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Whedon Talks 'Buffy' on DVD

by Kate O'Hate

During an online chat in March 2000, "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" creator Joss Whedon was asked about the possibility of his series being released on DVD.

Whedon replied, "I have heard no plans of releasing anything on DVD. I do, however, hope that, in the future, maybe after the running of the show, the entire series will be released on DVD. Then I can do a biting, witty and possibly drunken commentary over the whole thing."

In an interview on Dec. 18, Whedon says, "It was none of the above, I'm sorry to say."

He's referring to the commentary he does on the two-hour pilot of "Buffy," part of the DVD release of the series' first season, due out Jan. 15 from Fox Home Entertainment.

The three-disc set includes the first 12 episodes, the aforementioned commentary, interviews with Whedon and star David Boreanaz (Angel), the original pilot script and trailer.

Whedon didn't find the commentary easy. "Those things make me very nervous. That was my first one, ever. There were people around, and I'm like, 'Oooh, I don't know what to say.'"

"That's the only one I did a commentary on that I didn't direct, although I did direct parts of it. It's easier when you directed it, then you have more say about every frame."

But don't you have say over every frame anyway? "I do."

Whedon doesn't, though, do commentary for "Prophecy Girl," the first-season finale, in which Buffy (Sarah Michelle Gellar) dies for the first time (albeit way more briefly than the second time). "Either I didn't have the time," says Whedon, "or they didn't ask, or I was so frightened by my experience of doing the first two hours, I said, 'I can't. Never again. I have nothing to say. I must run.'"

He has, though, recorded some commentaries for upcoming DVD releases. "I know I did 'Hush' and 'Restless,' and I expect I would probably do the musical, but it's not my favorite thing to do."

"Sometimes it is enlightening. I wanted very much to do (the fourth-season finale) 'Restless,' because it is a dream episode, and everything has a very literal interpretation I wanted to talk about. But generally speaking, there's a lot of vamping."

But there is a part of him that enjoys the process. "I shoot it the way I see it, and I can definitely articulate what I was trying to accomplish, and that can be useful for people. I love teaching. I love going through the process."

"DVD commentary sometimes is intimidating, but I actually love breaking things down. Martin Scorsese, I think, is the greatest at creating a completely visceral, primal, inarticulate image, and then articulating exactly how and why he did it. To me, it's very interesting to do something from your gut and explain what it turned out to be, how you accomplished it. It's not about lenses and cameras."

One thing that's evident from Whedon's commentary how steep his learning curve was, coming to series television from a background writing for such films as "Toy Story" and "Speed" (and the movie version of "Buffy"). "Yes," he says, "I've figured it out. I've become the hack that I always dreamt of being."

While "Angel," the "Buffy" spin-off, continues to be aired in widescreen on The WB, Whedon doesn't envision the same for "Buffy" on UPN.

"I like the idea that 'Buffy' stays square. It started that way, and most TVs are still square. Whereas 'Angel,' I think of as a dark, melodramatic film, I think of 'Buffy' as a comforting TV show, even though it's the darkest, bleakest world, and I want to keep it that way."

Things have come along way since the first season. Now, mired in season six, Buffy is battling her feelings about her reluctant return from the blissful hereafter, and her love/hate relationship with vampire Spike (James Marsters); while pal Willow (Alyson Hannigan) suffers heartbreak and addiction to magic.

"It's just going to get worse," says Whedon. "We have a lot of humor in store, and a lot of goofy, crazy stuff, but are we bringing on the pain? We're bringing on the pain. We love pain. But yes, there's happiness. There's hope. There's always hope."

Before the light at the end of the tunnel, Buffy's life is going to get a lot more complicated. Returning in the new year is Marc Blucas, as Riley, Buffy's demon-hunting, soldier ex-boyfriend, last seen heading off on a jungle mission.

"We have him doing an episode for us after Christmas," says Whedon. "We're really excited."

This should answer the question of what happened to Riley in the jungle, whether a demon or something squished him. "Not squished," says Whedon. "Something rather more dramatic happened to him."

Season One of "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" will be released on a three-disc set on Jan. 15, 2002.

The Usual
The Usual

Random Quotage:

It hurts sometimes more than we can bear. If we could live without passion, maybe we'd know some kind of peace. But we would be hollow. Empty rooms, shuttered and dank... Without passion, we'd be truly dead.
-Angelus (Passion)

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