WaTchers: The Virtual Series is a fan project which takes place after BTVS: S7. I sort of stumbled across it late in the first season while bored at work and was impressed enough to go back to Eppy 1. Now, I am such a fan... I even won a WaTcher stein!
So... this is a review of the episode: Something Ventured, Something Gained
Credits and Props: Story by: CN Winters and Susan Carr
Written by: CN Winters
Directed by: CN Winters and Susan Carr
Produced by: CN Winters and Susan Carr
Edited by: Spikeme4Now and Kate
Sound Department: Steff
Art Director: Chris Cook
Artists: Chris Cook, David Zahir, Chantal, Mytryk, Cynthia Taz,
Our teaser begins with Giles, Willow, Kennedy, Faith and their real estate agent Bonnie (Stephanie March) strolling through what will be the New Council's residence. We are quickly made aware that the building is being offered at a very unusually low price and that the gang intends on re-creating the Watchers Council in a more Slayer-friendly way. We're told that the building has a history including a suicide, but the gang decide that renovating the building will make it perfect for their use. They are in Cleveland, which as we know, has a Hellmouth, making it a good location for "Slayer Central".
As Chapter One starts we're re-introduced to Robin (from BTVS: S7) and Andrew Wells (BTVS: S6 & S7) who have also remained to start the new, improved Council.
As the crew begin taking deliveries and putting their new place in order, Kennedy says, "I'll just grab Vi and Rona...," so we know that these two former SiT from S7 have also remained with the Council. So far, we've seen no sign of Buffy, Dawn or Xander (there's a reason for this).
Shortly after this we get a hysterical scene with Giles and Willow arguing over the "official Council vehicle". While Wills was thinking Jeep Cherokee, Giles was the shopper and he's fallen in love... IN LOVE... with an Aston Martin DB7 Vantage Volante!
Council transport? Really, Giles?
Now, for our benefit, the staff has included an embedded pic of the car so that we can appreciate how fine it is... but Willow has a point... it's not really practical for mass transport.
Overall... Chapter one doesn't have a lot going on, but its necessary build up that re-introduces characters and their 'voices' for the series. It's helped immensely by some very humorous dialog and some quick overviews of the Sunnydale years.
The beginning of Chapter Two focuses on Willow's less than pleased reaction (due to a spell she cast) of finding out that she is, in fact, a destined Watcher as well as witch. Will's all about the magic, as we know, but she's less happy about the thought of taking responsibility for somebody else... a necessary and integral part of Watcherhood.
There's some quality scenes here between Giles and Willow about what her new role is going to be like, including the fact that Merlin was also a Watcher/Wizard... yes THAT Merlin. This makes Willow feel a bit better about what she's getting herself into. In the meantime, it's recruitment time. They're going to need more Watchers for all of the new Slayers they intend to find and train, not to mention that if there's going to be an onsite Coven, it'll take more than one woman... even one as powerful as Willow.
We jump to London where we're going to meet another integral member of the Council; one Rowena Allister... former Watcher with the Old Council. We also hear the name of James Tyrell, who seems to be concerned about this new Council business.
This episode also tells us that Buffy has chosen not to come to Cleveland, a sore point with Faith. We also find out who our baddies are going to be this episode as an Ex-Watcher seems to be far too close to the vampires of Cleveland.
Giles finds this out for himself of course, after he invites Mr. Marshall and his friends into the new Council building... oops... vampire attack! Alas, the Slayers have already been sent out on their patrol leaving none at the Council for backup! It's a beginner mistake, but will it be a fatal one for our intrepid heroes... I refuse to say, although I will point out that this is the first episode... not much of a series if everyone dies already, am I right?
Former Watcher, now vamp... Mr. Marshall.
This episode ends with a twist, of course. This one involving our not so innocent Real Estate Agent from the beginning of the episode and something mysterious called "The Presidium". Her contact is one hideous demon, so we already know Bonnie is up to no good and has been since she arranged the showing of the Council's new digs... hmmm.
Good Points: The characterizations are spot-on in the dialog and attitudes of our major players. The exclusion of major players (Buffy, Xander) is interesting and separates this series from "Buffy Season 8-itis" and is sort of a brave direction to go. The introduction of "The Presidium" introduces a possible season arc in the first episode while also re-introducing the vampire threat that seemed to almost entirely disappear from BTVS after the fourth season.
Bad Points: It's not perfect. There's a bit too much of re-hashing of what happened in Buffy with our characters' history that sometimes seems unnecessary. We all watched Buffy, so while little asides are great for continuity with the earlier series, it's a bit overdone, IMO, here. Some of the artwork doesn't work well and is composed of awkwardly created overlays.
Verdict: A mildly slow first episode, which is okay, because it needs to introduce who's going to be involved and how and set up the basic premise for everything that is going to come afterward. It's definitely helped out by some great dialog and delineated and recognizable personalities for our players that echo how we're familiar with them from Buffy, while also adding new elements. I give this Series Premiere a 3.5 rating out of 5.
Check out WaTchers if you're at all interested in Willow/Giles/Faith fanfiction of the next level. (www.watcherscouncil.net)