Homepage > Joss Whedon Off Topic > Channels Beyond : New Television series have a supernatural bent (buffy (...)
« Previous : Dragon Con celebrates state of the fantastic arts
     Next : Emma Caulfield - ’Darkness Falls’ Movie - Smh.com.au Review »

From Timesstar.com

Channels Beyond : New Television series have a supernatural bent (buffy mention)

By Susan Young

Saturday 13 September 2003, by isa

A young woman working in a morgue discovers she hears dead people. A dead man watches over those he left behind.

A teenager gets messages from God.

And a twentysomething gets messages from inanimate objects.

The supernatural is big this season on TV, from dead people talking to a Tarzan character with phenomenal powers. Chalk it up to the success of the novel ``The Lovely Bones’’ or the aftermath of Sept. 11 - or maybe all those ``Buffy, the Vampire Slayer’’ writers being out of a job.

In any case, this season there are four new shows with supernatural themes: UPN’s ``Jake 2.0,’’ CBS’ ``Joan of Arcadia,’’ Fox’s ``Tru Calling’’ and the WB’s ``Tarzan.’’ Three more, Fox’s ``Still Life’’ and ``Wonderfalls’’ and the WB’s ``Fearless,’’ are slated to begin airing midseason.

In the drama ``Still Life,’’ a deceased young man narrates as he watches his parents, siblings and girlfriend struggle to cope with his death. It’s very reminiscent of the best-seller ``The Lovely Bones’’ in which a murdered child observes those she left behind. ``Still Life’’ producer reflectes upon the spiritual themes that abound in so many new shows this year.

``I think a lot of it is a response to 9-11,’’ says ``Still Life’’ producer Marti Noxon, who also was a producer on ``Buffy, the Vampire Slayer.’’ ``I think a lot of people feel a lot of loss and (are wondering) what’s been going on in the world. The country is really frightened, and the notion that there’s something beyond physical death, I think, is very, very compelling.

``(Besides), there are two inevitabilities. There’s death and taxes, and TV shows about taxes are just not that interesting.’’

``Still Life’’ producer Dawn Parouse says she thinks there’s a lot of wish-fulfillment involved in the series.

``I think everybody in this situation would hope that if you lost a loved one as close as your son or your brother, that they would be hanging around and watching,’’ Parouse says. ``And no family is ever perfect (so the dead character) Jake will keep watching and insinuating himself into their lives.’’

A morbid curiosity

Death has played a significant role lately on TV, including the successful HBO drama ``Six Feet Under’’ about a family who works as morticians and USA’s ``Dead Like Me’’ about an aimless college grad who dies and comes back as a grim reaper.

``Buffy’’ alum Eliza Dushku stars as a morgue worker in ``Tru Calling.’’ When the dead talk to her, she goes ``Groundhog Day’’ and relives the day of their death, trying to stop the person from being killed.

Dushku believes people are curious about death.

``Personally, `Six Feet Under’ drew me in with that. It’s almost like when you’re driving down the freeway and you see a car accident,’’ Dushku says. ``You don’t want to stare, but there’s something intriguing about (it). We are living...and we want to see where life ends.’’

Some people find comfort in the thought that God is taking care of us both while we live and after we die. CBS’ ``Joan of Arcadia’’ centers on Joan, a teenager who is suddenly confronted by God. God tells her to do certain things to help others.

Creator Barbara Hall says she never thought that the networks would be interested in this series, but she wrote it on faith and was pleasantly surprised when CBS decided to air it.

``I think Sept. 11 might have had something to do with it,’’ Hall says. ``I think I certainly saw a lot of documentaries and things after Sept. 11 that dealt with issues of faith.’’ Hall says she believes that people are more interested in issues of faith than ever before because of the terrorist attacks and the war in Iraq.

``(Sept. 11) not only caused people to start thinking about things in their own lives, but the fact that we were engaged in this sort of battle of religions,’’ Hall says. ``I do think that for whatever reason, there is something in the air that people are willing to take a look at or have a discussion about spiritual issues.’’