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[whitespace] Local 'Vampire-Slayer' fans dismayed at network decision to cancel finale

Willow Glen--Nick Cuccia says he doesn't watch TV. An aspiring actor, he feels that television thwarts his ambition. But when I break the news to him--that the season finale of Buffy the Vampire Slayer has been postponed to some later date--he cracks. His knuckles turn white as he grips the Jamba Juice counter. His anguished "Noooo!" echoes above the roar of the juice blenders.

A few hours later, after 18-year-old Cuccia has had time to come to grips with the reality of it all--and take his aggression out on some poor, defenseless, soon-to-be Citrus Squeeze strawberries--we sit at the metal tables outside the Willow Glen juice bar and talk Buffy.

"I'm really pissed," is all Cuccia can muster. He mentions again that he steers clear of the boob tube. But he makes an exception for a certain wise-cracking, go-go boot-wearing, demon-destroying blond bombshell we all know and love. Still, to stay true to his no-TV pledge, he doesn't watch Buffy on Tuesday nights with the rest of the fans. He waits, and about once a month, a friend in Berkeley sends him a videotape.

"So when I get it in the mail, I sit down and watch a four- or five-hour tape of Buffy and veg," he says.

While Cuccia may be alone in his five-hour monthly ritual, Buffy fans across the states shared his grief on May 25. After fighting off a backlash of negative PR for weeks, television network The WB issued a press release on May 24 saying the second half of the season finale, "Graduation Day, Part 2," would be temporarily delayed.

In the press release, network president Jamie Kellner is quoted as saying, "It is out of sympathy and compassion for the families and communities that have been devastated by the recent senseless acts of violence perpetrated on high school campuses that we have decided to delay this broadcast. Our decision is also borne out of a deep sense of responsibility to The WB's loyal young audience."

But after reading that press release on buffy.com, or hearing the sad news from other vampire-killer enthusiasts, Buffy fans everywhere felt the proverbial wooden stake being driven deep into their hearts.

Twenty-two-year-old Rebecca Crittenden, who works at Noah's Bagel's on Lincoln Avenue, admits she was one of them.

"When I got home last night, my mom told me it was canceled," she remembers. "It was so lame because they showed Part One last week, and a preview for Part Two, and Angel's supposed to be leaving this season."

So she did homework instead.

(As a courtesy to the non-Buffy watching readers, Angel is Buffy's hot, vampire-with-a-soul boyfriend who is leaving the show for his own spin-off, scheduled to air next fall.)

"My little sister's 10 and she watches it," Crittenden says. "If kids can't distinguish between demon violence and real violence, maybe the parents shouldn't be letting their kids watch it in the first place."

Presentation High School senior Heather Mickelson agrees.

"It's ridiculous," she says. "They're demons [that Buffy and friends] are killing, not students. It's totally different. It's fiction, it's for entertainment value only."

Warning: The next part of this story contains unreleased information about Graduation Day, Part Two. To all fans who would rather not know anything about the season finale, read no further.

In Canada, where youth violence is not at the forefront of national attention, Part Two was aired. Andrew Beatty, a 27-year-old graduate student, contacted through buffy.com and interviewed via email, gave the Resident the lowdown.

The controversy surrounding the final episode centers around graduation day at Sunnydale High School--which coincides with the evil mayor's "ascension," a demonic ritual making him the embodiment of all evil. The mayor of Sunnydale, while speaking at the graduation, morphs into a 600-foot demon serpent, and Buffy and pals are forced to break out heavy artillery from under their graduation robes and do battle.

"There were flame throwers, swords, bows and arrows and a major explosion," Andrews says via email. "They blew up most of the school as well.

"Otherwise it was business as normal, about as violent as an average episode." And after watching the episode twice, "there were no guns," he maintains.

Andrew adds one more thing at the bottom of his email: "P.S. The good guys win."
Jessica Lyons

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