It's the end of the world.
This time, though, Buffy won't be able to prevent the threatened apocalypse. On May 20 on UPN, Buffy the Vampire Slayer will end as the critically acclaimed series concludes its seven-season run.
If it's any consolation, creator Joss Whedon promises that Buffy's world will end with a bang. ''It's the biggest thing we've ever tried to do. It doesn't end the story, but it definitely wraps up the show.''
The wrap-up, he promises, will stay true to the show's mythical universe. There will be ''no autistic snowball'' like the infamous St. Elsewhere finale; no Patrick Duffy dreams as in Dallas. ''This happened.''
As keeper of the show's secrets, Whedon won't share many details about the finale -- and won't say whether the details on Internet spoiler sites are real or planted red herrings. But he will say people die, Angel returns, and the special effects make the giant snake at the end of the third season look like ''a walk in the park.''
''It's really bitchin' and impossible to film,'' he says. ''And I wish, looking back, that Buffy had learned to resolve her differences with vampires through talk.''
Obviously, since he won't say who dies, he can't say which actors might be available for future revivals or movies or to transfer to Buffy spinoff Angel, assuming WB renews that show. Though Whedon believes ''there is definitely room for other Buffy incarnations,'' his sole focus this season has been on giving the show a proper send-off -- one that completes the journey Buffy began at the beginning of the series. ''I'm not protecting anything or anybody for the purposes of a spinoff. I'm not robbing Peter to pay Paul. What's important is that the series go off properly.''
Anyway, even if someone dies, that's hardly a deal-breaker. ''Buffy's died twice.''
Many fans think Buffy is dying now because star Sarah Michelle Gellar opted not to return for an eighth season. Whedon insists that's unfair. He says he and Gellar, ''the two halves of Buffy,'' decided at the beginning of the season that the series had come to ''a logical conclusion.''
''I knew there was no way I had more than seven years in me,'' Whedon says. ''Seven years is a good time to tell a story. Well, technically, it's 6 (Buffy aired only 12 episodes in its first season). But it felt like seven. Actually, it felt like 28.''
Fortunately, when he looks back on Buffy, he likes what he sees, and he's proud of what he has done. ''Some years are more popular than others, and the sixth year is less popular than any, but I still feel like, for seven years, we did everything in our power to make every single show count -- to put something in every show that was worth coming to the series for. I've worked as hard for seven years as I physically know how.''
Rest in peace. But please, not for long.
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