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May 29 2009

Tracy Bellomo and Andrew Chambliss back for Dollhouse. @MoTancharoen answers a Twitter inquiry from Australia and confirms that the writers of "Needs" and "A Spy in the House of Love" (respectively) will be back in the writers room for the second season of Dollhouse.

Great news. Chambliss wrote my favourite episode of the season and Needs was strong too. I'm glad Joss brought in some new writers so it's not just all the same Buffy / Angel / Firefly writers
Very glad Andrew Chambliss is coming back, based on the quality of "A Spy in the House of Love" (before that, according to IMDB, I don't see any screen writing credits, though he was an assistant to the executive producer on Crossing Jordan--haven't seen it--and for almost the entire first season of Heroes). I don't know what my favorite episode of Dollhouse's first season is (so far, without having seeing "Epitaph 1"), not without a re-watch, but that's a serious contender.

Tracy Bellomo wrote a couple episodes of Smallville before joining the Dollhouse staff (no idea if they were good ones, it was after I stopped watching in Season 4, Season 6 looks like was her year) and before that was Jeffrey Bell's assistant during Angel Season 5 and for a season of Alias as well. Thought "Needs" was okay, was sort of an unwelcome interruption in the arc at that point (I like the quasi-filler at the beginning of my TV seasons, if at all, depending on whether the show calls for it), but it explored some curious ideas.

Eager to see what these two do for Dollhouse Season 2.
That's weird, I didn't see "Needs" as an interruption of the arc in the slightest.
I'm always curious to know how much individual writers actually write of the episodes which have their names on them. Because if Andrew Chambliss really did write most of Spy then I think his own writing for the show beat even Joss's and Tim's (MotS and Omega are my other two favourites)
Needs was about one of the main arcs of the show: Echo's growing self-awareness and it was the first time we saw Caroline in the present day. Plus we got backstory on Sierra and Mellie and a little about the Sierra / Victor romance. I thought it was one of the arcier episodes

That said, I didn't like it as much as most people seemed to. It was pretty good but I was expecting more from the magical second half of the season. For me MotS lived up to the hype, Echoes and Needs didn't really (though I enjoyed both) and Spy was absolutely incredible
Since De Knight and Espenson are gone, they may be adding even more new blood actually.

And yeah, Chambliss and Bellomo are good, but I'm with Let Down, I always wonder how much of a script has Joss's imprint on it, even if it's credited to another writer. And I agree if Chambliss did write most of ASITHOL, we've got a core of three home run hitters, which'll be great. I still am not sure about Jed and Maurissa, but since they wrote the script for the supposedly awesome thirteenth episode, maybe I'll change my mind.
Very cool. Those are two of my fave episodes.
So far so good. I too wonder how much of Joss is in the awesome episodes that he ostensibly didn't write. Because "A Spy in the House of Love" and "Needs" (along with MotS) were pretty darned awesome.

Are Craft and Fain still showrunners? Or have they moved on to Lie to me?
Seeing as how I thought "Needs" and "A Spy in the House of Love" did a great job and developing the characters of the show as well as advancing the season's plot, I think it's great they're both returning. But what's this about DeKnight and Espenson not coming back? I need my Steven and Jane fix.
DeKnight has Spartacus, and Espenson has Caprica.
What has two thumbs and is feeling a little self-conscious right now? This guy.

Good news. 'Needs' and 'A Spy...' were my favourites of the season, and sure, scripts are often the product of the whole room, but you have to imagine the credited writer gets the lion's share of passes.
I hope that some time further down the track they can each do an episode. That would rock. It's weird - they're two of my favourite Whedoneverse writers but mainly because when they're good they're very good. I think they're both a bit hit and miss. Jane Espenson wrote brilliant stuff like Earshot and Pangs but also the unfunny, over-the-top and pretty stupid Triangle. And DeKnight wrote some amazing things especially when they involved dark and twisted stories (Dead Things and Deep Down are both extraordinary) but also wrote some rather tedious episodes (Spiral springs to mind and his Dollhouse episode was my least favour of the 12. That might not be his fault, though). Bit pity that they're not coming back, thoug

[ edited by Let Down on 2009-05-29 08:30 ]
Tim Minear is back, too.
Joss should track down Dan Vebber and ask him to write many, many Dollhouse episodes. I mean, Lovers Walk and The Zeppo. How did they never get that guy back?
I think the running theory is that those episodes were so great because Joss did page-one rewrites on them, Let Down. Not to insult Mr. Vebber. But I'm pretty sure Joss has at least admitted to writing just about all of Lovers Walk.
While Joss does a pass on every script, like many showrunners do - it's common to hear writers on commentaries and docs for Buffy and Angel (can't remember if I've heard it on Firefly) talk about how often people come up to them and say "That line in that episode you did was so funny/brilliant/moving, it's the best thing in the episode", and inevitably it's Joss' - I've gotten the impression that the majority of any episode has actually been written by the credited writer.

At any rate, I've never gotten the impression it was a Deadwood, David-Milch-dictating-to-the-writer's-room kind of deal.
I remember reading that Carl Ellsworth was fired after he turned in his one ep "Halloween," and that Joss did a page one rewrite on that. He went on to be a pretty successful screenwriter, though, writing Red Eye and Disturbia.

I never heard that about Dan Vebber, but I suppose it could be true. Although he also went on to be a pretty great Futurama writer. And wasn't he friends with Joss? Or was that Ty King (who also wrote two eps)? I know one of them was.

Anyway, yeah, Chambliss is a young writer. He was Tim Kring's assistant on Crossing Jordan and followed him to Heroes. Dollhouse is his first writing gig.

Needs remains my favorite ep of the season (although Spy is right up there). What was great about Needs to me was not just the writing, but the directing. I hope Felix Alcala directs more eps in season two, because this ep was stunningly shot, whereas some other episodes (Briar Rose and Stage Fright spring to mind) were shot in a rather pedestrian, generic TV show manner. Note: Briar Rose is still a fantastic episode of TV. I just thought the direction was ho hum. The script and acting were phenomenal.
Also. at least on the Drew-Goddard-credited Conversations With Dead People, most of the episode was written by Joss, Marti and Jane. So on that one, Halloween, and probably Lover's Walk at least, the credited writer didn't write the majority of the episode. I think that the newbie writers are more likely to have that happen, while they're still getting up to speed. Don't know for sure, of course.
I have heard it said that Joss wrote a lot of Lovers Walk but I've never seen this confirmed. Jobo, have you seen the interview where Joss confired writing most of those ep's? I do see Joss's hand all over Lovers Walk but The Zeppo (which I like even more) doesn't feel much like a Joss episode to me. But what would I know - I was convinved that Joss wrote 'the hammer is my penis'

I've gotten the impression that the majority of any episode has actually been written by the credited writer.

I dunno, it really seems to depend on the episode. If you listen to Jane Espenson describe the writing process on 'Earshot' it seems that Joss's input was massive - the basics of the plot was his, he rewrote a number of scenes, he rejected the initial ending, he cut particular dialogue he didn't like and suggested Jane improve various jokes. But listen to Fury and Noxon on Bargaining Part 1 and 2 and it's clear Joss didn't have anywhere near as much involvement. And on Angel he seemed to leave the writers to do their own thing a lot more

Winther, what's the deal on Deadwood? I'm just getting into the show now (yep, it's brilliant). I had noticed the real consistency episode to episode and it doesn't surprise me particularly that there's one writer dictating. That said, I do like the voices of various writers seeping into episodes
I remember reading that Carl Ellsworth was fired after he turned in his one ep "Halloween," and that Joss did a page one rewrite on that

I don't know if Joss had any role rewriting that but I doubt it because a while back Joss posted on here that Marti Noxon overhauled that script

And wasn't he friends with Joss? Or was that Ty King (who also wrote two eps)? I know one of them was.

I think that's Ty King. I don't know anything about them being friends but they worked together on Roseanne which is why Joss brought him over to Buffy. And according to that ancient Variety article that Simon linked to the other day Joss and Ty King were going to do a sitcom together. I'm so sad that never happened
The pedestrian directing on Stage Fright is baffling to me because it was David Solomon, who usually is anything but pedestrian.
@Let Down

There's a making-of featurette on the 1st season DVD (at least on the Region 1 version. The Region 2 seemed pretty stripped down). In it, as I remember, it's fairly clear that Milch is pretty much the de facto writer on the whole show, actually, as I said, dictating every line in the writer's room (where, usually, the bones of an episode is figured out by the writers, and then a single writer goes and actually writes the episode), right down to the punctuation, pauses and various stutters, and, of course, the very, very deliberate placement of swearing.

I mean, the other writers must do something, they probably had some input, but it seemed like the crediting of specific writers on the episodes was almost a matter of "alright, whose turn is it this time?"

[ edited by Winther on 2009-05-29 09:20 ]
Yeah, I actually thought in general it was the directors who had a working relationship with Joss (Solomon, Contner) who did a not-so-hot job on Dollhouse (with the exceptions of the writer/directors, DeKnight and Minear), and the ones who were new to the Whedonverse (David Straiton, Felix Alcala, Rod Hardy) who did a better job. I know Dwight Little, who did Briar Rose, is technically new too, but he did several eps of The Inside, so there's at least a connection.

Hard to guess at what goes on behind the scenes, but I think sometimes when you've collaborated with someone for a long period of time, even if they're very talented, laziness can set in, -- i.e. the person knows what they can get away with, and/or doesn't have that hunger/something to prove of a new collaborator.
Interesting. I wonder why even have a writers room at all?
Joss on "Lover's Walk"; the sixth post from the bottom of the page.
Just a quick note on Deadwood to add that suddenly I'm unsure if it's the featurette on the 1st season DVD. Oh well. It's one of the extras (possibly it's seen/mentioned more than once) on either the 1st or 2nd season box sets.
I'm always curious to know how much individual writers actually write of the episodes which have their names on them. Because if Andrew Chambliss really did write most of Spy then I think his own writing for the show beat even Joss's and Tim's (MotS and Omega are my other two favourites)

Without going into the "How much of a script is Joss?"-debate (I think it's fairly hard to quantify who had "more" input, since the multiple levels of generating a script are absurdly entwined, so that makes the whole discussion kinda pointless for me), I just wanted to add that Andrew also pitched the idea that Echo/Esther was blind in "True Believer". A brilliant idea, imo.

So there is the other way around too, new writers giving input to scripts and outlines of the oldies. It is a writer's room after all, not a writer's ... erm, slope. :)
@jlp : wow, thanks for the link, I'd never seen these archives, I have some reading to do now !
Me neither. How will I get any work done now? Anyway thanks for the link jlp!
Oh sure. I've probably linked to that post half a dozen times here, over the years. The topic of 'who wrote what' seems to come up every so often, so I keep that filed away in my head. :)

And yes, the Bronze archives are full of fascinating tidbits. I just wish the pages were presented with the oldest posts at the top, and the newest at the bottom.
My two favourite episodes.
Okay, to recap, this is the writers room so far as I've managed to confirm it with those involved:

- Tracy Bellomo
- Andrew Chambliss
- Tim Minear
- Joss Whedon
- Jed Whedon
- Maurissa Tancharoen Whedon

Still waiting on word about Liz and Sarah. But don't read to much into them consulting on Lie to Me, that's pretty standard.
Oh my god those archives are fascinating. I deliberately stayed home tonight to write assignments and I've just spend the last three hours reading Joss posts. Ty King is a funny, funny guy
Still waiting on word about Liz and Sarah. But don't read to much into them consulting on Lie to Me, that's pretty standard.

Didn't Mr. Minear also say something about consulting on Lie to Me? I think I haven't seen his name in the credits.

(And ot: Liz and Sarah's Lie to Me episode (1x12 "Blinded") was awesome and easily the best episode of the first season.)
I wasn't blown away by either of their Dollhouse episodes (though I enjoyed both) but I fully expect them to blow me away in the future. Soulless and Underneath are two of my favourite Angel episodes
QUESTION: Actually, a comment. Robert ISH said that Alien Resurrection sucked and that he wanted his money back.

joss says:
(Fri Jan 2 19:05:34 PST 1998 ww-tl04.proxy.aol.com)
Many questions but one thing I must reply to first. Robert ISH... you want your money back? I want three years of my life back. Which is to say, I sorta gotta back you up.


hehehe, awesome
Wow, there was some drama back in the day. That whole Jeff Pruitt thing is actually quite painful to read
Yeah, I didn't know about Jeff Pruitt, it seems complicated, and not very cool.

But yeah it's quite fascinating to read all this, especially the stuff from as early as 1998.
Chris Beck talking to Mere Smith even before "Angel" started, nice. Say... is there any possible way to actually see an episode of "Strange World"? I'm looking and searching for years now for any method of viewing and it simply won't come to me. Hard to get.
Wow, there was some drama back in the day. That whole Jeff Pruitt thing is actually quite painful to read

Got a link or a date? There's a lot to look through.
"Needs" was riveting tv and "Spy" is a stand-out favorite of mine too. I would like to see a more eps this season from Tracy Bellomo and Andrew Chambliss .
Ah, Jeffgate! The knights, the table, the vomit.
@VaughnOfTheDead :
Look at May 17th and 22th 2000, and June 22th 2000.
I also found the link where Whedonesque talks about it ;)

[ edited by Nico-Angel on 2009-05-29 18:29 ]
Whedonesque was around in 2000? That's like, almost a decade ago! It's so old!

Cool link to the "You're Welcome" part. Thanks Nico-Angel!
Whedonesque was around in 2000?

They're talking about the Bronze, not WHEDONesque.
Whedonesque was 2002. Unless I'm wrong.
Tracy Bellomo & Andrew Chambliss both bring something new & special. Differently special, each. And not the euphemistic special. Special without quotation marks. Special, simply. Well, not simple simply. Yay, team!
Oh my!

I consider myself a pretty longtime fan (I joined the original Bronze around season three, I think), but I remember nothing about Jeffgate. And it's a bit difficult to get some of the information now. Obviously, all of the original posts are there, but this infamous parable seems to be nowhere to be found.

Probably for the better. But it did help whittle away a rather dry day at work.
Just digging around the first few articles archived here.

http://www.aintitcool.com/display.cgi?id=12663

Love finding things like this, AICN discussing Firefly's new pilot during the summer before it premiered. I wish I was net savvy and TV savvy back then, missed out on all the fun.

[ edited by VaughnOfTheDead on 2009-05-29 20:28 ]
Don't know what went on behind the scenes, but too many things in The Parable (and straight interviews) just didn't make much sense so I know which side I believe.
As a Whedonverse fan right from “Welcome to the Hellmouth,” it wasn’t until sometime during Buffy’s fifth season that I got involved with the webby side of the ‘verse. I did read the Buffy magazine and remember seeing photos taken during the filming of "Real Me" of Sarah and her new stunt-doubles and thinking “Hmm. Well, that’s a thing.”

But this is the first I’ve heard of Jeffgate and it almost feels like stumbling upon the precursor to some backwards viral marketing thing. While I know my thirteen-year-old self would probably have acted a fool posting to the Bronze, I am kind of bummed I wasn’t around when it was happening.
I hung out on an old-style message board connected to a site called "Steve's Buffy site" or something along those lines, one of the earliest Buffy fansites (there was this little "Stake-the-vampire" java game there). Webmaster Steve abandoned it pretty quickly though, so other boards were created that that community migrated to and grew from (The Café), eventually ending up as a YahooGroups mailing list that gets posted to a couple times a year.

The Bronze was huge and intimidating and always made me feel like I'd have to spend my whole night after school on there to catch up. Some folks there made it feel very clique-y too, but that's not a complaint, it happens naturally with many fan communities, it just doesn't promote a feeling of welcoming. It was fun to visit occasionally right after a new episode of Buffy or Angel and it was always cool to get linked to the Mutant Enemy crew's posts there, but otherwise it was just too huge. Whedonesque is manageable and, because it's individual news links, easier to sift through the stuff you aren't interested in or don't have time for.

The Jeff Pruitt thing was weird and an early example of professional media types not being careful with the internet.
I sorta agree, Kris. Of course, posting during the nighttime for the US on the bronze did help. It was a smaller clique and easier to get into. I think I started posting there in 1999, and lost track of it in favor of usenet somewhere around 2001. Of course, I did go to a UK PBFP (posting board friends party) with a few of the people I'd met online at the bronze with someone from Belgium and that turned out to be a lot of fun.

But, yes, whedonesque is a lot more manageable and seems a bit more open to newbies. I enjoy coming here more than I did posting over at the old bronze.

The Jeff Pruit thing I had almost completely forgotten about. It was very unfortunate.
I was not aware of the Pruitt thing at all until today, and regardless of who was in the right, there's no question the way he went about handling it was... not the best. That knight parable was so thinly veiled as to be not really veiled at all. Anyway, I'm sure those who were there talked it to death back in the day, so I won't go into it, but wow... weird.

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