I have a confession to make. Until this past week, I had never seen an episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer (or the movie). That HUGE oversight has now been corrected. Of course, I knew that one of the main characters in the TV version of Buffy included Rupert Giles, the school librarian at Sunnydale High. I didn’t live in a cave during Buffy‘s run, and I even like vampire stories (one of our current faves is The Vampire Diaries). And obviously, I love watching and analyzing librarian portrayals onscreen. So I really don’t have any kind of satisfactory answer as to why I didn’t ever get into Buffy. It may have simply been the timing, as the show started around the time that I began college, and you know, I had other priorities. Or maybe once I did realize that hey, maybe I should watch that, the show had been on a long time, and getting into it seemed kind of overwhelming.
So, now onto correcting that oversight. Last week, I saw that the 1992 film was available — for free — on my Video-On-Demand list, so I decided to check it out. I wasn’t sure if the same librarian character was in the movie (yes, I know, Buffy fans, don’t crucify me for not knowing this!) or what the connection was between the film and TV series. Turns out, Joss Whedon HATED the film adaptation of his story, effectively disowning the movie. And I can see why. It’s pretty terrible, yet also kind of awesomely bad in that special, early ’90s way.
Note: This film would be a fantastic drinking game for star cameos! Luke Perry was arguably the biggest name at the time it was released, but I also enjoyed picking out Ricki Lake, Natasha Gregson Wagner, Ben Affleck, David Arquette, Thomas Jane, Paul Reubens, and Hilary Swank (in her film debut!) throughout the movie.
Oh, and there’s no librarian in the movie. The “Watcher” role, Merrick, is played by Donald Sutherland. You can tell he looks embarrassed to be in it.
Through our Hulu subscription, I then watched the first two episodes of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, the long-running TV series from 1997-2003. And yay, the school library and librarian get major screen time from the beginning! Anthony Stewart Head (who forever will be known first in my mind as star of those sexy Taster’s Choice commercials from the late ’80s and early ’90s) plays Giles in a typically British droll and earnest fashion. He’s the Watcher in this version, and I personally LOVE that Whedon chose to place the role of guide and trainer in a library. There’s no mention of Giles’s actual qualifications as a librarian — only that he’s from England (with that accent, he’s got to be smart, duh), and he’s brought a lot of books with him. Giles is definitely a technophobe, as he calls a computer that “dread machine.” (Sigh.) If you want to read more about his character and background, I would start here and here.
The library set is pretty cool, with bookshelves encircling a lounge area. Kind of homey, with lots of dark wood (and shadows). The main monster-fighting gang seem to be the only ones who choose to hang in the library, as they don’t show much concern about others overhearing them talk about vampires and such. It was a little odd, however, to see a cage behind Giles for his introductory shot. Kind of creepy.
And how does Buffy describe Giles (to his face!) in the first episode?
You’re like a textbook with arms.
You need a personality, stat.
Not very flattering, Buffy. But I’m hopeful that will change.
All in all, I enjoyed my first foray into the Buffy universe. Oooh, and I’m totally hoping that the “Ripper” spin-off of the Giles character is still a possibility… Team Giles!
- Dark Horse Does Vampires Right (comicbooked.com)
- Joss Whedon’s BUFFY Spin-Off RIPPER Still a Possibility (geektyrant.com)
- Joss Whedon Lists His 10 Favorite Episodes Of ‘Buffy The Vampire Slayer’ (pinkisthenewblog.com)
- My Heroine, the Vampire Slayer (girlsheartbooks.com)
- Joss Whedon Tortures Us With Hints that Giles Spin-Off ‘Ripper’ Could Still Happen (thinkprogress.org)