Tag Archives: Sarah Michelle Gellar

Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel Character Review: The Master

*Warning: This post contains spoilers about the characters from the television series Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel. Read at your own risk if you have not watched one or both television series. In this series of character reviews, I will strictly be writing about the characters from the television series, not the 1992 film.

There is something to be said about a well written, human character. They leap off the page and speak to us as if they were right in front us, as flesh and blood human beings, instead of fictional creations.

In this series of weekly blog posts, I will examine character using the characters from Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel to explore how writers can create fully dimensional, human characters that audiences and readers can relate to.

In every science fiction and fantasy program, there has to be a big bad. This character represents all of the evils of this fictional world. The ultimate goal of the hero or heroine is to stop this big bad. On Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel, the first big bad is the Master (Mark Metcalf).

The Master is an ancient vampire who leads a centuries old order of vampires. Relying on ritual and prophecy, he knows of the existence of the Slayer. Forced into the Hellmouth, his goals are two fold: kill the Slayer and destroy humanity. Unable to leave his prison, he sends his vampire minions to find victims and create new vampires.

He feeds by proxy. Sending Luke as his “emissary” to the world above, the Master feeds when Luke feeds. But Buffy continues to get in his way, staking Luke and saving lives. When they finally meet, it is a battle that tests both Buffy and the Master. Buffy wins, but not before being killed by the Master and then resuscitated by her friends.

To sum it up: every villain thinks they they are right, that their actions are entirely correct. On BVTS, the Master believed that his perspective and his world was the correct way to live. The humans were incorrect and therefore, they had to go. A good villain is committed to their cause 150% and will do anything to achieve their goal. The Master, if nothing else, is committed to his goal, which makes him the perfect villain and the perfect foil to the Slayer.

Leave a comment

Filed under Character Review, Feminism, Television

Thoughts On the 20th Anniversary of Angel

Sequels and spin-offs have an iffy reputation. If they are done well, they are an homage to their predecessor while blazing their own path. If they are done poorly, the sequel or the spin-ff casts a shade on it’s predecessor and it’s legacy.

On October 5th, 1999, Angel premiered. A spin-off of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, the show follows Angel (David Boreanaz), Buffy Summers (Sarah Michelle Gellar) soulful vampire ex-boyfriend. Angel has moved from Sunnydale to Los Angeles, where he is seeking to redeem his violent and bloody past by being a hero.

While Angel goes on the hero’s journey to make up for his past, he is joined by allies who support his cause and his goal of redemption. Cordelia Chase (Charisma Carpenter) and Doyle (the Glenn Quinn) joined Angel in the first season. Later on in the show’s run Wesley Wyndam-Price (Alexis Denisof), Charles Gunn (J. August Richards), Lorne (the late Andy Hallett), Winifred “Fred” Burkle (Amy Acker) and Spike (James Marsters) fought against the forces of darkness.

Compared to BVTS, Angel was darker. It dealt with the same themes as BVTS, but the show dealt with those same issues with a grittier and more mature perspective. Unlike other heroes who see the world as black and white, Angel saw and understood the shades of grey that exist and force us to make decisions that in hindsight are not always wise.

Twenty years later, Angel still resounds with the fans because of the show’s grittiness, it’s honesty and the universal desire for redemption.

Leave a comment

Filed under Television, Thoughts On....

Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel Character Review: Riley Finn

*Warning: This post contains spoilers about the characters from the television series Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel. Read at your own risk if you have not watched one or both television series. In this series of character reviews, I will strictly be writing about the characters from the television series, not the 1992 film.

There is something to be said about a well written, human character. They leap off the page and speak to us as if they were right in front us, as flesh and blood human beings, instead of fictional creations.

In this series of weekly blog posts, I will examine character using the characters from Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel to explore how writers can create fully dimensional, human characters that audiences and readers can relate to.

Some relationships are meant to last a lifetime. Others are meant to last a short time. On Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Buffy’s (Sarah Michelle Gellar) first boyfriend after high school and Angel (David Boreanaz) was Riley Finn (Marc Blucas). Their first meeting comes during Buffy’s freshman year of college. He is the TA in her psychology class. He appears to be just a normal college student, but he is not.

He is a member of The Initiative, a military like organization whose job is to protect humanity from vampires, demons and other dangerous non-human creatures who put humanity at risk. At first, both Buffy and Riley are unaware of each other’s double lives, but they come clean eventually.

During their brief relationship, Riley learns a few things. One thing he learns is that the scooby gang is very particular as to who they let in. He also learns that not all demons are evil. After The Initiative was destroyed, Riley lost his sense of who he was, causing him to act recklessly and question his relationship with Buffy.

In the end, Riley and Buffy’s relationship ended like many relationships do. They are good when they are good, but they are not meant to last forever.

To sum it up: One of the lies that Hollywood tells audiences is that the perfect relationship is well, perfect. There is just enough drama to make the story interesting, but not enough to be realistic. This relationship will last forever and the couple in question will live happily ever after. But that is not reality.

As writers, it is up to us as to how we want to portray the couple and their relationship. However, I believe that we have a responsibility, even in a hyper fictional world like BVTS and Angel, to ground these romantic relationship with a sense of reality. That sense of reality allows the audience to connect with the characters and make them believe in the relationship. As I see it, that is the key to the success of television program or a movie.

Leave a comment

Filed under Character Review, Feminism, Television

Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel Character Review: Drusilla

*Warning: This post contains spoilers about the characters from the television series Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel. Read at your own risk if you have not watched one or both television series. In this series of character reviews, I will strictly be writing about the characters from the television series, not the 1992 film.

There is something to be said about a well written, human character. They leap off the page and speak to us as if they were right in front us, as flesh and blood human beings, instead of fictional creations.

In this series of weekly blog posts, I will examine character using the characters from Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel to explore how writers can create fully dimensional, human characters that audiences and readers can relate to.

Evil is not born, it is made. On Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Darla (Juliet Landau) was not born evil. But she was made evil by Angel in his Angelus form (David Boreanaz) who killed her family, tortured her and sired her (when a human is turned into a vampire). Possessing psychic abilities and a childlike insanity that hides an innate intelligence, Drusilla joins Angelus, Darla (Julie Benz) and Spike (James Marsters), whom she sired, make up quite the evil quartet.

In Sunnydale, Drusilla hears about the new slayer (Sarah Michelle Gellar) and is eager to make her mark as the vampire who killed the newest slayer with Spike’s help. But Buffy is not so easy to kill. But she is easy to manipulate when it comes to her boyfriend, Angel. After Angel reverts back to Angelus, he and Drusilla have some serious flirting going on. This does not sit well with Spike.

Though Drusilla is unable to kill Buffy, she does kill Kendra (Bianca Lawson) and takes Giles (Anthony Stewart Head) captive. Feeling betrayed, Spike switches sides to get his girlfriend back. They escape to South America, but Drusilla is not happy with the relationship and ends it with Spike.

In Los Angeles, hearing that a now human Darla is dying, Drusilla attempt to sire her. That siring does not go as planned, though the vampires do go on a killing spree. Hearing that Spike has moved on, Drusilla returns to Sunnydale in hopes of renewing their relationship and the vampire quartet that roamed Europe. Neither happens and as the world of BVTS and Angel closes, Drusilla is wandering about the world somewhere, looking for her next meal and perhaps a new vampire to sire.

To sum it up: The best villains are not born, they are made. As a main baddie, Drusilla stands out because she is ruthless, but under that ruthlessness, she is emotional and is incredibly smart. A smart villain will entice the audience to get involved and stay involved with the narrative because they, as a character, are enticing to watch.

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Character Review, Feminism, Television

Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel Character Review-Wesley Wyndam-Price

*Warning: This post contains spoilers about the characters from the television series Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel. Read at your own risk if you have not watched one or both television series. In this series of character reviews, I will strictly be writing about the characters from the television series, not the 1992 film.

There is something to be said about a well written, human character. They leap off the page and speak to us as if they were right in front us, as flesh and blood human beings, instead of fictional creations.

In this series of weekly blog posts, I will examine character using the characters from Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel to explore how writers can create fully dimensional, human characters that audiences and readers can relate to.

By stereotype, the British are believed to be traditional, by the book and unable/unwilling to move away from the tried and true. On Buffy the Vampire Slayer, this 2D character stereotype was introduced in the form of Wesley Wyndam-Price (Alexis Denisof). Sent by the Watchers Council to be a second watcher to assist Rupert Giles (Anthony Stewart-Head) with slayers Buffy Summers (Sarah Michelle Gellar) and Faith LeHane (Eliza Dushku), their relationship does not start well. Full of it and not exactly able to do his job, Wesley is as ineffective as one can get as a Watcher.

It does not help that there is a mutual crush between himself and underage Cordelia Chase (Charisma Carpenter). When the final battle happens between the students of Sunnydale High and the Mayor, Wesley is knocked out as the battle is just getting started.

The viewer then sees Wesley in Los Angeles. Filling a void left by Doyle (the late Glenn Quinn), he joins Angel Investigations working with Angel (David Boreanaz) and Cordelia. When Faith is hired by Wolfram and Hart to kill Angel, but she kidnaps and tortures Wesley instead.

A while later, Wesley develops feeling for Winifred “Fred” Burke (Amy Acker), the newest member of the team. He also switches to the dark side when he tries to save Angel’s newborn son, Connor (played as a teenager by Vincent Kartheiser), but his throat is slit in the process. After dealing with loss, a bruised ego and discovering the truth about his father, he dies next to his beloved, Fred.

To sum it up: Over the course of his time on screen, Wesley moves from a pompous know it all who is obsessed with rules to a man who more often than not, gave into his flaws and weaknesses. But in the end, he redeemed himself by fighting for what was right. As an audience member, I can’t ask for a better character arc.

P.S. Fun fact: Alexis Denisof and Alyson Hannigan are married IRL and have two daughters.

Leave a comment

Filed under Character Review, Feminism, Television

Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel Character Review: Darla

*Warning: This post contains spoilers about the characters from the television series Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel. Read at your own risk if you have not watched one or both television series. In this series of character reviews, I will strictly be writing about the characters from the television series, not the 1992 film.

There is something to be said about a well written, human character. They leap off the page and speak to us as if they were right in front us, as flesh and blood human beings, instead of fictional creations.

In this series of weekly blog posts, I will examine character using the characters from Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel to explore how writers can create fully dimensional, human characters that audiences and readers can relate to.

The hallmark of any good character is change over the course of their time that they are on the screen or on the stage. Without that change, the character is static and unappealing to the audience. On Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel, Darla (Julie Benz) went through what can only be described a roller coaster of change.

When the audience meets Darla in the premiere episode of BVTS, she is just another vampire out to kill as many humans as she can. But unlike other vampires on BVTS and Angel, the audience gets to know Darla. Born in the 16th century, she was turned into a vampire by The Master (Mark Metcalf) in the early 17th century. Nearly and a century and a half later, Darla sired Angel (David Boreanaz), who became her lover. In the mid 19th century, their twosome grew to a foursome when Spike (James Marsters) and Drusilla (Juliet Landau) joined their group.

In Sunnydale, Darla sees the town and her living residents as fresh meat. She understands that fighting Buffy Summers (Sarah Michelle Gellar) will require intellect as well as physical strength. She uses Angel, who is now with Buffy to get the slayer. Ultimately, it is Angel who stakes Darla.

Three years later, Darla is revived by Wolfram and Hart to get to Angel. This plan gets tangled when Angel and Darla sleep together. Her last act on earth is giving birth to their son, Connor (Vincent Kartheiser), redeeming herself after centuries of murder and destruction.

To sum it up: As a character, Darla goes through an extraordinary change. As a viewer, Darla is one of the more interesting characters because of the journey she goes on and the change that she experiences. It is our job as a writer to create that roller coaster. If done well, that roller coaster not draws the audience in, but keeps the actor on their toes. This is why BVTS and Angel fans still have a high regard for Darla.

Leave a comment

Filed under Character Review, Feminism, Television

Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel Character Review: Kendra Young

*Warning: This post contains spoilers about the characters from the television series Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel. Read at your own risk if you have not watched one or both television series. In this series of character reviews, I will strictly be writing about the characters from the television series, not the 1992 film.

There is something to be said about a well written, human character. They leap off the page and speak to us as if they were right in front us, as flesh and blood human beings, instead of fictional creations.

In this series of weekly blog posts, I will examine character using the characters from Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel to explore how writers can create fully dimensional, human characters that audiences and readers can relate to.

Art has a strange way of imitating life. Like in real life, some people are not meant to be around forever. They are just meant to be part of our lives for a short time before moving on. On Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Kendra Young (Bianca Lawson) was only on the show for a brief time. In the world of BVTS and Angel, when one slayer dies, another one is immediately activated.

After Buffy is killed by The Master before being brought back to the life, Kendra is activated as the new slayer. Kendra’s entire world is being the slayer, while Buffy is balancing being a normal teenager with her slaying responsibilities. She nearly kills Angel (David Boreanaz), thinking that he is one of the baddies.

Over time, Kendra and Buffy become friends and learn from each other. That friendship is cut short when Kendra is killed by Drusilla (Juliet Landau).

To sum it up: We learn from everyone we meet and every experience we have. Though her time with Buffy is brief, Kendra teaches Buffy to accept her destiny as a slayer and Buffy teaches Kendra to enjoy life. When creating narratives and characters, no matter how far out the world maybe from the real world, there still has to be an element of reality. Buffy and Kendra’s friendship, as brief as it is, leads to life lessons that can only be learned from one another.

Leave a comment

Filed under Character Review, Feminism, Television

Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel Character Review: Faith Lehane

*Warning: This post contains spoilers about the characters from the television series Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel. Read at your own risk if you have not watched one or both television series. In this series of character reviews, I will strictly be writing about the characters from the television series, not the 1992 film.

There is something to be said about a well written, human character. They leap off the page and speak to us as if they were right in front us, as flesh and blood human beings, instead of fictional creations.

In this series of weekly blog posts, I will examine character using the characters from Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel to explore how writers can create fully dimensional, human characters that audiences and readers can relate to.

The concept of the frenemy is as follows: a person with whom one is friendly despite a fundamental dislike or rivalry. On Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Buffy’s (Sarah Michelle Gellar) frenemy is Faith Lehane (Eliza Dushku). In the world of BVTS, every time a slayer dies, a new one is activated. After Kendra Young (Bianca Lawson) is killed, Faith is activated as the new slayer. She tries to become one of the Scooby gang, but she fits in like square peg fits in a round hole.

When it becomes obvious that Faith will never be part of Buffy’s inner circle, she becomes bitter and angry. When she accidentally kills a human who she thought was a vampire, Faith turns to the dark side. Aligning herself with the Mayor, she becomes his surrogate daughter and henchwoman. Buffy and Faith get into the fight of all fights at the end of the third season after Faith nearly kills Angel. Buffy wins the battle, leaving Faith alive, but in a coma.

When Faith wakes up from her coma, she takes revenge on Buffy by switching their bodies. While in Buffy’s body, she does some not so nice things and is taken into custody by the Watcher’s Council. After they revert to their own bodies, each woman has come to realize that they misunderstood each other. They may never be friends, but at least there is an understanding of the other woman.

Faith is then bound for Los Angeles, where she is hired by Wolfram & Hart to kill Angel. This second quest to kill Angel leads Faith on a journey to figure out if she has some chance of being a hero or if she will only ever be a villain. This jump from hero to villain and back to hero takes Faith back to Sunnydale. Fighting with the Scooby gang in the final battle, Faith proves herself to be a hero.

To sum it up: From a writing perspective, a frenemy is a great antagonist. He or she knows our hero/heroine. They especially know what makes the hero or heroine tick. As one of the major antagonists in the BVTS and Angel universe, Faith knows our heroes well. This allows her to get under their skins. But they also know her well, allowing them to reach her humanity.  Like many of the major baddies on BVTS and Angel, she balances the villain with just enough humanity to catch the audience’s attention.

Which is the reason why BVTS and Angel fans still respect and adore this character.

Leave a comment

Filed under Character Review, Feminism, Television

Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel Character Review: Cordelia Chase

*Warning: This post contains spoilers about the characters from the television series Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel. Read at your own risk if you have not watched one or both television series. In this series of character reviews, I will strictly be writing about the characters from the television series, not the 1992 film.

There is something to be said about a well written, human character. They leap off the page and speak to us as if they were right in front us, as flesh and blood human beings, instead of fictional creations.

In this series of weekly blog posts, I will examine character using the characters from Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel to explore how writers can create fully dimensional, human characters that audiences and readers can relate to.

According to the lore of the high school social hierarchy, the popular cheerleader is the girl that we should all aspire to be. On the top of the pyramid that the social aspect of high school, the girls want to be her and the boys want to date her. She is also often cast as the mean girl who takes pleasure in putting down her classmates.

In Buffy the Vampire Slayer, the character trope of the popular cheerleader/mean girl was filled by Cordelia Chase (Charisma Carpenter). When Cordelia meets Buffy (Sarah Michelle Gellar), she genuinely likes her. That is, until Buffy becomes friends with Willow (Alyson Hannigan) and becomes a target for Cordelia’s cruel taunts. She is also unaware of the darker elements that are engulfing the school and the community.

At the end of the first season, Cordelia’s eyes are opened about the nature of the world that she lives in. Not only does she become friends with the Scooby gang, but she starts an on/off relationship with Xander (Nicholas Brendon). Towards the end of season three, as the prom nears, Cordelia reveals that her family is having major financial issues and she must now fend for herself.

After surviving graduation and the destruction of Sunnydale High School by the mayor, Cordelia moves to Los Angeles in hopes of becoming an actress. Instead, she works with Angel (David Boreanaz) to solve supernatural cases. She is no longer the popular cheerleader/mean girl that she was in high school, she is working for a greater cause. After gaining the power to know when someone is in trouble from Doyle (the late Glenn Quinn), the person that she was back in Sunnydale disappeared. Instead, she has become an adult who understands what it means to sacrifice yourself for something greater.

To sum it up: the essence of any character arc is to watch a character develop over the course of the time that they are on our screens. Between BVTS and Angel, Cordelia morphed from the standard teenage trope of the popular cheerleader/mean girl to a woman who put others needs before hers. It is a remarkable journey for a character that could have easily remained two-dimensional and predictable.

Instead, the writers of BVTS and Angel created a character who grew from a young girl to a woman. The one thing I remember about Cordelia is that her arc felt very real. The growing process from our teenage years to adulthood is full of emotional potholes and barriers. By the time Angel ended in 2004, Cordelia was a woman who looked like the young girl that she was, but was a very different person from the audience’s initial introduction.

That, if nothing else, is the mark of a good writer.

Leave a comment

Filed under Character Review, Feminism, Television

Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel Character Review: Joyce Summers

*Warning: This post contains spoilers about the characters from the television series Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel. Read at your own risk if you have not watched one or both television series. In this series of character reviews, I will strictly be writing about the characters from the television series, not the 1992 film.

There is something to be said about a well written, human character. They leap off the page and speak to us as if they were right in front us, as flesh and blood human beings, instead of fictional creations.

In this series of weekly blog posts, I will examine character using the characters from Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel to explore how writers can create fully dimensional, human characters that audiences and readers can relate to.

To be the parent of a teenager is not easy. Especially when your teenager is different from their peers. On Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Joyce Summers (Kristine Sutherland), is Buffy Summers’s (Sarah Michelle Gellar) single mother. Joyce hopes that moving to Sunnydale will give both of them a fresh start. But while Buffy is caught up in her new identity as the slayer and Joyce focusing on creating a life for them, their relationship becomes strained.

When Joyce finally comes to understand who her daughter is, she is understandably shocked. She gives her daughter an ultimatum: stay home or leave. Buffy make the decision to leave her mother’s house and Sunnydale. After spending time in Los Angeles, Buffy returns home and learns the difficulties her mother faced without her.   But underneath those difficulties, Joyce has never stopped loving her daughter.

Joyce appeared for the last time in the fifth season. She has not one, but two daughters. Dawn (Michelle Trachtenberg) is the key placed in human form so it can be protected by Buffy. As far as anyone knows, Joyce has always had two daughters. When she tragically dies from cancer, she leaves two heartbroken daughters and a circle of characters who are grieving as much as Buffy and Dawn are.

To sum it up: Being a parent requires love, patience and understanding. Joyce Summers embodies all off these qualities, even if she is not always the perfect parent. Despite her initial misgivings and frustration about her older daughter’s abilities, Joyce never stopped loving her children. If nothing else, that is what anyone would wish to receive from their parent?

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Character Review, Feminism, Television