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Would Xander have been a better fit for AtS?

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  • Would Xander have been a better fit for AtS?

    Watching the post-high school seasons of BtVS, I get the feeling that the writers weren't sure how to fit Xander's problems in with the show's themes. Which, I guess, would be fine if there was supposed to be a juxtaposition of personal issues (rather than powers), but it's like tossing in a major key in a minor-key song: Do it with caution.

    That's not to say that all Xander's episodes post-S3 are bad, exactly. Seasons 4-5 rehash the same developments (Xander realizes he's ready to commit to a woman; Xander has an epiphany regarding his competence) in different settings, something that does happen with real-life people. The problem is that, without also giving him new developments, the only way to keep making drama is to keep erasing his growth. Season 6 essentially returns him to who he was in the earliest seasons, only, y'know, without the part where he was moving forward, like a shark, but with feet and much less fins.

    Now, I'm not saying that you can ever completely bleach out the way Xander's abusive upbringing colors his worldview, but, at least in situations where he has time to think things through, Xander has gained the ability to make reasonable decisions (by Hellmouth standards anyway). He came to realize that Cordelia didn't owe him a second chance; why can't he do the same with Anya? He supported Buffy through the Parker drama; why does he slut-shame her for Spike? As early as season 2, he girded his loins and told Giles that his dabbling in magic was behind the female population's temporary derangement. Why does it take him so long to come clean about summoning Sweet?

    BtVS is a coming-of-age drama, which makes Xander's retrograde development in later seasons stand out. It's discordant, and would probably need a lot of time devoted to it for it to feel right for the show. OTOH, Angel is full of characters who keep making the same mistakes for the same reasons. Every few months, Angel gets a revelation about how-- shockingly-- the right thing to do would be the right thing; every time, he forgets it. Half the things Wes does, including kidnapping Angel's son, seem influenced by his belief that all father figures are inevitable abusers. Gunn keeps trying to protect people by being tougher and meaner than they are (think killing the professor instead of letting Fred do it herself), and being tougher and meaner keeps hurting them. By the we reach time the series' last major arc, every there are no remaining team members able to cope with their pasts. If there had been, IMO, Angel's Circle of the Black Thorn scheme would never have gotten off the ground.

    Granted, they're not just being brats. W&H loads the dice by seeking out their deepest temptations and weaknesses. It's a sustained moral assault of a kind that doesn't happen on BtVS. Nonetheless, it does tamp down on their development. If BtVS is about achieving maturity, Angel is about constrained maturity.

    This is why I think that, in the absence of a plan for Xander's growth, his character would've been better-served by being on Angel. He would've stood out less, and the constant interference by W&H might've provided a narrative justification for his backsliding. Of course, I could be wrong, and maybe the move to Angel would just have enabled lazy writing. Thoughts?

  • #2
    I think Xander provides great contrast to the superpowered Scoobs and really love the way the troubles that he faces are sometimes the same and other times similar to them but provide a different angle for contrast at times too. There are points when he is facing life challenges from a different direction and is faring better as well. I don't see him backsliding especially and do think that people can be held down by issues that rise repeatedly and have to be faced more than once. Often it gives weight to the problem itself. Having Xander's journey to both mirror and also give contrast just gives breadth and variation to the idea of growth and growing up to me. Standing out as having a different direction but seeing how they still relate to each other and where it makes things difficult too enriches BtVS again for having Xander's story in the mix I think.

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    • #3
      All said regarding writers, producers, actors, directors, viewers, readers, etc. are what I remember, my opinions, etc.



      * The answer is "No.". The only reason Xander's important in BtVS S1-S3 is because of his loyalty to Buffy and Willow and he caused conflict with Buffy/Angel. After the "high school years", his biggest contribution is keeping Anya around.


      * Cordelia Chase got accepted to Columbia University and she had great SAT scores. She needed the Visions to remain important. AtS s4 essentially did a ret-con by making Cordelia's position in the Fang Gang seem vastly superior to what it actually was in previous seasons. WESLEY became Team Leader not Cordelia. Cordelia also was important because of her relationship with Angel.


      * Winifred Burkle brought a science angle. Charles Gunn brought "muscle". By AtS S5, Fred had to become Illyria and Gunn had to become a super lawyer. Both were used to show how Corporate America can corrupt people.


      * Xander as a new character would be absolutely useless to Angel. So, Xander would need to head for the spin-off. Nicholas Brendan--of the cast in BtVS S1-BtVS S5--was "2" and the second-best paid in terms of salary in BtVS. I don't see Nicholas Brendan taking a pay-cut or why the WB would accept such salaries or why Mutant Enemy would want Xander in Angel .


      * Essentially, both Xander and Cordelia could have died after "Graduation Day Part II" (B 3.22) and the Buffyverse wouldn't be too hurt. Angel would have been much better with Eliza Dushku as second lead. Or have Eliza Dushku in BtVS. Nicholas Brendan was the worst return on investment for BtVS given how much more popular other characters are.

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      • #4
        Originally posted by MikeB View Post
        All said regarding writers, producers, actors, directors, viewers, readers, etc. are what I remember, my opinions, etc.



        * The answer is "No.". The only reason Xander's important in BtVS S1-S3 is because of his loyalty to Buffy and Willow and he caused conflict with Buffy/Angel. After the "high school years", his biggest contribution is keeping Anya around.


        * Cordelia Chase got accepted to Columbia University and she had great SAT scores. She needed the Visions to remain important. AtS s4 essentially did a ret-con by making Cordelia's position in the Fang Gang seem vastly superior to what it actually was in previous seasons. WESLEY became Team Leader not Cordelia. Cordelia also was important because of her relationship with Angel.


        * Winifred Burkle brought a science angle. Charles Gunn brought "muscle". By AtS S5, Fred had to become Illyria and Gunn had to become a super lawyer. Both were used to show how Corporate America can corrupt people.


        * Xander as a new character would be absolutely useless to Angel. So, Xander would need to head for the spin-off. Nicholas Brendan--of the cast in BtVS S1-BtVS S5--was "2" and the second-best paid in terms of salary in BtVS. I don't see Nicholas Brendan taking a pay-cut or why the WB would accept such salaries or why Mutant Enemy would want Xander in Angel .


        * Essentially, both Xander and Cordelia could have died after "Graduation Day Part II" (B 3.22) and the Buffyverse wouldn't be too hurt. Angel would have been much better with Eliza Dushku as second lead. Or have Eliza Dushku in BtVS. Nicholas Brendan was the worst return on investment for BtVS given how much more popular other characters are.
        I agree so much with this. No Xander would've been an even worse fit on Ats than post S3 Buffy imo where the writers were struggling for things for him to do besides giving Nic Brendon a pay cheque

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        • #5
          The last thing AtS needs is another male character. I think Xander works much better on BtVS, but the writers clearly lost interest in the character, because there are plenty of loose ends that were not solved, and S10 of BtVS proves that Xander can have a much bigger role to the plot. The writers were just not that interested during the later seasons. Even if someone would mention NB's alcoholism, we still got a semi-Xander centric episode "First Date" which could have been used to give us something deeper about Xander instead rehashing old tired storylines. Maybe have him lose his eye there, so we could see how it affects his life in the rest of the episodes.
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          • #6
            Originally posted by Sosa lola View Post
            The last thing AtS needs is another male character. I think Xander works much better on BtVS, but the writers clearly lost interest in the character, because there are plenty of loose ends that were not solved, and S10 of BtVS proves that Xander can have a much bigger role to the plot. The writers were just not that interested during the later seasons. Even if someone would mention NB's alcoholism, we still got a semi-Xander centric episode "First Date" which could have been used to give us something deeper about Xander instead rehashing old tired storylines. Maybe have him lose his eye there, so we could see how it affects his life in the rest of the episodes.
            I dont think even Cordy really fitted on the show until Doyle died and she took his place. The only other option is Wesley but Alexis Denisof is far better actor that Nick Brendon

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            • #7
              Originally posted by BtVS fan View Post
              I dont think even Cordy really fitted on the show until Doyle died and she took his place. The only other option is Wesley but Alexis Denisof is far better actor that Nick Brendon
              I don't see it because Wesley is the ex-watcher book smart character, and that’s not Xander. If Xander was supposed to be on the show, I could see him replacing Gunn. Gunn kinda played the Xander role on the show, someone dear to him got turned and he had to stake them, major trust issues with Angel, lack of purpose and direction in S5.
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              • #8
                Originally posted by MikeB View Post
                All said regarding writers, producers, actors, directors, viewers, readers, etc. are what I remember, my opinions, etc. Essentially, both Xander and Cordelia could have died after "Graduation Day Part II" (B 3.22) and the Buffyverse wouldn't be too hurt. Angel would have been much better with Eliza Dushku as second lead. Or have Eliza Dushku in BtVS. Nicholas Brendan was the worst return on investment for BtVS given how much more popular other characters are.
                Well, my Buffvyerse wouldn't have been too hurt, because I'm not a huge fan of Xander or Cordy in the first place, and they don't do anything post-"Graduation Day" that other characters couldn't. And I agree that Faith would've been a terrific second lead for Angel. But I can understand if the writers worried about Xander and Cordy fans feeling cheated by an abrupt exit, and I don't know if that Eliza Dushku was interested in a regular TV role when Angel premiered. She pursued later TV work (Tru Calling; Dollhouse), but she wouldn't be the first person who didn't keep the same career goals she had at 18.

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                • #9
                  I'm afraid the show would totally lose me if Xander wasn't in it. The reason I watched the show in first place was Xander. The reason I was obsessed with the show and reading fanfics based on the show is Xander. So the writers did the right thing in my book. On the other hand, I'm not a huge Faith fan, and she feels like such a cliche character to me. Talk about different tastes.
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                  • #10
                    I've really come to appreciate Xander through discussing his role/story in he rewatch. He wasn't a favourite at first but I really love him now and his development in the canon comics was one of my favourite right through to the end. I think he's great. I like Faith too, but over the course of all twelve seasons I think Xander got more thoughtful development. Faith works well alongside Angel rather than beside Buffy I think. Her times on BtVS were great, but I don't think would have worked better if they'd been longer. Being under appreciated is part of Xander's story I suppose so he'd roll with such criticism as part of his life if he was in a melancholy mood. But he really is an excellent inclusion on BtVS to me and the core group would have felt very different without him.

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                    • #11
                      I really love Xander's post high school development. He has his crisis in S4, when he doesn't know what to do with his life, but then in S5 and 6, he finds his feet. The aborted wedding leads to a new crisis, but then we get a very wise and mature Xander in S7.

                      Willow is really the one who is left behind in the end. Both Buffy and Xander start taking on adult roles. They have jobs. Xander becomes engaged. Buffy takes care of a minor. Willow never buys an apartment, gets a job or buys a car. Willow manages the Summers household for a short while, but then she spends the rest of S6 as one more dependant for Buffy.

                      Xander wouldn't work at all on AtS. The Scoobies are first and foremost a group of friends. Angel Investigations is a business, where each member has special skills. What exactly would Xander do for them? He is not as strong as Gunn or as knowledgeable as Wesley or as smart as Fred.

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Willow from Buffy View Post
                        Xander wouldn't work at all on AtS. The Scoobies are first and foremost a group of friends. Angel Investigations is a business, where each member has special skills. What exactly would Xander do for them? He is not as strong as Gunn or as knowledgeable as Wesley or as smart as Fred.
                        He could fix the broken windows of the hotel

                        I could see Xander as a guest in a one episode on Angel - perhaps he was sent by his construction company for a business trip. It would have been a nice closure episode for him and Cordelia.
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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Sosa lola View Post
                          He could fix the broken windows of the hotel

                          I could see Xander as a guest in a one episode on Angel - perhaps he was sent by his construction company for a business trip. It would have been a nice closure episode for him and Cordelia.
                          I agree, even if Xander and Cordelia did end in a really good place. I really like that scene where they skip class together in "Graduation."

                          There is a lot of stuff you could have done with Xander. It would be very interesting to have him interact with Angel again.

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Willow from Buffy View Post
                            I agree, even if Xander and Cordelia did end in a really good place. I really like that scene where they skip class together in "Graduation."

                            There is a lot of stuff you could have done with Xander. It would be very interesting to have him interact with Angel again.
                            To be honest a Xander/Angel interaction is more interesting to me than Xander/Cordelia. I would have liked to see grown up S5 Xander interact with Angel, perhaps during the time Angel fired his own team, that would have been intense.

                            Edit: I think the dress scene in the Prom is the Xander/Cordelia closure scene. The skipping class scene was so fleeting and impersonal to me. I would have liked if Xander and Cordelia shared a scene during the Mayor's speech in the graduation ceremony. After all, they were sitting next to each other. Cordelia could told him then that she was leaving Sunnydale after graduation. And that he was the first person she told about her decision.
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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Stoney View Post
                              I've really come to appreciate Xander through discussing his role/story in he rewatch. He wasn't a favourite at first but I really love him now and his development in the canon comics was one of my favourite right through to the end. I think he's great. I like Faith too, but over the course of all twelve seasons I think Xander got more thoughtful development. Faith works well alongside Angel rather than beside Buffy I think. Her times on BtVS were great, but I don't think would have worked better if they'd been longer. Being under appreciated is part of Xander's story I suppose so he'd roll with such criticism as part of his life if he was in a melancholy mood. But he really is an excellent inclusion on BtVS to me and the core group would have felt very different without him.
                              I agree about Faith working better on Angel than on BtVS. It seems to me that, every time she plays off a female lead, it turns into some weird competition, which manages to both bore and baffle me. OTOH, she's got some solid (mostly platonic, but still) chemistry with the guys, and Eliza Dushku had the talent for bigger and better things.

                              Faith is actually one of the characters that got me wondering who else might've been better served by a series swap. As far as I can tell, there's not a strong relationship between how well I like a character on BtVS and how well I like them on Angel. I find Cordelia tolerable on BtVS, and insufferable on Angel; I adore Spike on BtVS, and can't stand him on Angel; Darla comes across as just another flunky on BtVS, and I love her on Angel. (Yes, I'm twisted, I know.) Xander? I can kind of see him fulfilling the S5 Spike role on Angel, with less obsession and more commonsense observation. While I don't know that Xander as a comic foil for Angel would've worked, I think that, in theory, it sets up a more interesting dynamic than his later Sunnydale plotlines.

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