Last night for the second time I attended a Buffy the Vampire Slayer musical sing-along at the Coolidge Corner Theater. I hadn't been in a couple of years; it was a good, good, good time. I had some beer and some bourbon at the Upper Crust (yeah!) and afterward, but I needn't have bothered - it was free and exciting regardless of the chemical situation. The crowd was uppity (though not enough, damn it!), the extras were exciting (including a surprise screening of the 20-minute demo pilot Joss wrote and shot to sell the show to the network, which contains a handful of great never-again-used lines, but only gestures to the show's emotional complexity and resonance in a too-long scene in the library between Buffy and Giles, which was mercifully reworked for the actual pilot), and the musical is...well, the Buffy musical is a remarkable thing.
These events always worry me, because large groups of Buffy fans, as with any other sci-fi/fantasy fans, have a squishiness and slight grossness that can be unnerving. But again, I needn't have worried: everyone was there to give in to the charms of Buffy and her cohort, and no one attempted to give me a hug (except my companions, which is after all allowed and even encouraged). Violence was avoided altogether. Mercy.
The kazoos for the audience were a perfect touch.
They also screened 'School Hard', which served to point up the enormous difference in kineticism between a Whedon script and those of any of the other staff writers. David Greenwalt handled 'School Hard', and while it's quite a good little hour of TV, in comparison with the musical or any other Joss episode it exhibits a mild schematicism (as opposed to, say, the rigid schematicism of the second season of Lost). Consider the Gentlemen (from Joss's 'Hush', 4x10): they have an abstract, dreamlike quality, and their magical power (taking away the townspeople's voices) perfectly evokes that week's allegory. And they have a unique texture, a level of detail in conception and execution that most of Buffy's monsters-of-the-week lack. Spike may be a great villain (no, really) but in 'School Hard' he's little more than a good idea. He springs fully to life in episodes penned by Marti Noxon and Joss in Season Two; the latter gets down his punk attitude, but Noxon is the one who fully evokes his erotic appeal, which comes out in Greenwalt's first Spike script in a comparatively pro forma Drusilla-drinks-Spike's-blood scene. This isn't to say Greenwalt isn't a master writer - he is, no question - but there's a sharpness missing from 'School Hard'. (In fairness: James Marsters gives a dynamic performance that's a hair too broad at first but shows a bit of its later suggestiveness when he and Drusilla get some time alone in the bedroom. The laughing Spike of 'School Hard' is only an outline of the tragic character he'll become, which is a tribute to all the writers' work.)
OK, time to shower and prepare for the evening, whatever the hell that's gonna be.