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April 16 2009

"This movie is going to kick ass". Fran Kranz talks to SCI FI Wire about 'Cabin in the Woods'.

Awesome! I didn't know Fran was in this! I'm even more excited, since I love Topher (I know I'm in the minority though).
Topher's ok. Movie looks good
I think it's a majority who love Topher. We're just a silent majority. And I like Fran, he just needs to cool it on the "acting with his hands" thing sometimes. Then again, Anne Hathaway still does that, and she has an Oscar nomination.

I've read some script reviews that give away what this movie's about, and none of them were very positive (ranging from eh to hatred). But hearing the concept makes it sound like it could be great. And certainly right up Joss and Drew's alley.

So I'm excited still.
I like Topher too. And watching Joss's 'humanist' speech the other day reminded me incredibly of Topher's speaking style. So -- to me -- Topher is definitely the 'voice of Joss' character in Dollhouse.
Oh, clearly. Topher is Joss -- the fast-talking 'genius' writer, Echo is Eliza -- the actress who doesn't know how to just be herself anymore, DeWitt is a Fox executive -- genuinely meaning well, but failing.

I'm excited for Cabin.
So does that mean Ivy is Joss's writing staff? Cause, ouch.
Someone go slap the guy who made the "After what happened with Dollhouse, Joss owes Eliza a break-out movie role." comment?
scottbert: We don't discuss what people say in the comment sections of other blogs etc. And please don't ever use comments like "go slap the guy" here ever again.
I think it's a majority who love Topher. We're just a silent majority.

I like Topher as a character, I just don't particularly like Topher (though in the last few episodes i'm warming to him, mainly because we see him do a few things that aren't purely self-interested). He's well played and interesting to watch though IMO because certainly early on he had a lot of funny lines and cool quirks but was still deeply callous, off-hand, arrogant and also borderline incompetent. That's a difficult line to walk I reckon so kudos to Fran Kranz.

(frankly, I struggle to see how people could like early Topher unless they were just a bit snowed by the fact that he's funny and sort of cool and has the most "Whedonesque" dialogue - he's certainly the most "familiar", and in that sense comfortable, character when you look at Joss' previous stuff. As Joss has said, Topher is closest to himself in the dollhouse and early on I wondered if Joss was maybe being a bit self-critical since he's talked before about how he treads the line of critiquing exploitation while still kind of being an exploiter himself. And that's more true of 'Dollhouse' than any of his other shows IMO)
I didn't know Fran Kranz was going to be in this, either. That's awesome. I love Topher; the Warren-ish creepiness is ammeliorated by the Joss-esque mannerisms enough to make him fascinating rather than off-putting, to me.
What made me like Topher from the very beginning is his fear and insecurity. Fran has made a bang up job portraying quite a complex character.
Yeah his nicely observed flaws make him very human. But I don't like every human I meet either ;).
Sorry Simon. By "go slap" I meant in a textual sense if it's worth anything, me being a pacifist n all ;)
I also think Fran's quirky acting and the layered writing have given Topher the most potential for character development, which makes him more interesting to me than, for example, Boyd, with his prewrapped fully-functional conscience. In terms of how much further they could flesh him out, he's the early Spike or the Jayne or the S3!Wesley (down to the crush on Amy Acker :P).

[ edited by Enisy on 2009-04-16 16:38 ]
I think once Joss does the episode focussing in on Topher's backstory people will stop hating him. At the moment I don't think they've revealed enough of his character.... plus they could always just change his character completely like they did with Wesley in Angel.
If it's as natural and well-developed a progression as Wesley's then it'll be great to see, no-matter where he ends up.
If it's as natural and well-developed a progression as Wesley's then it'll be great to see, no-matter where he ends up.



Indeed, I still consider Wesley's character arc, from S3 of Buffy all the way to the end of Angel, to be the greatest single character progression I've ever seen on TV.
I think Spike's was better
I vacillate between them because they're both great. Mostly I think Wesley just because I loved the way he ended up (in the TV show) - that was a typically Whedony courageous ending for a character IMO (though it may well not have been Joss' idea ?), to send a hero character off as, basically, a bit of a loser (albeit a brave, noble, magnificent loser).
yeah, Spike had that too, but then they brought him back for the last season of Angel... Wesley's death was perfect.. it made me cry (and I'm a dude)
It's okay to cry. Unless you're playing baseball. There's no crying in baseball.
"Would you like me to lie to you now?"

Sorry Simon. By "go slap" I meant in a textual sense if it's worth anything, me being a pacifist n all ;)


Fair enough.

Re: Topher. I see him as a monster who enjoys his work far too much. At the minute, not much in the way of redeemable features.
Put me down with the liking Topher as a character, not so much as a person, and thinking Fran Kranz nails the role. Actually I think Topher is most like early Cordelia, with the total self-centeredness and lack moderating superego control.
Re: Topher. I see him as a monster who enjoys his work far too much. At the minute, not much in the way of redeemable features.

So, I take it you hated Spike, too?
"Would you like me to lie to you now?"


Oh god!.. think of baseball, think of baseball, think of baseball

I managed to stop the tears
Damn, I failed at making you cry!
I cried a little on the inside.. my heart cried
So, I take it you hated Spike, too?


Two totally different characters. Demon vs human. You could argue that Season 2 Spike didn't have a choice in his actions whereas Topher really does. And that's what makes him very chilling behind the goofiness.
yeah, Spike had that too, but then they brought him back for the last season of Angel...

Not really for me. Spike's death (in Buffy) was semi-passive (as with Wesley) but he was anything but a loser (even a nobly magnificent one ;) - when Spike went he went on his own terms, having "made it" to champion status, while killing a lot of bad guys and having a permanent and positive effect on the world. With his fist clenched and a "Screw you" attitude to the world - even though he was standing still he went down swinging.

Wesley went after losing a fight and failing in his allotted task, asking to be lied to because he was tired of the truth he'd ended up with. Wesley was human and the fact that he dared to take a swing at all (despite everything he'd been through) is what made him magnificent but ultimately he was as ineffective as he was years ago when he slipped and slid and failed his way through Buffy's graduation. He screwed up, albeit (as always with him) with the best possible intentions and more heart than most can bring to bear.
Personally, I really love Topher as a character, although what he's doing is somewhat, uh, hideously morally dubious and wrong. But I think a large part of my liking of him has to do with Fran Kranz's portrayal (and the writing, obviously). So I definitely can't wait to see his performance in Cabin.

And now I must go sob desperately as you've reminded me of long supressed feelings on "Would you like me to lie to you now?"
Ah, Simon, but like the dolls, Spike had some degree of choice when he became a vampire- lost his soul, or persona, or, you know....so, maybe Topher made some kind of not so completely free, knowing choice when he got into this too. We'll see...maybe...if we are lucky and get more episodes, with backstory.
that was a typically Whedony courageous ending for a character IMO (though it may well not have been Joss' idea ?),

You might already know this but Joss has said that having Wesley die and having Illyria do her hilarious Fred impression was pitched to him by some of the other writers and he thought it was a brilliant idea. I have no idea whose idea it was to make him go out as a bit of a loser, though
Spike had some degree of choice when he became a vampire


You know it's been that long since I watched 'Fool for Love', I had a look at the shooting script to what happened when Dru was about to turn him.

He's flabbergasted. Hypnotized. How could she know? She steps closer. Her face near his. He's not used to this. He squirms, but can't move.

We'll see...maybe...if we are lucky and get more episodes, with backstory.


No doubt we will see more of how he came to be in the Dollhouse and if he doesn't get killed off, he'll enjoy the WhedonRedemptiontm but for now he's a bad 'un and no mistake.
The character's name is Marty, and he likes to have fun. Not playing with dolls and computers. He likes to have fun in the outdoors and plants, different kinds of herbs.

Oh, good. We get to see more of Stoned!Topher.
Oh, I see the difference between Spike and Topher (demon vs. human), but I think it's not really all that clear. I mean, did you always hate demon-Spike? Even after he got the chip but before the soul? I think there was something likeable about demon-Spike. And, the "getting a soul as a means for character transformation" is a pretty lame way of doing a character transformation if you ask me; it's basically just saying that now he's a different character, unless you view it all as a continuum (as I do) rather than a clear-cut distinction.

So yeah, I think hating Topher because he's monstrous is still a lot like hating (early, demony) Spike because he's monstrous. That's not to say either one is wrong, but morally speaking demon-Spike is WAY worse than Topher; the demon knows he's being evil and relishes it while Topher's kind of clueless or at worst willfully blind.
barboo: Put me down with the liking Topher as a character, not so much as a person, and thinking Fran Kranz nails the role.

I vote with barboo. Topher is somewhat spoiled and selfish, and gets away with it because he is a genius. No particular reason why we should like him. That makes him a good sounding board, to see how other characters react to him. Boyd was more likable when he (gently) puts Topher in his place.

Now that I think about it, Topher definitely treated Boyd as a father figure in the "Spy" episode. He probably is craving someone who will stand up to him without being threatening (ie. Dominic). It'll be interesting if Boyd gives him a moral center, kind of like what Ellison was doing with John Henry on "Terminator".
That's not to say either one is wrong, but morally speaking demon-Spike is WAY worse than Topher; the demon knows he's being evil and relishes it while Topher's kind of clueless or at worst willfully blind.

Being that clueless is kind of evil though IMO. Not caring enough to become clueful is a choice, it doesn't just happen (not in unimpaired grown adults anyway) and it's also not an excuse (so long as he's actually capable of knowing the difference between right and wrong).

Which is where vampires differ because being that clueless does "just happen" to them, it's their default position in as much as they're amoral to begin with and only immense pressure changes that (and even with Spike, you could argue that every single apparently moral choice he makes pre-soul is selfish - mainly to get with Buffy).

I also think "kind of clueless or at worst willfully blind" is quite generous to Topher anyway (or early Topher at least - could be that's how they're now trying to write him). The rules are different for people - when a person is amoral (as opposed to immoral) it's not a neutral thing, it's actively bad for them to be like that, you don't really hear "Oh, give him a break, he's just amoral" ;).

(as a kind of related aside BTW, i've wondered if Topher is a sort of critique of science itself with him always being so certain of his knowledge and then being proven wrong time and again. As if to say that it's arrogant to think we can control or even fully understand things like consciousness or the "human spirit". If so it's maybe slightly simplistic - AFAIK, in consciousness studies that sort of certainty is actually pretty rare just because of how little is known - but interesting all the same)
did you always hate demon-Spike?


I thought early Demon Spike was lots of fun. Somewhat one-dimensional but a great character. Always a joy to see on screen.

morally speaking demon-Spike is WAY worse than Topher; the demon knows he's being evil and relishes it while Topher's kind of clueless or at worst willfully blind.


I always view the demon as a force of nature. It's evil but it's a natural evil. Whereas Topher at some stage made the choice to become what he is( I'm guessing). He comes over as a zealot who seems to get off on what he does.
I enjoy Topher's character because of that "willfully blind" thing. To me, that makes him the worst of the worst--all wrapped up in a funny-joke telling package. His completely self-serving attitude gives me the full-on creeps because it seems like a very real kind of evil.

The idea of his character as a critique of science is interesting, but it seems broader to me than that. The corrupt system provides a great playground for him, so he chooses not to think about what it really is. Seems like that could apply to a lot of us.

I fully expect him to grow and change, but I haven't see it yet. (Which is fine with me--like others have said about Wesley & Spike, the slow-building character arc is best.)
Lets see, Joss Whedon and Drew Goddard left alone with their minds awhirling. Heh, better fasten down the hatches, this one will leave you with crying for "Mother!".
FWIW, the cabin pictured here is the actual cabin in question.
Spike is an unreal, literal monster combined with a real, human one. The lines get real blurry with him about which is which sometimes, and his internal struggle with those two things is a big source of what keeps him interesting. Topher's just the real human kind of evil. I like him, but I understand that's doing terrible things, and my impression of him so far is that he has yet to truly face the reality of what he's doing. I'll be interested to see what he makes of that moment. It could go several different ways and that's going to determine who he really is.

[ edited by Sunfire on 2009-04-16 19:12 ]
I don't see why it's wrong to like someone who does bad things... I know that one of the fan favorite characters for one of my favorite books series, Song of Ice and Fire, is introduced by killing a young boy who did nothing wrong. And I always liked Baltar from Battlestar, despite his obvious moral issues. I guess I just like bad guys, often times more than pure good guys, and the good guys I like are the ones that do bad things occasionally (or at least are highly violent, like Mal or Ballard).
I guess I don't like writing off the demon-vampire part of someone as simply a force of nature or something that "happens to" an otherwise innocent person (though it does). Demons in the Buffyverse clearly DO have consciousness and understand morality, so i don't htink it's unfair to judge them for their moral choices (which is not the same as judging the person who gets vamped, which is an important distinction).

To put it another way, if demon-Spike is not really evil, or he gets a pas for being a demon, then why does Angel feel so bad for wht Angelus did?

So yeah, I don't see that Topher's moral blindness is any worse than demon-Spike's. And it may be better if he really is just immature.
why does Angel feel so bad for wht Angelus did?

Because he remembers it all as acts he carried out himself, and he remembers enjoying them at the time. Because what he did as a soulless demon has a lot to do with what he felt as a souled human beforehand. Angelus is just what happens when all the darker parts of Angel are given free reign without any pesky feelings of sympathy or empathy or a conscience to hold them back, paired with a new animal hunger for blood.

Or at least that's been my understanding of Buffyverse vampires for awhile now.

[ edited by Sunfire on 2009-04-16 21:15 ]
I buy that, Sunfire. Which is to say, vampires are morally culpable for what they do, not just forces of nature.
FWIW, the cabin pictured here is the actual cabin in question.

FWIW, it's also a stone's throw from a (well, maybe if you were an MLB outfielder and there were no trees in the way). Knowing that, may make it seem slightly less spooky.

As for Topher, I'm not sure what he's doing is any less morally questionable than, say, what an army drill sergeant does at boot camp (stripping away recruits' individuality and reprogramming them into order-following fighting machines willing to kill or lay down their lives if necessary). The goals are similar, Topher just has better technology.
Wasn't this called Evil Dead (also a musical btw)?
"Would you like me to lie to you now?" What episode is this from. I feel left out not knowing or not remembering.

I want to cry too.
It's what Illyria said to Wes as he was dying. Her lie was to transform into Fred, so Wes could pretend she was with him in his last moments.

*sob!*

[ edited by Dizzy on 2009-04-17 01:13 ]
Thanks Dizzy.

I remembered the minute I posted my question. It wasn't as poignant to me as I hadn't watched the whole Angel series. I had not actually seen the finale until a few months ago. I remember thinking to myself that it was such a kick ass episode, and awesome because Adam was in it. But when it ended the way it did, I realized that crap, this was it. The end. So now I must go Netflix the entire series.
Wasn't this called Evil Dead (also a musical btw)?

The first thing I thought when I saw the picture b!x posted was, boy, that looks like the cabin from Evil Dead.
I'd wager that most cabins in "cabin in the woods" movies look a lot alike. And the genre predates Evil Dead. ;)
I'm not trying to say that Evil Dead was the first of its genre, or that because this movie takes place in a Cabin in the Woods it will be anything like ED (I have not read any of the reviews about the script for this movie), but ED is my exemplar for the genre.
I buy that, Sunfire. Which is to say, vampires are morally culpable for what they do, not just forces of nature.

Err, that's not what Sunfire said (though it may be what she meant, i'll leave that to her to explain). En-souled vampires feel morally culpable for what they did (and do), that's not the same thing as saying they are.

Personally i've always seen why Angel and Spike feel guilty as a point for debate (my take is similar to Sunfire's - I think they feel guilty in order to preserve their sanity and maintain their identities i.e. because they remember doing it and don't remember a disconnect between pre and post-ensouling then in order for them to tell themselves they're the same person they have to "own" what the vampires have done) and more a potential inconsistency in the series' moral ideas than proof that vampires are morally culpable. After all, if they're moral agents (and also clearly sentient beings, as they are) then how can Buffy kill them with moral impunity (i.e. without accusation or trial or evidence) ? Just because they don't have the magic soul card ? Isn't that the most heinous racism (or species-ism) ?

Killing sentient beings able to make moral choices without knowing they've done anything wrong is called "murder" and that'd make the Buffster pretty evil herself (and a serial killer of historic proportion ;). So "clever sharks with desires informed by those of their previous occupant" is more how I see them.

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