Details, and All The Devils In Them

WIP revision is going well. Between the combination of timed sessions and different music, I’m getting through the scenes faster. It might also be a function of the second half of the novel needing less story transplants and accompanying sutures, but I’ll still count it as a victory.

In my off time, I’ve launched into a re-watch of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. I haven’t watched the series straight through for at least five years now but because it popped up on Netflix, it was too tempting to ignore. (I mean, I have them on DVD, but the absolute, lazy convenience of just switching to the next episode automatically whenever I’m so inclined is like candy. Tasty, tasty, candy. Ahem. Anyways.)

I’m in the middle of Season Two, and I’m as in love with it as I ever was. Dialogue, character, theme — I mean, I loved shows before Buffy, don’t get me wrong. But Buffy is my watershed moment for television enjoyment. The bar was suddenly much, much higher and very little that comes before or after matches up. (And I think one could make an argument that it was a watershed moment for television in general with respect to serial drama, but that is not an argument I’m prepared to make right now.)

I watched Buffy when it first aired. Fanatically and in obsessive detail. I watched it again when I bought the DVDs and discovered that beefs I’d nursed during the live broadcasts thanks to Internet spoilers weren’t as objectionable the second time around. But the one thing that’s really jumping out at me during this second full re-watch?

The set design.

Wait, wait, here me out!

Look at Buffy’s room. Seriously. There are posters pinned to the wall. Plastic butterflies too. Cheap looking stuffed animals on the bed. A cluttered side table. And her room is clean. Check out Xander’s room. Looks like a bomb went off in there. How about the clothing? Sure, Buffy can dress up spiffy, but you’re just as likely to see her in sweat pants and flannel shirt with her hair all messed up.

It looks real. Real doesn’t mean it can’t look pretty or hot or cool, but it does mean that it can’t always. If it does, it loses any power it might have because there’s no contrast. Take at look at most of the other dramas on TVs. You will find perfect outfits, frozen hair, immaculate rooms — a plastic perfect world that Barbie would envy and with about as much depth.

And I think that realism, steeped in every aspect of the show all the way down to set design, gives the narrative a spine of steel. Horror, perhaps more than any other genre, needs to be rooted in the real. Can you imagine if Buffy had the set design of Vampire Diaries? Please. No one would have taken it seriously.

Which, is a good lesson for me, especially during revision. Those details, the right ones chosen with care and precision, matter. Can’t build a world you care about without them.

Now, if you don’t mind, Xander and Cordelia are trapped in Buffy’s basement after Xander’s miss-fired love spell has struck the female population of Sunnydale, who are now at the door wielding axes and cleavers.

Also? Xander really needs to clean his room. What a mess.

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4 thoughts on “Details, and All The Devils In Them

    1. Steph

      I can’t get over how good the show is, and how well it holds up to repeated viewings.

      Except for the nail polish. And the strange Mod/50s obsession the costumers obsessed with in Season One. šŸ˜‰

    1. Steph

      Spike is lovely. šŸ™‚

      But, no matter how pretty the fellas, I gotta have a good story. Pretty can only last for so long. (See: Smallville)

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