For years, fans of classic fantasy and sci-fi television shows have been clamoring to get their favorite older series released on Blu-ray in glorious high definition. After all, many of these same series eventually made it onto DVD, so why not Blu-ray? The answer is fairly depressing: most television series, especially from the eighties to the late nineties, regardless of whether or not they were shot on film, were edited and broadcast on video tape. And tape is standard definition. To release a classic show in high-def would require going back to the original camera negative, re-cutting them and re-scanning them, a very timely and very costly procedure. The only vintage shows from this particular era that have bothered to do this have been Star Trek: The Next Generation and the upcoming Pee-Wee’s Playhouse set.
Fans of Joss Whedon in particular have hoped that Twentieth Century Fox would give the Star Trek treatment to Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and now it looks like they have done just that. The Pivot network is going to start showing Buffy from the beginning, starting Tuesday August 26, and is advertising it as “for the first time ever in HD.” The network has since confirmed that it is a real remastering, and not just an upscale of standard definition. The first two seasons of Buffy were filmed on 16 mm film, and then transferred to tape, so the DVD and broadcast versions look fairly muddy and terrible. Judging from the trailer that Pivot released, one can see a huge difference in quality already.
Now that the HD masters of Buffy actually exist, how long before we get a Blu-ray release? The Pivot network might have a window of exclusivity for television broadcast, but one can imagine that Fox has home video rights. Buffy fandom as never really gone away, and the impact of the show on popular culture has been huge and lasting. Last year, when we asked Joss Whedon if he had any news of an impending Blu-ray release for the show, he didn’t seem to have any new info. He reiterated that if it did happen, he hoped the original aspect ratio would be maintained. Buffy fans should email Fox and let them know this is something they really want. Hopefully we can have all seven season on Blu-ray by the time the show hits its 20th Anniversary in 2017!
Check out the trailer for Buffy the Vampire Slayer in High Definition for the Pivot Network, and let us know what you think of Buffy coming to high-def in the comments below.