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Whedonesque - a community weblog about Joss Whedon
"You people are so petty... and tiny."
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January 06 2012

TV Surveillance's Joss Whedon theme week. The site's writers have been looking at the pilots for Buffy, Angel, Firefly and Dollhouse in great detail. There's some interesting points raised.

Some great stuff. Although they didn't review the Dollhouse pilot.
I'm reading the Dollhouse one right now?
I think Gossi is referring to the pilot before the pilot. You argue that they didn't review the Buffy pilot either but then that gets too complicated. For the sake of simplicity we'll say "pilot" refers to the first episode broadcast (except for Firefly*).

As that's far too complicated and you could argue that there's three pilots for that show. Or four if you count Wash.
Except (1) the unused pilot is referenced, and (2) the point seems to be reviewing the shows as executed, which means ignoring "Echo" except for comparison.
I still think they shoulda reviewed Echo. But hey. The Buffy one was a presentation, not a pilot - it couldn't have made it to air.
Reviewing "Echo" wouldn't fit with the premise of the series of articles, though. Worth reviewing, but it wasn't what they were doing. As for what they were doing, I think much of their Dollhouse analysis is spot on.

[ edited by The One True b!X on 2012-01-06 20:56 ]
My favorite part of the Buffy pilot is the scene in the locker room:

"The new kid? She seems kind of weird to me. What kind of name is Buffy?"

"Hey, Aphrodesia."

Cracks me up every single time.
^ That is my favourite bit too, I love the irony.
Lol at Simon's footnote :)
Interesting articles. I agree with pretty much everything they say about Angel, Dollhouse and Firefly, but I did think they were incredibly harsh on Buffy. It certainly isn't the strongest of episodes the series produced nor without many flaws, but it is definitely a great introduction to world Whedon was creating, particular when viewed as a two parter, as they have done.

Perhaps they are simply viewing the episode through the eyes of modern TV viewer, but it is interesting to compare it to pilots of other well regarded nineties TV shows to see just how ahead of the pack it was. This continued all the way through the first season and I certainly do not agree that it was mediocre until the second season, as the fan said. In fact, following a recent re-watch, I was amazed at just how well the show held up in those early days. In many ways, I would say that season one works much better than the rather repetitive first half of season two (excluding the odd episode - 'School Hard', for example.)

Here goes my rank of Whedon pilots:

1. Serenity
2. Welcome to the Hellmouth/The Harvest
3. Ghost
4. City of
After reading the Dollhouse one, I imagined an entirely different set of 4-5 episodes to start the series with. I do sometimes wonder if the fact that the show was meant to showcase Eliza sort of boxed them in creatively up front, because arguably the show's premise might have been better introduced more mysteriously, rather than immediately being the adventures of Echo.
Given how it was conceived, it really did make sense that it went in that direction initially. It definitely became a much better show when it created more of an ensemble, but I do not think the focus on a single character was necessarily the root of the issues. The decision to be so standalone, as well as the quality of those standalones, was much more of a problem.

I'm also not sure how much better it would have been if they, as suggested in the article, focused on Ballard initially. I was personally never that interested in Ballard to begin with and it wasn't until he discovered November that I thought there was much of note with his character. He would certainly have required some other character for him to have worked with, so that his obsession on finding the Dollhouse did not make him too much of a one dimensional character; there would of had to be a Scully to his Mulder, for example.

From what I recall, the original pilot managed the split between his investigation and the workings of the Dollhouse much more evenly. It definitely seemed to be a much better base to work from, although it still had a few issues (the opening sequence being a big one.)

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