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Buffy The Vampire Slayer

IGN declares "Buffy" Movie as the best movie-to-tv transition

Saturday 18 August 2007, by Webmaster

#1: Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1997 - 2003)

This was an easy choice for us. After all, Buffy the Vampire Slayer is, quite simply, one of the best TV shows of all time. And hey, it’s based on a movie, so how could it not be the best TV show that started as a film? What’s fascinating about Buffy is that the movie was in fact written by Joss Whedon, the same incredibly talented writer who would go on to guide the TV series. But Whedon was very unhappy with how that film turned out, feeling the director and others involved turned it into a far sillier and campier story than he intended. And he wasn’t alone, because let’s face it, Buffy the Vampire Slayer was not a good movie.

That being the case, who could have guessed what an amazing TV show it would turn into? In television the writer often has far more power than in movies, and there’s no better example of that than comparing the TV and movie incarnations of this story. Whedon intended the fact that his heroine was a blond girl named Buffy as a chance to subvert the horror and action genres, not to play the whole thing as a joke, as the film had done. With the TV show he very quickly overcame any scoffing the title might have caused, making a series that had a shrewd sense of humor, but was never done for humor’s sake alone. Point of fact, Buffy was a show that had incredible stakes (no pun intended!), and where the danger was decidedly real. Whedon has an ability to create some of the most lovable and relatable characters imaginable, making it all the more jarring and wrenching when they’re hurt or even killed. This was illustrated during Season 2’s spectacular Angel turned Angelus story — when Buffy’s vampire lover turned very, very bad — which took an already good show to great heights and set the stage for some of the most memorable television moments and episodes of the past decade.

Looking back on the Buffy movie and knowing Whedon’s talent and how his writing sounds when he’s the one really guiding his work, it’s easy to imagine how the movie could have been something much better than it was, had the screenwriter’s original intent remained. Still, if the film had been more to Whedon’s liking, who knows, maybe he never would have felt to "set things right" as it were, by taking the job on the TV show, and we would have been robbed of something truly special. Whedon is a great screenwriter, but movies can’t capture the kind of long-term storytelling a TV show can, and rarely allow for experimenting to the extent episodes like "Hush" or "The Body" did. It was TV where Whedon and Buffy truly belonged, and thankfully, we got them there.