This interview originally appeared as part of Meanwhile…‘s Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Post Mortem and was published in early 2005.
Fury is no stranger to the Whedonverse having been there almost since the beginning. Originally stepping in at the end of Season Two with the episode “Go Fish” – which he co-wrote with his wife, Elin Hampton – David stuck around contributing scripts until Joss brought him on full-time in Season Four as a Staff Writer/Producer. He stayed with the show for the next few years managing to make his mark not only as a writer for Buffy but also as a Co-Executive Producer (2001-2003) and an actor as well (his most notable performance being the Mustard Man in Season Six’s “Once More With Feeling”).
It was in Buffy‘s fourth year that David unofficially moved ‘next door’ to write two episodes for Angel‘s first season. The next few years were spent splitting his writing chores between Sunnydale and LA until finally coming on board, full-time, in Angel‘s last season and his appointment as Co-Executive Producer there. Although his heart never truly left Sunnydale, David brought a strong voice to Angel and the mean streets of LA, contributing many memorable stories before its surprising demise in the summer of 2004.
Since leaving the Whedonverse, David has written several scripts for the first season of JJ Abrams’ and Damon Lindelof’s hit series, Lost, and also spent some time assisting fellow Angel scribe Tim Minear to put some polish on his now-cancelled show, The Inside. His most current work can be found on the upcoming fifth season of FOX’s 24, premiering January 15th, 2006.
David spoke candidly with me about his feelings on the ending of Buffy, working with Joss Whedon, some of the behind-the-scenes rumours, supposed feuds and plans for what would have been the sixth, and likely most challenging, season of Angel…
This interview was conducted in September, 2004.
MIKE JOZIC: Thinking way back now with 20/20 hindsight, how do you feel about the series finale?
DAVID FURY: The finale of Buffy?
JOZIC: The last season, yeah.
FURY: The season or the finale episode?
FURY: Well, in truth, I was not that involved with the last season of Buffy, unfortunately, because I was a little more needed on Angel at the time. I was a consulting producer but they were very short staffed having lost Tim Minear to Firefly and David Greenwalt had left so I wound up doing a lot more work on Angel that season than I did on the last season of Buffy which I have some very mixed feelings about. I loved working on Angel but I sort of missed out on that last season so I had no real…my emotions about that season are kind of vague because I felt a little detached from it.
As far as the quality of it, I thought there was some really good episodes that season and I was very proud of the work I did with Drew Goddard on “Lies My Parents Told Me”, which was probably the only episode that season that I was very invested in since I was directing it as well. I’m actually very fond of that episode. It’s one of my favourite experiences on my whole tenure at Buffy, so I did enjoy that a great deal.
As far as the finale goes, that was a tricky thing because there were so many great designs we had for the finale about what could happen, about all the people we could bring back but, unfortunately, the logistics of television were such that we could only do so much. I think it was a great finale for the series. I thought it was terrific. The whole idea of Buffy imparting her powers upon all girls who had the potential to be something more, I think that’s very much what the theme of the series was. There were some wonderful things about the time that I loved. The thing I was most disappointed with, I suppose, was that I would have loved to see characters like Oz come back and other people from the earlier years – just found a way to kind of tie everything up a little bit more – but that’s one of those things that…it’s a pipe dream, you know?
FURY: Fighting everybody’s schedule, working within the budget constraints of the show was very challenging. Ultimately, I think Spike’s heroic death was wonderful and had a lot of emotion to it. I mean, some people wanted something more definitive between the two of them but I think it ended exactly the way it needed to.
JOZIC: The way all Buffy’s relationships do.
FURY: Well, absolutely. With death and separation.
I think it was very good under the circumstances. Unfortunately, it could never live up to our high expectations, or Joss’ high expectations, but it was still some pretty damn fine television.
JOZIC: I know a lot of people who, especially after reading the Fray mini-series where Joss alludes to the last slayer before Fray comes into the picture 200 years later, thought that Buffy was going to die at the end of season seven. I asked Jane Espenson about it and she said that, as far as she knew, there wasn’t any plan to have Buffy die. That it wasn’t in Joss’ plan.
FURY: No, and I’m not really sure that in the Fray series it indicated that the slayer did die.
JOZIC: There was a big portal, or something, and all the demons were coming out, very much like the end of Angel…
JOZIC: …but basically, the slayer pushed all the demons back and followed them in, sealing the thing off…
FURY: Interesting. I didn’t remember that.
JOZIC: …and then there was no slayer for the next 200 years.
FURY: All I do remember was that there was a definitive story. One can only suspect that that story has yet to be told for Buffy.
JOZIC: I know Joss also said that the slayer mythology had kind of grown over the year or two that he was writing Fray, so…
FURY: Yeah, the last season did require a lot of rethinking in terms of the potential slayers. You know, Joss’ thing, and rightly so, is that he allowed the mythology to serve whatever story he wanted to tell so he didn’t lock himself into a concrete mythology that would limit him. If he had a story he wanted to tell, he would adjust the mythology accordingly. A lot of people had their own ideas about how slayers were called, or if they knew they were going to be called, or if they go through life blindly or do they have watchers all their life like Kendra did or does a watcher come to them in the last second like it did for Buffy at the point where they were about to be called? Those are things which just kind of…whatever fits the correct way to tell a story of all girls and about all the potential they have to be heroes. So, yeah, he certainly adjusted it accordingly.
As far as Buffy [being] sealed up inside, it’s very possible that Joss had the idea…well, I will say this, very early in the season, the finale was going to be Buffy having to force the Hellmouth open. I don’t remember it being so much about being in cave spaces. It might have been, but the point of it was they were trying so hard to keep the Hellmouth closed that she realized that the only way to do this is to open the Hellmouth. It was one of those ways of thinking that we were going to figure out later but to defeat them you have to open the Hellmouth wide. Probably at some point when Joss was writing Fray he thought that, when that happens, Willow casts this spell which creates sort of a vacuum effect and that Buffy would be sealed inside, but I think ultimately he decided that wasn’t the way to end the series. For Buffy to be potentially dead.
JOZIC: He also never specified that the last slayer was Buffy…
FURY: I talked to him about it when he was writing Fray and I think that he always had the sense that it was Buffy. But the fact that it’s left vague in the comics makes it open for interpretation. People can decide whatever they want and Joss can certainly decide it’s not Buffy, but at the time he wrote it he believed that it was Buffy. That she was the last slayer before Fray was called. I think it gave Buffy a greater stake in the mythology to know that she was the last one before Fray was called.
But, like I said, that’s a story yet to be told.
JOZIC: So what do you miss most about writing for Buffy?
FURY: Well, I’d have to say the people. It is something that I’ve said many times. I do miss the people. I miss Joss quite a bit. I mean, it’s been a while since I’ve seen him. I do miss his brain. He does have one of the most inventive minds I’ve ever come across anywhere. Very ingenious and inspiring to talk with and listen to.
He was never that involved with Angel. Joss’ involvement with Angel was very sporadic, at best. He was probably more heavily into it the last season than he was the entire run of the series, so we didn’t have a lot of Joss time on Angel like we did on Buffy.
And I think I miss just sitting in his office [with] all the writers and just us talking. Just joking around, just going on riffs. I came out of sitcoms and it was very much like a comedy room because people there were very funny and very witty and, certainly, Joss is one of the wittiest people I know. It was just great, great fun. I do miss that.
Buffy was always a show that spoke to me more than others because I got it. It was such an easy thing to understand, this coming of age story for this girl. I tended to relate to it much more than I did other shows. I recognized characters like Xander and Willow. I just had a nice feel for them and I do miss that quite a bit. That’s probably what I miss most, just the writer’s room.
JOZIC: How long were you on Buffy? What was your first episode?
FURY: My first episode was in season two. It was “Go Fish” which I wrote with my wife. We had originally met with Joss when Buffy was in development and he was looking for writers. I had wanted to go work for him then in the first season – my wife and I were writing partners in sitcoms – and our agent kind of convinced us not to saying that Buffy didn’t stand a chance and we had a much better offer from a sitcom that was going to be on ABC when they were the #1 network and it was sandwiched between Roseanne and Home Improvement. It was a sure-fire hit, I couldn’t possibly have wanted to go over to Buffy even though that was the show I was most interested in.
So, we passed on Buffy and went to the sitcom, which failed after 18 episodes. We fired our agents and got a new agent, which just happened to be Joss’ agent, and tried to restart the conversation saying ‘any chance we can come on with the second season?’ It led to a freelance assignment. Early on in season two we went to Joss and David Greenwalt and they asked us to pitch some ideas. The first idea I had was “Go Fish”, they bought it immediately and went off and broke it. It was a long process of talking about it, talking about it then suddenly writing it and you have, I think, six days to write it.
It was a little nerve-wracking for us because we’d never written an hour before, we’d only written half-hour sitcoms before so, to be given just six days to write a drama was a little nerve-wracking. We worked very hard and it turned out pretty good.
That was the first script. It was a freelance script. The following season we were going to be offered a job but my wife and I were planning on separating as a writing team because she had been offered a job to produce Mad About You, so we split up – our partnership, not our marriage – and at that point they couldn’t offer me the job, technically, because they’d only had a script from both my wife Elin Hampton and I. He couldn’t just hire me not knowing that I had really written “Go Fish” – that it really was more my sensibility than my wife’s – so they gave me another freelance assignment in season three, which was “Helpless”, and that led to a job offer for season four. Before that I’d done another freelance, “Choices”, which was the second Angel episode.
Technically, I started in the second season, but I didn’t become a producer on the show until season four.
JOZIC: Does producer just go hand-in-hand with staff writer?
FURY: Producer’s just a higher-level staff writer. Above producer there’s supervising producer then co-executive producer then executive producer. The producer credit was just commensurate with my experience. I’d been in television at that point for, I think, four years. Elin and I were actually supervising producers on our other shows. Once we separated we had to take a little step back so I came in as producer.
In the fourth season of Buffy and the first season of Angel I think I wrote about seven episodes.
JOZIC: That’s quite a few, isn’t it?
I didn’t know this until recently – because I read it on Aint it Cool News – but apparently I’ve written the most Buffy/Angel scripts. More than anyone, I think, shy of Joss. It was quite a few. I had no idea but my name is on a lot of those scripts.
JOZIC: I read an interview with Drew Goddard where he said that every script he writes he writes to music. Do you have a method of your own for writing?
FURY: No. It’s more like a lot of procrastination followed by playing Half-Life on the computer followed by surfing the ‘net followed by writing a little bit followed by taking a nap. That’s basically my process.
I tried music because Joss also writes to music and since I collect movie soundtracks I thought, ‘well, this must be a natural for me’. I find the music incredibly distracting. I can’t think straight when there’s music playing, so I basically just have to lock myself in a room and let it come. And once it starts coming I just have to write it as long as I can.
JOZIC: You find inspiration in your deadlines.
JOZIC: You said earlier that you felt really connected to the Buffy characters which makes me wonder why you made the move to Angel?
FURY: Well, I was always kind of working on Angel from the beginning as sort of an uncredited consultant. We shared offices – the Buffy and Angel offices – and I was good friends with Tim Minear and David Greenwalt and they would often throw me a lot of work from Angel even though I was working on Buffy. They’d say, ‘would you mind rewriting this script, or rewriting the scene or doing this act,’ or I talked to them about maybe breaking a story and they’d ask me to come down and listen to their break. And in every season of Angel I’ve always written at least one or two scripts even though I was officially on Buffy and I wasn’t credited on Angel except for the scripts that I wrote.
So, it really wasn’t that big a change except that, by the time season four rolled around – this was a time where David Greenwalt [had] left and Tim had been pegged to do Firefly and we were consequently short-staffed – there was just a few people. Jeff Bell was the senior writer and there was Steve DeKnight, Mere Smith and that was virtually it. Every year Tim kept saying, ‘you should come over to Angel. Just quit Buffy and come over to Angel,’ and I didn’t really want to since, as I said, I felt more connected to Buffy, but I said that I could still help out, I could still do things. Well, by the time it got to season four when they’d finally offered me a consulting position there, I wound up being more of a supervising co-executive producer by that point because they were so short-staffed. I wound up in the fourth season of Angel writing four or five scripts that season, so I became much more involved then.
As far as the characters go, by season four we had Cordelia on the show, and by the time season five rolled around after Buffy was over and I was officially co-exec and then executive producer of the show, we had Harmony. Characters that I was very comfortable writing already from the Buffyverse.
JOZIC: Speaking of characters from the Buffyverse, which would you say were your favourite to write?
FURY: Boy, I think I’ve answered this differently every time someone’s asked it because it really just depends on the circumstances. I used to say Xander because I always found Xander to be the guy I most related to. The guy with the snarky comments who kind of stands outside of everything but wanting to be involved, you know, wanting to help.
As things went along and as the characters developed, I think I began to really love writing Spike. Spike was a wonderful character that went through a lot of changes over the years and those changes were really interesting to incorporate into the character without undermining who that character was. It was really very interesting having him go from villain to anti-hero to hero, which is kind of what happened with him. I think he became the most rewarding character to, ultimately, write but the character most people on the show associate me with was Harmony, for some reason. I seem to have a knack for writing her so I don’t know what I’m tapping into there. I did love writing her.
Any character that was funny I enjoyed writing.
JOZIC: Now, does favourite character to write also equate to easiest character to write?
FURY: Uhhh…hmmm, interesting. Yeah, I think maybe for me it does. I think my favourite characters were the ones I just sort of got, that I just sort of understood. When I understand the character then their voices sort of come out correctly. It was those characters that were a little bit trickier, a little bit less defined that, sometimes, were harder. When I say less defined, there were other characters that went through a lot of change.
A lot of our characters went through changes. I mean, Wesley and Cordelia went through enormous changes on the show and, as they went through these changes, I began to lose sight of exactly what their voices were. But that was partly because of my involvement with show not being full-time. We’re talking about prior to season five. It wasn’t full-time so some of these changes in the persona of the characters were things that I found tricky. And then there were characters that I had never written before that I was loathe to write because I just didn’t know if I could nail them, like Lilah Morgan on Angel. I only wrote her once but apparently it was hugely successful. Everyone still talks about that to me. There was a scene in the episode “Salvage”, I think, with Faith but it’s the one where Wesley is having to decapitate her corpse and her ghost appears to him, or rather his mind. She starts talking to him. That was the first time I’d ever [written] Lilah and I was kind of wary of a character that I had never written before, and I wasn’t quite sure, but I guess I got it. At least the people who seem to know that character say I did.
JOZIC: I think it was between Season three and four of Angel when it was still up in the air as to whether or not the show would be coming back, and I seem to remember someone saying that Buffy was in a kind of comfort zone because they had been syndicated since day one, so they had a lot more leeway to ease into things, whereas Angel never knew if it was coming back the next season so it was always balls-to-the-wall, I guess, to try and go as far as you can and push it as hard as you can to hopefully get that renewal.
FURY: Yeah, there was definitely an element of that. Certainly after Season three. I mean, the biggest issue was Buffy‘s move to UPN. What protected Angel all those years was [that] it was married to Buffy on the schedule. Because of Buffy‘s perceived success and the media attention it got, it gave them a reason to keep another one of Joss’ shows on the air. Once Buffy moved to UPN after its fifth season, which was after Angel‘s second season, it did put Angel into a more tenuous place. I don’t think it changed the dynamic that Tim and David were looking toward. I mean, they gravitate toward really startling, shocking, dark places and I think they just did that.
I don’t think they ever had a design for getting picked up. The only time that ever happened was at the end of season four when the finale, which was “Home”, was to set up season five and the move of Angel and Co. to Wolfram & Hart. That was the first time that anything had been done with a concerted effort to get the show picked up. By showing the network what the new design of the show would be. Otherwise we just did what we wanted to do, we told the stories we wanted to tell – or more specifically the stories that David and Tim and Joss wanted to tell – and that’s how the show ran its course.
JOZIC: There’s been a lot of commentary regarding the change and the taking over of Wolfram & Hart. Very similar, in fact, with what you heard with Buffy during Season six where it kind of took a long time for the usual story structure to reveal itself. Like, who is the Big Bad, where is everything is kind of going, and some people have cited that as probably the reason why Angel never came back.
FURY: Oh, that couldn’t be further from the truth. Our ratings were actually up.
JOZIC: Oh, really?
FURY: Oh, yeah. Our ratings had actually gone up in the last season and critically we were getting more attention for that season than we did on any other season of Angel. So, if anybody’s concerned about the direction of the show, we were making a very valiant effort to do standalone episodes to get away from the big arcs, which is what Buffy fell into. The reason for that was, if we were ever going to build on Angel‘s audience – we knew we had the people who already liked the show – if we continued on a major arc, I mean, let’s face it, Season four was one giant arc that I think takes place over two weeks. It was an insane season that anybody tuning into the middle of Season four would be completely baffled. So, this was a definite effort on our part, and it didn’t undermine the show in any way, as far as I can tell. It was simply an attempt to try to go back to [standalone episodes].
Buffy Season one was entirely standalones. Sure, it had The Master trying to rise up by the end of the season but, ultimately, these episodes were all self-contained and I think we were attempting to go back to that just to see if that did anything for our ratings [and], quite frankly, it did. Our ratings were up that year.
So, yes, some people may feel frustrated by the beginning part of the season but I thought there were some great episodes. I thought “Life of the Party” was a great episode. I think “Numero Cinco” was a lot of fun. I think Steve DeKnight’s episode, “Hellbound”, was great. I think that people just have to understand that some people love the standalone episodes and some people love the arcs.
The only reason that Angel didn’t come back…it’s a very simple thing. Because our ratings were up, because of our critical attention, Joss specifically asked Jordan Levin, who was the head of The WB at the time, to give us an early pick-up because every year they [would] wait so long to give Angel a pick-up [and] a lot of us [would] turn down jobs hoping that Angel will continue. He didn’t want that to happen. So, he was feeling very confidant and he just asked Jordan, ‘Like, make your decision now whether you’re going to pick us up or not,’ and Jordan, sort of with his hands tied, with his back up against the wall, called him the next day and said, ‘Okay, we’re cancelling you.’ Jordan’s no longer there and The WB has since recognized…I believe Garth Ancier at The WB said that it was a big mistake to cancel Angel. There was a power play that happened that just didn’t fall out the way they wanted it to. We wanted to get an early pick-up, we didn’t. In fact we forced them to make a decision, and with his hand forced he made the decision to cancel us.
I think, in retrospect, with their developments not doing very well – they were trying to develop other genre shows, like Dark Shadows with John Wells and Lost in Space with John Woo – they would have loved to have Angel on for another year. It was just an unfortunate thing that they made the decision so soon. I guarantee that, if we waited as we normally did, by the time May had come around they would have picked up Angel. I can guarantee that.
JOZIC: I remember reading that you all thought you had a full order of episodes but in fact you only had a 13 episode commitment from the network.
FURY: For which season?
JOZIC: For five.
FURY: We always had a full order.
Oh, no..no, no…you’re absolutely right. Some of us knew and some of us didn’t know. I knew, actually. The WB was just hedging their bets. They said, ‘well, let’s try out this new Angel format and see how it’s working with Wolfram & Hart and the standalone episodes,’ and, in fact, it was working gangbusters, so…
The only reason we veered away from the standalones is because we became dissatisfied with telling the standalone episodes. The bread and butter of the Buffyverse has always been the serialization of it and we didn’t want to lose that. And Joss was very clear, he said, ‘I don’t know how to do standalone episodes because if you’re trying to build emotional depth to these characters they have to carry the events of prior episodes into another episode.’ If there’s something that happens between two people that plays into the next episode it all has to play on those emotions. With standalone episodes you just become CSI all of a sudden, it just becomes about the stories and it’s not about the characters and that’s something that Joss couldn’t stand to do, and rightly so. So, by the time we got to episode eight, which was “Destiny”, which I wrote with Steve DeKnight, we decided at that point that we were going to go back into, I guess, mythology serialization mode which is where we reintroduced Lindsay. We brought back up the apocalypse, Spike and Angel, [and] it was meant to basically kick it off.
JOZIC: Somewhere around two thirds into the season you started doing episodes like “Smile Time” and “Why We Fight” and, again, I’ve heard criticisms that the shows got very high-concept and gimmicky.
FURY: Again, it’s the nature of the beast. You can look at Buffy, and people talk very fondly about Buffy‘s early seasons, and you can pick episodes like “Puppet Show” or “Reptile Boy” – which are very much standalone episodes – and one can argue that it wasn’t just high-concept. That it was [more] like, ‘let’s do something that’s fun. Let’s do something that’ll bring us out of the mold.’
One of the things that was somewhat limiting for us, in a small way, was that our budget was cut the last year. We had a smaller budget to work with and we found a lot of our stories were playing out in Wolfram & Hart and it was becoming a little bit frustrating with us saying, ‘let’s just get out of here, let’s break out of here, let’s get it to another space.’ Doing a submarine story, that’s just so outrageous to do that and it just seemed like a lot of fun. And those episodes were very successful.
We had an idea in the early stages of talking about Season five where we talked about doing an evil Sesame Street show and it wasn’t until Joss came around going, ‘I figured out how to do it – Angel gets turned into a muppet,’ that we kind of went, ‘Hallelujah, that’s brilliant. That’s great.’ So, people can fault it, but I think that was wonderful television. That was great, entertaining television that, like all good Joss Whedon things, has this great emotional core to it. I mean, as silly as it is, it’s got this great little story about self-esteem in there and Ben did a phenomenal job of writing and directing it – and writing those songs!
JOZIC: Now, is that unusual to have your budget actually go down?
FURY: It’s not unusual for a show that is on the bubble as Angel was for all those years. The complaint from the network was [that they] couldn’t make money off the show. Their bread and butter on The WB were shows like Everwood or shows like 7th Heaven. Shows that didn’t require special effects, didn’t require monster make-up, didn’t require vamping, they just required a living room set with a bunch of people talking. They, somewhat unrealistically, don’t understand that to do a genre show you need to invest in it. You need to put real money into it especially if you’re going to be doing it in LA. I mean, Smallville is able to do what they do because they shoot it in Vancouver! And the thing about Angel is, he’s in LA. He exists in LA, there’s really no way around it.
So, as far as getting budgets cut, it happens on shows that are on the bubble. They say, ‘well, can we do it for a little less money than we did it for last year?’ The thing about our show that Joss is very proud to announce, we never went over budget. Every year we brought our show in on budget. Unlike other shows, we didn’t go over budget. We always stayed exactly, and delivered shows exactly, on budget so their need to drop it was our way of saying ‘look, we’ll try to make the show for less money if you feel like you can make more money off of us.’ They still didn’t feel it was enough and that’s part of the problem with being on one of those weblets like The WB or UPN. They have very little play in terms of the money. They have to make money everywhere, they can’t offset costs of quality shows with other shows that are making money for them because they just don’t make that much money.
JOZIC: So, while some people may have thought you guys were getting lazy on the show, you were, in fact, working even harder than before.
FURY: I never heard that people thought we were getting lazy. [laughs]
JOZIC: [laughs] Well, I meant it more in terms of what I said earlier with how the storyline seemed a bit more wayward and plodding…
FURY: Here’s the thing about it. Ultimately, a lot of the direction of the series went by Joss’ whim. As it should, it’s his show. He was busy writing the Firefly movie but he would still come in and he would say, ‘I want to do this, I want to do that, I want this to happen.’ Unlike early Buffy seasons, or even seasons of Angel when there was a consistent hierarchy like with Greenwalt and Minear, we weren’t really able to map out the season the way we really wanted to. Jeff Bell and I pretty much mapped out a season where we could see how it would work and we were planning on doing that but once Joss came into the mix [he] put his own mark on it, and when he put his own mark in it, unfortunately, it blew a lot of our stuff out of the water. So, there might be some erratic quality to it but to suggest we were lazy is crazy.
I would argue that most people think our last season was the best, just because that’s what I’ve heard. I’m not saying that I disagree with that, I’m just saying that a lot of people, and certainly critics have often said, that it was reaching a creative high in the fifth season. But if some people were disappointed because it wasn’t quite the heavy, dark mythology of Darla and Angel of season two, or Conner in Season three, or whatever, I understand that. We can’t please everybody but we’re trying to please the network, trying to please the show’s creator, trying to please the audience and trying to please ourselves. All we can do is the best we can and I would still argue that episodes of Angel in the fifth season were as good as episodes in other seasons. There were some great episodes. I’m very proud of “You’re Welcome”, the 100th episode with Cordelia coming back. I’m very proud of that, I think that’s a really strong episode. And “Smile Time”, like I say, I think it’s one of the best episodes of Angel we ever did.
JOZIC: I agree.
FURY: The problem is, when you do a good show, whatever comes after it is always never quite going to live up to it. I already anticipate with Lost that people are going to start, ‘awww, this isn’t as good as the first season,’ or, ‘awww, these episodes aren’t as good as the first few episodes,’ or, ‘aww, it’s going in a direction I don’t like.’ It’s a very tricky thing to try and do series television. It’s hard to please so many people.
JOZIC: I heard a rumour that you guys had planned to bring Seth Green back had you gone to a sixth season.
FURY: We had talked about bringing…Oh…for Angel?
FURY: Well…it’s possible. You know, we talked about a lot of things. I don’t know where you would have heard that rumour.
The really cool thing about season six, we knew how season five was going to end very early on and we knew what it was going to launch into with season six, which was a post-apocalyptic show [and] which I thought was going to be great. It was going to be Angel in The Road Warrior, which I thought would be awesome. In the ruined city of LA or out in the desert or something. It was just going to be kind of a really cool, different, show. Bringing Seth into it? I could see that.
There were lots of talks about who could we load in here, who would be great to return and, if there is an apocalypse, who would survive it? Who will be in the show next season? And I’m sure Seth’s name was brought up because he was brought up for the end of Buffy as well, he was going to return for the finale. So, it’s very possible but, again, Seth’s got a pretty successful career without the Buffy shows.
JOZIC: Speaking of returning characters, could you comment on all the ballyhoo at the end of Angel about having Sarah come back for one of the final episodes, and then not coming back, and all the speculation that followed?
FURY: Could you rephrase the question? You mean about speculation as to whether Sarah was coning back?
JOZIC: I heard that you planned on having her come back…
FURY: We had approached her about doing the 100th episode. Buffy was going to appear in my episode, the episode that I directed, so we put out the offer to Sarah and she politely declined which, I will say, she had her reasons. I think there might have been a death of an aunt or something that she was dealing with but, regardless, I guess Joss kind of felt a little bit put off about the way it was done. There was a perceived notion, on both sides, I can say, between Sarah and Joss of ingratitude for both parties. Joss doesn’t feel like Sarah’s ever shown the proper amount of gratitude for what he’s done for her and her career, and I think she feels the same way. That she feels she was never afforded the credit for Buffy‘s success and the gratitude from Joss.
I think they’re both crazy. [laughs] They were the right people at the right time, it was a great partnership and it created a great series, and I truly think they both recognize this to some extent. But for whatever reason, I think the fact that she declined to do that put a damper on her coming back later. It provided us with an opportunity, though, because if we couldn’t get Sarah, we thought, why don’t we get Charisma back and do that, which turned out to be a Godsend because Charisma was fantastic.
JOZIC: That was a brilliant episode.
FURY: So, that was a lucky thing. A lot of the things that fall-out with us actually turn into gold. Like you think, ‘Oh, this is a disaster, she won’t do it,’ or, ‘we don’t have him,’ or Seth is leaving and we go, ‘Oh, but this gives us this great episode that we wouldn’t have otherwise.’
As far as Sarah returning later, there was talk of her being in the finale but Joss decided – and I get it – that it’s sort of unfair to our cast of characters to bring Sarah in, suddenly, at the end. Angel‘s [cast and crew] have sort of created their own world at this point and to suddenly infuse Buffy into it…
It’s one thing if she appeared in the middle of the season as a guest star, but to appear in the finale sort of diminishes the importance of all these other great actors and characters that we have and I concurred with him. I thought he was right.
JOZIC: But wasn’t there talk of her being in “The Girl in Question”?
FURY: There was very, very little talk about that. No, she was never going to be in that. The missed opportunity to see Buffy was always going to be the joke of that. It’s the tease of, they’re going to see Buffy, and they can’t quite get to her. It’s sort of the After Hours kind of craziness where it’s like, I can’t get to her, I can’t see her, and that was always pretty much decided.
The person we expected to get and didn’t get was Michelle Trachtenberg. We had expected to get her for that episode but she was tied up prepping a movie, I believe, and wasn’t able to do it, which is why we brought Andrew back again.
But, Sarah? No. We never expected Sarah to be in that episode. We did think she might be in the second last episode, “Power Play”, just like Angel appeared in the second last episode of Buffy‘s finale. We thought we’d do that but wound up not.
JOZIC: Speaking of the finale, I thought it was a fantastic finale.
FURY: Good. Thanks.
JOZIC: I thought the ending was brilliant, although I know a few people who didn’t care for the lack of a tidy resolution. What are your thoughts on the finale?
FURY: Again, we had planned this very early on. The basic idea was to discover who the architects of the apocalypse were and then were going to do this Godfather-like massacre where all of our characters were going to go killing each of them, and the last beat of the episode would be Angel and whoever was left of his crew about to launch into the apocalypse. You know, ‘Let’s go, let’s move…whatever.’
My thought on that is, that’s the perfect way to end the show. The point of Buffy was always girl power and showing that power. The point of Angel was always that the fight never ends. He’ll always fight. It’s an eternity of fighting. You can’t ever win but the fight is worth fighting. That was a perfect ‘going out’ scene. You know, the Butch Cassidy/Sundance Kid sort of we’re going up against impossible odds and probably die? That’s the perfect way to end the series, and anybody who says otherwise is dumb.
Any proper resolution of, ‘Oh, we’ve defeated the demons, they’ve gone back to hell, let’s get a beer,’ just would have been absolutely wrong for that show.
JOZIC: I’ve always perceived Buffy as being that core group of characters – Xander, Buffy and Willow – and that was kind of preserved at the end of that series. They had that scene that was an homage to “The Harvest” where Giles says, ‘The world is doomed,’ and they go off. Angel, on the other hand, has always been full of struggle and characters are always dying, so I thought the end was very much in keeping with that struggle, that keep on fighting sort of…
FURY: The interesting thing is, all the people Angel started out with are all dead now.
JOZIC: Yeah, a friend of mine pointed that out right after that episode.
FURY: Unlike Buffy who ended up with her three friends and were able to end in that way, in Angel’s case, everybody that he’s ever been close to dies, which is really Angel’s story – that he will always outlive the people he cares about. He has gone on and on, he has seen people he loves die, which is another reason that he and Buffy realized they couldn’t be together. He being a vampire, he will watch her die.
JOZIC: But they have a forever love. [laughs]
FURY: They have the forever love. But the fact that he was side-by-side with Spike was kind of a wonderful turnaround in the mythology of the series.
JOZIC: There’s Butch and Sundance right there.
FURY: That’s absolutely right. That’s one thing that I really wanted to do in episode 100 when I was trying to break it. I really wanted to have Spike and Angel fight side-by-side. I was desperate to put that in my episode but it was for a later time.
JOZIC: I can’t remember if you’ve written for any of the comic books.
FURY: The only comic that I wrote was for the Tales of the Slayers graphic novel. I wrote a comic about a slayer in the old west. A half-Navajo slayer. That’s the only one I’ve done. I’ve had many offers to write more but…well, you know what comic book money’s like. [laughs] And writing, to me, is writing. It’s all work. It’s fun but it’s work. If I have to put that amount of time and work into conceiving a story and writing it, I’ll probably try and put it into a television script where I’ll get paid far more than I deserve to be.
Which isn’t to say I won’t write another comic book again. We’re already in the early stages of talking about doing Lost comics, now.
FURY: Yeah, they’re just in talks now.
JOZIC: And what about the animated series? Did you do any writing for that?
FURY: No, I was actually starting to write one of the animated series [episodes] when I got pulled onto a script and by that point the plug got pulled on the production stage of the show. By the time I came back they were kind of done and I never wrote one of the animated shows.
JOZIC: You know the pilot is being shopped around again, right?
FURY: I do.
JOZIC: So, there’d be no interest in going back, or…
FURY: Again, I hate to sound so jaded. I’ve mentioned this many times but I’m the father of three kids, my nights and weekends are very full with them, and then executive producing and writing a television show is very time consuming. Would I like to write a Buffy Animated television show? Sure, but when and if I do it, for the same amount of work, I’d be paid a third of what I’d make writing a script for Lost. If I spent my time working on an animated series just to have my name on the animated series…
Again, if it was a different time, if I was younger, if I was a little more hungry, if I wasn’t being paid all this money then I would think, ‘Oh, this is a dream come true. I’m going to write Buffy Animated and I’m going to go write these comic books.’
I had planned on not working in television this year and strictly working in development. Not taking a staff job. Along with that, I was hoping to do some little extra things here and there like comic books or anything else that came along but that’s just not what my life is right now.