Slayer fans, beware - you might have gotten all excited at the news of Fox remastering Joss Whedon's classic TV series for HD formats, but prepare to be disappointed. Turns out that all is not well in Sunnydale when Fox butchers the show to cram it into a 16:9 format.
For the past few months the HD remasters of Buffy The Vampire Slayer's first two seasons have been airing on Pivot, but their terribleness has only recently been revealed on a wider level thanks to the brilliant fans over at Buffy HD on Facebook, who posted an extensive damnation of the Remaster's quality a few days ago.
As with most television back in the late 90's, when Buffy aired in 1997 it was shown in the standard 4:3 format, as that was the norm for Television. In some shows cases, the effect was achieved by shooting in 16:9 and cropping down to 4:3, but in Buffy's case, Whedon specifically shot the show in 4:3, something he's always defended as an artistic choice rather than a limitation of television. As Whedon wrote back in 2003:
Adding space to the sides simply for the sake of trying to look more cinematic would betray the very exact mise-en-scene I was trying to create. I am a purist, and this is the purest way to watch Buffy. I have resisted the effort to letterbox Buffy from the start and always will, because that is not the show we shot.
As such, the remastering and change has been hit with a lot of problems - everything from bad new CG effects, to overblown lighting, but above all is the absurd lengths to which Fox has gone to make the show fit into a 16:9 format. The cropping on some shots is insane, to the point that actors faces just get lopped off left and right (original's on the left, remaster's on the right):
But the most egregious are the ones where the original film has been added back in, revealing previously-off-screen cameramen or set lighting. In one particularly bad case from Season 1's twelfth episode, Prophecy Girl, Fox added The Master back in frame in a scene while he was talking to Buffy - despite the fact in the original episode he was meant to have disappeared altogether:
So when you see Buffy flailing about seconds later trying to find the source of the voice, it just looks ridiculous.
Joss Whedon has long been adamant the show should never be converted to widescreen, and he's still angry about it now that the remasters flaws have been extensively brought to light:
Understandably, as apparently Fox didn't even bother asking the director to return and supervise the remastering. Unfortunately Buffy fans it seems like if you were hoping these showings would see Buffy come to Blu-Ray looking as glorious as ever, you should probably be hoping that at least in this form, she stays far away instead.
[via The Mary Sue]
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