“Freaky Friday” has entertained Americans twice on the big screen and once on the small screen. In the process, it has changed the lexicon of its plot device. The switching of bodies existed before even the first “Freaky Friday” came along, but today it is almost impossible to watch a story about body switching without thinking of it. Which, if you are not a fan of any of the “Freaky Friday” movies, could make watching some of the most popular TV shows in history difficult. Because when it comes to body switching on TV, every day of the week has been freaky at some point.
Buffy the Vampire Slayer
In most cases throughout the history of the mythology of the Slayer, this town wasn’t big enough for two slayers to co-exist at the same time. Buffy had established herself as the Slayer in Sunnydale for some time before Faith showed up with some very strange and unexpected news. She, too, was a Slayer. You cannot possibly make a show about the One True Slayer with the introduction of a Second True Slayer without facing the temptation of doing a body switching episode. And so there was. Because, you must understand, while both Buffy and Faith may have been Slayers, they were almost diametrically opposed in their psychological approach to the role.
Xena: Warrior Princess
Xena might well be considered the older sister of Buffy. Both women kicked some butt, slayed some evil, engaged in redemption and, well, switched bodies. In fact, “Xena: Warrior Princess” experienced not just a Freaky Friday, but a Freaky Saturday as well. What Xena offers the legacy of the Freaky Friday plot device as handled by TV is that one of the body switches was mandated by circumstances in real life. An injury to Lucy Lawless was the impetus behind placing Xena’s personality inside the character of Callisto. The other body switch was freaky in that Friday saw the warrior princess switching bodies with the King of Thieves, Autolycus.
One of the single most memorable examples of Freaky Friday intruding into the world of TV land took placed on “The X-Files.” A visit out to Area 51 is the episode’s equivalent of the synchronous wishes and magical fortune cookies of the “Freaky Friday” movies. A mysterious bright light helps bring about a body switch between Agent Fox Mulder and MIB Morris Fletcher. These two men could not be more different in personality which leads to some wonderfully comic scenes. Such is the depth of potential in the Freaky Friday plot device that the story told in the episode “Dreamland” is one one of the few two-part adventures in “The X-Files” canon that doesn’t focus on the show’s alien conspiracy mythology.
No, that those Avengers. To suggest that the body-switching episode of “The Avengers” was inspired by “Freaky Friday” is to suggest that the possibility of time travel is no longer just theoretical. “Who’s Who???” preceded the release of the novel “Freaky Friday” and does much to insist that body switching was around and the basis for some complex plot machinations long before the familiar story of a mother and daughter trading places. If you want to engage some complex body switching narrative to the point of confusion if you don’t pay attention and know the characters beforehand, then try to catch this episode of “The Avengers” that is about British spies rather than Marvel superheroes. “The Avengers” takes the easily comprehended plot of “Freaky Friday” and elevates it almost to the level of the surreal.