Post Scriptum: The Ghosts of TV Past

My TV past is coming back to haunt me. As the all-new fall lineup approaches, I’m finding myself not so much enthused as deeply deja-vu-ed. You see, I am an Uberfan. Definition? Eternally obsessed and preoccupied with one television show despite its obvious cancellation and excessive amounts of time passage. The object of my affection, as I’ve written many times before, is Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Deceased for two years, this is the series that I will relentlessly claim is the best of its kind to have ever been created. Many will argue; that, however, is insignificant and of the past. Or is it?

As I glanced over the cast lists for the upcoming fall season, I noticed an onslaught of former Buffy ex-pats making homes for themselves on brand new series faster than you can say has-been. But the truth is they aren’t has-beens. Barely a couple of years removed from their previous television success, these actors are making the transition to new prime-time roles with utmost ease. As an Uberfan, this disturbs me.
Not only have my favourite actors from Buffy found new homes at unrelated television sets, but they’re also playing different characters.

Please, refrain from gasping.

What is more is that my favourite vampires and witches have gone from the wildly otherworldly characters they once played to the bland FBI agents and TV girlfriends that the landscape of the tube is already crowded with.

My fun-loving, loyal Xander, (wittily portrayed by the comedic Nicholas Brendon) is now a cook on Fox’s Kitchen Confidential. David Boreanaz’s once-vampiric Angel has translated to a tweed-suited man-Scully on Bones, a new forensic thriller, also from Fox. Witchy Alyson Hannigan’s spells will no longer work to deepen her character’s development; her girlfriend status on CBS’s How I Met Your Mother is likely to play comedic fodder to the antics of the large ensemble cast.

Perhaps this is irrational. Perhaps every one of these shows will be successful and create new niches for these wonderful actors, but the Uber in me just can’t let go. It is the same reason why Lucy Lawless will always be Xena; David Duchovny, Special Agent Fox Mulder and Doogie Howser always–you see my point?

Why have these characters made such deep impressions on us? They were written and performed with the quality and passion uniquely found when a brilliant script is brought to life. Beyond that, each of these characters was deeply original. What is being mourned here has little to do with how good-looking or funny these characters were– it has to do with the notion that their stories, works of art born of passion, quality, love and unbridled imagination will be left behind. The fact that they grew and struggled with us makes them more than just masks of people brought to life from writing on paper—it makes them human. And what if, just what if, the fall line-up allows these once-glorious characters/actors to lose their shine?

Laugh at it all you want, but the next time you wonder why you cringe every time you see Marcia Cross play Bree Van De Kamp on Desperate Housewives, think twice. No matter how far she gets from it, Marcia Cross will always be Melrose’s crazy wig-pulling Kimberly Shaw. I remember nary a moment in television history that frightened me as much as when Kimberly revealed the roughly sewed-up scar gaping across her bald head. You know, the one that was under the wig everyone thought was real hair? Every now and then, I still think I see a gleam of evil in her eyes.

If we’re lucky, that gleam will be there forever.

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