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Welcome to the Hellmouth - Joss’ commentary

Taake

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So, for the first time in a decade or more I got in the mood to watch a Buffy commentary on the dvds. I’m sure many have already seen the one for the pilot by Joss, but I thought I’d sum up some fun/interesting points:

*It was Alyson Hannigan who turned Joss onto Nerd Herder for the theme song

*The network kept sending them notes about Willows clothes, wanting her to look more ”cool” and to be more like Buffy. Which wasn’t the idea Joss had for the character, but it was a struggle to keep her more relatable and nerdy because of the network.
(seems like thr BOOM comics may be the network wanted originally)

*Buffy’s side of the library scene with Giles was re-shot 8 months later (at the end of the season) because the first take was ”too angry”.
Joss thought so from seeing the dailies, and SMG came to him after and told him she too thought it was too angry of a performance, he was very complimentary about her instincts as an actor.

*Similarly the first meeting between Buffy and Angel was partly re-shot 8 months later because SMG’s original take was "too aggressive".

*It was when watching SMG in the Principal Flutie scene that Joss and David Greenwalt realized what a great tv star she is. That the scene could’ve just been her reactions because she is so brilliant with her expressions, bringing the audience along with her emotionally.

*The Hellmouth wasn’t a big idea to begin with, it was more a way to conveniently explain monsters popping up, but the network LOVED it and they loved the lore, Joss thought it was partly what sold them on the show, so it got expanded and became a bigger thing than originally planned

*Buffy saying ”slut” in the episode was a big problem for WB, even the word "virgin” in ep 4 was a problem for them.


*Xander only rides his skateboard once and carries it a few times after, because it was too expensive to shoot.

*They didn't want to demonize or alienate the grown ups on the show, and they partly choose Anthony Head and Kristine Sutherland for Giles and Joyce, because they brought a youthfulness to the characters, making them feel like they wete still figuring out their lives and situations

*Alyson Hannigan thought she ruined the Bronze scene between her and Buffy, Joss (correctly) calls her insane for that.


*He points out that Giles and Buffy were sometimes too intense and too physically close (violating the ”6 inch rule”), that they had to try to pull it back because a teacher and a young student can’t act like that. Not seemly.


*Jesse asking Cordelia to dance is verbatim what happened to Joss in high school when he asked a girl to dance, except for the sassy come back when she has left.

*Joss preferred the whiter make-up for the vampires, as it looked creepier than the more human coloring of them in later seasons.


*The vampire faces were very planned out, partly they wanted them to be able to look human so that they could interact with them without knowing they’re vampires. But they wanted them to look like obvious monsters when Buffy fights them, because a young girl running around stabbing regular people might’ve sent ”the wrong message”

*Buffy being a hero, stronger than most villains, meant that her struggles and vulnerability had to be more emotional than physical, while the likes of Willow could more believably be put in physical danger (and therefore often was)

*Season 1 they still had the energy for all night shoots at a Hollywood graveyard, by s2 they built their own backplot. More convenient, but it lost the beauty of the real location.

I was going to watch the commentary for The Harvest but got bored and wanted to watch something else. Any way, hope you all enjoy some of this trivia.
 

Angelic Slayer

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What a neat recap, I've never heard the commentary myself. Thanks for posting this!!

*The network kept sending them notes about Willows clothes, wanting her to look more ”cool” and to be more like Buffy. Which wasn’t the idea Joss had for the character, but it was a struggle to keep her more relatable and nerdy because of the network.
This is such a drastic changes in the times, from today. Sometimes for brief moments I forget that nerdy wasn't "cool" for so long. I'm thankful that Willow remained more-or-less nerdy/unpopular in those earlier seasons. I'm not sure I would've related to the show as much in those earlier eps without her that way.

*Xander only rides his skateboard once and carries it a few times after, because it was too expensive to shoot.
I swear I just saw a post about this last week 😂 There's one less mystery in my life.


They never released the original footage for those scenes, did they? I can't recall if the unaired pilot was any different.

But I'd be interested to see the "angrier Buffy" takes, they would've set that pilot episode in a different light I think. Like, it sounds like Buffy wasn't just avoiding her calling, but was visibly lashing out in anger (or resentment?) for it... sets a different tone to the show's premise. Maybe wouldn't have been the same, but I'd love to see the difference nonetheless.
 

Taake

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They never released the original footage for those scenes, did they? I can't recall if the unaired pilot was any different.

But I'd be interested to see the "angrier Buffy" takes, they would've set that pilot episode in a different light I think. Like, it sounds like Buffy wasn't just avoiding her calling, but was visibly lashing out in anger (or resentment?) for it... sets a different tone to the show's premise. Maybe wouldn't have been the same, but I'd love to see the difference nonetheless.
i don’t think so, I’d love to see it too. I wonder if it would’ve been as much of a problem today? Maybe a more angry Buffy would’ve been cool today/audiences would be expected to handle it?
 

thrasherpix

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One thing I'd hate to see in a remake is turning it into Riverdale, a trope that I think has gone stale and needs a break. Giving Buffy an angry attitude (at least as usually done) would be a big step in that wrong direction.

Same for giving s1 Willow cool clothes to wear (all the better to sell the merch of the sponsors), especially if she's supposed to grow as a character (well, there is the Cordelia path as well), and have a reason to bond almost too fast with another outcast newly arrived.
 

Spanky

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Maybe a more angry Buffy would’ve been cool today/audiences would be expected to handle it?
It would have been cool back then too.


edit:

In fact, one could make an argument that one of the reasons people found the Faith character so endearing was she was the more angry version of Buffy.
 
Last edited:

Taake

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It would have been cool back then too.


edit:

In fact, one could make an argument that one of the reasons people found the Faith character so endearing was she was the more angry version of Buffy.
But they found her endearing as a side character and contrast to Buffy (when the show premise was well established), not necessarily as a lead.

Leads generally shouldn’t be as polarizing as Faith is, no?
 

Spanky

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Leads generally shouldn’t be as polarizing as Faith is, no?
It depends. There were polarizing lead characters, even back then, though all male.

I think were it Faith the Vampire Slayer it might have been viewed as more adult (or male) friendly rather than thought of as a teen/kids show. It wasn't the "hip" thing for guys of a certain age to watch when it aired. Spanky got his balls busted a few times for mentioning it.
 
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I'm thankful that Willow remained more-or-less nerdy/unpopular in those earlier seasons. I'm not sure I would've related to the show as much in those earlier eps without her that way.

Agree that it was a good thing they kept Willow nerdy. I think part of the reason so many people are prepared to defend Willow in later seasons is because she was so endearingly nerdy in the early seasons, which might not have worked if she had been more of a network TV hipster nerd.
Even today when there are more nerds in shows a lot of them still tend to be either funny nerd or cool nerd, whereas Willow was an unapologetically nerdy nerd.

I would like to have seen angry Buffy either in season 1 or even make her angry in S6 +S7 rather than depressed and distant.
Although if they do ever get round to doing a remake I hope they don’t go down the angry route - that will just feel like jumping on the bandwagon now
 

AlphaFoxtrot

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Early marketing for Buffy was extremely similar to Fox Teen Melodramas (90210, MP, The Heights, Class of 96, Party of Five, Time of Your Life, et al) and went heavy on the proto-twilight elements. If boys didn't watch it, it's because they were told not to.

Of course, the best early fandom quirk is that the show caught on with a number of Evangelical Christian commentators, detecting it's emphasis on making moral choices. They were right to do so, the best part is early Joss interviews where he manages to be almost polite.
 

Plasma

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*The network kept sending them notes about Willows clothes, wanting her to look more ”cool” and to be more like Buffy. Which wasn’t the idea Joss had for the character, but it was a struggle to keep her more relatable and nerdy because of the network.
(seems like thr BOOM comics may be the network wanted originally)

If you ever wanted proof that executive notes are formulated by people who don’t even bother watching or reading the whole thing, here you have it lol.

Reminds me of Kevin Smith’s Superman script, which he says got sent back with the very first note being the omission of the vital and exciting opening action scene (a suit and tie gala invaded by the Legion of Doom) because tuxedos are expensive to rent.
 

AlphaFoxtrot

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It makes sense. The WB's business model was selling stuff to teenagers, part of that involved product placement. Clothing Buffy, and by extension, the cool characters on the show, would be a potential income source. The softer side of Sears would not be. That's probably why Riff Regan was let go, and every WB/CW actor has always been conventionally very attractive.
 

garfan

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It makes sense. The WB's business model was selling stuff to teenagers, part of that involved product placement. Clothing Buffy, and by extension, the cool characters on the show, would be a potential income source. The softer side of Sears would not be. That's probably why Riff Regan was let go, and every WB/CW actor has always been conventionally very attractive.

I've head Regan was just a place holder. They had a hard time filling Willow's role but needed to get the pilot made
 
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