Have you noticed something a bit off about the remastered, widescreen reruns of Buffy the Vampire Slayer presented by Fox? So has creator Joss Whedon, and he's not happy about it.
Buffy was shot 4x3 cuz TVs were shaped that way. Widescreen Buffy is nonsense. (Firefly was shot wide - Fox cropped it.) #apsectratiowoes
— Joss Whedon (@josswhedon) December 13, 2014
These new presentations of episodes feature awkwardly cropped scenes as well as ones in which the frame is pulled back so far as to reveal crew members standing off to the sides. Lighting and filter elements seem to have been tinkered with as well, making some originally dark scenes bright. Many of these mistakes are chronicled on the Buffy the Vampire Slayer HD/Blu-ray Facebook page.
As The A.V. Club points out, Whedon has always been against converting the series into widescreen, going back to a note that accompanied the original DVD release.
Adding space to the sides simply for the sake of trying to look more cinematic would betray the very exact mise-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.
Here's a video comparing the original presentations on the left with the newly mastered ones on the right: