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April 04 2008

Inside Jane Espenson's frakkin' amazing job. TV Guide chats to Jane about Buffy, Battlestar Galactica and which of her characters she'd have lunch with.

Thank you Simon, that was amazing.

"I'd be happy to spend the rest of my career working for Ron and Joss in equal measure".

Whatta woman, all that talent and smarts, she deserves nothing but the best.
I think that, despite the jokes, season 6 was darker than Battlestar has been. Maybe the beginning of season of season 3 Battlestar gives it a run for its money. But I'm not sure lack of a sense of humour should be equated with darkness
I dunno about that, BSG doesn't always get into the individual character's darkness like BtVS S6 did but the premise itself and the way it's approached are pretty dark. And I think BSG is less judgemental of its characters, allowing the moral ambiguity to just sit there rather than forcing us to decide that it's bad. That feels darker to me (Buffy can go dark for a while but we know she's the hero so have faith that eventually she'll sort herself out, turn back to the light - on BSG though "heroes" may turn out to be "villains" at any time and vice versa so if e.g. Adama goes dark, I personally am never that certain that he'll come back).

Agree about the humour though, lack of it doesn't make a show dark and having it doesn't make one upbeat.
Though I also see what she might mean - humor can be tension-relieving and distancing, as Joss (and Miss Chenandler Bong) know so well. A quip can throw you out of the emotion that may be building and keep you from experiencing it too painfully - which may be what Jane, as a scene builder, knows full well.

However, as dark as BSG gets - and in many ways it feels darker and bleaker than Buffy ever was - it's not as painful to me personally, because usually the show doesn't feel somehow as intimate to me (somewhat like Pushing Daisies in an other way.) The characters have not become my mishpooka - my close friends and family, in a sense - and the action takes place a little at a remove - for me.

I dunno - this may be an extremely subjective kindof experience; maybe BSG feels removed to me because the setting is primarily military and shipboard, which is completely alien to me, but feels very familiar and intimate to someone who has llived in that kindof a world.

Know what she means by the awesomeness of watching Joss and Ron together - on the WGA "Pencil-Dropping Day" I was all a'twitter with the joy of watching my two favoritist showmakers together. If you had just added Monty Python or like that, my cup would have over runneth over.
As always, a great interview. I just <3 Jane. Thanks for posting!
Know what she means by the awesomeness of watching Joss and Ron together - on the WGA "Pencil-Dropping Day" I was all a'twitter with the joy of watching my two favoritist showmakers together.

That was a good day, QG. Though I still have yet to find any photos online of Joss pushing that basket. What's up with that?

I suspect the issue with S6 darkness compared to BSG is that BSG has always had a dark tone, whereas BtVS has always been up and down, and then suddenly had a long run of down. I didn't have a problem with it but I can see why some people would. How can you hate a season that gave us OMWF and Tabula Rasa?
I would love to have lunch with Roslin for a career mentorship session. If I could only gain an ounce of her talent for dealing with politics . . . great article, Simon, thanks!
Well, all the usual suspects aside (i.e. Boomer, Starbuck and 3 ;) ...

I'd probably lunch with Brother Cavil. He seemed to have a wryness that would make him pretty good company I reckon. For a toaster ;).
QuoterGal, I have the same response to BSG ... BSG feels more like it's about watching the characters than spending time with them (which is cool in its own way, but there's definitely a pretty constant sense of disconnection).

I don't get the impression that BSG even wants me to feel it. BSG seems ultimately to be more thinky than feely. Which is cool, too.

[ edited by Ghalev on 2008-04-04 17:58 ]
It's interesting to see this come up--a friend of mine (a fellow Buffy fan) came over this weekend so she could finally start watching BSG, and we had to end our little marathon about halfway into the first season because she needed a break from the darkness and depression, whereas I know Season Six isn't a problem for her.

I think it has to do with the fact that to a large extent, Buffy and the Scoobies have the ability to detach themselves from the evil around them. Sometimes they decide that fighting the good fight isn't worth the pain and effort. They have the ability to give up, turn their backs and walk (or run) away from the hellmouth. At some point practically all of them do, including Buffy herself.

In BSG, we're dealing with the last survivors of the human race. Their fight is less about "doing the right thing" as it is simply staying alive. They have few (if any) options, and we see the characters pressed to the limits of their physical, ethical and moral endurance because they don't have any alternatives.

I actually see more parallels between BSG and the end of Buffy Season Five, when it becomes apparent that Glory is just too powerful for them, and there's the growing realization that they themselves may have to murder Dawn just to keep the world safe.
"I dunno about that, BSG doesn't always get into the individual character's darkness like BtVS S6 did but the premise itself and the way it's approached are pretty dark. And I think BSG is less judgemental of its characters, allowing the moral ambiguity to just sit there rather than forcing us to decide that it's bad"

Yeah, that's a really good point. The only thing I'd say is that a lot of the best bits of Buffy (often Joss-written bits) eschew any judgement of the characters. They just present their actions and let us decide, often between 2 pretty strong points of view. Like Aurec's example of season 5 where Giles and so on think Dawn might need to be killed but Buffy absolutely refuses. Or season 2 where there's a big blowup about whether Angel should have his soul restored or not
BSG is darker. I mean literally. Everything's dark. They're in the dark, I'm in the dark. It's a darkfest. Except for that colorful ray of sexy sunshine, Six.
I loved this interview, thank you for the link! And I was blown away by BSG's final season opener last night. It is impossible to compare something like Buffy to BSG (or Firefly to either of them) they have such different tones (shades of dark?). You know? I think the Paley event would have been MUCH more interesting if it has been Joss & Tim with all of the Mutant Enemy writers instead of the actors.
That would have been a much better panel, embers.

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