Buffy the Vampire Slayer's creator is about to drive a
stake through the hearts
of the show's diehard
fans: According to Joss
Whedon, the Chosen One
and her trusty gang of
Scoobies will likely call it a
doomsday in May. "I'm
beginning to suspect that it may be [Buffy's] last season,"
he tells TV Guide Online. "Nothing's official, but it's
starting to feel possible. The way people are talking,
there's a finality to it."
Might the folks with whom Whedon's been conferring work at A.C. Nielsen?
Compared to this time last year, Buffy's ratings are off an alarming 16 percent. In
fact, last week more viewers watched Buffy's bloody brilliant spinoff Angel than the
mother show itself. "It had a really good seven-year run and it's time to call it quits,"
implores Mediaweek columnist Marc Berman. "Leave with some dignity."
For his part, Whedon insists his gut instinct is not numbers-driven. "I never check
Buffy's ratings," he says. "It doesn't really affect me. It may affect the network."
Responds a UPN spokeswoman: "Buffy is an extremely important franchise to
UPN. There are a lot of options, whether it be bringing the show back, bringing it
back in a different form, possibly doing a spinoff... But really, it's just way too soon to
say what's going to happen. We just started our conversations with the producers
and the studio." (The rep also points out that ratings for last season's Buffy
premiere were inflated because of the show's much-hyped move from the WB to
UPN, thus a year-to-year comparison is unfair.)
Another factor that may be influencing Whedon's vibe: Sarah Michelle Gellar's
contract expires in May, and the Scooby-Doo star has thus far expressed
ambivalence about slaying on. "Everything is one day at a time," she told TV Guide
Online last May. "That [decision] is about everyone sitting down and [evaluating
whether] there's story to tell and if I think it'll be, you know... interesting." Fast
forwarding to present day, Whedon says Gellar remains undecided. "She hasn't
told me one way or another, but I know she has movies she wants to do. She has
been doing [Buffy] for seven years, so if she did decide that this was her last year,
it's certainly a decision I'd respect."
Whether or not Whedon's vampire saga bites the dust, the workaholic says this
season's plots will not be impacted. "It doesn't really make a difference to me
creatively, because I build every season to be self-contained," he explains. "I do
think where we're heading this year is kind of monumental. It's going to be a big
finish in May, so that if it is the last season, that's great. And if it's not, if Buffy
continues or some incarnation of Buffy continues, it will serve that as well. There's
always more stories to tell."
In other words, it's probably no small coincidence that Eliza Dushku will reprise her
role as Buffy's Slayer nemesis at season's end. Speculation has it that should
Gellar opt to hang up her stakes in May, Dushku may be recruited to headline a
spinoff. "That possibility exists," confirms Whedon, adding cryptically, "It's one of
— Michael Ausiello