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May finales hit the reset button

May, 2003

[Originally a Billie's Bytes column]

May is finally coming to an end with the Memorial Day weekend, and I've been writing my fingerprints off. My friend Tara DiLullo and I have been working on a series of articles to salute the end of our favorite series, Buffy the Vampire Slayer. I got to hear the divine David Boreanaz burp at the Los Angeles Comic Book and Sci-Fi Convention (see my transcript of his question and answer session). And nearly every show I watch (I know you might not believe this, but there aren't that many of them) came to a climactic seasonal close -- with some more climactic than others.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer ended with a bang. After a somewhat disappointing seventh season, I was very pleased by the quality and the surprises in the final episode (see my review for details). I probably would have been a lot more upset by Spike's glorious, redemptive demise if we hadn't heard the week before that the newly-transformed-in-the-plot-department Angel had been renewed, and that James Marsters was jumping networks to join the Angel cast. The icing on the cake was the WB's announcement last week that the brilliant Joss Whedon plans to spend next season working only on Angel. Yes, yes, yes.

Angel had a fascinating and creative year -- its best yet -- but even so, it was on the cancellation bubble. Whedon et al. pulled it out of the fire with a whole new direction, as the Senior Partners ceded Los Angeles to Angel in the season finale, and hey hey by the way also gave Angel control of Wolfram & Hart. It's an intriguing twist. Does Angel now have tremendous resources to fight evil, or has he gone over to the dark side? As cool as the new plot line is, I've heard through the grapevine that it was also James Marsters signing on the dotted line that kept Angel afloat. Have I mentioned how thrilled I am that my two favorite vampires are going to be on the same show again?

Alias, which is also returning next fall, completely re-set itself in mid-season with the surprising demise of SD-6; I was completely blown away when they went and DID IT AGAIN in the finale. (See my review for details.) What a water-cooler episode that was! The last few minutes completely changed the relationships of all of the major characters; I've never seen any show do something like this. The writers and producers are taking genuinely risky and creative chances with their series, and they absolutely pulled it off this year. Who dares, wins.

And who cops out, loses. As a life-long Star Trek fan, I'm almost embarrassed to bring up the re-set they did on the season finale of Enterprise. The show does need a new direction, and the franchise has always been known for taking current events and looking at them through a science fiction microscope, but... did they have to do September 11? Aren't we getting enough war and terrorism on the news? The wreckage in Florida even looked like Ground Zero, and Trip's tirades about revenge gave him a bizarre resemblance to Bush. As if that wasn't enough, they threw in the Suliban, the Klingons, and the prospect of Jolene Blalock in another costume next fall on top of it. PLEASE, Paramount. Fire Berman and Braga, and bring in a new creative team before your cash cow escapes from the barn forever.

The summer television wasteland is now upon us. But there are DVDs, and Highlander reruns, and The Dead Zone returns in July. And there are huge summer sci-fi movies. Could be worse.


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