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Whedonesque - a community weblog about Joss Whedon
"You know what the chain of command is? It's the chain I go get and beat you with 'til ya understand who's in ruttin' command here."
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June 26 2003

The Buffy years. Part 4 of the Joss Whedon FilmForce interview. It wasn't all sweetness and light on set.

Love his bitchy comment about Freddie Prinze Jr and he's very honest about season 6 and 7.

I really like Candid Joss, or As-Candid-As-He-Can-Be-Without-Getting-Sued-Or-Blacklisted Joss. I always knew there was "tension" on the set despite all the proclamations of "we all love each other and everybody's fabulous" over the years, but I never realized how bad it was. I have even more respect for the cast and crew now; as Joss mentions, none of that tension ever made it on screen.
Nice that Joss recognizes the outstanding flaw of Season 7.

I think the flaw of the season for me was that we were so clearly focused on what we wanted to do at the end of the season that we had to sort of get to it in a lot of episodes. Even though they contained things that I loved individually as single episodes, they were just part of a whole – not of themselves enough, a little bit.

Translation: we were so hyped about the ending - Faith and Caleb and Angel and Toasty!Spike and the Battle for the Hellmouth™ - that we forgot to make the middle of the season any good, except that the Andrew parts were cute and funny.

Dammit, Joss. Hindsight is too little, too late.
"It's a movie about a pie? That's great...

This interviewer is fantastic. I must say I'm a bit surprized things started getting tense as early as season 3. Props to all involved for staying together and producing such good work for so long. I'm amazed season 7 didn't happen earlier.
Really interesting interview. Can't wait to see what Joss' comments on Season 7 are. To be honest, Season 7 shook my faith in ME quite significantly...
For a show that was winding down after a long run, season 7 was pretty good. I'm definitely comparing it to the X-Files, which had a much longer, slower, and more painful death. Almost all of the episodes in season 7 had good moments, but unfortunately, there weren't very many that were solid as a whole. You could tell that the cast and crew were tired, the mood I got from the season was just that things were winding down. I thought it started out well enough, the middle was mushy, then there was a bit of a surge of energy by the end.

I definitely didn't lose hope in ME, since Angel has been doing great. I think the lesson to be learned in all of this is to make sure things are planned out better at the beginning of a season.

To get back on topic, I hope the final part of the Joss interview has some comments about Angel. It's kind of the bastard stepchild of ME. Buffy is the most well-known, Firefly is the shiny new thing that was treated unfairly, but then there's this other show that never gets attention.
Nice comments, lalaa. People need to remember this is a show in it's seventh year & final year. Really, how may shows by that point have half the ambition or quality as BTVS did in it's final year. S7 is certainly the weakest season overall (excluding S1) but some people need to get a little perspective, this season was hardly a disaster.
Well, it was disastrous in a way that I didn't get any enjoyment from watching it.

edited to add: after the first couple of episodes, that is. It seemed to all lead to something spectacular. Only, not so much.

[ edited by prolific on 2003-06-27 13:22 ]
Um, let me start by saying I really don't want to start a war here, been lurking for a while now, and I really like this site. =)

And, yes, I agree that I liked Season 7 a lot too. I sure enjoyed it, especially the earlier episodes. I actually got hooked by "Beneath You". Before that, I was a fan, but not so much an obsessive fan, in the sense that it's only until Season 7 that I'll go on the net to read heaps of reviews and lots of Buffy-related articles. Hope you know what I mean...

Anyway, I respect BtVS, a lot. When I said I've lost quite a bit of faith in ME, I meant that Season 7 is a disappointment compared to the other Seasons. The other seasons are of such high standard that I came to expect miracles from the ME production team, so when it didn't exactly come through, I felt dissapointed.

And frankly, there are some basic things that just were not taken care of, IMHO. Plot holes like "Why are the Ubervampes suddenly all killable in Chosen when they were so hard to kill before"? When I said I've lost my faith, I'm referring to things like that, which could have easily been tied up by some sort of explanation, somewhere in the last few episodes...but weren't.

I love BtVS, and I'm a fan, and will always be a fan, but I watched "Chosen" with a feeling of near disbelief: how can they not realise such obvious plot holes? If almost all the fans picked up on it, would the writers really not notice? And they did nothing about it?

So, really looking forward to read what Joss' comments on Season 7 would be. =)

Btw, nice meeting all of you, newbie here, 2nd post on this site, and a long one. Sorry about that. =P
Plot holes show up in every season finale. They have a plan about what they want to happen and how things will end, so they'll bend anything to make it work. Like, since when was Olaf a troll god anyway? No one said he was anything but a garden variety troll until they needed something to help fight Glory.

OTOH, I don't know why anyone thought the ubervamps were ever going to be a good idea. They should have known that a big army of anything would be lame ever since... well, the actual army guys from S4... All of the writers (probably with the exception of the Riley groupie Doug Petrie...) regret how much importance they placed on the Initiative. Hindsight definitely sucks.
Interestingly, I didn't like the Initiative the first time around either, but watching the DVDs I think that they're kinda cool, especially how they set up the dynamic between the sort of take-charge, rational, masculine world of science and Buffy's more anarchic, intuitive, magical approach. I think their overall arc fell flat -- or at the least, lacked the emotioanl charge of Buffy's best season-long storylines -- because a) some moments came off as kinda cheesy, and more importantly, b) Adam, although he started off interesting, quickly degenerated into the stereotypical big, scary monster guy with a master plan to destroy the world. Yawn.

On another note, although I was satisfied with "chosen" as a whole , the plot holes did bother me more than usual. After all, Season 7 was unusually arc driven (often at the expense of the development of major characters, particularly Giles, Anya, Dawn, and most of all Xander), so to have that arc still not make a whole lot of sense at the end was a definite letdown. Also, the biggest plot hole in my mind (why did they enter the Hellmouth BEFORE Willow cast the spell?) strikes me as particularly odious because it's less "Oops, we were rushed and there were more important things to focus on, so go with it" (a la the chronology of "Surprise/Innocence") but more "OK, this plot hole implies that our characters are morons, and basically echoes the 'people always do the stupidest things in horror movies' cliches that we've spent seven years -- not to mention a good deal of this episode -- undermining, but what the hell -- the fans won't notice!"

One more thing: not one, but TWO deus ex machinas? Bit much. I'm just sayin'.

[ edited by bobothebrave on 2003-06-27 12:34 ]
I don't think the scythe was TOO much deus ex machina, because it was in the Fray comics before season 7 began. So it's not like the writers pulled it out of nowhere, it had its place in the Buffverse.
bobothebrave: I too am enjoying S4 more in hindsight - there still was a good vibe back then.
I enjoyed Season 4 - Initiative and all - a great deal more than I thought I would when I watched my DVD's last week. However, when I got to 'Restless' and the scene where Tara tells Buffy "You think you know...what you are...what's to haven't even begun." I got really, freak'n sad. Because for me, although they had their moments, the last two seasons never lived up to that line. The "what's to come" was never as exciting and fulfilling as Tara made me think it would be.
You know what I do with Season 7? I block out most of the middle. It's such a bizarre season in that it started off so damn strong (the ending to "Beneath You" still makes me gasp a little), and then it's like everyone forgot what they were doing. Even the acting got a little rough...which sucks considering how consistant the BtVS cast had been. But I really enjoyed the last 5 or so (possible exception: "Touched"). So I pretend, in my own mind, that between episodes 6 (or so) and 17 everything got explained and worked out. That all the major plot holes were covered, and all the bizarre relationship problems were explained.

Denial can be very helpful.
Well in all fairness, I don't remeber Tara being all that peppy when the Primal talked to Buffy through her. In fact, she was kinda sad. By the end of season four, Buffy thought she had it all in the bag. But Buffy would go through alot of discoveries. Most were negative, but they were necessary.

But you are right about the luke-warm climax. Buffy learned so much about herself in the final 3 seasons: her history, her dark side, her stubborness, her easily-swayed passions...but the final episodes never really paid off, they never really said "All those things that Buffy's been through, all the ups and all downs, there was a reason and THIS is it.
From my humble point of view Season 6 and 7 are the most interesting and compelling. They always made me ask what was going to happen next. And having viewed season 6 on SPACE one after the other it just flows so well. I believe having episodes months apart made the two seasons suffer.
I suppose it just gets me down that the two seasons that have resonated with me so much are so hated. I was starting University at the beginning of Season 6 and I wasn't homesick or anything but I felt totally lost because I didn't know what direction my life was going in. Then I caught a couple of episodes of Buffy and she was feeling that too. I got hooked. It was realistic. So for me they succeeded the most with 6 and 7
I guess I'm just ranting now. But I really hope that someday people will be able to appreciate what was done or at least just decide to stop coming down so hard on them and try to find the good things about these seasons because there are so many.
If there was ever a weak season its season 1 but in the end Buffy succeeded in that the seven years were a strong package. And you can't leave any of the out.
mmmm, I like plot holes, they give me hope for more---later.
guess I'm just a cock-eyed optimist. :D

oh, as for tension on the set, it's not really surprising. They all spent a LOT of hours together over the years. Much like family, sometimes you can't stand each other---and the FPJr. comment? Hehehe, Joss! Right on! I know what you did last summer.
Does anyone know what the interviewer and Joss are referring to when they talk about the "original script" with Riley and referring to coming back from the dead? Or did I just read it wrong?
I think they're referring to Ripley, in Alien 4.
These retroactive comments on S4 are exactly what I meant when I said "perspective" above. I must have read dozens of comments in the last week about how strong S4 is now that fans are viewing it on DVD as opposed to all the problems they found with it when it first aired. I remember the boards when S4 ended & you would have sworn the sky had fallen in and the show had morphed into some unholy combo platter of Saved By the Bell/Forever Knight. Now, it's hard to find anyone who doesn't say: a) 'S4 is really strong when I viewed it a second time', or b) 'I still have problems with Adam/Intiative but the season is really good'. Heck, I am even starting to hear people talk about S6 with affection.

It's a cliche cause it's true but BTVS fans always moan & complain about the season they are watching or that just ended. S7 has more legitimate reason for complaint (sloopy plotting, losing the Potentials in the storyline, weak villian in The First) than past seasons but there is still so much to appreciate (Dawn's growth, the thematically perfect solution to Buffy's character, Spike's chuch confession to name a few) that we should marvel at how Whedon & Co. found a way to end a show with grace & dignity when most shows go out with barely a dismissive whimper.
"BTVS fans always moan & complain about the season they are watching or that just ended."

I watched S1, S2, and S3 holding my breath in awe. Did not moan.

As for Dawn's growth? We've had to guess at it - I thought she was marginalised in S7. Whatever became of Buffy's epiphany and wanting to show her sister the world?
Whatever became of Buffy's epiphany and wanting to show her sister the world?

I wondered at that too, but with Joss' comments in this interview about this season becoming about Buffy's acceptance of her leadership role, it seems that, while the epiphany didn't come to fruition, that may have been planned.

The hard truth is, once Buffy became a leader in a militaristic sense, her friends/family had to go on the backburner. She could no longer devote her attention to Dawn, or "show her the world" as much as she would have liked to. She had to be hard, decisive, and determined.

I wish this had been set up better...I think this is what they were going for by setting up the beginning of the season with Buffy becoming a bigger part of Dawn's life, and then the subsequent fall away from personal conceits in episodes like Potential.

Again, I think I see where they were going, and it's a good idea, but poorly executed.

Actually...that's how I'd describe pretty much the whole season.
Prolific, I was not writing about your experience with BTVS (cause' how could I know) but what is generally accepted about the BTVS fan community in almost any academic or newspaper/magazine article written about the group.

As for Dawn's growth, she goes from a shy, awkward young girl into a brave, resourceful young woman over the course of the last three years. Also, she becomes 'Watcher Jr.' not because she is from a line of mystical warriors or connected to the magics but through determenation, brains & hard, diligent work which makes her journey one of the more satisfying portraits of a young woman's growth in the Buffyverse.

As ringworm states above, the threat to the potentials causes Buffy to shut off to Dawn but that is clearly one of the themes of Buffy's character this season, and often throughout the show's run. That Dawn has this maturation with little or no support from the sister she so adores is at once sad but fufilling in that she has come all this way on her own.

As for Buffy's epiphany in S6, I would argue that this leads her to the breakthrough she has with the potentials. She allows them to become 'beautiful & powerful'. When she gives them her power, 'she shows them the world'.

[ edited by unitas on 2003-06-29 02:41 ]
Part five is up, and oh my goodness, how I would have wept had the ending re:Tara had come to pass. Oh my. Buckets o'tears.

Also, I'm now even more excited about the Firefly DVD's.

Such a great interview, with excellent questions and excellent answers.
"what is generally accepted about the BTVS fan community in almost any academic or newspaper/magazine article written about the group."

No, it's generally *stated*.
'Stated' is very fair. I often agree with that statement so I used 'accepted' which perhaps was overstating my point. I did not mean to offend only validate my point.

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