Over the weekend, news broke that Buffy the Vampire Slayer is to be rebooted for a new generation. The series is being classed as a contemporary take on the mythology, with Buffy creator, Joss Whedon on board in an executive producer role.
Since the announcement was made, there has been a lot of talk about whether Buffy needs a reboot or not. There’s a very vocal majority that is dead against the idea of going anywhere near Buffy, with the belief that the series should be left as it is.
Here’s my ten cents.
First and foremost, I am a huge fan of Buffy. When the show originally aired I followed Buffy (and Angel) every week on TV; I collected Buffy comics, magazines and figures; and I went to conventions to meet members of the cast.
Flash forward to today and I recently re-purchased all of the episodes of Buffy (and Angel) in a digital format, so I can watch them wherever and whenever I feel like it; and I also purchased a heap of Buffy comics, including the majority of Dark Horse’s original run of comics. Within the last month I’ve re-read all of the old Buffy comics, to familiarise myself with the stories that were being published when the show was on air.
So yeah, big fan of the show. Oh and I also love the original movie. Sure, it’s nothing like the TV series, but it has an early ’90s vibe and it’s goofy enough to enjoy as a popcorn movie.
Now, all that said you’d kind of expect me to say I am strongly against the idea of a Buffy reboot. Well, I’m not.
If Fox want to reboot Buffy, then let them. If they don’t, then sooner or later someone else will.
If the impending Fox/Disney deal goes through, then Disney will end up in control of Buffy and I expect the Mouse House to do the same thing. Why? Because Buffy is a beloved TV series which has been very profitable over the years thanks to DVD and merchandise sales, so no company will just sit on a cash cow like that without trying to revive it in some form or another.
As far as I can see, this leaves three choices:
1.) Revive the show with the original cast.
2.) Create a continuation of the original show, with a new cast but a few original cast members dropping by for guest spots.
3.) Reboot and start afresh.
If Fox opts for option one, then we could end up in a situation that The X-Files has faced, whereby the new series becomes a bit hit-and-miss. Once the initial buzz has worn off, then fans start to view the show as not being as good as the original. Meanwhile, new viewers might not be as interested in tuning in if they have to catch up on all the past seasons (plus five seasons of Angel) and the show struggles to gain any interest past core fans.
There’s also the rather prickly problem of a continuation taking place more than 20 years after the original first aired. I hate to say it, but people age and that’s not great for a show where significant characters like Angel and Spike are supposed to be immortal.
Plus, for me, Buffy worked best during the first three years, when the characters were at high school. I’m not sure I really want to pick up with Buffy in her 40s, where she has to juggle vampire slaying with back pain.
And before anyone passes comment, I’m in my late 30s and suffer from back pain – it happens.
Moving on to option two – a continuation of the original show, but with a new cast. This could work, but again there’s the problem with ageing. So, do we just ignore Spike and Angel?
The strength of option two is it would allow the series to build upon the existing continuity of the show, while acting as a soft reboot at the same time. There’s a suggestion that this is actually the route the new Buffy show will go down, but will that please every one?
It’s neither one thing nor the other. The fear here is that a part continuation will add new wrinkles to existing characters, but won’t have the time to flesh those wrinkles out and not everyone is on board for that idea.
The third option is to just reboot the entire show from top to bottom. While I’d rather Fox plump for option two, I’m not going to lose sleep over the idea of a flat out reboot.
Sure, some reboots are awful, but some can be good. Until the show arrives on the air we won’t really know which column this proposed show will fall into.
As previously discussed on It’s A Stampede!, in relation to ThunderCats Roar and She-Ra and the Princesses of Power, reboots aren’t always aimed at the people who watched the show the first time around. They also don’t stop the original from existing – the original can be enjoyed as a completely separate entity.
If this new Buffy show does turn out to be a complete reboot and it turns out to be utter rubbish, then it’ll be very short lived. And when Fox (or Disney) look to the property again (and they will) the next reboot will be closer in tone to the original.
My point is, if the show is a reboot then fine. If it works then we get a good show and if it doesn’t it’ll go away pretty quickly.
If it was up to me, I’d bring Buffy back as a cartoon – either as an adaptation of the Dark Horse comics or as a return to the high school era of the show, with the original cast reprising their roles for the voiceover work. A high school-era cartoon was something that almost happened, back when the show was originally on the air, so why couldn’t it happen now?
At the end of the day, for characters like Buffy to maintain their legacy a bit of reinvention is needed. The reason we still care about characters like Batman, Transformers and the X-Men is because they’ve been reworked time-and-time again.
New takes on existing characters bring in new audiences. Those that really dig the characters will often go back to the past incarnations to see what the fuss was all about the first time around.
I really like Superman, but I don’t have to like just one version of Superman. I can like George Reeves, Christopher Reeve and Dean Cain, but still have time for Henry Cavill.
Likewise, as much as I love Sarah Michelle Gellar as Buffy, I’ve always got time for Kristy Swanson. I’ve no doubt I’ll find something to like about the actress who gets to play Buffy in 30 years’ time when we’re on the third or fourth reboot – because it will happen.