Once they end, TV shows don't come back ("Family Guy" excepted). But sometimes they are resurrected as a comic book.
This month, "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" fans can celebrate the 10th anniversary of the fifth-greatest TV show of all time with Dark Horse Comics' "Buffy Season 8" No. 1.
Show creator Joss Whedon plans 20 to 30 monthly comics in this arc; much like a TV season, he'll write the bookend issues and a few in the middle while a team of writers tackles the rest.
On my all-time favorite TV list, I have "Once and Again," "My So-Called Life" and "Freaks and Geeks" leading the way, and "Buffy" is snuggled between Whedon's other two epics, "Firefly" and "Angel."
Yet none of those other shows had as big an impact on my life as "Buffy," which ran from 1997-2003 on The WB and UPN. During those years, which corresponded with my collegiate career, 7 p.m. Tuesday was "Buffy" Time, and I always made sure to be home by 6:30, just to be safe. My friends and I would gather to watch new episodes and eat pizza, and the VCR would be rolling so we could watch the episode again later.
Buffy Summers was the Chosen One, charged with fighting the vampires, demons and forces of darkness in Sunnydale. After she and her friends changed the world at the end of the TV series, "Buffy Season 8" brings us into a world with thousands of Slayers. Pictured is a two-page spread from the first issue.
"Buffy" turned me into a fan of the entire medium of TV, and every year for the last decade I've sought out serials that have the potential to be the next "Buffy" (few do, but that's no reason not to look).
Classics like Season 2's "Becoming, Part 2" (Buffy "kills" Angel) and Season 3's "The Prom" (even more painful, Angel breaks up with Buffy) made me hide in the bathroom and weep, not because of the events, but because of the genuineness with which the events were told. It was just such a beautiful story.
Against those other great shows, "Buffy" had an unfair advantage in winning me over because it got to tell its full arc; both Whedon and Buffy actress Sarah Michelle Gellar wanted Season 7 to be the last. The other five shows I mentioned were all canceled before the story was complete.
That's also why four shows rank higher on my list: They never had a chance to have a weak year, whereas "Buffy" did with Season 7. The series wrapped with Buffy passing on her powers to all the Potential Slayers in the world with a magic assist from Willow. Thus, the saga wrapped in a neat little bow.
"Buffy" was a show about life - we met Buffy, Xander and Willow as high-school sophomores and saw them become mature adults. Naturally, there are still stories to be told as they enter this brave new world of - as we're told in Season 8 No. 1 - 18,000 Slayers, with about 500 working for Buffy.
Obviously, all those potentially rogue Slayers could cause a problem (see also: Season 3 Faith and the mentally unhinged Dana from "Angel" Season 5).
"Buffy the Vampire Slayer" and the Scooby Gang are back for an eighth "season" of adventures in Dark Horse's new comic series. Joss Whedon, creator of the TV series, wrote the first issue, which was released Wednesday, and plans to write several more.
World-shaking adventures never interested me as much as the intimate character stuff. The overall feel of Season 8 is, indeed, epic: Xander's operations bunker calls to mind (shudder) the Initiative of the mediocre Season 4.
But there's plenty of reason for hope. Amy - everyone's favorite witch with a taste for cheese - returns with a taste for revenge. And Dawn - underused in Season 7, by Whedon's admission - is back in a big way: An unfortunate brush with magic causes her to balloon to the size of a castle. If I had seen that on a TV screen, I would've had a good laugh and marveled at the visual effects, but at the same time I'd probably think, "This show has gotten a lot sillier since Season 3."
Still, it's a page turner, and a pretty cool way to mark the Buffyversary.
On the Web: www.darkhorse.com.
JOHN HANSEN, entertainment editor, can be reached at email@example.com or 855-5863.
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