Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Earthquakes, Vampires, and Slayers in Torrance

Two unconnected but lasting milestones on this date in history are shared by a high school in Torrance, California. On March 10, 1933, Torrance High School was heavily damaged by the Long Beach Earthquake, which jolted the area with a magnitude of 6.4. Over 115 lives were lost throughout the area and the damage was quite severe. At the high school, the top of the main administration and the school's auditorium completely collapsed. Fortunately, school was out of session and no lives were lost inside the school, but the quake left behind a large sinkhole that the students quickly nicknamed, "Sunken Gardens."

64 years later to the day - On March 10, 1997, the fledgling network, The WB, launched a spin-off television series from a 1992 film and mind of writer/creator Joss Whedon. The show was called Buffy the Vampire Slayer and right off the bat, featured front and center as a set piece, was Torrance High School, which doubled as Sunnydale High in the series. The show quickly grew a cult following, basked in critical acclaim, and continued for seven successful seasons. The high school only went along for part of the ride, as Buffy and the Scooby Gang sacrificed it (i.e. blew it up) at the end of season three in order to take out the infamous Mayor. Of course, its explosive ending had to wait until two months after the season had officially wrapped in the United States, as nervous network executives yanked the finale from the schedule. Just a month before it was set to air, the Columbine School massacre shook the nation and the thought of airing an episode that depicts high school students blowing up their high school on the heels of the tragedy was too much for those executives. The episode finally aired later that summer.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer is hardly the only production to make use of the school. In its celluloid life, the school has been known as a variety of names, including the ironic John Hughes High in the teen film-parody, Not Another Teen Movie. Its various appearances include an appearance in a Wes Craven horror film and countless other movies and series. Those appearances are only part of the story though, as the high school is also notable for many of its famous alumni that include entertainers, sports figures, and World War II heroes. Back in the entertainment world however, it is also known quite famously as West Beverly High School from the Fox series, Beverly Hills 90210, and again these days in the CW spin-off, 90210. Finally, it has also reportedly been featured in recent episodes of the NBC series, Medium, where as irony would have, last night's episode started off with an earthquake.

Take a trip to the building that formerly sat on the Hellmouth.

-Casey H.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Makes me think of famous musicians, after they die is when they become famous.