by Liane Bonin
The latest news about "Buffy" -- Producer Marti Noxon talks about going to DVD, Sarah Michelle Gellar's new 'do, and storylines you'll never see
A vampire slayer gets no respect, so why should her fans? DVDs of "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" have been available in Europe and Australia for years (VHS versions of season five are already on sale in the UK), yet America's slayer buffs had to wait until last week for season one to make its DVD debut. Not that they weren't thrilled, but why the delay? A spokesman at 20th Century Fox TV (the studio behind the UPN hit) cryptically blames "different release patterns" for the delay.
That's not much in the way of consolation -- then again, even "Buffy"'s creators can't score DVDs. "They don't send us copies," laughs executive producer Marti Noxon. "And we have a pretty limited say as far as what episodes are released and when." Luckily, Noxon has plenty of say about everything else. She talked to EW.com about discarded storylines, steamy sex, and the new series that may one day fill "Buffy"'s high heels.
Now that the first season is out on DVD, can you tell us about storylines that never made the cut?
Actually, there were a lot of things we were going to do and never did. More recently, in season four, Maggie (Lindsay Crouse) was going to be much more of a mother figure for Riley, introducing him to another girl to lure him away from Buffy. We thought it would create some Shakespearean jealousy, and then we went, ehhh, forget it. But most of the changes [throughout the series] have had to do with actors coming and going. We had a lot more planned for Seth Green (Oz), for example, but his departure [to do films] opened the door for Tara (Amber Benson), which was something we never expected. And there would have been far more Angel-Buffy angst if he hadn't gotten his own show.
Speaking of Angel and Buffy, will there ever be another crossover? If David E. Kelly can jump networks ["Ally McBeal" and "The Practice"], why can't you?
It's not gonna happen, and it's not only a contractual issue. Even if it boosted our ratings for one night, viewers might say, "Hey, what about that Angel guy? I wonder what he's up to on that other network?" which would be a problem for UPN. I don't think there's any bad blood, but I also don't think either UPN or the WB are looking to do each other a favor.
Was Sarah Michelle Gellar's haircut really a big deal?
No, not really. She came to us and said she wanted to do it, and we were fine with that. It's not like our audience is completely attached to the hair. And I like it. I think it makes her look kinda kicky.
This has to be the raciest season of "Buffy" yet. How are you getting away with Spike and Buffy's more explicit moments, including allusions to oral sex?
You can't get around the fact that the ideas are really nasty, but the actual content hasn't been. We've had less nudity this year than last, except for Spike, but no one's complaining about that. It's just because the nature of Buffy's relationship with Spike is much more sexual than her past relationships, and it's not about cuddly sex, either. I think the censors understand that if you're a kid of a certain age, you're not going to get it. And if you're old enough to get it, then, well, you get it. But I'm sure we have some challenges ahead, because it's not going to get less sexy for a while.
What can you tell us about "Buffy" creator Joss Whedon's new Fox series, "Firefly"?
It's basically a science fiction western. The show takes place in the wake of a universal civil war in which the government wanted to unite all of the planets into one federation. The government won, so the guys on our ship, who fought for independence, are cruising the periphery of the universe where some of the planets still haven't been reached by the government. They aren't heroes; they do a lot of salvage work and odd jobs, some of which aren't so legal. But it's not like most sci-fi shows where everything's in black and white. The government isn't all bad, but they do some bad stuff. There's a cool ship and there's going to be nifty hardware, but the goal is to make all the characters' emotional lives totally real. We're focusing on their struggles, not a guy with a gorgon on his templok or something.
So Joss has "Buffy," "Angel," "Firefly," an animated version of "Buffy," and the BBC ''Buffy'' spin-off ''Ripper'' on his plate. When does his head explode?
He doesn't need the same things other humans need, like rest or bad television, damn him. And the thing is, there's another show in the offing that he and I and "Angel" producer David Greenwalt are planning for next season. But it's possible that "Ripper" might be delayed because of "Firefly."
There's a rumor going around that another one of the main characters on "Buffy" is going to die. How do you deal with leaks?
I can't comment on the rumor. We used to get really upset and send out fake spoilers so people would be confused, and we still do, sometimes, but we can't plug all the holes. We try not to pay too much attention, because it just makes you crazy.
Now that Buffy's in her 20s, do you see a series end in sight?
I was joking with a friend that one day we'll be doing Xander versus the love handles monster. Let us stop before it gets lame! If key members don't want to continue we won't. Every year we think, this could be it, but every year we continue to feel enthused about it, and it just keeps going.