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[personal profile] shadowkat
Done. Finally.

Will go back and edit and put in links of previous posts, of course.

Previous post here: Prologue

Part I: Tragedy Television and Buffy

Part II:The Pitfalls of Plotting TV Shows

Part III: TV Show Grind and Writer Burn-Out

Part IV: Difficulties of Operating Within Structure and Boundaries of TV Formula

Part V: Can Actors Really Make or Break a Show

Part VI: Fans - Breaking the Fourth Wall - Part A: Media Critics

Part VI: Fans- Breaking the Fourth Wall- Part B: Fans and Majority Rules

Also for an in-depth and fairly objective discussion of these posts at the time I posted them - go here:

[> Conclusion (also has footnotes, spoilers to Chosen&Home) -- s'kat, 10:31:44 08/23/03 Sat


While the process of making a television show and the boundaries of the medium may have adversely affected BTVS in its final season - the writers have to their credit circumvented or subverted some of these pitfalls. Neither the actors nor the fans dictated what the show should do. Oh they tried, but the writers ignored them. Sarah Michelle Geller noted in the press that she did not like Dead Things and the UK censors chopped out fifty percent of it. (106) Yet, Dead Things is considered by the writers, the critics, and the majority of fans to be one of the show's best. (107) If it had been up to B/A shippers - Angel would never have left BTVS and started his own series, we would not have had four seasons of Angel or Connor. Likewise if it had been up to fans, we would not have had the Willow/Tara relationship. The trick is figuring out what tactic garners ratings - usually it is the opposite of what fans want or think they want. (108)

Although BTVS and ATS had difficulty keeping certain actors, which hurt plot arcs - they worked around them. If Juliet Landau wasn't available? No problem let's explore vampire divorce with Spike. Seth Green wants to pursue a movie career? Okay, we'll create a lesbian relationship. Anthony Stewart Head wants to go back to England and spend more time with his family? Fine, let's see how Buffy handles his departure.

While Btvs and ATS never truly subvert their hero formulas, they do skirt the pitfall of becoming overly predictable. Buffy doesn't ride off into the sunset with her one true love at the end of Chosen. She doesn't die making the ultimate sacrifice. Nor does she continue her lonely thankless task of saving the world. Instead, she does something few superheroes on television have done - she shares the power, allowing everyone to become a hero in the end, walking off into the sunset with her friends and family, her future an open book. Writers rarely attempt this twist. Meanwhile on ATS the writers pull a stunt that has only really been pulled once or twice before and in both instances the series was cancelled anyway. (109) They did a finale and a pilot in the same episode. A finale that blew critics away but left several fans annoyed. Did they stay within the bounds of their formula - yes, but they did it with a modicum of grace under pressure, allowing their hero to remain murky. (110)

Even though Btvs fell into the formulaic sixth and seventh season traps of the very special episode and clips episodes, they constructed their tales with a certain panache. The Very Special Episode of Seeing Red - could be seen as an interesting exercise in blending naturalistic cinema with mise-en-scene techno-color. Stripping away the metaphors only to bring them back again in a new way. It may not have worked quite as they intended and they may have picked an incredibly over done issue to do it with, but I give them points for ambition. Same can be said with Wrecked, which also attempted to explore an well-traveled issue with a new twist. Neither story arc irreparably damaged the show or the characters. While some fans and critics saw it in a negative light, most applauded the effort. (111) As WickedBuffy, a frequent poster on discussion boards, noted - at least Seeing Red made us re-think the issue. In the end that may be ME's greatest accomplishment. Not the subversion of the form so much as what they accomplished within the narrow boundaries of a tough and increasingly competitive medium, which more often than not caters to the lowest common denominator. ME through BTVS and ATS not only made the portion of us lucky enough to discover them think, but also enriched our lives by introducing a complex yet empowering female icon to our culture, entertaining us along the way. That, if we think about it, is more than most TV series deliver.

106 SMG's Exit Interview with Entertainment Weekly; , Slayage Journal #8 for article on Censorship of BTVS in UK. See also KdS, response to sdev's question on UK censorship, discussion board archives, 8/13/03.: "Because BtVS and AtS are considered "fantasy", and hence "for kids", the BBC, which showed BtVS, and Channel 4, which showed the first two seasons of AtS, put them in early evening slots. All the early-evening showings of BtVS on the BBC were heavily censored for sex and violence, in some cases (reportedly including Consequences [whole X/F scene cut], Who Are You [whole R/F scene cut] and Dead Things) doing serious damage to the plot of the eps. There is a detailed and very disturbing article on about the nature and effects of the BBC cuts to Dead Things. After protests from fans, the BBC agreed to reshow all episodes in uncut form in a late-night time slot the night after the cut early-evening broadcast, both for new episodes and reruns."
107 Dead Things had higher ratings. Marti Noxon and Joss Whedon state in interviews it was one of the better episodes of Season 6, next to Once More With Feeling and Tabula Rasa. (can't remember where exactly - try - online interviews in 2002 Summer. )
108 According to Joss Whedon's Interview on IGFN - when ratings dipped in S2, Buffy and Angel were happy, they spiked in Innocence when they split them apart. Same with Season 3.
109 Now and Again - one year series, tried to change things by having the lead reunite with his family and take them on the run as opposed to continuing to work for the secret organization; Nichols, a 1971 Western, killed it's anti-hero and had a new more heroic character ride into town.
110 Home, for those who did not see it or are unfamiliar - was the last episode in Angel season 4. Tim Minear wrote it with the realization that it could very well be the end of the series. WB did not let ME know they were renewing Angel until after the episode was filmed. The episode concluded with Angel, the hero of the show, signing on with his arch-nemesis the evil law firm Wolfram and Hart, erasing his side-kicks memories of his son and the events associated with the boy, as well as erasing and replacing his son's memories with new ones and setting that son up with a new normal family. The leading lady, fan favorite, Cordelia Chase who had become evil in the finale season, was left in a coma. For a more complete summary: go to or search the discussion board archives.
111Check the professional critical reviews on that came out before or right after Chosen aired, without exception, all were glowing. See specifically Entertainment Weekly and New York Times.

Date: 2009-10-01 12:58 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Whew. I just finished reading through all this (yes, I'm pokey). Very insightful and informative. Thanks.


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