Underdog cheerleader and high school student by day and martial arts expert-vampire slayer by night, Buffy is the reluctant hero in the action-packed thriller, "Buffy the Vampire Slayer."
Deemed "90210 meets the X-Files," the short clip shown to the press at The WB's Winter Press Tour looked frenetic and yes, action packed.
Sarah Michelle Gellar, formerly of "All My Children," for which she won at Emmy at 15, stars in the title role. Her mentor is played by Anthony Stewart Head -- that guy in the Taster's Choice commercials, each tracing the budding romance between two neighbors who share a love for the same coffee. Head, who played mentor to Lori Singer in last year's short-lived "VR5," is the school librarian and expert on all things paranormal. He is the "Watcher" to Buffy's "Slayer."
Buffy hangs out with Xander Harris, played by Nicholas Brendon, and Willow Rosenberg, played by Alyson Hannigan. Like a modern day Tommy and Anika to Gellar's "Pippi," the two assist Buffy in her efforts to rid the town of its monster infestation.
Rounding out the cast is Buffy's rival, Cordelia Chase, played by Charisma Carpenter (who appeared as 'Ashley' in Aaron Spelling's "Malibu Shores").
Co-exec producer David Greenwalt and exec. producer/creator Joss Whedon, accompanied the cast on-stage for a Q & A.
Gellar was clearly the main attraction, as the heroine of the series and a soap vet, not to mention somewhat of a bombshell, she held the stage assuredly. She told us she studied Tae Kwon Do for about four years and had just received her brown belt when she stopped training. "So when this job came up it was a wonderful opportunity to be able to use that, " she said. And when asked if she was prepared to take on "Sabrina the witch" she snaps her fingers, "Like that, I'll beat her any day...outside in the parking lot actually." What spunk.
The media also seemed fascinated by Whedon, dressed down in dockers and deck shoes, and his quirky mind (his writing credits include: "Alien 4: The Resurrection," "Toy Story," Speed, and "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" -the film). We found out that Joss was, indeed, a quirky man who was the odd guy out in high school. And what scares the creator of "Buffy"? "Everything scares me, but...the thing that actually scares me the most, and the thing that I like the best on the show...I like monsters, I like demons, horns and things, jumping out of closets..."
What's Gellar scared of? "High school is scary...cheerleading scares me, and they made me a cheerleader..."
Not a karmic happy-face, this town, as it's been built over a "Hell Mouth," which is a mystical port hole. "Bad things gravitate toward it," says Whedon, "it's not a good place to go to school." "We'll be learning about The Master," he says. The Master is kind of a head vampire who actually lives in a church underneath the ground that was swallowed in an earthquake. "So he's actually right under the school but nobody knows it...he's there all the time...waiting for his chance to get Buffy."
The episode that I saw will not be the premiere, as the exposition, ie. how did Buffy get her powers and when did she blow into town, etc, were not discussed. Buffy was already meeting with The Watcher in the library and tooling around with Xander and Willow. Called "The Witch," the episode dealt with the BIG cheerleading tryouts (so it must air early on). Buffy of course tries out, but only makes alternate -- I like that. Buffy's no Sosh. Her athletic prowess is better utilized in mortal combat than high kicks. I also dug the offhanded humor which was goofy and self-aware. I won't give away the specifics of the episode, but here's a morsel: a cheerleader spontaneously combusts during a routine and somebody's casting witchy-voodoo spells on the squad, one by one.
When asked why so many programs featured ghouls and goblins, and if the supernatural had replaced the old movie and TV battles between the cowboys and indians, Whedon said that supernatural foes hadn't replaced the cowboys and indians, "Colombian drug dealers and cops have replaced them." "People need horror stories. They need the 'big, bad wolf'."
And I guess we need Buffy, in a tight cheerleading outfit, blonde hair flying in the paranormal wind, to kick the big bad wolf's ass.
Cast: Sarah Michelle Gellar as Buffy Summers, Nicholas Brendon as Xander Harris, Alyson Hannigan as Willow Rosenberg, Charisma Carpenter as Cordelia Chase, Anthony Stewart Head as Rupert Giles (The Watcher)
Exec. Producer/Creator: Joss Whedon; Co-exec
Producer: David Greenwalt; Produced by: Mutant Enemy,
Inc., Kuzui/Sandollar in association with Twentieth
Buffy the Vampire Slayer,
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Buffy the Vampire Slayer,