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September 12 2012

Joss Whedon talks about Much Ado and his upcoming projects. As well as a discussion about his Shakespeare movie, Joss talks about why S.H.I.E.L.D. will be a standalone show, his decision to sign for Avengers 2 and the status of Dr Horrible 2.

What a lovely interview!
I already wasn't all that enthused about S.H.I.E.L.D. before but hearing that it will be very procedural makes me less enthused. I'm sure, given the writing talent involved, it will be at the least a good show and probably at times a very good one. But, still, it's someone else's creation and it's about a world I, and probably a lot of other Joss Whedon fans, am not that excited by. (I enjoyed the Avengers really quite a lot but to me it was ultimately just a funny, and very funny, popcorn movie. I'm genuinely baffled by people saying it's the best thing he's ever done.) I rewatched Joss's beautiful unaired pilot of Dollhouse the other day and was forcefully reminded of how much I would like a proper new Joss show, preferably on cable. No doubt S.H.I.E.L.D. will be a lot of fun, but I have trouble seeing it being a vehicle to bring us the best that Joss is capable of creating.

I completely understand why Joss would have taken the 3-year Marvel deal - it's a huge thing for his career. But, for purely selfish reasons, I feel a bit disappointed by it. I would have preferred him to be making non-Marvel movies (Goners!) and/or creating a new non-Marvel TV show. I'm hoping that we get some interesting web releases from Bellwether over the next few years. Wastelanders sounds amazing.
I wonder whats happening with Wastelanders. Kinda gone quiet on that front. Hope it's still moving forward.
Let Down, Angel was a very procedural show too--they took a case each week and solved it by the end. I'm sure you know/remember how that developed.

And did everyone see the Spider-Man Musical burn in there? :-D
I think he mentions in a different interview that he's still working on it:

Right now, Whedon is “hanging out with my two kids and trying to relax. That didn’t work so I’m working again on an Internet thing called ‘Wastelanders.’ ”

I wonder if it's gotten to the potential casting stage yet...

As for the Marvel deal, I'm a full supporter of it because while it may not get us more original Joss content in the short term, it's amazing for his career. It's essentially vaulted Joss into the mainstream when it comes to prestige/power, and THAT is kind of the best thing ever. Because without power & prestige, you get canceled TV series and aborted movies never made, scripts lost in development hell, movies shelved for years... and while going fully independent is potentially awesome, it's also incredibly hard to make it without the support system of the studios.

I would rather have Joss with the power and ability to do whatever he wants at the end of the Marvel deal in 3 years, than have him develop yet another TV series to get canceled by FOX, or spend years on a movie that never gets made (Wonder Woman, Goners).

Plus, Avengers 2 promises to be all kinds of butt-kicking.
It’s going to be a very standalone show. We’ll do what we always do which is every episode will conclude and you’ll have taken away your story, but there will be a through line running throughout.


That's pretty much what Joss intended for Firefly.
Isn't his Much Ado the "Shakespeare Movie" or do I have my wires crossed?
It's his Shakespeare movie.
Niels, I saw the reference. Subtle yet hilarious.

The statement about S.H.E.I.L.D being a stand-alone show doesn't really worry me that much, because even Buffy started off most of its seasons with stand-alone episodes. The only time stand-alones sounded like a bad thing to me was when they were mandated by FOX for the beginning of Dollhouse. But if this is Joss's choice, then I'm sure it's the right way to go about it.
I put something very, very personal that I wasn’t sure I could pull off in front of people and got the best reward I’ll ever get.


I was in that audience and it is an amazing feeling to think that I (& many others) have given something worthwhile to Joss. After all he has given us.
Ah, thank you, Simon.
The problem with Dollhouse wasn't that FOX demanded the stand-alone format (I think, given the nature of the Actives taking assignments, it was always kind of meant to be more episodic), but that the nature of the show was unacceptable. Instead of a weird, philosophical and surreal exploration into the nature of sexuality and exploitation, they wanted action-adventure funtimes.
I think the biggest reason why Dollhouse failed was because audiences were getting two kinds of show and there wasn't enough of a bridge between the two. Also, I thought the casting was a little off, which I know is an unpopular opinion.

That said, I think ABC knowing what it has in Joss Whedon will know it could get something kind of weird along with the procedural cereal, and it should be okay with that.

[ edited by the ninja report on 2012-09-12 14:35 ]
I was in that audience and it is an amazing feeling to think that I (& many others) have given something worthwhile to Joss. After all he has given us.

Lioness | September 12, 13:58 CET


^^^This. I wasn't there, cause I don't live in Toronto, but that was a wonderful thing to read. It made me tear up, and I'm in public. :D
Buffy, Angel, Firefly and Dollhouse were all pitched as stand alone shows. On most of the commentaries Joss talks about how the first 6 episodes should always be stand alone pilots in effect, so anybody can dip in.

And the problems with Dollhouse (and I don't necessarily mean creatively) are long and various. Different people at FOX just didn't like the premise of the show, ultimately, but nobody really wanted to say that. ABC had the basic premise and show name here and took it to Joss, so you would hope they don't start to reverse out the driveway straight away.

I'm excited. Fun times. The fandom, also, is going to get a lot bigger next year as: new fans.
I actually think almost all of Joss's shows are standalone, in the sense that each episode has an obvious storyline which is started and wrapped up within the episode. Not quite every episode, no, particularly in - say - season 3-4 of Angel - but it's certainly how they all started and it's the way his shows work even when there are arcs going on behind it.

I guess I just don't think he's the sort of writer/creator where we have to worry about reset buttons or characters not developing over time. If these characters are engaging, I will watch no matter what the episodic conceit of the week.

And yes, nice interview. Yay for all the interviewy goodness at the moment!
@ Let Down. Speak for yourself. Joss Whedon is playing in the Marvel play box, the same one I grew up with for years on the pages of comic books. For three years, I'm on cloud nine, even if it isn't new/unique work from Joss in the interim, because they might finally get a live action television show right in the Marvel universe besides the Incredible Hulk.
Here's one article on Avengers 2. Don't know if that was posted yet, but I like what he's saying about digging deeper next time: http://www.digitalspy.co.uk/movies/news/a405530/the-avengers-2-digs-deeper-says-joss-whedon.html

Generally, I think procedural shows are underrated. It's not easy having a complete storyline within one episode. Personally, I get much more frustrated with cliffhangers these days. Things just get streched forcibly often. As long as we still get some character development, which is probably why Whedon took this up, I'm more than fine.
To give it some context, when Dollhouse was announced joss said it would be mostly stand alones, self contained etc. And people questioned that.

Within 13 episodes they had Echo becoming increasing self aware, Victor and Sierra doing their thing, Dominic in the attic, Adelle sleeping with Victor, and oh, Topher ended the world.

If SHIELD swings it right, the procedual elements should make people care about the characters. And when the audience cares about the characters, you can go hilariously crazy with them. Of course, if there's a reset button every week I would switch off.

[ edited by gossi on 2012-09-12 17:09 ]
I think Joss had his reset-button reflexes surgically removed. Anyone remember the prophecy about Shajhan? When did that play out, two years later? And "Kick his ass" being brought up again in BtVS S7, of all places, if only in passing?

I imagine that TV episodes based on another episodic medium will be a little stand-alone, yeah, but you know he's in this for the mythology...
We’ll do what we always do which is every episode will conclude and you’ll have taken away your story, but there will be a through line running throughout.

This sounds pretty much exactly like Buffy season 3, which in my mind is the most structurally-solid season of television ever built. Just very well-crafted. I believe fairly strongly that an episode of television should tell its own story along with contributing to the larger arc. Much as people like to talk about how TV is becoming more novel-esque, TV ain't books and an episode isn't a chapter. You're going to wait a week for the next installment, you should get a semi-complete story (except in instances where you're specifically flouting that, as with a two-parter).

Rant over!

ETA that obviously this is an art form and there are exceptions to every rule--just as I would never say that every film must follow a linear narrative, nor would I say that the above is always, indisputably true. But I think in the majority of cases it's the way to go, just as in the majority of films we like to have a clear cause-and-effect chain propelling us through the plot rather than just random happenstances.

[ edited by Jobo on 2012-09-12 18:16 ]
I'm a bit disappointed "S.H.I.E.L.D." is standalone from the MCU... Joss should bend over backwards to at least have Cobie Smulders and Samuel L. Jackson have recurring roles in the show. Isn't Nick Fury the head honcho of the organization, barring the Council?
Samuel Jackson = $$$$$
Jobo, I couldn't agree more.
I became more enthused about S.H.I.E.L.D when it was revealed that Joss, Jed and Mo came up with an idea for it and pitched it to Marvel, rather than Marvel wanting a show and hiring Joss to do it. If Joss and J-Mo are excited about it, then I'm excited about it!
That's pretty much what Joss intended for Firefly.

And succeeded at (in the little time to be had) brilliantly imo.

Personally I think that the whole serial vs. procedural debate is ultimately a waste of time since one of the telltale sings of a very well done tv show is that it functions as both at once. Here's to hoping that S.H.I.E.L.D. is very well done.
telltale sings of a very well done tv show

I don't think this will be a musical--but you never know with Joss.

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