TV Article

Replacement Parts

Still mourning the cancellation of ''Buffy''? Rachel Lovinger weighs the pros and cons of possible spin-offs

Alyson Hannigan, Buffy the Vampire Slayer | WITCH CRAFT Can fan favorite Willow lead a spin-off?
Image credit: Alyson Hannigan: Jeremy Canning
WITCH CRAFT Can fan favorite Willow lead a spin-off?

What spin-offs do ''Buffy'' fans want?

Of course ''Buffy the Vampire Slayer'' can't continue without the title character. But, as every fan knows, the show's mythology is rich enough to generate many more stories. One successful spin-off (''Angel'') has already sprung from the ''Buffy''-verse, and with the right elements, a second one could fill the Tuesday night void. Joss Whedon has already expressed interest in producing a replacement for early 2004, or possibly fall 2003.

It wouldn't be good enough to merely shift focus from one young female champion to another and retread consecrated ground. That's why early rumors of ''Dawn the Vampire Slayer'' were as disappointing as the idea of ''Beverly Hills 90210: The Next Generation.'' Yes, every generation has a chosen one, but the viewers of ''Buffy'' have grown with the show for the past seven years. They can't go back to high school and do it all again.

Considering that Eliza Dushku has already committed to another pilot, there's no chance that Faith will be asked to follow in Buffy's high-heeled boot-steps -- which may be a good thing. Faith makes a great counterpoint to Buffy, and she will undoubtedly prove her battle-worthiness in future appearances on both ''Angel'' and ''Buffy.'' Even so, her character isn't complex enough to single-handedly carry on the ''Slayer'' tradition of great storytelling.

Though there aren't any hints of a spin-off based on Spike, fans are calling out for William the Bloody. James Marsters has shown impressive range since Spike first arrived in Sunnydale six years ago. But is prime time ready for another series about a do-good vampire with a soul? Maybe Spike should move to L.A. and team up with Angel, like an undead Starsky and Hutch. On second thought, scratch that: Their romantic rivalry for Buffy would be a deal-breaker. Xander, on the other hand, is a strong candidate to cross over onto ''Angel.'' He already has a complex history with Angel and Cordelia. Working side by side with Gunn, Fred, and Wesley would help him realize that regular human beings can contribute to the supernatural struggle -- he might even teach Conner a thing or two about teamwork.

Current speculation leans most heavily toward a spin-off based on Willow. But even with a favorite character, the show would need a premise that's different enough from the original to feel creative and new. Say, for example, the mystical slayer lineage has ended, but the young witch decides that she still has to fight the forces of evil. Without an official champion, Willow could help transform the Potentials and other recruits into protectors of oblivious citizens; then Anya, Andrew, and Dawn could assist with research, training, and comic relief.

Meanwhile, here's the biggest question: Will any network have the confidence to belatedly produce the Giles-based spin-off for Anthony Stewart Head that Joss Whedon was planning to write before getting diverted to last year's ''Firefly''? In a show with more mystery and a little less action than ''Buffy,'' the ex-Watcher would investigate ghost stories in his U.K. homeland. A standard six-episode BBC season might not be enough to generate a hit. But if Whedon can create a full year of programming based on the monster lore that worked so well in early ''Buffy'' (plus a healthy helping of back story on ''The Ripper''), he could have a hit on both sides of the pond. Ethan Rayne, Drusilla, any of the Scoobies, and even the ghost of Jenny Calendar would always be welcome for a special appearance.

What ''Buffy'' spin-offs would you like to see?

Originally posted Mar 13, 2003
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