PASADENA, Calif. -- Joss Whedon, creator and executive producer of "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" and this fall's spin-off, "Angel," said you never can tell how a plot will develop.
David Boreanaz, who plays Angel, was originally signed for just three episodes of "Buffy" during its first season. Now he's getting his own show. Conversely, early last season the vampire Mr. Trick arrived and was expected to be Buffy's primary nemesis for the season. But producers weren't thrilled with the performance of the actor and instead gravitated to Harry Groener's evil mayor character, who became the season's primary villain.
"We try to keep ourselves open," Whedon said. "I actually have 'Buffy' mapped out for the next two years, but it gets vaguer as the months progress. It's like going down a river -- we don't know which way it will take us."
A character named Whistler (Max Perlich) was introduced in a "Buffy" episode and seemed to be in place to spin off with Angel.
"What we needed was a different energy than was there, so we knew we were going to start fresh there," Whedon said.
In Whistler's place on "Angel" is Doyle, a half-human, half-something else spiritual adviser to Angel played by Glenn Quinn (Becky's husband on "Roseanne").
In addition to Angel and Doyle, Cordelia (Charisma Carpenter) will move over to "Angel." New characters include a female undercover cop and a mysterious lawyer.
"We'll have a law firm in the background always trying to make things easy for bad guys," Whedon said. "Gradually they'll become more of a presence. It's not really a commentary on lawyers. People keep asking me, 'Does Johnnie Cochran work for them?' And I believe he's a senior partner. It's about when you get in a world of very polite people making your life insane with bureaucracy. Smiling suits making the world a worse place to be."
Whedon said the first episode of "Angel" will deal with the aftermath of the "Buffy" season finale.
"He did feed off Buffy, and it was tasty," Whedon said. "Doyle is coming in and saying, 'You fight demons, but you don't care about people. If you don't get involved in their lives, sooner or later, you're going to start feeding again.' We deal with it as an alcoholism metaphor -- he had an addiction. He's got to take it one day at a time and stay off the bottle, and the bottle is going to always be there with six billion bottles in the world walking around with necks."
As for Faith, the slayer-gone-bad last seen in a coma, she's down but not necessarily out.
"She won't be in the first three episodes, but it doesn't mean she won't be in the fourth or fifth," said series star Sarah Michelle Gellar. "If we feel there's a place for Faith to come back, then maybe she will come out of the coma."
Whedon said despite Internet rumors, he never intended to make Amy the witch a regular on "Angel." Although she's been a rat for the past six months (Willow's been working on a spell, but nothing's worked), Whedon expects her to return to human form eventually.
"I want to wait for a long time because I think it will be really funny if she doesn't know a year has passed," Whedon said.
Although The WB pulled two episodes of "Buffy" last season in the wake of Columbine and the school shooting near Atlanta, Whedon said his relationship with the network has never been rocky.
"They pulled 'Earshot,' and we all agreed about that," Whedon said. "When they pulled the last episode, it wasn't what I would have done; I don't think they needed to do it, but I completely respected the reasons. There was no bad blood at all."
The season finale was rescheduled and aired earlier this month. "Earshot" will air two weeks before the new season begins this fall.
Sid Vicious-like vampire Spike (James Marsters) will return for two episodes of "Angel" and more episodes of "Buffy." Spike's former girlfriend, Dru, will be back for a few episodes, but actress Juliet Landau's busy film schedule will keep Dru from recurring regularly.
Of course, being a regular bad guy on "Buffy" tends to lead to death in the season finale, which hasn't escaped Marsters.
"After all, I am playing a vampire on 'Buffy the Vampire SLAYER,' " he joked in his natural non-British accent. "I was at a convention, and they kept asking things like, 'Why don't they put holy water in squirt guns to kill the vampires?' And I'm like, 'Would you stop! Don't give them any ideas.' "