Thursday, December 4, 2014

I Rewrite Buffy the Vampire Slayer

I actually enjoyed the Buffy the Vampire Slayer series during its run back in the 90s and early 2000s, but there were some things (well, a lot of things) that I didn't like about it.  None of them were fatal flaws... they just made me wish they weren't present.  Anyway, with that in mind, here are some changes I would make to the series, were I give the power to somehow rewrite it.  After all, the series is now almost 20 years old, and its time to reboot the franchise.

This is only what I would do about Season One.

The first major change is the basic nature of the show.  It will keep the humor and the theme about friendship and loyalty and how high school really is a horror story, but it will be bloodier, gorier, and more gritty.  Darker in general.  We're making this one on HBO rather than the WB.

The "opening credits" characters are Buffy and Dawn Summers, Rupert Giles, Willow and Oz Rosenberg, Tara McClay, and Xander Harris.

The "rolling credit regulars" (the ones who aren't part of the credit sequence, but are listed over the opening seconds of the episode, are Cordelia Chase, Angelus, Darla, Penn, Spike, Drusilla, Principle Snyder, and Joyce Summers.

The "and starring" credit regulars (the last ones listed) are Richard Wilkins III, and the Master.

The Details:

Hank Summers died several months prior to the beginning of the show, and the Summers women (Joyce, Dawn, and Buffy) have relocated to Sunnydale in order to try for a fresh start.

Buffy is still slightly PTSD about the death of Merrick, her first Watcher, and is thus, at least at the beginning of the show, reluctant to continue as a Slayer.  It was the deaths of so many of her friends, and her first Watcher being horribly killed in front of her eyes, that was the reason why she was committed to an asylum for a little while, and not just that she started saying "Vampires, Vampires".  Also, this will later impact her relationship with Faith.

Neither Joyce nor Dawn know Buffy's the Slayer at first.  Dawn finds out sometime in the middle of Season One when she gets attacked by a vampire and Buffy has to rescue her.  Joyce finds out at the end of Season Two.

Dawn is only a year younger than Buffy.  This means that in the first season she will be a High School Freshman while Buffy, Xander, Willow, et. al. are all Sophmores.  Thus, Dawn can participate more in the storylines and the viewers can become invested in her before the Season 4 reveal that Dawn is the key and didn't exist prior to the first episode of the show.

Jesse McNally is now Jessica Harris, Xander Harris's fraternal twin sister.  She becomes a vampire in the first episode and is staked by Xander.  Xander's motivation for joining the fight against the supernatural is thus the same as in the original series but with a closer connection.  Also, this will hopefully avoid the "let's ignore Jesse completely after the first episode" thing.

Willow Rosenberg is a lesbian from the beginning.  She's also in a relationship with Jessica Harris.  Its Willow, and not Cordelia, whom Xander rescues by staking Jesse.  This gives Willow a definitive motivation for joining the fight as well.  Willow meets Tara McClay in the fourth or fifth episode of the first season.  They'll continue to give each other looks, and will start talking, but won't actually become an official couple until about the second episode of Season Two.  This gives the relationship a realistic time to grow into believability.

Oz is now Osborne Rosenberg, Willow's older brother.  He's a senior, and takes responsibility for Willow in light of their parents constant absenteeism.  He still becomes a werewolf.

Cordelia Chase is almost unchanged.  She's still a brat, and still a foil/rival for Buffy.  Buffy's position in the school is a bit ore even due to the Summers family's improved financial status.  Since I have no plans to ship her off to Los Angeles, I have no plans on making her poor.  I also have no plans on having her survive graduation at the end of Season Three, as I plan on having her come back as a surprisingly lethal vampiric enemy in Season Four.

Jenny Calendar is a background character that occasionally shows up to assist, but isn't going to be a love interest for Giles.  There will be other background teacher parts, all of whom will be played by the same actors in the same roles for the duration of the series' stay at Sunnydale High.

Xander is still possessed by one of the Hyena spirits.  After he's released from the possession he realizes there are some minor side effects, like slightly sharper senses and a bit more durability.  He is nowhere near as capable as Buffy, but we now have an explanation as to how Xander survived all the damage he suffered in the following seasons.

The relationship between Rupert Giles and Joyce Summers begins in Season One as one of mutual respect and companionship.  It doesn't start getting serious until late Season Two/early Season One.  It turns tragic when she dies of an aneurysm in later seasons, naturally.

Mayor Richard Wilkins III is introduced early and its revealed that while he's an earnest and productive politician (and is the most popular mayor the town's had in fifty years -- even our main characters think he's a great guy until they find out he's a demon sorcerer), he's also an evil sorcerer bent on Ascension.  He will remain the "behind the scenes" villain until Season Seven; the main characters will not directly confront him until then, though they might put a stop to one of his schemes by confronting someone who works for him.  He is, ultimately, the "Big Bad" for the entire series, and thus will not be taken down until the series finale at the end of Season Seven.

The Master, Darla, Angelus, Spike, Drusilla, and Penn (a vampire we originally met in "Angel", who was turned by Angelus in the 1700s) are the primary Season One villains.  The younger vampires are all working to free the Master from the cavern he was trapped in (it was Wilkins who did the trapping; the Mayor also sometimes surreptitiously assists Buffy by arranging for her to find out information she wouldn't otherwise have).  In the opening episode, Penn is dusted.  Darla is dusted near the end of the First Season, and of course the Master is slain in the Season Finale.  This leaves Angelus, Spike, and Dru to act as the villains of Season Two.

Snyder is principle from the get go.  It is made clear that he works for Wilkins, and was put in place when Wilkins got word that a high-school age Slayer was coming to his town.  Buffy will be informed that Snyder replaced Flutie only mere days before she arrived, but won't necessarily or immediately connect the dots.  Snyder is an ongoing irritation for Buffy until he's killed some time during Season 7 in a "you've not only outlived your usefulness, but you've become a hindrance" scene involving the Mayor.

No possessed ventriloquist dummies.  This doesn't mean that there won't be humorous episodes.  We'll still keep the one-inch tall fear demon, and the musical episode, and as much of the silliness as possible, but no possessed ventriloquist dummies.

Foreshadowing will occur that hints at the existence of the Initiative.  It takes years for a base like that to be built, which tells me that they were there in the First Season.

Likewise, hints are given that something is up with Dawn.

Buffy will eventually come to realize that Xander is smitten with her, and while resistant at first will eventually come to return his feelings.  Buffy will not ever fall in love with a vampire.  Ever.

During the confrontation with the Master, Buffy still drowns, and is still revived by Xander.  A second Slayer is still called and will appear in the early second season.  The new Slayer will not be Kendra, but rather will be Faith.  This will give the audience a better chance to get involved in Faith emotionally before she turns on Buffy and the Scoobies during Season Three.

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