Fri. Jun 21st, 2024

Sequels

One of the main ways to do a rebuild of a TV show is to put together its sequel episodes. It’s not so much editing or rebuilding episodes, it’s just putting them together to make a more long-form experience. Sequels don’t happen so much anymore, with TV shows mainly going for the long-form story arc, or its opposite, stand-alone episodes. The X-Files was an interesting example of a show trying to do both, with its monster of the week single eps, and its alien abduction conspiracy arc eps. And within its single episode stories there were some sequels, probably most famously the Squeeze and Tooms episodes.

Buffy (and its spinoff, Angel) and Star Trek (especially The Next Generation) offered many opportunities for sequels.

One of the most renowned Star Trek sequels was the Next Gen The Best of Both Worlds two-parter, where Jean Luc Picard is captured by the Borg and turned into Locutus, their spokesman. Even the next episode, Family, was connected to it, with Jean Luc recovering from his ordeal by spending time with his brother on their winery in France. Besides this, the show offered many other enjoyable sequel

Wendy Hughes in Lessons

combinations. There are so many to choose from, but my favourite was the Inner Light and Lessons episodes. Inner Light was a season five ep where Captain Jean Luc lives an entire lifetime on an alien planet thanks to its inhabitants, now long dead. The season six sequel ep, Lessons, focuses on the one item Jean Luc has left of that other life he lived in Inner Life, an alien flute, and the music lessons (and romantic entanglement) he has with his instructor, who was wonderfully played by Australian actress, Wendy Hughes. The pilot episode, Encounter At Fairpoint, and the very last episode, All Good Things, made for a nice book-ended sequel to the show, featuring as they both do the idea of humanity being on trial by the Q Continuum.

One of the most fun two-parters of Buffy was the Wish and Doppelgangland episodes. The Wish introduced vengeance demon Anya, who coerces a gullible and annoyed-at-Buffy Cordelia to make a wish that Buffy had never come to Sunnydale. Anya grants the wish and for the rest of the episode we see what Sunnydale would have been like without Buffy to reign in the demons. It ain’t pretty. Amongst its revelations is the sight of Xander and Willow turned into vampires by the Master. It’s only the actions of a desperate Giles who, by breaking Anya’s amulet, returns the show to its ‘normal’ reality.

The Doppelgangland episode, which came later in the third season, and was incidentally the show’s fiftieth episode, brings back vampire Willow. Ex-vengeance demon, Anya, now stuck in her human form, accidentally summons her from the alternate timeline of the Wish episode, and wackiness ensues, including ‘good’ Willow doing a switcheroo with vampire Willow. Of her vampire version, good Willow says, ‘Look at me, I’m so skanky…and I think I might be gay’. Allyson Hannigan has a ball playing both parts, often in the same scene, and we do too.

Story and Character Arcs/Crossovers

Besides sequels there are entire story arcs and character arcs that can be stitched together in various way, sometimes including elements that crossover from one show to another. This is where rebuilds can be hard work, so hang on!

For example, every now and then either the Buffy or Angel TV shows would do a sequence highlighting some past incident involving one or more of the vampire characters. The first time they did this was in the second season episode of Buffy called Becoming Part One, where we finally got to see some tantalising glimpses into Angel’s past, including the moment when Angel (or Liam, as he was called back then) was turned into a vampire by Darla. But it left us curious, wanting more of this back story. What was Spike like before he was turned? How did Drusilla and Spike and Angel and Darla all come together, and what adventures did they get into? Eventually most of these question and more were answered in both programs. At some point I realised it was about time someone put all these flashbacks together and made a special compilation of them. And that’s what I did, that’s Angel, The Early Years.

I must say it was quite a challenge collecting and assembling all the scenes in their right order. And joining the different scenes together seemlessly involved some fancy editing, especially with the audio, which would often carry through to another, very different scene set in the present. But I eventually got it all done and came up with one hour and forty minute’s worth of the Darla/Angelus/Holts/Drusilla/Spike/Angel back story. Watching it again now, I have to admit, because the compilation was a patchwork of many disparate elements culled from many different contexts, not everything worked. Certain sequences did not flow well when put together, and things like costuming and accents and hair pieces, etc, could be variable, to say the least. But ultimately I think it works, and watching the whole thing again was quite a satisfying experience.

A character arc I made was the Faith Arc from Buffy and Angel, following the second slayer’s direction from bad girl slayer then jailbird in Buffy through to her prison escape and redemption in Angel. What a journey that character has been through! It was tricky editing out all the extraneous sub-plots the two shows had going throughout those seasons, but most of it’s pretty coherent and focused on the Faith/Buffy dynamic.

Beyond: Lost In Space

I don’t know if I’ll ever do it, but I’d like to do a rebuild of the old scifi TV show Lost In Space. In this one I’d like to edit out anything to do with the character Dr Smith. Simply put, I hate him. I put up a series of old diary reviews of the show in the Archive section which gives form to my hatred of the character (and possibly the actor, Jonathan Harris, who played him). You can actually see what the show might have been like without him by looking at the original pilot episodes. He’s not in them, and he was only included at the last minute when the producers thought the show needed more conflict and an antagonist, and re-shot the pilot. Geez I wish they had rethought that one! But I guess the problem with leaving out Smith is there’s nothing much to put in his place. His character hogged the limelight so much that it left very little room for most of the other characters to shine, especially Judy, Mrs Robinson and Don West. And since his scenes were often paired with Will and the Robot, a large share of their scenes would have to go too. Ugh! I guess I’ll just have to leave it as a mere thought experiment.

Which is ultimately what this page has been about: thought experiments. Try them next time you’re watching your favourite TV shows. You don’t have to go to the excessive effort that I’ve gone to, just use your imagination.

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