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March 28 2010

Who's your icon? J.J. Abrams v. Joss Whedon.

Let's just be classy & say we have Icon(S) ....eventhough Joss IS our Master :)
Pedantry: Abrams left Lost a long time before Fillion was cast.
I've enjoyed Abrams film work (never got into Lost and not watched his other work,) but can't see why anyone would love them. Cloverfield and M:I 3 are solid action films, which are very well directed, but little more than that. Star Trek was a great start to an invigorated franchise, but lacked a lot in the plot department. So, I would have to side with Joss (well, duh.)

Of course, these aren't written by Abrams, so it is perhaps unfair to judge him against the stuff Joss has penned himself. I understand he has had very little involvement with Lost since the early days, but what of Alias, Fringe and Felicity? Are those very much Abrams programmes, in the same way Buffy, Angel, Dollhouse, etc. are Joss shows? Sorry for my ignorance here.
Wow from checking out the comments Joss is kinda the winner on all fronts...although someone said Dr. Horrible was rubbish...paft! I. Think. Not!
Yeah, Abrams hasn't really had much to do with Lost since the early seasons. It evolved into the epic it is under Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse. From what I hear he's not really involved with Fringe anymore, either.

So yeah, I don't think this is really a fair comparison.
Joss Whedon wins every internet poll. JJ Abrams wins the ratings and the box office.

Both are brilliantly talented men. No need to choose.
A few years back it we might have been able to make this comparison but its becoming more and more ludicrous every time it happens. My experience with Abrams' televisual work is Fringe and a few episodes of Felicity. I love Lost but I always cringe whenever he gets credited, I can't believe he is still "the creator of Lost" even to geeks. I can't deny he has good directing skills though. I loved Star Trek, the Lost pilot is incredibly pretty ... I didn't like MI3 though.

Oh, yeah, Joss FTW.
I've actually never watched any of Abrams' shows, but I loved the Star Trek reboot. I side with Joss based on what I know and like, but I think the article is a bit remiss for not including Once More, With Feeling in the "...And He Composes!" category.
I adore both of them, and wouldn't dare to choose between them. Hate these divisive articles that ask us to. Joss and JJ have totally different strengths and weaknesses. I'm just thrilled to be able to enjoy the works of both.
Joss for realsies. I don't see them as really in the same league, sorry. I mean, I love LOST, but that isn't Abrams' anymore (it's all about Darlton).
Love Lost. Unlike Whedon's shows, I've never felt the urge to re watch an Abrams show- they're throw away. Star Trek was so ridiculously bland, as was Alias. Unfortunately, Abrams' work is glossy and entertaining (and more cinematic) whilst Whedon's actually means something.
Joss definitely wins, but Abrams has some good things, too. Star Trek was pretty good, although as a ST fan, the characterization was a bit.. off. Maybe it was more due to the actors than the director, but whatever.

I loved Alias. It ranks up there with Whedon shows on my list of favorites.

I've tried, but just can't get into Lost, same thing with Fringe. Never saw Felicity. His movies are pretty good, though. Cloverfield and MI3. Yep.

The end.
I like to pretend that Lost ended after its first season. That is not to say that the following seasons are bad, but they lost my interest (no pund intended), and I only watch periodically. The first season kept me on the edge of my seat. I also really enjoyed Felicity, Star Trek, and Cloverfield.

That being said, Joss is the clear winner in my mind. As a kid I loved Toy Stor and Titan AE. I only found out recently that he had been involved with those too. I've been a fan my whole life. I literally have a Buffy shrine in my room.
Really, jesse? I thought the ST characterization was spot on! Subsequent viewings have only confirmed it to me. And I'm a lifelong Star Trek fan. It was my first fandom.

That said, it's Joss all the way for me. No contest.
I think you can like oysters and snails. But I would veer towards the oyster.

Though I would like to see a JJ/Joss interview (or vice versa). That's be cool.
I had to go with our man...Joss Whedon. Abrams shows (not including Lost) start good, but then go downhill after the first season.
While Whedon's shows just get better after the first season.
Joss is boss.
It's got to be JJ, I mean, who IS this Whedon character anyway?

Teehee, I'm only joking! I watched the first season of Lost, it was okay. I watched the first season of Fringe, it was okay. I watched the first season of Alias, it was okay. Yeah, there's a theme there.

I did, however, really like Star Trek, and so did my step-dad who has a "Starfleet Command" sticker on the door to his office, so...

However, I like and love Joss' work, there's really no contest whatsoever for me. I'd agree that Joss' work has a greater message to it then JJ's. I mean, what on EARTH was Lost actually about exactly?
This is the thing:
I've seen a few episodes of Alias and Felicity. I also sort of follow Lost. (Lost a season in the middle, though). I have never ever been tempted to own and rewatch anything of Abrams. Everything of Joss' I buy, treasure and enjoy for years on end. To me that's the difference between fluffy entertainment and more fibrous brain fodder.
Joss always. I'm not a fan of JJ, and I cringe every time they are compared which is way too often. Lost = WTF. Alias = Eh (his one strong female role - good for you, but at least Joss believes in the idea). Felicity = WAAA whine & big hair. and a big no on the Reboot of Star Trek.

And yet I adore EVERYTHING Joss does. Absolutely everything, from Roseanne to Xmen to Buffy to Firefly. Comics to Movies, TV to webfilms.

And plus they were so wrong half the time in the article and made it veer toward JJ. Like saying Joss only used this and that character 2x when really, he used them more. Plus that Composing section, he deserved more praise for what he has done. I don't see Abrams composing a musical episode or a musical webmovie.

Either way, Joss 4 Life.
I feel like Abrams is a very good director. I don't think he's an amazing writer though. He's very good, but one thing that sets Joss apart are all of his characters. They're so multi-layered and relatable, that you really love them.

Abrams is very good, but in my opinion, he's not even in the same league.
People do over-credit JJ for Lost, he was there in the beginning, but that was it. Although he did a very fine work remaking Star Trek. I felt he was geeky, respectful for the source material, and just tried to have fun with it.

But I always feel that Joss still has a stronger voice in whatever he creates. You can watch/read/listen something from Joss and say this is definitely Whedon, that don't apply for Abrams. Ever tried watching Six Degrees or or What About Brian?
What, I like them both; why do I have to choose? I've never really been into this 'My fandom can beat up your fandom' mentality. They both have diffrent styles, and it works for them. Yes, you can say Whedon like to be deeper, while JJ is more about action, but what's wrong with that? That's like jumping on AC/DC for not writting a great symphony (Hey, did you ever notice Symphony has the word Phony in it? Sorry, I get distrated easily) World's better for having them both, that's the way I see it.
I enjoy JJ's movies, and I enjoy Joss' TV shows. I love TV more therefore I love Joss more.
It makes me sad that many Whedon fans - generally an intelligent and discerning bunch - don't seem to realise that Lost is one if the great artistic achievements in modern storytelling. It's every bit as good as Buffy, though they are both so different. Of course, Abrams birthed it, with Lindelof, but it's Darlton's baby.

As a 25 years and counting Trek fan, I can tell you that I think Star Trek 09 is the second best Trek film behind the wonderful Khan. It is Trek through to the warp core. In a needless comparison, I would have to say that Whedon is the one with the strongest voice. He's a genius, a modern day Dickens and perhaps the more talented. BUT Abrams is the next Spielberg. he has figured out how to clothe interesting and complex characters and worlds in mainstream garb.

Dollhouse was not a great show, and Star Trek was a great movie, so let's hope Whedon will return to form soon, and Abrams Trek sequel will soar
Numfar -

If you feel the need to remove some credit from Abrams regarding Lost, then it is most unfair to use Six Degrees and Brian as examples of a diluted voice. I think you will find that he was a shepherd for both projects as a producer, unlike Lost which he actually created and designed, as well as making the pilot. He supported getting Six Degrees and Brian made, but they are inadmissable as evidence of his own creative personality. I'd be surprised if he has a credited teleplay for either show.
Firefly alone puts Joss in a league above Abrams. So when you add Buffy, Angel, Dr. Horrible, Serenity, Abrams pales in comparison. Star Trek and Cloverfield were okay, but Lost? Fringe?, MI3? ZZZZZZZZZZ!
While I do like JJ, I don't yet have an Abramesque account.
You mean Abramsology?
Well said fivebyfivefaith, I completely agree. The biggest difference between Joss and JJ is that I can re-watch a Joss show several times and it's still a fun fresh ride.

I just cant re-watch an episode of Alias or Lost (or MI3 for that matter). It just doesn't seem to have much of a point because they are always quickly revealing "the next thing." All build-up with no payoff.

Obviously I'm a little biased but it sure seems Joss' story telling is far superior.
Lost is not only ripe for re-watching, it's teeming with symbolism, metaphor, and long-game character arcs that demand the endless analysis that that show enjoys.
In a shocking upset, Whedon wins Whedonesque!
I wonder if this comparison would come up anywhere near as often if their names didn't both start with J.
I haven't watched any of Abrams T.V. work but do enjoy his movie work.Mission Impossible 3 is my favorite of the three films and I'm looking forward to Mission Impossible 4 next summer.Abrams is producing that and developed the storyline.Latest rumor is Brad Bird might direct.

Cloverfield was a fun novel film that he produced and developed.And Drew Goddard wrote.

I loved his Star Trek reboot and can't wait for the next film which will be out in summer 2012.

I did not care for his plans for a Superman reboot film back in 2002-2004.

Now as far as television,Joss reigns for me.Loved Buffy,Angel and Dollhouse.Firefly/Serenity wasn't really my thing.Just not into westerns.But I've loved everything else including Dr. Horrible.
In one of the previous JJ/Joss articles that was posted here, someone commented that Joss is a philosopher that just happens to like entertaining. Abrams is an entertainer who dabbles into philosophy just enough to make it moderately interesting.

So that means that Abrams is probably going to more widespread appeal, as his stuff isn't too deep and is easy to digest. Whereas Joss' stuff has a small, but loyal following of viewers who enjoy being challenged, looking for/understanding the metaphors, etc.
In a shocking upset, Whedon wins Whedonesque!

Blog together, hope for news of new projects alone.
So, before I'm clicking the link, I'm thinking right now my icon/profile pic is Castle New Mon. See a lot more Firefly/Serenity/Browncoat/Dollhouse/Castle icons around then LOST/New Star Trek/Cloverfield icons.

Of course, could just be where I tend to be on the internet.
After some time has passed when Lost's finale has aired, I will rewatch the entire show. I've seen parts of the Lost pilot a few times and every time I am in awe; for me, that pilot is eminently rewatchable. I simply don't think you can compare these two guys. Simon has obviously seen Spartacus recently, quoting the snails vs. oysters reference (try finding a good-quality version of that restored Curtis/Olivier scene now; almost impossible). I'm in love with Lost in a whole different way than I have been with Joss' shows; the frustrating nature of it, of a puzzle that doesn't seem to have just one answer, the lack of explanations, the arbitrariness of actions, the brutality and what it all meant, feeling like the characters are being run through a maze like rats to suffer and keep suffering and all for what? It's a grand scheme, one that nearly every season has made me choke for air like I'm underwater and need to claw my way to the surface for relief, but I never get it. That's what a great show does - it hooks you because you want resolution but I doubt even the finale will give it to me, completely. But I never was into Alias or Felicity; however, am a huge Fringe fan. I thought the Star Trek film was a thing of beauty.

Better to say they have a lot in common in the smarts department and pop culture owes a great deal to them both. They have both entertained us for years and we are the better for it.
Joss is a philosopher that just happens to like entertaining. Abrams is an entertainer who dabbles into philosophy just enough to make it moderately interesting.

I beg to differ. They have different approaches to what they do but the similarities when you look at their work in really broad strokes relative to the rest of the field is the reason they keep getting compared. Joss is no philosopher. But he is good at incorporating some philosophical stuff into scripts and directing. Which is great news for those of us who like watching a good fight-and-talk scene more than reading a good thesis.

So that means that Abrams is probably going to more widespread appeal, as his stuff isn't too deep and is easy to digest. Whereas Joss' stuff has a small, but loyal following of viewers who enjoy being challenged, looking for/understanding the metaphors, etc.

I know I've said this before but this persistent idea that Whedon fans are smarter or more sophisticated than people who don't like his material is really insulting. People like different things.
Joss Whedon is my master. Slightly biased site here.

Lost crashed and burned several seasons ago. Joss's shows may also have gone down some questionable paths *cough*Jasmine*cough*, but they found their way in the end.
I know I've said this before but this persistent idea that Whedon fans are smarter or more sophisticated than people who don't like his material is really insulting.


Yes. And that attitude, which is too prevalent, has kept me on the outskirts of this fandom for years now. Not singling any one person or even any one website out here, but whenever I see some "Joss Is My God" type Whedon fan online calling people (or better yet, "Americans") shallow for not liking Dollhouse or idiots for not being able to "get" the grand metaphor of Buffy I just want to scream. It makes all of us look like twits, frankly.

As for Joss versus JJ: what's the point? Especially here. It's not like there is going to be an unbiased, completely objective discussion of the relative merits of the work, for the simple reason that people here are fans of Joss, and being a fan entails a certain necessary relinquishing of objectivity. Just look at the comments above. Everybody loves Buffy, Firefly, etc. to death and rewatches it all endlessly. But when it comes to Abrams, the comments are much more interesting and insightful--because they are completely objective and not coming from a place of fandom. If there is a compararable Abrams site out there, I'm sure they are able to discuss Joss's work objectively (liked this show, hated that one) while fawning all over Abrams ("oh my God I've watched every episode of Lost a dozen times.") At the end of the day I've never understood the Joss versus JJ thing; it strikes me as simply two fandoms waging a popularity contest.

As for me? I've watched every episode of Buffy about four times, I write Buffy fanfic, and I haven't seen Lost or Alias. And as a long-time Trek fan I thought the Trek reboot, while giving the franchise a jolt of energy and a modern sensibility, suffered just a tad from not giving the bad guy enough backstory and motivation. Three and a half stars instead of four.

I'd love to ask a hardcore Lost fan whow knows nothing about Whedon fandom to critique Buffy.
I know I've said this before but this persistent idea that Whedon fans are smarter or more sophisticated than people who don't like his material is really insulting. People like different things.

Agreed, there's a little bit of smugness in many fandoms, and this is no exception. I think most people are guilty of it at some point or another (I know I am) but it's something we should be wary of.

I do actually think that Abrams has shown himself to have more mainstream appeal than Whedon, though whether that's marketing, quality, or style is up in the air. Me, I don't really care for Abrams' stuff--I didn't like Star Trek, don't think that Lost is all that impressive in season one (or, for that matter, in later seasons, but that one isn't a result of Abrams and I am not going to get into that now). That so much praised was heaped on Abrams for Cloverfield, which he neither wrote nor directed, also bothers me--I just can't help but stand up for Ultimate Drew! I admit that sometimes I really wish Whedon would get some of the mainstream attention that Abrams gets, because I find his work so much better.

So far, my favourite Abrams work is the direction in the Office episode "Cocktails."
Seriously, what's up with the constant comparison? I'm not seeing the similarities. Most of the ones posted on the link seem like they're kind of reaching. It's all pointless IMO.


(Although Whedon would def. get my vote, I'm NOT voting!)
Hellmouthguy -

You confuse me. You have this particular attitude toward something you are a fan of. Which I find weird. To love something, but to see all flaws and need to make it your own to understand it.

The fans of something should never keep you from being apart of it if its what you want to do. Some people are crazy and some are not. But if you want to be apart of it all, the attitudes of others shouldn't be able to stop you. But obviously I don't think you know what you want.
Not to talk about another member (though, I swear this isn't defamatory!), but I actually admire Hellmouthguy.

He's often very critical of Joss' work and that used to bug me. But then I realized that he's a fan of Joss' work, not necessarily Joss himself. He isn't one of these fan who is all "Joss can do no wrong! His documentary about a termite eating a block wood is the best ever put on television!" He recognizes that Joss is a great producer and holds him up to a certain standard, but isn't afraid to criticize his work. It's kind of a breath of fresh air in this type of fandom (not that don't love you all! I'm definitely more on the side of "I'd watch paint dry as long as Joss filmed himself" than I am of the critical).

Kudos for being you, Hellmouthguy.
If there is a compararable Abrams site out there, I'm sure they are able to discuss Joss's work objectively (liked this show, hated that one)

I think one of the great things about this fandom is there usually is great, objective discussions about Joss' work. For example read some of the Dollhouse episode threads in the Whedonesque Archives.


At the end of the day I've never understood the Joss versus JJ thing; it strikes me as simply two fandoms waging a popularity contest.

I don't really understand the Joss/JJ thing either. But I don't necessarily think it's a fandom thing. Sure when it comes to Star Trek/Star Wars or even Buffy/Twilight its a fan thing, but besides these random articles that pop up a couple times a year nobody even thinks about it. I think it has more to do with blogger's hoping to get some nice page views to their site than anything else.

Joss is boss.
I see JJ and Joss as comparable because of Buffy and Alias - both epic, feminist, similar themes, etc.

And also (to some extent, anyway) ST vs Serenity - they're both space movies... :)
Is this question going to be posted every 6 months? Bored now.
I predict a strong favor towards Joss. Now, please your pardon, but my dinner is trying to run away (Dang Maine lobster, oh, don't flash those craws at me! You'll be a meal certain.").
I gotta admit, LOST is my master, and as such, I know that J.J. has had nothing to do with it for years. He dumped Damon Lindelof with all the work, mid-Season 1, which was right around the time LOST, to the shock of Lindelof, was actually a huge success. So he invited Carlton Cuse to the staff, and they sat down and made a map for the mythology. The most recent thing J.J. has done for the show was a guest-directing spot in the season 3 premiere "A Tale of Two Cities." So considering that? Joss wins. :)
I love Lost and Fringe, but Joss gets the nod from me if for no other reason that he used James Marsters as Spike. My favorite vampire of all time. James should have been listed in the Keeping Underused Actors Employed, just wish he would use him again in SOMETHING. I have all of King Joss DVDs and at least Joss does stick around for his shows and not leave after the first season.
I've enjoyed a lot of Abrams' stuff, but it doesn't enthrall and engage me emotionally, as Joss's work does. It doesn't invade my dreams. :)

These things are silly, but we all do them anyhow - while protesting that they're silly. :_)
This one's a blood bath, I actually feel sorry for JJ.

Now if Joss could just get some of those bigger numbers that would keep his shows on TV for as long as Lost, and get the same, much deserved critical recognition from more mainstream sources, we'd always have a ME series on TV. Which would make me a lot happier than these online popularity contests.
being a fan entails a certain necessary relinquishing of objectivity


While I agree with the notion that, on a Whedon fan site, Whedon's works will obviously prove more popular than any other creator's, I heavily disagree with this statement, Hellmouthguy :).

First of all, I'd ask if it is ever possible to be "objective" about any work of art. I dabble in movie criticism, and every single review I write is personal. I do try to make it as-objective-as-possible, by laying down clear arguments based on the texts I'm critiquing, but in the end most of this is a justification for taste and preferences (my 'slow moving tension builder' may be someone else's 'equivalent of watching paint dry').

If what you mean by objectivity, is a well-reasoned, thought out opinion about art and fiction, then I'd have to disagree with you again that this somehow goes out the window simply because one is a fan. Yes: there's always comments along the lines of "I worship the ground Joss(-or-other-creator) walks on and therefor I like this episode/comic/movie/webtrailer/essay etc.", but take a peek outside of fandom's confines and I'm sure you'll find quite a lot of comparable comments ("I hated this because it featured [actor I dislike]"; ""I hated this because there weren't enough explosions"; "I liked this because [main character] was so dreamy/hot/had nice hair, etcetera"), especially out there in the unfounded opinion jungle that is the internet.

Everybody loves Buffy, Firefly, etc. to death and rewatches it all endlessly. But when it comes to Abrams, the comments are much more interesting and insightful--because they are completely objective and not coming from a place of fandom. If there is a compararable Abrams site out there, I'm sure they are able to discuss Joss's work objectively (liked this show, hated that one) while fawning all over Abrams ("oh my God I've watched every episode of Lost a dozen times.")


I'm sure that this is true to an extent in a comments thread such as this one, where we all share our love for Joss and therefor can use a shorthand to describe it, lest it becomes a case of "preaching to the choir". This then naturally leads to the critique of something we don't discuss here that often (i.e. Abram's body of work) being more extensive and interesting. But I don't think that that is somehow symptomatic of fandom, or that the people inside fandom would be less able to offer interesting thoughts on Whedon's work. Less diverse, probably, because there's a big selection effect at work when taking posters at a fansite such as this, but certainly not less insightful, thoughtful or interesting.

In fact the proof of this is right here on whedonesque, where there are often quite extensive, in-depth and insightful discussions about Joss' work. Also: you just have to take a look at the Dollhouse episode discussions here to see that not everyone slavishly follows the creator they love, without regard for quality.

At the end of the day I'm a fan of Joss, because Joss creates stuff that I happen to like. Until Dollhouse came along, he created stuff that I liked exclusively, without exception. This has caused people to think I'm blind with perceived fandom love in the past, outside of this fandom, but I've always felt that's silly. It's quite reasonable to love many things by the same creator, because - certainly with a creator with a strong voice like Joss - most of his output will share certain elements of style, certain themes, a certain sense of humor, etcetera, etcetera.

So the underlying assumption here - that fandom usually translates to less critical, less 'objective', less interesting(?) opinions on something is - I believe, on the basis of my extensive exposure to this one fandom and large amounts of time spent on this site - complete bullocks, if you'll so excuse me :).

I do honestly get where the assumption comes from, especially in a thread like this one that elicits more 'Joss is my master' type of mass-fandom responses, but I think at the end of the day, the assumption is simply false for the reasons I stated above.

Now, as for the original topic of this comments section ;):

I do love (nearly) everything Joss has done. I dislike some small-ish aspects of most of his shows, and his stuff certainly isn't perfect, but I usually still really love the episodes penned by him and Buffy, Angel and Firefly are three of my favorite five television shows ever (the other two being 'The West Wing' and 'The Shield'). The only thing in his extensive body of work - including his comic books, and the likes - that I like less and which seems more uneven in terms of pure quality, is Dollhouse, and even that show had more than enough going for it, making it one of the more interesting and watchable shows on the air at that time.

As for Abrams, I find it hard to see what's really "his". I love 'Lost' to bits, for instance (with the exception of the second and part of the third season, which really dipped in quality), but that's not really his. I really did like the 'Star Trek' reboot, although I have a few issues with the script (but then, that wasn't his to begin with either). I really loved 'Alias' (which featured great arcs, great emotional relevance and some fine acting and is probably my favorite of his shows) and adored 'Felicity', and am growing to love 'Fringe' more and more. I liked 'Cloverfield', though I didn't think it was exceptional in any way (but then again, Cloverfield was hardly 'his' either), and feel his M:I movie was the best of the bunch. All in all I've either liked or loved most of his stuff, but I'm never quite sure what his influence on these things is. I couldn't tell you what the 'quintessential' Abrams themes/elements/etcetera are (this is not necessarily a bad thing, by the way), and therefor I never know how much of the things in there were really shaped by his vision. I do respect the guy and think he's an accomplished director with an ear for what people like, but despite having seen most (all?) of the stuff he's done and never truly disliking any of it, you won't find me on Abramsology any time soon, as he fails to elicit the same amount of passion for his work in me, that Joss does. But then, that's why I'm here :).

[ edited by GVH on 2010-03-29 14:59 ]
I'm more of a Joss fan (big surprise!) but JJ will continue to get some of my entertainment dollar. Why must we choose only one? I'll continue to ignore Chick Flicks & Reality TV in favor of works that show some imagination.

I loved Lost at first, then lost interest. But started paying attention again after they announced The End Was In Sight. Enjoying the heck out of this season, even if JJ's influence has waned. (If you can get Hulu: All of Seasons 1-5 will be available for streaming through December 31, 2010.)

And I loved the Star Trek movie--speaking as someone who saw TOS during its original run, then memorized every episode during the Endless Re-Runs of the 70's. Filmed during the Writers' Strike, a few plot holes could have been stitched up tighter. But I'll gladly follow those characters through a few more adventures. (Were all those lens flares a homage to Firefly?)
So in relation to GVH's on topic comments(I have no opinion on the earlier part) I do agree that Abrams' work lacks the emotional involvement of Joss's which is a major drawback IMO...I do love to connect to characters and Joss keeps that, even with Dollhouse I could get a vibe from them...but Abrams just used too many in lost and as such went against Aristotle's belief that there should never be too many characters...not that he was always right or anything...but in this case I can see his point...Sorry but my vote is for Joss...
don't know why I'm apologising for that...except that it somehow feels like an unwelcome vote of late on this thread...
J.J. Abrams gets my love for creating LOST...he does not get credit for how good it is now or has been since the first season. LOST is as good, if not better, than Buffy.

Hands down Joss wins though - I have loved every single thing he has ever done (where he had creative control) and he is, in face, my master now.
I wasn't going to say one word against JJ Abrams, but Lost better than Buffy? The show Lost was created without any story attached, they had no idea where they were headed; you can barely call that story telling when it is just all random. But from the first scene in the first season of Buffy Joss had a plan that would involve (eventually) the High School blowing up and eventually the town blowing up. Joss laid down foreshadowing right from the beginning which was all paid off by the end, he had an epic story in his head and he delivered in spades. I am glad that some people get so much out of JJ Abram's shows, but I think they have to supply their own meaning....
Embers - I find it interesting that you think Joss had a plan from day one - cause I really don't think that's the case.

Regardless - I find LOST to be as engaging as Buffy ever was - I am just as invested in the characters and the story - and whether the people who created LOST had the whole thing planned out from day one (ala Babylon 5) or they've been making it up as they go along (ala Battlestar Galactica), the result has been a very textured show with great characters.

Of course this is just my opinion - and yes I know this site is called Whedonesque so everyone can feel free to get all upset with me. I basically worship Joss Whedon and will support him for the rest of his career no matter what he does - I just don't think that for me to be a fan I have to think that Buffy is better than everything else that ever was or ever will be.
That's it, no curds for you ! ;)

In a shocking upset, Whedon wins Whedonesque!

Somebody call Guinness !

I know I've said this before but this persistent idea that Whedon fans are smarter or more sophisticated than people who don't like his material is really insulting. People like different things.

Hear, hear Sunfire. Apart from anything else, I wonder how the mechanics of it work. I mean, if you like Buffy, 'Angel' and 'Firefly' but don't like 'Dollhouse' are you 1/4 stupid and unsophisticated or is it if you like any of his stuff that you're free and clear (the "You're a dick" line from 'X-Men' for instance) ? Or is there some agreed upon tipping point of Whedon show non-fandom ? Maybe it's by seasons or number of episodes (it takes 'Angel', 'Firefly' and 'Dollhouse' together to balance disliking Buffy but if you like Buffy then any other show gets you your membership card. Does that seem right to you ?) ?
I know Wikipedia is not exactly the fount of terribly accurate knowledge but I always thought Lost had a plan. They just left enough room to tinker with things and add characters. I really doubt it would be as good as it has been without any kind of plan in place, but I think that possibly any plot dishevelment might have been part of their scheme, to keep the viewers on their toes. Not trying to argue, but practical me thought, "No, that just can't be", so I went investigating for a few minutes. At any rate, this is what is states:

Although initially hesitant, Abrams warmed up to the idea on the condition that the series would have a supernatural angle to it, and collaborated with Damon Lindelof to create the series' style and characters.[19] Together, Abrams and Lindelof also created a series "bible", and conceived and detailed the major mythological ideas and plot points for an ideal four to five season run for the show.[20][21] The development of the show was constrained by tight deadlines, as it had been commissioned late in the 2004 season's development cycle. Despite the short schedule, the creative team remained flexible enough to modify or create characters to fit actors they wished to cast.[22]

Footnote 21 states information came from the Lost Season 1 DVD extras.
Snails. In butter and garlic.

That's the question, right?

I was almost positive Simon had used that choice analogy before -and he had. Just as I was pretty sure I'd posted this movie still once before - and I had.

Are we getting old and repeating ourselves? Well, mebbe just a little.

If not old, at least older, anyway. That much is not debatable.

Did I ever tell you kids about the time your father and I streaked across the football field during a pep rally? I did?

(Oh, and Whedon fans are clearly the most bestest ever - just read this:

"...SERENDIPITY fans happen to be the most tastefullest fans who have extra or redundant body parts." - Joss Whedon, February 16, 2006

See? Straight from the Joss' mouth. Or fingers, rather...)
We have to do homework for this site now? Cancel me...CANCEL MEEEEE!!!
But interesting find there...still I can't feel compelled to watch it...too many non engaging characters...they feel like filler for the purpose of covering poor development...
See? Straight from the Joss' mouth. Or fingers, rather...)

Purple fingers tell no lies. Fact. And not just cos they can't talk either, no sir.

(it may seem to be a light romantic comedy starring light romantic comedy dream pairing John Cusack and Kate 'Future Wonder Woman' Beckinsale but it's rammed to the gills with subtext. Albeit lightly romantic subtext)

I know Wikipedia is not exactly the fount of terribly accurate knowledge but I always thought Lost had a plan.

The whole "they have a plan" thing is much debated with most "Lost" fans being pretty adamant that they did all along. I haven't watched it since the start of season two (keep meaning to go back to it) so can't really comment on whether it feels to a viewer like they did (it didn't to me then which is partly why I stopped watching) but after another show, 'Defying Gravity', got canned I stumbled on this article (which has spoilers for 'Defying Gravity' BTW). In it the DG creator talks about Damon Lindelof apparently saying outright that he didn't have a clue where it was going (after they'd completed 4 episodes so well before DVDs etc.).

Maybe he was kidding, maybe he didn't want to reveal the long-term arc to a bunch of people because it'd surely leak, maybe Carlton Cuse and JJ Abrams hadn't told him the end yet, maybe all sorts of things. Take it with as much salt as you want in other words but the actual fact of him saying it seems plausible - unlike the creators of "Lost" or its network, this guy wouldn't appear to have much of a vested interest in people believing one thing or the other.


edited for clarity

[ edited by Saje on 2010-03-30 00:08 ]
You're right, Dear QG. Dear God, it's become an annual thing!! Gad.Zooks.
Saje, Carleton and Damon? Always, always, always, doing planting of the Red Herring. They should be stained completely red from all that herring gardening BS (and funny BS it is too). Two Lost panels under my belt and they would not, will not, answer questions with definitive answers. I think it's most likely what you mentioned. They didn't say because if anything leaked out about the four-year plan, the show would be damaged beyond repair or {{{shudder}}} retrofit, retrofit! Maybe they could have called in Carrie Fisher 'cause she is a famous script doctor. It could have been retitled, Postcards from the Island ... Not. The Sub ain't Running. Yes, I'm reaching. :=)
Sure but panels are for fans so that makes perfect sense. Would they also want to plant red herrings at a meeting of potential international buyers of the show when they're only 4 episodes in (i.e. long before it became the huge hit it became) ? I dunno, just seems like they might've thrown them a bone (even a made up bone ;) - they needn't have even said anything except "Yes, we know where it's going to go". And then why re-iterate the same thing to the 'Defying Gravity' writer/producer dude afterwards ?

I'd watch "Lost" by Carrie Fisher though ;).
Have to agree with GVH that being a fan of Joss doesn't make me forget all reason and just blindly love whatever he does. I don't automatically love a particular creative work because it was made by Joss. It's the other way around - I love Joss because he made Buffy, Dollhouse, Angel, and Firefly, in that particular order. Beyond those four shows, I am not a big fan of Dr. Horrible, and Serenity was a disappointment for me compared to the show. Haven't read the Buffy comics, but thought the first Firefly one was pretty bad. One thing I am sure of is that I will check out any piece of material created by Joss, and would make my own opinion of it, regardless of the subject and based on the respect his existing body of work earned from me. Can't say the same for JJ, whose future work I might check out, but only if the subject is of any interest to me.

Which brings me to the topic of this thread and what differentiates the two for me personally. I consider Joss to be an artist whose work speaks to me on a personal level, while JJ is a talented craftsman. I in no way mean any disrespect. I can appreciate JJ's craft, but I love Joss' art. That's it for me in a nutshell.
David Fury had said he found writing for Lost to be difficult because of the lack of direction. It seemed to me that right from the first they were just throwing things into the show to see what would stick. Characters change without motivation and polar bears come and go without rhyme or reason. But if anyone was to rewatch BtVS from the first episode the foreshadowing is easy to see (same with Angel, Firefly, and Dollhouse... Joss always knows where he is going even if he tweaks things along the way). Obviously Joss didn't lay it out as strictly as Babylon 5, he was willing to make adjustments, but he always knew where his end game was for each season and for his over all show.

Of course individual can love what they love, that goes without saying, but talking as though Lost is any kind of epic tale when it is (IMO) a random mess that has been jumping the shark on a regular basis since day one, just seems to me a case of people assuming there is more there than there is.
Heh, embers, you're saying just the kind of things that this current mainpage entry likens to saying 'Firefly can't be good if it got canceled so fast' to a browncoat ;).

But while I appreciate your point, I simply don't think you're right. Yes: Joss built his story and had a general idea of where he was going with the show in a couple of years, and had an even stronger idea of where he was going within each season. We agree there. But I'd argue that Lost is far from a 'random mess that has been jumping the shark on a regular basis since day one' :).

I understand that you don't like the show much, and that's fair enough. It's a very specific kind of show (I'm still amazed that it had the mainstream appeal it did), and there's more than enough there to not like. It's even fair to say that the unplanned elements don't work for you; certainly, before the show's writers got the network to sign off on an endpoint, I too felt the show was losing track and focus (this was in seasons two and three). Lost certainly isn't perfect: it has some character inconsistencies and I'm sure that when the show ends and we start digging though everything, there'll be (more than) a few logical gaps and/or unanswered questions. But then: every show has its weak points (Buffy, for instance, often played loose with its mythology for the sake of its characters, and Battlestar Galactica, which is also loved by many here, was much more of an incoherent mess in its final seasons, despite remaining engaging, epic television throughout).

At the end of the day, I'd say it's unfair to deny the fact that there was a show bible and a general idea of where things were heading in the future on 'Lost'. Certainly from late S3/S4 to now, there has been a very clear direction to the show, which is solving mysteries and creating a more coherent story (even if there are still loose ends). The overall arc/plan is currently quite evident in the show, and I'd say it's hard to deny that when watching it.

I myself really do love Lost to bits; and am already dreading the end as it means I won't get to see any new episodes anymore. It's easily my favorite thing on TV right now.

But comparing it to Buffy is incredibly hard, if not impossible; it's, quite simply, a completely different show with different priorities. Lost is certainly character heavy, but it's a sci-fi/fantasy mystery first and foremost, whereas Buffy is much more arc-light and character heavy by comparison. There has never quite been a show like the edge-of-your-seat, complex, multi-layered mystery/phenomenon Lost, just like there was never quite a show like the genre-bending, emotionally relevant Buffy.

So, in conclusion ;), I feel Lost deserves its place in television history as an iconic and influential piece of television every bit as much as Buffy does, even if the shows respective strengths and weaknesses are completely different.
Well, sure, GVH... if you are going to be all reasonable about it.
I would argue with the assertion that Joss had a plan that was so specific that he knew his endgame for the series. Obviously certain things were planned far in advance (Dark Willow is an obvious example) but just the very presence of Spike argues against the idea that Joss had such an ironclad outline. Spike was never intended to last beyond season two at first. By the end of the series he was a cast regular who had a torrid fling with Buffy and many storylines devoted specifically to his character's development, which dovetailed together in the series finale. Buffy, the show's main character, changed drastically because of Spike. There are many more examples--Angel being spun off into his own series wasn't foreseen from the beginning at all. Darla's arc certainly wasn't planned from the beginning either.

I think Joss had season-specific plans that were often very detailed and probably included the general arc of the main characters as well as the nature of the Big Bad they would face, and ideas beyond the current season that he sometimes kept and sometimes discarded. Certainly, Buffy wasn't the X-Files, but it wasn't Babylon 5 either.
The other difference people aren't mentioning between the Buffy writers and the Lost writers is that, for the most part, Joss et al. actually needed less of a plan. Lost is a mystery show with tons and tons of unanswered threads. Buffy has very few. Compare the pilot for Lost with "Welcome to the Hellmouth/The Harvest," which has, if I'm not mistaken, exactly one mystery: what's up with that Angel guy? And Joss et al. knew the answer to that question. In later seasons, the mysteries Joss et al. placed were either clearly known in advance (what's the deal with that Ben guy, and what does Glory want?), small enough that an explanation can be supplied later without too much difficulty (what evil plan does the Mayor want to achieve? what's up with Principal Wood?), or deemed to be mostly irrelevant and unanswerable (who brought Angel back from hell, and who made it snow?). Wheras Lost's mysteries are much more pervasive and much more fundamentally a part of the show's appeal. And so if the writers didn't know why there was a polar bear on the island, or how the island cured people's ailments etc. it's a much bigger deal than, say, not knowing where the show would end up in a season. In the debate about whether they knew what they were doing in season 1, I tend to believe Fury, though probably the actual absolute central mystery ("what is the island?") was known.

(Actually, it is possible even to have plot-based, mystery-oriented shows without any real plan for a little while--Battlestar Galactica did a very good job sustaining the illusion that the Cylons "had a plan" when the writers had none. But this usually catches up with the show, and Galactica did a lot of backflips to try and maintain both internal consistency and forward momentum.)

Anyway, planning everything out is somewhat overrated, on a character level; Buffy and Angel as has been pointed out gained tremendous strength from course-corrections. Besides the common example of Spike, Wesley exists because David Fury happened to pitch the idea that Giles should be fired; Anya as a regular because Joss wanted to revisit Vamp Willow and discovered Emma Caulfield is a great comedienne; Angel got his own series because Boreanaz wasn't shy about playing a woman in IOHEFY. And Angel was basically one long series of course corrections and great new ideas. A slavish devotion to a preset story would have robbed the shows of much of their livelihood, especially for Buffy the coming-of-age story grounded in the ebb and flow of everyday relationships, as opposed to the single-novel space opera of Babylon 5.

Back to the comparison, right now, it does look like Lost is more carefully plotted than Buffy was, which is good because its appeal is much more plot-based. Me, I don't actually like Lost all that much, though I find it engaging sometimes and am hoping for good things from the finale. Its characterization strikes me as facile and the way it engages with moral and philosophical concepts drive me up the wall. The show stimulates my brain only in the surface plotting-and-patterns sense, my heart very little at all, and my adrenal gland a fair amount. And I don't say this out of some loyalty to Buffy to diss other shows; Lost simply isn't a show I actually think is all that good, except as a plot-puzzle box with a few entertaining facsimiles of human beings. Incidentally, GVH, we've had this debate before, so I want to state that I do think the show did get a lot better after the halfway point in S3. But...I still don't really think it's particularly deserving of its praise (though I have lots of respect for Lost fans, and even the cast and crew, who are clearly producing a high-quality product, just one I think is wrongheaded in conception).

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