Who doesn’t love an awesome carnival in a television episode? The carnival storyline that dominated Heroes in their last season was intriguing. In true Heroes fashion, of course, the storyline barely developed and, when it did, it was revealed the writers barely thought out the motivations of the villain. Kring and his staff must’ve watched Carnivale and thought “wow that’s a cool premise…let’s steal that.” Essentially, the carnival plot crashed and burned; however, the Fall Thaw carnival-esque festival was delightful on Everwood. Carnivals are awesome.
Last night’s episode of The Vampire Diaries, titled “Brave New World,” spent the bulk of its time in a carnival. The carnival had nothing to do with the story outside of Elena’s desire to feel like a normal teenager for once (echoes of Buffy Summers); meanwhile, Caroline woke up a vampire after Katherine killed her. The werewolf story continues to progress at a snail’s pace. Maybe Kevin Williamson is reluctant to dive into the world of werewolves after his own werewolf movie bombed with critics and audiences.
The A story of the episode was Caroline’s new un-life as a vampire. I have one word to describe the development: awesome. The previews were awesome and the story was awesome. Candice Accola played Caroline’s transformation in a unique way, unlike most actors with a character who becomes a vampire. It was a mixture of confusion, bewilderment, primal/vampire behavior with emotional confusion because of the emotional turbulence the transformation creates. She knocked it out of the park, and she’s a wild card. Damon wanted her dead immediately, citing the unpleasant way the Vicki Donovan thing went down. Stefan sort of agreed with his brother but took Elena’s side. Caroline killed her first human in the episode. She learned how to compel. Her memories of what Damon did to her returned. Caroline might be a dangerous, awesome vampire if anyone crosses her; however, she might be a vampire who behaves like Stefan. The writers transformed Bonnie from a character who did very little in the first season into a completely engaging character. Williamson promised every character would have a worthwhile arc. The man and his staff have kept their words.
Once Bonnie discovered her friend is a vampire, she nearly killed Damon. TVD doesn’t play games. The pacing of this show is insane. Bonnie promised she’d kill Damon if bad things happened. She kept her word. The only reason she didn’t was because Elena asked her to stop.
Meanwhile, Jeremy almost went through with his plan to kill Damon for revenge. Jeremy changed his mind because he doesn’t want to be like his father and uncle. Damon and Jeremy even bonded yet again. Those two have gone back and forth. Sometimes they hate one another because Damon does something evil, then Damon acts like a big brother and helps Jeremy.
The other significant story was the werewolf story with Tyler and his cousin. I’ll reiterate the story is progressing at a snail’s pace but should finally make significant progress next week. I just didn’t care though. The True Blood werewolves story destroyed my tolerance for werewolf storylines.
In other news, Damon became the leader of the council, Katherine has disappeared but remains a threat. Alaric is still MIA despite his prominent role in the finale.
Overall, the episode was awesome. It was fun and entertaining. I loved the A story.
Some other thoughts:
-The last scene was cheesy. Stefan brought Elena to the top of the ferris wheel because she wanted to feel like a normal teenager. The CW-ness of the series shined through there. Not a fan.
-The scene between Caroline and Damon after she killed her first human and when he told her he would kill her was great. The way it was shot, written, acted. The makeup department did a great job with Candice Accola.
-Brian Young wrote the episode. John Dahl directed “Brave New World.”
SCREENPLAY OF THE DAY
“Our Mrs Reynolds” Written By Joss Whedon http://www.fireflywiki.org/105.html
This a Firefly episode. It’s one of the funniest scripts Joss has penned. Joss is one of the best writers in the business so, go ahead and read a Whedon penned script. A potential reader doesn’t need to know anything about Firefly to enjoy reading this script.
Seven Business Days of Whedon concludes today. We had fun, didn’t we? We did. Many words were written about television shows that ended 6-8 years ago. It was fun battling the increasingly horrible Quad Blog server as I tried to insert pictures into the post. No one will forget the blissful day I spent over 45 minutes inserting 19 photographs for ANGEL. Each time I’d click on what needed to be clicked an error message would pop up. Moments later, it would work and then break down just as I submitted. Fun times.
There are a few options for the conclusion of Seven Business Days of Whedon. The first, naturally, is to rank the 100 greatest Whedon characters. I estimate a 30,000 word count for such a post. The second, talk about some of Joss Whedon’s greatest writing achievments. Myself and the readers would have to forget about the episodes I wrote about yesterday so that the content would feel fresh and new. The third, I embed a few videos. I think the third option is the most pleasant of the three.
My plan all along was to conclude the exciting week and two days with a riveting entry about Joss Whedon’s scripts; however, I stepped on my own plan yesterday and Monday by writing all I can write about Joss Whedon episodes. Also, WordPress is nonsense and putting a screenplay excerpt into block quote is not worth the trouble WordPress will put me through.
I have scoured the interweb for five awesome clips from any Joss Whedon show or movie and only found two because every video is a lame fanmade video. I promise that there will be zero lame four minute fan made videos about the Buffy/Spike relationship or any fanmade videos about how they think Xander and Dawn would be just swell together.
NPH/FELICIA DAY DUET
My favorite song in Dr. Horrible. The funniest person in the scene is Nathan Fillion as Captain Hammer.
RIVER DESTROYS THE REAVERS
Whedon said if Serenity wanted to accomplish anything, it was the shot of River at the end of the fight. Of course that shot isn’t in the youtube clip. Do watch. Summer Glau’s outstanding. Pay attention to the one-er. Joss said he just can’t stay away from super-powerful and strong women.
Unfortunately, wordpress does not have hulu-embed capabilities so I can only link additonal video. Seven Business Days of Whedon is having as bad of a finale as Boy Meets World. I am not proud.
There are many iconic scenes in Buffy, The Vampire Slayer. The opening scene of the series is iconic, when the pretty blond girl turns around and reveals she is a vampire to her date. In that scene Joss broke genre conventions. There is the image of Buffy, in her prom dress, ready to save the world. Very iconic. As for The Foot, one scene has always stood out. The scene is not included amongst the various iconic moments but the scene says so much about the heart of Buffy. The scene occurs during season two’s “Lie To Me,” a Joss Whedon episode. Buffy’s old friend visits her; however, he’s dying and wants eternal life. He makes a deal with Spike and Dru to turn him if he brings along some more people for the duo to feed on. Spike and Dru aren’t the big bad in this episode. The big bad is Buffy’s old friend and the experience blindsides her. She waits with Giles in the cemetary and they share this discussion
Well, does it ever get easy?
Ford BURSTS from the grave, a snarling VAMPIRE, and lunges at Buffy — who plants a stake firmly in his chest. She doesn’t even look as he explodes into dust.
You mean life?
Yeah. Does it get easy?
What do you want me to say.
She thinks about it a moment.
Lie to me.
Yes. It’s terribly simple.
As they start out of the graveyard:
The good-guys are stalwart and true.
The bad-guys are easily distinguished
by their pointy horns or black hats and
we always defeat them and save the day.
Nobody ever dies…and everybody lives
happily ever after.
(with weary affection)
END OF SHOW
The dialogue says so much about the series and what she’ll experience as she grows older; and the scene says so much about life, about growing up, the uncertainty, the fears. Buffy was about much more than just vampires. It ranks number three on my favorite tv shows of all-time. These nineteen episodes should give readers an idea of what made Buffy great.
THE TOP NINETEEN EPISODES OF BUFFY, THE VAMPIRE SLAYER
19. Fear, Itself (Written By David Fury; Directed By Tucker Gates)
Fear, Itself is season four’s Halloween episode. Buffy’s sad because Parker totally used her, Xander feels left out because he is not in college, Oz worries about his werewolf nature and Willow fears that her magic could become uncontrollable. All of these fears manifest during a frat house’s Halloween party. A fear demon preys on people’s fear. Xander, literally, becomes invisible. Oz’s werewolf-ness emerges. Buffy is alone. Willow loses control. Meanwhile, Anya (in her bunny costume) and Giles team up to save the frat and the group from whatever’s happening inside. They do save the day and the fear demon, who seems so large, is actually revealed to be very small. The symbolism isn’t subtle but it works. “Fear, Itself” does what Buffy does so well: take real life problems and illuminate them through the supernatural. This is a Halloween staple in The Foot.
18. Angel (Written By David Greenwalt; Directed By Scott Brazil)
For six episodes, Angel has been the mysterious guy who helps Buffy out or warns her that trouble lurks. Buffy grows more and more attracted to him as time goes by. A lot of sparks exist between the two in this episode before he accidentally vamps out on her when they are close to kissing. This freaks Buffy out and she feels like she no choice but to kill him. He’s a vamp. She’s a slayer. She doesn’t know about the curse, the soul. Meanwhile, The Master grows impatient and Darla’s bloodlust for Buffy grows. She wants to kill Buffy because Angel is Darla’s. Angel stakes Darla at the end of the episode and the curse is revealed. The episode is notable for Angel’s backstory. The brooding hero he’ll eventually become begins. We understand the conflicting nature he experiences daily in the scene he tells Buffy that he wanted to kill her. One of the series’ most iconic scenes closes “Angel” out. They kiss and her cross burns his chest. Ange lets it burn. The series mirrors this image in season seven’s “Beneath You” after Spike returns with a soul. It works both times. This is a wonderfully crafted episode.
17. Innocence (Written and Directed By Joss Whedon)
One of the most popular episodes of the entire series. I might be committing a crime by ranking it as low as seventeen but, hey, “Innocence” is included in the Best of Buffy. Whedon said this episode accomplished everything he wanted the show to be. He wanted to tell stories on the personal level and the-larger-than-life level. Angel becomes Angelus after experiencing a moment of true happiness with Buffy. It’s quite a change and he hurts Buffy quite a lot once the soul is gone and Angelus has arrived. He uses the loss of her virginity to embarass and humiliate her. On a personal level, this is about “girl has sex with guy and he stops calling her afterwards.” Buffy has to work out these intense personal issues while aware that she needs to kill Angelus. Meanwhile, Oz charms Willow in the van in one of the series’ best scenes while Xander uses the skills acquired on Halloween to procure a rocket launcher for Buffy to kill The Judge with. When she has the chance to kill Angel, she can’t, and that decision will have some bad consequences. This episode also breaks the trust the gang has with Jenny Calendar because she knew that Angel could lose his soul. Also, Angelus really let the show take off.
16. Once More, With Feeling (Written and Directed By Joss Whedon)
I wrote about this already on Monday. Joss didn’t just make the musical for the sake of making a musical. The episode is a game-changer for the season. Buffy and Spike kiss. Xander and Anya aren’t as ready as they seem for marriage. Tara learns Willow altered her memory. There’s many fun songs as well.
15. No Place Like Home (Written By Douglas Petrie; Directed By David Solomon)
This season five episode introduced the season’s big bad and the thing that she’s looking for that would destroy the world. The big bad is Glory, a God, who wants to return to her kingdom and needs the key to do it. Some monks took the key, which is energy, and created a person–Dawn, Buffy’s sister. They knew Buffy could protect the key but they changed the memories of her and everyone she knows. Dawn doesn’t know any of this. Once Buffy learns the truth, she embraces her role as Dawn’s sister and protector. The scene between Buffy and the monk is very moving and Sarah Michelle Gellar is just an amazing actress. Meanwhile, the magic shop opens under Giles’ rule and Joyce’s health issues aren’t getting better.
14. The Zeppo (Written By Dan Vebber; Directed By James Whitmore Jr.)
I didn’t write about Dan Vebber in yesterday’s post because he wrote just two episodes; however, both episodes are among these nineteen episodes. “The Zeppo” is the first. Xander feels left out and winds up befriending the crazy Jack O’Toole while the gang prepares for another apocalypse. This is the quirkiest episode of Buffy as well as the most meta of any episode. I’m of the opinion that “The Zeppo” is either the funniest or second funniest of the series. Since Xander is the focus, we mostly see the episode through his eyes so he enters random scenes in the apocalypse story that are very intense and melodramatic which is the intent. Xander actually ends up saving the day, as the group he finds himself hanging out with are all guys who have just been risen from the dead and they want to blow up the school. Xander’s courage saves the day. The title comes from Zeppo Marx, the most forgotten member of the Marx Brothers.
13. Lie To Me (Written and Directed By Joss Whedon)
I wrote about “Lie To Me” already and I covered the most essential portions of that episode so, yeah.
12. The Wish (Written By Marti Noxon; Directed By David Greenwalt)
Every character dies near the end of “The Wish.” The scene is so jarring and surreal to watch. The episode gets away with it because we’re in a wish world created by Anya after Cordelia wishes for a world where Buffy never existed. Cordy’s bitter after the events in “Lovers Walk” and Anya, the vengeance demon, pounces on it. Without Buffy, Sunnydale is controlled by vampires because The Master rose and took control. Willow and Xander are vamps. They kill Cordelia. Giles, Oz, Larry, Johnathan and other students remain on the side of good. The Master has a master plan to use the remaining humans in Sunnydale as fountain drink machines essentially. Buffy eventually arrives from Cleveland. She’s much more harsh and cold than we know her. Meanwhile, Giles, off something Cordelia said, investigates the reality of the world he is in. Anyanka arrives, determined to convince Giles to remain in the wish world. As everyone dies in the battle at the Bronze, Giles is prepared to shatter the pendant in hopes of restoring the correct reality. Anyanka says: “Trusting fool! How do you know the other world is any better than this?” and Giles responds, “Because it has to be.” He smashes the pendant and things return to normal. Just a flat out awesome episode.
11. Lover’s Walk (Written By Dan Vebber; Directed By David Semel)
Spike returns to Sunnydale for the first time since “Becoming.” Dru broke up with him because she thought the deal Spike made with Buffy made him soft. He’s a wreck. He threatens Willow into performing a love spell for him. The love spell never happens. Spike, by episode’s end, has an epiphany and no longer sulks around. Of course, every other relationship is damaged thanks to Spike. Cordy and Oz walked in on Xander and Willow kissing. Cordy nearly dies after falling through stairs. Spike points out that Buffy and Angel never can be friends because they love eachother too much. “Lover’s Walk” is hilarious and I laugh every time I watch it.
10. Passion (Written By Ty King; Directed By Michael E. Gershman)
Angelus is at his most evil in “Passion.” “Passion” is the closest the show has come to 44 minutes that felt like a horror movie. Angelus stalks and torments Buffy throughout the episode. He kills Jenny Calendar (who was dating Giles at the time). Angelus tells Joyce that he had sex with her daughter. He displayed Jenny’s dead body for Giles. Here’s the story: Giles and Jenny were planning a romantic night together. Giles arrives and finds the house lighted with candle. A note tells him: “upstairs.” Giles walks to the room and finds Jenny dead. Later, Buffy apologizes to Giles for not being able to kill Angelus as they stand at her cemetery but, now, she knows Angelus must die. She is, however, unaware the key to returning Angel’s soul is on a disk in Ms. Calendar’s room. A brilliant, game-changing, series-changing episode.
9. The Body (Written and Directed By Joss Whedon)
I wrote about this already on Monday. Joss wanted to capture the reality of losing a loved one. He captures the experience. This is not a fun episode to watch. It is sad and depressing but it’s excellently written and directed. Sarah’s performance is heartbreaking. In fact, the whole cast knocks it out of the park.
8. Graduation Day Pts 1&2 (Written and Directed By Joss Whedon)
Again, I wrote about the episode on Monday. This episode foreshadows Buffy’s death in two seasons, Angel leaves Sunnydale for LA, Buffy puts Faith into a coma and the Mayor is destroyed. Also, the gang graduates high school. I love this episode.
7. Selfless (Written By Drew Goddard; Directed By David Solomon)
Anya, a vengeance demon again, helps a girl get revenge on a frat by sending a huge spider to rip their hearts out. After hearing this, Buffy decides that she has to kill Anya. There are Anya flashbacks, a great argument between Xander, Buffy and Willow in which the infamous “kick his ass” line finally returns as a plot point and genuine Anya remorse. Anya doesn’t want to a vengeance demon anymore. Of course, the heart of the story revolves around Anya’s identity. Not even she knows who she is. She’s not a killer anymore and she’s not Xander’s wife. A fantastic episode.
6. Prophecy Girl (Written and Directed By Joss Whedon)
Once again, I wrote about this on Monday. I think this episode is the first one that actualizes the potential of the series. Buffy’s incredibly heroic in this one, faces death and dies at age 16 before Xander saves her life. Xander tells Buffy how he feels about her but she doesn’t feel the same way. She defeats The Master. It’s awesome.
5. Becoming Pts. 1&2 (Written and Directed By Joss Whedon)
I’m sort of stepping on tomorrow’s entry now as Joss is showing up everywhere on this list. “Becoming” concludes the season arc of Angelus. Tons of stuff happens. Angel is cured but not before Acathla is awoken so Buffy is forced to kill Angel. She runs away after her mom finds out she is the slayer and is kicked out. She’s accused of murder after Dru kills Kendra. Willow’s life is put in peril but she manages to be the girl who cures Angel. Giles is tortured by Angelus and Dru. Spike makes a deal with Buffy so he can have Dru all to himself again. “Becoming” is action-packed, full of emotion and heart. Joss Whedon at his best.
4. Hush (Written and Directed By Joss Whedon)
Yes, I wrote about this on Monday. I don’t have much to add. The episode’s greatness speaks for itself.
3. Conversations With Dead People (Written By Drew Goddard Goddard & Jane Espensen; Directed By Nick Marck)
The characters talk a lot in this episode. The most action takes place in the Summers home as some evil force has invaded the home and Dawn tries to fight it. Dawn also sees her mother who she thinks needs proection from this evil. What actually occurs during the episode is the introduction of the season seven big bad: The First. The First showed up in season three’s “Amends” and returns here. Buffy talks with a vampire named Holden about her slayer nature, her place among her friends and the guilt she feels about being a Slayer (it’s complex guilt). Willow gets a visit from the girl who died in “Help” who claims she is receiving messages from Tara. Andrew kills Johnathan for Warren. Spike has no lines but his story ends when he bites a female he is with. The episode was written by four writers actually. Joss Whedon and Marti Noxon each wrote two of the stories in the episode. This is the last truly great episode of Buffy.
2. Restless (Written and Directed By Joss Whedon)
I wrote about this on Monday. The characters all dream. The episode contains foreshadowing for Buffy’s death, the arrival of Dawn and the episode motivates Buffy to learn more about the nature of the slayer. Fans and critics love writing about their interpretations of the dream. This episode is an English major’s dream.
1. The Gift (Written and Directed By Joss Whedon)
The series’ 100th episode and the last episode of TheWB era. Whedon said he wrote “The Gift” as a series finale. This is the best episode of Buffy. Buffy sacrifices herself for Dawn and the world is saved. Glory dies but the death is devastating because Giles has to kill Ben in order to kill Glory–an outstanding scene. If the series ended, I would’ve been happy with the resolution and “The Gift” would most likely rank among the best series finales of all-time.
TOMORROW: Seven Business Days of Whedon concludes.
Seven Business Days of Whedon continues with the top twelve ANGEL episodes. Talk about cutting to the chase.
ANGEL is my second favorite show of all-time, right behind LOST. ANGEL did not have a poor season besides the first season but Joss Whedon and David Greenwalt were unsure about the creative direction of the show for most of that season. They are quoted as saying they figured things out by “Hero,” but I disagree.
Whedon wanted to give Boreanaz his own show after seeing the performance he gave in “I Only Have Eyes For You,” a season two Buffy episode. He and David Greenwalt developed the series together and agreed they wanted ANGEL to be more adult than Buffy and more ambivalent. The demons weren’t black and white evil in LA. Whedon wanted ANGEL to capture the post-college experience of young adults. What I like most about ANGEL are the prevailing themes in the show of atonement, forgiveness, redemption, doing good, etc. Angel’s a character who never quits seeking atonement. The characters in ANGEL are united in their desire to help the helpless.
The characters are the strongest part of the show. The show was initially conceived as a film-noirish, detective show in which Angel, Cordelia and Doyle would solve a case each and every week but that concept didn’t work well in the Buffyverse because fans were too attached to the characters. The show abandoned the detective cases for storytelling fans were familiar with on Buffy. Joss and Greenwalt realized they didn’t need complex stories coming from out of the Angel offices though they thought the stories would come from the case; the stories could come out of the characters already established and the few new characters the show introduced.
Creatively, things took off for the show at the end of season one when they brought back Darla (Julie Benz). Season two is about Angel and Darla and then it becomes a story about Angel’s path to the dark side, and his eventual journey back to the good side and into the good graces of his friends whom he hurt very deeply when he went solo because of his obsession with Darla. The show found itself an identity and every character had an identity. All of the essential characters entered into the story by season’s end. Lorne (Andy Hallett) is introduced in the premiere, Fred (Amy Acker) is introduced during the Pylea arc and Gunn is introduced in season one’s “War Zone.” Once the writers had their world and characters established, the show absolutely took off. Seasons three and four demolish seasons six and seven of Buffy (both aired at the same time). While the quality of Buffy diminished, the quality of ANGEL just improved every single week. The show was so tightly constructed and plotted. Season four spans a period of just 2-3 weeks.
And season five, the show’s last season, maybe the show’s strongest season. TheWB wanted ANGEL to abandon the serialized style that dominated season four because they wanted new viewers to understand the story if they were interested in tuning in. The writers moved the characters into the evil law firm Wolfram & Hart which provided a wealth of story as shades of grey became the dominant theme of the season. How much good could the characters do in a place that isn’t designed for good?
Whedon asked TheWB head, Jordan Levin, for an early renewal but Levin balked and swiftly cancelled the show. Of course, Levin lost his job very soon afterwards and the new boss said if Joss had waited a few more weeks, ANGEL would’ve gotten its sixth season.
It’s truly a terrific series. I understand that Netflix added the entire series to instantly watch. While I recommend those with netflix take advantage of the opportunity to watch the whole series, I mostly recommend those with netflix to check out, at least, one of the fourteen episodes I rank.
Note: I forgot about season two’s Are You Now Or Have You Ever Been? but I am now too frustrated with wordpress to switch everything around. Thank you. Good day.
THE TOP 14 ANGEL EPISODES
14. Destiny (Written By David Fury & Steven S. DeKnight; Directed By Skip Schoolnik)
The Shanshu prophecy returns in this episode, just in time for Spike to become a real boy. After seven episodes where he was incorporeal, Spike opens a piece of mail and becomes corporeal for the first time since he burned up in the hellmouth. The firm goes insane so Angel and Spike are told that two vampires with a soul upsets the balance. One will need to drink from the Cup of Perpetual Torment to restore order and determine the true champion as well as find out who will be Shanshued once the final battle has been fought. It’s all a con set up by Lindsay, who returns for the first time since “Dead End.” The episode has a near three act fight between Spike and Angel. It’s fantastic.
13. Awakening (Written By David Fury & Steven S. DeKnight; Directed By James A. Contner)
The episode is a jaw-dropper. I don’t want to say too much should anyone venture to watch this season four episode. I sat with my jaw dropped after the episode ended. It’s a brilliantly plotted episode and would’ve loved to be in the writer’s room as they broke this one.
12. Spin The Bottle (Written&Directed By Joss Whedon)
Sure this episode is a retread of Buffy’s “Tabula Rasa” but the episode is so much fun. The characters revert to their teenage personas which means a return of classic bitchy Cordelia.
11. Damage (Written By Steven S. DeKnight & Drew Goddard; Directed By David Fury)
In the series finale of Buffy, every potential slayer becomes a slayer thanks to Willow’s magic. This episode is about one of those Slayers who was already severely damaged and it’s an episode about being a victim. Angel would like to try to save Dana from herself but Andrew and the new slayers take her to England to be trained by the new Watchers council. Outstanding episode.
10. The Trial (Written By Douglas Petrie & Tim Minear; Directed By Bruce Seth Green)
Darla was dying from a disease before the Master sired her 400 years ago. Naturally, in her second life, she is still dying and Angel wants to save her. This is sort of like Sysyphus and the rock in that Angel completes difficult trials only to be told that Darla’s been given her second life. Of course, we’ll later learn that the life he earned is his son’s. Julie Benz is so good in this episode and she even sings. David Greenwalt wrote the story for this; also, this one of the first episodes of ANGEL that made me realize how good the show is. Yes.
9. Reprise (Written By Tim Minear; Directed By James Whitmore Jr.)
A season two episode in which Angel is still after Darla, who is a vampire again by the way. Angel prevents a ritual from being performed at a Wolfram and Hart gig. Angel’s plan is to go to the home office to finish off the law firm but the home office is just earth and this revelation sends Angel into despair. The elevator scene between Holland and Angel is among the series best as Holland points out the ugliness of humanity. Soon after, he goes to Darla and the two have sex. Meanwhile, Kate is fired, Wesley gets dumped and Cordy will find herself in some trouble.
8. A Hole In The World (Written & Directed By Joss Whedon)
Winifred Burkle dies and Illyria is born. I love how the episode is shot as well as the love all of the male characters have for Fred as they try to save her life. There are so many good scenes and great bonding between Angel and Spike. One of Joss’ best episodes.
7. Not Fade Away (Written by Jeffrey Bell & Joss Whedon; Directed By Jeffrey Bell)
The final episode of ANGEL is satisfying. There are many callbacks. Connor and Angel are finally experiencing a good father/son relationship. Spike’s poetry is actually cheered. Gunn goes back to his old neighborhood to help Anne. Wesley dies in the finale in one of the saddest scenes in all of the whedonverse thanks to Illyria becoming Fred as Wesley dies. And nothing tops the final moment: our gang fighting because the fight never stops.
6. Sleep Tight (Written By David Greenwalt; Directed By Terrence O’Hara)
The saddest episode of ANGEL. Holtz kidnaps Connor and escapes into a hell dimension. Wesley betrays Angel and actually takes Connor’s son first and then his throat is slit by Justine.
5. Lineage (Written By Drew Goddard; Directed By Jefferson Kibbee)
Throughout the series, we’ve known that Wesley’s relationship with his father wasn’t good. In this, his father visits and he continually insults his own son. Later, Wolfram&Hart is attacked by cyborgs and that Wesley’s father is seemingly behind it. Wesley takes the insults from his father throughout but shoots him without hesitation when he threatens Fred’s life. His father is revealed to be a robot as well. The episode ends with Wesley calling his actual father and his dad is as cruel as ever. Any episode that focuses on Wesley is usually great because of how talented an actor Alexis Denisof is and the story in “Lineage” is very strong and very sad.
4. Smile Time (Written & Directed By Ben Edlund)
Puppet Angel. It’s the funniest episode of the series and an absolute delight to watch.
3. Epiphany (Written By Tim Minear; Directed By Thomas J. Wright)
“Epiphany” has my all-time favorite ANGEL scene where Angel tells Kate that “if nothing we do matters then all that matters is what we do.” Angel has an epiphany after a moment of perfect despair with Darla. He saves the day and begins the process of being forgiven by his friends. It’s also the last Kate episode. Kate, by the way, was an awful, awful character.
2. Home (Written & Directed By Tim Minear)
“Home” had to accomplish a few things: move the characters into Wolfram & Hart, write out Cordelia and resolve the Angel/Connor storyline. The episode is well-done on all fronts. The conclusion of the Angel/Connor storyline is particularly touching. Connor is pretty much beyond saving after everything he’s experienced. Angel is reluctant to sign a contract with Wolfram&Hart until he sees the state his son is in. Connor’s ready to kill himself, Cordelia and all the customers in the store he’s taken over. Angel arrives and the two talk and fight. David Boreanaz and Vincent Kartheiser are excellent during the entire scene. The context of the scene is tough to convey considering the space but believe me when I write Minear manages to include a season’s worth of emotional conflict into seven minutes. It’s remarkable and the prophecy “the father will kill the son” comes true. Powerful stuff.
1. You’re Welcome (Written & Directed By David Fury)
The 100th episode and Cordy’s goodbye episode. It’s moving and it sets the stage for the final episodes of ANGEL. Cordy asks the Powers for one last favor: help Angel rediscover his purpose. Angel does. They finally kiss and, by episode’s end, we learn that Cordelia died. What an episode.
Joss Whedon spoke about the perception of writers as directors some years ago with Candace Havens. Many Hollywood bigwigs scoff at the idea of a writer directing his or her own work, especially in the world of feature film where the director is king and a screenwriter’s script bears little resemblence to the original product after the re-writers and script doctoring. Whedon understood this because he spent many years as one of Hollywood’s script doctors. Among his script-doctor credits are Toy Story and Speed. His experiences with his Buffy, The Vampire Slayer screenplay and Alien Resurrection also taught him about the power of the director in feature film Hollywood. Fran Kuzui, director of the feature film Buffy, did not understand the script and mis-interpreted it completely. Kuzui transformed the story into a broad comedy and thought Joss’ intent was a pop-culture commentary on how people think about vampires. She was wrong. Joss watched as his screenplay became increasingly foreign from the script that he sold. For Alien Ressurection, Whedon wrote two different versions. One without Ripley and the other with. The studio initially accepted the Ripley-less version of Alien 4 because she died in the third Alien movie; however, the studio eventually panicked because they worried about the box office appeal of an Alien sans Ripley. Whedon said the final product is weak because of numerous rewriters, bad direction, bad production design, etc.When Gail Berman wanted Buffy to become a television series, Whedon was skeptical because his grandfather and father worked as television writers for their whole life and Joss’ dream was independent filmmaking. He wanted to be a great indie filmmaker but he eventually thought about his experiences in feature film, and he now sought creative control over his own stories and agreed to turn Buffy into a television series. He shot a short “pilot” that TheWB bought and picked up for 12 episodes for mid-season. Thus began Joss Whedon’s life as a director.
As showrunner, Buffy was his world entirely. The studio let him run the show as he wanted to. Joss didn’t direct an episode of Buffy until the season one finale. He used most of the season as his own film school where he could learn how to direct. Once he felt ready, he directed his first of many, many television episodes.
The world of television directing is not as glamorous as feature film. TV directors are anonymous people and unnoticed by the television audience. If you asked someone about who directed episode five or episode twelve of their favorite show, chances are he or she will not know. In the world of genre television, the fanboys and fangirls are much more aware of the production crew than fans of procedural drams or family dramas or half-hour sitcoms. Ask any diehard fan of the whedonverse about David Solomon or James Contner and they’ll probably be able to tell you their thoughts on those directors and the episodes they directed. The same knowledge exists in the LOST community where fans are as big a fans of Jack Bender, Stephen Williams, Paul Edwards, Tucker Gates, etc as they are fans of Damon Lindelof, Carlton Cuse, Eddie Kitsis and Adam Horowitz.
Joss Whedon is a very talented director. Whedon’s one of the rare directors who finds himself in the news when he announces he’ll direct an episode of The Office or Glee because he’s Joss Whedon. He took full advantage of what he could do with Buffy. He wasn’t satisfied with settling into the the forumla of episodic direction. Whedon pushed and expanded the boundaries of what a television director could do because they were his shows. If he wanted to direct a musical, he did.
One of the many great things about watching a Joss Whedon show is witnessing the progression of his directorial talents. He’s never satisfied and always looks for something new to do. During the commentary for the Buffy series finale, he expresses regret about how he directed the finale. Time constraints forced him to shoot a very conventional episode from a directing standpoint and plenty of the action sequences were shot by second-unit director David Solomon. Whedon’s directed many episodes of his own television show with the most being Buffy and he’s accomplished some fantastic things with Buffy.
Of course, Joss wrote every episode he directed besides a season two ANGEL episode. Don’t worry, though, because I separated the writing from the directing since there is a post entirely about his writing coming this week. This post focuses on the best eight episodes Whedon directed. Many non-fans will even recognize the bulk of these episodes because of the publicity the shows received because of the episodes themselves and what Joss accomplished with them. Before I rank, I must say that Joss Whedon is going to own The Avengers. Have no fear with him behind the camera, folks.
THE TOP EIGHT EPISODES DIRECTED BY JOSS WHEDON
8. Prophecy Girl
Want to watch Joss’ rookie debut as a director? Here it is. This episode elevated the show into cult status. In the years to come, Joss would really hone his craft but this episode is a terrific debut. He needed to remind the viewers that Buffy’s not simply a superhero in a sixteen year old girl’s body; she’s a sixteen year old girl first and foremost and she doesn’t want to die.
7. Serenity (Pilot)
An 88 minute introduction into the world of Firefly. The episode is masterfully shot and features tremendous performances from his ensemble. My favorite sequence is the tracking shot with Simon after Mal tells him Kaylee is dead.
6. The Gift
You’ll see this episode again in two other lists this week. “The Gift” builds to one moment which is Buffy’s death and the way it builds is wonderfully done. Joss got so many good performances from his cast and scenes like the one between Buffy and Spike in her house or the one between Dawn and Buffy at the end warrants the episode’s spot on the list.
5. Once More, With Feeling
I’m sure the cast and crew had a hellish time making this as it was sandwiched in the shooting schedule of season six. The cast would shoot other episodes while rehearsing for this one but it’s one hell of a feat to shoot a musical on a network tv series. It’s a Joss Whedon tour-de-force with many of the tricks Joss loves doing like long one-ers among others.
4. Graduation Day Pts. 1&2
It feels like a feature film and the run-time is feature film length. Yes, Becoming Pts 1&2 is the same length as Graduation Day but Graduation Day feels more cinematic which is something I always admire in television. Jack Bender is the king of the cinematic television episode. I digress. The scene between Buffy and Angel, when Angel feeds on her, is enough for this episode to be no.4 but Whedon and his crew kicked some ass with this episode. There’s flaming arrows and a huge snake and the school is destroyed plus there is a dynamite fight between Faith and Buffy. This episode is tied with “The Gift” for the most epic Buffy episode in the series episode.
3. The Body
One of the most unique episodes of Buffy. There’s no music because Joss wanted to capture what it’s actually like to experience the death of a loved one and he does a very good job of capturing that experience. He doesn’t let the audience escape from what the characters are going through.
An episode that’s been described as Lynchian. I think this episode should be taught in film classes or, rather, classes about directing. It’s very sophisticated direction. It’s shot totally different from any other episode of Buffy. There’s an homage to Apocalypse Now and Death Of A Salesman. He hasn’t directed anything remotely close since but I hope he returns to this style one day.
It’s basically a silent movie. To get the most out of the actors, the actors spoke the dialogue and it was later muted in post-production. The point: 29 minutes of silence. I love how The Gentlemen are shot. I love the classic silent horror movie atmosphere that exists in some sequences like the Tara chase and Olivia at the window. I wanted to focus on the most innovative and interesting episodes he’s done from a directing standpoint so some very quality Joss episodes were left out. No ANGEL or Dollhouse made the cut though “Waiting In The Wings” deserves an honorable mention.
Like I did during LOST’s run, I’ve read countless interviews with Joss or listened to his commentary tracks or any other interview he’s done. Surprisingly, I was unaware of Firefly’s existence until I read the chapter in an unofficial Joss Whedon biography. The concept sounded intriguing but I neither understood nor appreciated Firefly until I watched the show. The show began re-running on SciFi a few years ago (maybe 2005) so I began watching it. I watched one episode and disliked the quality of the episode’s look. I enjoyed the Pilot. There are moments in the pilot that will simply hook a new viewer to the show. Sudden emotion; very powerful and very direct. I’m thinking of the trick Mal plays on Simon, the doctor who is new to the ship and on the run from the Alliance after rescuing his sister from the Academy, regarding Kaylee’s death. She was hit by a bullet shot from an undercover Alliance agent’s gun, treated by Simon and she does live which is something we discover when there’s a sensational tracking shot of an anguished Simon running to the infirmary to check on her. When Simon arrives, he finds Kaylee up and talking with a ton of life in her. I also think of the moment when we meet River and we find out the contents of the package aren’t a what but a who. Lacking a credit card, I quickly persuaded persons who do to order me the DVD stat on amazon.com. The DVDs came in the mail. I watched the entire series. Following “Objects In Space,” I said to myself, “Joss did it again.”
Firefly, as I mentioned briefly yesterday, is a gem of a series. Anyone who watched Serenity, the movie, received a brief glimpse into the world of Firefly but Serenity is no Firefly. Serenity can’t take us to the many planets or give a certain character a centric story besides Mal. Serenity is a great movie but if you want the story of these people, you’ve gotta watch Firefly.
The entire series is worth watching numerous times. I also enjoy reading the shooting scripts which are available on FireflyWikki; however, it would be a cop-out to rank all fourteen episodes of the series. The goal of the rankings is to name the five very best episodes of the series, to single out the episodes that capture the spirit and execute the show’s unique vision and stories best. With that said, let me end the preamble and enter into the world of episodic television rankings:
THE FIVE ABSOLUTE BEST 44 MINUTES OF FIREFLY
5. EPISODE 107–JAYNESTOWN (WRITTEN BY BED EDLUND; DIRECTED BY MARITA GRABIAK)
Jayne is the antagonist on Serenity. He exists to create conflict. He’s a man entirely out for himself. In this episode, some cargo needs to be transported from Canton. Jayne is worried because he’s not well liked by the Magistrate because of something that happened a few years ago. Jayne and his crew stole money but, while leaving, the flying craft was hit and quickly losing fuel. Jayne had to drop the money and the Mudders viewed Jayne Cobb as a hero. The Magistrate tried to take the money from them but they rioted and were able to keep the money. Canton is a place that sells mud and the working class refer to themselves as The Mudders. It is a place that stinks and another reminder to Simon of how far from civilized life he is and he thinks he’s going mad when he sees a mud statue of Jayne because, after all, he described Jayne as a man-ape thing but admitted an ape is more trained than Jayne.
Jayne resists the idea that he’s a hero because he knows he is not a hero; however, he slowly embraces the idea until the truth comes out about how he threw a man out before the money. One Mudder, Meadows, doesn’t waver in his admiration for Jayne and takes the bullet for him. Jayne doesn’t understand why Meadows would do that. Mal tells him that it’s not about Jayne, that it’s about what the Mudders needed. Jayne still doesn’t understand.
The heart of the story involves that idea of what people need. Book needs the bible and its teachings even though he admits that the bible is broken. The important thing to him is that the bible fixed him. This is what he tells River. Simon tells Kaylee that he needs to continue being proper because being proper is the only thread he has, besides his sister, from the life he left behind for her.
Jaynestown is a meditation on the idea of heroism and the importance of faith. It’s also a very, very funny episode.
4. EPISODE 109–ARIEL (WRITTEN BY JOSE MOLINA; DIRECTED BY ALLAN KROEKER)
The episode in which Jayne betrays Simon and River. The Hands of Blue cause some chaos. And, yes, this is episode with the infamous airlock scene.
After struggling to appear as a buyer of mud because the Foreman couldn’t know the true intentions of Mal and his crew in “Jaynestown,” Simon becomes a criminal mastermind of sorts. Serenity travels to the central planet Ariel. The central planets are booming with Alliance folk. Simon’s actual plan involves running tests on his sister to find out exactly what’s going on with her and to determine what the Academy did to her. The plan is tricky because they need to be kind of dead to access the area where they need to go. Also, Jayne is with them and responsible for them while Mal, Zoe, Wash and Kaylee steal some pricey medicine.
The central focus of the story becomes Jayne’s betrayal. The betrayal caught me by surprise when I first watched it because I did not expect it. The previous episodes made it clear that Jayne had no use for the Tams but, still…damn. Jayne doesn’t hold the same principles that Mal does. When Mal saves River and Simon from being burned at the stake, he simply explains it with this: “you’re on my crew.” Jayne is not that man. Any way in which he can help himself, he will help himself. The Tams have a large sum attached to their capture. Jayne creates a whole mess of chaos because crazy Hands of Blue will kill whoever they meet on their path to getting River back. As for River, she’s a mystery at this point in the show but this episode clearly shows that her head was being messed with. River is a genius. River also terrifies Jayne. The situation Jayne creates is eventually resolved. The Alliance looking for them is not, of course, but the crew makes it out of Ariel safely.
“Ariel” is an excellent Simon episode. He tells Jayne, after Jayne is hurt, that he’ll never hurt Jayne while he is a patient under his care, and he cares so much for River. The episode also showcases Mal’s enormous loyalty. Rather than write about it, watch it.
3. EPISODE 106-OUR MRS. REYNOLDS (WRITTEN BY JOSS WHEDON; DIRECTED BY VONDIE CURTIS HALL
The funniest episode of the series. The episode introduces Saffron, portrayed by the awesome Christina Hendricks (of Mad Men fame now). This is a good Mal episode because we learn a lot about him through Saffron. He ends up married to her after saving a town from bandits; however, by episode’s end, the marriage was just a way for Saffron to put them in harm’s way. Mal is the opposite of Jayne because Jayne just wants to have his way with her. Mal refuses to take advantage of Saffron. He feels uncomfortable by how subserviant she is. It’s all an act, of course, but Mal doesn’t know it until he’s passed out after one hell of a seduction by Saffron and she begins her true plan. We learn about Mal’s life before the Browncoats and before Serenity. Saffron opens him up in ways no one else can besides maybe Inara and, later, River. For an anti-hero, Mal has many virtues and they are on display.
The episode is the funniest episode Joss Whedon has ever written. The scene between Saffron and Wash, when she has to knock him out and begins a seduction attempt, is brilliant.
2. EPISODE 108–OUT OF GAS (WRITTEN BY TIM MINEAR; DIRECTED BY DAVID SOLOMON)
“Out Of Gas” is an origin story. Using the words ‘origin story’ is odd considering Firefly is not a comic book and the words are usually reserved for the comic book world. The words work to sum up “Out Of Gas.” We learn how the crew came together on Serenity and we learn how important these people are to Mal. Every single one of them. We also see just how much he loves Serenity. The final scene of the episode features Mal being wowed by Serenity even though the dealer thinks Serenity is a piece of trash.
The story is non-linear and the A story and the episode opens with a wounded Mal, near death, in a ship with no oxygen and no crew (because he sent them to safety) ready to die and go down with his ship. ‘Out of Gas’ emphasizes one of the most consistent theme throughout every Whedon story: family doesn’t have to be just blood. The crew is Mal’s family and Serenity is home. Serenity saved him from a very dark place.
“Out Of Gas” is one of Minear’s finest hours and the same goes for David Solomon who has been with Joss through every series as a director and producer.
1. EPISODE 114–OBJECTS IN SPACE (WRITTEN AND DIRECTED BY JOSS WHEDON)
My absolute favorite episode of Firefly. I love the character River and this is her episode. I love the commentary for this episode as well. Joss convinced me to read Sartre after I finished listening to him speak about the episode. “Objects In Space” is a very philosophical episode that deals exclusively with existentialist philosophy. The conversations between Jubal Early and River Tam highlight this.
A bounty hunter comes aboard Serenity for River. He takes Simon hostage but River saves the crew and her own brother from Jubal Early. She also sends him out, alone, into space. Before Jubal Early arrives, River has another violent episode which brings up the debate of whether or not to kick her and Simon off of the ship because of the problem River has been. River is just very damaged because what the Academy did and she’s psychic so her thoughts have been scrambled because she’s been scrambled. Serenity, the movie, will heal River. This episode is the one in which everyone accepts her. Most importantly, Mal accepts her. There’s a great piece of info at the end of the Serenity commentary (the love discussion) when Nathan Fillion wondered how to play the scene and, later, he told Joss that all he did was look into Summer Glau’s eyes and he know how to play the scene. To clarify: there is no romantic relationship between the two. It’s platonic.
This episode begins the removal of the many layers that make up River Tam and it is an outstanding, outstanding episode.
ON MONDAY: The Best Directed-By-Joss Whedon Episodes!
Welcome to the Week of Whedon + 2 days, friends and well-wishers.
The week will be grand fun. So fun that you will want to Charleston.
It is no secret that I’m a Joss Whedon fan. I began watching Buffy in the early aughts and then I began watching ANGEL. I had a fairly unorthodox approach to both shows. I bought season three of Buffy on DVD before seeing any other season. I watched ANGEL out of order. During its original run on theWB, I’d tune in every Halloween because I thought Buffy was the perfect show for one to embrace the Halloween spirit. I believe the only Halloween episode I caught was season four’s “Fear, Itself,” a favorite of mine. I also watched “Hush” when it originally aired but that’s about it. The series ended and I would catch the odd repeat Saturday afternoons on FOX or some insane hour like 3AM on FOX. I enjoyed what I saw immensely. I researched the show and saw that season three is considered the best season of Buffy. I nearly purchased season six first. Thank the Smoke Monster that I didn’t (that is just an expression–LOST was 2 years away from existing).
I loved season three and eventually bought every season but the first. Meanwhile, I became a huge ANGEL fan after seeing “Orpheus” repeat on TheWB combined with how much I enjoyed the odd rerun I saw on FOX.
The ANGEL journey is much more out of order than Buffy. Season five began on TheWB so I began watching it while catching repeats every day on TNT after I returned from Carroll. I had the experience of knowing major plot points but unaware of how the show arrived at those plot points so it was fun, believe it or not. ANGEL quickly vaulted over Buffy as my favorite Joss Whedon show. Of course, much of ANGEL’s credit goes to David Greenwalt, Tim Minear, Jeff Bell and Steven S. DeKnight. Whedon has said that he was involved with ANGEL as much as he was with Buffy, that he read every single script. I believe that but I think it’s wrong to throw praise at Joss for a show whose vision and identity was largely shaped by David Greenwalt, Tim Minear, Jeff Bell, Mere Smith, Steven S. DeKnight, Shawn Ryan and David Fury. Joss deserves his due praise and credit for ANGEL because he co-created the show with Greenwalt but Greenwalt ran the show on a day-to-day basis.
ANGEL always seemed like the stepchild show for Joss. He’ll never love a show as much as he loves Buffy though he loved Firefly so much that he made it into a movie with the help of some friends at Universal. There are groups of fans who think Joss didn’t understand or, rather, know how to write for ANGEL which is a bold statement in and of itself to suggest Joss didn’t understand one of his own shows. His episodes had a different tone than most of ANGEL. He usually wrote stand-alone episodes like “Spin The Bottle” and “Waiting In The Wings.”
Joss directing Amy Acker and the late Andy Hallett
The big episodes of ANGEL were always reserved for Greenwalt before he left or for Minear or Bell or DeKnight. Joss did write the season five premiere, an episode that set the stage for the Wolfram & Hart era and he wrote a key season five episode when Fred dies but even “A Hole In The World” gets criticized for the Buffy-ness in the dialogue and the Buffy tone of the episode.
The quality of ANGEL never declined like the quality of Buffy did during the UPN years (seasons six and seven). Many, many fans blame Marti Noxon for destroying the seasons. Many fans point to Joss’ focus on Firefly combined with Marti Noxon running the show with a less-involved Joss. The truth is hard to find because Joss and Marti refuse to agree with the opinion of many fans and no fans were in the writer’s room on a day-to-day basis to figure out what the heck happened to the show. The duo defend many of the questionable things in both seasons passionately particularly the Spike/Buffy relationship and all of the nonsense that brought us. The same essential group of writers remained until the end, the same group that are responsible for the best Buffy season in season three and two strong seasons in four and five. Marti hired one of the most popular and best writers in the Whedon world–Drew Goddard–for season seven but he was a lone figure in a ship that had sunk and, somehow, managed to sink even further. It was like they were trapped in the box in the ocean that Connor trapped Angel in at the end of season three. Drew Goddard was not their Wesley, who pulled Angel from the depths and saved his unlife. The final two seasons of Buffy are a mystery that will remain unresolved.
In the commentary for “Chosen,” the series finale of Buffy, Joss talks about exhaustion and how he’s not beaming about the work he did for the finale. A few days ago, Marti basically said the Buffy writers were tired and, possibly, ran out of stories to tell. No matter how bad the last two seasons of the show are, they do not diminish the first five seasons of the show. Joss did some amazing work during the first five years of Buffy and he did some great work in season six like the musical but those seasons are, largely, trainwrecks. Buffy did change television and the thought behind what television could accomplish. In a commentary for Reptile Boy, Greenwalt talks about the days when hour-dramas could only be serious but Joss changed that. He not only broke genre conventions but he broke the rules. He mixed drama, comedy, horror. He helped secure the credibility of TheWB network. The most defining part of the first five seasons are the stories, the weekly episodes. The season long arcs are great too but young, aspiring screenwriters can learn a ton by watching the episodes and listening to commentary tracks. The one thing you’ll always hear is the importance of the story with Joss. He doesn’t care for a lot of cool things happening in an episode if there’s no story. “Innocence” is one of the best examples. The story is simple: a girl sleeps with her boyfriend for the first time and he’s a bad guy the morning after. Of course, in Joss’ show, the boyfriend becomes a soulless vampire.
The same structure and focus existed in ANGEL and, certainly, in Firefly. Firefly is a gem of a show. The fourteen episodes are a joy to watch with the exception being “Heart Of Gold.” If Buffy had to suffer in quality because of Firefly then the trade-off is worth it. Joss attributes the quality of the show to the circumstances surrounding the production of the show. They were in constant threat of cancellation so they put everything on the table. Joss’ devotion to Firefly is admirable. The man created nine distinct characters, characters who were fully developed with plenty of depth. Whedon said he had five years of the show planned and I believe him. Firefly is a show about the people in between the heroes. Normal folks like us. Joss took his love for the movie to the big screen after FOX cancelled it. He assembled one of the greatest casts ever with the help of his casting director. He was wise and let Tim Minear run the show with him. He had the eye to cast the lovely Christina Hendricks as Saffron. Some of Joss’ best work is, no doubt, on Firefly.
He returned to ANGEL after the end of Firefly and Buffy. Jordan Levin would cancel ANGEL and Joss disappeared from television for a few years. During the writer’s strike in 2008, he came up with Dr. Horrible’s Sing Along Blog. It won an emmy and starred NPH, Nathan Fillion, Felicia Day. He co-wrote it with his sister-in-law and two brothers. He wrote the music and directed it. The web short won an emmy. He also brainstormed Dollhouse during this period of time, while eating lunch with Eliza Dusku. Dollhouse is a different show though it features many familiar Whedon elements. It is a story about people, identity. The first season is fairly uneven but the second season is one heck of a story. Like Firefly, the show didn’t stand much of a chance at getting a third so Joss and his group of writers that included Tim Minear left everything on the table for season two. The season had a slow start but kicked into full gear by episode four, a brilliant Sierra episode and the show doesn’t slow down until the last credit is shown.
Of course, during these projects, Joss began writing the season eight Buffy comic and overseeing the ANGEL: After The Fall comics.
He wrote a few x-men comics too, but years earlier. The season eight Buffy comics are wrapping up right now. I have not kept up with the comics because I’ve never been a comic guy. But Joss delivered a moving story, in issue five, about an unknown slayer who dies. The story for ANGEL was also riveting as we were told that Fred wasn’t absolutely gone and that ANGEL became human. Also, speaking of comics, he wrote the Fray comics about a slayer in the future and he oversaw a few Firefly comics.
His next project is supposed to be Cabin In The Woods but no one is sure whether or not MGM will ever release it. He co-wrote the movie with writer/director Drew Goddard.
will this ever be released?
He’s signed on to direct The Avengers.
Before I discovered Joss Whedon’s shows, I wanted to be a feature film screenwriter and I wanted to write horror because Kevin Williamson did. Whedon, and all of the writers he hired, showed me the possibilities of television writing and made me want to become a television writer.
The time is right spend a week and a two days compiling lists for the best of Joss Whedon. Tomorrow, the top five Firefly episodes will be counted down in numerical order from five to one. A list of Dollhouse episodes will not be done because The Foot hasn’t rewatched the show nearly as many times as Buffy, ANGEL and Firefly have been re-watched. In fact, I’ve seen the second season just once because it’s not out on DVD and I haven’t re-watched season one entirely. Yes.
The first season of Treme ended on Sunday. No, this will not be a verbose entry on the first season of the show. After the finale ended, Alan Sepinwall of hitfix.com posted an interview he conducted with the series co-creator David Simon. This was my first experience with a David Simon interview. Sepinwall noted that Simon was his usual unapologetic self.
I soon learned that, indeed, David Simon is very unapologetic. Of course, after reading the interview, I immediately began drawing comparisons in my head between a David Simon interview and a Cuselof (that’s Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse) interview because many, many, many fans only became MADDER at Damon and Carlton after an interview. A certain section of fans didn’t enjoy the sardonic and coy manner in which they answered questions. They felt Cuselof made fun of fans, the devoted and diehard fanbase and yada yada. I know, it’s the internet and people will complain. I also swear there is a point to all this.
David Simon does not draw the ire of his fans from what I gathered after brief research. He appears to be untouchable after The Wire. In the course of his interview with Alan Sepinwall, he made no excuses whatsoever and defended the first season of Treme one hundred and fifty percent. His main argument throughout the interview is this: don’t criticize my show until you’ve seen the entire story/season. It is a fair argument and something worth considering in this new social media era in which I just made sure the people of facebook knew that I was elated by the 91st minute goal scored by Landon Donovan. Message boards dissect each and every episode of a season. This is not new. In fact, I’d argue this dissection has existed since the internet became main stream in the late-90s. I digress.
Simon was unhappy with the complaints about Treme. People complained that plots did not exist episode by episode, that nothing happened on a week-to-week basis. Those complaints are risky to make when the show is historical fiction. Simon even says, and I’m paraphrasing, that his show has to tell the factual stories of post-Katria New Orleans and the same creative freedoms do not exist for his group of writers or he’ll accuse the people of America not giving a bleep about post-Katria New Orleans and wonders why he thinks that has changed in the last five years. The other thing he said in defense of the overall structure and narrative style of Treme is, and I’m paraphrasing: he’s uninterested in the typical television trope of something dire happening in every episode of a season. He said his show is not Breaking Bad or Glee or CSI and, most importantly, it’s not The Wire.
I’m uninterested in criticizing Treme. The first season had its flaws but I don’t regret the time I spent watching it. I had a few problems with the fact Simon seemed incapable of admitting a certain character or story arc did not work but I’ll deal. I’m interested in what David Simon said about watching television, the week-by-week individual analysis of an episode that is part on the story of the season. What’s the best way to watch television?
There are many ways to enjoy a television show. Some people love to write about each episode in exhausting details and some do not. In doing so, does that hinder one’s enjoyment of the story the season told? I don’t think so.
Joss Whedon is one of the best minds in television. He created and ran four shows. He understands what works and what doesn’t. Of course, his only experience has been on network television. This discussion becomes complicated when one brings in cable television like HBO, AMC, and Showtime. Cable television is a whole different animal. More control exists on Cable. A showrunner, the executive producers and the studio do not have to worry the issues network television faces. I digress. Joss is a big picture guy with his television shows. He knows what the story is for the season and as that story is told episode-by-episode, other stories are told in individual episodes. The famous question all of his former writers tell an interview in interviews in this, about the process of breaking and writing an individual episode, is this: why are we telling this story? A great episode of a television show is supposed to tell a great story. It must also advance the plot and maintain the momentum of a season, and a great episode usually draws immediate reaction.
I can understand David Simon’s frustration with fans judging episodes without the full season; however, with Treme, many fans didn’t see where the show was going. But I don’t think reviewing or talking about individual episodes of a television season hinders a person’s enjoyment or appreciation of the season and the story that season has been telling. Television’s a different medium than books. I don’t think comparing the two mediums make sense.
However, there’s another side to this. I’ll refer to the final season of LOST. The writers didn’t reveal what the Sideways were until the final minutes of the series. It’s a gutsy move and they drew plenty of criticism for the final season. Again, on the record, I think season six is great. I digress. During the season, people were trying to make sense of the Sideways and all that. With the season over, I look at the sixth season of LOST and the reveal puts the season in a different light. It did not ruin the season for me. I now possess more knowledge and a better insight into what actually was the purpose of the individual Sideways stories. For example, Sawyer’s Sideways in Recon did not thrill me; however, knowing that he leaves the Island and that the Sideways is a place these characters created to find each other, to let go and move, I now see Sawyer’s sideways as the totality of his life and his story. I think, after leaving the Island, Sawyer became a cop along with Miles. All of the differences we fans noted between the Island and the Sideways doesn’t matter now because there were no differences. We were seeing a glimpse of Sawyer had done with his life after the Island. DL & CC encouraged this type of discourse too. It was nearly impossible, in hindsight, to review the individual episodes without the knowledge of the Sideways but it was still a worthwhile and fun experience and, even DL and CC said this, one didn’t need the purpose of the Sideways to appreciate the stories they were telling like the excellent “Dr. Linus.”
Likewise, Simon and Overmyer kept something in their backpocket until the final thirty minutes of the finale which gave the season a different kind of feel and added more to the individual arcs of these characters.They could’ve started the show where they basically ended it but that same criticism can be delivered to LOST. The thing is, with both, it worked.
It’s interesting to think about. Actually, I’m probably thinking way too much about. It’s all about perspective though. There are numerous factors to consider when thinking about and reviewing a season of television but this exists for every form of criticism. We fans will always be outsiders. Woody Allen remarked, after having a rough time with coloring prints of his film and a rough time in the editing room and working for months on one movie, that all this work is being done just so some person can give it two out of four stars. But, again, we’re only privy to the final cut of books, music, movies and television and we pay hard-earned cash and invest time in these things so we’re allowed to review and criticize something.
I am now rambling and will stop. Anywho, the Socceroos are about to battle Serbia in Group D and Ghana and Germany are about to play. I am rooting for the Socceroos to somehow make it out of Group D because I picked them to finish second in my ESPN bracket. And, since I know you are all wondering, I picked Uruguay to win the World Cup.
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