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March 14 2011

Howard Gordon on why Joss Whedon is a genius. The veteran tv producer says "In Joss' case... the word genius gets thrown around lightly but in this case it applies; he truly saw things in a way that no one else does".

Howard was a consulting producer and writer on Buffy and Angel.

Any guesses as to which issue of Spider-Man and which element from Act Three of Lear he's referring to? (Unless they're just generic examples.)
REM is the show that Tim Minear's consulting on as well.

And now Homeland will be added to my list of shows to watch for...that's an amazing cast! Although...Mandy Patinkin worries me a bit. Not because he isn't a great actor, but because he can be...unpredictable? He kinda dropped out of both Chicago Hope and Criminal Minds rather abruptly from what I recall.
Patinkin has been known to abruptly make career-changing decisions, but you know, it's worth it to have him. That said it might not be a bad idea for writers to prepare a "Patinkin exit-strategy" from the beginning ;-)

Must be that flakey-artist/musician thing (said not without a large dash of self-mockery).
I am currently half way through Season 1 of my X-Files re-watch (in which I'm happily surprised at how well it holds up) and Gordon co-wrote my favourite episode so far, Fallen Angel.

Homeland sounds very of-the-moment and doesn't interest me much, but REM could be interesting. Or really bad.
Urg. I'm not sure I would touch anything of his even remotely politcal after 24 and its unabashed embrace of torture.

This past November, U.S. Army Brigadier General Patrick Finnegan, the dean of the United States Military Academy at West Point, flew to Southern California to meet with the creative team behind “24.” Finnegan, who was accompanied by three of the most experienced military and F.B.I. interrogators in the country, arrived on the set as the crew was filming. [...] Finnegan and the others had come to voice their concern that the show’s central political premise—that the letter of American law must be sacrificed for the country’s security—was having a toxic effect. In their view, the show promoted unethical and illegal behavior and had adversely affected the training and performance of real American soldiers. “I’d like them to stop,” Finnegan said of the show’s producers. “They should do a show where torture backfires.”

The meeting, which lasted a couple of hours, had been arranged by David Danzig, the Human Rights First official. [...] Before the meeting, Stuart Herrington, one of the three veteran interrogators, had prepared a list of seventeen effective techniques, none of which were abusive. He and the others described various tactics, such as giving suspects a postcard to send home, thereby learning the name and address of their next of kin. After Howard Gordon, the lead writer, listened to some of Herrington’s suggestions, he slammed his fist on the table and joked, “You’re hired!” He also excitedly asked the West Point delegation if they knew of any effective truth serums.

At other moments, the discussion was more strained. Finnegan told the producers that “24,” by suggesting that the U.S. government perpetrates myriad forms of torture, hurts the country’s image internationally. Finnegan, who is a lawyer, has for a number of years taught a course on the laws of war to West Point seniors—cadets who would soon be commanders in the battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan. He always tries, he said, to get his students to sort out not just what is legal but what is right. However, it had become increasingly hard to convince some cadets that America had to respect the rule of law and human rights, even when terrorists did not. One reason for the growing resistance, he suggested, was misperceptions spread by “24,” which was exceptionally popular with his students. As he told me, “The kids see it, and say, ‘If torture is wrong, what about “24”?’ ” He continued, “The disturbing thing is that although torture may cause Jack Bauer some angst, it is always the patriotic thing to do.”

Thanks, BrewBunny. I also wanted to mention the turture topic as a reason why Gordon scares me the most out of all Joss-related people. I also vaguely remember an interview with where he said that it would be great if torture would actullally work. I think it was a video interview? Does anyone remember that one? Or did I make it up, drunken fool that I am?

Still, The Inside was awesome.
Or did I make it up, drunken fool that I am?

Well, you may still be but not cos of that wiesengrund ;-).

This video shows Mr Gordon saying "It would be nice if torture worked...[but it doesn't]" (at about 50 seconds in) but in fairness that segment has clearly been cut so there may be mitigating context (e.g. he may mean "IF there were a ticking clock [which there basically never is] then it would be nice if torture worked..."). Or his sole objection to torture may just be pragmatic which is a bit harder to stomach. Like his stuff though ('The Inside' especially but if i'm honest, the early seasons of '24' too, so long as you view it as an action cartoon rather than a manual for dealing with terrorism).

(Part 1 here for anyone interested, it's a piece trying to redress the media torture balance by Human Rights First, worth a watch)

For me the most disturbing part of that New Yorker piece BrewBunny quotes isn't directly related to torture BTW, it's that West Point seniors (so, what, 21-22 year olds ?) don't seem to understand that fiction usually isn't a reliable guide to reality, if that's actually the case i'd say '24' is the least of our problems. These people aren't only given guns themselves, they'll shortly be in charge of lots of other people who also have guns.

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