Dreamwatch, British TV and movie magazine.
Head Start, July 2001 (#82), by John Mosby.
John Mosby talks to Buffy's Anthony Stewart Head about the shocking season five climax and the potential Giles spin-off series, "Cracker with ghosts."
Anthony Stewart Head, the ever-reliable and much-injured Giles, believes that the switch of Buffy the Vampire Slayer from the WB to UPN can only benefit the show in the long run. Speaking exclusively to Dreamwatch at the end of the recent Odyssey convention in London, Head agreed with recent comments from series creator Joss Whedon, saying that The WB simply never realised the show's true potential.
"Ultimately, it's time more money was spent on the show. It's been a long, long time coming. I'm sad that The WB didn't stand up to the plate on this. It's their firm belief that it was nothing other than a teen-age show and, of their teen shows, was not their highest rated teen-show. Bottom line? None of their other teen shows have the critical acclaim that Buffy does. Buffy isn't just a teen show. It's something I've shouted until the point of...looking like a very sad man [laughs]. I've shouted long and hard," Head admits. "I like the fact that England and the BBC and the weight of fans proves that you can garner both ends of the spectrum. Your catchment can be much wider than they could ever conceive."
Given that UPN is not one of the major networks and has largely gone for a young male demographic (with show such as WWF Smackdown and the now space-docked Star Trek: Voyager) there have been some concerns about how the network will market the show. Head says that UPN are likely to keep things on an even keel.
"It won't be exactly the same show when it goes to UPN," Head admits, but adds that may be partly due to events in the season finale. "I think that some people have berated UPN and said they aren't the same kind of channel. But the bottom line for me is that The WB has that situation too. Buffy never fitted into that teen demographic. I think The WB had it in their power to move on and take that demographic and expand their base. However, everyone is now seriously enthusiastic. In terms of quality, it's unlikely to dip at all. Joss, ultimately, still has his hands on the tiller. He has a number of things he wants to do and he has a strong team. The will is there."
In the meantime, The WB broadcast its final Buffy episode on 22 May. Sky One finished its run just over a week later on 1 June. "The Gift" was the landmark 100th episode of the show and reunited not only the main cast of Angel and Buffy, but also a number of faces from Buffy's past. The implications of the episode are set to echo well into the next season. "It's a very cool episode and seriously worthy of the show," says Head. "Shocked? Oh, I hope so. Satisfied? Oh no, never..." Head smiles mischievously. "It's not a 'cliff-hanger' as such. There is not 'To Be Continued.' There's a very final feel to it. The final three or four episodes are all concurrent, so we're in the same clothing all the time. When one is playing the varying degrees that I had to, then you have to monitor where you are in the story. I had to fulfil a function and found my own reasoning behind things."
A surprising rumour began to circulate as the final WB episodes were being screened. In addition to the existing two television shows and the up-coming animated series, Buffy's Marti Noxon dropped the hint that a Giles spin-off might be being considered. Head acknowledges that this is more than idle wish-fulfilment. Nothing has been formally been agreed, but Dreamwatch can confirm that though Giles is due to appear in a few of the earlier episodes of the next season, there are indeed plans to bring Giles back to England and to feature him in a show made by the BBC. No title has been agreed upon, though Watcher and Ripper have been suggested.
"There was a point in season five when I just though 'What am I doing here?' I was enjoying it, but I had no idea where my character was going," Head admits. "I asked Joss what he had in min. He told me that it had always been an ambition of his to do a BBC TV series. He said, 'Look, this current series isn't called Giles, or Watcher, it's Buffy. But how would you like there to be a series around Giles?' Up to that point we'd just been talking about my wish to spend more time at home with my family in England, so I thought I might be setting myself up for another five years in the States! Thankfully, Joss wanted to do it in England!
"I'd never been able to see how a Giles series would work in the States, but I could see how one would work here in the UK. It's an extremely interesting concept. It's an adult show and it's more concerned with ghost stories and inner demons. It wouldn't need a spectacular budget. I think it would be darker and about what's around the corner, rather it always jumping out at you," Head explains. "Nothing is signed. The BBC have said yes, they want it. They have a slot for it. They keep saying 'It is an adult show, isn't it?' But there is no money as yet and no-one knows how that will be sorted. There's no time-frame either. But everyone wants it to go through. Joss would initially set it up and then we'd find a team of writers. The Buffy writers are already champing at the bit! Joss has broken the story for the first one already. The style/model that Joss gave me for the show was 'Cracker with ghosts.' I'm just keeping my fingers crossed."
Meanwhile Head agrees that he likely to voice Giles in the confirmed Buffy animated spin-off, airing next year. He will also be filming the risqué comedy Man Child, a male-orientated version of Sex and the City for the BBC this Summer. Filming will be completed by early September. Running to around eight episodes, it is to be screened on BBC2 and the end of the year. Given the attention he received for his creepy role in the recent Silent Witness, the actor seems extremely happy to be appearing in a completely different role.
"Man Child, if they stick true to the script, will be different from anything else that I've done. We'll see where it goes. I like the idea of doing things in short spurts, as we do on English television, because it leaves you free to do other stuff as well."
More Dreamwatch articles: p. 2 / p. 3 / p. 4
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