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Do vampire slayers really own this stuff?
From National Post
by: Scott Feschuk

A year ago, during a tour of the set of the new Star Trek series Enterprise, television writers from across North America eagerly queued for the chance to, if only for a fleeting moment, plunk their ample posteriors into the captain's chair on the bridge of the legendary starship.

This year, UPN -- the network that airs Enterprise in the United States -- concluded its presentation to the Fall Press Tour by offering journalists a tour of the set of another of its prime-time series, Buffy the Vampire Slayer. All of which is a rather roundabout way of introducing the awkward fact that I sat on Buffy's toilet.

I hunkered down only to take a few notes, I swear. And maybe to have a little rest. (Memo to self: In future, maybe guzzle four sour apple martinis after the set tour. Might cut down on incidents of "walking into expensive stuff.") But strangely, the slayer's commode didn't seem to hold the same kind of iconic appeal as the captain's chair, thus affording me plenty of time to scan the surroundings from the inelegant perch. And that is how I came to uncover this National Post World Exclusive:

After a long night of arse-whupping the evil undead, Buffy Summers passes the time while tending to more, um, mundane corporeal chores by reading ... ArtNews magazine! It's right there, close at hand, stuffed in the bathroom wall rack. And check out the show's hitherto unrevealed Canadian connection: This particular issue of ArtNews features a major cover story entitled Canada: Collectors and Controversies.

Remember, that's a World Exclusive available only to readers of the National Post!

The tours were conducted during what UPN billed as its "All-Star Party," which was held on the main street of Buffy's town of Sunnydale, Calif. -- which itself is constructed just off a side street in Santa Monica, a couple dozen blocks from the ocean. Turns out that when the fledgling network described the affair as an "All-Star Party," what it really meant was, "These are 'All' the alleged 'Stars' we could cajole into coming to our so-called 'Party.' "

In a business in which celebrity is the prevailing currency, UPN is a pauper: It is never a good sign when the most famous face in attendance belongs to a pale, unkempt gentleman whom a klatch of TV writers could, despite pooling their Corona-addled brain wattage, identify only as "that freaky doctor guy from Enterprise."

Going on a set tour is like having a magic trick explained to you: It sounds cool in the abstract, it provides a minor rush as it's happening, and then you wind up shaking your head dejectedly and muttering, "Well, that ruined everything." The sets tend to be so ratty, so shoddy, so faux that you invariably leave with the opinion that the highest-paid employee on any television show should be the cinematographer: Anyone who can make such chintzy crap look slick and authentic deserves as much money as can be stuffed into his pockets without causing him to lose his trousers.

Some setbuilders pay attention to even the most minor nuance. The sets of Star Trek series, for instance, are renowned for their attention to detail, right down to the array of inside jokes scripted in a miniscule font on the control panels. Not so in Sunnydale. The bookshelf of Dawn, Buffy's young sister, is stocked with such improbable titles and Couplehood by Paul Reiser and Harlequin's 30th Anniversary Reader. And the tomb of Spike -- a snarky, centuries-old vampire -- asks a visitor to believe that he subscribes to Doll Reader magazine.

Indeed, from this day on, whenever I watch an episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, I won't be thinking, "This show continues to impress me with its creativity and electric wit." I'll be thinking, "I can't believe Buffy's medicine cabinet is stocked with an empty can of Deep Woods Off, a Fonzie comb and a bottle of Mylanta that expired in 1986."

And, come on, what are the odds that the CD collection of Willow -- a powerful lesbian witch, a masterful purveyor of the dark arts -- would feature such titles as Fore! by Huey Lewis and the News and Can't Hold Back by Eddie Money. Unless, you know, she is under the spell of some sinister, otherworldly demon -- like The Master or The Judge. Or maybe Ted Nugent.

Back on Main Street, outside the Magic Box -- the shop where parts of the show take place -- Buffy creator Joss Whedon was holding a glass of white wine and, as is custom during such events, holding court. Years ago, when Buffy first went on the air, Whedon was often heard to complain about being overworked. With the debut of his space drama Firefly in the fall, he'll have three shows on broadcast television (the Buffy spinoff Angel is the other). He's also working on a drama for the BBC. And an animated series. And a Broadway musical. And, he told a small group of reporters, a ballet. And then, perhaps mistaking our awed silence for disdain, he added: "Plus I've got some other stuff on the side."

Impressive, I thought. Very impressive. Whedon is a brilliant man, a creative genius and a terribly amusing raconteur. But I still found myself walking away from the scrum that had formed around him. Whilst in the vicinity of such a prolific artist, you see, it was darn near impossible for me to continue to contend that sitting on Buffy's toilet was the zenith of a successful workday.


The Usual
The Usual

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