Buffy The Vampire Slayer Season Eight

Posted by Tom Paskins on January 08, 2011 in Blog, Reviews tagged with , , , ,

Buffy the Vampire Slayer season Eight. 2007 -2011 writers include Joss Whedon, Brian K Vaughn and Drew Goddard.

Reviewed by Tom Paskins

Ever since George Lucas resurrected the Star Wars franchise in 1999 with Episode 1: The Phantom Menace, there seems to have been a trend for film makers to try and breathe fresh life into series which have apparently long since died a death. For example 2008 saw Steven Spielberg deliver Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, while Chris Carter gave us The X Files: I Want to Believe. These films tried hard but in the end they were missing that vital sense of wonder and intrigue which made the originals so endearing. A lesser known fact is that in 2007 Joss Whedon brought Buffy the Vampire Slayer out of the tomb for an eighth season. The show ended in 2003 after season seven. Given the explosion of teenage vampire fiction which was happening at around this time it is hardly surprising that he should have wanted to bring back the series that started it all. However this was done in hardly the most conventional sense, for it wasn’t done as a T.V series or a film but as a series of graphic novels. Whedon acts as the executive producer for the entire series.

Joss Whedon scripted the first story in the series entitled The Long Way Home. This is where we find out that, following on from the conclusion of season 7, Buffy has relocated to a castle in the highlands of Scotland, which she and her friend Xander Harris now use as a head quarters for their recently formed army of slayers. The Gothic castle, once the site of female persecution, has now become a place of feminine empowerment. All the fan favourite characters from the show, Giles, Willow Dawn etc are present and correct and their dialogue is very much in keeping with their television incarnations. Plus there are many sly references to moments from the T.V. series, including the return of an old enemy who everyone thought was long since dead. The five year break has also clearly given Whedon time to come up with a fresh ongoing storyline which deals with the negative consequences of Buffy’s apparently honourable actions in the previous season. The central threat comes from a figure who has dubbed himself ‘Twilight’. Without giving too much away it becomes obvious in the penultimate story of the series, entitled Twilight, that it is indeed Stephenie Meyer’s novels, the first of which was released in 2005, that the creators are taking a pot shot at.

The second story, No Future for You, centres more around Faith who is given the chance of finally achieving the redemption she craves when Giles sends her to infiltrate the mansion of a rich, rogue slayer in England only to become drawn into a plot to assassinate Buffy. This works well at providing the series with some extra tension as it constantly has the readers wandering whether Faith is going to turn evil again. It also demonstrates how the new army of slayers have the potential to become a threat to mankind rather than its protectors.

Not being restricted by a television budget also works in Buffy‘s favour and Whedon’s vision is allowed to be fully realised by the series’ artists. There are a whole variety of fantastic creatures on display, which wouldn’t feel out of place in a Clive Barker novel. Also Buffy’s sister Dawn has now been transformed into a giant, apparently as a result of sex gone wrong. In a later story Wolves at the Gate the action re-locates to Tokyo and in a tribute to the Godzilla films this leads to a climatic giant Dawn versus Mecha Dawn battle which is an absolute hoot.

It is in this story that Dracula also reappears, this time fighting as an ally. His depiction is even further removed from that of Bram Stoker’s original creation than it was when he appeared in the season five episode Buffy versus Dracula. Nevertheless he is allowed one true moment of glory when after having lost his powers as a vampire he resorts to his human past as Vlad the Impaler in order to put down a cocky and over confident vampire. Some of his dialogue is rather uncomfortably racist as well. He mistakes Xander’s black girlfriend for a Moor slave and utters many derogatory lines about the yellowness of the Japanese vampire’s skin. This left me wandering if there was a deliberate attempt on writer Drew Goddard’s part to replicate Stoker’s own racism in the character?

There is a greater amount of graphic sex and violence present here than there was in the T.V. show which demonstrates that the creators are clearly aiming for a more adult audience this time around. This enables it to appeal to those of us who are now grown up and enjoyed the show as teenagers.

Overall Buffy The Vampire Season Eight isn’t without its flaws but it is a decent enough revival of a series that everyone thought had long since had a stake driven through its heart. It works well both as a piece of nostalgia for the franchise’s die hard fans and a perfect alternative for those of us who don’t like Twilight.

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