With its dank crypts, leathery flesh and febrile devotion to veiny gore, Vampire mythology has never particularly resonated that well with me. Of course, there are some notions cast within that world that have potential, but the central premise of an unchecked and inextinguishable compulsion for immortality, funneled through the bloodletting, rituals and orthodontically-driven violence of a chthonic race gets mostly a meh from me. I’m not haemophobic by any stretch, some healthy bloodsport is always called for, especially in the service of a good narrative. And there’s much to be said for the Gothic texture and lantern-burnt, Dickens-like zipcode of the settings that can often cradle tales of vampirism. Even the the idea of outcasts with superhuman power, excluded from daylight and humanity because of an irredeemable curse has much purchase. But for all that, its a sub-genre that I’ve mostly stayed away from.
The densely accoutred universe of undead that writer and producer Joss Whedon crafted was an exception. In Buffy the Vampire Slayer and later spin-off Angel, Whedon did not take the narrative conventions as certainites and charted a series with a cast more befitting a teen 90210 drama than what might be common to the horror-derived genre. The television show exhibited an easy balance of self-mockery and pathos; mixing irony, acidic patter and characters that defied cheese and cliche. The misfit melancholy, character-based laughs, and all from within a unique supernatural world that offered enough whiplash commentary of our own, pitched the series above other fare.
The last episode aired in 2003 but even before the shows hellmouth-collapsing finale, talk of an animated version has been around since earlier than 2002. Buffy the Animated Series was to have a simpler starting point – set in the original shows season one (but with some “season seven point five” continuities, such as the inclusion of Dawn) – with less complicated backstories for wider audience appeal.
With most of the original characters providing voices and artwork from Eric Wight – who had been involved in animation for the wickedly cool Batman cartoons – the concept seemed strong. The networks, however, were not as convinced. Despite the already cult status of the Buffyverse, the show has seemed to be trapped in a development purgatory. And talk of the show seem destined to remain nothing more substantial than the interweb EVP of over-caffineated Whedon fanbois.
But no longer. Recently, an abridged version of the pilot was leaked onto Youtube and it’s worth eyeballing (for those interested, the three and a-half minute promotional pilot can also be downloaded in different formats on this page of the shows dedicated fansite). With petitions amassing and the attention of a sucessful Dr Horrible, Whedon and Jeph Loeb might be able to get this into full production.