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May 13 2009

Why "Dollhouse" Struggles and "Fringe" Soars. The Incomparable compares Fringe & Dollhouse and explains why Fringe has more mass appeal (spoilers for last night's finale).

Great article, for some reason makes me love DH all that more.
I agree, Jes.

I lost interest in Fringe after a few episodes but might give it more of a chance at this point, since it sounds like it might be getting interesting now.
But in general, Whedon is a philosopher who also likes to entertain; Abrams is an entertainer who dabbles in just enough philosophy to make his work look cooler.
Yeah. (Yes, I do enjoy them both.)
He's right. I love me some "oddballs, outcasts, and underdogs." Probably because I could be described in such a manner.
Now this is an article with actual substance, unlike all the usual JJ vs. Joss pieces we see. It pretty much perfectly sums up the key differences between the two. The biggest for me are Joss' moral ambiguity vs. JJ's good against evil, and Joss' philosophy vs. JJ's entertainment.

What's interesting to me is I think Joss used to be a lot more like JJ when he was younger. The original Buffy movie script, his Alien script, and his unmade specs all have ideas in them, but they are buried very deep under layers of fast-paced entertainment. Afterlife and Alien Resurrection, for instance, are basically chase thrillers, with just a couple of scenes exploring philosophical ideas, and a pretty clear good/evil divide. And the original Buffy script, while better than the original Buffy movie, is still far less rich than the show. It's basically a fun teen comedy with a little female empowerment.

Whereas recently, I've sometimes been frustrated that Joss has become too enamored with the philosophy and the ideas, at the expense of the entertainment. Its why I didn't like the original Dollhouse pilot script, or some of the weaker episodes of Firefly. It felt to me like he had taken a great setup for a slam-bang genre show (cowboys in space! sexy girls on dangerous missions!) and then filled those concepts with lots of dialogue- driven scenes where morally ambiguous characters debate philosophical concepts, when what drew me to him originally was the way he could find the balance between the two. It's why I still prefer Serenity (the movie, not the pilot) to Firefly, and why I prefer Ghost to Echo.
There's weaker episodes of Firefly?

I know I've been critical of Dollhouse, but I'll take it over Fringe any day. Also did not enjoy the Trek movie. I had to watch some Roddenberry Trek to cleanse my palate.
Felicity is the only Abrams work I've seen, and even then I mainly watched the first season (because I stopped watching TV when I went to college, so I missed a good chunk of Buffy as well).

If there is a sci-fi/fantasy/speculative fiction genre show, I watch it. But I didn't feel compelled to continue after the pilot of Lost. And I stopped watching Fringe after a couple of episodes.

I only skimmed the article, because I don't want to be too spoiled for the show if I give it another shot (I also don't read anything about Lost, just in case I decide to start watching it later). I liked the old guy, but the show was a bit gory for me. Also, I found the lead character dull and her terrible accent bugged me.
Don't bother continuing with Lost. Without getting into spoilers, the behind the scenes "talent" clearly had no idea where there were going or what they were doing for the first few seasons. I remember way back when Damon Lindelof (or Carlton Cuse, one of them) said that the show was rooted in reality and that it wasn't going to go crazy with sci-fi...and that's exactly what happens.

Lost does this thing where it poses more and more questions and mysteries then asks more questions, then kind of explains a mystery from last season before it vomits up more mysteries all over itself. Also, they seem to have very little respect for their characters on that show. Just don't bother. I'd say Lost could have been a fascinating show if they knew what they were doing but it just careens all over the place the first few seasons then by the time they figure out some kind of road map they do so at the expense of the characters.
I skimmed the artcle, too, because I haven't seen last night's episode yet. But I think the main point is that Fringe has an edge because it's more obvious a good vs. evil situation, which appeals to the mass audience. Being in the middle of a evil-ish organization, and following a girl who tries to regain her true self despite being reimprinted every week, is harder to embrace.
But in general, Whedon is a philosopher who also likes to entertain; Abrams is an entertainer who dabbles in just enough philosophy to make his work look cooler.


This is exactly why I find Whedon's work to have more substance than Abrams' and why I think Joss is the better storyteller. Abrams seems to choose cool plot twists over character development all too often. He just never goes deep enough for my tastes. Though I really liked season one of Felicity and most of Alias. Fringe disgusted me halfway through the unfinished first ep and just wasn't able to give it another chance.

This article was well thought out and fair to both parties. However, I prefer underdog stories exactly because underdogs are the people I can relate to.
Fringe to me has what some accuse Dollhouse of having -lead actress issues.
Lost is one of the best shows ever made and has had huge payoffs for those who stuck with it and had the patience to wait for the answers to slowly emerge. It is pure awesomeness. Fringe is also one damn good show. Last night's finale was wonderful.
Lost does this thing where it poses more and more questions and mysteries then asks more questions, then kind of explains a mystery from last season before it vomits up more mysteries all over itself. Also, they seem to have very little respect for their characters on that show. Just don't bother.


The answers to a Lost's Big Questions don't have serious repercussions; Lindelof and Cuse don't seem particularly interested in inquiring deeper into their characters' choices after the choices have been made. The show is a puzzle, that's all. Whedon, by comparison, likes to stick with his characters long after their 'moments of truth': look at Willow after the resurrection and again after the breaky yellow crayon speech, Faith after 'Consequences,' Buffy post-'Chosen' (and of course post-'Becoming'), Angel the whole time, S3/4 Cordelia, Mal and Simon always, and everyone on Dollhouse. Joss doesn't isn't interested in secrets as such, but rather what happens after they've been turned loose. 'That's the thing about magic,' Spike summed up. 'There's always consequences.'

The primary consequence of action on Lost is that there's less action left, fewer questions to answer. Less wonder.

Joss is a lot more like David Milch or David Chase than he is like JJ Abrams, morally speaking, though stylistically Whedon and Abrams appear to have a good deal in common. (Abrams has presumably learned a lot from Whedon, like everyone who's made genre TV after Buffy first aired.)

Hell, I used to wish that Lost would be a sci-fi version of Deadwood with a Smoke Monster. No dice. Dollhouse has enough moral ambiguity to last me through my thirties though. So no harm done.
Well put, Waxbanks. I agree that Lost (which I enjoy) is basically a series of intellectual puzzles, while Dollhouse and other Whedon-works are explorations of questions.
Let's not forget that Fringe was given a good night and a good lead. I like Fringe but found myself getting pretty bored with it through the mid season but it did pick up the last couple of episodes so that it got me interested in next season. Actually, it was last nights finale that made me want to see what happnes next. That said, Dollhouse started off slow for me but with each episode it made me want more and more.

I do think that Fringe is an easier show to explain the premise (it's kind of like the X-files - agents investigating supernatural cases). And I just love the dynamic between Peter and Walter but Olivia I find kind of boring and stiff.

I think if Dollhouse had been given a time slot following Fringe or Idol or put in Fringe's time slot when Fringe finished up its season we may be looking at much better ratings for Dollhouse.

Also, I miss the days when television shows would air their seasons and then re-air them for people who missed them the first time around. The second airings usually attracted people like me who may have missed the beginning episodes and didn't want to start watching late in the game).
I have not seen any of Fringe (so am avoiding the article, because I may watch it some time), but I can vouch that Lost is well worth watching, and is the best long-running show currently on television. It grows and develops and surprises you. Also, I love the scifi elements - which were there from the beginning, but have gradually increased over the seasons (as I always hoped they would).
Interesting. I don't see Joss' stuff as philosophical but as emotive real life stuff that has to be talked about philosophically because good philosophy is about emotive real life stuff. Abrams' work is pure crack.
I'm in the camp who thinks this article sums up why I long for new stuff from Joss and occasionally enjoy dabbling with the stuff J.J. turns out. I agree with b!X that the text he quoted is the key point.

The first comment on the original article also makes an interesting point about Fringe as basically dressing up the paranormal as science vs. Dollhouse trying for a "truer" fi-sci approach. I don't interpret this as a dig on the paranormal, which can, of course, be a perfectly wonderful playground for examining any topic that interests you. But it can be easier sometimes: Fi-sci generally implies taking one or two big "what-ifs" and running with them. You get to stretch scientific reality a bit on these central questions a bit, but then are held to relatively high standards of keeping everything else as plausible as possible. With the paranormal (even when dressed up as pseudoscience on Fringe), you get to have as many "what-ifs" as you want and cast them aside as you use them up. Think about how, in Buffy or Angel, Whedon and co. commented frequently about how they used phlebotinum: They really didn't worry about how, overall, each week's new demon or supernatural mumbo-jumbo, hung together as an ongoing mythos as long as it let them develop the things that mattered to them about Buffy and co. as characters. By contrast, every new engagement on Dollhouse has to seem plausible based on the basic premise of personality imprinting, and even those who like the show will not hesitate to call out seeming implausibilities in a way that just didn't seem as urgent with the weekly Buffy phlebotinum.

But I would argue Abrams can tend to be sloppy in a way that Whedon tries hard not to be. Even in the land of the supernatural, Whedon seems to care about not violating the premises he does set up. On a simple level, this means being consistent about the key supernatural elements of the Buffyverse: the playbook of what vamps could and could not do and how they could be killed. But on a deeper level, this meant character history mattered, which was never clearer than in the cases of a natural human death on that show: not only do Jenny, Tara, Jonathon and Joyce not come back to life, but, even seasons later, it was clear that these traumas remainded as major forces on the characters who survived.

Abrams first show, Felicity, followed on the heels of the emergence of the W.B. as something more than a wrestling channel, an emergence initiated by BTVS. And it was a fun enough show for what it was. And then, in its last season, it decided to go all paranormal/alternate reality, which essentially showed a creative team so shallowly connected to their own production that they felt no shame about violating even the relatively modest premises of that simple show. I think this is a telling Abrams moment, and gets to the heart of why being an "entertainer who dabbles in just enough philosophy to make his work look cooler" makes for decent eye candy, but not much depth. (I will repeat here a comment I've made before: Lost seems to take its character development more seriously and appears to still have a possible hope of demonstrating that all its weirdest elements actually might tie together and not just be random "cool stuff," and I attribute this to the fact that Lindelof and Cuse, NOT Abrams, are the showrunners there, so may actually be more interested in the integrity of their characters and premises than J.J. is.)

ETA: and it can never be repeated enough: has there ever been a production company logo so clearly derivative of another one than "Bad Robot" is of "Mutant Enemy"? Heck, even Mary Tyler Moore's logo was a clever play on the MGM logo it spoofed, which can't be said of the robot.

[ edited by doubtful guest on 2009-05-13 21:03 ]
Also, I miss the days when television shows would air their seasons and then re-air them for people who missed them the first time around. The second airings usually attracted people like me who may have missed the beginning episodes and didn't want to start watching late in the game).

They "Re air" them online. 'Cos if they re air'd them on the network, they'd have to give some money to the writers, and they can't have that....
I've been occasionally watching Fringe for 2 reasons only: John Noble roxx and I've had a crush on Kirk Acevedo (who plays the FBI partner) for years. And it's a fairly decent show -- good stand-alones, creepy monsters, LOVE Walter, but it's not very compelling. I have only the vaguest ideas/feelings about what's going to happen next because I don't think the mysteries have an underlying meaning or substance.
Lost is one of the best shows ever made and has had huge payoffs for those who stuck with it and had the patience to wait for the answers to slowly emerge.


Here's how I determine that you're wrong on this score: the show spent all of Season Two down in the hatch for...what? Nothing. What difference does it make that Locke was right about the button and the ostensible hero Jack was 1,000% wrong? None. It affects the plot, of course, but nothing else, because There. Is. Nothing. Else. The 'huge payoffs' are just more plot, which might be melodramatically satisfying - hey, I teared up at the end of S1 when Sawyer gave Jack his dad's message - but be honest now, what the fuck difference does it make what's in the temple? What difference does it make whether 'one choice can change the future' or whatever middle-school proto-moral gobbledygook Faraday's spouting this week? All these puppets with their byzantine shared backstory and laughably illogical reactions to being on Fantasy Island...what do you take away from their adventures other than questions about the logistics of their adventures?

'The answers' refer only to the show's questions, and that's why it's not an important or interesting show. It's engaging the way a jigsaw puzzle is engaging: you want to finish putting it together, you have fun talking to your friends as you do so, and when you're done it sits on the table for a few days and then goes right back in the box.

Well-wrought art (with something on its mind other than its own structure) can't be put away like that. It doesn't boil down to a genre entertainment. Jossholes are spoiled - we're accustomed to stories that are about something other than themselves (hence the disappointment of the Angel comic - I digress). The reason there's no serious scholarship about the content of Lost (as opposed to the large and growing library of Buffy/Whedon studies) is that there isn't any content. Only misdirection and complication. When it's done you'll talk for a couple days about the process, about the text itself - you'll discuss formal features, maybe express disappointment that the romance(s) didn't go the way you'd hoped, etc.

Then it'll go back in the box. Along with all of Abrams's other 'Big Ideas.'

Where they might as well have stayed.

(Consider how many other shows could be shot with Lost's budget. Sigh.)
'The answers' refer only to the show's questions, and that's why it's not an important or interesting show.

I should note, mournfully, that Lost is historically important - probably one of the last big-budget on-location scripted dramas to be made by the networks in the Old Way. Abrams was right to lock in the big money for Fringe when he did - the Golden Age of consensus TV is ending. And Lost (along with the middling ER and such) bids it farewell.
So, I've already discussed this, but this article seems pretty on the ball. I started watching Fringe, gave up. I prefer my lead actors/actresses to be able to talk in the accent they are supposed to be playing, thank you (also, be um, interactive). Not sure where the author got charisma from, unless she got a +1 charisma hat after I stopped watching.
John Noble is awesome, but he wasn't enough for me. And I was never intrigued by any of the mysteries, though of course your mileage may vary.

I don't really understand philosophy myself, but I love Joss' works when they delve into them. Objects in Space is hands down my favorite Firefly episode, and its not just because it has a Boba Fett inspired nutty bounty hunter. But that is not Joss' main strength, it is rather characters that he uses to pose those questions.

I have to step in and defend Lost here. It may be more about questioning the wacky goings on and what not, but it still is better than the vast majority of television on (really only beat out by Dollhouse, Terminator and Battlestar Galactica, and well at least two of those are no more). Sure Joss' stuff is better, but that's obvious.

But really, the article seems to support what I've figured out for a while: the average person prefers more simplistic (I'm not saying Fringe is totally simplistic, but its more straight forward than Dollhouse, yeah?) to complex shows, especially when it comes to morality. Which saddens me greatly.

edit: I've just got to add, it confuses me why critics and some fans attack (or criticize, but there have been attacks) Eliza, since when you compare her to the lead in Fringe... well I can't think of a good simile (or is it metaphor?). But still, come on.

[ edited by SteppeMerc on 2009-05-13 21:19 ]
I find Lost deeply involving and moving because of the characters. So clearly, our mileages vary.

Not generally a fan of Abrams, though.
Like others have said, my problems with Lost are that it became about one-upping itself all the time with no care to the repercussions. There'd be some "game changer" event then a few episodes later some other big event that'd negate the previous one. It turned into a series of "Omigod!" moments but then when you sit and think about it afterwards there's little sense to be found.

Lost also became way too trigger happy for my tastes. It seems there's always some new batch of people to be found, crash land, dropped in, boated in, time-shift in, or whatever else so they have a new bunch of bodies to SHOCKINGLY KILL!!!!!

I find it amusing when I look back on when the show first started and they made such a fuss that there were "48 survivors" and I actually thought "Hey, at least they already have a bunch of people there so they can introduce new cast members when need be instead of having some crazy scenario where other people just happen to show up on this island in the middle of nowhere."

Maybe for some Lost being "better than so much else on TV" is enough but that's not enough of a reason for me. I only watch shows that I actively enjoy and Lost devolved to nonsense not worth my time a while ago.
There'd be some "game changer" event then a few episodes later some other big event that'd negate the previous one.

If this were the case, season five would look exactly like season one. And, pretty clearly, it's completely different. Each season of this show has been a change up from the prior, without, in fact, ever looking back or negating anything. So the above remark confuses me entirely.
I'd say Lost is as much about the characters - and the ensemble - as it is about the plot and mysteries. Hence flashbacks exploring their pasts, their motivations, what got them to where they are now. I think they are every bit as three dimensional as the best Joss characters, and there is much to dissect in the Lost-verse outside of putting the puzzle together.
Finally, a good title.

JJ vs. Joss means nothing.

JJ does nothing for Lost. Damien Lindelof and Carlton Cuse are the real people behind Lost. They handle everything and write a great lot of it.

JJ's name is just on it, that's it.
I think he meant "negating" in the sense that the previous game-changing event/revelation no longer matters. E.g. season 2 is all about the hatch, but who cares now because it's all about time travel. I think it is overstating it a little bit, of course, (finding out about what Ben did with the Others as a young boy is still ahving some pretty serious repurcussions) but overall I think it's true. The characters go through all kinds of stuff, and "discover" all kinds of things, and basically don't act much diffferently than they used to.

(Even the characterization on Lost seems to be more plot-driven than character-driven, if that makes any sense. Everyone's character/backstory is a shocking twist, rather than a building block for future motivations.)
Part of the reason his work attracts such vocal, enthusiastic, and, well, bugnuts psychotic fans is that it's centrally concerned with oddballs, outcasts, and underdogs.

Hey! I resemble that remark!
bonzob basically said everything I was thinking after reading this. I will say that it is by far the most interesting JJ vs. Joss article I've yet to read and the first that didn't make me hopping mad. (And yes, I'm a fan of both.)
#4 is a very good point. I hadn't really thought about how much I was inclined to dislike heiresses, pop stars, etc.
The characters go through all kinds of stuff, and "discover" all kinds of things, and basically don't act much diffferently than they used to.

I'm still confused! Heh. Season five Sawyer is nothing like season one Sawyer, as a result of his experiences. Locke has gone through all kinds of different behavior patterns as he's tried to decide who he is. Etc, etc. Jack went from having his stubbornness be part of what kept the survivors alive to routinely making him into just a kind of a**hole and obstacle. That's a whole lot of acting differently over the course of five years.

(I don't mean to berate or belabor the point. It's just that, for some reason whenever LOST comes up, I wonder what show I'm watching that other LOST viewers seemingly aren't.)
Just a not so much related curiosity: Walter's accent is from where?
Fringe had enormous advantages from the beginning, it premiered in late Summer before any other of the new Fall shows did, which (naturally) resulted in a large audience share. I watched the first two episodes but didn't see anything to attach me, and I switched to watching other shows as they premiered. I don't want to insult any fans of Abram's work, but personally I couldn't get through the first season of Lost, or a single episode of Alias, so I'm really not a fan (I did enjoy his Star Trek movie though).
In my opinion J.J. Abrams is never going to bring out the character growth, twisty plot surprises, elaborately laid foreshadowing, and amazing subtle humor that I know I'll always find in every Joss show (not in every episode, but always there in every story arc). I'll always stick with any new show Joss Whedon creates, but Abrams, not so much.
Really, b!x? I mean, I'm watching the show, too (and I like it). But it seems like the characters really don't have much depth still. Locke was talking about "doing what the island needs" in the first season, and he still is (he's a perfect example of a stand-in for a viewer in that way: he wants to believe, and he figures stuff out, but so far it's all still unclear blind faith). Sawyer is marginally less selfish and more caring I guess, but it all seems fairly superficial. Jack, I'll grant you, does seem differnt now, but not any more interesting; he's just more annoying.

(All that being said, I'm not sure that character change is all it's cracked up to be. I think really people DON'T change and what is interesting is not the changes they appear to undergo but the elucidation of their fundamental characters as they experience changes around them. I saw a lot more about how change affected and revealed the Scoobies' characters when they graduated from high school than I did from watching all kinds of world-shattering events happen to the Losties.)
I'll just say I agree with b!x, re: Lost. All the comments attempting to tear it down confuse me, because I disagree with everything they say. Lost thoroughly entertains me both emotionally and intellectually (it's thrilling and thought-provoking at the same time!) I am still amazed and pleased that it has been successful enough to be able to play out its story.
Locke might have come back to doing what the island needs, but he hasn't spent all five seasons there. He's had faith, lost faith, worked with Jack, worked against Jack, wandered around pretending like he was in control when he wasn't, now walking around acting like he's in control and might very well be. That's a lot of character progression.

I'll let it go, heh. It just seems to be the one show on TV for me where I can't seem to grok how other people are seeing it. It's weird.
Sorry, what I meant was that some new event would negate the importance of whatever other big event just occurred. Not that the event itself would be negated.

Even the flashbacks became just a means to SHOCK! and SUPRISE! with little follow through. Lots of "Look how X intertwined with Y!" which would then mean nothing. I remember a certain surprise ending involving a character revealed to be in a mental institution that Lindelof/Cuse said would be dealt with...but it hasn't. The same goes for those mysterious numbers that popped up throughout S1&S2 then sparingly (if ever?) after. Lindelof/Cuse said those were never going to be explained so, again, what's the point?

It's not that we're watching different shows, I suppose that we just look for different things. For example, if a whole season is spent telling us the importance of the hatch and how it's so very important--it's important!--only for it to pretty much be irrelevant afterwards then what did they just waste a season for? Look at those Others, they're so mysterious--aren't they mysterious??!!?--okay, and now here's a freighter full of new people--aren't THEY mysterious!?!?

I don't need everything to be explained but if the show itself is a mystery that beats a viewer over the head with "mysteries" and questions that then just go unanswered or plotlines/characters that turn out to be completely unimportant (the tail section survivors, for example) then I just can't trust the writers know where they're going or what they're doing anymore.

There are a lot of good ideas but no follow through.
Um. The hatch sure as Hell ain't irrelevant anymore. Are you still watching? ;)
Chaos, I wikied it and the character was born in Cambridge and went to Harvard, Oxford and MIT. Since the actor is Australian, the accents might not match up (not really sure what a Cambridge accent sounds like), but I'd think that his moving around along with his crazyness could account for it.

b!x, I agree on the characters changing, and it is the main reason I watch the show. I just wish that Sawyer had reverted back to his old ways in Season 5 (controlling, power hungry, manipulative) without Kate (since I always thought she was his main moral compass). Not a huge fan of him with Juliet, though it is better than having Jack and Kate together.

And it seems to me that Locke's crazy decisions seem to be a bit more plot oriented than character driven, especially as the seasons went on, though I hope I'm wrong regarding his latest crazy choice (regarding Jacob). That said, I do believe that Locke, and all the characters have gone through changes, and indeed I oversimplified things when I was talking about 'wacky goings ons'.

edit: Oh, and the Numbers were explained. They are the Valenzeti (sp?) Equation.

edit 2: I for one cannot wait to see Star Trek (well I have waited, but I look forward to seeing it ASAP). I do admit that I never liked Rodenberry's idealistic vision... I liked some of the original Star Trek movies (generally agreeing with Simon Pegg's description of every odd numbered one being crap), TNG was ok, sometimes really good, sometimes meh, but to me DS9 was the best. Dark, political, and you can really see the evolution from Ron Moore's work in DS9 to Battlestar. I'm not expecting the new Star Trek to be as dark and awesome as that, but I for one care little about sticking to Rodenberry's 'vision', as I find it far too idealistic.

[ edited by SteppeMerc on 2009-05-13 22:08 ]
Well, to be fair, the numbers were explained... outside the show in The LOST Experience game. They've yet to actually be explained in the show.
I finally gave up on it at the end of S4 with the ridiculous disappearing island. I've seen bits and pieces of S5, but nothing that amounts to more than stuff on while I was in the room while someone else watched.

That they finally got around to addressing some of the issues I mentioned is good (although via game doesn't really count to me, sorry. I didn't know I was signing up for the Lost Experience Game just because I tuned in), but the fact remains that I have zero faith in the writers after years of subpar storytelling and the characters themselves annoyed me to no end with their stupidity and endless gullibility ("Well, he has screwed us over endlessly...but I think we should believe Ben this time" and crap like that). Jack's one that especially got on my nerves.
What does "explained" mean in this context? Is it explained why they keep showing up everywhere and why they're significant when they do (the hatch combo, the lottery winnings, allt he seemingly random occurences)? Or, are they jsut given yet another meaning?

I sound really down on Lost, and I'm actually not. I have watched the show since it started (I may have missed some episodes in the second or third season). I have a fairly good sense of what's going on in it, but dont' follow it obsessively. And, I guess that's what I'm saying; it doesn't make me want to follow it obsessively either in a I-really-care-about-the-characters way or in a I-really-care-about-the-sci-fi way. That hasn't stopped me from watching and enjoying it, but it has stopped me from loving it the way I love certain shows, like those by Joss and a few, select others.)
Thanks SteppeMerc, I don't know why but this little thing bothered me a lot.
Abrams first show, Felicity, followed on the heels of the emergence of the W.B. as something more than a wrestling channel, an emergence initiated by BTVS. And it was a fun enough show for what it was. And then, in its last season, it decided to go all paranormal/alternate reality, which essentially showed a creative team so shallowly connected to their own production that they felt no shame about violating even the relatively modest premises of that simple show.


doubtful guest Did you not watch to the end? Sorry for the Felicity spoilers here, but that whole time travel thing was all just a dream, don't you know? (which in my book is a copout, but that's beside the point.)
Regarding the accent in Fringe. When I referred to it I was talking about Olivia's terrible American accent, not Walter. I adore Walter and may start watching the show again for him. But as soon as Olivia opened her mouth I knew she wasn't American. If her character was something other than an FBI agent, I might have accepted it. Or if her character was interesting in any way. But as it is, it was just one more thing interfering with my suspension of disbelief.
electricspacegirl -- it was a dream that was the direct content of a large chunk of the season. I suppose a debate could be had about how many episodes of a series can be a dream sequence before it stops being a potentially revealing trope to examine the characters or situations from a new angle and starts just being a cop out, with BTVS' "Normal Again" at one end of the spectrum and that season of "Dallas" at the other end. Heck, I'll even give props to "Roseanne" for seeming to actually be trying something revealling that may or may not have worked with its last season, but the Felicity dream sequences struck me as the creators being bored/out of ideas and jumping on an extended idea that did little to take their characters or premise into meaningful or particularly entertaining territory.
Doubtful guest, where would you put the Bob Newhart show dream sequence that seemed to have negated the entire series?! lol
(that just proved to me that if you push a bad idea far enough it become amazing).
embers, nice example. I think I would say that, since it placed the entire series as a dream, it didn't actually undercut whatever investment viewers had in the characters or situation any more than if the series had closed with the real Bob Newheart saying "hey, this whole thing was just a tv series!" And, of course, it had the added punch of slyly referencing not only Newheart's own history as a TV star of a previous series, but something of the interchangeable nature of the two shows' setups of Newheart as a sane everyman/straightman surrounded by a community of nuts and eccentrics.
The Bob Newhart finale was great!! Too bad for me a stupid radio station spoiled the finale by announcing the twist at the end the day it aired!!!
I agree with everything Septimus said.

[ edited by electricspacegirl on 2009-05-13 23:23 ]
I know I'm on Whedonesque, and I love all of Joss AND JJ's work, but IMO, JJ Abrams is a brilliant creator. My complaint is that he gives up on his shows after a few years, but so does Joss. At around Season 5/6 of Buffy, Joss kinda disappeared. Joss was never at the head of Angel, and Joss was always with Dollhouse and Firefly because, well, they've lasted a season. I guess people get bored and move on? :(

But with Fringe vs. Dollhouse, I think Fringe wins. Not because it's more easy for me to grasp, I find it more entertaining, and guess what, better written. Dollhouse wins in the premise, but hey, Buffy wouldn't have beaten anyone with that premise, either. I think Fringe is great, I think Lost is great, and I think Alias is great. Lost to a lesser degree, because, well, it's going a bit crazy, although Seasons 4 & 5 have been great.

So, I agree with all the differences the article presented, I don't see it as looking down upon Abrams. I think Whedon and Abrams are two of the best in the business, definitely making some of my favorite shows ever!
In this context "explained" means they've told us (outside the show, unfortunately) what the numbers actually are. Not that they've explained why the pop up all over the place. But at that point we get to the subjective bits: I don't care if all the various elements of LOST aren't explained by the end.

Something about the nature of the show itself, for me, makes me perfectly comfortable with the possibility (and who knows, either way, since we have another season to go) that the world of the show is simply chock full of, "Life is a mystery." And I do get, unquestionably, that on that sort of count, everyone's mileage not only may vary, but likely does.
I love Lost. I just don't think that (after the pilot) it's a JJ Abrams show.
doubtful guest, but your point was that the Felicity showrunners violated the premise of the show, and I was disagreeing with you. Felicity having a dream that she time-traveled, IMO doesn't violate the premise.

I do agree it was a cop-out, and I think her ending up with Ben was a huge mistake and just sends the message that giving up on your life goals to chase after a guy is a good idea. I think the several episode dream she had should have been the wake-up call that she was in love with Noel the entire time, but oh I digress.
So the article basically said that Fringe is dumbed down sci-fi-melodrama and Dollhouse is too deep...so basically the majority of viewers are dumb and shallow...damn...this guy is perceptive!!
benboy606, what Joss did with Buffy and Angel is totally different than what happened with J.J. and Lost. Joss still wrote for Buffy after Season 5, and he was certainly more involved in Season 5 of Angel than any other seasonsbecause Buffy ended and Firefly got canceled. Where as J.J. is not involved at all in Lost, its Damien Lindelof and Carlton Cuse's show now.

[ edited by SteppeMerc on 2009-05-13 23:40 ]
Oh, I know! I was more talking about Alias. JJ lost some interest after Season 2, but he was still actively involved.
Love Lost, Fringe and Dollhouse.

Think JJ and Joss are both incredibly talented at what they do.

What they each do is different.
I did not think any of Firefly eps were weak, my favorite being Out of Gas.

Having to think is one of the reasons I love Joss Whedon shows, you can not just blindly zombie through them, at least not and get anything out of them. I love the twist and turns in Joss shows and the reason I think Buffy is the best TV series ever is I don't know any female that has not had a relationship that is bad for her, but still kept going back because as Spike said, "Great love is wild and passionate and dangerous, it burns and consumes" Yep love hurts and Joss examines all of that, the good and the bad and makes you think...and those are the ones I smile about.

Dollhouse just kept getting better after ep 5, and I need a season 2. I do watch Fringe, but don't think it is in the same class with DH, stopped watching Lost after 5 eps, I don't stop watching Joss shows.
Well put, gossi.

(And, thanks for the explanation about the explanation of the numbers, b!x. I'm actually okay with a good bit of "life is a mystery" stuff, too.)
Hey, a fellow Kirk Acevedo fan (waves "hi" to dottikin)! I too started watching Fringe because of Kirk. Wouldn't it be fun if Joss wrote, or directed an epissode or two of Fringe.
Locke has went though a lot of changes for the 5 seasons taking place only over a few months of his life. The Hatch was the reason the plane crashed. It's all come around again this season. I think the numbers will be dealt with even considering the title of Lost season 5's finale tonight. Or not...


I loved a lot (perhaps most) of Alias though what I didn't love I hated. Lost and Dollhouse are my favorite shows right now. I really like Fringe as well and I still have 3 episodes to watch of the season.

[ edited by beckyboo on 2009-05-14 06:16 ]
What b!x said re: Lost. I did have some issues with season 2 (actually stopped watching for a while), but it's been steadily getting better since then. I love the mysteries, the time-travel, the smoke monster--all of it. And the characters IMO are fantastic: how can you not love Desmond? Or Daniel Faraday? Or Ben Linus? (Yeah, he's evil, but he's also one of the best characters in anything ever.) I'd say we've seen tons of character development over the five seasons--look at Sun!

But I'm pretty sure what I love about Lost comes more from Lindelof & Cuse & BKV than from JJ.

(Edited 'cause I accidentally made everything bold. One of these days I'm going to figure out HTML . . .)

[ edited by erendis on 2009-05-14 00:28 ]
Lost is by far one of the best shows of all time. It fits comfortably into the top five, and I doubt it will be moving any time soon.

I enjoy Joss, and I enjoy JJ. I enjoy Dollhouse, and I enjoy Fringe. I think Joss is obviously the better of the two, but I think it's sort of like comparing two completely different things. JJ doesn't try to be Joss. Where JJ falters, though, is consistency. ALIAS was pretty bad as a whole, with some oddly fantastic moments sprinkled conservatively over really dry story arcs. FRINGE is much better, taking its weak start and getting better every week; at this point, it is consistenly good from week to week. The article nails why I'm more attracted to Joss's works, absolutely. I think JJ tells great stories, but that Joss's work is more human.

Though... I would never consider LOST a product of JJ. He worked on the beginning, yeah, but it's not his baby. I'm almost as much as LOST fan as I am a Joss fan.
Yeah it's always weird how these convos become Lost discussions, since JJ had so little to do with that show. For me, the first two seasons of Alias are JJ's best TV work. The high points of those seasons are as good as anything Joss has done, IMO, even though I far prefer Joss overall.
The One True b!X
(I don't mean to berate or belabor the point. It's just that, for some reason whenever LOST comes up, I wonder what show I'm watching that other LOST viewers seemingly aren't.)

Maybe you are watching the version that William Bell gets in his alternate reality office.
For me, the first two seasons of Alias are JJ's best TV work.


Why does everyone say that? What's wrong with the third season? I loved the first three seasons, but after that it got too stand-aloney so not as much later. But I thought season three was very compelling.
Two Words: Melissa George.

Well, there were lots of other things I didn't like about Season 3, but that's what stands out for me. I would also say without the double agent idea, the spy stuff wasn't as compelling, and without Will and Francie as outsiders, there was no connection to Syd's "real" world. Plus it got far too talky and soapy, and the unbelievable plots just got more unbelievable. And the Season 3 premiere was just a watered-down version of the same plot JJ used for the Alias pilot AND Mission Impossible 3. And the finale was unmemorable, especially compared to the amazing finales of the first two seasons.

There were still bright spots, but the only episode I really remember as great was the one with Ricky Gervais.
ALIAS was pretty bad as a whole, with some oddly fantastic moments sprinkled conservatively over really dry story arcs. FRINGE is much better, taking its weak start and getting better every week; at this point, it is consistenly good from week to week.


Wow, this just goes to show how this is all totally subjective. Alias is my favorite of JJ's work and I find Fringe difficult at best. I'm still watching Fringe and am finding that I am enjoying it more, but the characters are dull (with the exception of the father) and the acting at times can be...well... almost painful. I often wonder why this became such a hit show, even though the first several episodes were not that great, while Dollhouse continued to struggle even as it became brilliant in the later episodes.

Of course, the American Idol lead in didn't hurt.

BTW, this is my first post here. [First Post Wave] I've been reading for about a year and decided to finally jump in and get my feet wet.
The last season of Alias got the same thing as the last season of Angel - the network said "make it more standalone" and "drop the Rimbaldi stuff" and then cancelled it anyway. That doesn't make me any less bitter towards JJ about the finale though. :P As I said on another thread, I think JJ makes great *movies* but somehow loses the thread of what he's doing with longer TV shows. (Felicity's ending, by the way, had a similar 'oops' from the network IIRC - cancelled early, then an order for some more episodes. Thus the odd ending stuff with alternate realities and dreams. Still again I don't forgive the sudden total shift in the direction & message of Felicity's character, as electricspacegirl pointed out earlier.)

Lost is indeed as far as I can tell completely run by Lindelof & Cuse at this point, so really shouldn't even be mentioned as JJ's show. I think in fact it might actually have been Abrams who said that it wouldn't go all supernatural, and I think he said at some point he had no over-arching plan (unlike what Lindelof & Cuse try to stress now- that this is all going somewhere). *shrug* But regarding the quality & character development: I had very similar problems with the early seasons. Then I re-watched in a DVD marathon, and realized as I was watching just *how little* time was passing for the characters. In most shows when we go away for a week, so do the characers. We watch for a season, and 9 months (or whatever) has passed in the characters' lives as well. On Lost, that wasn't the case - each episode was a day, and not a week, later. I still have my reservations about the show & problems with it, but given that its' *not* JJ Abrams heading up the ending, I'm holding out some hope. ;) And the stuff happening now, as b!x has pointed out, certainly is seeming to be heading for some really interesting tying-it-together-ness.
I watched Lost for one year, was enthralled with it until the final episode of that first season and never returned. I realized they were making it up on the fly and did not know where they were going. But that's me, and I realize that any show may not be for any given person. No other JJ Abrams show has ever engaged me. Every Joss show has, though. Well, except for DH so far, but even DH has a better idea at its core than anything Abrams does, imho.
Two Words: Melissa George.


Haha. But I love a good antagonist. I agree that the show suffered once Sydney was no longer a double agent, and when they got rid of her friends. I didn't really start missing that until season 4 though. I appreciate certain aspects of 4 and 5 but the show definitely paled in comparison to the first 3. After that I enjoyed just watching to mock the characters and root for Sark.

I liked the Alias finale but one thing they got totally wrong. It should have been revealed in the end that Sloane was actually Rambaldi, he just needed all his artifacts to tap into his immortal powers. It would have been cheesy and wtf, sure, but it would have explained why he was so obsessed with Rambaldi. I continue to believe that is what happened, the show just didn't tell us.
It's my fault that the conversation became Lost. Sorry. I have only seen the pilot, so it seemed relevant.

I'll have to watch more Fringe before I judge it, but I was far more interested in Dollhouse by the second episode than Fringe. But part of that might be because Joss does have my loyalty in a way that JJ doesn't. I was ready to like Dollhouse. I was indifferent going into Fringe.
I feel that I should chime in and speak truthfully, and say that despite loving Joss' previous works...I don't care at all for Dollhouse anymore. Not at all. I'm pretty sure the apathy came after not actually seeing the kind of intrigue or progress I had expected. I really just don't care anymore.

I think gossi said it best...JJ Abrams and Joss Whedon do different things. It doesn't make one better than the other. I love certain works. Buffy will always have a special place, but Fringe is really exciting for me right now. And Star Trek...wow. But it doesn't mean we can reduce to deriding other fans of other works. To be fair, you've all been pretty civil, but ultimately it's all subjective. I love Fringe. I really don't care for Dollhouse anymore. If it gets canceled, I'm okay with that. I would like to see it renewed because I think Joss is brilliant - but like JJ Abrams, he is also fallible. People make mistakes, they write the wrong thing, they just don't make it work.

I never watched Felicity, but I loved Alias, at least the first three seasons, particularly the first two. I thought it was absolutely fantastic work, and I loved the characters. I think JJ is a wonderful storyteller, and never fails to absolutely entertain me.

Joss' work also entertains me...it's not a bad thing to want to be entertained, and it's not a bad thing to ignore the cerebral once in a while. For all of his questions on the nature of human trafficking, Joss really pulled in a lot of silly, ludicrous things as well...so I guess that makes him a genius, but if JJ Abrams wants to make another Slusho reference, he's derided as being a hack or being less brilliant? No! It can't be that way. If the standard is such, apply it to both people.

And for what it's worth...subjectivity makes us interesting. But it should also make us appreciate the candor and civility in a discussion.

And it's interesting for me to note that while I'm definitely a huge, massive fan of Joss, I am equally a fan of JJ. My fandoms can coexist, can't they?

[ edited by The Ninja Report on 2009-05-14 02:54 ]
This was best part of my day...

Alan Tudyk's jaw-droppingly awesome guest shot on Dollhouse wins the crazy-off hands down. Give the man an Emmy already. Possibly five.

Agreed!
Lost is one of the best shows ever made and has had huge payoffs for those who stuck with it and had the patience to wait for the answers to slowly emerge.



Here's how I determine that you're wrong on this score: the show spent all of Season Two down in the hatch for...what? Nothing. What difference does it make that Locke was right about the button and the ostensible hero Jack was 1,000% wrong? None. It affects the plot, of course, but nothing else, because There. Is. Nothing. Else. The 'huge payoffs' are just more plot, which might be melodramatically satisfying - hey, I teared up at the end of S1 when Sawyer gave Jack his dad's message - but be honest now, what the fuck difference does it make what's in the temple? What difference does it make whether 'one choice can change the future' or whatever middle-school proto-moral gobbledygook Faraday's spouting this week? All these puppets with their byzantine shared backstory and laughably illogical reactions to being on Fantasy Island...what do you take away from their adventures other than questions about the logistics of their adventures?

'The answers' refer only to the show's questions, and that's why it's not an important or interesting show. It's engaging the way a jigsaw puzzle is engaging: you want to finish putting it together, you have fun talking to your friends as you do so, and when you're done it sits on the table for a few days and then goes right back in the box.

Well-wrought art (with something on its mind other than its own structure) can't be put away like that. It doesn't boil down to a genre entertainment. Jossholes are spoiled - we're accustomed to stories that are about something other than themselves (hence the disappointment of the Angel comic - I digress). The reason there's no serious scholarship about the content of Lost (as opposed to the large and growing library of Buffy/Whedon studies) is that there isn't any content. Only misdirection and complication. When it's done you'll talk for a couple days about the process, about the text itself - you'll discuss formal features, maybe express disappointment that the romance(s) didn't go the way you'd hoped, etc.

Then it'll go back in the box. Along with all of Abrams's other 'Big Ideas.'

Where they might as well have stayed.

(Consider how many other shows could be shot with Lost's budget. Sigh.)


This is exactly how I feel about Lost vs Dollhouse.

Congratulations on summing up my point of view so eloquently waxbanks.
Ninja, I too appreciate candor and civility in a discussion (they go best together - one without the other tends to fall flat). I'm curious to hear more about your problems with Dollhouse, especially regarding the perceived double-standard between Whedon and Abrams.

My own thoughts - Whedon's certainly had his share of silly fun, and I don't have a problem with either one doing it. I'm still a Dollhouse fan despite being a little let down by the finale. When did it lose you?

I also really enjoyed Star Trek and have followed Lost over the years. For a while I watched with passing interest, but it's picked up again recently. Fringe turned me off in the beginning, but I've been hearing good things, so I might check out some of Zack Whedon's episodes if they're still online.
I tend to agree with waxbanks's comments (helpfully reposted by mortimer). My involvement with Lost is fairly superficial; it doesn't really do much more for me than make me curious about what's around the corner. Given that it's done this successfully for its entire run so far, I think the show deserves some credit as far as technique goes. But when it comes to finding deeper meaning, I haven't bothered.

I think this speaks a great deal about the show's success. Television is expected to be entertainment and not much more. The people who watch TV, it seems, mostly want something to pass the time. The people who expect more from art tend not to look for it in TV - Whedon fans being perhaps the significant exception. The problem is that there just aren't enough of us. There are too many prejudices to overcome. Whedon himself seems to take a perverse pleasure in lowering people's expectations in order to subvert them, and it took me years to look past the superficial premise of Buffy to see it for what it was. Unfortunately, most people never get past that first impression.

Abrams is very very good at piquing people's curiosities, getting them to tune in, and then keeping them with the promise of more. Whedon, on the other hand, seems to love challenging himself by daring people to underestimate him, playing on people's knee-jerk reactions and rewarding those few who are capable of seeing past them. Everything from concept to show title to execution seems to beg to be pigeon-holed, only so he can break out of the confinement and surprise people once again. He succeeds brilliantly from a creative standpoint, but from a marketing one he tends to leave most people behind in the process.

Of course, I wouldn't change a thing about the shows themselves. The major problem is in the medium - it requires too much money. As much as I want to see Dollhouse continue, the internet may ultimately be the most promising place for Whedon.
I really don't get that view of Lost. It's the most character driven show on television. We're allowed to get so close to these characters, to see them at their best and worst; the entire show hinges around their actions and reactions, which is why it's taking so long to get down to the mystery of the island. They haven't figured it out, so of course we haven't. And as far as moral ambiguity and exploring the nature of good and evil and everything in-between, Lost is probably the only show that has done that as much as, if not more than, Joss Whedon's shows do. The "they're making it up" as they go along but might be applicable to the first three seasons, yeah (though why a fellow Whedonite would take issue with that is beyond me, Joss is the king of making beautiful stories that are loosely plotted and filled in as they go along), but for the past two seasons, every single story beat has been completely purposeful. Especially after the season finale tonight, the way everything came together... it just can no longer be argued that the show 100% knows where it's going. It went from a "How will they ever bring all these mysteries together" to by far the most tightly plotted show on television. After "Briar Rose," I'd say DOLLHOUSE probably had a better overall season (maybe), but I can't see how LOST can be seen as a show that is more jigsaw puzzle than anything else.
I think Joss' kind of art would flourish on cable. Look at the kind of shows there are there; Mad Men, Dexter, Breaking Bad, True Blood. These show are able to thrive being the quirky, edgy productions that they are, yet still being popular on their respective networks, enough so that they get their renewals just a few episodes into a season. Joss belongs in that kind of nurturing landscape.
EDIT: Forget it. I'm kind of done talking about Lost, as I stopped watching it for a reason.

[ edited by Dhoffryn on 2009-05-14 07:02 ]
Dhoffryn, no one is saying "Yeah, they don't really know what they're doing for the first three seasons but then after that it gets good!" -- what they're saying is that the direction of the show was still evolving during the first part of the series, but they aren't saying that evoluton wasn't yet "good".
I haven't seen the finale tonight, but I think that this is probably the best plotted season of Lost to date, with quite a few interesting reversals and reveals: definitely, I don't think either this or last season were made up by the writers as they were going along. BUT I still don't find it character-driven, except in very manufactured ways. The entire first half of the season was essentially about getting the Oceanic Six (well, except Aaron) to return to the island, for example, but virtually all the running around there turned out to be irrelevant: Ben's taking legal action about Kate's custody of Aaron was a narrative dead end, as was the concept of Sun taking out revenge for the death of her husband, or Hugo's locking himself away. And I know that many plotlines on other shows, good ones, disintegrate; but in each case they were essentially dropped, because ultimately they didn't any real emotional purpose, but a plot one. They were just roadblocks to getting them back to the island. The Dharma plotline relies on Sawyer, Juliet, Jin and Miles being perfectly happy and well-adjusted in the 1970s, and for the most part there isn't really an explanation of why, besides the oft-repeated line that "Jim" and Juliet have each other's backs. Sawyer and Juliet have reasonable chemistry, but their romance did not develop organically from the characters; the writers skipped that step by jumping into the future, so that their relationship can create tension when Jack and Kate return. It forms a plot point, not a character one, which is a shame.

(And I still can't stand the characters' absolute lack of interest in people who aren't major characters--not only are everyone left on the island besides Locke, Sawyer, Jin, Juliet, Miles, Dan, and Charlotte dispensed with immediately--bye Rose & Bernard!--but no one besides Hurley even bothers trying to prevent people from crashing on the island and having their lives ruined, on the Oceanic return flight. And of course, the fact that Frank knows that they are probably going to crash on the island and still flies anyway is incredibly bizarre.)

And the reason it's a problem when Lost, say, makes it up as it goes along, whereas it's not a problem when Whedon shows do, is that Whedon shows aren't predicated on a mystery. The emotional beats mostly follow the "story" (the Oceanic Six are going to return to the island--why?), rather than the other way around.
Exactly, b!X.
I just realized that waxbank's comment about Lost being a jigsaw puzzle apparently applies to discussions about Lost too. At least for me. It's a show I never intended to watch, up until the point of experiencing pleasure of being one of the very few people not involved in its mysteries. And it was from that perspective where I suddenly started to listen in on the discussions (like this one here), being enthralled by the "What's gonna happen next?" and "But what does it mean?" waiting for the pieces to come together to get a short, satisfying burst of "Aha!" out of it. In a weird way, I am watching the show.
Great thread!

Ok, that defense of Lost I wrote just now was way too wordy, so I gave up and deleted it. Suffice to say, I finally enjoyed TV other than Joss and Co. TV after 1) palehorse's BSG and Lost approval (so I gave 'em a try and yay! Loved them!) and 2) I took off my Joss-tinted glasses and accepted the works of others on their own merit, and made a conscious effort not to judge them by my Joss-stained "quality" measuring stick as well.

That's not directed at any individual poster here. I just realized that I was less critical of some good, even not great, works if I stopped looking for a Joss and Co.-level of quality.
I've sometimes been frustrated that Joss has become too enamored with the philosophy and the ideas, at the expense of the entertainment. Its why I didn't like the original Dollhouse pilot script, or some of the weaker episodes of Firefly. It felt to me like he had taken a great setup for a slam-bang genre show (cowboys in space! sexy girls on dangerous missions!) and then filled those concepts with lots of dialogue- driven scenes where morally ambiguous characters debate philosophical concepts, when what drew me to him originally was the way he could find the balance between the two.


Haven't read the rest of the comments yet, but .... this is exactly what I love about Joss, and what sets him (and his regular writers) apart from anyone else working in TV right now, with the exception of Ron Moore and Co.

"Morally ambiguous characters debate philosophical concepts", is as good as it gets, for me. Especially with Joss's eccentric language and humor thrown in.
This is what he has always, done, all the way back to BtS. Without that unique element, the cowboys in space and sexy girls on dangerous missions would be a big yawn, after a few eps.

And 'weaker' episodes of Firefly? Weaker is a really relative concept, applied to Firefly. I'd be inclined to go with "the somewhat less awesome eps". ;)
EF:spelling

[ edited by Shey on 2009-05-14 12:19 ]
Not entirely on topic, but I do want to say that the season finale of Lost last night was pretty fantastic. There was good plotting and interesting reveals, and even some human drama and consequences (we'll see how much of those are wiped away by the ending, of course).
"lots of dialogue- driven scenes where morally ambiguous characters debate philosophical concepts"

..so, like, astronauts vs. cavemen?...
Yes, exactly!

Seriously, astronauts vs. cavemen worked very well. On the surface, it was humorous and frivolous, but dig a little deeper and it was a really immediate way of showing just how much Angel and Spike get under each others' skins, and how much Spike enjoys it. Angel gets more passionate and upset over this frivolous argument than we've seen from just about anything else.

Also, it tied into the deeper themes of the episode as all of Wolfram and Hart's technology failed to help Fred escape the clutches of the ancient primitive power of Illyria. As Fred realized towards the end, "Cavemen win."

Over-reliance on technology and power had created a serious blind-spot for team Angel, and they paid the price. At least, that's one way of looking at it.

[ edited by zoinkers on 2009-05-14 16:56 ]
April November: I also have recently discovered other non-Joss shows that I loved. For me personally Lost isn't one of them, but discovering the UK Office, Arrested Development, Mad Men, Dexter, and to a degree Battlestar have really helped me take off my rose-tinted Joss glasses. :)

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