If Buffy the vampire slayer chanced to meet Sabrina the teenage witch, would she drive a stake through her heart?
Could be. Sarah Michelle Gellar, TV's Buffy -- Kristy Swanson played the role in the 1992 theatrical film -- is one buff gal.
Matter of fact, ``Buffy the Vampire Slayer'' (premiering as a two-hour movie at 8 p.m. on Channel 20) is as surprisingly engaging as the film that spawned it.
Some of the production team is back, most notably Joss Whedon, who wrote the feature film (he also wrote ``Toy Story,'' ``Speed'' and ``Twister'') and created the TV series.
You'll recall that the original movie amounted to a comedic clash between Southern California's Val-Gal culture and a clan of fashion-challenged, blood-sucking vampires.
PORTAL TO HELL
Buffy's high school vapidity was interrupted by the discovery that she was a once-in-a-generation ``slayer,'' adept at rooting out vampires.
In the TV show, 16-year-old Buffy has pulled up stakes and moved with her mother (Kristine Sutherland) from Los Angeles to a placid town called SunnyDale.
The town's original name, it turns out, was Hellmouth. An evil ``master'' vampire (Mark Metcalf) dwells underground with his flock, presiding over the portal to hell.
As Buffy reluctantly accepts her vampire-killing destiny, which is murder on her date life, her only confidants are Giles (Anthony Stewart Head), the high school librarian; Willow (Alyson Hannigan), a shy but brainy classmate; and Xander (Nicholas Brendon), an awkward boy with a crush on Buffy.
It appears that Buffy's daytime foil will be the mandatory school snob and social enforcer, Cordelia (Charisma Carpenter), whose opening advice to Buffy is, ``Know your losers. Once you can identify them all by sight, they're easier to avoid.''
Whedon's script for tonight's show is as zingy as the 1992 movie, with the Cordelia character as a chief beneficiary. Surveying the scene at a local nightspot, Cordelia says, ``Senior boys, they have mystery. They have
--what's the word I'm searching for? -- cars.''
The Buffy role seems to have been altered a bit for Gellar, who won an Emmy five years ago, at age 15, for a part in ``All My Children.'' This Buffy is primed for martial arts action, but she's also notably nimbler in the cranium. It's a decent role, and Gellar handles it with wit, confidence, impressive athleticism and a fetching off- center smile.
GOOD FOR A FEW LAUGHS
``Buffy'' takes itself just seriously enough to ladle moderate suspense between chuckles. Only younger children are likely to be bothered by the mostly bloodless noshing. The vampires can lay bona fide claim to ugliness, though. Imagine bull faces and severe overbites.
The show might hit gravel when it tries to freshen story lines week after week. And the comedic dialogue sags in next week's script, which Whedon didn't write.
But ``Buffy'' certainly has an appealing young star, and tonight, at least, it's the most toothsome fun yet
to find its way onto the WB schedule.
Buffy the Vampire Slayer,
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Buffy the Vampire Slayer,