One of the many cable networks to air reruns of ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer’ is Pivot, a station aimed at providing programming for the 18 to 34 demographic.
However, there seems to be a bit of controversy. Pivot is airing remastered episodes in a widescreen 16:9 ratio. These days, many television shows are shot widescreen as most viewers now have flatscreen TVs.
However, ‘Buffy’ was shot in a 4:3 ratio, which was quite common for television shows before flatscreens became the norm for many households. However, many fans feel that by widening the aspect ratio of ‘Buffy’, the show itself has been compromised.
Shots look incredibly awkward when a 4:3 ratio is widened to a 16:9. There’s typically cropping issues and important details of a particular shot can get lost. Framing can look weird and clearly differ from a director’s or cinematographer’s original intention. These issues, among many others, become off-putting to traditionalists. In fact, you can compare the differences in the video below which shows a side by side comparison.
‘Buffy’ creator Joss Whedon has always been vocal about adjusting the show’s aspect ratio. When another station aired remastered episodes of ‘Buffy’, Whedon stated, “Adding space to the sides simply for the sake of trying to look more cinematic would betray the very exact mis-en-scene I was trying to create. I am a purist, and this is the purest way to watch ‘Buffy’. I have resisted the effort to letterbox ‘Buffy’ from the start and always will, because that is not the show we shot.”
With the latest controversy over Pivot airing widescreen episodes, Whedon took to Twitter to state his dismay.
Buffy was shot 4×3 cuz TVs were shaped that way. Widescreen Buffy is nonsense. (Firefly was shot wide – Fox cropped it.) #apsectratiowoes
— Joss Whedon (@josswhedon) December 13, 2014
While it may be a tad disheartening to watch a favorite television show presented in a format that strays from the creator’s original intention, let’s face it: if Buffy’s on and nothing else is, you’re probably going to watch it anyway, right?