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Buffy The Vampire SlayerBuffy fest a great Saturday matinee
By James Reaney
Wednesday 16 July 2003, by Webmaster
Well, it was a hoot. It was better than a hoot. It was just one big three-hour Buffy blast at the Wolf Performance Hall yesterday. London and area fans of the dear departed TV show Buffy the Vampire Slayer had a chance to meet fellow enthusiasts and bask in two of the show’s greatest episodes. What B-fan could resist?
Not this one. I settled back in one of the Wolf’s big comfy chairs and cheered right along.
Little kids asked big Buffy questions. Big kids like me could talk the Buffy talk without eyes glazing over everywhere. At last.
The afternoon delight was courtesy of London Public Library video librarian Laura MacRae, an adult Buffy fan with a great idea for a fan gathering. MacRae enlisted sci-fi and fan convention pal Christine Mak, who brought the DVDs. Former Londoner Nikki Stafford was our guest celeb, signing copies of her book, chatting with fans and offering insights. Someone even called her Buffy at one point.
Stafford is a leader in our Buffy quest. (Nikki Stafford is actually her pen name, but when she is on Buffy business, she prefers to keep her actual name private.)
"I’m excited that it’s being held in London," she e-mailed from Toronto before the gathering. "You know that a show has really touched the hearts of a lot of people when gatherings are popping up everywhere. The finale and passing of Buffy (the series) has left us with a hole in our lives, not just on Tuesday nights at 8, but just knowing that these people that we’ve watched for seven years will now be off doing their own thing and we won’t be able to look in on them week after week."
Stafford’s enthusiasm for Buffy helped me get into the show about five years ago. She did the same for a longtime pal, Suzanne Kingshott of London. Kingshott was reluctant at first because it seemed like a show better suited to her mom, a fan of kung fu movies, Star Trek and the Xena TV series.
"I said, ’that’s the thing my mom watches. I don’t think that it’s that great quality of a show,’ " Kingshott says. "She gave me the first couple of seasons and I started watching it. I was immediately hooked and have been ever since."
Buffy had hooked us all, one way or another.
Adult fans in London of my acquaintance include a tuba player, a DJ, various academics, a law clerk, Free Press columnist Sean Twist and at least one aspiring cleric.
Some of us made it to the gathering. We met brothers and sisters we never knew about, some of them from Toronto. They had come to London just for the gathering.
One London fan showed up with portable vampire fangs. She’d had them made for about $80 while in Britain. But she didn’t let her babysitter see them or wear them on the bus before bringing them out for the gathering. She could be as sharp-looking as she wanted with us.
Another fan had a T-shirt that said "Angels and Monsters of Grace Defend Us" — not a bad plea at all and one Buffy would understand.
Mak, a former UWO student who now lives in Toronto, showed a sure touch in keeping the discussions focussed without letting spoilers (plot twists uncovered by superfans and spread on the Internet) spoil future developments on Angel, a Buffy spinoff show and New PL staple. "I’m a firm believer that Buffy and Angel were and are shows that should be watched without knowing what’s going to happen next," Mak said via e-mail. "It helps that I’ve been staying away from the Internet spoilers that are so rampant. While these shows can be enjoyed when you know what’s going to happen . . . it’s so much more fun to be surprised."
The audience behaved itself perfectly. In other words, we hooted and sighed just the way we do at home when Buffy is on. It’s amazing how much better it all feels if about 200 of your fellow fans are emoting right along with you.
We cheered for the Buffy-Spike smooch in the episode Once More, With Feeling. (This roar for the romantic entanglement of vampire slayer Buffy and redeemed vampire Spike was so loud it must have been heard at the London air show). We applauded Buffy’s slapdown of vicious demons. We laughed at the witty lines tossed off in the carnage. We weren’t ashamed to ask questions about obscure points of Buffy lore.
It is not as if the series about Buffy Summers, chosen to fight evil, and her pals was stupid or clunky — despite what non-believers think.
Wrapped around that premise were scripts laced with references to pop culture, Shakespeare and messy romances. The performers delivered the lines and fought the good fight scenes with a cool that is oft imitated, but never equalled. The series also sported a distinctive visual style — a combination of John Woo, comic books, Psycho and Dr. Who.
Who knew this? We few, "we happy few," to quote a Buffy character showing off series creator Joss Whedon’s love of Shakespeare.
Yesterday afternoon "we happy few" had the best Saturday matinee I’ve been at since the 1960s. It was to hear such unabashed cheering for the forces of good. It was exciting to know there are so many intelligent people out there, young and old, willing to talk about their Buffy fixations.
The library’s MacRae says the Buffy gathering might become an annual event at the Central Library’s Wolf. Meantime, she is thinking about similar fan sessions around two old British TV shows, The Avengers and The Prisoner.
See you there.
THE ESSENCE OF BUFFY
Non-believers never got Buffy the Vampire Slayer during any of its seven TV seasons. The final episode was broadcast earlier this year. The young woman blessed with superpowers who battled demons in a fictional California town is now in the TV graveyard, where shows go after cancellation.
These sage words of Buffy expert Nikki Stafford show what you missed. They’re from the opening pages of the former Londoner’s Bite Me! An Unofficial Guide to the World of Buffy the Vampire Slayer (ECW Press): "Buffy the Vampire Slayer is a show that shouldn’t exist. First of all, the title itself is risky and the reason why many people won’t watch it . . . The title is meant to be funny, juxtaposing a name usually given to dumb blonds in beach movies with the incongruous phrase vampire slayer. But unless you actually watch the show, you don’t understand the irony and it just seems to be a big joke."
If you still don’t believe Stafford or me, the New PL continues to air vintage Buffy episodes in its Tuesday night time slot at 8 p.m.