We vamp it up af­ter our X fac­tor fades

SFX - - The sfx years | 1998 - 2000 -

The X- Files was on the wane. Its lead ac­tors were leav­ing or be­com­ing part- timers and its showrun­ner seemed des­per­ate to prove he wasn’t a one- trick chu­pacabra with Harsh Realm, Mil­len­nium and The Lone Gun­men. SFX needed a new icon to cham­pion.

She came from Cal­i­for­nia. She reg­u­larly slayed vam­pires. She quipped pop- cul­tur­ally. She was “awe­some” and she bought a whole new read­er­ship to the mag­a­zine. Wel­come to the Whe­do­n­verse.

Joss Whe­don made our genre un­ex­pect­edly cool and sexy and hip. Buffy stars were soon on the cover of ev­ery other is­sue ( or so it seemed). By the end of SFX Phase 2, with the spin- off An­gel also to his name, Whe­don was of­fi­cially King of the Geeks ( he was even writ­ing X- Men comics). It was a crown taken from Ge­orge Lu­cas, de­posed for giv­ing us Jar Jar Binks, among other crimes, in Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Men­ace. This was not the pre­quel we were look­ing for. Xena and Her­cules both crossed the River Styx and US TV was full of now half- re­mem­bered one- sea­son won­ders, some which de­served to be ( Mercy Point, Freakylinks, Level 9) oth­ers which didn’t ( Good Ver­sus Evil, Now And Again). But Star­gate SG- 1, a spin- off from a dodgy movie that ar­rived look­ing like it had an “AXE ME” sign pinned to its back, de­fied all ex­pec­ta­tions to spawn a 14- year fran­chise.

In Bri­tain things were im­prov­ing in quan­tity if not al­ways qual­ity: Red Dwarf 8 killed off the se­ries for a good few years, Rob Grant’s The Stran­ger­ers flopped on Sky and BBC One’s Crime Trav­eller had SFX read­ers spit­ting bile all over our let­ters pages ( we had them cleaned). Two gems, though, were Chan­nel 4’ s stylish and much- loved vam­pire show Ul­tra­vi­o­let and BBC One’s re­make of the won­der­fully bat’s- arse Randall And Hop­kirk ( De­ceased) star­ring Vic Reeves and Bob Mor­timer.

We were also in­trigued by a new show from Hen­son’s Crea­ture Work­shop called Farscape. It was a bit of a slow burner, and we didn’t truly fall in love with it un­til the next phase, but the freaky aliens and toi­let hu­mour ap­pealed im­me­di­ately.

Terry Pratch­ett pro­vided us with a di­ary of his sign­ing tour of Australia (“It turns out to be a pol­ished scythe blade on a black vel­vet lining… ‘ Will I sign it?’ What would you do?”) Iain Banks mused that af­ter In­ver­sions, “There might be one more Cul­ture novel…” A promis­ing new writer called China ap­peared on our radar with Per­dido Street Sta­tion.

Proof that beau­ti­ful peo­ple can make great TV!

Ul­tra­vi­o­let, but not the one with Milla Jovovich.

Godzilla: tough fran­chise to get right?

Blaz­ing a trail in the new cen­tury’s X- Men.

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