Monday, 29 June 2009

The superhero's day job

I'm a huge fan of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. (If you don't know the show, I'm not being sarcastic - I genuinely think it's one of the best TV shows ever made.) When I first got into it, my wife was highly suspicious that it had something to do with attractive young female cast members - but when she watched it herself she was quickly hooked on the combination of action, humour and superb dialogue.

Something Joss Whedon, the creator of Buffy, was always trying to do was to push at the conventions - and one of these was the matter of the superhero's day job. Clark Kent just isn't realistic. Being a success at anything else when you're busy saving the world isn't practical. It seems entirely reasonable that, like Buffy, a superhero would be bad at school and end up in a dead-end job (in her case, in a burger bar). It's just so right, and full of true dramatic irony.

So my suspicion is that the jolly ending, tacked on to the Harry Potter series of books, lacks verisimilitude. I think Harry would end up in an unlikely job. Not necessarily mundane, but unlikely. So I was pleased to find confirmation of my theory in the pretty little church of All Saints', in Liddington in Wiltshire. There on the organ, for all to see, was the truth of Harry Potter's career prospects.


  1. Always good to run across a fellow diehard Buffy fan among us ageing science types, Brian.

    I have recently been watching Whedon's Dollhouse on the SciFi cable channel. Interesting but not enough to make a judgement on thus far.

  2. Absolutely - also loved Angel and Firefly. (Dr Horrible was fun too.) I've seen rather mixed views on Dollhouse - haven't had a chance to see it yet, but the feeling seems to be that it's not one of Whedon's best efforts, probably in part due to network mucking about.

  3. Yes, I liked Angel too, though never caught Firefly.

    One of the problems Dollhouse has is its central "personality transplant" theme. Although it is a neat idea, it means that the central character, though played by the same person (Eliza Dushku aka Faith from the Buffyverse), is effectively different each episode. Since series rather depend for longevity on people warming to one or more central characters, it is rather like giving themselves a big self-inflicted handicap. I guess it is fairly early days, though.