Last summer I wrote about Sarah Michelle Gellar and one of my all time favorite TV shows, “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” (story HERE). Despite the allure of that show’s main powerhouse, Buffy, it was the supporting characters and their interactions with one another that was tantamount to the show’s success. The character I related to the most was Xander Harris (Nicholas Brendon) the nerdy, comic-book reading guy who didn’t quite fit into any clique (including the nerds) and usually, in terms of the opposite sex, found himself the “best friend” rather than the boyfriend. This frustration, along with the usual teenage fear of being insignificant, was masked with a quick sardonic wit, usually at his own expense. If there was one lesson that Xander and I both knew full well, it was that its better to make fun of yourself before someone else does it for you.
Of course if I had Xander’s looks, I’m thinking I’d have had a lot more dates in high school (see there’s that self-depreciating humor again) but, regardless, he was the closest character on TV to capturing the “average Joe” as opposed to most show’s that offered stereotypes. This of course is more indicative of the genius of Joss Whedon as opposed to Nicholas Brendon, though I can’t think of anyone else pulling off this role as well as he did. Xander was by far the funniest member of The Scooby Gang (Buffy & company) while, at the same time, the most insecure. Even in his small band of outcasts, he was never aware of how much he actually meant to them nor what he was able to contribute for them until the last seasons when he a) stopped his best friend, Willow, from bringing about the end of civilization and b) came to terms with his role as a side player.
The 2012 Chicago Comic & Entertainment Expo (C2E2) would see him as one of their guests and, I might add, the main reason next to Svengoolie that I was in attendance. I had seen him a while back at Wizard Con but neither he, nor other “Buffy” alumni present were allowing photos and, I’m sorry, but I can buy autographs on ebay. As fate should have it, Nicholas Brendon was signing only a couple booths from Sven. When Svengoolie first started signing, Brendon was busy doing a Q&A panel and slated to return soon. I seized the moment and jumped in his line with only a couple of gals ahead of me who provided some great conversation – particularly one who was a devout fan of “Wonder Woman” and created a costume of her favorite heroine made completely out of duct tape.
After 45 minutes or so, Brendon showed up and looked every bit as much like Xander as he did before the show’s demise nine years ago. The other Dave is a Buffy fan too so, since he lives 1,000 miles away, the deal was that I get the picture and he gets the autograph. A sign on Brendon’s table stated that autographs were $20, photos with Brendon $10, or you could get both for $40 (???). We all decided that even though the math didn’t quite jive, this was Xander and worth the price.
Brendon was very nice and I told him how much I loved his work on the show. During the time we waited for his arrival, we all discussed what we’d have him write with his signature. Xander had so many zippy one-liners this wasn’t as easy as you might think. Since this was for the other Dave, who is an expert and fan of insects, I decided to draw from an earlier episode of Buffy titled “Teacher’s Pet.” In this installment, Xander falls in love with his attractive new science teacher, only to find out that she’s really a giant praying mantis intent on breeding with him and, in typical mantis fashion, later devouring him. The wheels in my geekish brain began turning and I’m hopeful my co-blogger will appreciate the result…
Thanks to fellow Sven fan and pal, Angela Urban, I can now share with you some insights from the C2E2 Q&A panel I missed. The majority of the discussion was on his newer projects but eventually did get back to Buffy. Brendon shared that one of the things he enjoys about his work since that show is his being allowed to ad lib. Apparently Joss Whedon was a stickler about his cast reading the lines as written. If so much as a “the” got left out, they’d have to do a retake. The rest of the discussion dealt with what his relations with the cast was today. Here’s the run down…
Sarah Michelle Gellar (Buffy Summers) – Gets along with her fine. Sees and talks with her about once a year.
Alyson Hannigan (Willow Rosenberg) – Somehow the subject of their current relationship never came up. Was mentioned by fans that his character should have been the gay one and not Willow, which I found interesting.
Anthony Head (Rupert Giles) – Still in contact. Said that Head is currently working the role formerly held by Pierce Brosnan in “Pearce and the Lightning Thief” and in production.
Emma Caufield (Anya) – Said they’ve lost touch and she isn’t returning his calls.
Charisma Carpenter (Cordelia Chase) – Great friends and talk all the time! Mentioned she was currently in Hawaii.
Joss Whedon – Haven’t spoken in over a year. Unknown why that is.
Any other cast mates not listed weren’t mentioned. Angela stated that it was all too short (unless you were one of us waiting in his line for him to return).
One of the things I also asked when I met him was what it felt like being at an event such as this? He just sort of looked at me and gave a blank smile. It suddenly occurred to me that I was in a convention hall full of “Xanders” with only one Nicholas Brendon. I’m guessing that evening he placed a long distance call to Hawaii begging his dear friend, Charisma Carpenter, for the strength necessary in getting through a weekend of fanboys. Then again, maybe that’s just my self-depreciating humor at it once more.