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June 01 2010

Whedon writers storm television in Fall 2010. WhedonAge recaps which tv shows the former Mutant Enemy writers are now working on.

"Gingerbread" as one of Espenson's best? It's probably the second worst episode of the whole series.
How can you not like MOO! Even the name is awesome.
Haha, I honestly really like 'Gingerbread', but better than 'Earshot'? Come on...

And 'Happy, Shiny People'? Close, but still cigar-less. The episode lists are not exactly reliable.
Count me in as well for liking 'Gingerbread'. There has to be a lot of episodes worse than that one. I don't know if I'd count it among her best though either. But this article totally stole my idea, I was going to post something like this soon.
I think the writer missed out on Marti and her new show 'Gigantic'. Unless that's died the death?
I love MOO. That episode had some really great jokes.
Interesting to know what they are working on. I'm interested in at least a few of those shows.

So how come no Firefly episodes come up in the "best episodes" for any of the writers?
I hadn't heard about Andy Whitfield (Spartacus) being diagnosed with cancer. Poor guy. Hope he recovers.
'Gingerbread' is awesome and I would be proud to be a member of MOO, if I was female, a mother and/or opposed to the occult.

I like the sound of getting another season of Caprica. The wait for its return is tough going. Hope we get a bit more Marsters this time round.

Is Sparticus really critically acclaimed? Hearing that Steven S. DeKnight was doing his own show was quite exciting, until I actually heard a bit more about it. The first episode was broadcast in the UK last week and pretty much confirmed my expectations of it being fairly uninteresting (it being shown on Bravo didn't help these expectations.) It really felt like watching a computer game's FMV sequence for about an hour, with a bit more blood and boobs (in reality, the programme has far more blood than sand in it and they shouldn't be given equal billing.) That would probably be fine if it had of been done as a film and had a bit more style to it, something more in the vein of Kill Bill, but it just ended up being very bland. I can't imagine wanting to watch a whole season of it. Does it get better?
I wish they had included Drew Z. Greenberg on that list. He has been quite successful post Whedonland, both writing and producing....Dexter, Smallville, The O.C., Supernatural, Caprica, Clone Wars.
Ben Edlund also wrote for Venture Brothers....so winner winner, chicken dinner.
@Vandelay. Yes. Spartacus : Blood and Sand does grow into something quite amazing and well worth watching. After the first few episodes they calm down the OTT computer graphics and the story roars into focus. Plus Jed Whedon and Mo T are both writers on the second season so...
It's still quite stylised and extremely violent though (I like it but I can understand it not being to everyone's taste).

I hadn't heard about Andy Whitfield (Spartacus) being diagnosed with cancer. Poor guy. Hope he recovers.

It's non-Hodgkin Lymphoma and they caught it early which I gather means the prognosis is pretty good (though IANAD) but yeah, fingers crossed for him (guy's only 38).
I wish they had included Jose Molina on the list . . . or at least as an honorable mention. Not only did he write "Trash" and "Ariel" on Firefly, but he's a writer and Co-Executive Producer on Castle!

Sometimes, I swear I can recognize his dialogue in the the show, especially the sneaky Firefly references that keep cropping up.
Yes, I always thought Firefly was a Mutant Enemy show, too. ;-)
And I totally agree about Jose Molina and also about Drew G. Unfortunately I guess Cheryl Cain is not missing, as she doesn't seem to be writing for any shows these days.

[ edited by RBB on 2010-06-01 21:57 ]
This list is a bit out of date.

Sarah Fain and Elizabeth Craft have moved on to The Vampire Diaries (which is really quite good). And Lie to Me's scheduling really isn't unfixed at all. It will be on Mondays this Summer and moves to Wednesdays at 8 for its third season in the Fall.

Jose Molina (not listed) has now left Castle and is working on Syfy's Haven.

Not only does Shawn Ryan have Ride-Along for midseason on FOX, he has Terriers on FX this fall. Tim Minear is also working on Terriers.

Don't hold your breath for Terra Nova to be midseason. General consensus seems to be that it won't be ready until Fall 2011.

Back to work now. :)
I also hope Caprica gets that second season. While it wasn't the best start, it really came together and did some really impressive things. I loved the VR world, I loved the questions it raises about the nature of self - what happens when you die, but leave a perfect copy of your personality and memories in a virtual world. I could have done with less of the terrorist cult storylines, but Caprica has a lot of potential to be extraordinary and I'd hate to see it cut short.

I'm really interested in checking out Spartacus (I don't get Starz, but I'll check out the dvd at some point). I hope the violence doesn't put me off too much (I don't mind the nudity, though). I know it's got a lot of the Dollhouse writers and is supposed to get pretty good. Hope the star has a speedy recovery and is well.

Terra Nova sounds like it could be either really awesome, or cringe-inducingly bad. It also sounds like the most blatantly sci-fi premise of a major network show under production. I can't wait.
@Vandelay

Spartacus is really just gratuitous and unrelenting sex and violence, with a cringe-worthy script, predictable plot and archetype characters who say things like "By Jupiter's c**k!" as often as possible. As such, it's currently my favourite show. :)
What about the following writers:

Doug Petrie - was with CSI and then Pushing Daisies (RIP). Anyone know what he's doing now that the wonderful Pushing Daises was canceled?

Rebecca Rand Kirshner - is with 90120 and previously with Gilmore Girls.

Also put me down as a fan of "Gingerbread". There are some very funny lines in it. Plus it was the start of the whole rat Amy running gag/story.

One of my favorite Espenson shows is the underrated "Same Time, Same Place." To me, the skin eating monster was the scariest monster of the whole show. Completely creeps me out. The sing-songy voice while eating Willow's skin. Eeeck! Then there's the Crazy Spike conversation with both Willow and Buffy & Xander, which was amazing. Plus Willow and Anya together - always funny. Then the very end when Buffy gives Willow some of her strength to help Willow heal, always makes me tear up. To me that sums up a lot of what's great about Buffy - her willingness to do what it takes to help her friends and her huge capacity for forgiveness.
"Gingerbread" was one of my least favorite episodes of "Buffy." Jane has written so much awesome, it's almost insulting to list it as one of her best!

I did not know about Andy Whitfield. That's just awful - and the show did get very good after the first four episodes.

As for not mentioning "Firefly," my favorite episode was "Jaynestown," which made me a diehard Ben Edlund fan - and he is the only reason I still watch "Supernatural."
I had always thought "Are You Now..." was a Minear episode, not Greenwalt. My world is topsy-turvy.
Okay, sounds as if I should keep with Spartacus. I didn't have a problem with the gore or nudity (the more the merrier,) it was just that they didn't seem to do it with that much style besides a lot of it and in slow-mo. The CGI effects were also a little tedious; they just lacked the squelchiness of using prosthetics and a lot of tomato ketchup. It also seemed to be taking itself quite seriously.

@AnotherFireflyfan

I actually enjoyed Caprica from the start. I even thought the double episode pilot was probably better than the mini-series that opened Battlestar Galactica, although that could have been because I knew nothing about the series and the terrorist attack came as a complete surprise to me, as until that point it seemed to be a show that was going to be mainly about school kids. The second episode felt a bit weaker and gave me some doubts (I particularly disliked the on-the-nose "trinity" scene,) but after that I found it to be riveting.

It really stands on its own from BSG brilliantly, with its own themes, ideas and tone, but also feels like it is constantly expanding on elements in its parent show. I really feel that a lot of the mythology, which some people felt was lacking towards the end of BSG's run, is going to be delved into once again and given some explanations (Amanda Greystone seeing dead people, the man/thing Clarice talks to in the confessional booth... I really think they are going to be linked to what we saw and heard in the finale of BSG.)

Edit:
@CaptainB - I didn't take that in, but I am certain it is Minear too. IMDB agrees with us.

[ edited by Vandelay on 2010-06-01 23:41 ]
It looks like I'll have to give Spartacus a chance, everyone praises it endlessly.
I'm looking forward to more Caprica, I love the show. and some upcoming ones look interesting.
Not a throughout as I expected, but included people I didn't know like Greenwalt.
On a related note I was surprised to learn recently that Andrew Chambliss was Tim Kring's assistant at the a time when Heroes was still a decent show.

ETA:
I'm surprised to learn that there are people who don't like Gingerbread, which is one of my favorite episodes from Season 3 of Buffy. I have more problems with "Doblemeat Palace", which is also an episode by Jane. I get the snark from the episode, but that must be my least favorite episode in all of whedonesverse.

[ edited by Numfar PTB on 2010-06-02 01:03 ]
@Vandelay - I agree, Caprica really does stand on its own from BSG really well. It manages to expand that universe, while managing to tell its own story that is just as interesting. I love seeing how cylons were originally created, and if anything, Caprica makes us sympathize with them a lot more - they're just as human as we are, at least mentally - but they're forced into slave-like labor.

@MacGuffin - Didn't realize any Whedon alums had written for Pushing Daisies. I loved that show so much, and its cancellation hurt every bit as much as when Firefly was cancelled. There has never been anything like Pushing Daisies, and I fear there never will be again. There was just something about its whimsical wit.
l gotta admit that everyone that has worked with Joss continues to have great success which in it self is great esp for the fans.
Gingerbread rules. All the Xander/OZ parts, and "Did I get it?"

Caprica has some fascinating ideas. But some dull moments as well. In general though I really looked forward to it every week.
Fun fact: I once tried to explain the "Did I get it?" joke to my mom and she thought I was nuts for quite a while after. Guess it is kind of a visual gag...

ETA: Capitalization: fixed.

[ edited by GoldDust12 on 2010-06-02 05:10 ]
Spartacus is really just gratuitous and unrelenting sex and violence, with a cringe-worthy script, predictable plot and archetype characters who say things like "By Jupiter's c**k!" as often as possible.

I think that's a bit unfair. They could probably say it more often if they really tried. And if it was unrelenting I wouldn't have to fast-forward through the talky bits.
Very odd, hit and miss list, for reasons that have pretty much all been mentioned.
Gingerbread is probably my least favorite of Jane's eps, Pangs being my hands down fave.
I'm also one of the few (apparently) who really liked Doublemeat Palace. Partially because I'm a vegetarian :)

And DeKnight's Dead Things is in my top five Buffy eps, always.
Yeah, they missed DeKnight's "Dead Things" and (though not as good as "Dead Things"), for my money, "Spiral" was pretty exciting and fun too.

Glaring omission for David Greenwalt as well--where's Miracles ?

Vandelay, the first episode of Spartacus may lead a viewer to believe (as I kinda worried while first watching it) that it's just gonna ape a mish-mash of 300 and Gladiator. The first episode is completely unlike what comes later, it's the requisite origin story, and a pretty standard one at that. Watch beyond the first two episodes though and you'll see that the feel of the show shifts dramatically. By episode 4 or 5, you'll be hooked. It's almost like, at least for the slave characters, the writers had to break them down (from their stereotypical origins, from their station in life) and build them back up (into more interesting characters for the viewers and more developed/aware people within the story). The acting is fantastic and the emotional stuff is right on (grows as the series goes on, as with most shows), the dialogue is gold. The show has a lot more going for it than just violence and nudity (though those are part of the appeal for many viewers, myself included, even though I'm a bit squeamish about a few of the types of violence done to certain characters). It also had the best season finale of 2010--so far--it was executed beautifully, built up to believably, logically, and thematically, no bullshit 180s/pull-the-rug-out-from-beneath-audience's-feet (I don't mean to imply that it's predictable though, it's not). I won't say that it had the best season finale of the entire `09/`10 season (in a competition, that might go to Dexter's fourth season--plus, I don't/can't watch every show out there), but it's right up there.

Buncha stuff that lists like these remind me to finish (last three seasons of The Shield) or get around to (BSG and its prequel, Mad Men, maybe Supernatural some day), but as for the new stuff, Terra Nova is the only one that really catches my eye. How involved is Speilberg though ? Because despite having his name behind it, the limited series Taken wasn't that good (despite featuring a number of great actors in the first few episodes--Joel Gretch and Catherine Dent--and starting off promising enough). How much of a budget will it have ? Are they going back to one of the eras that featured dinosaurs, or after the dinos are dead but before human ancestors started making cave paintings ("prehistoric" doesn't pin it down any for us except to exclude them from going back to a time when humans were passing down their stories orally and with art) ? I'm also a little hesitant to start another series that features time travel after Lost (which handled it expertly until ***SPOILERS*** telling us in the series finale that it had completely dropped the matter at the beginning of its final season, disappointing those of us who were eager to see the prospect of what the previous season's finale meant to the series overall. ***End SPOILERS***). Don't enjoy when writers start out with a good time travel premise, but then make things so complicated (at least to themselves) or become unintersted in the time travel device, that they either wave their hands around and distract the audience with something else (Heroes was horrible about unresolved time travel/abused time travel storylines) or lazily omit the resolution entirely. I'm a sucker for at least checking out and giving a chance to "event" TV though (how ABC billed the intended-as-three-mini-seasons V) and Terra Nova sounds like it'll be short (whether by design/being too expensive or short-lived due to cancelation), so I'll probably be there. It's hard to not have at least one genre series throughout the year to entertain.
Kris, Terra Nova is going to have a serious budget. That's why it is going straight to series with an initial 13 episode order. It would be too expensive to do a pilot and then wait and then start back up again. And yes to the dinosaurs (and 5 foot centipedes). There are some very cool mock-ups out there on the interwebs if you care to google just a bit. From the breakdown that I saw, it seems like the time travel will be one way and done. Not a lot of back and forth and chances for shit to get confusing. That could change I guess.

I'm really excited about this property mainly because it seems like the only one from this development season that is really taking a risk. I appreciate the risk takers.
Kris, you are right and I was being glib. I watched the first episode on Saturday night and had finished the entire series by the end of Monday. The men and women wearing teeny tiny bits of cloth did seem to act well and I think I remember some kind of plot...
...even though I'm a bit squeamish about a few of the types of violence done to certain characters

Yeah, there're two bits that stand out in that regard for me, one part that's patently obvious to any male viewer and one part that reminded me of "Face/off" and not in the good way (pretend for a minute that there's ever a good way to be reminded of "Face/off" ;). Agree about the acting (wasn't a surprise because i've been a fan for years but both John Hannah and Lucy Lawless were excellent, as was Andy Whitfield when it was asked of him), thought the fights were mostly well arranged, the OTT gore served the decadence of the period and, stylised though it was, also made clear that violence isn't pretty (though it can be exciting) and the scripts - the odd rare clanger aside - were a watchable mix of intrigue, senatorial Roman formality and a kind of foul-mouthed ranty bitchiness (watching Hannah in particular go off on one never failed to entertain).

Can't, however, say I agree about the finale though Kris, where else was it going to go ? Well enough executed, satisfying (and unsatisfying) in the right places and the build-up was nicely paced but to me it was predictable (even leaving historical considerations apart). Sets it up very nicely for a second season though, hope it happens (for several reasons, from the obvious on up).
I guess I didn't find it predictable because (and maybe it was internet speculation that had me being of three minds about the ways in which it could've gone) I didn't feel certain that ***Spartacus SPOILERS*** they were definitely going to conclude the ludus storyline and set up Season 2 for showing us the Third Servile War (or at least the beginnings of it). They could've drawn the ludus stuff out (though by the penultimate episode, yes, you know Spartacus is gonna at least attempt something major, just as he was planning in the fifth or sixth episode when his wife was arriving), possibly for another half a season or so. I wouldn't have wanted them to, but there were a lot of fans hoping the dynamic of the folks up top (Batiatus, Lucretia, Illythia) and the slaves below wouldn't be upset so soon, many making good cases for why it didn't necessarily have to be the case for Season 1's conclusion. Another big thing was all the deaths. By the episode's title, "Kill Them All", and once Spartacus' plan was made clear early into the finale, it seemed pretty sure how it was gonna play out and that at least a couple majors would die (and he was overdue for something to go well for him after all the shit piled on him and the slaves all season, though for that huge streak of bad fortune alone, I could've seen things not going his way, someone else messing up his plans or him having to delay them 'til next season). But man, I didn't see all that happening ('specially not since there're apparently no indicators of what happened to Batiatus, he either got away during the revolt or died in real life, so I figured the writers might try to save him for later, albeit with a lesser role to play in future plots--no mention whatsoever is made of the wives and their fates, from what little I've read about the legend so far). Only Illythia and Ashur made it out, on the "those opposing the slaves/those completely in it for themselves" side. I didn't believe any justice would be had for Varro's death either, not until they started to make it obvious throughout the episode by dropping info into his wife's ear and featuring Numerius a bunch. That was one aspect that felt a bit too convenient, IMO, to wrap up so many of Season 1's storylines/tragedies/antagonists, great as it was to see the wife go apeshit on the kid with the knife and see what was likely to be an upper-crust asshole-in-the-making put down before his time. Also didn't know who'd end up allied with Spartacus (Crixus, sure, eventually, but I didn't know about the likelihood of "Doctore" being Oenomaus), and figured they were saving one of the German brothers' deaths until Season 2, given that they were just introduced and we didn't have a whole lotta time to get to know 'em.***End Spartacus Spoilers***
Oh sure Kris, not saying I sat down beforehand and laid out every single detail but ...

*** also SPOILERS for Spartacus ***


... from when he first saw the henchman's stomach (sans scars) I figured he'd realise Batiatus killed Sura - though I liked the fever dream reveal, even if it's not a new device - and from there the escape/revolt/massacre was clearly in the offing. It's too big a part of the story to happen except in a season finale and he found out too early in season 1 for it to happen at the end of season 2 (the pacing would've been frustratingly slow - Batiatus and Lucretia can scheme and connive over the course of many episodes but Spartacus' blood runs hotter, a cold, measured revenge isn't in him and would be less straightforward and therefore, in the show's eyes, less honourable). The twisting intrigue side has always been amongst the Romans and other baddies, Spartacus' story is a pretty simple throughline of multiple betrayals and revenge which has progressed from him having shit heaped upon him to him being an actor in his own life once more - to go backwards from that wouldn't have matched the tone of the show IMO, it would've smacked of milking the story for TV reasons rather than narrative ones.

And from when he says (roughly) "I am once again the man I was" I knew Sura's "Kill them all" would come back into it (though I didn't anticipate just to what extent). The Roman could accept his fate, the Thracian never will.

Things I didn't expect...

- I thought Ilithia would die in the finale which would then further motivate Glaber to hate him (the further we are in time from Spartacus' slight of him the harder it is to justify his hatred - in fiction-world I mean BTW since in real life hate can last a long, long time - so why not renew it ? Glad she didn't though because I wanted her to die after what happened to Varro so it's satisfyingly unsatisfying to have her still around (plus she's so entertainingly nasty, great villain).

- that they'd kill literally everyone they could get their hands on. Fairly brave to portray the supposed goodies as so merciless - though they do kind of chicken out by having Aurelia kill the boy Numerius - but absolutely in keeping with who they are i.e. brutal killers who've also got plenty of reason to hate not just their master but ALL Romans (even aside from many of them being from "occupied" countries to begin with).

- the German brother to die. Agreed, thought he'd go in one of the battles later on (though in retrospect it makes perfect sense - the whole finale is basically an exercise in giving everyone else a reason to get involved in not just an escape but a revolt against, as it turns out, the might of the Roman empire and this does that for German Brother Snr. i.e. it gives all the main players a good within-the-narrative reason to be in season 2 rather than just buggering off back to Germania/Syria/Thrace etc.). In general in fact, it may even have already answered one of the big questions in the Spartacus story i.e. why did he turn back at the Alps ? Glaber may well be the reason, either that or they may develop a more general hatred of Rome and the apparatus of empire.

- numerous other details, interpersonal cruelties and minor twists


*** end spoilers for Spartacus ***

(teent, tiny thing BTW but paragraph breaks - even contrived ones - are a great invention IMO ;)
Heh, I know man, I usually don't post a single block of text that big. Even if I have to use, as you say, contrived breaks. Apologies to folks' eyes.

We agree on not wanting to see things drawn out for the sake of the writers being able to keep what works, what's safe (the ludus dynamic), even though maintaining the status quo is very doable in TV land. Halting the revolt likely would've lead to a much less satisfying finale. 'Cause really, what else could happen at the ludus that we hadn't already seen ? More backstabbings on a personal level and another loved one dead (Lucretia this time?) ? More of the gladiators butting heads or Spartacus sneaking behind Doctore's back ? It had to progress/move on, but I wasn't certain that DeKnight and team would just go for it ('cause, happily, Season 2 is gonna be a much different animal, a much bigger beast, by necessity. Usually refreshing to see a change up from season to season).

Re: the gladiators killing everyone within sword's reach (except fellow slaves like Mira and the other ladies and non-fighter dudes), had some good discussions elsewhere about that. Naturally these guys are gonna hate the Romans and from their perpective, it's not hard to see why they'd go full-out slaughter rather than attempting to round up the unarmed and dealing with them individually after the guards were put down. On the Romans' parts though, did the young'uns and the wives deserve to die (or "deserve", if you like) for simply being a part of the fabric of Roman culture in the last century before Christ ? If they'd been visibly sympathetic to the slaves' plights (but they wouldn't be in that day, even if secretly pitying them--they're gonna stand with their providers) and it had been known, perhaps the gladiators might've spared them. But even with compassion, anyone who's not a dude in control in those times can't really effect much change (Illythia and Lucretia's machinations being the exception) and therefor the enraged gladiators probably wouldn't give a damn anyway. Whether the patrician wives deserved to die or not felt kinda irrelevant in the end (despite their horror feeling identifiable), they were just in the wrong place at the wrong time.

- numerous other details, interpersonal cruelties and minor twists

Didn't see Crixus sticking a knife into Lucretia's belly ! Though I should've, he's kind of a dick (love him anyway). I know he was sick of the sight of her, but it sure seemed short-sighted. He could've used her to at least get a general idea of where Naevia was sent. Now it's the needle in a haystack scenario.
Yeah, as Batiatus says, Crixus is a brute, one on one tactics he can manage but any kind of big picture strategy is well outside his wheelhouse. And nasty as Lucretia was, that was an even nastier end for her, he didn't just kill her he really twisted the knife, did it in the cruelest way he could.

Must admit I didn't feel much sympathy for the wives etc. although I did feel their fear and horror, the panic at the end was well built and maintained. Varro's death reminded me (as it seemingly did Spartacus) just how incredibly inhumane the idea of fights to the death for amusement are (I knew it in the abstract of course but all the talk of honour in the arena and, frankly, the excitement of the violence kind of buried the truth of what was happening - I guess I kind of fell for the "sales pitch" in the same way the gladiators did). And they would all have been at the games, yukking it up with the rest of the rabble so it's fairly easy for me to lump them in with the state itself.

(and as you say, it was going to happen anyway, these guys are conditioned to kill at the drop of a hat, nevermind when their blood is up in a fight for their survival. Restraint wouldn't even occur to them)
You've heard the nutty theories that Lucretia's still alive (due to her fingers still twitching and her eyelids apparently still fluttering a bit in the final moments before the survivors all stormed outside) ? Lotta folks are hoping she'll somehow be back, but that seems like it'd play kinda weak and I'm not sure how much of a role she'd have to play. Illythia can fill her role next season, among others.

To be fair, guess they're not that out there in their hopes/predictions, just folks who've seen a lot of TV over the years and figure if there're still signs of life, there's still a chance.

If "Sura"/Erin Cummings comes back next season (pretty sure Sparty's wife'll appear in more dreams), she needs to decide on what accent she wants to use. Sura's voice was pretty consistent, but it sounded out of sorts when compared to everyone else's in the series. As the sole Canadian on the show (as far as I know), among Brits, Aussies, and Kiwis, it's kinda embarrassing. Either really go for an attempt at some variety of Brit-sound, or just stay generic-English-Canadian and chalk it up to her being a non-well-travelled Thracian (they could equate certain English accents with certain stations/nations in the show, though I'm not sure if Batiatus, Lucretia, and Solonius's voices were close enough in type to make a case for that). Anyway, it doesn't really matter, since they're not speaking Latin or whatever to begin with, I'm just picking nits.

One of the questions me and a buddy had from early on in the season and continued to have(aside from accepting that "it's TV, it wasn't shown"), was how could these dudes maintain those physiques when they seemingly didn't eat much/were often put on rations, not to mention they didn't have adequate water until it coincidentally rained after Spartacus bested Theocolese ? I looked it up and, for one thing, it's been theorized that the gladiators back then, while large of build/strength, probably also had more bellies than the no-fat abs portrayed here(which probably protected their vital organs from the cutting blows of their opponents, at times). Plus they would've been fed high-energy, vegetarian diets. But in the show, we rarely saw them eating except for the odd communal meals, which seemed exceedingly paltry.

Need to get a topic started for this over at .org next season (or for the prequel mini-series).

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