UPDATE: The kind folks at Buffy HD have informed me that Netflix is no longer hosting any form of Buffy, which – considering – may be for the best. It is, however, now out there on a lot of other networks, which is a crying shame. Hopefully the original broadcast version persists more than this abomination – 20th Century Fox should be disappointed in themselves. 😐
I’m a Buffy fan. Not the biggest ever, but I can sing the songs from Once More With Feeling, think Oz looked better in Phases than any other time, and a bunch of other stuff like that. I also own a Netflix account, albeit an Australian one, so whilst I knew Buffy was available in other regions, I wasn’t aware…how.
You see, in late 2016, Netflix replaced the original version of the Buffy series it had been streaming since 2011 with a strange, HD remake that Twentieth Century Fox had made. At time of writing, this HD release is not available for purchase anywhere, and only Netflix and Pivot have ever screened it, so it’s really a mystery as to why it was even made in the first place. So until I came across a certain tweet by Beer Stix, located here, I had no idea anything awful had befallen this beloved show. I mean, you wouldn’t expect it, yeah?
The original, broadcast media is on the left of the below image; the fuck-up is on the right.
Holy shit. When I saw Jim Sterling comment that the HD remake reminded him of the notorious Silent Hill Collection release, where Silent Hill 2 was so ‘HD remade’ it completely shat the bed, I didn’t realise it really was this bad. But yeah. See what they did to Silent Hill 2 below, and back up at the image above. Same thing, just a different medium.
As Beer Stix rightfully points out in his Twitter thread (which you should definitely look at), whoever did the remaster (or more likely, whichever computer was lazily programmed the task) ignored post-production colour grading, did a lot of unnecessary zoom edits (many of which botch the atmosphere of the scene), made errors like a lack of lip syncing and crew members visible, and smoothed away pores, wrinkles and veins to the point everyone looks like they’re Barbie dolls. Wow.
Even the original Director of Photography for the series, Michael Gershman, had some words to say on the state of this release. “It’s a shame to have all my work thrown in the garbage,” he said, “I tried to give Buffy a texture that would turn a teeny-bopper show into a serious dramatic presentation. Alas, once a piece of work leaves the artist’s hands, control is lost. Sorry everyone can’t see the work in its original incantation.”
No, Michael, we’re sorry this happened to your carefully considered framing and shots. Buffy is, and will always be, a masterpiece of a series – one that legitimately spawned a lexicon, inspired college courses, and helped pave the way for the slew of dramatic, female-lead series with a supernatural twist that followed. It was a show many people loved, and still do – and even now is far from dead. There’s even a reboot to follow. But the original deserved so much better than this. It’s disappointing that Netflix chose to go with this tripe over…well, the real Buffy, to be honest. But perhaps 20th Century required them to? Don’t worry – I intend to ask, and will update should I get a response on this issue.
Below is the video that inspired Beer Stix’s tweet, and prompted the recent renewal in interest about the HD remake. Good on them getting the word out. Give it a watch. But not the series on Netflix.