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I am – Hercules!!

Herc picked up a nasty dose of the “killer flu” in Austin last week, so the posting has been slow – but there’s a lot of Mutant Enemy material piling up. Nausea will have to wait.

* The TV Guide that went on sale Monday indicates that Sarah Michelle Gellar turned down an offer to reprise her signature Buffy Summers role on an “Angel” two-parter tentatively slated for May sweeps. "She feels it's not the right time," explains Buffiverse mastermind Joss Whedon.

* Those reading Monday morning’s Hollywood trade papers learned that Gellar is slated to start production next month on “The Grudge,” an English-language Sony remake of the Japanese supernatural horror thriller. She was slated to shoot MGM’s “Romantic Comedy” in August (effectively negating an eighth season of “Buffy”), but “Romantic Comedy” apparently never did happen.

* Following the coming return (and likely final departure) of Cordelia Chase in “Angel” 5.12, the series seems to shift its focus back to stand-alone episodes. 5.13, titled “Why We Fight” will flash back to Angel’s role as a Captain America-like figure in the American war effort during WWII. 5.14, titled “Smile Time,” will see Team Angel combat evil kiddie-show puppets.

* Dark Horse’s excellent “Tales of the Vampires” comic, written by ace “Buffy” scribes Whedon and Drew Goddard (and starring Spike and Dru), went on sale last Wednesday. The first eight issues of the Whedon-authored tale of the future slayer, “Fray,” have at long last been collected into a graphic novel which went on sale two Wednesdays ago.

* For those who’ve forgotten, both the fabulous “Buffy” season-five DVD and the amazing “Firefly” complete-series DVD went on sale last Tuesday. I gobbled up all the “Firefly” extras from my sick bed over the weekend, and promptly fell all kinds of smitten with that wacky spaceship western all over again. (Plus? The commentary tracks drop all kinds of fascinating hints about where the series was headed before it was grounded! Inara’s “suicide kit” was not a suicide kit! And, yes, the Alliance soldiers did indeed wear helmets first seen in “Starship Troopers”!) If your budget forces you to choose between the two DVD sets, I say pick up the adventures of Mal, Inara, Kaylee, Simon, River, Book and Jayne first. The DVD contains three HIGHLY entertaining unaired episodes. And I’m guessing that while you’ve seen the all the season-five “Buffy” episodes four or five times already, you’ve likely seen the aired “Firefly” episodes only once (if you’re lucky). Longtime readers will remember Herc raving about "Firefly" while it was airing; I’m here to tell you I like it even better now.

I am – Hercules!!

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