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October 14 2014

io9 discusses producers who faced fan backlash. Marti Noxon and her time at the helm during Buffy Season six is discussed.

I definitely greatly prefer Seasons 2-5, but I think she was one of the four best Buffy writers from those years (after Joss, David Fury and Jane Espenson) and as such she has my respect. Not that I haven't given her showrunning skills a hard time when discussing The UPN Years with people (because I really, REALLY have), but I do think Marti was put in a no-win situation. She had to put Buffy back into Buffy the Vampire Slayer before she could do anything else.

Then she had Joss working as Tim Minear's co-exec on Firefly AND working as a staff writer on Angel at the same time (while also writing the Buffy musical and Fray). And then David Fury left after Season 6 to be Jeffrey Bell's co-exec on Angel. In the end it was just Marti, Jane and Drew Goddard left with a subpar writing staff. Having said that, Rebecca Rand Kirshner was phenomenal on Freaks and Geeks and Gilmore Girls. She's always been great at dramedies, but (with the exception of Tabula Rasa) I think she just has trouble with genre elements. Drew Z. Greenberg's writing grew by leaps and bounds by the time he wrote for Dexter and Arrow (and now Agents of SHIELD). And while I find Douglas Petrie and Steven S. DeKnight to be hit-and-miss, when they hit (This Year's Girl, Fool for Love, Inside Out, Shells) they really hit.

As much as I hate Seasons 6-7, she did have some great ideas. In particular, Xander's fear of turning into an alcoholic spousal abuser like his father is one of the saddest sequences I have ever seen. I don't agree with him leaving Anya at the alter, but his fear that he could one day hurt her like that and the terror and pain that this idea causes him is palpable. That moment when he sees his father violently screaming at his mother has always deeply affected me.

I think Elizabeth Craft & Sarah Fain and Tara Butters & Michele Fazekas were put in similar no-win situations with Dollhouse. As much as I loved Eliza Dushku as Faith, she just wasn't a versatile enough actress to pull of a character that can and will turn into anyone. Certainly not as well as Evner Gjokaj, Dichen Lachman, Miracle Laurie, Amy Acker and Alan Tudyk could. Not to mention the little girl from Epitaph One.

In the end it all worked out though. Marti gave us Drew Goddard and Dollhouse brought us Fran Kranz. Not to mention that Maurissa and Jed's work on Epitaph One, Belonging and The Attic showed us two talented writers that are seemingly turning Agents of SHIELD into a great genre series.

[ edited by JesusSavedIn01 on 2014-10-14 23:09 ]
Season 6 is my favourite season. I can see why people didn't like Buffy going through such a dark time but I thought it was excellently done.
Seasons 5 and 6 are the reasons I love Buffy so much. It would've been really difficult for me to have been in online fandom while those were airing, I think.
It wasn't the fandom's finest hour. Nothing to be proud of.
I'm not a big season 6 fan although my least favorite season was season 4.But there were things I liked in season 6.Every season had something I enjoyed.
I of course recognize that many people do not agree with my opinion, but I am one of those people who LOVED season 6-7. I thought BTVS just kept getting better as it went, although I admit that season 5 was so great that later seasons did not so much 'surpass' its quality, as much as they just came up with novel ways to equal it. So I guess for me BTVS got better until season 5, and then found ever-new ways to be that great. I was completely on board with Dawn even in seasons 6-7, and the evil Trio, I loved the whole existential crisis-theme based on Buffy having been yanked out of heaven, --I could go on and on. I still think BTVS had the best series finale ever. At least, the closing scene and that closing shot of her relieved, triumphant smile as she realizes she has, against all hope, managed an impossible victory that is the culmination of her series-long arc--that to me was the best thing ever. Well, I'm not trying to make an argument to convince anybody--I just feel a need to express my opinion on it, even if season 6-7 will always be something the fans split on.

I think one of the main things I love about BTVS was the way the hero (along with her cohorts) had to go through literal hell and claw her way to ultimate victory --The greatness of the heroes is measured by how much they overcame along the way--aided by the way the show's superior writing made the audience live the whole experience with them. So to me the darkness of season 6 and 7 were appropriate. I also confess I personally love the whole 'adulthood seems like it is going to be impossible'-theme that went along with the darkness-- maybe because I always felt that way. The show in season 6-7 especially made me feel that I wasn't that unique or that crazy to find adulthood so intimidating. No matter how implausible the storylines, the emotional reality was always amazing.
Six is my favorite as well. It really resonates with my own struggles with major depressive disorder.
I think that is true for many of us who love it, QingTing.
That's been my observation as well, Sunfire.
I loved season 6. Had some of the best episodes, IMO. But I didn't watch the show when it originally aired so I got to see all of the episodes in quick succession. Maybe that made a difference? *off to actually read article now*

ETA: Can't comment on Star Trek TOS or early Doctor Who, but I personally really liked where Enterprise was going in the last season with Manny Coto running the show.

[ edited by NYPinTA on 2014-10-15 00:18 ]
I adore S6. Buffy's arc was probably the most realistic portrayal of depression I've ever seen depicted on TV and it resonates with me so much. I thought it was a fantastic story and so very, very complex. I thought the season as a whole was really strong even with some of its flaws. I can't possibly decide what my favourite season is but S6 is certainly up there these days.

I'm currently rewatching S7 now and I'm up to Selfless. Ya know, I think the season kind of slumps in the middle and it's certainly not the strongest season (it has plot holes you could drive a truck through) but it also gets a bad rap in fandom. A lot of these earlier episodes especially are pretty great. I just rewatched Selfless again and it still breaks my heart.

There's a lot to love about every season of BtVS IMO. I guess that's why all these years later I'm still such a fan. But S6 especially has some of the show's greatest moments/stories as far as I'm concerned.
S5 is my favorite, but I don't hate S6 on the whole. In fact, probably the one thing that keeps me from loving it is the magic addiction plot. I really don't have any other major problems with it.

S7 is definitely amazing up to a certain point. "Conversations with Dead People" still gives me chills even now.
There are certainly good episodes and moments to be found in every season, but Season 6 is easily my least favorite run of Buffy. I'm no stranger to depression and it's not that I don't like "dark" storylines. There's something problematic though about taking a character who was designed to be an iconic heroine and making her into an irresponsible screwup who I can't even respect. What happens next? More irresponsibility! More screwups! And then? More irresponsibility! More screwups! And her friends? More irresponsibility! More screwups! But surely there's at least one person who wasn't a complete- Yes! Shot dead! Fantastic...

S6 permanently damaged my opinion of primarily Buffy and Willow. It's not an ongoing grudge where I'm actively hating on them or anything, but more the after effects of a relationship-altering event where you realize your longtime friend was never actually the person you thought they were. There's an uncomfortable lack of trust and respect that's always lingering below the surface.
Sunfire, QingTing -- that's my experience, too. Though now that I'm re-watching the series in a happier mood, I can see why it would bother happier people.

My perception is that the showrunners made some very bold choices on S6, but they also dropped the ball in a few key places -- a disproportionate number of them in Seeing Red. And for one of those ball-drops, I firmly blame Joss, not Noxon: the idea to put someone in the opening credits for the first time and then kill them that episode is genius, but to do it with Tara was a terrible misstep. It just added insult to injury when the show -- of all shows! -- stumbled into the Dead Lesbian Lovers trope.
As much as I would love to write for various shows I love, I wouldn't want to be producers for them...while I know true consensus can never be reached, it seems like no choice is ever really satisfying.

Having a hero come back from the dead and be depressed and have hate sex with a villain as reaction to having seemingly eternal peace revoked...doing "mystery of the week" programming with slow advancement on major character mysteries and only name-checking the source material...having character arc rife with similar plotlines and Mary-Sue like characters...overseeing storylines that seem to drastically alter the tone or theme of a series...lots of decisions that were all made for logical reasons but that doesn't matter to some.
There's stuff to love in *all* the seasons - while Season 5 is probably my favorite season as a whole, I wouldn't want to do without "Once More With Feeling", the three-show run of "Smashed", "Wrecked" and "Gone" - and then the whole end of the season, from "Seeing Red" to "Grave". Fully Evil Willow is simply one of my favorite characters to watch in action.

Like some other folks, here is my biggest beef with Six: I was never happy with equating Willow's magic problem with drug addiction. While I'm sure drug abuse was the more dramatic & fun way to go, her issues seemed much more akin to an eating disorder, wherein you have to learn to cope with something you are going to need to do on a regular basis. By this point, Willow was a powerful Wiccan - it was part of her identity, and we had to watch her trying to completely *uproot* a portion of herself that was *essential*, and that she would just have to (obviously) regain later. (And in the fight against Evil, you obviously don't permanently disable one of your key weapons.)

Anyway, everyone around her - including Willow herself - talked as if she needed to abjure magic absolutely and forever, making her rehabilitation that much harder, making her "supporters" that much more judgey, making her loss *that* much greater, and making the process that much more twelve-steppy & final - only to draw her back into magic with a little re-training/rehab later. #Phooey

As you can see, it pissed me off. But: it drew me in & involved me, as good TV does, so I guess *ultimately* I can forgive it.

I watched Buffy as it aired, but wasn't involved in online fandom until it finished, so I missed all the anti-Marti drama. It's impossible for us to sort out which story decisions were hers, and which were Joss', so that horse won't jump. (If that's what I mean. ; ] )

I do know that she wrote some of my favorite episodes ever, so for them ("Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered", "I Only Have Eyes For You", "The Wish", "Selfless" and so many more) and for helping to keep the show running while Joss was so extraordinarily busy, I'm forever grateful to her. (Plus "Parking Ticket Lady".)
QuoterGal I often view the two attitudes of S-6 & S-7 on Willow's magick as stemming from Tara's fundamentalist background before she became Wiccan versus Giles's very lapsed High Anglican cultural roots. (The in-universe reason. The Ourverse reason is that the producers knew they needed a different tack.)

[ edited by DaddyCatALSO on 2014-10-16 01:20 ]
I tend to think of season 6 as roughly comparable to season 4 - it had some of the absolute best episodes/moments of the entire series, but put it all together into a single package and certain issues started to appear. Part of that was just the inevitable result of the overarching themes that were chosen for the season, but part of it was just poorly done. As for who gets the blame, though, I never really cared about that one way or the other.

I don't really see how anyone can call season 7 as a whole good, though. It started fantastic and it ended fantastic, but all the stuff in the middle was just some of the worst parts of the series since season 1.

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