Among the last of the panels at SDCC this year, but certainly not the least is Buffy Turns 20: Celebrating 20 Years of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. While the TV series is not yet that old, the movie that started it all released into theaters in 1992. How time flies! We'll be live-blogging the panel, which features a great assortment of people from the Whedonverse, including Nicholas Brendon (Xander) and Clare Kramer (Glory), as well as writer/producer Jane Espenson, Dark rose editor Scott Allie, illustrator Georges Jentry, and the original Buffy Kristy Swanson. There may also be a surprise guest or two. We'll have to wait and see who shows up and what happens!
2:25 p.m. PST - The panel begins with a video (which starts with the final scene of the pilot - "The earth is doomed.") then moves into a musical montage (set to "Real Wild Child"), showing clips from the series and the movie. Lots of cheering. This is definitely a great way to get people into the Buffy spirit! Crowd goes nuts when Buffy and Spike kiss. Cheers for Buffy and Faith fighting on campus. Shows some images of the Buffy comics. Lots of great moments from the show (too many to list!) and ends with Buffy looking out at demolished Sunnydale and smiling - then cuts to the finale scene when the Scoobies are chatting in Sunnydale just before the big finish and Giles says "The earth is definitely doomed."
2:31 Clare Kramer is on stage. She says there was a snippet from every episode of all 7 seasons in that video. Kristy Swanson isn't here. But James Marsden is! Oh, people are very happy about that. Big cheers for Jane Espenson too.
2:33 - Jane Espenson says people still identify with Buffy. Nicholas Brendon talking about getting cast for Xander. He says he was not the first choice. He met with the casting director. He did it a particular way. Then he did it a different way for Joss Whedon. He went to test at Fox with a bunch of other Xanders. The note he got from the reading was "Watch him, he's a bit nervous." He nailed it for the next audition. (He keeps saying "Nailed it!") There was another guy who was the first choice, but he apparently didn't nail it. And Brendon got the part.
2:36 - Clare asks James Marsters. He says, "You really never know what's going to happen in life." He's talking about when he got the call for Buffy, he'd told his manager he'd do anything. He didn't want to do it (just based on the sound of the title) but after he watched it and thought it was awesome. He auditioned thinking it was just for one episode. They sent him the script and he realized he had a big part. One thing led to another and they didn't kill him off. He says he realized he was in a project that had great writing like in the theater (which is his background). He talks about the unpredictable nature of the scripts for TV. Brendon jokes about having to wear a bra.
2:41 - Randall Batinkoff (who played Swanson-Buffy's boyfriend in the movie) is talking about doing the film. He was amazed to see that the movie became a TV show. He asked his agent to get him on the series. It didn't happen. But he thinks it's cool that he's here 20 years later. He also says, "By the way, Joss Whedon - coolest guy ever." Says Whedon is at the top of the list of cool, mellow guys who know how to tell a story.
2:43 - Scott Allie is talking about doing the Buffy comics and the process of turning the show into a comic series and having input from Joss and Jane on getting the voices right for the show. Jane says Joss threw out lines in character, which let them hear Joss "as Spike." (I want to hear that!) Jane says the more extreme a character is, the easier they are to write. She mentions Anya, Jonathan and Andrew as "extreme" characters. Buffy is the hardest to write.
2:47 - Georges says he was nervous about doing the illustrating. He wasn't a fan before he entered into the project but he was told Joss really wanted him to do the book. Joss wasn't interested in a photographic representation. He wanted the comics to be its own element. He wanted Buffy to be Buffy, not Sarah Michelle Gellar. He says it's been a dream - "We've been so blessed and lucky."
2:48 - Clare says "this" is what the legacy means to her. The fanbase and getting to be a part of such an artistic storyline. "But really, what's given the brand its legs is you guys."
2:50 - Fan asks about favorite quotes - Jane's is Willow's "You do doodle too" line. Georges loves when Spike says "I may be love's bitch, but at least I know it." Scott says when Xander asks Buffy she needs alone time, and Buffy says, "Is there any other time." Marsters is the five-words "Out for a walk...." (you know the fifth word, but if he said it, the cheers drowned it out). Brendon's is "This won't please the dark master... bater." Batinkoff's is Paul Reuben's noises when Buffy kills him. Clare's is "Did anyone know that Buffy was a robot?"
2:52 - Marsters says when Joss asked him if he'd come back and do Spike, he said he'd come anywhere to do it. He loves it. But he brings up the aging issue. Time has passed.
2:54 - They're talking about Buffy influencing other kick-ass female characters (in TV and movies). Next fan question is for James, talking about Spike's character evolution. Marsters says the characters are defined more by what they say than how they say it. He's talking about going to Joss sometimes saying "I have nothing for you, James. I have something for everyone else but I have bupkiss for you." And he knew he'd think of something. He says they used him as needed over the course of the series. From the comical scenes (running into the house with a blanket) to being Buffy's "bad boyfriend." He says "the ride tended to me more diverse" than other characters.
Jane says they knew they had an amazingly versatile character largely because they had a versatile actor. That's why they put him in a Hawaiian shirt because they knew he could do it. Marsters says he thought he and the writers were making love to each other (he acknowledges the cheesiness). Marsters and Espenson are having a moment (which is getting some laughs). Marsters talking about the love between the writers and the characters. Brendon jumped in, "I just literally fucked my script." Brendon says he heard Whedon wanted to kill Xander and then the other writers didn't agree with it, so he ended up losing an eye. Espenson can't remember if that's how it went but it sounds like a possibility.
3:00 - Espenson credits the career she has to Joss. Before Buffy she wrote for sitcoms. "Working with Joss - it's not just that you get the great exposure of being on a great show. It's that you learn..." She says his "singular vision is why this works and it's why I'm here."
3:01 - Fan asks about favorite episodes and plot-point - Clare says she loved filming the 100th episode. It was the apex of Glory. Marsters says when we got to see William during his pre-Vampire days. He says he remembers being "offended" and "scared." He remembers putting the wig on and deciding to commit to it. He had a really good time with it and fell in love with the character. Brendon jokes "Did Xander have any plotpoints"? He settles on the Scooby dance as his favorite. And then he gets up and he does it. It's glorious!
3:04 - Georges says he loves working with Jane. They did a Harmony story together and a Spike story too. He says working with her just flows "like butter." Espenson talking about the bugs in the comics, and the reveal of Jonathan at the top of "Superstar." Allie says from the show, "The Body," and from the comic, Spike being mad at Andrew. "Andrew cowering and Spike just threatening to kill him constantly."
3:07 - Espenson talking about other showrunners incorporating the Buffy tone into their show. She references Once Upon a Time.
3:08 - Brendon asked about voicing video game characters. Brendon says he never actually saw it. It was just half an hour of work saying the same words. He sweated a lot. He jokes about merchandise - there being a shot-glass with his face on it. "It's really surreal."
3:09 - Fan asks about the Buffy "family." Jane Espenson brings up that Joss Whedon is guest-starring in her webseries for the second season of Husbands (premieres August 15).
3:11 - Fan quiz is happening to win authographed comics. Lots of random trivia questions (quotes, Buffy's address, etc). Last question is how many vampires did Buffy slay in the movie and show - answer is 133.
And that ends the panel!