I was asked to try to contrast a number of science fiction and horror works. After hitting a number of science fiction works, I realized I needed to address a few fantasy shows as well. “Buffy – Vampire Slayer” is a TV show that lasted surprisingly long given that it was based on a mediocre movie. That’s a credit to Sarah Michelle Gellar. “Charmed” was a contemporary show that lasted a little longer, a mixed bag in its own right.

 

The Points in Favor of “Buffy”

  • It was a fun teen drama plus the vampires, werewolves and monsters.
  • They had a surprising number of monsters, though as a vampire slayer, that is most of what she slayed.
  • The show had excellent action scenes.
  • There was rich world-building and it was good at tying up loose ends. The monster that ate people who ate that specific burger was about the only one they didn’t go back to address.
  • Ethical quandaries! Example: they ran into vampires who supplied drugs to addicts who willingly traded their blood… and admitted there were more ethical targets to Slay.

 

The Points in Favor of “Charmed”

  • Since it started with young women in their late teens and early twenties, the show could address everything from finding jobs to love while fighting evil.
  • A fun and funny evil lawyer who managed to have depth and love, too. And became the Source of ultimate evil …
  • It was pro-family and not just “yeah, sisters!” Mom, grandma, Dad (later on), marriage, children …
  • There’s some decent world-building here like the Cleaners who remove the traces of magic and the explanation for the rules the higher powers follow.
  • The show really grew when they killed off Prudence/Shannon Doherty, when most would have deteriorated. Rose McGowan added instead of subtracted from the show.

 

The Strikes Against “Buffy”

  • We’re running out of ideas – quick, kill a member of the Scooby crew! And sometimes in really lame ways. Like Ben. Poor Ben.
  • They kept ending it and then bringing it back, like killing Buffy before resurrecting her.
  • She never really moved beyond being a Slayer.
  • Except Riley the monster hunter, she never had a romantic relationship except with a vampire … who got a soul. Too much repetition of a very specific plot.
  • “Angel” proved Cordelia Carpenter can act. You didn’t do enough with her in Buffy.

 

The Strikes Against “Charmed”

  • We’re running out of ideas, quick, another magical pregnancy! Three, if I remember right, between two sisters.
  • Less wit and witty dialogue for the magical sisters. “Buffy” beat them here.
  • Sometimes too much angst, especially given that it wasn’t involving teens.

 

I’m aware of the “Charmed” reboot due out October 14. They had the option of jumping forward in time to have the three sisters raising two teen boys paralleling the precedent set by “Fuller House” and decided, nope, reboot with “more diverse” demographics instead. That’s Hollywood’s definition of new and improved today.

And now a few comments on “Angel”, the “Buffy” spin-off. “Angel” was an excellent stand-alone series. It shared a few issues with Buffy, such as the “we killed Delilah, we’re running out of ideas, bring her back …” AND they gave her a magical pregnancy, too. The show “Angel” managed to do more with this by accelerating the aging of the son, then the father’s sacrifice to give the son as normal a life as possible.

Their attempts to reform Wolfram & Heart from the inside were great, at least, until they started to run out of ideas and reverted to the “Quick, kill a character and replace them!” plot device that undermined “Buffy.” They killed the young female scientist rescued from a Hell dimension who overcame terrible PTSD to fight evil… only to become an empty vessel possessed by a Hell dimension. Unfair. Gunn’s treatment was almost worse. We don’t need a street savvy warrior. Here’s a magical upgrade to an attorney and we hope you’re still good. Still not good enough. OK, go rot in a Hell dimension, essentially killing off a core team member to bring back a baddie because the writers can’t seem to come up with much new except the constant rotation of novel monsters.

What I desperately wanted to see but failed to materialize was the last, planned season of “Angel” – the supernatural post-apocalyptic episode taking place after Angel says he wants to kill the dragon. The closest thing I’ve seen that rivaled that premise was the mediocre Syfy show “Dominion”, loosely based on the movie “Legion”. Hey, Netflix! Try bringing us the lost season of “Angel” instead of the proposed reboot of Buffy as a black chick.

Then again, if someone wanted to do another “Buffy” spin-off and honor the cannon, there was a black slayer who fought in 1970s NYC. She served several years, including being a single teen mother. If that’s not enough for them to work off of, her son grew up to be a successful education professional that kills vampires on the side. Heck, they even have the comics with Gunn as a bad vampire to work with. But I don’t think we’re getting any of these cannon Buffy spin-offs, either.

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Photo by Castles, Capes & Clones

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