Geeks in the Mist: Joss Whedon

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Buffy Season 8? The slayers fight vampire roller girls!

I may get a few phone calls for this one…

Proper geeks will know all the big names in Science Fiction and Fantasy. Tolkien, Roddenberry, Heinlein and dozens of other writers, producers and directors who feed the geek DVD and book shelf.

In our modern day, we have a man by the name of Joss Whedon. He got his writing start on Roseanne back in 1989, followed up with a few writing credits on Parenthood and then broke out with Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Not the TV show, not yet at least. The god awful movie version that will either elicit groans or fiery arguments from the geek sect.

Then he got his name slapped on one of the biggest animated features as a screen writer. Toy Story allowed him to show his true writing chops, even if it was with three other people and a story that wasn’t his.

Not too many geeks acknowledge this credit, either because they don’t know about it, or it just doesn’t fall into their frame of reference. While a great movie, Toy Story isn’t something that falls into the radar of most geeks.

There are other movies as well, Titan A.E. which I thought was a very underrated movie, Alien: Resurrection which I refuse to acknowledge, and…that’s about it. Nothing else comes from him which points to the main stream audience of America.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer was a bad movie, but it turned into a great show. There are arguments over which of the seven seasons was the best (the sixth,) the various bad guys, which version of Angel and Spike was the best, all kinds of things. It’s a versatile and intelligently written show (after season two) that has a boat load of eye candy for the boys and girls. There was even a successful spin off with Angel running five seasons, four of which ran while Buffy was on.

Then there is Firefly, a show cancelled before its time (and gives geeks much ire against the FOX network) that was so popular a movie was made to tie it all together. Not a TV movie, a movie in theaters.

During the writers strike, he created a small, three act production called Dr. Horrible’s sing-a-long Blog which took off with a frenzy. It was well written, had some great actors and original songs, and was funny. It gave Joss Whedon fans something to tide them over until Dollhouse came out.

Dollhouse. A show I have yet to see, but it ranges back and forth as to whether it’s good or not. I haven’t had a chance to watch, so I can’t make a good critique on it, but I can estimate it.

It’s probably mediocre at best. Honestly, Joss is a mediocre writer.

Now, before I see pitchforks on the horizon, let me explain myself. Firefly and Dr. Horrible were great. Buffy, however, was very hit or miss. The first season was bad, the second wasn’t much better, the third great, forth was lacking, fifth was a great effort, six amazing and seven I watched just to finish off the series and know how it ended.

So we have three seasons I wouldn’t touch again (1,2,4) two that I was alright with (5,7) and two that I loved (3,6). That leaves three seasons of crap, two that I’d watch if I was introducing the show to someone and watching with them, and two that I love when I just was to watch some feel good ass kicking. Two out of seven. And don’t get me started on the wandering story line of Angel. Honestly, if it weren’t for the fifth season, I’d have hated it all around.

Joss writes good characters. Spike was my favorite from beginning to end as a sadistic bastard who turns himself around into a kinda nice sadistic bastard.  The Angel/Angelus character was great when he wasn’t brooding, every member of Firefly even.  For me, these elements kept me interested the most.  Will Dr. Horrible get the girl?  I WANT TO KNOW!

It seems to be enough though.  Joss gave us some great episodes, music and conversations.  He seems to be just as geeky as his fans, which make him relatable to the people he writes for.

Now, If he can shoehorn himself away from FOX, we should be good.  Maybe SyFy or whatever they’re calling it now that Battlestar Galactica is done.

4 comments on “Geeks in the Mist: Joss WhedonAdd yours →

  1. Hmmm…I’m finally starting to like Dollhouse, but it took 6 episodes. Apparently, even the cast and crew say the sixth episode is where they “hit their stride.” When you only have 12 episodes in your season, saying half your season you weren’t sure where you were going with things is a bit rough. Angel took until the season finale of the first season to establish an understanding of where it was going, but it was at least enjoyable.

    I’m a fan of Joss. I see things BECAUSE they were written/directed by him. Loved Firefly and Serenity. Loved a couple of the Buffy seasons and almost all of Angel. I don’t blame him for Alien: Resurrection. I think the trick is that he’s just uneven – most writers are, but when you have the rabid fanbase that he does, it makes it hard to live up to some of the standards that he himself has set. It’s like they always say…no good deed goes unpunished!

  2. Mediocre may be a bit harsh, but an “amazing” writer? Really? Hyperbolize much?

    Whedon is a good writer, but just good. He has a knack for coming up with good, often great, characters, but there are plenty of aspects of his writing that are lacking. He’s not a geek Shakespeare by any means, but he’s certainly capable of providing quality entertainment. I just wish I could bring myself to slog through Dollhouse to find out if that makes the cut.

  3. There are so many incorrect statements of fact in this movie (do you even know what a script doctor is?) that I won’t bother citing them all.

    Writing for film is different than writing for stage just like that’s different than writing a novel. Joss isn’t just a good writer for film (in particular television), he’s an amazing writer. There are aspects of the craft that you either don’t known or didn’t consider, but your assessment holds water like a sieve.

  4. “Joss writes good characters” – that means Joss is a good writer.

    Lots of plots are recycled, told over and over again. If you watch Buffy for the plot and think it’s hit and miss, you’re absolutely right. The characters, though, ALL OF THEM, are absolutely solid through all 7 seasons, and 5 of Angel.

    I defy anyone to watch The Body and not get choked up. There’s a death, yes. Is it sudden? Yes. But, someone’s death is a tired plot. People die all the time. You only care because you are so invested in those that are hurt, that you empathize with their reactions and it evokes a strong enough emotional reaction from you, the watcher, that you can’t help but feel the same loss.

    That’s why he’s good.

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