Friday, December 12, 2014

Have A Merry Whedon Christmas

Christmas is less than two weeks away, but the average TV viewer will bump into at least one holiday special a day, whether it be Rudolph, Scrooge, George Bailey or the Grinch.

The odds get even better thanks to cable TV offering literally hundreds of Christmas movies, mainly thanks to the Hallmark Channel and Lifetime. Their holiday libraries are so big they usually start just after Halloween, and wrap up on New Year's Eve. Through all those movies, it's likely that several members of the Whedonverse may appear.
In fact, there's several movies where we see our favorite actors...

Dear Santa:  Lifetime premiered this movie three years ago. Amy Acker plays a party girl named Crystal, whose parents demand she straighter herself out by Christmas or they'll cut off her credit cards. She gets an idea from a letter to Santa from a seven year old girl, who wants her widowed dad named Derek to get a new wife. He also runs a soup kitchen. Crystal volunteers there, but also has to battle Derek's jealous girlfriend. Acker is really cute in this movie, quite different from her roles on Angel and Person of Interest.

Holiday Wishes:  Also a Lifetime movie, I thought this had one holiday trope too many, but it's still OK. Amber Benson plays woman looks for her missing sister, and gets support from her boyfriend who may not be who he seems (hint: think angel). Then there's a rich girl and an orphan who switches bodies thanks to a magical ornament. With those three typical holiday plots, it's a bit crowded, but the helpful boyfriend does play a part is resolving things before his true identity is revealed.

Call Me Mrs. Miracle:  This was a sequel to a Hallmark Channel movie with Doris Roberts as the angelic helper who gets a job at a department store although no one remembers hiring here. Jewel Staite plays an assistant to a fashion designer, and she'd like to get her nephew a popular toy. Mrs. M comes up with a better idea that helps her and her store, and gives off a Jennifer Aniston vibe. Despite beng well-known to Firefly and Stargate Atlantis fans, it would be great to see her in a rom-com or two. I reviewed it in my other blog.

A Golden Christmas:  This is from Ion Television. Nicholas Brendon is in this story about a lawyer who's upset her family home has been bought by Brendon's character. The story makes her look like a Scrooge when she tries to get the stop the sale, but a dog plays a big part in changing her attitude. It also turns out they knew each other as kids, but she doesn't remember.

Help for the Holidays:  Another cute holiday movie from Hallmark, with Summer Glau as an elf who helps out at a Christmas store. It seems the owners put too much time in their store and not enough on their kids. She also has a purse that is a smaller version than the one Mary Poppins has. She also starts falling for a guy, which threatens her mission. Glau is a great elf, but I said in my review the story had a ton of missed opportunities.

A Christmas Wish:  The original Buffy, Kristy Swanson, is a woman with three kids whose husband leaves her and leaves her penniless. She gets a job waitressing at a diner that may also close down. However, thanks to finding a root beer recipe, thinks will be looking up for them. Swanson is in a new holiday movie on Ion called Merry X-mas, where she plays a woman who's about to divorce her two-timing husband thanks to some misleading photos. He can't get her to hear his side, but he hopes a blizzard could help.

Road To Christmas:  we can't leave out our favorite SHIELD agent, Clark Gregg, from the list. A Lifetime offering from 2006, it's about a fashion photographer who's on her way to a dream wedding, but is held up by bad weather. Gregg is an artist turned teacher with a teenage daughter. He takes in the photographer, and if you suspect she falls for the teacher, then you know your Christmas plots. Seems inevitable, since the photographer is played by Gregg's wife, Jennifer Grey

Snow Bride:  Tom Lenk plays a small role in this Hallmark movie>He's a reporter for a website hoping to get some dirt on a political family about to announce an engagement. A female rival tries to infiltrate the family, and does thanks to an accident. Thing is, this big-shot political family is more down-to-earth than the reporter thought. It doesn't stop the editor of the website from planning to use some info Lenk uncovers, whether it's true or not. Lenk's also sporting a mustache in this movie.

If you click the DVD covers, you will find out when they will air through Christmas. If not, you'll get a link to where you can buy the DVD.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

My Buffy Movie Page In a New Home

As I am getting older, I am making some changes.
I've looked at my Yahoo home page, and whether I still need it. Since I have two blogs, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Flickr and Tumblr, my homepage is no longer the source of news it used to be. It used to be an update for Whedon shows, and a weekly episode guide, too. However, I could only save my Dollhouse episode guide through this site and Whedonopolis. I really wish I could have saved some of my episode reviews from Buffy and Angel. I never did review Firefly or Serenity, although I did comment on special events. 
So, I will have a new website through Wix that will be the new home for my memorial of The Bronze, and the day Angel was cancelled by the WB. It'll also be the home for some of my favorite cons, including the Flanvention, Wolfram and Hart Revue, Browncoat Ball and other events. 

I still need a home for my original page talking about the original Buffy the Vampire Slayer movie from 1992, and my dreams of it being riffed on by this guy and his two robots. Since Rifftrax has targeted Super Mario Brothers and Psycho II, plus both Doctor Who movies with Peter Cushing, there's always a chance. 
So, this is what I said about the original Buffy, with some updated comments:

Since the dawn of Man, the vampires have walked among us...killing...feeding.
The only one with the strength and skill to stop their henious evil is the Slayer.
She who wears the birthmark, the Mark of the Coven.
Trained by the Watcher, one Slayer dies, and the next is Chosen

It's very difficult to turn a good movie into a good TV show (MASH, Dr. Kildare, The Odd Couple, and not much else) or even a good TV show into a good movie (The Fugitive, MST 3000, The X-Files...maybe, South Park)

But turning a bad movie into a great TV show? Our Slayer may be the only character who has done that successfully...but it may have cost her respect and recognition that she so richly deserves.
The movie may be the reason why. Maybe it was a good idea that just wasn't executed as well as it should have.
Several actresses were up for the part, including Drew Barrymore, Allysa Milano and Alicia Silverstone (who was too young).
It was supposed to make Kristy Swanson, who played Buffy, a star. It was supposed to be Luke Perry's breakout role after several years as the male lead in 
Beverly Hills, 90210.Somehow, it didn't turn out that way.
On the other hand, it did have a well-known actor (Donald Sutherland as Merrick, the Watcher), two future Oscar winners (Hillary Swank and Ben Affleck), and a comeback role for Paul Reubens, alias Pee-Wee Herman..who was coming off a sex scandal that destroyed his career as a kids' TV host.
Not only that, it had David Arquette, who went on to fame in the 
Scream movies and telephone commercials, and wound up marrying Courtney Cox (and was a pro wrestling champion for a while).

The movie wasn't the sleeper hit 20th Century Fox had hoped. The major newsmagazines panned it. 
Time blamed the director for not having confidence in the script, while Newsweek blamed the script for not being able to merge the scary and funny bits as well as (and I swear to God this is true) Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein.

But the director, Fran Rubel Kazui, says the movie just wasn't marketed well, and didn't find its audience until it was released on video. The budget was seven million, but earned nearly 16 point seven million in the theaters. However, some criticized her for her hands-off style of directing. Joss Whedon, who wrote the movie, even admitted the movie didn't meet his vision. He talked about it in an interview with 
The Onion ...

I had major involvement. I was there almost all the way through shooting. I pretty much eventually threw up my hands because I could not be around Donald Sutherland any longer. It didn't turn out to be the movie that I had written. They never do, but that was my first lesson in that. Not that the movie is without merit, but I just watched a lot of stupid wannabe-star behavior and a director with a different vision than mine--which was her right, it was her movie--but it was still frustrating. Eventually, I was like, "I need to be away from here."

Fox executives also wanted the movie to be less funny and more scary, but Kuzui ignored those suggestions. He did have some nice things to say about Paul Reubens as Count Pee Wee, and that Rutger Hauer wasn't as bad in the movie as people thought.  The movie was supposed to end with Buffy setting the gym on fire (probably after she burns Lothos' head). The closest thing to his original script is in the three-part comic series, "Origin". 

There's not much connection between the movie and the TV show. In "Becoming, part one," the first meeting between Buffy and Merrick was MUCH different than in the movie: she met him in the TV show outside her high school, and he didn't look anything like Sutherland (more like Wilford Brimley). In the movie, of course, Merrick meets Buffy at the gym, and tells her about her "birthright." Also, there's no mention of a "Pike" in Buffy's past in the TV show, although there is in a Buffy novel. I suspect that there never really was a Pike, and they just added him for effect.

While the movie didn't make an impression in theaters, at least two of the producers, Gail Berman and Sandy Gallin, decided that Buffy would make a great TV show. If not for that, 
Buffy the Vampire Slayer would have been nothing more than fodder for Mystery Science Theater 3000 (whose first supervising producer was Gallin!)

In fact, I have this dream that the Satellite of Love lands mysteriously in Los Angeles. Buffy and her Slayerettes investigate, and then are surprised to meet Mike, Servo and Crow. Then, they find this movie about a cheerleader who fights vampires, and Buffy says, "Guys, we have got to riff on this!"
And who could blame them?

There were plans for a Buffy movie for a new generation...and but without Joss Whedon or Sarah Michelle Gellar. (Edited to add: since Joss is busy in the Marvel-verse, and the TV cast has aged some, this may be more likely). More people are wondering why anyone should try. After all, more people look for the TV show, not the movie.
If Fran Kuzui wants to make a new Slayer movie, one word of advice:  any name except Buffy.
That way, if a new Slayer movie is done right, the real thing can show up, and give her blessing, which would also be Joss Whedon's.
For we all know, he is the 
one true parent of Buffy Anne Summers. 

(Also, the Nerdist website speculated what kind of Buffy movie we'd get if it was made in the 1970's. Actually, the casting's not bad: Cybill Shepherd as Buffy, Peter Cushing as Giles, Kurt Russell as Xander, Susan Dey as Willow, Morgan Fairchild as Darla. Not sure about Leonard Nimoy as the Master, though. This was during a time when he wanted to prove he was more than Spock, but I'm not sure this would be it.)
A blog called 
The Exploding Kinetoscope did a very detailed essay on the movie. It makes my essay look quite lacking. It compares the original Buffy movie to lots of other movies, and praises Sutherland's performance. Well, I had my angle and this blogger has his. Click here, and see for yourself.
AAAANNNDDD...someone found an article in 
Movieline that gives a detailed look at the movie, with a lot of emphasis on how this affects Luke Perry's chances to breaking away from his role on 90210. It didn't, but you wonder if it could have if the movie was closer to Joss' original plan, and people decided this was NOT a kid's movie.

Now, after we have had a flood of vampire genre on TV and the movies...for good and bad...could it be time for an all new version of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, based on what Whedon really had in mind? If so, he, or Jed Whedon and Maurissa Tanchareon, should be involved somehow. That way, it will be done right.
Besides, wouldn't Emma Roberts look great mowing down the Hellspawn?

And for the record, my new website that's devoted to the many Buffy-related activities I've attended is