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Whedonesque - a community weblog about Joss Whedon
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November 04 2007

What's in Your DVD Player, Joss Whedon? This is one of those interviews that Joss did for the release of the Angel Collector's Set. Topics of interest include musicals, DVD commentary tracks and featurettes, the Angel and Spike puppets and those Serenity sequel rumours.

Pity about the reality of the Serenity 2 situation. Not too surprised because me and reality have never really seen eye to eye on life. It's all serious and deals with facts and stuff. Doesn't get on well with my mindless optimism and total unwillingness to accept anything that doesn't fit my view of the world. ;)

Hopefully the fact that Joss and Fox are back in regular business together now will push them into allowing the Ripper project to go ahead. Or is that the mindless optimism starting up again?
Joss loves Newsies and Cannibal: The Musical?? Just when I thought I couldn't love the man more, news like this comes out. That drunken commentary track on Cannibal is almost as entertaining as the movie itself.
I'm so glad he mentioned Cannibal. I hoped he would. (If you're a Buffy fan, you may recall the use of "Shpadoinkle" by Xander in... The Gift, I think. I'm afraid I might be wrong!) Cannibal = Best Commentary Track ever, followed closely by Joss & Nathan on SerenityTheEpisode. Or all of the Kevin Smith movies. Not sure which. (Sorry, folks. Kevin Smith gives good commentary.)
The best DVD commentary I've ever heard (and I owe discovering this one to a friend) -- "Dead Man's Shoes". It's a British revenge movie and it's clearly an extremely personal project. The commentary consists of the actors and the writer/director having a drink, musing and - mid way through - getting a curry. It's a highly entertaining look at a project about a killing, which is dedicated to somebody who died.

Serenity sequel - somebody told me Alan Tudyk is financing it himself. (That's a stolen joke, please don't take it seriously).

Musical - Meet Me In St. Louis was the last I saw, and it had a big effect on me. Parents, please don't move your kids around all the time.

Kiba - You are correct, but I'm not giving you a badge today.

[ edited by gossi on 2007-11-04 15:25 ]
My favorite commentary of all time is Joss' for 'Objects in Space', followed by Joss' for 'The Body', followed by Joss' for 'Restless'.

But I do seriously love the joy of the different POVs you get when you have separate writer and director commentaries, as you do for 'Gosford Park' and 'Sense and Sensibility'.

I also have to agree w/Joss (surprise surprise) about the perfection of 'Singin' in the Rain', although I'll always love 'West Side Story', and 'Flower Drum Song'. Basically I just really adore musicals!
The sky is blue and all the leaves are green. The sun's as warm as a baked potato. I think I know precisely what I mean, when I say it's a shpadoinkle day!
You know, I just realized that the commentary for Becoming, Pt. 2. is pretty awesome as well. Or Becoming, Pt. 1. This is so embarrassing. The one where Joss refers to the rocket launcher as his "big man toy."

And I know I'm in the minority on this, but I ADORE the commentary for Shindig. I love love love hearing Shawna Trpcic talk about her work. Also, Jane and Morena.
Joss Whedon said:
Now that I realize that, she's fired. I'm not bringing her back.

Oh, Joss!
The Shindig commentary is great because it provides variety in the Firefly DVD set, I think. It's not often you hear somebody talking about costume design, but it's pretty important to a show.
Calamity Jane!


Come on, Howard Keel and Doris Day! Whips! Leather! Drag!

Anywho, I'm gonna agree w/ Kiba re: Kevin Smith commentaries. But I've also not run across a bad Joss one--he hits the perfect blend of set stories and technical instruction.
Yeah, the thing I like about JW commentaries is that he's honest. He points out where they messed up, which is actually pretty rare I find. The first time I heard Joss say anything -- I didn't read interviews or even know who he was in relation to the show -- was during the commentary to Welcome To The Hellmouth. I remember him pointing out how he didn't understand the reality of TV - going on about the thing with Xander and his skateboard. That was the moment something in my brain went 'Okay, who is this Joss dude? He's smart, but a doofus at the same time. Like me'.
Some of my favorite commentaries are on John Waters' movies. Always interesting.

And Joss? If you're really serious about the Seattle move ;-) come on up. We have a nice low key Hollywood North contingent of folks here. Todays weather - mostly cloudy, chance of rain, clearing this pm, highs in the lower to mid 50's. It's a good day!
The set of "Serenity" exists because the set of "Firefly" was like that. I will do many things that I will enjoy greatly. I do not think I will ever be on a set that feels the way that one did, and I will also never get over the fact that I am not on it right now.

Does anyone else think it's kind of a pity but sorta cool that where Mal was "stuck" in the mindspace of Serenity Valley, Joss and to a lesser extent the actors seem "stuck" on the set of 'Serenity' ? Art imitating that thing it imitates.

Also interesting how he considers his kids mental development as it relates to visual style. Never thought about it but it has to be the case that if you grow up on them quick cuts affect the way you think about things, probably how much patience you have for longer takes or more measured storytelling and maybe life in general.

(and yep, I like Joss' commentaries a lot, OiS and 'Serenity' being two of my faves - i've been saving the Buffy ones, probably about time I started dipping in)
That was an excellent interview, with lots of little tidbits I hadn't heard before. Poor Amy, I wonder if this is going to affect her play dates with Joss?

Er, well, I mean her kids' play dates with Joss's kids, of course. ;)
Gosh, and I thought I was the only one that likes Newsies. Thanks, Joss!
I loooove the Newsies :) That put a smile on my face, boss.
Never thought about it but it has to be the case that if you grow up on them quick cuts affect the way you think about things, probably how much patience you have for longer takes or more measured storytelling and maybe life in general.

This is, I'd guess, quite true. I hope I have students whose parents' attitude is like Joss's. Kids used to quick cuts don't seem to process information that takes a while very well.
Television effects the cognitive development of the brain. Herbert Krugman did some research which proved that it numbs the left brain and leaves the right brain to perform all cognitive duties. The left hemisphere is the critical region for organizing, analyzing, and judging incoming data. The right brain is thought to deal with incoming data uncritically, and it does not decode or divide information into its component parts. There's another study by Jacob Jocoby which says that, unsurprisingly, 90% of people misunderstood what they watched on television minutes before. Due to the cross over of brain activity, it also causes the brain to release endorphins (beta-endorphins and enkephalins), which are defined as 'habit causing'. Or, in other words, addictive.

[ edited by gossi on 2007-11-04 21:14 ]
So that's why those beardy Open University guys never held my interest, using the wrong side of me brain, wasn't I ;).

That's some interesting stuff gossi, may have to dig into that a bit more. It tallys with experience I reckon, for the most part i'm a fairly sceptical, some might say cynical sort of a fella but often i'll miss even pretty obvious plot holes/inconsistencies until after i've finished watching, when i'm thinking back on the episode (and, presumably, have both halves of my brain to hand. So to speak ;)
Read and listen to stuff by Marshall McLuhan... Although some of what he says comes off a bit as pop-academia, he does have some interesting insights into television as a medium. He describes it as having an LSD-like effect.

I didn't realize it until recently when I decided to watch more television. It's especially bad if I'm watching something like House which can be a bit fast paced. I usually have to rewind a bit.

If television is a drug, then Joss is my dealer.

[ edited by Caleb on 2007-11-04 22:43 ]
I don't think there's anything wrong with television -- I mean, smart television can actually be helpful to people. Buffy The Vampire Slayer, as I've said before, informed and shaped my opinions on many things, and has had very profound impacts on my relationships in life. Never so more have I felt this than during the last 6 months, where I'm like, hey, I'm Xander.

However, it can also numb the brain. I believe this is one reason why reality television is so popular, viewing figure wise. I also believe it's why shows like CSI prove popular - they can make you think you are smart, by being a kinda dense show. (That's a generalisation - I'm not saying all CSI episodes are bad).

Certainly, I have absolutely massive respect for parents who don't sit their children in front of TV all day.

[ edited by gossi on 2007-11-04 23:34 ]
gossi, all CSI episodes are bad. So I've no problem with you making that generalization.

The fast-cutting psychological thing is intriguing. I've never thought about it that way. That said, I love long cuts and pick up on quite a few plot holes/inconsistencies while watching something. I mean, not always, but I think about things like that. Now I'm trying to trace this back to how my parents brought me up and what they allowed me to watch...

I don't necessarily think there's anything bad with letting kids watch TV. It just depends to what degree you're allowing, and what shows they're subject to.
Newsies was okay. I don't know if I could ever sit through it again, but I'm thankful to have seen it once.

Joss gives good commentary. All the commentaries on both the movie DVD and the tv series box set are fun, but Objects In Space is more than a commentary - it's Joss telling stories: about Nietsche, about aetheism, about faith, about the security guy on the set that one day, about how a thought becomes a television series.

Whedon and Fillion for the pilot was just off the hook with the funny.

Jane Espenson in the Shindig commentary is a JEWEL cuz you're listening to the other two girls rambling about chiffon or fashion history and then Jane pipes in and tells me something I actually wanted to know. I got nothing against the other two voices on that one, but I can only stand so much embroidery talk before I'm like "Jane! Tell me more about script rewrites puh-leeze before I go ballistic!" I'm a frustrated writer, not a frustrated fashion designer. I could care less whose wedding dress that once was.
Crank is amazing.
I particularly enjoy the commentaries for the Firefly pilot and Serenity the movie. Also Buffy commentaries any time Drew Goddard is talking.
I love commentaries by Joss. Don't think I've heard many people who are consistently as good at commentary.

Although, I will forever mourn the fact that my R4 dvds don't include the commentary for Wild At Heart...
I just love the way that joss does his commentaries, he can go from being supremely silly to commenting on the layering of the show, to commenting on the actor's ability, to commenting on the overall arc, and keep you enraptured every second. I think it's because this is basically the same thing he does with his shows, there's serious topics to be had, but at the same time he splashes them with humor, but that's kind of a duh since hello... they both came from the same brilliantly shiny brain of his. Wow, i'm making him sound like a diamond... tee Now that I think about it, he is like a diamond, multi fauceted, brilliant, fiery, shiny... sooo shiny lol
I like Joss's commentaries and the writer's commentaries the best. I like actor's commentaries on other things, but not Whedon shows. I have always gotten the feeling they are not comfortable talking about their work. Maybe they are just not comfortable talking about it in front of the writers, to whom they usually defer. They, therefore end up not talking about anything substantive.

As far as the TV watching as a child thing, personally I think there are many things that can contribute to not noticing plot holes while watching something. The biggest one that comes to mind is simply the style of watching. I for instance like to simply give myself over to a story or experience and analyze it later. I like to suspend my disbelief and take the ride. If the writing, acting, direction or something else is so bad that it pulls me out of the story that tells me something about it. If I stay in it for the whole time and then look back at it and see that it was full of holes, that tells me something else about it. I truly don't think it is a deficiency but a way of experiencing something.
Oops, I totally meant to say earlier that two of my all-time favorite commentaries are the assorted folks on the Evil Dead II commentary and the Jake Gyllenhaal/Richard Kelly Donnie Darko commentary. I loves me some funny commentaries.
I sometimes worry about TV's effect on my brain. I'd probably be a lot smarter if I stopped watching it and movies and read more books, but I doubt I'd be as satisfied.

Massive respect for Joss on how he treats his kids' viewing habits. My uncle and aunt let their two 5-and-under tots watch CSI with 'em, which...I dunno. Highly questionable. If I was a parent, I know I'd be extremely selective and probably somewhat restrictive in what I'd introduce to my kids entertainment-wise, and how quickly.

Crank is amazing. So glad I caught that one in theatres. Lotta fun. Jason Statham is the man and it's got Amy Smart.

Cool, Ripper is still a very real possibility. A 90-minute film would be awesome. Nice one-time length, doesn't require a long-term committment from me.

I would be quite fearful if Brett Ratner got a hold of Serenity, in the bizarro-universe where that might actually happen. I don't know anything of his work beyond X-Men 3 (had fun with it and enjoyed it more than the friend I saw it with, despite being pretty disappointed in the way Jean's arc played out and how cramped it felt and it doesn't really hold up on re-watch, but damn do I wish Bryan Singer had finished what he'd started), I hear Red Dragon was good times, but...I dunno...Tim Minear the only other trustworthy showrunner for that particular follow-up job if it came down to it ?

I'm a bad, rude man. Haven't bought the Serenity Collector's Edition yet. Haven't even looked for it in stores yet. But I did sell the original Region 1 DVD release to Blockbuster for $7 credit, so there is a Serenity-sized hole to fill some time soon. Firefly ain't complete without it.
Haven't bought the Serenity Collector's Edition yet.

This is because you hate Joss and probably children and cute puppies and freedom. Why are you doing this to the fandom Kris ? Did you hate the idea of a sequel that much, huh ? Huh ? Well I hope you're happy now.

He describes it as having an LSD-like effect.

Hmm, never dropped acid but from what friends that have say, it doesn't sound much like TV to me (OK, maybe a bit like Spongebob ;).

And I don't have any trouble following plots, no matter how fast paced or involved so good TV at least doesn't have that sort of numbing effect.

Maybe it's more what newcj says because though i'm a nitpicker of long experience (seriously, I even had a book full of Star Trek nitpicks years ago) I almost never do it while watching and usually give shows/films more of the benefit of the doubt than my (less pedantic) friends. I want to be swept up in events, don't want to see it as a constructed piece of entertainment (which is why popups ? Grrr ... Aaarrghhh) and if I can see the scaffolding, probably not a great show/film in the first place.

(and yep, 'Crank' was a hoot - except for the rape that becomes sex part-way through. That bit left a bad taste for me)
This is the second time in an interview that Joss has mentioned the limitations on his kids' TV viewing, and it makes me love him even more. In a time when commercials are trying to make parents feel guilty if they don't have a DVD player in the back seat of their SUV, for the kids (gods forbid they should do something crazy like look out the window and contemplate the world going by),it's just such a wonderful thing to do.

I've saved a whole lot of the commentaries on all three DVD sets, it's kinda like, "OK, there are these few last morsels I've yet to sample". The writers strike will probably drive me to finally checking them out.

Loved the mention of the featurette on making OMWF, that was magic.
There is a theory that early exposure to television is a factor in the apparent huge increase in the amount of autism (apparent because there exists the possibility that some of the increase is due to better tracking of the condition).

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