Monday, March 12, 2007

Happy Birthday, Buffy

My brother sent me this link over the weekend, which does a pretty good job of measuring the impact that "Buffy, The Vampire Slayer" has had on television over the past decade.

For my money, there isn't a better TV writer than Joss Whedon. Every one of his TV series - "Buffy," "Angel," and "Firefly" - always managed to find the perfect blend of humor, action and self-reflection. Whedon also had a knack for finding the best writing talent around; when "Angel" was ending, I remember seeing a Web posting of all of the writing staff's next projects. That's something you don't see discussed very often.

"Buffy" set the standard for a strong, female lead character who didn't always make the right decision even when her heart was in the right place. It tackled a lot of issues facing teens, but not in an afterschool special kind of way. And it made for some of the most fun hours on TV.

As the link above points out, shows like "Alias" and "Veronica Mars" really owe their existence to "Buffy." I never watched the former, and the latter hasn't measured up to "Buffy's" standards for me in part because it has never developed its supporting cast the way "Buffy" did.

I would post my top 10 favorite "Buffy" moments or episodes, but honestly, it's hard to pare down such a list to just 10.

TV hasn't been the same for me since Whedon has left its landscape.

MONDAY'S BEST BETS: Maconite Hugh Neisler continues his run on "Deal Or No Deal" (NBC, 8 p.m.), which airs in a two-hour block tonight with "Heroes" on hiatus.

Fox airs a "House" rerun instead of "Prison Break" this week, followed by a new "24" (Fox, 9 p.m.)

"The New Adventures of Old Christine" (CBS, 8 p.m.) returns from hiatus with two new episodes tonight, followed by a "Two and a Half Men" rerun and a new "Rules of Engagement."

Probably the most interesting offering of the night is "The Riches" (FX, 10 p.m.), which stars Eddie Izzard and Minnie Driver as a couple of con artists who assume the identity of a dead couple and move their family into the deceased's upscale neighborhood. The series is a dark comedy and something of a social satire.

Though FX is often hit-or-miss with its offerings, when it does hit ("The Shield," "Rescue Me"), it's some of the best TV on the tube. Whether "The Riches" falls into that category or that of "Dirt" remains to be seen, but it's probably worth checking out the pilot at least.


Jonathan said...

I agree with you on Whedon. "Buffy" and "Angel" both are two of the few shows I can remember where I started watching from day one and never missed an episode until the series ended. A lot of people gave "Angel" a hard time after a lackluster first season, but it really picked up the pace, and I would argue that its final season represented something on the level of "Buffy" in its first three seasons.

Phillip Ramati said...

I not only agree with you about Angel Season 5, I'd almost say you aren't praising it ENOUGH. I honestly can't think of any season of any show where the cast and crew hit so consistently with each and every episode, where they would top themselves each week.

What was especially impressive is that the writers didn't know if they were going to get a sixth season or not, so they had to streamline the main story arc midway through, yet still managed to get outstanding work in.

BTW, for Buffy fans, what is being called "season 8" of the series in debuting this week in comic book form, written by Joss Whedon and other writers from the series.

Zodin2008 said...

Two of my favorite shows of all time, for sure. I did not enjoy the series finale of "Angel" to say the least, and it's a show that damn sure deserved one more season from the now defunct, WB network.

As for "The Riches", I liked the pilot enough to watch another episode and it may be a keeper. liked the Eddie Izzard character a lot, but really couldn't stand the Minnie Driver character until the end. The tone should stay closer to a comedic level and she was way too dark of a character and was uncomfortable watching her.