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October 28 2009

Wired Magazine on the "Great Geek Debate": Joss Whedon vs. J.J. Abrams. Do we have to choose? If so, go vote your conscience.

Wired is joining that act now? I don't know how many blogs this makes, but it seems kinda déjà already vued.

ETF: typo-rama

[ edited by QuoterGal on 2009-10-28 21:42 ]
Voted Joss. (What a surprise!) But I am still meaning to see that Star Trek film.

Anyone else thought the Douglas Adams reference was less than nice?

BTW what do you guys think of Eoin Colfer's new Hitchhiker's novel? A. Bloody irreverence, B. great fun or C. what the hell are you talking about? Or maybe something else entirely? I haven't picked it up yet, partly cause I don't particularly like Colfer's writting (though, to be fair, I have never given him much a chance) and partly because of the irrevernce thing, but on the other hand it is a new Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, and for me that's quite hard to resist.
Joss all the way.
I've never really followed any of J.J.Abrams work all the way through.
A lot of his shows i watched and then slowly stopped watching them. I'm not saying they're bad shows cos i do like Alias and Fringe. Lost was interesting, but then got boring (sorry guys).
I know exactly what you mean, the Groosalugg. I still can't decide whether to read it or not. On the one hand: new Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy! But on the other: can you really do Hitchhiker's without Douglas Adams? It's kind of like Buffy without Joss Whedon . . .

Abrams is good, but I could never be passionate about his work. I don't set out to like things simply because they are less mainstream, but that usually ends up being the case.
Yup, that's it exactly icallitvera.

Never got into Alias and got bored of Lost, but I've been hearing some good things about Fringe lately, so sometime when I can find the time (soon, I hope) I'm going to give it a try.
As I understand it, Abrams created Lost and then walked away, leaving it in the hands of others. Which may actually have been beneficial, since Alias tailspun for several seasons.

I started watching Felicity my freshman year of college because it was so apropos, but I think I grew out of it before I even reached mid-season -- perhaps because I'd started watching Buffy at the same time, and thus had something better.
Joss is outgeeking Abrams by ALOT. 78% to Abram's 12% and another 10% for those who can't decide.

I have started to watch but never finished every Abrams show, nuff said.

[ edited by Kean on 2009-10-28 22:34 ]
I like Abrams film work(Mission Impossible III,Cloverfield,Star Trek)but I never followed his T.V. series(Felicity,Alias,Lost,Fringe).I wasn't too hot for Abrams take on rebooting Superman back in 2002-2004.

Voted Joss.I couldn't get into Firefly/Serenity although I watched and saw it.But I love Buffy,Angel,Dollhouse and enjoyed Dr. Horrible.Cabin In The Woods looks to be winner too.

[ edited by Buffyfantic on 2009-10-28 22:51 ]
Joss'll do in JJ, for sure.
Joss is the better guy, but, I have to say, if something has JJ's name on it - I'll be watching. Not with the enthusiasm and expectation I put toward Joss' stuff, but JJ's stuff seems to have a great payoff (Fringe for the most part of S1 sucked but now has become a fully fleshed out sci-fi world, just with the characters need fixing).

Also, Lost was never his baby. He was brought on, worked out the angle and filming style (and I suppose had a say in some character creation/casting) then left. Felicity bored me after 6 episodes or so, but it seems quite the slow burn anyway, so I'll probably look at that again.

JJ is plot-character. Joss is character-plot. Both good but it's all preference. (Ronald D. Moore, btw, jumps around forgetting which ones which)

[ edited by Jayme on 2009-10-29 00:28 ]
JJ's shows just aren't very intellectual or even that deep. I love a lot of it. I even loved season 3 of Alias. But they're fairly shallow in comparison to Joss' work. Joss' stories are intimate and personal, where JJ's are big and bold and exciting. They're very different in that respect, but Joss' work resonates with me so much more.
Pffft. Russell T. Davies beats the both of then.
This site is called WHEDONesque. Whedon is so much better. I mean, I love Lost, but JJ was only there for a season and the show has evolved so much since.
Whedon will always win these polls. But Abrams will get the season renewals, big movie budgets, AND critical love. That's the difference right now.
Pffft. Russell T. Davies beats the both of then.

Heh. Even Doctor Who fans would fight you on that one.

The only Abrams show I got into was Lost, and I can't say that really counts. It has his name all over it, though as Jayme says, it's never been his.
It's now 1,535 votes for Whedon against 187 votes for Abrams. Reminds me of that Sports Night ep with the Danny vs. Casey poll.

I wasn't too hot for Abrams take on rebooting Superman back in 2002-2004.

Was Abrams involved in that terrible Superman Returns, or is this another Superman reboot, I've already forgotten about?

I raise your Russell T. Davies with a Steven Moffat Simon. I'm very excited to see the new Doctor Who (and when will those specials finally air?)
Pffft. Russell T. Davies beats the both of then.

Nah. I'd rank Steven Moffat above RTD, and I'd probably put Joss ahead of either of them.
JJ makes shows I like to watch.

Joss makes shows I LOVE to watch.
Pffft. Russell T. Davies beats the both of them.

have you SEEN the season 4 finale? blergh
Was Abrams involved in that terrible Superman Returns, or is this another Superman reboot, I've already forgotten about?

No,Superman Returns was by Bryan Singer.He took over the Superman project and ditched the Abrams script.Superman Returns was a continuation of the Christopher Reeve films and was a loose sequel to Superman The Movie and Superman II.

Abrams script was the one in development before Singer's Superman take and it was going to be directed by first McG,than Brett Ratner,than McG again.Abrams script was a full reboot and the first part of a trilogy.It involved a Krypton that didn't blow up and was in the middle of a civil war,Superman was a Kryptonian prince,his costume popped out of a can.Also Lex Luthor was a CIA agent who eventually was revealed to be a Kryptonian sleeper agent on earth.

[ edited by Buffyfantic on 2009-10-29 00:35 ]
Bryan Fuller, although I quickly lost interest in Pushing Daisies when the second season began - I liked the entire first season and I recently have started watching Wonderfalls and that's just one of the most magnificent shows I've ever had the pleasure of watching (seen 5 episodes, about to watch 6th,) Mr. Minear probably has something to say about that awesomeness as well.

Oh, and Rob Thomas. A Long Time Ago, We Used To Be Friends. Then you started working on them other non Veronica Mars things I never saw, like Party Down and Cupid 2.0. Is PD any good? Looks like I'm going to love his upcoming Plymouth Rock only for it to be cancelled, though.
Thanks Buffyfantic, I was already surprised I had missed all about his involvement. Seems like the kind of thing that would receive some feirce fan backlash, though I guess that this complete reboot would had that problem too. Sounds a lot better to me than what we ended up with (but then again, that's not too difficult).
This was easy for me: I'm not an Abrams fan--have only seen 2 of his movies, MI3 and ST:reboot and mildly liked both (the former mostly for Philip Seymour Hoffman and the latter for Quinto's Spock) so it's Joss all the way.

If it were David Simon (The Wire) vs. Joss, I would feel some conflict, but mostly not. Buffy is essential and meaningful to me in a way I can't even explicate.
Have you ever seen an Abrams show quote or a reference?

Joss's stuff is all over the place.

'nough said.
I wish they could morph into one person.

Buffy Season 7 and Alias Season 2 were my favourite shows of the 2002-2003 season. Sooo good. Complemented each other well. Syd's probably my favourite tv heroine after Buffy.

Never got into Firefly even though I liked Serenity, so JJ's got the sci fi/outer space thing going for him.

Simon, I might agree with you a little there, only because Rose's ending in Journey's End was a much better ending than any of the Whedonverse love interests have gotten.

[ edited by Riker on 2009-10-29 01:18 ]
that terrible Superman Returns

Heh. I actually felt that was a fun movie, featuring one of the coolest action sequences that summer (the plane rescue) and getting the 'old school' Superman-vibe just right. But I'm probably in the minority there.

As for this poll: voted Joss, simply because I'm a much bigger fan. But that's quite obvious for posters here. I'm guessing they'd vote completely different on Abramsesque ;).

Anyway: I really do also enjoy Abrahm's stuff. I'm liking 'Fringe' a lot (although Walter Bishop carries that show for me), was really into 'Alias' and 'Felicity' back when, enjoyed Star Trek (that opening space battle was quite possibly the best genre moment of the year) and felt MI3 was the best of the series. (I'm also a huge lover of all things Lost, but that really doesn't count as an Abrams vehicle).

Pffft. Russell T. Davies beats the both of then.

I'm going out on a limb to say you're probably joking, Simon ;). Still though, I'm not an overly big RTD fan, although I do appreciate his work. Certainly he did a great job of rebooting Who and he wrote some good scripts (the absolutely brilliant 'Midnight' comes to mind and fans tell me 'Children of Earth' is a small masterpiece, which I'll have to check out, along with the rest of Torchwood, some day). But overall, I think he's weak with story, often producing things which are over-the-top, repetitive, weakly paced or feature gaping plot-holes or deus ex machina. Many of my favorite Who episodes were written by others and most of his episodes are among my least favorites. I vastly prefer Steven Moffat, for instance (not only did he write some of my favorite hours of Who, he's also the brain behind the piss-in-your-pants-funny 'Coupling'. Which, 'nuff said ;)). Of course, we still need to see what he makes of Who while running it :).
The only Abrams thing I like is Lost and that's because it's really Darleton.

Couldn't stand his take on Star Trek.
I really enjoy J.J.'s film and television work. I watched both Felicity and Alias all the way through and though I haven't seen many episodes, I have thoroughly enjoyed what I've seen of Fringe as well. It seems like a very compelling series. I also really like his film work with Cloverfield and Star Trek.

On the other hand, however, I did not care for Lost (sorry fans!) or Mission: Impossible III. These two are pretty much big strikes against the Abrams name where I'm concerned. Whereas Joss has yet to lose me on anything he's touched.

Needless to say, though I enjoy both, Whedon is certainly the better man here.
I'm going out on a limb to say you're probably joking, Simon ;).

Well not quite, but if you factor in Queer as Folk and The Second Coming as well then he pretty much leaves Moffat in the dust.
No clue how he did on Dr. Who (not a sci-fi series I've had time to dive into yet, although I remember seeing the tail ends of older episodes when I got home from school in the late `80s and early `90s, just before afternoon cartoons started), but I second Simon's mention of Russel T. Davies' Queer As Folk (this is the original, two mini-series thing, not the 5-season-long Canadian/US adaptation). I remember the 6-episode Bob and Rose being pretty good as well. Didn't get to see The Second Coming, although the trailers looked promising and it's Christopher Ecclestone, so at the very least I know it has a good lead.

Abrams efforts can result in some beautiful things. Felicity, despite it being uneven here and there--I'll continue to say how much I loved the surprise time travel that ended that series. Plenty to love before that as well though. The cast was excellent and it was frequently funny. The best of The WB's dramas, aside from Buffy and Angel, from what I remember. Liked the new Trek lots, love Lost (but yeah, can't give Abrams much credit for what the show became), need to give Alias another try, and waiting to do a Fringe marathon some day (was gonna skip that series, but have heard enough promising things about it and a couple friends are into it and like it).

Joss of course. There's heavier competition than Abrams out there though. Venture into premium cable land and then it gets harder to choose. David Simon was mentioned (haven't gotten to The Wire yet, but thought Generation Kill was perfect), you've got David Milch, Alan Ball...
Oh please! There is no question about it. Joss is the one. In this company he is on an entire different level.
I'm failing to see how this is a geek contest. J.J. Abrams isn't my definition of a 'genre' person. I mean there's more to being a sci-fi or fantasy write/producer/whatever than just the odd plot device for me and J.J. still reeks of mainstream and all the sacrifices you make to get there. What I love about sci-fi/fantasy is the way it is about more than what's on the page and that it explores universal themes of humanity. Joss achieves that, Abrams doesn't. Joss will always win to geeks.

I loved Alias (especially s1-s3) but I never got into Lost or Fringe. Cloverfield was great but really I think that probably has a lot to do with Goddard's script.

Buffy will always be my favourite TV show ever and I also love Angel, Dr Horrible, Toystory and Dollhouse. Firefly/Serenity is ok but not even close to the love I have for the rest of his work.

So Joss wins quite comfortably for me.

Oh and Russell T. Davies.... pfft! I think Dr Who is very childish and the less said about Torchwood the better. And yes before anyone asks I have seen CoE. Five "decent" episodes don't suddenly make a crap-tastic show good. Give me a whole great season and then I’ll start warming up to it but so far I remain unimpressed. As of yet it hasn't even come close to a Belonging or an Epitaph One.
But I'm probably in the minority there.

Well, it's a minority of two at least then person who was always always GVH and hasn't been corrected in any way ;). It's not without flaws (too much Jesus, too long, Kate Bosworth) but Returns is a fine entry in the Superman series IMO managing to be both a reboot and a sequel with some great action and a solid emotional core.

But on the other: can you really do Hitchhiker's without Douglas Adams?

Yeah, it's hard to decide. For me it's not Hitchhiker's without Adams (he's literally its DNA ;) so i'll likely skip it.

As to the poll, not partaking because I just refuse to buy into the whole manufactured "versus" thing. It only exists because polls like this one tell us it does.

[ edited by Saje on 2009-10-29 13:44 ]
Heh, Saje, stop attributing my words to someone else :p.

Well not quite, but if you factor in Queer as Folk and The Second Coming as well then he pretty much leaves Moffat in the dust.

Well, I have to admit to not having seen both Queer as Folk and The Second Coming, though I'll take your word for it they're great (have heard good things about the first and not much at all about the second ;)). I do also have Moffat's 'Jekyll' miniseries here on DVD, which people tell me is very good. Which - if true - means they're at least even outside of Who (it's hard to imagine anything relatively recent being funnier than 'Coupling' tbh) and Moffat clearly wins on 'scales of Who'... but maybe we'll just have to agree to disagree at the end of the day, Simon ;)

Nuff said.
Heh, Saje, stop attributing my words to someone else :p.

Oh, wow. Apologies GVH, i'll correct that (partly so people will think you're going mad ;-).
But on the other: can you really do Hitchhiker's without Douglas Adams?

I saw Colfer's book in the store yesterday, picked it up, found exactly what I expected (a man trying very hard to write like Douglas Adams), and - my prejudices happily confirmed - went on with my day. This says nothing about the book, of course. And was it funny? Well, four pages isn't enough, but bits were funny.

The tone of the H2G2 trilogy changed so much over time that Colfer's probably well within bounds without me acknowledging it. I hated Mostly Harmless way back when, and found So Long... unexciting as well. But Life... hits the sweet spot: side-splittingly funny of course, but also poignant and lovely (think Agrajag, the songs of Krikkit, the dust computer, Arthur going mad on prehistoric Earth...goddamn I miss these books). What I'd want from Colfer is a return to the old old old fashion; I imagine what he's written is closer to the (sweetly respectful) film and books 4 and 5.

A fine bit of Adams-not-Adams: Terry Pratchett's Reaper Man, which is about Death and is, quite unexpectedly, in a couple of places, an achingly beautiful novel about the people in a small English village.
As for Abrams: he's an impresario, a ringleader, with the instincts of both a salesman and a storyteller, in that order. He got credit in the media for Cloverfield, a film he neither wrote nor directed; his feature directing debut was the lamentable Mission: Impossible III; he was willing to shoot Lost Season One without the faintest idea of how the show would proceed in either plot or character terms thereafter. At the center of the Fringe mythology is the Pattern, explicitly 'designed' such that it could be revealed at the end of one season or seven with no change to the story. It is, you might say, 'a meaningless plot device.'

And he wrote the suppurating pustule known as the 'angel hair pasta scene' on Lost 1x01 - a monologue so grandly incompetent that it grants the episode a kind of negative sublimity.

Unlike Princess Leia, JJ Abrams is a goddamn committee. You can tell from his work.
GVH, I'd say Community is as close as it recently gets to the utter madness of hilarity that Coupling was. It's a completely different show, but I was taken by suprise and fell for it with about the same intensity as I did back then with Coupling. Maybe it's the way they play out the character-centric comedy format that links those two shows in my mind.
Really enjoying 'Community'. It's been a bit variable so far IMO but when it's good it's very good, great cast (John Oliver in particular has what they call "funny bones" I reckon. He's like [UK comedy legend] Eric Morecambe in that he can literally just stand there and be funny in the process).
Community is one of the few new shows I'm watching this year (the other is Bored to Death, another outstanding peace of comedy staring Rushmore's Jason Schwartzman and Ted Danson) and I'm enjoying it a lot, but Coupling great? No, I wouldn't say that (yet). They're also indeed a completely differant kinds of comedy.

I haven't seen anything out of RTD's outside is Who work either, so maybe I should go and watch some of his other work and reserve my judgement till then. Like GVH much of my Moffat love derives from a huge love for Coupling (and the Who ep Blink didn't hurt at all either).

And GVH Jekyll is also definitely worth the watch. James Nesbitt somehow hardly can do wrong in my book, but it really is quite good and should really also enjoyable for none Nesbitt-fans (+ it stars Jane from Coupling).

waxbanks wrote:
What I'd want from Colfer is a return to the old old old fashion; I imagine what he's written is closer to the (sweetly respectful) film and books 4 and 5.
Oooh. That's not at all what I was hoping for either, the film being the only thing Hitchhiker related that I dislike and book 5 being the book I liked least. Though I do actually like So long... quite a lot. Guess I'll pass. Bought Sandman vol. 9 instead today. Looks deliciously thick! Also saw there was a new Pratchett out. Definitely will be getting that, he is indeed always a wonderful Douglas Adams alternative.

ETA: and Reaper Man was excellent indeed!

[ edited by the Groosalugg on 2009-10-29 15:20 ]
Oh, wow. Apologies GVH, i'll correct that (partly so people will think you're going mad ;-).

Thanks, Saje, because I'm not getting enough of that without your help ;).

Anyway, thanks for all the 'community' tips, guys. I'll definitely be sampling some of that to see if it's to my tastes! And don't worry Groosalugg, I'll certainly get around to watching Jekyll. I got it at for 4 euro's, by the way, and I believe it's still going for that price, so anyone else who wants to jump on the Jekyll-bandwagon: the price shouldn't be the problem :)

[ edited by GVH on 2009-10-29 17:30 ] <--- yess, now I've also done a time-travel edit. My life is complete.

[ edited by GVH on 2009-10-29 17:31 ]
Wibbly-wobbly, timey-wimey ;).

And cheers for the 'Jekyll' heads up BTW GVH, the R2 has a couple of commentaries, uncut episodes and behind the scenes documentaries all for 3 quid from, total bargain ! Good TV too, initially I thought "Hyde" himself was a bit over the top but James Nesbitt made it work. One or two other caveats aside, well worth watching.
I enjoy Abrams work, it's good fun escapism (leaving out Lost, since those who know, say he wasn't that involved after the initial concept was laid down).
And I'm firmly in the "loved it' camp for the Star Trek prequel.

But he just isn't in the same league with Joss. Although in all fairness, who is? (Something else of West Wing quality from Aaron Sorkin would yield a real contender).

I just can't get in the Davies camp, since I loath Dr. Who even more than I love Torchwood - which is a lot. And Queer as Folk was far too soapy for my taste.

I'd have thrown Ron Moore in the mix, just on the strength of Carnivale and BSG. And by this time next year, if Caprica lives up to it's initial promise, I'd definitely go for Moore as #2.

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