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March 21 2010

The top 25 SFX tv shows. The SFX website wanted to know what their readers' favourite SF and fantasy shows were. Angel came in at no 17, Firefly at no 3 and Buffy at no 2.

I am glad they were all on there, and i'm excited for Supernatural, that show is my favourite after Buffy <3
Twin Peaks and the original Star Trek should be higher on the list. Course it's British so Dr. Who is at the top, I understand. But no way is Stargate SG1 better than TP or ST or the original Twilight Zone.

Gut that's just me.
I'm amused that Firefly's biggest misstep is "getting cancelled" :).
Of course I'm glad for Angel, Firefly and Buffy, but I'm super excited that Twin Peaks and Futurama made the list and that ST:DS9 was rated so highly!

Also, Woo! for my first post!

[ edited by jason_isaacs on 2010-03-21 00:50 ]
That was a good list. Found some shows I need to watch at some point.

Bookmarked.
Good list. I'm glad Angel made it on there, but as one of the seemingly few who prefers that show to all other Whedonverse shows, I wish it was higher. Also, welcome to the site, Mr. Malfoy Isaacs!
I love that one of the IMDB eywords for Angel is "Vampire Driving Car." Glad that Buffy made it up so high, the rest of the list, I would argue a few. But it works.
I'm always a bit stymied, even in the lists and polls of just Joss shows, when Angel comes in dead last. I watched Buffy from the very start, but I do tend to find for me and in no way discounting the artistic breast from whence it sprang, Angel was ultimately more satisfying for me on a soul level. And dead last again like the funny uncle you have to lock up in the closet when company comes over... okay, I'm having a hard time with an analogy, but damn, at least Buffy and Firefly have recognizable monikers: The Scoobies and Big Damn Heroes. Angel? Nothin'. Not even like, "Always Broke Champions of the Helpless".
Hahahah!!! Babylon 5 is number 5 on the list.

Glad to see Blakes 7 up there (at 14 strangely enough).

[ edited by abbad0n on 2010-03-21 01:23 ]
Taaroko writes:
Good list. I'm glad Angel made it on there, but as one of the seemingly few who prefers that show to all other Whedonverse shows, I wish it was higher.

Firefly is my favorite Whedonverse show, actually it's my favorite show ever on TV, but Angel ranks close behind. I think Angel definitely deserved to be in the top 10, if not top 5.

Taaroko writes:
Also, welcome to the site, Mr. Malfoy Isaacs!
Hehe, Thanks! About 10 years ago when I was still married, my then-wife was reading a people magazine and started giggling, I asked her what was funny, she replied "Apparently, I'm married to a 'Sexy British import'." :)

Tonya J writes:
at least Buffy and Firefly have recognizable monikers: The Scoobies and Big Damn Heroes. Angel? Nothin'.

A few people I know call them 'The Fang Gang'. :)
Yep, I've always called 'em the Fang Gang.
Pretty good list, glad Angel and Twin Peaks made it. However, I really can't respect anyone who puts THE X-FILES at number 12! Tsk, tsk.
Agreed on the Angel deserving to be higher on the list. It is a fantastic show and is way better quality than most shows between 17 & 1. Super glad for The Buffster to make it to number 2! Should be number one but its battle with Dr. Who in this world will never end well, sadly.

(I know I should watch Dr. Who since it is held with such regard but 31 seasons is OUTRAGEOUS. I wouldn't know where to begin. Plus I love me some Brit TV.)

Also EXTREMELY glad that Firefly was so high on the list and beat out shows like Lost & Battlestar Galatica, since I don't dig either of them and I think it won fair and square, its just a better show. YAY Twin Peaks, and YES it needed to be WAYYY higher on the list. My god, the show is brilliant, David Lynch is a Directing GOD (except the latest, Inland Empire - yuck). And Yes, The X-Files is like 100% PURE SCI-FI, one viewing and your turned into a crazy monster-alien thing. Def. deserves at least top 10, probably a top 5.

So...

#5 = THE X-FILES
#4 = TWIN PEAKS
#3 = FIREFLY
#2 = ANGEL
#1 = BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER.

If only they would've contacted me to do the list..

[ edited by sasburgerr on 2010-03-21 03:18 ]
I

and

POP


Overall a very nice list. :)
I always love how you can tell which side of the pond a list is from by rankings. I didn't even notice the UK thing until I noted how far back Star Trek was. Oddly the Blake's 7 thing wasn't the tip off, although it probably should have been.
Tonya J said:

I'm always a bit stymied, even in the lists and polls of just Joss shows, when Angel comes in dead last. I watched Buffy from the very start, but I do tend to find for me and in no way discounting the artistic breast from whence it sprang, Angel was ultimately more satisfying for me on a soul level.


Well said, I concur. It always seems to be the dark horse in the Whedonverse. That said, I'm glad it still made the list, but as some people have pointed out, it deserved a higher rank. I also loved how SFX added 'talking hamburger' for Angel; that scene always cracks me up!
How is Buffy an influence on Xena? Xena started a couple years before Buffy did and I never saw any real evidence of influence. (There was one mention of "Buffus the Bachae Slayer" but that was just a throw away gag.)
I was looking through the list, fully expecting Doctor Who to be number one, since it's a British site. I wasn't expecting the show that, when you get right down to it, got me watching a lot of TV on DVD, and more sci-fi-ish things in general, make the list, when something like Star Trek wasn't as high as I thought it would be. So, I was quite happy to see my dear Babylon 5 come in in the top five. Like, I might have made an audible "aw" sound. I really love that show.

Oh, and sasburgerr, if you want to sample some Doctor Who, try starting with the 2005 series, with Christopher Eccleston and Billie Piper. That's when the "new" show started up again, and they're just now about to start the fifth series. I had never seen any of the 20th century episodes, but I managed just fine.

(I've gone back and started watching some of them on Netflix streaming, but I'm not very far along, and I'd much rather watch Series 4 of the new than any of the old.)
I agree with the person who gets upset when Angel is consistently ranked last in the Whedonverse shows. It's always been my favorite. Here's my reasoning: Firefly wasn't on long enough to actually know whether or not it would rank up there with the others. I mean, sure, it was great and awesome and all that jazz, but who's to say it wouldn't pull a Buffy season 4 on us and be utter craptastic?

Also, Angel was the most consistently good show. Consider Buffy, for example:

Season 1 - Sucks
Season 2 - Awesome
Season 3 - Awesome
Season 4 - Sucks
Season 5 - Awesome
Season 6 - Okay
Season 7 - Not terrible.
My overall ranking would be: 2, 3, 5, 6, 7, 1, 4

Angel:
Season 1 - Good (not great, but good)
Season 2 - Awesome
Season 3 - Awesome
Season 4 - Good (would be awesome except for the whole Cordy storyline)
Season 5 - Awesome
Ranking: 2, 3, 1, 4, 5 (but it's waay harder to actually rank the Angel seasons because the show is just consistently good. It's really easy to rank the Buffy seasons)

Firefly:
Season 1/2 - Awesome

Dollhouse:
Season 1 (not counting the first five episodes) - Good
Season 2 - Good

I don't know, it's just always felt like Angel was the red-headed stepchild for both Joss and the fandom. And I don't understand why, because IMO, it's the most consistently good show. But Joss wasn't even heavily involved in Angel until season 5 when he lost his other two shows. Which I understand him being busy, but I feel like the neglect he showed Angel has translated into the fandom and many of us don't see it for the awesomeness that it is just because Joss wasn't as involved in it as he was with Buffy and Firefly.

/rant. Sorry.
jesse, overall I agree with your analysis, but I'd still rank Firefly at the top. It didn't have time to produce failures, but it sure did produce greatness and its great/crappy ratio was higher than any other season of any other show.

Also, until recently Angel was the only Joss show that had been in syndication for the past few years, so at least TNT is giving it some of the respect it deserves.

[ edited by jason_isaacs on 2010-03-21 06:15 ]
So, I thought I'd offer another perspective on Angel and perhaps why it's lower. While Angel (the character) being 'a vampire with a soul' is unique in the Buffyverse, the concept of the show about a dark antihero fighting crime? Not unique at all. Another point not in its favor: the treatment of women on the show. They all die. Two of them die from circumstances prompted by a mystical pregnancy. Actually make that three as Fred is also hollowed out from the inside to give birth to Illyria. So yeah, not awesome from a feminist reading standpoint. The horrific mangling of Cordelia's character arc is the worst though. "Let it go, baby, let it go." *Cordy glows* *I stifle my gag reflex*

Where as Buffy and Firefly are wholly original concepts in comparison. A Valley-girl-cheerleader-slaying-vampires melodrama tragicomedy (I'm not even sure what to call it, whatever, it's a genre blender and there's also feminist readings aplenty) and a soap opera western in space.

Angel never really had a shot at being original since it's about a dark, tortured figure of prophetic prominence who constantly brings doom and suffering to those he loves most and Oedipus got there first a few millennia ago.

[ edited by Emmie on 2010-03-21 06:29 ]
You make a good point, Emmie. Not that I necessarily agree with that reading of the 'text,' but I'm glad to actually hear an explanation.

OT: are/were you an English major or something similar where you would have studied theory? I've read your reviews on here and over at SlayAlive for quite a while and am always impressed by the level of literary intelligence you portrayed. I'm taking a lit theory class right now and I love and hate it.
Re: Angel. It got messed about on a couple of terrestrial channels and as a result never got a huge following here in the UK like Buffy did. So the SFX poll position of the show is to be expected.
but who's to say it wouldn't pull a Buffy season 4 on us and be utter craptastic?

Have to disagree with you there jesse. Season 4 is one of the best IMO. Everything to do with the Initiative wasn't that good, but have a look at individual episodes that season and they are some of the greatest the buffyverse has ever produced. And season 6 is probably my favourite season. Wtih Angel, for me, the quality was a toss up from week to week. I never knew if it would be awesome or boring.


But Joss wasn't even heavily involved in Angel until season 5 when he lost his other two shows.

From what I've heard Joss was less around in S5 than any previous seasons, as he was focusing on writing Serenity.

And I realize these kinds of arguments are endlessly ongoing, and are pretty much pointless, so I'll just shut-up now and go back to my studying. :)
jesse said:

But Joss wasn't even heavily involved in Angel until season 5 when he lost his other two shows. Which I understand him being busy, but I feel like the neglect he showed Angel has translated into the fandom and many of us don't see it for the awesomeness that it is just because Joss wasn't as involved in it as he was with Buffy and Firefly.


I do feel that, to a degree, this is true. Joss has said it himself in the season five special features that Angel came under the aegis of David Greenwalt, Jeffrey Bell and other figures. This is particularly true for season four, when Tim was pulled out of Angel's writing team to work with Joss on Firefly. Perhaps that move and the fact that several new writers to the Angelverse - while commendable at times - were reflected in how the season was executed and received. Joss has only written a handful of episodes for Angel and IMO, that lack of attention (even though it was probably for a very valid reason) did channel into the fandom. Perhaps even the 'stigma' of spin-offs also played a part.

I do also think that as the seasons progressed, the series became heavily reliant on the narrative arc and viewers needed to have watched consecutive episodes to keep up with the direction the storylines were heading, particularly for seasons 3 and 4. That factor may have detracted some viewers who wouldn't have been able to understand what was happening.

Kaan, I think he did become more involved in season five. These are some, probably not all, that I can recall Joss wrote for Angel:

Season 1: Co-wrote City Of and Sanctuary
Season 2: -
Season 3: Waiting in the Wings
Season 4: Spin the Bottle
Season 5: Conviction, A Hole in the World, co-wrote Smile Time and Not Fade Away

Of course, we don't actually know the writing process. Joss may have contributed several of the stories to be written by other writers.

[ edited by cardea on 2010-03-21 08:58 ]
I side with Emmie about the originality of Angel's premise and the problematic treatment of its female characters. Additionally, I think the show was, week-to-week, very inconsistent, especially in season one (which I think is the weakest Buffyverse season, full stop) and season three (which has a great arc except for the Cordy bits, but has several extremely poor episodes--"Double or Nothing," "Provider," "Dad," maybe "Heartthrob," a few others). Buffy was inconsistent to a degree as well, but I don't think the quality differential from episode to episode was as extreme.

I feel that on the whole, Angel did have a few things on Buffy: more moral ambiguity in the arc villains, better production value, a greater tendency to change the status quo (and a faster pace), better plot arcs overall. On the other hand I feel Buffy had more emotional complexity, stronger character arcs (except for Wesley, Angel-wise), better overall line-to-line dialogue, mostly better one-offs. Buffy would be my desert island show, but I can certainly understand preferring Angel. Overall, the difference to me is that Buffy is more intimate, Angel more epic.

Oh, and Firefly is incredible but too hard to compare. I'm still processing Dollhouse, which I love but have, uh, let's say issues with. :)

And I want to defend Buffy season four, which, yes, had some problems but also had some of the show's best character work and one-offs. I'm also fairly forgiving of the season's flaws because I see lots of tantalizing hints about where they were going before Lindsay Crouse and Seth Green's exits, both forced upon the show and unplanned, forced a simplification of the moral issues the Initiative was starting to explore. (I love "New Moon Rising," but I wish we could have run through the Initiative-experimenting-on-Oz story more slowly and carefully, maybe with a contrast to Veruca as an example of a dangerous werewolf that kind of needed to be put down.) On the whole I feel like seasons 2-6 of Buffy are roughly comparable in quality, each with their own problems and own strengths, and I feel somewhat similarly about seasons 2-5 of Angel. (I do like the other seasons, but there's a bit of a gap.)
jason_isaacs wrote:
Of course I'm glad for Angel, Firefly and Buffy, but I'm super excited that Twin Peaks and Futurama made the list and that ST:DS9 was rated so highly!

Also, Woo! for my first post!

Welcome jason_isaacs! Futurama, Twin Peaks and DS9's high placement were my favorite things about the list too (aside from the inclusion of the obvious three).

Maybe I would have included Hitchhiker's Guide and perhaps even Neverwhere a place somewhere on the bottom half, but there's really very little I don't like about the list already.

Don't agree at all with the assertion that Angel was Whedons most consistently good show. I would say Angel's fourth season is by far the worst thing Whedon has ever delivered. IMO, it's far, far worse than Buffy's fourth season, which actually has a lot going for it, ranging from the amazing one offs like Pangs, Something Blue, Hush, Superstar, Restless, to the introduction of some of the verse strongest characters: Anya, Spike and Tara as regular players in the Buffy world, to the tight focus on the core scoobies. Even the Initiative was at times quite awesome, like when it was first introduced, or when Spike escaped from it. The arc didn't work that well for me the first time around, but on repeat viewings it did grew on me.
I agree with the person who gets upset when Angel is consistently ranked last in the Whedonverse shows. It's always been my favorite. Here's my reasoning: Firefly wasn't on long enough to actually know whether or not it would rank up there with the others. I mean, sure, it was great and awesome and all that jazz, but who's to say it wouldn't pull a Buffy season 4 on us and be utter craptastic?

Despite the brevity of its run Firefly is just so consistently awesome in execution (from the way it was filmed to the way subtexts of music and color were employed to imply specific psychological locations - and of course the awesome ensemble acting on literally a scene to scene basis) I think it's pretty clear where that show was/is headed artistically (a very nice place indeed.)
Despite the brevity of its run Firefly is just so consistently awesome in execution


Shindig, Safe and Heart of Gold aren't great episodes. And I always thought it was a mistake to bring back Saffron that quickly into the show's run.
Am I alone in thinking that Firefly was the least likable of Joss productions? I mean it's great, but I even found Dollhouse to be better...more of a connection with the characters...odd...
On topic...The list is fairly generic...Dr. Who was never a favourite of mine...or even on my radar of shows to watch so I never get why its so highly praised but glad at least 3 Joss shows got some love!!
And Angel was only shown on Sky One over here for ages til Sci Fi got a hold but it was so heavily edited upon its repeated viewings that it lost its punch...sad...
For a terrible moment, Simon, I thought you were serious. Don't do that to me!
I hated Firefly, to be honest. Angel is far better than it, as is Dollhouse.
Well, Twin Peaks and Lost are my favourite telly ever. I've always found Firefly to be a shade overrated (although Shindig would probably make my top five episodes, due to the Inara and Mal scenes). I love every season of Buffy and Dollhouse, the only seasons of Angel that didn't work for me fully were 1 and 4. But, yeah, it's all good stuff.
I hated Firefly, to be honest.


I thought you had never seen it?
Am I alone in thinking that Firefly was the least likable of Joss productions?

Yes.

Sorry - couldn't resist. ;)


ETA: Whoops!

[ edited by brinderwalt on 2010-03-21 20:19 ]
Although it's not really a huge insult to call any of Joss' shows the "least likable." They're all so good. So I can appreciate this type of debate because at the end of the day, most of us can see that all of Joss' shows are far superior to most things that have been on television over the last 15 years. Even Dollhouse, with all its faults, was a darn good show at its heart (I'm not sure how I'd rank it with the other Joss shows yet, I'm still in the processing mode. I need the season 2 DVDs so I can watch the whole series back to back to see how well it really told its story.)
Simon, I watched it last month.
I agree with the person who gets upset when Angel is consistently ranked last in the Whedonverse shows.

**raises hand** If you mean me, stymied isn't upset. It means to thwart, to stump. Maybe gobsmacked would have worked better, but seriously, I don't want anyone to think I'm a bad sport or a big 'ole crybaby. I may have even mentioned this once before over my years here and thought it when I still lurked and couldn't figure out the membership cycles. I don't "ship" the shows, one is better than another, yada yada yada, because I like and love all of them to various degrees, but Angel resonates with me on a level I can't really get into here. Suffice it to say that coming out of the dark and striving towards the light, and those famous lines written by Tim Minear in Epiphany, mean a great deal to me:

Angel: Well, I guess I kinda - worked it out. If there is no great glorious end to all this, if - nothing we do matters, - then all that matters is what we do. 'cause that's all there is. What we do, now, today. - I fought for so long. For redemption, for a reward - finally just to beat the other guy, but... I never got it.

Kate: And now you do?

Angel: Not all of it. All I wanna do is help. I wanna help because - I don't think people should suffer, as they do. Because, if there is no bigger meaning, then the smallest act of kindness - is the greatest thing in the world.


And sometimes I fail miserably one day, and do well the rest of the week, or fail all week and do well on one day, and stumble, and fall, and somehow I keep going, because that is all I can do. I think it's zen and wonderful and full of hope that I related so much to that concept which is woven throughout the show before Tim ever wrote those lines. All of them tried and fought and some utterly failed in the end, but they all changed lives for the better.
Tonya J, I think that "Epiphany" and Angel's speech to Connor at the beginning of season 4 are possibly the best words and ideas to ever come out of a Joss show. But Buffy was the best story.
I love a good Angel vs. Buffy smackdown.

Re: Firefly - yes it actually can be the least likable show. It's probably just not safe to say it on THIS board. My problem with the show wasn't the show, it was just how abruptly it ended. But that's also why I don't rank it that highly. Statistically speaking the sample size is just too small. The show got out of the gate better than any Whedon show, but there's no guarantee that it stays consistent if it isn't cancelled either. And since I still don't particularly love Serenity, well lets just say I can't rank it higher then either of Joss 5+ season shows which were forgivably inconsistent but I know how good they were going to be.

[ edited by azzers on 2010-03-22 03:40 ]
For me it's:
1. Buffy
2. Angel
3. Dollhouse
4. Firefly

And I love Firefly. I'm not sure where to put Dr. Horrible since it is only slightly longer then any one episode of the four shows above, though, gun to my head, it would be #4 (things that put music on my ipod > things that don't), pushing Firefly down to the bottom. But it's not my least favourite show at all! It's amazing and I adore it, I just have much deeper attachments to Joss's other works (probably a combination of watching while it aired and <3LOVING<3 at least 1 character from each show in a way that I just don't quite reach with Firefly).

And yeah, I don't get the lack of Angel love either. I think that watchers of both shows can agree that there are times when Angel outshines Buffy as a show. In fact, the only "bad" parts of Angel to me are some of the first season eps (and the lack of an arc in the first season), and the whole Cordy/Connor dealy, which wins the award for grossest onscreen pairing ever. Whereas I love Buffy more on the whole, I think there are a greater number of errors and rough points (many season 1 eps, a few season 2 eps, the initiative, Riley, how literal willow's addiction was, that Spike and Buffy scene in the bathroom, Kennedy, some of the plot points in season 7).

I think everyone's quite sick of hearing about Dollhouse's weaknesses, but even though I see them, they don't really bother me, and the good parts that became amazing that became mindblowing...yeah, it more than makes up for the mediocrity of some of the weaker parts of the show. Except for "The Hollow Men." I will never forgive that episode for lacking so much after 8 sweet episodes of awesome buildup.

Firefly...there's actually nothing I find fault with. Overall I think it was a great series and an even greater movie; but I'm also not compelled to watch it over and over the way that I am with the other series.
I completely agree with CarpeNoctem, except that I switch Buffy and Angel on the list. I pretty much read that entire comment and thought "Yep, that's true" at almost every point you made.

To add my own thoughts, I'll share that I believe that Angel was the best show on the whole. I loved the message it held, the characters (Wesley had the best character arc ever), and the journey they went through. Buffy had the best stand alone episodes. The Body, Hush, and Once More with Feeling are probably the best three episodes in television history (Especially The Body! I rewatched it today and it never stops blowing my mind). Angel doesn't really have those. But Angel, for me, will always be my favorite show ever. It speaks to me on a very personal level (but the Cordy/Conner thing will never stop grossing me out).
It's only gross because Cordy apparently had to remember it (hopefully she wasn't dreaming about it in her coma), and for the audience because she was a mother/aunt figure for him while he was a baby. She was only conscious for one ep (when the Powers gave her a day of freedom as an astral projection or some kind of double of herself in "You're Welcome"), so maybe she didn't have to think about it much before she died. Their lives were already pretty weird, I mean she was part-demon and had evolved into a higher being, so sleeping with the grown up son of her best friend/sometime lover/sometime boss probably wasn't that bizarre in the end.

What's weirder is Jasmine's part in it, sleeping with Connor while possessing Cordy's body and then giving birth to herself. Then again, being a Power and probably older than dirt, maybe that's not so weird by her standards.

I'll agree that it was a strange thing to see Charisma Carpenter and Vincent Kartheiser mess around as their characters in Season 4, but I wish fans would take into context, since we've known for a long while now that it was actually Jasmine doing all that. Yes, yes, I know, the visuals that you can't bleach from your brains. The folks who bash that aspect of Season 4 sound as broken-recordy as I probably do with my majority-of-Season-7 and Spike-overexposure bashing (I've tried to stop beating the chalk from the skeleton of the dead horse, I have!).
See, when it comes to such finely wrought debates as which is THE best Whedon show (Ha!), I think it it really does often come down to a matter of one's taste and personal experience. For me, although I started watching Buffy when it first aired and enjoyed it tremendously, it failed to hook me in a truly personal way probably because a lot of the underlying issues it dealt with (such as life in highschool and the turmoil of adolescence) failed to resonate with me specifically. When Angel came along I was actually more into it because of the more ambiguous fallen angel (no pun intended) seeking for redemption theme which has much less to do with age or location.

Firefly, however, with its virtual smorgasbord of themes, characters, languages, etc comes across to me as being much more accessible in that, while I may not identify - strictly speaking - with a single character as strongly as I did with its show-predecessors, the core values that seem to bring and hold Serenity's crew together (ie. playing the hand life deals you the best you can) are what I find the most appealing and applicable to me, and further heighten my experience as a viewer since that shared drive makes me feel like I - the viewer - could be an actual member of the crew itself.

As far as Dollhouse goes the whole premise, while sounding very promising in theory, I think failed to really have the kind of scope to it that a long-running tv show needs in order to be long-running. It required too many sacrifices on the viewer's part over a too-long period of time in order to keep its underlying themes of identity resonant.

To me the emotional destination of that show was going to be the point when I, the viewer, could conclusively determine whether Echo (and by proxy all of the dolls/us potentially) was truly a blank slate or not. Much like the Prisoner teased us along with the question of whether an individual was capable of resisting the pressures of conformity, the fun in watching Dollhouse would be the journey of watching episode after episode of slightly inconclusive evidence as to Echo's state of being until the final reveal would come around (that she is unique - this is tv after all...) With the main emotional goal of the show fulfilled, just as The Prisoner - immediately after gaining his freedom from The Village - proceeds to wreak havoc and destroy it utterly, the only thing left is for Echo to make her escape from Dollhouse and then work to destroy it.

That was what I was expecting going in to the Dollhouse watching experience, and it is almost precisely what I got, though unfortunately not nearly at the pace I was hoping for. Whether it was a slip up in the writing, acting, or some other aspect of the Echo character, by the end of the first episode I felt that I had already seen enough to determine whether or not Echo was still a person (she was - surprise!) With the emotional message already delivered, the only interesting thing left was going to be watching the Dollhouse go up in flames (which obviously wasn't supposed to happen for quite some time.)

There are - of course - arguments out there about what ill affects certain network-mandated episodes may have had on the show's overall run. To me it comes across as a moot point because the sense of Echo's personality that I got in the first episode was just as evident in virtually every episode thereafter (with the possible exception of "Ghost" - something I find ironic given how few fans that particular episode seems to have.) Once the cat was out of the bag there seemed little point in drawing things out any further before bringing the whole thing down (there's a reason why The Prisoner's final victory and destruction of The Village happen in the same episode - and the last one at that.) It's one of the reasons why I suspect Dollhouse would've worked far better as a mini-series like the Prisoner (which was only meant to be seven episodes in the first place...) or even a two-hour movie - the nature of identity is a fascinating topic to explore, but it really doesn't take that long to give the topic justice if you do it well.

With all that said, here's how I'd rank them (btw it's probably significant that most of these are in creator-chronological order...):
1. Firefly
2. Angel
3. Buffy
4. Dollhouse


ETS: Typos. Added Stuff. Sorry. :)

[ edited by brinderwalt on 2010-03-22 07:47 ]
Tonya J, I think that "Epiphany" and Angel's speech to Connor at the beginning of season 4 are possibly the best words and ideas to ever come out of a Joss show.


"We live as though the world were as it should be, to show it what it can be."

Those words have stayed with me ever since.
See, when it comes to such finely wrought debates as which is THE best Whedon show (Ha!), I think it it really does often come down to a matter of one's taste and personal experience.

Personal experience and individual tastes are ALWAYS what it comes down to, anyone who claims otherwise is claiming to have the infamous "objective" criteria for deciding art's worth (which, to be clear, I don't believe anyone has but i'm open to demonstrations).

In order of overall satisfaction/enjoyment:

1. 'Angel'
- featured the best character arc bar none of any Whedon show IMO, reinvented itself every season and somehow snuck a fairly profound, anti-nihilist, non-theistic philosophical message into a network detective series. Best ending too (as far as the TV show itself goes).
2. Buffy
- narrowly misses out to 'Angel' because of the current wind direction and/or position of moon ;).
3. 'Firefly'
- purely on length. If it HAD stayed as consistently good as it was over 5 or 7 seasons then it'd be my number 1, hands down.
4. 'Dollhouse'
- 4th purely on overall execution. But it was the murkiest and most thematically ambitious Whedon show IMO and had moments that rank up there with the very best TV (ever I mean, not just of the purple hue). If it'd managed to consistently deliver what it promised then it'd be way higher.

Re: list. Weird mix, as they all are and skewed towards recent shows, as they mostly are (and the teleporting in 'The Tomorrow People' was basically ripped straight out of "The Stars My Destination" by Alfred Bester - it was even called "jaunting" IIRC - so Star Trek: TOS influenced not so much I reckon, unless they just mean the effect itself). Can't argue too much with the top 5 though (OK, you could maybe argue with the list of things 'Doctor Who' has influenced. It should probably be much, much longer).
I knew there was a compelling and intelligent reason I like you, Saje...
What, besides the regular cheques in the mail y'mean Tonya J ?

;-)
Ah, the old 'favorite show' debate has started up again. I'll quickly throw in my 2 cents:

For me, it's impossible to separate my love for Buffy, Angel and Firefly.

Buffy was my first real television love. I was about the same age as she when I started watching, her high school years felt very real to me and her world was something I enjoyed slipping into more than anything fictional, ever. The metaphors spoke to me and I fell in love with all those wonderful characters and their sometimes gutwrenching/funny stories. It's also still one of the most original shows to date - it has a unique flavor and genre mix that can never quite be copied by anything else again.

As for Angel, well, Saje pretty much sums it up. It has the best Whedonverse character arc, the underlying non-theistic message was inspiring and 'Never Fade Away' is the best series finale, ever (it's head-and-shoulders above 'Chosen' as far as I'm concerned). Its set-up may be slightly less original, but the quality of the output was always very high and I loved it to total bits.

Plus for me, even though the shows are quite distinct, Buffy and Angel can't be separated. They live in the same universe and are part of the same fandom and same experience, although I recognize that that may be different for others.

Firefly, then, is distinct and separate from the others. It had the best start of any of those three shows and had bunches of potential. The fact that even with its short run and single movie, I still love it as much as I do Buffy and Angel, speaks highly in its favor. I think the cancellation even might have helped the show (not that I wouldn't have loved for it to continue) to assume its status as a genre classic. It's a small bit of storytelling wonder that just works. It's the entire package; the way the cancellation and movie resonated with the themes of the show, the way in which it's so very easy to rewatch the entire thing from time to time and the consistently high quality of it all. Plus, like with Buffy and Angel, it's all about the characters. On all three shows, they were the driving force for my love of the stories that were being told. And that group of people seated around that dinner table in Serenity's dining area, might just be my favorite of the bunch. All this makes for a perfect little show and it's impossible for me to compare my love for it, with my love for the other two shows. I just can't do it :).

As for Dollhouse, then, that's clearly my least favorite of Joss' four shows. While I appreciated the effort, ambitions and work that went into it, and while I grew to love the show eventually, there's just too much there I don't like (and not thematically or intellectually, but simply in execution). It's a significant bit lower on my Whedon-ladder than the other three shows and - apart from one or two episodes - I think the series never quite managed to deliver on the quality I've come to expect from a Mutant Enemy production. This is not through anyone's clear fault (we've discussed and analyzed the show to death already) and it's certainly not because anyone involved suddenly became less talented. It just didn't quite gel as well as previous efforts.

But I consider it a testament to everyone involved that despite those problems and issues, Dollhouse still turned out to be a show very much worth watching and was still simply one of the best things on the air at the time (just not one of the best things on the air, ever). I enjoyed it, I own the DVDs, but it doesn't quite measure up to the other shows with respect to how much I enjoyed it.

[ edited by GVH on 2010-03-22 16:35 ]
My list would be-
#1- Buffy- My favorite story of all time. I can see why one would prefer Angel but I enjoyed the BTVS characters, storylines, and metaphors more and though it was the more creative and funny show, with unique episodes like "OMWF", "Hush", "The Body", "CWDP" and all the finales, etc.
#2- Angel- I love it almost as much as BTVS but I think as someone else mentioned it has a less unique premise than BTVS or Firefly and that works against it. Also, I was occasionally bored or annoyed with certain plotlines. I never liked the Connor/Darla/Cordy stuff in Seasons 3 and 4. I still think Angel shouldn't have had a son. However,I definitely don't think it deserves the black sheep status it alwasy has. It's a brilliant show. Especially Wesley's arc and IMO, Season 5 might be the best season in the Buffyverse.
#3 Dollhouse/ Firefly tied for third. I liked Firefly's concept and characters more but I had more time to get attached to Dollhouse, so I couldn't decide....
Also, yay for Supernatural!!! My favorite non-Whedon show, probably comes in right between the Buffyverse and Firefly/ Dollhouse in my rankings.
I think Angel having a son was a stroke of bloody genius. If only it hadn't had all the "Cordy" trappings surrounding it, which I have to say, least favorite moments of the series. Still, out of that still came simply stellar moments. The sins of the father was actually twofold as Connor totally related more to Angelus than he did to Angel, once the two met when Faith came back. In the essay that was linked here on the front page the other day about family within Angel, it was mentioned Connor was really made into a monster. And what would another monster relate to most? The other aspect about it I loved was that you could have two supernatural characters, the son puts his father under the ocean for three months, and daddy comes home and whips the son's ass physically and verbally. The more things change, the more they stay the same, even between a vampire and his son.
I do like a list.

1. Buffy - my favourite Whedonverse character in Buffy herself and my introduction to Joss (and that was after initially disregarding it due to the high school setting). Also my favourite episodes out of all four shows including: The Body, OMWF & Dead Things.
2. Angel - certainly more epic, with a better rounded story but as others have noted it had bigger missteps both in poor individual episodes and storylines, especially with my favourite Angel character, Cordy. But the philosophical conversations and theories put forward by the show have made me think more than any other show (Whedon or otherwise). If it wasn't for the Buffster, Angel would probably be my favourite show.
3. Firefly - Although I had a hard time getting into it at first, on numerous rewatches and with Serenity I have come to love this show. The characters, the humour, the look and the acting are all wonderful (writing is a given).
4. Dollhouse - Perhaps, like others, I'm still processing this show and I have only seen some episodes once (unlike the 20+ times I've seen some Buffy and Angel episodes), so I'm not writing it off, but I don't see it moving up on my list any time soon. I found it very hard to find a character to connect to or care about. The actors I liked, some of the issues raised were interesting (though there weren't nearly enough of those), but I know so much more about the Firefly crew and what they're like after 14(+BDM) episodes than I do after 26 Dollhouse episodes and it's really the characters that I tune in for (of course this is partly the point, but still I found it difficult to care).

[ edited by Leaf on 2010-03-22 20:11 ]

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