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  Bookends: Dan Davidson

Fighting the Forces: What’s at Stake in Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Reviewed: November 14, 2003
By: edited by Rhonda V. Wilcox and David Lavery
Publisher: Rowman and Littlefield Publishers, Inc.
290 pages, $26.95

My own interest in “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” began when I first realised that the show, which I had grimaced over the occasional episode of earlier, was clever. Clever in the way that “The Simpsons” is clever, or Neil Gaiman’s 75 issue run on the comic book called The Sandman. Series creator and guru Joss Whedon had reclaimed a movie script (his own) which had been done frothily, and had turned it into a series which explored high school and college pain,. growing up, relationships within families and groups, cultural paranoia and cultural literacy within the framework of a show that was ostensibly about an ex-cheerleader fighting vampires.

I arrived near the end, during the year in which people were starting to lament the inevitable passing of the program after a 7 year run. I started seeing serious stories about it in national magazines and newspapers, everywhere from the National Post to Christianity Today.  Finally, C.B.C. radio’s highbrow “Ideas” program devoted an entire show to “the Buffyverse”’ and mentioned this book as part of the presentation.

I was immersed in graduate studies at the time, working on a diploma program and reading a lot of very dull dissertations. I thought it might be fun to read the same sort of material focussed on a program I was enjoying, so I ordered a copy of this book.

It contains 20 essays (footnotes, bibliographies and all) organized into three overlapping sections, all of which deal quite seriously and affectionately with aspects of this silly sounding but quite seriously written program. I won’t say I didn’t nod off over a few of them, but on the whole I enjoyed the book, and most of my nodding was in agreement with ideas that had already crossed my mind.

If you don’t enjoy either “Buffy” (still out there in reruns) or its spinoff, “Angel”, then there’s probably nothing here for you. But I could be wrong about that. I was wrong about both shows in the first place.

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