'Buffy' to tap lighter vein -- but be scarier too
by: Hal Boedeker
Buffy the Vampire Slayer will turn more positive next season after a year many fans decried as too somber. The UPN series will send Buffy Summers (Sarah Michelle Gellar) back to high school in a job similar to adviser.
"Last year really was about the dark side of power and confusion," series creator Joss Whedon said. "This year is about the joy of power. . . . It's about Buffy becoming more proactive in her fight against evil."
In keeping with the new fun tone, Dawn Summers (Michelle Trachtenberg) "will be featured a little more and -- more importantly -- she will whine less," Whedon said. The show, which returns Sept. 24, will also be scarier.
"We've never been much of a horror show, but this year we really want to put them through their paces so there isn't this overarching malaise over all the characters that they went through last year that everyone found so popular," Whedon said in a joking tone.
In the Buffy-Spike (James Marsters) affair, Whedon wanted to explore an unhealthy relationship between people who couldn't stand each other. The steamy story line made the show "wicked dirty, which is cool," Whedon said. "It won't be the same thing at all" this year, he added.
Whedon said the show could go on without Gellar, whose contract ends next season. "I don't know if it will," he said. "I have the strongest ensemble cast I could ever hope to work with and a premise that resonates beyond the character."
CBS President Les Moonves, who oversees UPN, said he hopes the series returns. "If it didn't come back, it certainly would hurt," he said. "Is Friends going to hurt NBC when it's not back?"