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18 June 2014
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Buffy the Vampire Slayer Doug Petrie with weaponry. Grrr!
Doug Petrie
Buffy producer's inside guide

Planet of the Jonathon, and his comic book future.

BBC : Jonathan's wish-fulfilment universe spawned some wonderful ideas, from comics to swimsuit calendars and appearances in the Buffy title sequence. Were there any bizarre ideas that were considered but didn't make it into the final show?

Doug Petrie: We threw out everything and a lot of it stayed. Jane Espenson just went to town. She's got a real affinity for the character of Jonathan and I think the fun of the episode was [that] we didn't start at the beginning. We just started it as if Jonathan has always been the star of this series and throwing him into the opening credits was great fun.

We were influenced by - I don't know if Joss was influenced, but certainly in my mind - a Saturday Night Live a couple of years ago where Charlton Heston was the host. Without any explanation, when they did the opening credits introducing the cast, they reshot it so it was the exact same introductions and the exact same shots - except everyone was an ape! They introduced them as: "With Dr Zira and Taylor" and all the Planet of the Apes characters. We had some fun with that, playing it as if this is the world we've always been in and then unravelling it backwards.

I don't know if, when they show Buffy on the BBC, they have the kind of interstitial stuff that we have here. Thee's clips between commercials breaks where you'll see a big WB logo...…

BBC : We don't use those when it is shown in the UK but I think most UK fans will know what you mean.

Doug Petrie: ...[It's a] big WB neon sign and they'll have one of the stars of the show [standing in front] looking cool, kind of wind-blown and sexy. A voice over will say “An all-new WB Tuesday,” and we wanted to have Jonathan standing there for some of them, as if he has always done this.

BBC : What has been the appeal of Jonathan? He's slowly built up this presence, right from the unaired pilot episode. Is the character something the writers have latched onto, or is Danny Strong himself too good to resist?

Doug Petrie: He's really grown as a running joke and yes, we're all big fans of Danny Strong. He's got endless range as an actor and really has owned this character in a great way. He began before my time here at Buffy as just a random high school victim of the monster-of-the-week. Once he'd done that more than once or twice, he became kind of a running joke. If a monster had to knock someone unconscious who was not a member of our regular cast, we'd bring out Jonathan and he just became this punching bag for the supernatural phenomena of Sunnydale! You have to be a really big fan to even notice [that] in the first and second seasons, "Hey, the same guy keeps getting knocked out."

Then people did start to notice and we took him further with Earshot [where] he finally snaps. Then in Superstar, after snapping, he snaps even further. Stay tuned for more Jonathan appearances. We love him. Actually Jane has written a Jonathan comic book that's been published here, so if the Buffy comics are available in English comic book stores, keep your eyes peeled for a Jonathan comic.

Read our episode guide to Superstar >>

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