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July 27 2006

"End Titles" -- Jane Espenson blogs about titling TV series episodes, including several Buffy episodes. In her ongoing online screenwriting seminar, former Mutant Enemy writer Jane Espenson talks about nailing the perfect title.

Beware the dangerous, dangerous Hammock.

Actually, she disses one of her own Buffy titles -- "Triangles" -- but at the time it aired, I thought it was spot on. I still do.

I don't mind the episode name "Triangle", I found the connection obvious. What else was it going to be called "Big Troll"? "Break Ups and Beat Downs?" "The One Where The Bronze Gets Destroyed?" "My Super Ex-Troll?"
Yeah, and sometimes triangles involving a non-romantic partner are the worst, so the "Triangle" seemed obvious to me.

That episode's got the (now sorta trademark) Joss "pick-one-of-your-important-peeps-and-I'll-kill-the-other-one" offer.
Yeah I always thought "Triangle" was obvious, which is partially why I did not like it. I always kind of wondered what Jane was thinking--now I know. I like the technique she describes, except I think the only reason it failed here is because of the word itself. Gingerbread is a cool word, triangle is not. It is disgusting and reminds me of math. I do not wish to be reminded of math when watching BtVS, please. Except for "Supersymmetry" for some reason. Probably proof that the only reason "Triangle" didn't work was the lameness of the word. Plus Olaf was amazing. Work him into the title, dagnabbit. "Olaf Your Love"?

And I'm still kind of peeved Xander did not have to make the choice. Glad they made up for it in Firefly.
It is disgusting and reminds me of math.


Heh. Although I agree that Triangle was a tad too obvious, this has to be the silliest reason I've ever heard for disliking a episode title. Which is great. I want this on a t-shirt.

(although, to be fair, I don't hate math. As long as it's applied to physics. Which is cool. I don't care what anyone says ;-))
Jane is so much fun. I use that trick when I title my stories.

Is there an RSS feed for Jane's blog? I see an XML feed, but I have no idea what that is or how it works.
I agree that the reason the title does not work is because of the word "Triangle" rather than the obviousness of its reference. But IMO it is just too solid a word for a chaotic story of magic, messy relationships and a troll. Triangle would be a good title for a mystery or a con job or something with a puzzle.

Out of all the words in the English language, I cannot say I would choose "triangle" to describe as "disgusting". Makes me think of math?...yeah...and...other things. Between Narky's apparent aversion to math terminology and Saje's irrational fear of orange and prime numbers under 19, I think maybe Whedonesque could do with having a therapist join us. We could start a thread on Whedonesque .org or Flicker perhaps. Now that two of our number have been brave enough to admit these things openly, I have started to tremble at what fears the rest of us are probably hiding. The mind boggles at the possibilities.
"What else was it going to be called, "My Super Ex-Troll?"

*giggle* awesome
Everything Jane writes makes me glad... I just want to sit in the corner of her office for a few days and watch her combine microwave and grilling technology.

As far as Triangle is concerned, I would have named the episode

"Insane Troll Logic"

I would love to see that on my TV Guide.
newcj - beetroot *shudders*
To the left there's a new box called "Jane Recommends". There's a Jeopardy! book in there, which apparently Joss reviewed (favorably). Just in case anyone was wondering about... Joss and... Jeopardy!.

Segue into: is there a comprehensive list of Joss recommended books? I remember hearing a review of a commentary he did that said it was lacking in his usual book recommendations. And I thought, hey, I wish I knew Joss was running around recommending books; I want to read them. Although the only other Joss recommended book I know of is The Killer Angels (inspiration for Firefly, yes?), and I didn't like that book at all.
The funny part is how the writer seems to invest a good amount of time into finding a good title and what happens with it in other countries. For example, guess the German title of Gingerbread? Did they say "hm, let's assume for just a second that the writer actually thought about it when picking the title" and went with a simple "Pfefferkuchen"? Of course not, because they thought "well, it's about Hansel and Gretel" and so they called it (surprise) "Hansel und Gretel".

The part about not giving away a surprise or too much info? Well, Shindig turned into (translated back) "The Duel", "Trash" became "Antiquity theft" and so on. Whenever the original title was vague or ambiguous, the German title will be in your face and half of the time give away the ending or plot twist.

So: stop worrying about the title too much, somebody will screw it up for the rest of the world anyway ,-)
Is there an RSS feed for Jane's blog?

ElectricSpaceGirl:

Long answer: The URI for the RSS feed is http://www.janeespenson.com/xml/syndicated.xml , or you can friend janeespenson on Livejournal (that's an account for the feed.)

Short answer: The XML button is the button for the feed.
It is disgusting and reminds me of math. I do not wish to be reminded of math when watching BtVS, please.

One of my favourite BtVS moments, from 5x19, "Tough Love":

Willow: So we made a triangle with our bodies, and that's when I called Xander obtuse, and he got really grumpy (smiling; Dawn giggles) and then Dawn said we were "acute" triangle, and, well, hilarity ensued.
ormaybemidgets: "Segue into: is there a comprehensive list of Joss recommended books? I remember hearing a review of a commentary he did that said it was lacking in his usual book recommendations. And I thought, hey, I wish I knew Joss was running around recommending books; I want to read them."



This is from an online interview Joss did in September, 2005 in which he took questions from different Whedon-related fan sites -- this was a question from www.buffy.nu:

"If you knew you were going to spend the next 10 years on a desert island and could only take 5 books with you, which books would you take? (excluding 'How to Survive on a Desert Island' and 'Raft Building for Fun and Profit' ;-)

(JOSS) :Assuming they're books I've already read:
1) A Little Princess
2) Dombey and Son
3) Dune
4) Hitchcock by Truffaut
5) Pride and Prejudice"

Of course, I enjoyed that 4/5 of these are in my Top 20-(ish.) Okay, Top 30... Well, Top 40, absolutely. But 3 of the 5 authors are in my Top Ten Authors.

I know that he's mentioned the graphic novel The Watchmen (which I think is a seminal book) as an important influence. Um... er... I know I've seen other stuff, here and there -- I'll post it if I think of it. I'd love to see anything else folks have noted. Maybe I'll start that comprehensive list.

QUOTE SOURCE: (I've seen this interview online elsewhere, and Caroline has posted it at whedonesque.org.)

[ edited by QuoterGal on 2006-07-27 09:37 ]
newcj: "Between Narky's apparent aversion to math terminology and Saje's irrational fear of orange and prime numbers under 19, I think maybe Whedonesque could do with having a therapist join us. We could start a thread on Whedonesque .org or Flicker perhaps. Now that two of our number have been brave enough to admit these things openly, I have started to tremble at what fears the rest of us are probably hiding. The mind boggles at the possibilities."


catalyst2: " beetroot *shudders* "


Wet thread or fringe. I'm serious. Go figger.

And I adore triangles -- the next tattoo as planned features one prominently.

[ edited by QuoterGal on 2006-07-27 09:47 ]
Re: Desert Island Books, on the long running radio programme 'Desert Island Discs' you can also choose one book but it's a given that you already have The Bible (or appropriate holy book for you) and the complete works of Shakespeare on the island. I'm assuming Joss had that in mind otherwise the Shakespeare omission seems fairly glaring (or maybe he just didn't think of it, or maybe he has them all memorised ;).

I'm with GVH here in that I don't hate maths (except for the aforementioned prime numbers under 19 *gnnaaagghh* - they're just so ... under nineteeny *shudders*) but I love the (appropriately) strangely literal

It is disgusting and reminds me of math.

and am now trying to think of ways to work it into casual conversation.

'Triangle' reminds me of music lessons at school since it was the only 'instrument' the teacher would trust me with after the whole glockenspiel thing (how was I to know the metal bits would fall off when I turned the damn thing upside down ?).

I am, however, largely neutral on the subject of beetroot.
It is disgusting and reminds me of math


Count yourself lucky. Brits with very long memories will be forever scarred by this show.
Trienco - They even ended up using the same titles for both episodes of Buffy and Angel: "Die Qual der Wahl" for "Homecoming" and "Birthday" and "Das Ende der Zeit" for "Happy Anniversary" and "Chosen". Oh and "Liebe und andere Schwierigkeiten" for both "Lover's Walk" and "Waiting in the Wings". Sigh. It's as if they had a computer pick random titles from a database.
The series ran for three seasons before being cancelled, but is still fondly remembered for its sheer awfulness.


In 1992, the BBC screened TV Hell, an evening of programming devoted to the worst television had to offer, and the first episode of Triangle was broadcast as part of the line-up.


Heehee. That sounds like something I'd like to watch, once :-)
The Brits have "TV Hell" "devoted to the worst television had to offer". We have a whole network on that premise - it's called FOX. ;-)
In order to get my friends to pay attention while I tried to get them hooked on Buffy (it worked), they loved to pick out at least two reasons why an episode was titled so. It worked for Buffy most of the time, but sometimes they found four in Angel titles. NERDS!!!
Saje - *ominous threatening music in the background* You cannot be neutral on the topic of betteroot - you either run away from it in shrieking terror or you are part of the problem!



;-)
Ok. I'll bite (though depending on the answer I may regret using that particular expression.) What is betteroot?
Ooh, British Love Boat. As if the American Love Boat wasn't bad enough.
"What else was it going to be called, "My Super Ex-Troll?"

*giggle* awesome


Thanks noonien

And I also love the quote "Its disgusting and reminds me of math". I will use it next time im asked to count something at work.
What is betteroot?

What indeed ? Some scholars claim it's from the French 'bette-roote' or 'root of the beast' which was an ancient cure for warts, flatulence and werewolf infestation. Others wonder if perhaps it was the original food of the Gods or possibly the elite first wave of an invading alien force.

Still others think it's just a typo of 'beetroot' ;).

(actually, that said, is it called beetroot in the US ? It's a sort of burgundy coloured root vegetable, like a very sweet turnip, which is probably most commonly eaten pickled - in the UK at least)

And, catalyst2, though I admire your quest for committment either way and am somewhat cowed by the threatening music, I am steadfastly neutral about them. Neither do I run in terror from their marauding ranks nor shamelessly promote them as a good source of vitamins and hilarious tongue discolouration. I remain, in short, Switzerland re: beetroot.
Thanks, QuoterGal! I feel sad to say that I've only read one, and heard of two, of the books on that list.
(actually, that said, is it called beetroot in the US? . . .)
In the U.S. we call them beets. Nasty things, no matter their color (orange, red, yellow) or size. Thank goodness they're no longer trendy and I don't have to face some permutation of beets on my plate when I order in a restaurant.
Yes, in the US they are just beets, and though I am with Saje, aka Switzerland, on them in a plain form whether canned or cooked fresh, I have to say that I like them a lot when properly pickled...at home...in my own kitchen...by either my mother or me. So I think that means Saje and I are kind of in mild disagreement on the question of beets/betteroot. All I can say is I'm glad I found out before I went away and made the terrible mistake of assigning my proxy opinion to him for two full weeks. May I say that I am deeply disappointed?

Back to Jane. I clicked on some button on Jane's site hoping to get something to feed directly to me, because I'm lazy and always forget to go to places I really like. I just saw a lot of gobbaltygook on the screen, so I closed it quickly and went away. Is that because I have a MAC or was there something I was supposed to do with that code...ah I mean gobbaltygook? (...or however it is spelled.)
Goobliegook like this?

She's got a parse error in her feed btw.
My favourite "Episode Title That Never Was" is when Doug Petrie, I believe, said they were thinking of naming the Faith/Buffy switch episode "Faith/Off".

I would have loved that but I accept it gives the game away.
newcj: “I just saw a lot of gobbaltygook on the screen, so I closed it quickly and went away. Is that because I have a MAC or was there something I was supposed to do with that code...ah I mean gobbaltygook? (...or however it is spelled.)”


newcj, It really isn’t because you’re on a mac, ‘cause I am too, and this is what I see when I click the feed – only, of course, bigger than this screenshot. But can’t say I know why it is you’re seeing nonsense –- can you try using a new browser?

BTW, this is Joss’s review of the Bob Harris book Jane recommends:
''Prisoner of Trebekistan is so effortlessly funny and informative, the fact that it’s also tender, human, and very wise kind of sneaks up on you. . . . Amidst the nerve-wracking Jeopardy! showdowns and hilarious study rituals, Bob Harris has found the difference between facts and knowledge, between knowledge and wisdom, proving conclusively that the answer to the meaning of life may very well take the form of a question. A must for anyone who loves Jeopardy!, or has ever seen it, or is breathing. '' —Joss Whedon, creator, Buffy the Vampire Slayer

(edited to make sense...)

[ edited by QuoterGal on 2006-07-27 19:57 ]
Trienco & Shukriyya, stop reminding me of the german episode titles. *puts hand over the ears and starts singing loudly* I think the worst was Smile time -Angriff der Mörderpuppen ( which translates to Attack of the killer dolls, for those who dont speak german) Arghhh, I hate it when so much is lost in translation.
And as for a title computer? Nope, I think that would get better titles.
newcj, well, i'm relieved in a way. Representing a point of view not pathologically averse to orange/low primes would've been a constant strain and now that I know you're staunchly pro-beetroot, well, dissonance much ? I'd've been a gibbering wreck after two weeks.

But I guess as long as we still agree that fascism is a worthwhile, viable and preferable alternative to an elected government ruling with a full and free democratic mandate then all's well.

...

What ?
I can never make things quote, so pardon the randomness. Yes, we Americans, just call them beets, because we run screaming from the tops as though they were math. Hasn't anyone read Tom Robbins' Jitterbug Perfume? Unless of course, betterroot is some hybrid between beets and bitterroot or an improvement on that...

Seems there was something else about that episode besides the obvious triangle that made the title fit, would Hammer Time have been better? I didn't know that episodes of shows had titles until I became a fan of BTVS, et al. I'd always referred to episodes of shows as "the one where..." so I find the Friends episode titles a very long running joke. Of course in my househole we often refer to movies by our favorite lines, so "Nothing to Lose" will forever be the "man you must run fast" movie. And I was doing so well at tying in all the other off topicyness before I wandered down that road.

Damn me and my slow typing, now I have to include totalitarian governments in the mix? No wonder we all need a therapist.

[ edited by Sassafras on 2006-07-27 21:11 ]
IMHO, there is nothing irrational in Saje's fear of orange. Although, for me, there is less of a fear and more of a visceral dislike ("averse" is another good word choice here--thank you, Saje). Orange is harsh, glaring or mushy--depending on the shade/tint-- and almost always tacky--not to mention the word feels icky in my mouth. Orange should only exist on pumpkins or actual oranges. YMMV. And, why yes, I have been in therapy--but not about the color orange!
betteroot?, BETTEROOT? - D'oh! Guess my typo kind of derailed the point of my post! Any way, I have nothing against "betteroot", whatever the hell it is - and no, it is not some strange indigenous Aussie flora or fauna (unlike the infamous drop bear!)

MacGuffin - you have raised my horror to new heights: there are different colours of beetroot? Oh the horror, the horror!
Catalyst2, yes, they come in many different colors (US spelling). The worst offenders are the baby or mini sized ones, lurking in salads, fooling the unwary diner into thinking they may be an heirloom tomato, but no -- it's a beet. Be afraid. Be very afraid.
"Goobliegook like this?

She's got a parse error in her feed btw.
Simon | July 27, 19:32 CET"


I am embarrassed to admit, I do not remember. Now I am getting the error message, so that is not really helpful either.

Saje, I guess it is best this way. I did not want to add undue pressure to your life. Anyway, its best to know these things before getting in too deeply. Don't get me wrong, that does not mean we have to stop agreeing altogether of course. I think we just have to take it slowly and not jump to any hasty conclusions about each other. In the interest of total disclosure, although I can work with the fascism thing, I have always liked burnt orange.
MacGuffin - baby beetroots that lurk? That's like being stalked by the embodiment of my very worst nightmare!
I would love to give writing a shot and do it learning from the feet of Jane Espenson. She wrote so many great episodes of Buffy but I'm not up on all the trivia like some of you are. Did she also create the titles to all of the following in the list that I found, excluding what was already in the article (And Earshot is my favorite)?:

BAND CANDY (Giles and Joyce revert to unruly teens),

EARSHOT (Buffy develops telepathy),

HARSH LIGHT OF DAY (Anya gets seriously serious about Xander),

PANGS (Xander gets the funny syphilis),

A NEW MAN (Giles becomes a demon),

SUPERSTAR (Jonathan turns superhero),

THE REPLACEMENT (Xander gets Xeroxed),

TRIANGLE (Anya’s troll-god ex is summoned),

CHECKPOINT (the Watchers Council invades Sunnydale),

I WAS MADE TO LOVE YOU (the slayer faces the Aprilbot),

INTERVENTION (Spike gets his Buffybot),

AFTER LIFE (we learn Buffy was yanked from Heaven),

FLOODED (Buffy stresses over plumbing),

LIFE SERIAL (the slayer defeats a persistent mummy hand),

SAME TIME, SAME PLACE (Dawn becomes a poseable action figure),

CONVERSATIONS WITH DEAD PEOPLE (The First is mean!),

FIRST DATE (Giles terrifies the Chinese potential with homemade flashcards), and

END OF DAYS (Angel clocks Caleb).
I'm late to the party, as usual, and dang, I set my watch ahead just to avoid that! I obviously missed something vital while I was on holidays, as I was unaware Saje was orangeaphobic. (Good thing we don't use webcam technology, as I often wear orange, and would hate to scare him away from making his usual pithy comments!)

Beets? One of my favourite (Can sp) vegetables - cooked, pickled, (I have an excellent beet salad recipe) and I grow them myself. Beet tops, however, in spite of being such a good source of iron and vitamins, I run from.

And back on topic, I really enjoy Jane's blog and her many insights into writing. I think 'Triangle' was an apt title for that episode and have to admit that I'm with Saje on this one, that I'm more likely to think of the musical instrument than a geometric shape. A glockenspiel, huh? Always wanted to try one.

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