Watch Bizarro Willow in the unaired Buffy pilot

July 22, 2006 at 7:30 pm | Posted in TV News | Leave a comment

Once upon a time, I was obsessed with Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Like most obsessive Buffy fans, I’d heard that the role of Willow was recast after the pilot shoot, but the original pilot never aired, so I never got to see Bizarro Willow in action … until now! I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: thank heavens for YouTube.

Also downloadable here or with Bittorrent. My reactions to the episode are after the jump:

The opening scene with Darla is the same, except they revamped Darla’s look for the series. Instead of her usual naughty Catholic schoolgirl getup, she’s wearing one of those atrocious 90210-esque floral dresses. Oh, and this is all taking place at “Berryman High” — same school, different sign. Well, almost the same: the library set is different. This set looks way more like an actual library; for one thing, it doesn’t appear to contain a giant werewolf cage.

This pilot is famous for Bizarro Willow, but there’s also a Bizarro Principal Flutie. I almost wish they’d kept Bizarro Flutie, because it’s Ned Ryerson from Groundhog Day! “Am I right or am I right or am I right? Right? Right?” I LOVE this guy. Despite the Bizarros, there are a lot of familiar faces in this pilot, including bit players Harmony and Jonathan.

As for Bizarro Willow — well, I thought this actress was adorable in Ever After, but this is not her best work. Plus, the role itself is slightly different: Bizarro Willow is a dork, while Real Willow is a geek, and it makes all the difference. Watching this pilot makes me wistful for awesome pre-Tara Willow … good times.

Xander looks dreamy, skinny and sporting late nineties Slacker Boy hair. I used to have such a crush on him, sigh. And Cordelia! Charisma Carpenter was at her most fantastic in this role. She’s the best high school bitch ever, and also the most likeable. Charisma’s got fabulous genes; this pilot was shot almost ten years ago, and she still looks hot.

This version includes a Clueless ripoff wherein Xander gives Buffy a tour of all the school cliques, which was wisely cut from the aired version. The vampire dusting effect is HILARIOUS in this, by the way. It’s indescribably terrible. Other plot differences: there’s no Angel, there’s no Jesse, and Buffy doesn’t almost stab Cordelia in this, so the classic “what’s your childhood trauma?” line is missing.

Sarah Michelle Gellar didn’t change her portrayal much from this version of the pilot, but her wardrobe definitely improved. I can’t help but compare her to Kristen Bell. I don’t want to say that Kristen is a better actor, but her performance on Veronica Mars is more subtle. Sarah’s giving a broader, comedic performance, but I guess to be expected. For all their similarities, Buffy the Vampire Slayer is partially a send-up of horror movies, but there’s nothing spoof-y about Veronica Mars.

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