ON SPEC: We Need A Return To The Buffyverse

ON SPEC: We Need A Return To The Buffyverse

And maybe we don't need Buffy (right away) to do it.

Look, it's 2017. America is going through some shit right now. We have a horrifying administration in the White House, health insurance for millions is in jeopardy on a daily basis, and there way are too many superhero movies coming out.

For all the talk of how silly nostalgia is in our media landscape, we sure like to revive old television shows. The thing is, most of them are very bad. There's several arguments to be made on how it regresses us as consumers, letalone how it stymies originality from creators. I can't imagine the frustration between studios and writers, who are wringing their hands wondering why their revisiting of a beloved homerun property is suddenly very difficult to write. As though the lightning that they bottled isn't there anymore.

We all want the more of the same; we don't know when to let something we love go, and we're not wise enough make sure it stays gone. 

Anyway, we should have more Buffy The Vampire Slayer.

OKAY, WHERE DO WE BEGIN?

So, we all got excited when Entertainment Weekly did that reunion photo shoot with the Buffy cast back in May. Clamoring for a reunion movie/show began almost instantly. But, everybody listen: That is not the way to approach this. It's been too long, and more importantly, all of our beloved characters have achieved what they've emotionally needed to complete their stories. They are finished, and when that bus drove out of Sunnydale in Buffy's final episode (and when Angel defied the chief officers of Hell itself on Angel), we never needed to see them again.

THE FORCE AWAKENS GAMBIT

Opinions on Star Wars; The Force Awakens are divided (My position: it's great, and anyone who disagrees is wrong). But the one thing everybody seems to actually agree on was the 30 year time jump for the series. It worked, and it re-contextualized the legacy characters for a new audience.

This is how you should approach Buffy. With a new lead taking place in 2017. And we can't call it Buffy anymore, and for sake of this article, we'll say it's called Slayer. 

Set it in Los Angeles, a city that's not only featured on Angel, but also cheap to shoot TV in. Maybe a smaller town just outside of LA, like Whittier - you can have your cake and eat it, too.

SO WHO'S THE NEW LEAD?

The new slayer should be someone young, and someone who's the polar opposite of who Buffy Summers was when she was in high school. Let's call her Phoebe.

And let's say she's played by Power Rangers' Naomi Scott.

Phoebe is an army brat who moves from school to school with her single Dad. She can't make any friends and has a huge chip on her shoulder. Since her mom died in a car accident (where Phoebe also survived), she's had this unexplained strength. She also has a habit of starting fights. Phoebe has some anger issues. And, our series starts on her first day at Whittier High School. 

SO WHO DOES SHE BEFRIEND?

One of the hallmarks of Buffy was Joss Whedon's ability to surround his protagonist with a loving and engaging ensemble. The new Slayer series should be no different, although it should reflect the time we're living in. I've come up with Phoebe's "Xander and Willow", who I'll describe below.

First up, we have Hank, a F2M trans student who's struggling with his identity and where he fits in a world that makes him feel small. But, Hank also teaches Phoebe to embrace who she really is. Phoebe and Hank's friendship would be the big mainstay of the series, and would last through however many seasons this show would have.

And then we have Sean, the seemingly typical football player who wants to be more than just a dumb jock. Except for the fact that he has a terrible GPA, and after a season ending knee injury, is forced to start studying if he ever wants to get out of Whittier.

Phoebe, Hank, and Sean start hanging out at the local library to study up. Mostly because Phoebe doesn't really wanna go back to an empty home; her dad is a defense contractor who's always working these days.

But anyway, the librarian is super creepy.

OH FUCK, THE LIBRARIAN IS ANGEL. And now, we have officially met the show's new Watcher.

LET'S TALK ABOUT ANGEL'S ROLE ON THIS SHOW FOR A SEC

We need at least one legacy character in this thing for it to work, and Angel fits the bill for this perfectly. He's wise, pensive, and often misunderstood. Angel playing the role of Watcher/mentor for Phoebe is thematically reflective of both of these characters not wanting to be where they are. It's juicy and good, basically.

When we last saw Angel on his show, he was fighting the entire army of Hell with the rest of the surviving Team Angel folks. It did not look good for our heroes.

And we can just say it wasn't good and they all died staving off Armageddon. You know, except for Angel. Because, in a very classic fashion, Angel's consistently fueled by survivor's guilt.

There's one other thing: In the fight to save Earth, we'll reveal that Angel actually Shanshu'ed. Devoted Buffy fans know of the Shanshu Prophecy, which explains that one day Angel would basically get to become human. As a last parting gift for saving the world, after Angel ended, Angel was granted his humanity.

So, Angel is a human librarian now, living out his mortal days brooding about losing his friends, waiting to die. He's Rocky Balboa in Creed.

THAT'S OUR ORDINARY WORLD. NOW WHAT HAPPENS?

We meet Phoebe's history teacher, Gil, who quickly endears himself to her. They'll have great chemistry, and in an act of defiance against her dad, Phoebe accepts Gil's invitation to "study" back at his place. When she gets to Gil's house, she immediately gets cold feet and tries to leave.

BUT THEN GIL TRIES TO EAT PHOEBE. Because Gil is a vampire who preys on students. 

Phoebe actually manages to fight Gil off, impaling him through the chest on an exposed metal pipe. And, what really skeeves Phoebe out is that she sees him THE VERY NEXT DAY at school as though nothing happened. Gil threatens her, saying that he's a vampire, and that he'll get what he wants from her eventually.

After Phoebe tells Hank and Sean, they resolve to find a way to kill Gil. And while they don't know where to start, they noticed there's a very special book behind glass at the library labeled VAMPYR that could tell them how to do it.

BREAKING INTO THE LIBRARY

Phoebe, Hank, and Sean orchestrate a very melodramatic, Ocean's Eleven-esque break in to get that Vampyr book. The one problem? Angel's waiting for them.

And he kick's Phoebe's ass. Phoebe may be our new Slayer, but Angel has 250+ years of experience on her, and promptly schools her.

Then Angel gives us the expositional goods - he didn't realize there was a new Slayer. He thought they all died when that "unspeakable cataclysm" claimed the lives of Buffy and the rest of her Slayer School. But he hypothesizes out loud that, if Phoebe really is the new Slayer, she'll the most powerful of them all. And then he says it's a shame that it's wasted on such a useless person. Jerk Angel in full effect, everybody.

He gives the new Scooby Gang (or, "Nooby Gang", as he calls them) the book and lets them go try and kill Gil themselves.

THE CLIMAX

Phoebe confronts Gil by herself after an argument with Hank and Sean; she doesn't want to endanger her friends. And it's a big knock down, drag out BRAWL through the history classroom, the band room, and the cafeteria. But Gil turns out to be over 100 years old himself, and he's got quite a list of people he's killed. This is work for Phoebe.

But at the last second, Angel, Hank, and Sean crash the party. Angel shoots Gil in the shoulder with a crossbow, and then pays dearly for it as Gil THRASHES our former fanged hero. Phoebe finally impales Gil with a mop, revealing our first on screen vampire dusting in over a decade.

As our Nooby Gang gets into a group hug of sorts, Angel stares wistfully at them before disappearing.

THE DENOUEMENT

Phoebe, Hank, and Sean return to school the next day, watching janitors clean up the huge mess and muse aloud that a bull must have gotten loose. Those damn school pranks.

As our kids sit and get ready for history class, ANGEL walks through the door. And it's here where we reveal he's their new history teacher. As his transformation into the new Giles is complete, Phoebe lets out an exasperated "Oh, fu--"

Before we slam to credits.

GOING FORWARD

We'd see the Nooby Gang face down threat after threat every week as we get to grow with them. As a bonus, we'd watch Angel evolve too, getting to see him accept and embrace being a human for the first time in 250 years.

As the show progresses, hopefully we'd see Oz, Willow, and Spike (!!) return. The key to this is prioritizing the new story while using the old parts sparingly. 

That said, I think we'd see Buffy return/join the show by the very end of Season 1. It would be fun to see her in the role of school principal or something similar. It would also be fun to see her clash with Angel over how to mentor Phoebe. 

Or maybe Angel dies (full on Han Solo style) before Buffy gets to come back. That'd be tragic, wouldn't it?

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The possibilities are truly endless. But, what's most important about revisiting a show like this is getting the foundation right.

What do you all think?

Terry Erickson is a screenwriter, lifelong film fan, and all around good guy based in Baltimore, MD. He's driven across America twice, is obsessed with Back To The Future, and loves almost everybody.