Category: Retro Fix


After almost a week of rumor, the showrunner of a series that will continue the world of Buffy the Vampire Slayer confirmed the series isn’t merely a rumor today.  Monica Owusu-Breen, a writer on popular genre series including Charmed, Fringe, Lost, Alias, and Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., has been working with Buffy creator Joss Whedon on a new story, and she has been tapped as showrunner for the new series.  Today Owusu-Breen confirmed the project is real, while also clarifying a new slayer is on her way, but not Sarah Michelle Gellar’s Buffy from the original seven-year series.  Whedon will again serve as executive producer of the series, with returning producers going back to the Buffy the Vampire Slayer movie, Gail Berman, Joe Earley, Fran Kazui, and Kaz Kazui.  “For some genre writers, it’s Star Wars.  Buffy the Vampire Slayer is my Star Wars,” Osuwu-Breen posted on Twitter today.  “Before I became a writer, I was a fan.  For seven seasons, I watched Buffy Summers grow up, find love, kill that love.  I watched her fight, and struggle and slay.  There is only one Buffy.  One Xander, one Willow, Giles, Cordelia, Oz, Tara, Kendra, Faith, Spike, Angel … They can’t be replaced.  Joss Whedon’s brilliant and beautiful series can’t be replicated.  I wouldn’t try to.  But here we are, 20 years later … and the world seems a lot scarier. So maybe, it could be time to meet a new Slayer … And that’s all I can say.”

Fans will recall that a new Slayer took the place of a Slayer that had been killed–at least in the early seasons of the show.  Kendra, a fantastic and charismatic killing machine played by Bianca Lawson, was a Jamaican potential slayer who replaced Buffy Summers’s Slayer for three episodes after Buffy’s first death on the show (Buffy was quickly revived with CPR).  Early word from the production is that the slayer to lead the new show will also be played by a black actress.  Upon Kendra’s death, we were introduced to her Slayer replacement Faith, played by Eliza Dushku, who would co-star in the series for 20 episodes.  At least sixteen other Slayers of various backgrounds were portrayed in the series following the episode “Chosen,” including one played by Felicia Day.  At least 1,800 new Slayers were discussed in the series, 500 of whom worked for Buffy Summers’ organization which deployed Slayers globally into ten separate squads.  Countless others were featured in Seasons 8-12 of the comic book series.

The idea of taking the Buffy-verse forward was discussed more upon the show’s 20th anniversary in 2016, and with so many series getting reboots it was inevitable Buffy’s time was coming.  Unlike all those other shows, Buffy the Vampire Slayer is in many fans’ list of top 10 television series of all time, so the producers will no doubt take careful steps with the franchise.  The brilliance of the Slayer storyline is actually perfect for continuation.  Like the five decades of Doctor Who, Buffy always has had a built-in mechanism to allow the transfer of lead actors over time, while keeping the series fresh and surviving as a long-term franchise.  As with the Doctor Who regeneration that has allowed for the latest new thirteenth lead actor to take over that series after some five decades, the replacement mechanism of a new Slayer for each dying Slayer has always been a make-ready key to ensure a going-forward show.  Few would disagree that Buffy, Kendra, and Faith were fantastic characters, fantastic Slayers.  No doubt the next in line can be just as exciting.

Here is Owusu-Breen’s Twitter post today clarifying the vision behind the new show:

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Never been to a comic book or pop culture convention before?  Always wanted to go to San Diego Comic-Con but you don’t have the vacation time to take or the funds?  Planet Comicon is this weekend in Kansas City and although it isn’t as big as SDCC (and nothing really compares to the size of SDCC) it is a great way to get a complete two-day convention experience centrally located in America’s heartland and ideal for a last-minute road trip for the family or you and a few friends.  It’s less than 8 hours by car from Dallas, less than 7 hours from Minneapolis, a little more than 7 hours from Indianapolis, and a little more than 8 hours from Denver.  And you don’t need to buy advance tickets–you can get them at the door.

So why make the trip?  How about meeting George Takei?  Want to know if Vera is Adam Baldwin’s favorite weapon or talk him into sponsoring a Kickstarter campaign to make a Chuck movie?  Never met your childhood heroes?  How about Lou Ferrigno?  Lindsay Wagner?  Lee Meriwether?  Comic book legend Howard Chaykin?  Remember reading the first match-up of Green Arrow, Black Canary and Green Lantern?  Want to meet Neal Adams–the guy that brought them together?  Been following Wil Wheaton on Twitter all year and watching him on Big Bang Theory and want to ask him in person about his guest star gig on Leverage?  A fan of Buffy the Vampire Slayer?  How about getting a photo with Nicholas Brendon?  Still can’t figure out why Lucas killed off Darth Maul so fast? Come talk about it with Ray Park in person.

Want to buy comics, books, or sketches from some of the best creators from across the country?  Click here to see everyone who you can meet at Artist’s Alley.  Get your comics autographed?  Do you collect busts of superheroes and missing some key items?  Come check out thousands of square feet of dealers selling everything from action figures to T-shirts to limited edition prints and toy lightsabers.  Whatever thing you collect, crazy or not, if it’s related to TV, movies or comics you’ll likely find something there.  And that’s just part of your day.  There will also be panels on all sorts of topics (click here for a full schedule).  And cosplay contests that might get you on a Syfy Channel TV show.

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Originally released to the big screen in 1992, and then moving on to become the now defunct WB Television Network’s biggest hit series, Joss Whedon’s Buffy the Vampire Slayer would go on to run seven seasons on TV, making its mark as one of the most successful fantasy TV series on any network.  The story of the original teen defender against vampires turns 20 this year and Buffy, the character, turned 30 this year in Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season EightBuffy the Vampire Slayer Season Nine released its fourth issue just last week.  (If you’re not keeping track, Sarah Michelle Gellar, who played Buffy on TV, turns 35 this year and Kristy Swanson, who played Buffy in the movie, turns 43).

Wait, did you say Buffy the Vampire Slayer Seasons 8 and 9?  I thought the series stopped at Season 7.

If you loved Buffy the TV series and find that you have pangs for Spike or Willow or Xander when you drive past graveyards or if you find that you hear a hilarious pop culture reference and automatically envision it coming from Sarah Michelle Gellar AND you haven’t checked out your comic book store in the past 3 years, you’ll find that you’re a little behind on the ongoing story of Buffy & Co.  But now is a good time to easily catch up.

Buffy creator Joss Whedon himself wrote and was overseer of the transformation of Buffy from TV to comic book, published by Dark Horse Comics.  It is obvious from the storytelling that the trials and tribulations of the second-best known Scooby gang is still in prime form.  Pop culture references are a-plenty.  And 40 issues of Season 8, continuing a year after the end of the TV Season 7, are available in eight collected editions, easily findable in comic book shops, online retailers and half-priced book stores.  It was a very popular series, so it will be easy to find and get caught up.

The covers are stunning, and unlike a lot of adaptations of franchises, the characters look a lot like the actors who played on the TV show.  As is typical, the covers are often better than interior art.  The characters aren’t photo-real by any means, but I had no issue at all seeing the actors reciting the dialog of the story and sometimes Georges Jeanty’s pencils reflect actors really very well, such as Xander, who looks just like Nicholas Brendan in Volume 1 of Season 8.

Without revealing too many spoilers, Season Eight, Volume 1 “The Long Way Home” collects the first five issues of the series. Buffy and Xander are leading up a compound in Scotland, where they direct the activities of 500 of 1,800 slayers across the globe.  Buffy has two decoy Buffys to distract one of fiction’s classic, great villains—the United States government—from finding her.  In the aftermath of a destroyed Sunnydale, Buffy is now public enemy #1.

Giles, originally played on TV by British TV actor Anthony Stewart Head, is back training slayers, as is Buffy, separately, another key story element.  Self-described “gay wiccan jewess” Willow Rosenberg has better control of her magic, Buffy’s sister Dawn has been turned into a giant, and the first villain hired by the government to get Buffy is our favorite teenager turned rat and back again, Amy, whose characterization couldn’t better reflect her character on TV.  And Xander has a cool Snake Plisskin-esque eyepatch.

In Volume 2 of Season 8 “No Future for You,” reprinting the comic book series Issues 6-9 by Brian K. Vaughan, and Issue 10’s one-off story by Whedon “Anywhere But Here,” our second favorite slayer, Faith, returns, originally portrayed by Eliza Dushku.  She’s back with great “five by five” slang like “haven’t clocked you since the Sunny D went from being an outie to an innie.”  Giles has hired her to do what she has done before, kill a human, this time Lady Genevieve, a British aristocrat slayer, hunting slayers herself.  And she in turn, of course, is out to kill only one person… Buffy.

So if this hasn’t whetted your appetite for more Buffy, then nothing will, but if it has, eight volumes await you, and then you can get caught up to Season 9, Issue 4, waiting for you at a comic book store near you.

C.J. Bunce

Editor

borg.com

Day Three of this year’s Comic-Con was as big as ever. 

Some great panels, including a Young Adult novelist panels focused on alternatives to vampires, along with book signings and giveaways of ARCs (advance review copies) for books not published until the fall–a great perk at Comic-Con.  Larry Nemecek, Star Trek author and insider, led a packed room of Trek fans showing previously unseen photos and behind the scenes Trek information.  The Mythbusters had a line waiting of fans an entire 45 minutes after the show started.  The cast of Fringe signed autographs in the main area at their studio booth.

Some great finds on the floor including nice chats with Michael Dorn (Worf from Star Trek: TNG) and Marina Sirtis (Troi on Star Trek: TNG).

Elizabeth C. Bunce went all fangirl with Eddie McClintock, star of Warehouse 13 and Nicholas Brendan, who played Xander on Buffy the Vampire Slayer.  These guys love to engage and are genre fans themselves.  Brendon has a recurring role on Criminal Minds.

Celebrities look like everyone else, especially in a crowd of 130,000.  If you’re lucky you catch a star moving incognito across the main floor.  We caught Anthony Stewart Head (our favorite librarian/watcher, Giles, on Buffy the Vampire Slayer) who ducked away from his handler to snap a photo with Elizabeth on his way to a Merlin event.  Awesome!

Great costumes as usual.  Here is a great cross section of the crowd.  First up this stellar Jawa:

And a super Black Canary:

Here’s some great Starfleet jacket replicas from Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan:

From The Incredibles:

And it wouldn’t be a Con without some Klingon warriors:

One more day then the countdown starts again for next year’s show!  Next week I’ll run down the best and worst costumes at Comic-Con this year.

C.J. Bunce

Editor

borg.com

By Elizabeth C. Bunce, Jason McClain and C.J. Bunce

Last week the sixth episode of New Girl aired, and instead of waiting to establish itself the show went head-on into its Thanksgiving day episode.  And it could not have been funnier had it been from season 6 and we had spent years getting to know these characters.  In fact, unlike any other show this year New Girl hasn’t missed a beat, with every episode just as funny as the last.

A NEW HOLIDAY TRADITION:  New Girl, “Thanksgiving.”  Air date: November 15, 2011.

THE SETUP: Jess (Zooey Deschanel) asks co-worker Paul (Justin Long, Live Free or Die Hard, MacIntosh ads, Battle for Terra) to Thanksgiving at the loft.  The guys are apprehensive about Paul, until they find that he is just like Jess, including the spontaneous singing at any time.  Clearly Jess and Paul are made for each other.  Jess hasn’t made Thanksgiving dinner before, but Schmidt has, and Schmidt decides to make dinner for everyone so long as they get out of his way and do as he says, and so long as Jess’s girlfriend Cece (the model) is coming along.  Nick won’t give Paul a chance, and quickly decides he doesn’t like the guy.  Jess finds out and confronts him in the hall and pummels him with a rant about all the things she wants to do with Paul…umm… of the intimate variety, but all this is said in the silly way only Jess could come up with.  Until Winston opens the door and announces that everyone inside, including Paul, can hear.  Meanwhile, Schmidt has taken command of the kitchen and begins to criticize Cece for double dipping as he is making stuffing.  His mean comments to Cece actually make Schmidt attractive to her.  He has unlocked the secret to Cece… and Schmidt blows it.  Schmidt seems to get this, but she continues to taunt him, and ultimately germ-free cooking wins out over infatuation with his dream girl.  A burnt turkey and a dead body later, and it is hard to believe this was only a half hour show.

But that’s new TV.

So we thought about our favorite Thanksgiving TV episodes and want to share them with you to wish you all a happy Thanksgiving.

“As God is my witness, I thought turkeys could fly.”

C.J.’s PICK: WKRP in Cincinnati, “Turkeys Away.”  Air date: October 30, 1978.

First off, if you haven’t seen it, take a half hour to watch here:

(YouTube versions change a lot, so feel free to look around for a better version, unless it’s already carried by one of your streaming providers)

THE SETUP:  The lovable but slightly dim radio station manager, Mr. Carlson (Gordon Jump), is feeling unwanted.  He’s trying to get involved with the radio station, work with the employees, participate somehow.  Receptionist Jennifer (Loni Anderson) runs the front office and won’t let Mr. Carlson touch or do anything.  News announcer Les Nessman (Richard Sanders) is paranoid when Mr. Carlson asks him what he’s been up to.  Sales manager Herb Tarlek (Frank Bonner) is full of his one-liner schtick.  DJ Johnny Fever (Howard Hesseman) fakes being asleep.  Carlson encounters DJ Venus (Tim Reid) and marketing manager Bailey (Jan Smithers), and he offers to help them, making the decision to give out free Boston T-shirts over Foreigner T-shirts, because he’s worried about the quality of foreign products (if you don’t get that joke, go review your 1970s rock bands).

Andy Travis (Gary Sandy) tries to console Mr. Carlson and it backfires.  Mr. Carlson is going to micro-manage the station, and develops a plan for the greatest promotion ever, where everyone has a part:  “I just made a deal that is going to make radio history,” he says.  They just need to get 20 live turkeys.

By the end of the half hour, we hear Les Nessman reporting from the street, “the big WKRP Thanksgiving turkey giveaway,” “the greatest turkey event in thanksgiving history,” “I think I hear something now,” “it’s a helicopter coming this way,” “something just came out of the back of the helicopter,” “no parachutes yet,” “I can’t tell what they are… Oh, my God, they’re turkeys!” “they’re hitting the ground like bags of wet cement,” “oh, my God, oh, the humanity!” “I can’t watch this anymore!”  Les’s reporting sounds just like the footage of the Hindenburg exploding.  The line goes dead.  Johnny fever announces: “The Pinedale Mall has just been bombed by Thanksgiving turkeys.”

The staff discusses what happened as Jennifer tries to explain what happened to the local humane society, and Mr. Carlson stumbles in with the classic line: “As God is my witness, I thought turkeys could fly.”  And you almost see the other actors start to laugh.

Surprisingly, other than Herb and Les’s clothes, the show isn’t that dated, and the office relationships are as real as in any office environment today.

“You made a bear!  Undo it!  Undo it!”

ELIZABETH’s PICK: Buffy the Vampire Slayer, “Pangs.”  Air date: November 23, 1999.

The Thanksgiving TV episode is almost as much of a contemporary American tradition as the holiday gathering itself (or if not that, then certainly equal to Black Friday commercial madness), and over the years we’ve seen some classics.  From the alltime fan favorite WKRP episode profiled by our esteemed editor, to the free-range turkey fiasco of Murphy Brown, to the more recent tartar-sauce-in-the-green-bean-casserole incident from Chuck, to the absurdist efforts of Dharma & Greg to combine vegan and traditional dishes—and relatives—into one meal, the Thanksgiving episode always provides an over-the-top look at holiday excess, in this case, the strained efforts of American families everywhere to create the Perfect Family Holiday.  In those outrageous examples, we see our own holidays reflected, and for 30-60 minutes, at least, feel relieved that at least we’re not that bad.

My personal favorite Thanksgiving show has to be Buffy the Vampire Slayer’s Season 4 episode “Pangs.”

THE SETUP:  Like classic episodes before and since, this one revolves around Buffy’s (Sarah Michelle Gellar, Ringer) attempt to recreate the Norman Rockwell holiday of her childhood.  But she’s hampered by absent family, a lack of cooking skills and equipment, ambivalent best friend Willow… and the angry ghost of a wronged Native American warrior seeking vengeance for the destruction of his tribe by white settlers.  This conflict reflects a very current, late 1990s concern about how Americans viewed our colonial past, and is particularly well-represented by Willow (Alyson Hannigan, Veronica Mars, How I Met Your Mother), who wants nothing to do with either the holiday meal or the vanquishing of the warrior spirit.

“Pangs” is, first and foremost, hilarious—as every great Thanksgiving episode must be.  In a way, it’s almost “Thanksgiving Deconstructed;” we get every piece of the traditional framework—but everything gets a Buffyesque twist. Strange relatives? Check—nobody’s stranger than mystically-syphilis-stricken Xander (Nicholas Brendon, Criminal Minds) and his tactless, ex-demon girlfriend Anya… except possibly down-on-his-luck vampire Spike (who’s already been kicked out by his own ‘family,’ of sorts).  Cooking drama?  How about confusing the stuffing recipe with a spell for combating the ghost?  And in the middle of it all is poor Buffy, as the classic harried hostess trying futilely to please everyone, when everything is falling apart around her.

Funny moments abound, but it’s the social commentary that makes this episode so memorable.  Archetypal Others Anya and Spike have never been more on-point in their blunt attacks on cultural sacred cows.  “I love a ritual sacrifice,” Anya declares about the traditional Turkey Day meal, and Spike deftly tramps all over the storyline’s key ethical dilemma in a clear but uncomfortable summation: “You won.  All right?  You came in and you killed them and you took their land.  That’s what conquering nations do. End of story.”  It’s a shocking, if alarmingly accurate, analysis—and only a show like Buffy could get away with saying it straight out like that.

“Pangs” definitely takes the catastrophic holiday theme to new lows, but it’s a perfect example of how genre fiction, by stretching concepts to their most outrageous limits, so often highlights the essential truths about issues we’re all grappling with—collective guilt, the inability to live up to imagined standards, and, of course, pie.  Happy ritual sacrifice, everyone!

“Look Ma, I’m on TV!”

JASON’s PICK: Mike and Molly, “Mike Cheats.”  Air date: November 21, 2011.

THE SETUP:  Surprisingly, well maybe not because Elizabeth and C.J. took “Buffy” and “WKRP” as those are two of my favorite shows ever and you probably don’t ever have to wonder why we all blog together, my favorite Thanksgiving episode ever just debuted on Monday November 21, 2011.  It is Mike and Molly and the episode “Mike Cheats.”  How can an episode less than a week old already reach the stratospheric heights that the other entries have?

Simple, I’m in it.  Since I’ve never been in a Thanksgiving TV episode, this is a whole new ball game.  I mean it has to be a favorite, right?

Early on in the episode, just after the credits, Samuel (Nyambi Nyambi) serves breakfast to Officer Mike Biggs (Billy Gardell) and Officer Carl McMillan (Reno Wilson).  Over Officer McMillan’s shoulder is a guy already eating his breakfast and talking to a bearded companion.  I’m that guy enjoying eggs and potatoes.

It’s wild being a part of a multi-camera sitcom.  You do film in front of a live studio audience.  The previous day, you rehearse and get to hear and see the rest of the scenes that take place on the other sets all in a line on the same stage.  You get to see how the button on Officer Biggs shirt pops off due to an air compressor.  You get to see the actors try different lines as they get new pages of scripts.  It’s a cool learning experience about how a show comes together.

It makes it even better when you can see me in the episode.  I have no lines, I’m in the background as a good background actor should be and I’m always in profile, but I’m still there.  I can point at that episode and say, “Look ma, I’m on TV.”  It may not have the same weight as the line, “As God as my witness, I thought turkeys could fly,” but I’ll take it.

A few years ago, I doubt I would have ever thought that I would be able to experience that.  Now, I do occasional background work, I’m hoping to get a novel published and I enjoy contributing to various sites on the web with my writing.  I’m thankful for the opportunities that allowed me to live in Los Angeles and achieve some creative goals and have a fun time seeing and doing new things.  I’m thankful for my friends and family with whom I share my love of writing and entertainment and for all their support.  It’s Thanksgiving and this is the perfect Thanksgiving episode to represent those feelings.

From everyone here at borg, Happy Thanksgiving! 

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