It’s been four years since we said goodbye to slayer Buffy Summers and her gang of Scoobies. Though creator Joss Whedon has been shepherding an incredibly popular season eight of Buffy in comic book form, fans have been longing for a new television or movie project. It looks like the wait may be over.
At San Diego’s ComicCon International this weekend, Whedon excited fans by announcing that a deal to produce the long-awaited Ripper project is nearly complete. As fans know, “Ripper” was a nickname that Buffy’s watcher Rupert Giles (played by Anthony Stewart Head) was given during his dark past.
Ripper was first discussed while the Buffy TV show was still in production but it never progressed much further than that. Whedon has said that he envisioned that a Ripper project would be in the tradition of classic English ghost stories. He also said that it would probably explore the isolation and loneliness of Giles and those living in the English countryside. In 2004, it was reported that Whedon had written a two-hour pilot for Ripper and that several former Buffy writers had come up with ideas for episodes.
At one time, Ripper was envisioned as a mini-series but was later described as a TV movie. In late 2005, Head said that Ripper would likely be a two-hour movie in a series of Buffy-related DVDs. A few weeks ago, Head coyly said of the project, “We talk about it. It’s not dead. I’d like to think that someday we might do something with it. We talk about it ad infinitum. [Laughs] We do talk about other stuff. He still says he’d love to do it sometime.”
Whedon has now announced that a 90 minute Ripper TV movie is in the works with the BBC. Whedon said that Head is on-board with the project and this was confirmed on the actor’s website. The movie is expected to be filmed in England where Head and his family reside.
Ripper had been discussed as a prequel project, with events taking place before those in the Buffy TV series. Head is now 10 years older than when Buffy began so its unclear if that would still work. As for setting Ripper post-Buffy, the Giles character is already being used in Whedon’s Buffy comic series which is set about 18 months after the last TV episode. If Whedon goes with the latter, could we hope for a cameo or two by other Buffy characters?
Whatever the setting, Whedon says he expects to film the project next year. He also says he’s become frustrated that he hasn’t been able to entertain his fans enough and wants to do more projects like Ripper that won’t take a long time to produce. Could this mean that we may finally see a movie starring a certain bleach-blond vampire named Spike? Stay tuned!