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Whedonesque - a community weblog about Joss Whedon
"Ah, curse your sudden but inevitable betrayal!"
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December 03 2009

The Watcher talks to Joss about...lots of stuff. Including Dollhouse, Fox's "twitchy" reaction to sexual themes, Dr Horrible 2, Glee, Terminator, Web ventures.

I really like that she included the transcript at the end. It's full of interesting stuff.
Good interview. Like how she places spoilers too. Very considerate.

Was interesting to read Joss discussing the compromises to the artistic vision of Dollhouse and his faith in what is to come for the rest of the season.
@Sunfire Yeah I love it when she (and/or other journos) do that... for us intense fan(atics)...

Mo is truly one of the most spoiler-sensitive TV writers ever. Much love that.

[ edited by ProgGrrl on 2009-12-03 18:44 ]
I'm happy to see he's investigating cable networks. The way of the future! Who wont cancel shows willy-nilly!
"I can answer both those questions -- because Fox forgot to cancel my show. They looked on their calendars and went, 'God, we were supposed to cancel this months ago!'"

The man makes me laugh so hard about the disasters that happen to him...

The bits about internet ventures are holding my attention, because now his seeming reluctance to dive in whole-hog makes more sense. He doesn't just want to tell stories, he wants to launch a business model that can rescue all the behind-the-scenes people.
She also seems to get Joss's tone and be really interested in exploring the topics in some depth, which is not as common as I'd like to see in such coverage on entertainment blogs. JOSS WHEDON UPS TERMINATOR OFFER this is not.

Anyway, FOX wanting to be edgy but at a safe distance away from the edge seems to be the sad central truth of Dollhouse.
Yes, more applause for Mo. Love the spoiler sensitivity and the way she "gets" Joss.

Excited for the rest of Dollhouse, and even more excited to see what the Mutant Enemy Portal turns out to be. Hopefully it doesn't lead to the world without shrimp.
Internet ventures *and* talking to cable nets? Life is good, Whedon fans, life is good.

I would like in general for more of Joss' interviews to be done by Maureen Ryan.
That has to be one of the best Joss interviews I've ever read. Mo is deeply insightful and asks the questions that I myself would want to ask. She even asks questions that I didn't realize I had before! Great, witty, insightful (as always) answers by Joss. I'm happy that she used the questions I posted in the comments thread when she was soliciting fan questions. :-)

Also - yay for a resolution to the Epitaph One storyline, and I'm glad that Joss is investigating producing for the internet and/or cable networks. Whatever project he does next, I'll be there enjoying every minute of it, delving into all the details of the production with my fellow Whedonesque posters, reading through every interview. Hopefully more interviews as good as this one. :-)

[ edited by AnotherFireflyfan on 2009-12-03 19:25 ]
Love me some Mo Ryan....great interview.
I'm happy to see he's investigating cable networks. The way of the future! Who wont cancel shows willy-nilly!

Cable networks cancel good shows too, when they feel like they don't bring in enough viewers to make a renewal seem right. HBO cancelled the brilliant Carnivale after all, even though it still had so much interesting stuff to tell *sigh*.

Really great interview. I'm curious about how Joss's original vision of the show would have looked like. This interview makes me understand why some things within the show didn't work very well and how difficult and frustrating it must have been to get the show going. Biggest mistake here was probably FOX ordering it right away, before having seen a script or a pilot episode, but then again, if it just had been in development and they had seen it, they probably wouldn't have ordered it.

As much as I enjoyed Dr. Horrible (but mostly because of the songs, not that much because of the actual story), I'd rather have a Joss Whedon tv series. It's simply more satisfying for me to have his characters in my life every week.
Great interview.
Brilliant cable shows get cancelled. I know, I've watched 'em.
What a great rapport they seem to have! I'm sad(dish) about Dollhouse ending but that interview made me feel much better - curious and excited about things to come. He's not a lazy man, is he?
Most importantly the fact that Joss has irons in the fire IS a good thing. (Well so long as he's not using cockney rhyming slang - otherwise I will have to take exception).

Edited to remove TONS of boring bits.

[ edited by viewingfigures on 2009-12-03 20:13 ]
I am very excited about tomorrow night's Dollhouse, I hope this article brings more eye balls to the show (heaven knows Fox hasn't done one little bit of advertising for it).
Don't worry about the viewing figures for tomorrow, embers. It doesn't matter any more. The ratings will suck badly - I think FOX will lose 50% of the viewers from last Friday. At this point, I just wanna make sure the fans see how it ends.
Well that is what I'm worried about gossi: that Fox (by canceling the show last month and not advertising it at all now) will use the terrible ratings tomorrow as an excuse to abruptly end the show, not airing any of the remaining episodes. Making us wait until the DVDs can be released.
Oh how I enjoy reading a nice interview with Joss. One thought crossed my mind several times through watching though - Take a break, man. I will never have enough Joss media but I want the guy to enjoy what he's doing and not feel pressured into doing cable or anything just because his obsessive fans think he should.

Saying that, I want time to pass faster.
I remember at the Serenity Salute Jane Espenson and Tim Minear wanted Joss to try cable because that's where the creativity exists in drama. The broadcast networks have just given up, while cable has taken over. It's too bad FX can't just be the new home for Dollhouse. They'd put more $ in promos than Fox ever did.
Having read Dodgem Logic, I want to see a Joss Whedon fanzine.
Great interview. Particular like that he says he will get to make at least two projects on his wish list next year.

Would have liked to have seen some questions about Cabin in the Woods and the delay. I personally have zero interest in 3D films (the effect is just ok and always ends up detracting from the important parts of a film), so I would be interested in seeing Joss make some comments on it being pushed back so far.

Does sound like the coming few years will be an exciting time for Joss fans though, be it on cable or online (or on the BBC with Ripper *begs*.)
This interview made me realise how strong Joss' voice is in all of the "public interviews" in MotS. It really shows me where he was originally intending to head with the show. Interestingly, I think that had he been able to tackle the sexuality issues head on, a lot of the exploitation/rape criticism may have been less strong. Like if he had had a chance to really explore those issues then it wouldn't have been so problematic for people (me included).

Also . Squee!
"You know what, this just is too much like real-world situations that are truly appalling and so I canít let the fantasy happen."

This was the precise problem I had with DH. I could not let go of the problems I kept seeing, which then interfered with my viewing.

But this, this is a great interview, insightful and probing. And funny as well!
Joss Whedon fanzine? Oh, tell me more!

Great interview. I'm consoling myself with thoughts of an amazing finish to Season 2 and the future Dr. Horrible 2 to come once Neil stops doing "everything" and being such a busy guy.
I thought Whedonesque WAS a Whedon fanzine? Right?

Whedonesque is Joss Whedon's blog.

Runs from Caroline.
Will some enterprising person go ahead and create a non-profit Joss charity fund where the average fan could donate $10 (or whatever) to Joss' future projects? Hell, if you were REALLY good, make it so that the fund INVESTS the money in his enterprise, and each donor makes a percentage back! Somebody with the know-how, please, get on this immediately.

I'm itching to give this man more of my money.
Great interview! Joss sure isn't the type of man who would just sit around baby-sitting babies. Thank goodness! :)
gossi is right... Great cable shows do get canceled... *cough*Farscape*cough*

"Ryan: No? Web series, a comic book, anything?

Whedon: No. Iím going to finish this. Whatís interesting about it is there. I donít feel like there is some unfulfilled thing that would be well served by [continuing the story]. If I make a Web series itís not going to be owned by Fox. Letís be very clear on that one. Or [owned by any studio or network] -- that's not a dis on Fox. But Iíll make [a Web series] of my own and I donít think Eliza is dying to jump onto the tiny screen right now. And it doesnít work as a comic [because it's] just people talking.

Iím not going to go and try and make a movie out of it because Iíve already made a movie where I had to explain who ten people who already know each other are. It was exhausting. So I think that weíll just weíll say, "Here is our best effort," go out with a bang and then we will move on. I think what we will end up having done is sort of this very glorious 26-hour miniseries."

D: *Sad Face*
Don't be sad. When the show got cancelled, I was naturally sad (and kinda pissy for a prolonged period, which is a new feeling for me). But at the end of the day, if the show was gonna go down -- and it has -- I wanted them to go out with a fight. I wanted people to remember how it ended. Don't save a story; you might as well tell it now.
I guess Iím wondering, when did you start thinking about the end of Season 2 or the end of the show?

Whedon: Well, you know, from the start. But thatís not to say that I was Mr. Doom and Gloom. I am, but thatís not evidence of it.

So that's Greg House and now Joss. I think I may be a bit of a man-crush slut.

Great interview, great way to arrange the spoiler/non-spoiler stuff, great idea to include the transcript. So to sum up, great. Maureen Ryan just gets it, simple as.

Looking forward to the rest of 'Dollhouse' and yet also glad that he's finishing it, as in finished. Stories should end, that's how you know they're stories. And it's better to burn out than to fade away. Also, no fighting on holy ground.

Then really looking forward to those other irons, two of which we get to see next year. W00 - as I believe the kids say - t.
Ok Gossi. Thanks :) At least now I won't be holding my breath for a comic. It's great he's talking to Cable. I kinda wish Doctor Horrible 2 were further along, but... I've had almost a month to deal with the cancelation. I'm good (sorta), and can't wait for Joss' next project.
remember at the Serenity Salute Jane Espenson and Tim Minear wanted Joss to try cable because that's where the creativity exists in drama. The broadcast networks have just given up, while cable has taken over. It's too bad FX can't just be the new home for Dollhouse. They'd put more $ in promos than Fox ever did.

The problem with cable is that it is based on business models fundamentally similar to those used by the big bad broadcast networks. Debates about which type of network currently holds a monopoly on creativity aside, it doesn't change the fact that the wider issue facing tv networks in general is that their elementary business model is obsolete - the way of the future lies in the internet. I'm glad to see Joss's apparent recognition of as much, and am very excited by the prospect of him more fully taking up a pioneering role in the web's evolution as an entertainment medium.
This interview may be the first one with Joss that actually made
me sad. He seems to have missed a vital point about the sexual
slavery aspect of Dollhouse; a much too large segment of his
loyal audience was turned off by the premise. And if Fox had let
him go on the viewership would have been even less than it was.
Very probably no 2nd season imo.

One good thing that did come out was that one reason he has not
gone to Cable is money. It would appear as I have suspected that
most people in Cable are paid a lot less. Perhaps this offends
his sense of fairness or perhaps he feels the quality would
suffer. But he seems up to this point to have been somewhat
adverse to the medium.
Itís not like people are running at me with money.

I have $20 in pocket! May not have much else at the moment, but Joss, you can have my $20. It might pay for hosting for like a week or a new light bulb, but it is something right?
Fantastic interview, so in-depth I loved it! I agree with what others have said as well, I am very glad he's not holding anything back for a venue that may never come to fruition, now that it's over I want to see this story end strong. Also can't wait to find out all his future projects but he really should take a bit of time off and get it together, the man deserves some much needed rest!
I would happily run at Joss with $50, in fact I could even go to $500 if need be, but I'm guessing that that isn't the kind of money he is talking about. He is probably talking in terms of the kind of money it would take to buy the rights to Terminator!
I wish I could run at Joss with bags of money. If I had that kind of money, I would happily donate it to Mutant Enemy.
Cable networks cancel good shows too, when they feel like they don't bring in enough viewers to make a renewal seem right. HBO cancelled the brilliant Carnivale after all, even though it still had so much interesting stuff to tell *sigh*.

You had me up until the weird, nonsensical juxtaposition of the words 'brilliant' and 'Carnivale,' which (as I recall) was a hugely overrated, nigh-unwatchable show praised for its unanswered myth-arc questions rather than its actual, y'know, 'content.'

HBO cancelled John From Cincinnati and Deadwood and didn't pick up Last of the Ninth; that's plenty of evidence of their foolishness and philistinism. The suits like money, not good stories as such - and that's true even at 'It's Not TV, It's' HBO. (This entire nation doesn't have a half-dozen dramatists of David Milch's skill and generosity.) On the other hand, Joss Whedon is a hell of a lot more marketable than David Milch. On the other other hand, there are millions of people who find Joss's schtick unbearable, like Phish's jams or South Park. i.e. There's no accounting for taste.
What he just said.
FWIW, the Dollhouse ad that aired twice during Thursday's episode of Fringe.

ETA that I'm now told the second ad which aired (which was preempted by a news commercial for me) was longer than this one with different footage.

[ edited by The One True b!X on 2009-12-04 09:23 ]
John From Cincinnati was pretty terrible.

And herein lies the problem. Just because somebody likes a show, doesn't mean other people will. Cable networks cancel shows. They also give more creative freedom, but they pay a Lot less to everybody involved. Also, if you have an overall 7 or 8 figure deal with a studio and you sell a show to niche cable - eg syfy - it likely won't count towards your overall deal. Meaning you need to make it BIG on cable - a hit - or make it medium on broadcast, to keep being paid.

My opinion, or hope, is that jw creates something like a sitcom (yes, a sitcom) for network. A majority of the shows I watch and love nowadays are shows like HIMYM, Big Bang, 30 Rock and The Office. They don't destroy your life running. They can be a brilliant emotional story (Pam and Jim) and they can be pop culture (the first few seasons of Friends). And they can keep people in work.

Really what I'm hoping for is Tim to go do Nation and Terriers, I want Jed and Mo to get their own show which is sick and twisted, and I want Joss to do a movie which actually gets released. And I would like pie for christmas, since you asked.
This was a wonderful interview--I'm reminded why I adore the guy's work, why I am excited for the end of Dollhouse. I'm hoping these last nine show the world what it's missing in losing the show!

And I didn't read all the way through, but some of the guest cast coming up....!!!!!!
Great article and interview, all I can say is to echo what everyone else has said in that it is a very well laid out article. Well done Maureen Ryan.
Great interview and I so love Mo Ryan's sensitivity about spoilers.

"Basically, the show didn't really get off the ground because the network pretty much wanted to back away from the concept five minutes after they bought it"

Thank you for that Joss! I think anyone familiar with the mans work could feel the push-pull from the beginning - the constant tension created by the uneasy fit of what he wanted to do and what the network wanted.
It's a testament to the awesomeness that is Joss's talent that we got so much genuinely excellent material from DH, in spite of it all (I've been re-watching in anticipation of the beginning of the last eps).

He's "investigating the cable realm" .... yes!!
Gossi - of course cable networks cancel shows...but notice I said 'willynilly'...very important that nilly:)

I was thinking more along the lines of the fanbase. Whedon has a small but very rabid fanbase as we all know. So if he goes to cable, fans who arent subsribed will subscribe if its a new Joss show.

Look at something like Dexter which got about the same (or maybe even less) viewers than Dollhouse, but it seen as a huge success by Showtime. I think they would welcome Joss with open arms.
Brilliant cable shows get canceled, yes, but it happens less often than on network TV (though to be fair, HBO and the like air a lot less hour-longs and half-hour comedies than networks) and cable is less twitchy with the finger on the kill switch. Anyway, the appeal for me to see writers I like on premium cable has less to do with survivability percentages and more to do with the near-complete artistic freedom (within budgetary constraints, of course, which is probably why we haven't seen super-expensive movie-level-budget sci-fi and fantasy done on cable). Cast/crew getting paid less...if Joss is comfortable with that, then whichever actors and crew wanna work for him in slightly-less-pay/more-respected-cable land would be awesome (not completely shitting on network-TV by the way, still stuff to like and love on it. gossi mentioned some comedies...though I can't agree with him on wanting to see Joss have his own sitcom).

More than any other interview Joss or the other writers and actors have given, this one sure made Dollhouse sound like it was meant for cable. Yeah, Fox might've been the most likely of the big 4 networks to give the more risque elements a chance, but sounds like they chickened out and it's not at all surprising at the end of the day. Too bad we didn't get to see what was originally intended, but what we ended up with was still pretty weird and cool.

Glad to hear he's looking at alternative business models. Still lots of Whedon-y goodness down the line (rest of Dollhouse, DH2, Cabin, Buffy Season 8 coming into the home stretch, and unknown future projects).

Re: Glee
It kinda lost me with last week's episode (not as funny as usual, some of the songs didn't engage, and the "Very-Special-Episodeness"/condescension of having the McKinley High kids step all over/invade the deaf kids' performance was really awkward), but this week's more than made up for it with two scenes mainly--"Jump" (love that song and the mattress acrobatics were fun) and immediately following, the Will/Terri scene that everyone knew was coming but that I couldn't have predicted would be so effective and well-played/written. Hope Joss is lucky enough to get one of the better-written, less schmaltzy eps to direct.

"...What we think we want from each other when we say "I love you" or any of those other things is, I think, very complex and sometimes very depressing and sometimes kind of weirdly beautiful."

That whole paragraph was great and again, has me mourning what we could've been shown in the longer-lasting, original plan for the show. Although yeah, I think it's cool that we're getting a big bang of an ending, sooner, but I don't think the roughly 5 season plan would've been too long for the series (I do appreciate that he's not taking it to comics though--my fan-commitment budget only goes so far and to go from TV show pace to monthly comic pace can be a challenge sometimes with screen-to-prose adaptations/continuations).

Hugely satisfying, thorough interview.

[ edited by Kris on 2009-12-04 13:26 ]
... and the "Very-Special-Episodeness"/condescension of having the McKinley High kids step all over/invade the deaf kids' performance was really awkward ...

Man, it was terrible. Given the song and so on we were presumably meant to be feeling that it was a beautiful thing, the world singing in perfect harmony etc. but all I could think about was how it had gone from possibly the "truest" moment to appear in song on the show to date (partly because if it was mimed it was less obvious) to being all about the Glee kids. In fact my first thought was the slightly uncharitable "Fucking PAs, it's always got to be about them" ;).

On a meta-level it might kinda work though since they stepped all over their number in exactly the same way they'd step all over anyone else's given half a chance. That's true equality ;).

(in general i'm really struggling with the miming still. Seems like the songs should provide the truest, most emotionally resonant moments in a musical and yet i'll often fast-forward through them just out of embarrassment. Pity)

Re: racy stuff in 'Dollhouse', a fuller exploration of the sexuality aspect would've been welcome though I really don't think Joss was talking about clarifying the exploitation/rape element (in the sense of giving us a well-defined good/bad side to root for/detest), if anything it seemed to me like he originally wanted to muddy the waters even further, have it even less clear-cut (less about goodies vs baddies and more just about people).
That's something I would like to have seen.

Re: Glee again, yeah, the miming (lips not looking like they're synching up to the sound coming from my TV's speakers/sung lines seeming removed or "floating" apart from the actors/characters they're supposed to be coming from) is obvious sometimes. Not in every ounce of singing scenery, but more often than is comfortable.
This was probably the best interview with Joss I've read so far. He explained a lot of things that bugged me about the show, such as every episode being a self-contained thriller - even when it didn't need to be, and their shying away from the riskier themes. I don't like the idea of the show harkening back to an episode which never aired in "Epitaph Two". I think its does a disservice to the fans who haven't picked up the season 1 DVD/BDs. One other thought: Joss talking to cable networks + Eliza being available... is it too much to hope for that Faith spin-off (or re-launch in this case) that he wanted to do a few years ago?
I don't wanna see Eliza as Faith again in a series. I think she's way more capable than that.
(I wrote this on another site, but I thought I'd share it with you guys too:)

It's nice to hear Whedon talk about his frustrations with Fox a little, now that the show is mostly over; his earlier comments, to the effect of "Well, the network has ideas but this has always been the case" may still be true, but it's seemed to hurt this show more than his other ones. But then, they didn't occupy the ethical grey zones that this one did, or didn't do so in such an obvious way. I mean, Buffy built up five years of heroism before all its central characters screwed up their lives in human ways, Angel couched its central character's neuroses and attraction to evil and power in the form of an easily digestible surface fight-the-power searching-for-redemption story, and Firefly was a bunch of lovable thieves who were, um, thieves, who sometimes killed people, but so lovable and so devoted to each other and their fractured ideologies that it almost never occurs to anyone to question that we should be rooting for Mal. It's a bit of a shame that Dollhouse was burndened from day one with being required to make moral judgments rather than moral observations, because everyone is understandably squeamish.

And it's a huge shame that Whedon had to make the show thriller-thriller-thriller; I mean, it's actually a very effective thriller, especially in "Man on the Street" and "A Spy in the House of Love," but even those episodes work best when jumping from genre to genre (the latter moving from paranoid thriller to spy-movie parody to seaside romance to drawing room mystery, act-by-act, imprint-by-imprint). The idea of a show explicitly about genre is something pretty cool, and which the show hasn't gotten to play with as much as it could have. At least they got to do things like "Belle Chose," which is basically: take serial killer psychodrama and (high-class, educated) teacher-student porno, then switch the players from one story to the other and see what happens. It didn't come off as well as it could have, but it's pretty nifty.
I know that Joss is busy busy busy in his head. I hope that we get to see some of that next year. Not just that he gets to work on 2 new things, but that we get to see them. I've existed through Jossless years and it ain't been pretty.
I don't wanna see Eliza as Faith again in a series. I think she's way more capable than that.
gossi | December 04, 20:01 CET

I couldn't agree more. And I would add that, since we've lost Dollhouse with all it's awesomeness that was and potential that will now never be, I wouldn't want to see Joss revisit anything he's done before - the exception being the Dr. Horrible sequel, already in motion and not really in the same catagory as a TV series or movie.

With the exception of Angel being a Buffy spin-off, everything Joss has done has been different from anything he's done before, and it's all been excellent and unique .

The only suggestion I've seen in the "what I'd like to see Joss do now" posts that I find truly appalling, is a sitcom. But that's me, I basically dislike sitcoms so much that I personally just can't assign them the same level of creativity that I find in drama. At the very best, sitcoms have built in limitations in scope, and Joss needs a broad canvas.
Which is me trying to find an inoffensive way to say that I think a sitcom would be a waste of Joss's talent .... big IMO, no need to throw the fruits and various meats. ;)

I love the Jon Stewart/Stephen Colbert/Bill Maher brand of comedy, and especially a drama shot through with wit and comedic moments (I refuse to use the term 'dramady') but sitcoms in general and specifically, Joss doing a sitcom - no, please.

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