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Slayers and Vampires : the complete uncensored, unauthorized oral history of Buffy & Angel

W

WillowFromBuffy

Guest
@Mrs Gordo I did not mean to say the Darla story is as bad as She. I just find it more probable that She was cooked up by Greenwalt, who co-wrote and directed the episode and was the co-showrunner of the season. It feels like an AtS episode to me - though AtS at its most clumsy and banal - much more than a Marti Noxon episode.
she's not defined by her cruelty but her entire history with Angel
For the most part, she is. She turns good for a while in S2, inspired by Angel's love and sacrifice for her. Compare Jheira's lack of concern for the killing of the security guard to Darla's killing of her actor husband.

The stories have some striking similarities in theme, imagery, politics and even concretes. Of course, where one is clumsy and simple, the other is emotionally poignant and somewhat complex.
I'm confused. What's IOHEFY got to do with it?
Nothing. That was my point. The similarities between She and other episodes Noxon was involved with are superficial at best.
 

EarthLogic

Scooby
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Black Thorn
I just find it more probable that She was cooked up by Greenwalt, who co-wrote and directed the episode and was the co-showrunner of the season. It feels like an AtS episode to me - though AtS at its most clumsy and banal - much more than a Marti Noxon episode.
If her contribution hasn't been discussed in interviews or commentraies up till now then I guess we're unlikely to ever know for sure. I would like to find out though as I get what you're saying. I do think some of her episodes can come across a bit blunt on the way they handle issues (this seems to be a frequent criticism of Beauty and the Beasts, I think), so there may be a link there,* but what I find oddly absent is Noxon's emotional intuition. She's usually very good at getting to the emotional heart of episodes, something which is sorely lacking in 'She', so it may very well be that her involvement was minimal (compare the Angel/Darla water tank confrontation in 'Dear Boy' which she wrote/rewrote).

*But then again, we know that each episode is usually broken by all the writers together and then assigned to one of them, so that may not always be her doing either.
 
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W

WillowFromBuffy

Guest
this seems to be a frequent criticism of Beauty and the Beasts, I think
Both stories are very clumsy, but I much prefer Beauty and the Beast, because of its very different politics and because it has a few good moments.
compare the Angel/Darla conversation in 'Dear Boy' which she wrote/rewrote
Wow! It is impossible to keep track of everything. Is that the "you may be a good boy, but God doesn't want you" speech? That is a very good speech.
 

Grace

Destructo-Girl
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Black Thorn
But then again, we know that each episode is usually broken by all the writers together and then assigned to one of them, so that may not always be her doing either.
That’s interesting to know. I’ve only done minimal reading on bts stuff, but it seems like writers often talk about pitching stories to Joss and breaking stories with him, but they rarely seem to talk about ideas from writers other than the showrunners in what I’ve read, so I wasn’t sure how it worked.
 

EarthLogic

Scooby
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Black Thorn
That’s interesting to know. I’ve only done minimal reading on bts stuff, but it seems like writers often talk about pitching stories to Joss and breaking stories with him, but they rarely seem to talk about ideas from writers other than the showrunners in what I’ve read, so I wasn’t sure how it worked.
From what I understand any one of them can pitch an idea. Usually it ends up being Joss because it's his show and he has all these ideas running around his head - but then he'd also ask for contributions from others to flesh out the story (like for SR he asked them all for the worst thing they'd ever done). He often turned to Noxon when he wanted to ensure women and female experiences were written authentically - like 'Surprise' for Buffy's first time. Then they'd all break it together, hash out the structure and what should happen in each scene and act, after which it would be assigned to one of them to write an outline which is reviewed by the showrunner, then they'd go away and write a draft.
 
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Mrs Gordo

Bangel extremist...
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Texas
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I wrote the scene where he basically pretends that he just doesn't care about her and just acts like a dick.
So I gotta say - I'm a little confused. I just finished re-watching the EW 20th Anniversary Reunion show and Joss once again says this about writing the bedroom scene where Angel "pretends that he doesn't care." If he said it one time I could understand it but that's twice now he says it. Does Joss think that Angelus does care?? And he's pretending not to care to hurt Buffy? Are getting some insight into Angelus here? Or am I reading too much into this?
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Then they'd all break it together, hash out the structure and what should happen in each scene and act, after which it would be assigned to one of them to write an outline which is reviewed by the showrunner, then they'd go away and write a draft.
But then we have this quote from Vebber:

Buffy was not a very collaborative show. At least not for me. It was very much Joss's show. So that was my first experience with the idea of a show runner who pretty much will do a page one rewrite of your draft. I'm always reticent to talk about my experience on the show, because people will compliment me about the episodes that I wrote. For the most part, the things that they were so impressed with are purely, one hundred percent Joss and not me.
I think the collaborative part was just the EPs not all of the writers.

Minear talks alot about the collaborative nature of Angel but I wonder how much Buffy was collaborative at least initially.
 

EarthLogic

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Black Thorn
So I gotta say - I'm a little confused. I just finished re-watching the EW 20th Anniversary Reunion show and Joss once again says this about writing the bedroom scene where Angel "pretends that he doesn't care." If he said it one time I could understand it but that's twice now he says it. Does Joss think that Angelus does care?? And he's pretending not to care to hurt Buffy? Are getting some insight into Angelus here? Or am I reading too much into this?
I think Angelus does care - in the sense that the memory/echo of his love for Buffy torments him and he can't handle it ('She made me feel like a human being. That's not the kind of thing you just forgive'), but I think what Joss means is that he's pretending to just be Angel-who-no-longer-cares.
 

Mylie

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I didn't know Charisma suffered from anxiety during BtVS!

I think my bosses knew my heart and knew how much I cared, so they wouldn't fire me just because of my work ethic and because of my passion and my extreme effort to overcome what I was going through. Then there came a time, I think it was the third season of Buffy, when they were like, "What can we do to help you?" And I said, "I need an acting teacher on set to run lines with me". Really, what I probably needed to do was to stop running lines. I needed to stop and relax, which is easier said than done. That's so cliché : how do you let go when you're driven like me? So that was my big thing, and my costars were probably annoyed and it didn't bode well with my relationships with them. Not that they were mean; there was no drama like that. But you know, poor Sarah, spending thousands and thousands of hours on a set, I just can't imagine that this girl, six years younger than me, who was working her ass off, consummate professional, and then, it's Charisma's turn! There was shame around it and the anxiety and fear and really empathizing with everyone I was working with. - Charisma Carpenter

When they finally did kill me off, they did exactly what I asked Joss to do, which was to have me eaten. When I knew they were going to graduate from school, I didn't know how they were going to graduate, but I knew that they were seniors and were graduating and I knew that I was no longer needed. I said, "Listen, I know you're going to have to get rid of me one way or another, but I want to be eaten." Because Flutie was eaten. And they agreed to my wishes. - Armin Shimerman

I didn't really see Joss that much. He didn't direct the first episode I was in. It all went very quickly. People were telling me that it was really fun to watch, and so I thought I was really in and then was surprised when Joss walked by me and got in my face - didn't push me up against the wall - but I backed up into a wall and he shook his finger at me and said, "I don't care how popular you are, kid, you are dead! You are dead, do you hear me? Dead." I was like, What the ****? I've come to realize what was happening was Spike was imperiling the theme of the show. Evil is not cool to Joss Whedon, and I really respect him for that. He thinks of evil as being pathetic, which I agree with. In Buffy the vampire slayer, vampires are metaphors for the challenges that you overcome in adolescence. And so vampires are supposed to be very ugly and quickly killed off. And that's why we had the vamp face in Buffy, so that the moment we bite people is never sensual. It's always horrific. He once told me, "I don't like that Ann Rice crap; that's not what I'm going for". He had gotten talked into one romantic vampire character by his writing partner, then David Greenwalt, which was Angel, who just took off like a rocket ship. By the time I got on the show, they were already plans that he would have his own show. I think Joss had said, "Ok, that's one. We'll do one. No more romantic vampires, that's it." Then I came along. The character wasn't designed to be romantic - the audience wasn't supposed to respond to me that way. But I think once you made my hair blond and allowed me to have that much mascara on... it probably explains why the audience thought of me as a romantic character. But that was really dangerous, and this was in the beginning of season two and I think Joss was afraid that the show was slipping away and was just going to become another show about hot, young vampires, which to him is much less interesting. I am forever amazed and grateful that, in the face of that, he decided not to kill me off. To instead, really engage with the character and this universe and this theme. It speaks to his courage and his talent that he did that. Because, I gotta tell you, I produced theater in Chicago and Seattle : I would've killed me off in a heartbeat... probably before five episodes. As soon as the audience said, "Oh he's romantic", I'd have killed me off after two episodes just to, you know, get it out of the way. So I'm very lucky. - James Marsters

"Lovers Walk" was an episode that was not as heavily rewritten as "The Zeppo". My pitch to Joss for that episode was "we should do a Rosencrantz & Guildenstern episode, where it's following a really boring character, and in the background the most exciting, world-ending story is taking place and we just don't even address it". He liked that idea and he ended up doing it. In my draft, the B story was brought to the forefront and the A story was in the background, whereas in Joss's draft of it he had brought up the B story much more. I feel like it might have lost a little of that Rosencrantz & Guildenstern element, but, for all I know, it wouldn't have been watchable if that were the case. - Dan Vebber
 

Mylie

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Season four was about, How do you keep the group together without being sort of 90210 about it, and believably? The answer is, you don’t. By season four, we were into mission statement. Season two was “Spike and Dru” – and then we realized we were doing the Angel thing – and that became the season. Season three we knew we were going to do the Faith thing and graduate and there was going to be some growing up to do. We didn’t come into real mission statements until season four, because things were so different. What we said was this is the first year of college, the first year of college is about being able to do whatever the hell you want, completely losing yourself and trying on new identities and changing and obviously in Willow’s case changing a lot. Exploring sexuality, exploring freedom to **** your boyfriend all day, which Buffy did for a while. There are periods you go through where it’s “My God, nobody’s watching and we can go through whatever we want”. Giles had been fired and was completely at loose ends. The man had a sombrero on, for God’s sake. And the group kind of got torn apart by it. Plus the introduction of Riley into Buffy’s life, something that, no matter what, we knew was going to be difficult and strange. Add all that to “Let’s play our James Bond fantasies” with the whole idea of the Initiative. – Joss Whedon

What changed Joss’s mind about bringing me back is he needed a new Cordelia. He needed a character to come in and tell Buffy, “You’re stupid; we’re all about to die”. Cordelia went off to the Angel spin-off, so they needed a character to fill those shoes. Joss told me that Sarah actually said “What about Spike?” Joss thought for a second, “That might work”. So yeah, I was the new Cordelia. In fact, that’s why I think I eventually went over to Angel, because they lost Cordelia and they needed a new one. I’ve been following in Cordelia’s footsteps ever since. – James Marsters

Obviously, the one thing you want to do is make Riley the new love interest for Buffy, but it became kind of clear that the fans weren’t reacting. We weren’t finding him as interesting a character as we would have liked. Marc Blucas is great, but the chemistry wasn’t entirely there. Initially, the excitement of bringing in this cool secret agent to be Buffy’s love interest was something Joss was really thrilled with. Marti also had something to do with Marc’s casting. I think she just went gaga over him. But the character never quite gelled in the way we wanted. – David Fury

Poor Marc Blucas; he’s a great guy. I can’t say enough about Blucas. He’s another one of the nicest guys in Hollywood. He’s a dear friend. Nobody in America was ready to accept the fact that Angel was gone. It had nothing to do with Blucas. Nobody was ready to accept that Angel was gone and Angel and Buffy weren’t going to be a thing. That’s why Blucas got hammered. I don’t think that anybody in that role stood a shot. You could’ve cast Brad Pitt. OK, maybe that would work, but other than that I just don’t think anyone would’ve had a shot, because America loved Angel. – Christian Kane
 

RomanticSoul

Frell Me
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Poor Marc Blucas; he’s a great guy. I can’t say enough about Blucas. He’s another one of the nicest guys in Hollywood. He’s a dear friend. Nobody in America was ready to accept the fact that Angel was gone. It had nothing to do with Blucas. Nobody was ready to accept that Angel was gone and Angel and Buffy weren’t going to be a thing. That’s why Blucas got hammered. I don’t think that anybody in that role stood a shot. You could’ve cast Brad Pitt. OK, maybe that would work, but other than that I just don’t think anyone would’ve had a shot, because America loved Angel. – Christian Kane
Oh no you don't CK. If you had gotten the role, and had at least some chemistry with SMG, I bet things would have gone a whole different way. I would have been on the Briley side 150%, well if the writing for Riley also would have been decent. But sorry, Blucas was so boring on screen and the lack of chemistry with SMG was apparent to anyone with eyes. Now CK as Riley...

However that means no Angel/Lindsay hookups in dark corners all the time over on AtS. So I'm really torn there...
 

Mylie

Scooby
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A lot of our great shocks come from things that we can't control. We were basically told by Lindsay Crouse's agent that she had to be done by Christmas. We knew that was going to be the progression, that she would create Adam and Adam would destroy her, but we weren't sure how it would completely unfold. Given the situation, we decided to do it abruptly, and that charmed the hell out of me. It's always fun to do something a little startling. To an extent, the characters are telling us what they need, and to an extent the situation dictates what happens. - Joss Whedon

I was very surprised when my agent called and said you have another episode of Buffy. I said "Buffy? I'm dead on Buffy." And with all due respect to all the other episodes I did, I think the very best work on Buffy, perhaps in my whole career, was in that episode, "Restless". Armin Shimerman

On to season 5 now...

I thought it was kind of brilliant, actually, because I knew that the initial reaction would be that we were trying to repopulate the show with younger actors. That's the thing networks tend to do after a certain amount of years and just go "Our teenage characters are getting too old; we need to refresh the show". But that's not what it really was at all. It was just a clever idea about how to introduce a new character in the show and change the history and memories of all the characters, and then not explain it for five episodes, which was just fantastic. I loved it when Joss pitched it. He pitched it toward the end of the prior season, because he had alluded to her in earlier episodes, including "Restless". There were all these clues written about Dawn's appearance, which was a lot of fun. I did get to name Dawn. We had a little brainstorming session where we're like what do we call Buffy's sister? We were all coming up with different names and at some point I just hit on Dawn. I was just thinking it seemed like a great name for Summers, Dawn Summers and how the dawn is the thing that chases vampires away. I didn't know it was also the name of Joss's sister-in-law, whom I'd never heard of or met. - David Fury

I was actually very bothered by that episode. I know that it delighted Joss. It delighted Marti, too, this idea of Buffy facing Dracula. I thought it flew in the face of the mythology of our vampires. It doesn't play in the Dracula playground. The kind of logic I would apply to it is the thing Joss would say "Who cares?" Well, I do. I care. We've created these rules and I don't want to break our rules. And Dracula totally broke the rules. We just said Dracula is some weird anomaly of a vampire, and seeing Xander become Renfield was all fun, but it was an episode I had difficulty embracing. I thought it sort of commented on how Buffy's universe is kind of fictional. When you start introducing another famous fictional character into our world, to me it bursts the bubble of this universe that Joss created and we created with him. Some people enjoyed it very much. I'm just not one of them. - David Fury
 

Mylie

Scooby
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Everything makes sense now.....
You know, I've had the same reaction while reading this but linked to another element of the buffyverse. Fury does seem to care a lot about the logistics and respecting the mythology of the show. I wonder if maybe that's why he was resisting the way the soul canon changed overtime. I think he was okay with it in the end, but he did seem to feel the need to make sense of it all. I think that's when he came up with the soul residue theory for Spike. I think where Whedon and Noxon are more driven by emotions, he's a bit more driven by logic.
 

Mrs Gordo

Bangel extremist...
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Texas
Black Thorn
You know, I've had the same reaction while reading this but linked to another element of the buffyverse. Fury does seem to care a lot about the logistics and respecting the mythology of the show. I wonder if maybe that's why he was resisting the way the soul canon changed overtime. I think he was okay with it in the end, but he did seem to feel the need to make sense of it all. I think that's when he came up with the soul residue theory for Spike. I think where Whedon and Noxon are more driven by emotions, he's a bit more driven by logic.
They talk about the Dracula problem specifically in Dusted in this context. But yeah, I see what your saying Fury seems to require continuity in world building where Whedon/Noxon are ok with just getting the story out at all costs. I had that gut feeling but it’s nice to see it in black and white.
 

Cheese Slices

A Bidet of Evil
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I think it's good to have someone keep the worldbuilding in check, but I'm glad the decision ultimately fell to Whedon and Noxon. I don't think the verse mythology should ever be an obstacle to the right emotional and character development.
 

TriBel

Scooby
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You know, I've had the same reaction while reading this but linked to another element of the buffyverse. Fury does seem to care a lot about the logistics and respecting the mythology of the show. I wonder if maybe that's why he was resisting the way the soul canon changed overtime. I think he was okay with it in the end, but he did seem to feel the need to make sense of it all. I think that's when he came up with the soul residue theory for Spike. I think where Whedon and Noxon are more driven by emotions, he's a bit more driven by logic.
I'm not sure logic/emotions come into it. The politico-aesthetic of the time was postmodernism. Whedon knows the ground rules and from the beginning, BtVS is a typically postmodern text. I don't think it's any coincidence the season starts with Dracula. Dracula blurs the boundaries between fictional and real worlds and marks a shift from a playful postmodernism to a more critically aware postmodernism. Postmodernism can be apolitical - the shift politicizes the series. You see a direct reference to one of the battlegrounds of the theoretical divide in Life Serial - the discussion of social constructionism. You don't need Fury's "soul residue theory" to make sense of the soul - the introduction of back stories gives enough grounds to understand the different responses of Angel/Spike. "Listen to Fear" introduces ideas about history and time that seem heavily reliant on Walter Benjamin and are, I think, fundamental to the Giles mini. "Real Me" asks questions not just of Dawn but about all the characters.

Espenson worked with George Lakoff at Berkley. Lakoff's a cognitive psychologist and the author of "Metaphors we live by". This particular text gives a scientific basis to the ideas of continental philosophy - metaphor is not just a trope but central to the contemporary understanding of how we think and how we express our thoughts in language. This idea is central to 6/7. Lakoff credits Espenson in his book on the embodied mind - an idea central to S7 (there's a reason Touched is called Touched). S6 is also drawing on Kristeva's theories of abjection (if it isn't, it can be framed by it). S7 draws on Irigaray, or the existentialism associated with Merleau-Ponty (his ideas feed into Lakoff's work).

There's nothing "emotional" about the Noxon years in the sense they're driven by emotions - they investigate "emotion" as an alternative way of viewing and understanding the world. And why not - since emotion is one of the female "characteristics" used to debase the female experience. . There's an argument that's been made by better people that me, that "reason" is fundamental to the worst atrocities of the 20th century. Okay - the Verse has a mythology but I'd want the reframe "myth" with reference to both Barthes and Adorno because the text implicitly does so.
 

sk

The Overlooked One
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Sineya
I think it's good to have someone keep the worldbuilding in check, but I'm glad the decision ultimately fell to Whedon and Noxon. I don't think the verse mythology should ever be an obstacle to the right emotional and character development.
Don't think one necessarily needs to overshadow the other.
The ideal is to do both properly.

In BtVS worldbuilding and consistency has never been a priority though.
That's was clear since the first episode and I'm fine with that.
I'm in it for the jokes and the emotions and that's enough to make BtVS work brilliantly imho.

What always surprise me is that many seems to expect things to make sense all of the sudden in season 6 (or whenever they think the show is going downhill).

/SK
 
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