Slayers & Vampires

The Complete Uncensored, Unauthorized Oral History of Buffy & Angel

From the bestselling authors of the critically acclaimed two-volume series The Fifty-Year Mission, comes Slayers & Vampires: The Complete, Uncensored, Unauthorized Oral History of Buffy The Vampire Slayer & Angel.

Two decades after its groundbreaking debut, millions of fans worldwide remain enthralled with the incredible exploits of Joss Whedon’s Buffy Summers, the slayer and feminist icon who saved the world…a lot; as well as Angel, the tortured vampire with a soul who fought against the apocalyptic forces of evil.

Now, go behind-the-scenes of these legendary series that ushered in the new Golden Age of Television, with the candid recollections of writers, creators, executives, programmers, critics and cast members. Together they unveil the oftentimes shocking true story of how a failed motion picture became an acclaimed cult television series, how that show became a pawn between two networks, and the spin-off series that was as engaging as everything that came before.

This is the amazing true story of Buffy and the friends, vampires, slayers, and demons who changed television forever.

The authors talked to almost 100 writers, producers, directors, filmmakers, sociologists and stars from Buffy The Vampire Slayer and Angel in new and vintage interviews from their personal archives, among them:

Joss Whedon
Guillermo del Toro
Felicia Day
Anthony Stewart Head
Charisma Carpenter
James Marsters
David Boreanaz
Amy Acker
J. August Richards
Eliza Dushku
Christian Kane
Julie Benz
And More!

When I saw this was coming out I had to jump in and check it out. I was a teenager when Buffy exploded onto the scene giving young girls like me our first real modern female that kicked butt instead of getting killed. She slayed the ditzy blonde, weak girl trope that was so beloved by cinema and showed us you could be strong and beautiful.

Along with her we got a cast of wonderful characters you could sink your teeth into and lessons about love, loss, family, and loyalty. Who can forget some of the iconic moments like: her mother’s death, her & Angel finally giving into that spark, her killing Angel, Willow falling in love with Tara so we had LGBTQ representation, the musical, Buffy’s death and resurrection, and I could go on because Whedon gave us a show that allowed us to look at our teen lives a whole new way.

Gross & Altman’s book is essentially like sitting down in front of a fan panel and getting to hear producers, actors, writers and directors all take turns talking and not necessarily just about Buffy & Angel. You also hear from people who seemed to have nothing to do with either show but were included because they seemed to have an opinion on the show, Joss Whedon or maybe they worked on a different project with him.

There’s a good chunk of those involved with the original 90s campy movie talking about why it sucked or why it didn’t and whose fault it was that critics hated it. Because Whedon is not just the god of Buffyverse there is a lot of discussion between ‘panelists’ regarding his other projects such as Alien Resurrection, Toy Story, Roseanne, etc.

Admittedly I was thrown a bit by the style, I don’t know what I was expecting but it certainly wasn’t this so despite my permanent devotion to a show that shaped my teen years I don’t think I’m the right audience for this. I worship Whedon and all that he creates, I’m on the Team who agrees he’s God’s gift to cinema. Maybe I was expecting something with more focus on Buffy & Angel so all the rest of the stuff whether it was talking about his other projects or the sniping that seemed to come through about why things didn’t work out because someone changed what the original project was meant to be just annoyed me.

You learn A LOT about the actors and people involved with the show behind the scenes; how they started out, how they ended up on Buffy, what they thought of each other and the characters they played. You also get to learn about how the show came to be, where Whedon got the concept from, why the style of the show and movie are so different, and how their lives were impacted by being involved with something so iconic.

I’ve never read anything by them before although they’ve created histories of Star Trek and J.J. Abrams so if you’re familiar with their style you’ll probably not have a “WTH is going on here?” reaction like I did with the ‘panel’ like format. For me it felt too much like they just sat down and transcribed a bunch of interviews and the way they laid them out didn’t necessarily flow as the topics being discussed would jump around.

On a positive side you get to learn a whole lot about people in Hollywood who may or may not have been involved with an iconic television show.

Thank you to Netgalley and Tor Books for allowing me to review this!

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