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  • #105951
    Jonathan Capps
    Keymaster

    And isn’t on fucking, cunting Fox.

    #105952
    JamesTC
    Participant

    >Fingers crossed his next project rhymes with kipper.

    An Ace and Lister spin-off?

    #105954
    Tarka Dal
    Participant

    Actually why did he have anything to do with Fox after the whole shitty Firefly affair? You would have thought at least one other network might have shown some interest.

    #105955
    Jonathan Capps
    Keymaster

    I seem to a remember a story about Dushku already being signed up to Fox to do a series and she asked Whedon to write for it.

    To be fair, they’ve treated Dollhouse a million times better than Firefly, but to be equally fair they’re still cuntrags.

    #105957
    JamesTC
    Participant

    Atleast Dollhouse is getting its episodes aired in order, and all of them aired!

    #105958
    Andrew
    Participant

    > You would have thought at least one other network might have shown some interest.

    And therein lies the problem.

    Dushku deal or not, it’s not like Whedon’s having his arm bitten off for projects. Given that his work is often so astoundingly good – and, in theory at least, massively mainstream – there’s a reason. And I think you can see that reason laid out in the gestation of all his TV projects. Short version: He takes too long to get it right. At least for mainstream American TV.

    Firefly didn’t nail it until Our Mrs Reynolds, and the pilot was such a slow, over-populated, miss-targetted thing with a tiny stand-alone story (deal, double-cross, escape) that it was dumped from the first broadcast. Not that I’m saying that was a better decision than the ‘second pilot’ of The Train Job – which also mis-sold the show – but neither does the job right.

    Dollhouse, I’d argue, went from mediocre to fun, but never excelled in its first season. Not even with the DTV episode. It was sold to the execs as one thing, the lead/producer was given a differing take…and Whdeon himself pitched too fast to know quite WHAT it was. An idea without a format. (The original pilot has some scenes that beat anything that made the broadcast opener, but overall it’s massively clumsy and unfocussed.)

    Where Buffy had the slight advantage was that the man had already seen the (okay) screenplay to the (rotten) movie get made and then funded his own mini-pilot. Between the gestation period that gives a writer and the trials it offers a showrunner, it gave Buffy a big step up. The first episode is the third attempt to pitch the character and world, and while the first season monster-of-the-weeks it a bit, by the Angel episode, and certainly by the finale, it’s clearly pushing the right buttons.

    He knows he’s on Fox. He knows it’s American TV. ‘Feeling your way’ is something you need to do on paper, not with a financed cast and crew. He can’t work the way Doug Liman does. No wonder the networks are wary, no wonder Wonder Woman couldn’t quite get traction. He’s a bloody genius, but to get to that genius is fucking expensive – it’s umpteen filmed episodes away.

    His current method doesn’t find an audience; and when he finds his stride it’s too late to get them back. Honestly, I think the best thing for the guy’s process is a full six months writing and rewriting, and two separate low-budget shoots to try stuff out. And then a series on HBO, where he can cut loose, skip the mainstream craving, and run a little while before fearing the cut.

    Fox suck, obviously. And that Friday slot likely didn’t help (though in a better slot it might have been canned much sooner). And I can’t say I prefer shows that start with a knockout pilot and then tick over with ho-hum episodes, simply holding on to a large audience that hope to see the pilot’s quality again.

    But two semi-seasons is arguably more than the first half-dozen episodes of Dollhouse deserved.

    #105960
    John Hoare
    Participant

    The weird thing is, of course, that even though the show has been cancelled. you’ve got 26 episodes, of 45-odd minutes each.

    So: there exists more Dollhouse in this world than, say, Blackadder. An obvious observation, perhaps, but American TV is such that even if something is cancelled before its time, you often get a reasonable amount of it to enjoy anyway!

    #105964
    Ben Paddon
    Participant

    Unless you’re American, because Americans have this wonderful sense of entitlement when it comes to television that rivals even that of the Torchwood Ianto/Jack ‘shippers.

    #105969
    Tarka Dal
    Participant

    > Firefly didn?t nail it until Our Mrs Reynolds, and the pilot was such a slow, over-populated, miss-targetted thing with a tiny stand-alone story (deal, double-cross, escape) that it was dumped from the first broadcast. Not that I?m saying that was a better decision than the ?second pilot? of The Train Job – which also mis-sold the show – but neither does the job right.

    Whilst I agree with your post overall, and thank you for the details – I was hoping for someone to bite, I think Firefly was allready firing by Shindig (if not earlier). It’s hard for me to judge as I’m now on my 3rd run through the series, but evidently my mate who is still relatively under-exposed to Whedon stuff in general is allready hooked after only two or three episodes.

    #105972
    Seb Patrick
    Keymaster

    >Unless you?re American, because Americans have this wonderful sense of entitlement when it comes to television that rivals even that of the Torchwood Ianto/Jack ?shippers.

    Be fair. NOTHING rivals the sense of entitlement of teenage female Torchwood fans.

    #105978
    Andrew
    Participant

    > I think Firefly was allready firing by Shindig (if not earlier).

    Shindig’s grindingly slow, though, and really, really bland story-wise. Not saying the opening run is awful – there are some great lines, some lovely visuals and some fine performances – but no, I can’t agree. Bushwhacked, Shindig and Safe aren’t really much ahead of the pilot and The Train Job. The writing’s really not singing.

    Our Mrs Reynolds, on the other hand, is leap ahead. Well-paced (the first one episode to be so), character-perfect, twisty and insightful. After weeks of witch-burning villagers, balls and duels and drawn-out Reaver chatter, it’s just a massive step up.

    > evidently my mate who is still relatively under-exposed to Whedon stuff in general is allready hooked after only two or three episodes.

    I’ve shown two Buffy-liking people the Firefly opener. Neither had any interest in continuing with it. I show OMR every time now – never fails. Still, I don’t deny that some people can take to Firefly from those early shows: just that audiences clearly didn’t, and there’s probably a few reasons for that. So down to Fox, but some definitely attributable to Whedon.

    #105983
    Dave
    Participant

    >After weeks of witch-burning villagers, balls and duels and drawn-out Reaver chatter, it?s just a massive step up

    Two weeks. No balls, no villagers. Our Mrs Reynolds was the third episode broadcast.

    >I don?t deny that some people can take to Firefly from those early shows: just that audiences clearly didn?t

    I loved Firefly from the pilot but I got to watch it in the DVD order, it’s worth remebering after adverts trailing the what’s in Simon’s box angle audience were instead given The Train Job (nice lkitle story, heavy on the exposition), Bushwhacked (Remember Reavers? They were in the pilot you didn’t see) and then Our Mrs Reynolds arrives which I will agree steps the series up a gear but it’s the also first time the audience’s bafflement won’t have gotten in the way.

    In 2002 you had to really want to be a Firefly fan.

    #105992
    ChrisM
    Participant

    I liked Firefly before Our Mrs Reynolds too. Then again I saw it in the DVD order too. Also not having to wait a week between episodes might help with that…

    … that being said, I liked the Pilot and I liked The Train Job. The first was a bit slow and generic, but I didn’t find it boring. And I’ll admit the gimmick of using a space ship to rob a train might have gone quite a way with the Train job.

    #105996
    Tarka Dal
    Participant

    > In 2002 you had to really want to be a Firefly fan.

    Which I guess is part of the problem. In 2002 I had been a massive Buffy fan, but my interest was on the wain. Likewise both Firefly and Fray didn’t sound all the great to me. So I only caught up with both later on down the line. I guess it’s the same with Dollhouse to an extent, I can’t moan about them axeing when I’m yet to get around to watching any of it.

    Firefly’s absolutely excellent however, OMR is one of my favourite episodes but likewise I was hooked long before then and for me Safe is the only really weak episode. I don’t find Shindig a slow ep in the slightest, but one man’s junk etc.

    As it happens OMR and Jaynestown should be getting watched again tonigh-

    Edit: I was about the end this post with “Goodtimes”. Oh god no I’m turning into Justin Lee Collins :(

    #106003
    Andrew
    Participant

    > Two weeks. No balls, no villagers. Our Mrs Reynolds was the third episode broadcast.

    Fair point – my mistake. Though the same point still holds when it comes to the audience confusion you mention. If the shows had been better, they would have been broadcast. Showing them as they were wouldn’t have helped much. And if the broadcast episodes had been more accessible, in the manner a TV show needs to be when starting out – as OMR really is – then…well, it all might have turned out differently.

    I still can’t believe they shot the opening to the pilot twice. Mal mid-war. Pointless, unnecessary stuff – I don’t need a Han Solo flashback to show me why he dislikes the Empire.

    Bah, anyway – matters of taste. No question, though, both shows struggled to find their audience, and while Fox deserve a measure of the blame, so does the showrunner for his unfortunate false-start method to achieving greatness.

    #106006
    Carlito
    Participant
    #106007
    JamesTC
    Participant

    Yep, it was mentioned in DWM. They are also starting Series 4 of SJA with 4 old script writers and one new writer.

    #106019
    Tarka Dal
    Participant

    > so does the showrunner for his unfortunate false-start method to achieving greatness.

    It’s a two-sided coin then I guess. On the one hand you could say Whedon should have learned his lesson after Firefly, on the other you could argue that the network should learn that Whedon shows need time to bed in, but always come good.

    #106023
    Andrew
    Participant

    > you could say Whedon should have learned his lesson after Firefly

    After Firefly, Buffy AND Angel, really. (Angel being a show that didn’t get itself sorted until the Shanshu finale to season one – “Oh, we’re not an anthology show! We’re an epic demon soap opera!” – wasting a lot of time at the start being under-populated.)

    > on the other you could argue that the network should learn that Whedon shows need time to bed in, but always come good.

    I think two 13-episode seasons really is giving the guy time. But, to be wholly fair, they can’t start a show that way – sure, he might eventually come good, but what do they care about quality if nobody’s watching the damn thing? The Dollhouse numbers are pretty awful – and you know everyone hoped that, this time, he’d come right of the gate with a hot show. Because, unless you know your history, that’s what Buffy looked like it did.

    The ghastly bottom line is that Whedon sold the show as anthology and variety because it seemed like that would work. And Fox believed him. But he didn’t know what it really was yet – all pitch, all ideas, not enough prep. Plenty of writers won’t write a pilot until they’re paid to do so, which is fair enough, but if he’d scripted first and pitched later, the flaws might have come clear sooner. Once the pilot was written it was straight into production, and too late to spend much time going ‘hang on…doesn’t this leave a vacuum where our identifiable lead character should be?’

    #106031
    Tarka Dal
    Participant

    > After Firefly, Buffy AND Angel,

    On the flipside you would think the network would have learned what they were getting too then?

    Obviously I’ve not seen Dollhouse, I can’t get too involved, but if it turns out to be anywhere near Firefly I’m not gonna be a happy bunny.

    #106037
    Andrew
    Participant

    > On the flipside you would think the network would have learned what they were getting too then?

    See my reply to “on the other you could argue that the network should learn that Whedon shows need time to bed” above.

    I doubt Whedon pitched as ‘This’ll be like the others – I’ll get it wrong to start with’. But, also, I’m not certain commissioners always see this kind of textual-analysis stuff. The DVD sales, viewing figures, and having two out of three previous shows run to the magic 100 episodes tell a differing story. As does the showrunner in your office pitching that he’s got a GREAT show for ya that he KNOWS will work.

    I think they took a chance on the guy, hoping for a Buffy rather than a Firefly. As the only network that seems willing to, they deserve a nod for that. And they can’t take all the flack when it turns out that, nope, he’s still working the same old way.

    Cabin in the Woods had better make a shitload of money…

    > but if it turns out to be anywhere near Firefly I?m not gonna be a happy bunny.

    At its best its not as good as Firefly at its worst. Not in season one, anyway. Not dire TV, but it’s hard at times to synch it up with his other shows. For a start the dialogue’s so constantly fucking earnest. Remember when Whedon used humour to deepen his character? Yeah, not so much…

    #106044
    ChrisM
    Participant

    And then there was Adelle DeWhit (Olivia Williams) on a trampoline!*

    But no, overall, not as much humour as previous shows although it did increase as the two series continued.

    *I felt a bit irritated she said that self deprecating ‘that was very British wasn’t it?’ line though. They already did something similar with Giles in Buffy. Yeah, we talk like that Joss. Still at least he didn’t get an American to fake it. Oh wait, he did with one of man-doll Victor’s personae.

    #106045
    Tarka Dal
    Participant

    > At its best its not as good as Firefly at its worst. Not in season one, anyway. Not dire TV, but it?s hard at times to synch it up with his other shows. For a start the dialogue?s so constantly fucking earnest. Remember when Whedon used humour to deepen his character? Yeah, not so much?

    Fair play. The tiny snippet I allowed myself to watch of a random episode did seem to reflect this. It seems quite cold.

    #106054
    steven87gill
    Participant

    I liked the darker edge to the programme, but for me the end doesn’t quite sit right with me.
    I know it was done to give jack a tortured soul/making tough choices edge, but for me it goes too far. Maybe that was the point, i’m certainly not ruling him out becoming a bad guy in the future because of this, at least for a time.

    #106085
    Gwynnie
    Participant

    >I felt a bit irritated she said that self deprecating ?that was very British wasn?t it?? line though.

    Wasn’t that just before the memory loss drug/airborne virus hit her and made them all silly? Also… notice that there’s always one annoying “geeky” character who constantly makes sarcastic little jibes, well… Topher… Wash… Xander?

    #106087
    Ben Paddon
    Participant

    > I felt a bit irritated she said that self deprecating ?that was very British wasn?t it?? line though. They already did something similar with Giles in Buffy. Yeah, we talk like that Joss. Still at least he didn?t get an American to fake it. Oh wait, he did with one of man-doll Victor?s personae.

    You’re being a little unfair there, I feel.

    #106103
    ChrisM
    Participant

    >You?re being a little unfair there, I feel.

    Yeah you’re probably right. I’m not as bitter about it as that post’s tone might suggest, and it’s not that big a deal.

    I DO like much of Joss Whedon’s stuff. He does play on British stereotypes a lot (i.e. English people in his shows tend to be posh or cockney) but it’s usually quite amusing. Even if all the guys with British accents in Firefly/Serenity are bad guys. (Badger is a great character though. As is DeWhit. And Giles.)

    The two British potential slayers’ accents in the last series of Buffy made me wince though. I thought the cockney one was Australian until one of the other girls said “It’s a British thing.” (Yet another play on the Giles/DeWhit lines elsewhere.)

    >Wasn?t that just before the memory loss drug/airborne virus hit her and made them all silly?

    It was an amusing scene to be fair. (As I said the trampoline bit made me smile.)

    #106104
    Andrew
    Participant

    To be fair the guy was educated over here – Brit shows like The Avengers and The Prisoner feed into the style – and aside from what skewed perspective a private, overseas education brings, it’s not like the rest of his shows DON’T play off types.

    Buffy’s main starting cast was a valley girl, a loser, a nerd, a librarian, a school principal, a dangerous older boy, an evil vampire in a dark lair and a worried mom. When your show plays with well-known tropes, surely it’s expected that the English ones will conform to that? What’s Buffy when she begins other than ‘a type’ – the high-school cheerleader.

    The characters begin ARCHETYPAL – not stereotypical – and become more unusual and specific as they progress. The trope is a starting point. How is killing an innocent young man to prevent a god ending the world stereotypical behaviour for a British librarian?

    I don’t deny some bloody awful accents creeping in – especially Molly the potential slayer – but I blame a lot of that on Whedon being off doing two other shows and Noxon not having a great ear for the accent. And Firefly hardly had a long run in which to flesh out Badger (he’s not wholly ‘bad’, he’s just on the same dodgy path as Mal and when he recurred it was entirely possible he’d have been kept grey) or provide a slew of friendly characters with alternative accents to join an already over-stuffed cast of good guys.

    My only problem is that the “Ooh, I’m English, then!” joke done in Buffy and Dollhouse requires one to assume that everyone ‘defaults’ to American or realises they are ‘other’ – nobody in either show woke up memoryless and went “Hmm – trash, sidewalk, sneakers, ass…goddammit I’m American.” But since the gag is a) still pretty good, and b) available in that alternative form, and to use it would still fit the style of shows that do happily nibble at Americana as well, I’m giving it a pass.

    #106105
    ChrisM
    Participant

    Actually I agree with that. Particularly the analysis of Giles who appeared stereotypical to start with (emphasis on ‘appeared’, archetypal is a better word) but became much more. Wesley goes down a similar route in Angel. If anything he is even more extreme in the route, the public schoolboy and ending up a rather dark even vicious character, although he redeems himself. I suppose the same could be said for DeWhit in other ways. She’s appears the archetypal cold British posh bird at face value but then shows a good deal more complexity including a certain caring for the young people she prostitutes.

    I think my problem is more the way British people are portrayed in American shows as a whole. Whedon’s stuff is an example of this, albeit only at face value maybe. His characters aren’t just those archetypes but he does keep on coming back to these archetypes again and again. That’s rarely ALL these characters are, as you say, but it gets repetitive after a while.

    #106106
    Andrew
    Participant

    > I think my problem is more the way British people are portrayed in American shows as a whole.

    No question it’s often pretty awful. The stuffy gents and haughty parents, the jokes about bad teeth. Yawn. Even Aaron Sorkin struggles…but I do enjoy Lord John Marbury’s little turns.

    But, be honest, are we much better? Is Patterson Joseph’s turn in Jekyll, say, any more balanced? (And Jekyll, at least, can justify with similar black-comic use of types…though it does nothing to subvert it save for killing the guy.) In mainstream TV we’re not much better. In fact I’d be hard-pressed to name many American characters in Brit shows that have the depth of Giles, Wesley or Spike.

    > but he does keep on coming back to these archetypes again and again.

    He keeps coming back to ALL archetypes, but he doesn’t keep going back to the same British ones especially. DeWitt’s nothing like Giles, and Badger’s barely like Spike. Only the accents relate them.

    When your entire catalogue is founded on playing with, and subverting, tropes – the valley girl who ends up being the world’s saviour, the vampire who’s the true noble hero, the misanthrope captain who loves his crew – whatever nationality he plays with, it comes from that angle. It’s part of the mix.

    There’s a far more pronounced recurrence of the Xander/Wash/Topher type. There’s been two identical nerdy billionaires. No shortage of scheming governmental douches, psychotic bad guys on missions of twisted logic, or adorable women of deep emotional and earthy strength.

    #106120
    Ben Paddon
    Participant

    Has to be said, Wesley annoyed the Hell out of me in Buffy, but he really grew as a character in Angel. He’s probably my favourite Buffyverse character.

    #106133
    Tarka Dal
    Participant

    I think it’s probably a toss-up between Anya and Buff herself for me.

    #106248
    Gwynnie
    Participant

    So to speak… (again)

    #106557
    Andrew
    Participant

    Part one of the Dollhouse article now up. Parts two and three to follow very, very soon.

    http://www.noisetosignal.org/2009/11/put-away-the-dollhouse-part-one

    #106572
    Gwynnie
    Participant

    Well, you wrote it without watching any of season 2. The story is clearly about Caroline (or Echo), and despite many flaws, for me it was a thought-provoking look at memory, identity, consciousness and the soul. Maybe I’ve been studying too much Philosophy of Mind but it raised a lot of questions (which, admittedly it could never answer). There is definite character development – you follow Echo, as well as Sierra and Victor (and their oh-so-cute love story that transcends memory and identity) as you gradually learn more about them, why they are in the Dollhouse, and watch their supposedly erased memories start popping to the surface. Is it only interesting to psychology nerds?

    #106587
    Andrew
    Participant
    #106610
    Tarka Dal
    Participant

    I finally watched my first episode, a random one ‘Gray Hour’ not a Whedon show at it’s best, but pretty damn excellent tbh.

    #106611
    Tarka Dal
    Participant

    Oh would you look at that…

    http://whedonesque.com/

    #106620
    Andrew
    Participant

    Part three here:

    http://www.noisetosignal.org/2009/11/put-away-the-dollhouse-part-three

    The comments on and from Whedonesque have been really gratifying. Very little ‘If you don’t like it it’s because you’re not clever enough to understand it’ – which is nice, given the rabidness of the fanbase.

    It’s not that I hate the show, or that I don’t find it fascinating – part three of the article hopefully makes that clear – but it does suffer from huge dramatic flaws in its first season. And the four broadcast episodes of season two didn’t bring the audience back. They left because season one was a mess: no matter how improved the show got, by then it was clearly too late. A shame.

    #106621
    Dave
    Participant

    Will you do a part four when you’ve seen Season 2?

    #106622
    Andrew
    Participant

    I’ll probably wait for the DVD of season two, which means any article wouldn’t be especially timely. Dunno, we’ll see.

    #106623
    Dave
    Participant

    >I?ll probably wait for the DVD of season two, which means any article wouldn?t be especially timely. Dunno, we?ll see.

    So will I, an update could be Region 2 timely.

    #106628
    Seb Patrick
    Keymaster

    Very little ?If you don?t like it it?s because you?re not clever enough to understand it? – which is nice, given the rabidness of the fanbase.

    Judging by the comments, it seems even the die-hard Whedoners aren’t huge fans of it in general either, though…

    #106651
    Gwynnie
    Participant

    Well, Season 2 seems a bit better (based on 4 episodes) but it does plunge you into the story a nonspecified amount of time later, and it will probably take the entire series to complete the jigsaw puzzle. There are some storylines that I find very annoying though, particularly Adelle DeTwit’s decision making processes…

    #106652
    Andrew
    Participant

    > Judging by the comments, it seems even the die-hard Whedoners aren?t huge fans of it in general either, though?

    Fair point. Certainly some aren’t keen on the suggestion that Firefly was anything other than perfect from minute one…

    #106654
    JamesTC
    Participant

    >Certainly some aren?t keen on the suggestion that Firefly was anything other than perfect from minute one?

    I thought it was perfect from minute one, an episode or two later wern’t perfect but I loved ‘Serenity’.

    #106682
    Tarka Dal
    Participant

    > Fair point. Certainly some aren?t keen on the suggestion that Firefly was anything other than perfect from minute one?

    B-b-but!

    #106876

    Wait Wait WAIT!
    Now hang on a moment!
    Wait just one minute!

    George and Mildred isn’t cool?

    #106880
    Dave
    Participant

    >George and Mildred isn?t cool?

    Mildred is.

    #106882
    John Hoare
    Participant

    I am happy.

    #112976
    cliff
    Participant

    We all know the purpose of Torchwood is to tide us over while Doctor Who is on a break!

    #112982
    pfm
    Participant

    Nope, its purpose is to give Gwen a platform for serious girly ass-kicking. Also to bring redheads from Six Feet Under on to my screen once more…

    #112985
    Pete Part Three
    Participant

    I’m so glad Torchwood is shit again. Balance has been restored to the universe.

    #112988
    si
    Participant

    Miracle Day wasn’t shit! A little overlong, perhaps, and with the odd ‘oh…’ moment (‘people can’t die…we can blow them up!’ Great – except episode one made a point of showing a man blowing himself up AND SURVIVING…), but very entertaining, and a cracking finale.

    #112989
    ChrisM
    Participant

    Small spoilers ahead:

    Thinking through the whole Blessing, anthropomorphic field thing, the effect on Jack made little sense.

    I thought the series was quite good overall. I hope future series return to a more British cast/setting but I think it will likely become even more American, if the comments concerning RTD leaving turn out to be right. I’ll probably continue watching though.

    #112999
    Dave
    Participant

    I thought it was great. I wish I enjoyed contemporary Doctor Who as much.

    #113010
    pfm
    Participant

    > if the comments concerning RTD leaving turn out to be right. I’ll probably continue watching though.

    I don’t think Torchwood could, or should, exist without him from this point on. If this means there’s a long break between seasons then so what? We should see the Scottish branch of Torchwood.

    #113012
    ChrisM
    Participant

    >I don’t think Torchwood could, or should, exist without him from this point on

    I agree. Well not that it couldn’t but shouldn’t, certainly. It’s changed too much as it is… although it’s still entertaining.

    My comment wasn’t meant to come across that my continued watching was conditional on his leaving by the way!

    #113017
    si
    Participant

    If RTD did leave, I reckon Jane Espenson could do a good job. However, I reckon RTD would do one more season – maybe even a film, if the opportunity arose – then either move on, or wrap the whole thing up.

    #113022
    Jonathan Capps
    Keymaster

    EXTERMINATE TORCHWOOD.

    #113042
    cliff
    Participant

    I use to actually fancy Gwen….??? Now all I see is that gap between her teeth. She is the only female ass kicking heroine with a husband and baby she has to report to.

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