By Tiffany Brown
As the years go by, increasingly audiences see strong female women emerge in cult film. There have been several notables to appear on the big screen: Ellen Ripley, and Sarah Connor, to name a few, but television has always been lacking. Sure, strong women like Charlie’s Angels, the Bionic Woman, and Wonder Woman have graced the small screen, but none of them really compared to their big screen counterparts. Until a flippant, ex-cheerleading arsonist arrived in Sunnydale, California. Her name was Buffy Summers.
The year was 1997 when the CW Network (nee WB Television Network) premiered a television show based on a movie that flopped five years prior. Critics laughed, fans cringed, and everyone counted down until cancellation. Apparently, the Powers that Be at the network knew something the rest of us didn’t. The show had low ratings compared to the big networks, but by the end of the first season proved that this was something special. Many, like myself, watched the show during the summer hiatus in re-runs after it was picked up for a second season. Though I loved the movie for all it’s campiness, I never thought the television show it spawned would last. Once I knew it was staying (at least for a 2nd season), I tuned in. Not only was I amazed by Sarah Michelle Geller (Buffy), whom I knew from “All My Children”, but I was enthralled by David Boreanaz (Angel). I’d be lying if I denied he was one of the reasons I watched past the pilot, but watch I did. Not only was I impressed by the acting, and dialogue, having just finished my first year of college, I was blown away by how accurately Joss Whedon had captured high school.
For the uninitiated, “Buffy” told the story of a 15 year old girl who was chosen to fight vampires, and the forces of darkness. One girl in all the world held this title, the powers, and the responsibilities that come with it. “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” went on for seven seasons, and aired on two different networks. During the show’s run, “Buffy” obtained a loyal fan following, spawned a spin-off (“Angel”), critical praise, and garnered a Golden Globe nomination as well as winning three Emmy Awards. It has also been held as one of the greatest television show’s of all time. When this iconic show ended, it left a void. Many tried to fill it, but unfortunately, they all fell short, with the exception of Jessica Alba’s Max (James Cameron’s “Dark Angel”). It wasn’t until 2008 when Josh Friedman brought Sarah Connor back from the dead that the void was truly filled.
Sarah Connor reemerged, not in film, but on television on Fox’s “Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles.” This series starred Lena Headey (“300”), Thomas Dekkar (“Heroes”), and Summer Glau (“Firefly”). The show occurs after the events of Terminator 2, and totally ignores Terminator 3’s timeline. Again, Sarah has to protect her son, John, from the machines. Like before, she has help from a Terminator (Glau) who was sent from the future by none other than John himself. Without giving too much away, the three continue their run from the machines through time, and are joined by John’s uncle Derek Reese (Brian Austin Green). Critically acclaimed, with great acting, and special effects, the show only lasted two seasons due to low ratings in the show’s second season, and an exorbitant budget. I often wonder if the show had run on the CW Network, if it would still be around today. Speaking of the CW, we have them to thank for our current female ass-kicker: Nikita.
“Nikita” (2010) just finished it’s freshman year on the CW Network, and takes place after the original story ended. Nikita is based on the French film “La Femme Nikita” (1990), and was previously turned into a television series of the same name (1997). It tells the story of a drug addict, and thief who gets taken in by “Section One,” a clandestine agency that trains her to be a secret agent. In the new show, Nikita has escaped from Section, and is trying to bring them down. Aiding her, is Alex, a young girl who reminds Nikita of herself, and is acting as a mole. The show stars Maggie Q, Hong Kong action star, as Nikita. Not only does this give us a new woman to root for as she takes down the bad guys, but it advances women on another front: race. In the past, Nikita was always played by a Caucasian actress. Casting Maggie Q in the titular role shows that casting directors can think out of the box, and still have an audience.
Following the success of “The Vampire Diaries,” the CW Network has decided to bring yet another of L.J. Smith’s novels to television. “The Secret Circle” is about a 16 year old girl named Cassie who moves to New Salem only to find out she, and all her new friends are witches. With Kevin Williamson at the helm, the network is sure to have another big hit on their hands. The series will star Brittany Robertson (“Life Unexpected”), and Thomas Dekkar (“T:TSCC”), and is one of the highest anticipated shows of the 2011-2012 television season. Having seen the pilot myself at 2011 San Diego Comic-Con, I can tell you truly that this show will make your fall Must See TV list. In fact, beside’s ‘The Ringer’, this is my most anticipated fall show.
‘The Ringer’ marks Sarah Michelle Geller’s return to the network that made her a household name. In the show, she plays identical twins, Siobhan and Bridget, who get involved in a case of mistaken identity, revenge, and murder. The CW Network has been very hush-hush so far about what this show, but from the trailer, it looks fantastic!
All of these women have proven that women can be just as bad-ass as their male counterparts, and still have audiences flocking to watch. Not only that, but they have brought more women into the sci-fi genre, and have maintained them through the years, as well as generated new female fans. With ‘The Secret Circle’ and ‘The Ringer’ debuting this fall on the CW Network, I am sure more than ever that kick-ass women are here to stay!