is intact. Good for them.

I'm somewhat annoyed that Giles continues his seperation from the rest of the group. His story arc with Faith is a tremendously enjoyable one where Rupert continues to act as the "Well-Intentioned Extremist" that performs the actions that the rest of the heroes need to do but can't because of their own morality. For a man that was fond of Buffy's relationship with Giles, it seems that there's no reconciliation with her 'real' father in site.

Joss has made some controversial and interesting decisions in this particular story. I'll basically go down what I've enjoyed and am a bit annoyed about in the following bit.

The villains for this series appear to be a Human dominated Secret Society that hates the Slayers. Joss neatly avoids two things that might have screwed up this story. The first is that the Secret Society appears to be a branch of the government (It's not) so we can avoid the cheap political theater of the United States' current state. Second, Joss deliberately shoots down the idea he's telling another anti-misogyny tale (I support those but the metaphor is getting a bit stale after 2 seasons where it's a focus) by pointing out that it's a an initiative with women in it.

Sometimes a cigar is a cigar even in the Whedonverse.

Bringing back old villains Amy, Ethan Rayne, and (shockingly) Warren is an interesting choice. I never supported Amy's Heel-Turn as a villain but she works surprisingly well here. Ethan's death is a bit of a waste but it helps reinforce that we're still in the Buffyverse by killing a major character. You can't say it's the Buffyverse unless you kill a major character.

I'm also pleased that we're adding character development to even such lesser-characters like Faith and Robin Wood. I think that this series is an excellent chance for Joss to address all of the various little subplots that were not left alone before. Even if some of the stuff doesn't work for me (The Faux British Noblewoman storyline was based on a premise that I couldn't by---that British nobility were influential enough still to actually make a credible villain. The only fictional modern day British nobleman I can take seriously is James Destro----and that's because he's Scottish!).

So, overall, I can say I'm enthusiastic and eagerly awaiting more from this series.


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