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Whedonesque - a community weblog about Joss Whedon
"An ant has no quarrel with a boot."
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February 14 2007

Joss one of the two best TV directors alive according to E!'s Kristin Veitch.

I couldn't agree more. JJ and Joss FTW!

Also, there's another Whedon-related tidbit on page 4 (the comparison with Kim Possible and her love interest).

I dunno, only one of the two best alive ? Damned with faint praise much ?

I mean he's got to be better than all the dead guys too, right ? They can't even stand up properly, let alone hold a camera.
Well, she's half right.
I mean he's got to be better than all the dead guys too, right ? They can't even stand up properly, let alone hold a camera.

I think he's got it over the undead, too.

Am I the only one who thinks JJ Abrams is overrated? I mean, he's decent, but one of the two best? :/
How many tv directors outside the Whedonverse can people actually name (without checking IMDB etc)? I'm curious to know.
Simon, I would be at a loss.
At last, Kristin is pretty much accurate! ;-)
Thomas Schlamme
Greg Beeman
David Nutter
JJ Abrams
Robert Duncan McNeil
Martin Wood
Peter DeLuise

(remembered because, in order: watched Studio 60 last night, read his 'Heroes' blog, directs a lot of pilots including that one Adam Baldwin's in, just famous, used to be Tom Paris on 'Voyager' so I notice his name, Stargate director i've seen on making of shows, ditto and he does a lot of cameos and he used to be that guy on 'Seaquest, DSV' so I recognise his face and name)

Err ...

Joe Sweden
John Weedon
Jay Wheedon

Plus I guess there's one offs where cast have directed like Sean Astin, Amanda Tapping, Michael Shanks. But yeah, not many. Also, knowing what makes a good director ? Beyond me. I guess I know it when I see it but even then I could mix up script issues with directing issues (and vice versa) and not necessarily know which was which.

So i'm entirely unqualified to judge. Joss is still one of the two best living (or dead or undead) TV directors though ;-).
Jonathan Frakes
David Nutter
Winrich Kolby
Jack Bender
Carlton Cuse
Kevin Williamson
Frank Darabont (on occasion)
Ken Olin
Michael Rhymer
Rob Thomas
I'd have to agree with Saje in that defining what makes a good director is difficult. When looking at the final product camera angles are about the only thing I can spot as being a direct decision of the director's. But the editing makes such a huge difference in telling the story and apparently in TV the director is pretty much gone at that point and his/her notes may or may not be followed. (And then there are the reshoots for various reasons such as film quality or rewrites).

What I'd be curious to know is what Joss thinks is good TV directing.
I could probably name most of the directors on the office, american and british. Of course, the british one is just ricky and stephen.

I'd have to disagree with kristin here, I love Tommy Schlamme, both because of the stuff he does and the fact that his name rhymes when you call him Tommy.
I like David Nutter a lot also...directed a wide range of TV shows, listed on "Sarah Conner Chronicles" I notice, and he did an excellent job on the pilot of the vastly underrated (imo) Dark Angel.
Why do people make such a big deal about directors? Don't they just stand around and yell "cut"?
And I think, more importantly, Joss is one of the greatest tv writers alive.
Directors are less important in TV. They are charged with delivering the vision of the show runner (usually the main writer) and to be seemless. In this sense, it is utterly different to film whereby the writer serves the vision of the director.

That is why, when talking about the greatest TV directors, we invariably end up citing writer/directors because they are able to do something unique with their own format (Abrams and Whedon are great examples of this, see also Ryan Murphy and Ricky Gervaise). Those that direct only, are judged less on creativity and more on reliability. On how well they deliver the vision of the show they are working on. In this sense, Winrich Kolbe (Various Star Treks, 24) David Nutter (Smallville, Roswell, Band of Brothers) and Laura Linney (ER, West Wing) are industry standards. You know they will make a good show, on time, and true to the tone and style of the show runner.
Writers draw the blueprints. Directors build the buildings, making changes and adding flourishes where they want, hopefully not compromising the structural integrity too much.

TV has a much stricter homeowners association.
Hah, like that a lot. Nice analogy.

(does that make actors bricks ? ;)
No ones mentioned Larry Charles, Judd Apatow, or McG (Im not into McG myself but I can name him).

Edit: And of course Ricky Gervais/Steven Merchant. The Office directed wrong could have been terrible. And Edgar Wright started with TV.

[ edited by Jona on 2007-02-14 18:44 ]
Love me some Edgar Wright :) Spaced is one of the best tv shows of all time. Full stop. Judd Apatow is also super fun.
I think Joss did some of TV's greatest directing in his later episodes. Especially Hush, Restless, The Body and Once More with Feeling stand out because of the brilliant directing.

I also think non writer David Solomon has done a brilliant job on both Buffy and Firefly. I think Out of Gas and Selfless are the best best directed episodes of Firefly and Buffy by any other director than Joss.
Directors are less important in TV. They are charged with delivering the vision of the show runner (usually the main writer) and to be seemless. In this sense, it is utterly different to film whereby the writer serves the vision of the director.

That is why, when talking about the greatest TV directors, we invariably end up citing writer/directors because they are able to do something unique with their own format (Abrams and Whedon are great examples of this, see also Ryan Murphy and Ricky Gervaise). Those that direct only, are judged less on creativity and more on reliability. On how well they deliver the vision of the show they are working on. In this sense, Winrich Kolbe (Various Star Treks, 24) David Nutter (Smallville, Roswell, Band of Brothers) and Laura Linney (ER, West Wing) are industry standards. You know they will make a good show, on time, and true to the tone and style of the show runner.


I'm confused, she doesn't seem to have any directing credits at all?
I just watched some Eerie Indiana and a couple of episodes were directed by the amazing Joe Dante.
David E. Kelly and Aron Sorkin ... although I don't actually know if they did any directing beyond all the work they had to do writing and producing.
Without checking anywhere else, I admit that I mostly know actor-directors. Still, they are often damn good ones.

Ricky Gervais & Stephen Merchant
Alan Alda, Mike Farrell, etc. (M*A*S*H actor-directors)
Patrick McGooan
Jonathan Frakes
LeVar Burton
(other Trek actors-cum-directors--these are just the best two)

As far as non-actors,
Jay Sandrich (is he still alive? MTM director)
Norman Lear (again, still alive?)
Mike Vejar (Trek)
David Carson (Trek)
Winrich Kolbe (technically directed one episode of Angel, but I know him primarily as a Trek director)
John Kretchmer (again, he directed a few episodes of Buffy, but I know him primarily from VM)
Rob Thomas (VM)

Did Alan Ball, David E. Kelly, etc. direct as well as write?

Oh and obviously there are the directors most known for film who have done television. DAVID LYNCH, for crying out loud; also Quentin directed that episode of CSI, and Spielberg got his start on TV episodes I think--also, he produces TV miniseries, does he direct them as well? Going back to dead guys, Hitchcock directed episodes of his show.

And so on :)

I'm confused, she doesn't seem to have any directing credits at all?


That should read Laura Innes.

And frankly saying that JJ Abrams is the other great TV director is ridiculous. He directed one Felicity, the pilot of Lost and three episodes of Alias.

Oh, and now an episode of The Office.

Granted, the pilot of Lost is wonderfully directed but as this thread proves - there's a lot of really strong TV directors out there. And I'm a bit surprised no one has yet mentioned Michael Rymer - who has given Battlestar Galactica its signature look.

FWIW, David E Kelley and Aaron Sorkin haven't done any directing, but Alan Ball directed at least one episode of each season of Six Feet Under.
Crossoverman - not on this thread, but I mentioned Michael Rymer on the thread about who should direct the next Trek flick.
I would also add Ed Zwick to the list of those with better TV director cred than JJ. Perhaps she's only counting those directors who have directed an episode of The Office within the last 6 months?
Perhaps she's only counting those directors who have directed an episode of The Office within the last 6 months?

She'd have missed Harold Ramis then, too.

I mentioned Michael Rymer on the thread about who should direct the next Trek flick.

Oh, good to see!

Now if only we could vote on who would write the next Trek flick. ie. someone other than JJ.
Did Alan Ball, David E. Kelly, etc. direct as well as write?


Alan Ball directed the last episode of Six Feet Under, maybe my favorite finale ever.
crossoverman - I hear ya... The thought of JJ writing Trek makes me queasy.

The Dark Shape - Alan Ball is awesome and that was a spectacular finale to a show that dug deeper into the human condition than just about any show on tv. It was brilliant and messy and thought provoking.
STORYTELLER - My mistake, as Crossoverman said, I meant to type Laura Innes. Doh!

[ edited by Andy Dufresne on 2007-02-15 10:12 ]
zeitgeist, as someone posted to my journal, here's hoping that Abrams doesn't subject Kirk and Spock to "Alias-style missions, uncovering Lost-style mysteries, or going through Felicity-style teen angst. Though, if I were a betting man, I'd say at least one is likely to happen."

M:I:III was recycled plots from Alias after all...
Michael Rhymer
Rob Thomas

Andy Dufresne | February 14, 16:53 CET

(my emphasis) Since he doesn't seem to want to point it out himself. What, it's not enough the guy crawled through a river of shit and came out clean the other side ? ;-)

Re: Trek writer, I could definitely live with Ron Moore (who obviously has the track record and was instrumental in DS9 being amongst the best of modern Trek IMO). Or someone like David Koepp who's got the action, character and genre chops (he adapted and directed the excellent - and underrated - 'Stir of Echoes' and has a co-writer credit on 'Jurassic Park'). If they're rebooting in the 'Batman Begins'/'Casino Royale' naturalistic style then someone like Tony 'all the Bourne films' Gilroy could be interesting (despite some of his slightly dodgy credits).
I'm a little unqualified to make comment to the main thread topic because for the most part I take very little notice of the people behind the camera. My television watching time is extremely limited, especially these days, so I'm pretty much the "watch and enjoy the final product" kinda guy rather than somebody who follows directors, writers, producers and so on.

Joss and Mutant Enemy has always been the big exception for me. I got pulled into the behind the scenes stuff during the whole Save Angel campaign but even before then I had a much greater awareness of the Buffy and Angel creative people than was usual for me. These days (in no small part because of the fact I post around here) I still like to follow the work of the old ME cast and crew whereas I would have no idea what any of the writers or directors of the X-Files, for example, were doing. Hell, I barely know what the actors are doing anymore.

The only series where I do follow the behind the scenes stuff in the same way as I do for Whedon shows would be Lost. There seems to be a similar sort of creator/fan connection in play, possibly due to the previous influence of David Fury and The Fuselage. That being the case, for me anyway, I'd have to say that Joss and JJ are certainly the best two TV directors alive... in my experience, at least.

Kinda faint praise, considering all I just said. :D

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