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From Heraldonline.com

Buffy The Vampire Slayer

TV just doesn’t nurture shows anymore

Wednesday 17 March 2004, by Webmaster

TV just doesn’t nurture shows anymore

By Bob Taylor Special to The Herald

(Published March 16‚ 2004)

It’s one step back but two steps forward for fans of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” creator Joss Whedon. “Buffy”-spinoff “Angel” was unjustly canceled by the WB late last month in a move that left fans, this one included, outraged. However, Whedon’s short-lived Fox series “Firefly,” which idiot network execs canned after only 10 weeks, will be reborn on the big screen as a feature film spinoff. Such is the way of life for a Joss fan. We are blessed that his shows find their way to TV at all. After all, “Buffy,” “Angel” and “Firefly” were the best of the best of scripted television-clever, imaginative, funny when supposed to be, scary when needed. Whedon’s shows are unabashedly serial, containing storylines years in the making and sly jokes that reference plot points from seasons past.

In other words, Joss Whedon shows are NOT what network execs love: easy-to-digest, predictable shows with characters that never change and stories that are neatly wrapped up after 30 minutes.

Still, the cancellation of “Angel” stunned both the people who make the show and the people that watch it. Ratings were up this year, and, creatively, the show has dazzled. At the beginning of the season, vampire-with-a-soul Angel (David Boreanaz) and his team of monster fighters made a figurative deal with the devil, taking over the reins at evil Los Angeles law firm, Wolfram and Hart.

The rationale was: What better way to fight evil than from on the inside, right? Wrong. And watching Angel and the crew come to that realization has been a treat. Meanwhile, having vampire-with-a-soul-number-two Spike around (he switched shows after “Buffy” ended) has been fun. Angel and Spike have been at each other’s throats for more than a century, and there’s no greater joy than watching all that animosity boil down to an argument about who would win in a fight-cavemen or astronauts.

Umm ... maybe you had to be there for that one.

Sort of like when Angel was turned into a puppet.

Sounds strange, I know. But, trust me, “Angel” was brilliant during its five-year run. And if no other network picks it up (and the WB doesn’t change its mind), there will be a major void come September when the new season starts with not one Joss Whedon show on the air.

Still, at least we now have “Serenity” to look forward to. That’s the name of “Firefly”’s fancy spaceship as well as the movie that will continue said ship’s sci-fi adventures. “Firefly” the TV show didn’t last long, but that hasn’t stopped hundreds of thousands of folks from buying the entire series on DVD.

It’s those DVD sales figures that must have prompted Universal execs to ask, “Why not?” After all, “Star Trek” was a failed TV show about a bunch of people riding around in a spaceship, and it ended up doing OK on the silver screen.

And here’s the thing: “Firefly” was a better show than “Star Trek.” And if Fox wasn’t so darn short-sighted (and didn’t devote 600 hours a week to “American Idol” and crap like “Forever Eden”), I’m sure Whedon’s show would be enjoying a fantastic second season right now backed up by solid ratings growth. Unfortunately, there’s no such thing as nurturing a TV show anymore. You better soar when you premiere or get the heck out of the way for something else. Hopefully, the “Firefly” movie will do better at finding an audience.

Science-fiction and fantasy shows aren’t for everyone. But if your not put off by spaceships and vampires, characters that actually evolve and complex human drama, there’s no better place to turn than the shows of Joss Whedon.

Buy the “Firefly” DVD, go see “Serenity” in theaters when it comes out and make sure you watch the last few episodes of “Angel” before the series ends in May.