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Whedonesque - a community weblog about Joss Whedon
"I swear by my pretty floral bonnet I will end you."
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April 16 2004

Joss Whedon is not that great, actually. Guy on thinks that our excitement about everything Joss does is not entirely adequate.

No hard feelings on my behalf though, because the TeeVee site first taught me that BtVS might be extraordinary television long before it ran in my country.


I'm not particuarly happy. This guy is just wrong. Joss is the master
Some interesting points...Made me laugh though!
That article was wrong in so many ways that I'd have to deconstruct it line by line to point out everything I disagreed with. I don't have the time or energy for that, so let's just boil it down to that guy being entitled to his opinion...and his opinion is, of course, completely wrong.

[ edited by MindPieces on 2004-04-16 11:23 ]
As much I would like to say "the writer is a bit of a burke", I'll go further. It's friday, and I'm bored. He says " And the way vampires were originally evil “because they are half-demon,” but after a few years, demons turned out to be just regular guys." Shock horror. Because Demons and Vampires are different in the buffyverse - at least by 50%. One person's novel approach is another's incongruousness (I hope I spelled that right, the 'u's and 'o's just blur together by then end).

"I never understood the whole Wolfram & Hart angle on Angel, and I really don’t think any of the writers did either". Time to face up to the fact that some writers are smarter than you and can deal with the fact that an open ended story is not necessarily a weakness.

But the best has to be "Xander was sometimes an empathetic observer and sometimes the biggest idiot in the world". Way to describe an actual human being - without even noticing. One hates to snark, well, sometimes, but seriously, do you think if someone gave the author an extra braincell, he might become dangerous?

Contructive criticism is useful, but, really, Mr Monty seems somewhat short of actual critical faculties, let alone constructive ones.

On preview - that is a little full on. He is entitled to his opinion, of course (as I might also be, who knows?). But I like the fact he's got respect for Ben Edlund at the end. However, without ME, would Mr Edlunds have made it out of the comic book Ghetto? (OK, I don't know the answer, it's semi-rhetorical with a side orer of Hubris).
Best username ever.
A really weak article I thought. His examples were pissy. What didn't he understand about W&H? And "Aye" to that Giles, Xander was exactly the way they wanted him. The only point I really understood from the author was the "demons turned out to be just regular guys" thing. In a way I agree, especially with the AtS episode "The Ring" (about the demons forced to fight one another), although it made up for the confusion by ending brilliantly with Angel's final comment. Anyway, what was I saying? Oh yeah, weak...
"As far as his characterization, this might just be me, but I think the personalities of his characters vary wildly. "

Its called character development, mate.
"Its called character development, mate."

Something so rare in television, it confuses some viewers, perhaps...
Thought that the article was generally rubbish but some important points were raised. Later seasons on Buffy were much stronger in Joss written dialogue than in their arcs and joined up events.
"The early Spike has almost nothing in common with today’s Spike, except for the accent." Um, did this guy understood Spike's story for the last 4 years at all, today's Spike isn't supposed to have much in common with early Spike, as said above, it's called character development.

I've never had problems with continuity or the arcs, true at points it seems they may have had bigger plans for something then changed their minds, or slightly had to rearrange past events to make a new story work, but not much at all. (eg. the initiative was filled in with concrete, yet they go into it in season 7 (this is actually mentioned in the commentary for that episode, they laugh about it and say that the government just put a thin layer of concrete over the top of it or somthing)

His Dawn comment is ridiculous, is he suggesting that they should have spent episodes retelling the past, as they remembered it with Dawn there. (This was going to happen in the animated series, it didn't need doing in the main show though.)

Wolfram & Hart are a mystery, we're not supposed to know everything about them, but I do believe that the writers understand what they are.

Ah, maybe we'll get another article from him complaining about how Amy Acker's character's name changed halfway through season 5 and developed a new taste in clothing.
"Its called character development, mate."

Something so rare in television, it confuses some viewers, perhaps...

*Gasp*! How DARE someone evolve or change. That NEVER happens in real life. I am exactly the same at 24 a I was at 17. I haven't had ANY life experiences that have changed me or my perspective.

Ahh, this guy is full of it. He just wanted to stir up some crap from Whedon fans. Tantamount to me going over to some SMG board and saying, "SMG is a bitca!" Then you duck and run because the crap will start flying. This guy just wanted a little attention. Let's all pat him on the head, and then make him watch something like Friends, where there technically IS character development, but they all develop into stereotypes(Could Joey BE more stupid?) That might make him happy. And a cookie, we'll give him a cookie.
Wow this is the most asinine article in a while. Even beats that 'Joss kills lesbians' nonsense from earlier this week. Most people here have already pointed stuff out, but as someone said, it's friday and I'm bored.

First off, it's funny he criticizes someone else's writing because as an article this was badly structured and badly argumented. Very superficial. So much in fact it was quite close to being little more than anti-fanboy whining. I see better 'articles' on this board here when people post a few paragraphs. (But then this is a pretty good board)

Also I don't recall anyone ever claiming Joss invented television. Least of all himself. And how about this line: "the introduction of Dawn, which seems like it would require a lot of retconning of the previous seasons" only SEEMS to do that or does it actually do it? This is not an argument that supports his point. It's barely the start of one! But he leaves it at that. And Joss didn't 'retcon' anything technically. If Dawn had appeared, and instead of being the key was Buffy's actual sister, and they pretended she'd always had one and had been living with her father or something, in spite of Buffy having been an only child so far, THAT would have been 'retconning'. Please learn your definitions next time pal. And next time actually explain how this arc fell apart other than claiming it 'seems' to be doing something that it's not actually doing.

And yesss, this moro- ahem, writer is actually COMPLAINING that the characters are not one-note stereotypes?? Am I reading this correctly?? Caroline is right! Character development is so rare that people don't know what to do with it now!! Xander is not always in the exact same mood!?!? Dear lord!! After everything he went through (including regaining his soul) Spike isn't even exactly the same as he was 6 years ago??? Goodness!

Horrible writing indeed....just like Al Pacino's character in the Godfather. In the beginning of the movie he's this nice normal guy who wants nothing to do with his father's mafia empire. And at the end he's the new undisputed leader and is a more ruthless Don than his father was. Another example of 'bad writing'. But then that movie is KNOWN for 'bad writing' right??
Just like 'Dances with Wolves'. In the beginning, Lt. Dunbar is a stiff, by-the-book, red-white-and-blue soldier boy, and look at him at the end. It's like something actually HAPPENED to his character or something! Baaad writing. Gee even real-life based characters like Oskar Schindler are like, weird and stuff. First he's an opportunistic a-hole and at the end he risks everything he has to selflessly save people's lives! Baad writing....err, living err, whatever.

Because GOOD writing means one dimensional, never changing stereotypes! Like all those crapppy sitcoms out there. THAT is 'good' writing! RIGHT?

(Please note sarcasm before it drips from your screen or my head explodes)

Just let me quote Patrick Stewart who once said that when he reads a script, and a character is exactly the same at the beginning of it as at the end of it, there is something wrong with the writing. Characters are supposed to grow and have arcs.

And this nitwit actually writes for a site called Wow I never write complain letters but this guy has me tempted, sorely tempted.
Well, I think we should feel bad for this guy. He obviously doesn't have an adequate amount of brain cells to actually be able to watch and understand Joss Whedon's shows. Maybe we can suggest he watch something he is capable of grasping and understanding, something like "Sesame Street" perhaps? That way he can watch something that the plot isn't moving too fast for him to understand and the character growth goes at a very slow rate so he won't feel confused and left behind.
Okay, let's be honest, this guy's opinion was never going to be popular at a site called Whedonesque now was it!

I could go into all the "everyone has a right to their own opinion" and "not everybody likes the same sort of thing" arguments but i really don't need to.

He is just wrong. Simple really!
So, I think it's clear that this guy just doesn't get Joss Whedon shows.

But, did anybody else notice that this same guy ranks "Bad Eggs" as one of his top ten BtVS eps. He gives a reason why he likes it (the bad guys, scared of Buffy, actually run away rather than trying to fight), but I don't think his weak reason qualifies it as top ten material.
At least he didn't top ten "Beer Bad"...

The author's certainly entitled to his opinions, yes, but notice how most of his positions are rather broad generalizations followed by very little to back them up?

Yeah, we call that "weak."
Mr. Ashley has no idea how to critique a writer as fascinating and complex as Joss Whedon. He compares the slow, careful character development of Spike in Seasons 4-7 to the aberrant characterization of Giles in S7. He doesn't take into account the vagaries of the TV industry (slashed budget, AWOL actors, supervising multiple series) in the formation of some of these seasonal arcs.

That said, I think Mr. Ashley was much too easy on Joss.

Don't get me wrong here--I'm a huge admirer of Joss Whedon. His ability to deconstruct and reconstruct "pulp" genres into fresh, dramatically compelling and even philosophically resonant forms is something unique in current American culture. Even Tarantino, master synthesist that he is, doesn't have Joss' literary and philosophical chops.

But Joss does have his weaknesses. There's plenty of bad writing habits--from "Amends" onward--that have followed Joss all the way through Angel S5. In a recent ATPo post, I broke them down into categories:

A. Deus ex machina endings:

1. Amends (The Christmas snow)
2. The Gift (the troll hammer--Olaf was a God?!)
2. OMWF (Xander did it!)
3. Chosen (the Amulet)

B. Bathos/sappy melodrama

1. Amends (see above)
2. Family (Tara's stereotypical bad family; the Scoobs' "Afterschool Special" embrace of Tara at the end)
3. A Hole in the World (apparently, Fred was the most amazing woman who ever walked the face of the Earth)

C. Narrative shortcuts/misdirects/dead ends

1. Amends (see above)
2. Family (Tara is a normal girl)
3. Waiting in the Wings (F/G and C/A romances)

(I'm not even including Spike's quest for chip removal--oh, sorry about that--for a soul, Willow's addiction plotline, and Giles' non-hugginess in S7, all of which were either Joss-written or Joss-certified.)


We should always be willing to defend Joss against trolls who don't understand his depth of vision. On the other hand, it's good to analyze Joss honestly and call him on his screwups. It makes us better fans, and who knows? Joss might see it, and the constructive criticism might make him an even better writer. (If that's possible.)
I think I'd be a little more lenient where Amends is concerned, as that was obviously trying to mimic a sort of Christmas Special feel, and when you try to write something within a genre, sometimes certain cliches that make the genre what it is need to be observed. Deus Ex Machina endings are what make Christmas Specials what they are.

The only other comment on the quick list you put together is that in A Hole in the World Fred was obviously not "the most amazing woman who ever walked the face of the Earth". If she had been Angel would have rescued her no matter the cost. I think the point that was being made was that she was very important to the lives of EVERY SINGLE PERSON in Angel's group, and that they sometimes took that for granted.

Otherwise, yeah you make some good points, and we should absolutely always be willing to criticize Joss' work. Hopefully it keeps him honest, and keeps us a level higher than stereotypical fanboys (and girls).
I actually thought this article was a joke because, well, what giles (yes, it's my real name), h'biki, and EdDantes so eloquently elaborated on. cjl makes a great pooint and I agree, Joss is NOT perfect by any means, by this guy SUCKS at saying why. Also, as has been pointed out, is very typical of what he is b******* about in the first place!
I don't think Xander's blame in OMWF would be considered a Deus Ex Machina... I would think of it as a misdirect. Up until you find out it was Xander's fault, it seems like they're trying to make you think Dawn was responsible.

Also, that wasn't his first time playing with magic and screwing up... Bewitched, Bothered, and Bewildered anyone?
Not for nothing is envy one of the seven deadly sins...
My problems with Xander-as-culprit in OMWF:

1. In BB&B, when it became clear that the side effects of the love spell were escalating from "peculiar" to "dangerous," Xander immediately confessed his mistake to Giles. For no logical reason, he doesn't confess to Giles 15 minutes into OMWF--even though Giles' linking of the music and the burn-outs is an open invitation.

[Yes, Xander can and does clam up when it comes to how he feels about himself and the important people in his life (that's why his wedding crashed and burned), but he would never compromise the safety of his friends.]

2. If Sweet's musical mojo forces you to sing the truth about how you feel, why doesn't Xander reveal he summoned Sweet during "I've Got a Theory"? (Or, for that matter, anywhere else during the episode?) And please, no fanwanking. If I hear "the spell prevents the summoner from revealing it" one more time....

3. Xander's massive screwup (people DIED, for crying out loud!) has no observable consequences in future episodes.

These three points tell me that Joss wanted to direct audience attention away from Dawn, and he settled on Xander as the easiest explanation. But Joss didn't think things through, and he damaged both the episode and Xander's future characterization. Xander's confession seems to come out of nowhere--and that's why I classify OMWF as a deus ex machina ending.
Some of the posts in this thread prove Monty's point, me thinks.

TeeVee has long been a supporter of Joss Whedon and his shows. But heaven forbid that we should suggest the man isn't infallible...

What this thread has taught me is that fans can forgive a lot, overlook a lot, if they want. I guess I (and I suspect the other TeeVee writers) am less inclined to overlook weaknesses, even if I tend to forgive them because the sum of the parts is still pretty good.

Monty's point -- that Joss didn't invent television, and might have some weaknesses to go with his considerable strengths -- is still valid. He's more strident about it than I would be. I would probably characterize Angel's "Waiting in the Wings" as the only Whedon episode that was a complete whiff.

But of course, you come to Whedonesque, you expect a lot of the speak-no-evil stuff. So be it! I'm glad someone posted the link.

-jason, who actually reviewed the first episode when it came out, for But hey, I think "Bewitched, Bothered, and Bewildered" is the second-best "Buffy" episode, so I guess I've lost all credibility already, right Invisible Green? :-)
Much as I love Joss and his work, I believe some of his Angel written/directed episodes were not the best. Apart from the last one, which just oozed class.
What are you talking about? People here have been quite vocal about Joss's screw-ups. Did you actually read everything? It is just that this guy sucks at pointing them out and falls into the same traps that he accused the show of, ironically.

Edited for: this was in replie to jsnel

[ edited by NirvanaPunk on 2004-04-16 22:41 ]

While it's true that there's been some Joss-can-do-no-wrong in this thread, I think most of the people here have been pointing out that Monty's argument simply wasn't very well supported. Is there bad Whedon? Of course there is. You put out three or four hundred hour-long episodes, and there's got to be weak in there somewhere. I think we've been pretty good at pointing some of that out here, as well. But there's a big difference between deconstructing a show and saying something along the lines of "I didn't get that, so it must be crap."

As for the swipe at Invisible Green, hey, I agree with Green's comment -- if "Bad Eggs" is generally regarded as a terribly weak episode, and Monty's saying it's in his top ten out of all the episodes in seven seasons, that's gonna hurt his argument for most people. Are ya gonna listen to the opinion of someone who likes Britney Spears if you're a classical aficionado?
My swipe at Invisible Green was smiley-laden, Ramble...

I guess my response would be, yes, Monty could've written a lengthy treatise on Joss's shortcomings. But he didn't -- nor should he have to. (Some fans won't accept criticism at all, while others will accept it only when each source is cited, each i is dotted and t crossed, in incredible detail... which in my mind, is really the same as not accepting criticism at all.)

I think characterizing Monty's piece as "I didn't get that, so it must be crap" is pretty unfair, too. First off, it's easy to complain that someone doesn't understand stuff -- as several people do in this thread -- but I can tell you that Monty's seen every episode of Buffy and probably of Angel, too.... It's just so much easier to attack the person with the message than to attack the message itself. Not saying you did this at all, but some fans have. It's what people do; human nature I guess.

As for Monty's specific point (about the W&H plotline), I gotta say I agree with him. I sort of, kind of see what they were trying to do with it, but I do suspect it was not really that well thought out. If it was well thought out, then I'd argue instead that it was poorly executed, because this season of Angel has been pretty messy in terms of tone. Especially compared with last year, which basically rocked.
Jason, I love BB&B. You don't lose credibility for liking that one. It's not in my top ten, and I'd really have to see it again to accurately judge it, but as RambleOn623 said "Bad Eggs" is usually considered one of the worst eps. Honestly, I think "Bad Eggs" is underrated, but it's DEFINETELY not as amazing as Monty thinks.

But my problem with that was that Monty was basing his reviews on minor details, not the episoeds themselves, and in failing to see the bigger picture, he's really missing the point.

There are some thing's that have bugged me on Joss Whedon shows. There have been plenty of times when I think Joss should've put more consideration into which elements should be developed and which ahould be abandoned. The storyline of Angel season 2 was not that well put-together. Dru's explained departure and the anticlimatic Pylea arc were kind of disappointing. And the seventh season of BtVS was, IMHO, significantly below the others, as it seemed like just a mesh of subplots until the final five episodes.

But for the most-part, Joss's long-term planning has been outstanding. The writer seems like he didn't understand the Dawn plot at all, and I don't know where he got his ideas about Giles in season seven. And Willow didn't "forget about computers"--they just played a much less crucial role in her life as she grew and matured. And the setting of the show changed. There were a lot of computers in the library, but after that blew up, Willow didn't feel the need to use the library computers anymore.

I do think Joss Whedon is excellent with dialogue, characterizations, and long-term plotting, and honestly, I do think he's reinvented telvision.

Oh, and one more thing:

"There are people whose first exposure to silly sci-fi was Buffy."

Um, Buffy isn't sci-fi. It's had some sci-fi elements (robots, the initiative), but they've all made sense inside the Buffyverse, which isn't sci-fi. Of course, Buffy isn't what I'd call "silly" (did you think "The Body" was funny), but that's a whole 'nother argument.
"I guess my response would be, yes, Monty could've written a lengthy treatise on Joss's shortcomings. But he didn't -- nor should he have to."

And because he didn't, this is what he got when it was decided to put this out.

"(Some fans won't accept criticism at all, while others will accept it only when each source is cited, each i is dotted and t crossed, in incredible detail... which in my mind, is really the same as not accepting criticism at all.)"

I can't speak for everybody, but when I first saw the title of this, I expected critcism of Joss Whedon. So when I read it, along with everything he said was wrong with the show, I found it funny that he did the same things (addressing one thing, yet not quite getting into it and then leaving that point unfinished and attacking another thing). In other words, it seems like the pot calling the kettle black.

The other flaws in his article have already been pointed out (what, he wants one dimentional characters? No growth?). His article comes off as more of a rant, in my opinion, than a really good piece of criticism. I mean, he unfairly judges things by what he has come to see them as, with no backing whatsoever, not to mention what others have pointed out "I don't understand it, so it must be crap" (and that was the impression I got from it, too).

Maybe he should have called it "Here's My Rant".
Invisible Green - Just wanted to say that I liked you post.
I liked Invisible Green's post too.

This is my last parachute into this thread, so let me say this: We have gotten a lot of ridiculously nasty mail from fans of various kinds over the years at TeeVee. A lot of it from Buffy/Angel fans, which made us angry since we generally liked the shows and therefore being accused of being clueless made us quite angry.

But the people in this thread (and generally in the Whedonesque threads) have absolutely been a cut above. Still the annoying fanboy now and again, but generally a high-class group. So that's my props to all of you -- you make me proud to own those gazillion different DVD sets with Joss Whedon's name on the back.

Bye now!
I have seen very little of 'Joss can do no wrong' on this site. A bit of 'SMG can do no wrong' here and there maybe, but Joss and the other writers' failing are always discussed at length here.

To cjl: You are pointing out that Joss is fallible, and that this conclusion can be reached even when you're not the mush-for-brains that wrote this article. The problem with that is that I can't recall anyone (here) ever saying he WAS perfect to begin with. He certainly isn't. I can point out a lot more mistakes than your list when I look in all the Buffy/Angel seasons, but if I take a gander at practically every other show on TV I can point out way way more generally.

Want me to dissect some Smallville episodes? How about the one where the ep ends with Clark and Lana having an 'almost-conversation' about their feelings and they look vaguely at each other in that 'I'm-almost-acting' way. Oh wait that's every ep;-)

Seriously, Joss is fallible and every Buffy and Angel season had it's flaws. A few of your points I want to respond ro:

A. Deus ex machina endings: 1. Amends (The Christmas snow)

Hardly the greatest example of a Deus Ex Machina. It was more a nice little gesture. A nice 'show and don't tell' if you will. It wasn't exactly Giles suddenly running up the hill with a potion that would cure Angel of his guilt.

2. The Gift (the troll hammer--Olaf was a God?!)

Slightly better example, but they got that hammer pretty early on in the season, which is not the same as if it would've fallen out of the sky in The Gift itself. That Olaf was suddenly referred to as a 'Troll God' was pretty silly. And unnecessary. Simply say it was a powerful magical weapon that would hurt Glory more than Buffy's fists. No need to elevate Olaf to godhood.
But the hammer was not the only thing in the solutions in the Gift and far from the most important.

2. OMWF (Xander did it!)

That wasn't so much Deus Ex Machina, it was simply weak. I thought that too. People died. Xander should have confessed sooner and earlier in the series, he did.

As for Xander not being held accountable, well was he ever? For anything? He's the one character that pulled some pretty low stuff (without the 'soulless' excuse, mind you) that never really had to own up to anything. It's bothered me quite a lot.

Why he didn't sing that confession? See your point, but i don't have that big a problem with it. But 'it doesn't work on the one who did the spell' is indeed a ridiculous excuse. However, there are all kinds of things inside people and when they sang about what seemed to be pretty random. You may as well ask why Giles didn't sing his 'Standing in the way' song during 'I've got a feeling' as well. Or why Buffy didn't sing about being in heaven there and then as well.

3. Chosen (the Amulet)

That was a full on Deus Ex Machina. But like with the Hammer, it was not the most important element in there. The scythe in itself was a bit of a DEM itself. But really if you want to look for those you'll find them almost anywhere.

B. Bathos/sappy melodrama

Well, that's rather subjective isn't it? What's sappy crap to one is touching and profound to another. It's a value judgement that is pretty dependent on taste.

1. Amends (see above)

Yeah, not that sappy to me. The simple snow after all the tearful ranting was a nice subdued touch for me.

2. Family (Tara's stereotypical bad family; the Scoobs' "Afterschool Special" embrace of Tara at the end)

That was a little sappy to me too, but then some may have bawled.

3. A Hole in the World (apparently, Fred was the most amazing woman who ever walked the face of the Earth)

No, but she was someone the other characters deeply cared for. Each had their own bond with her and all loved her. So yes, when she dies, they're going to care and be sad about it. But really, if one's tastes run a certain way, you can point at anything sad or touching in any movie or show and say it's sappy. And others can disagree.

C. Narrative shortcuts/misdirects/dead ends

1. Amends (see above)

No arguments. We never found out why Angel came back or f it really was the First or what it's plans were. Same with Beljoxa's eye. Never really found out what it exactly meant.

2. Family (Tara is a normal girl)

And? Not sure what your point is with that one. You don't like normal girls? Not every surprise or twist is misdirection as a flaw. Misdirection is a writer's tool that many great stories use.

3. Waiting in the Wings (F/G and C/A romances)

Again, huh? What dead ends or misdirections are there in this then? Fred and Gunn broke up. And frankly the Angel-Cordy thing simply got nixed by the fans. Too many people hated it. Joss clearly wanted them to be a couple.

Like I said, there are plenty of flaws. Everything has flaws. I find flaw with Citizen Kane and Hamlet. If I had to pick I'd say Joss biggest flaw is that he considers the emotion/theme of the story so important that details fall by the way because he doesn't consider them important. The Xander thing at the end of OMWF is insignificant compared to what the ep did, and meant and how it progressed the characters. And he's right, that is all more important, but that doesn't mean the details are completly discardable. I have grumbled at things, believe me.

But this site in particular does discuss those things. And when someone does critique Joss, it should be researched, argumented, structured and written a lot better than this particular article because really, to call it amateuristic is a compliment.

Gonna quit these long posts now...really.....
First, this is not the first time TeeVee has bashed Whedon's fans. It's getting a little old actually.

Second, Monty just didn't like my recent TeeVee article. In that story I said, for me, one guy who watches TV, Whedon's work took a genre I didn't like and made me like it. It made me think of vampires differently, just like Deadwood made me think of cowboys differently. That's it. No big whoop. Just one guy's experience.

Also, I never used the phrase "Doing a Whedon," which, when you think about it, means something else entirely.

Third, the fact that Monty is bitching about plotlines from years ago (hi Dawn!) in a show that's been off the air for a year shows how important the work still is. And important work creates intense fan connections.

So, yeah, Whedon's work has fans. And some of them are annoying. If you don't like it, cover sports instead. I hear sports fans are totally normal.
So, Joss is a god and Joss is a writer. Joss created Jossverse and he should be the one who says what is canonical and what is not. Writer is usually considered to be a bad writer if (s)he breaks the canon. Take any other jossverse or fanfic writer, if they would make such bold moves as Joss, they would be accused of misunderstanding the character or something like that.

It would be boring and simplifying, if first episodes of Buffy would have set all the rules and set all the pieces on board. Now, Buffy and Angel have always been very conscious about the rules of their world, if something paranormal happens about weekly, it becomes a routine and they state it aloud. This is one reason why the characters are so likeable.

Now, once for a while, all the most interesting permutations of current situations have been gone through, and Jossverse needs something fresh. Here comes Joss (god) with a new breaking views into old characters and old rules.

Problem is, at these points, there are seams and cracks to be seen. All this doesn't make one flawless picture. But it isn't about a picture, it's about a story, with some still images viewers should remember. For example, if Buffy was all about female empowerment, a typical image of a victim that suddenly turns and fights back, how could Angel fit into that picture? And after that problem, when we have picture of Buffy and Angel, how could Spike fit into that picture? You'll need to forget the picture, and do some godly writing.

Hope I got some points through and not annoyed anyone - I'm quite drunk.
The fact that this website and countless others exists and the long, discussions we have on anything Whedon related is a testament that most of us do think of Joss as a genius and that he is great. Yes, there were episodes with some faults and some that weren't so good but the fact that he could keep so many people so involved in his worlds shows how great his work is. BtVS has been gone for almost a year yet we have debate after debate on things that happened on that show and I'm sure years from now people will still be debating and discussing. Can't say I ever felt that way about any other shows outside of the Whedonverse.
Don't worry about being drunk futile, it's kinda required for membership here.
Thanks, people who liked my post!
EdDantes - wonderful point about Whedon considering the emotion/theme of a story far more important than the particulars of the plot. If I had to pick out a flaw in Whedon's writing, that would indeed be it. I wholeheartedly agree with Whedon that theme/emotion are more important than plot but his disregard for plot logisitics in S7 is a pretty large problem that season. The transcript of his audio commentary on Chosen shows a writer so exhausted that he seems to have given up on plot all together.
This is a super-thread, people, thanks for the great read late at night!
I can't speak about Firefly because I've never seen it, but in terms of characterisation alone, Joss & the Buffyverse team of writers are kings, queens, nay, emperors.

Spike, Angel, Giles and the others are extremely well-drawn, prone to change/grow/flounder in response to events, and the emotional interactions between them, especially say between Oz and Willow, Willow and Xander, Buffy and Angel, Xander and Cordy, Buffy and Giles and of course many, many other permutations over the years have been nothing short of astonishing.

Add to that a tendency to run the gamut from high farce to grand tragedy, sometimes within a single episode... well, I've thought about it and I think this guy's just plain wrong.

There may have been a point when Joss was swamped with work w/ Angel, BtVS and Firefly and Fray all in the mix, and I've always doubted the wisdom of taking Buffy beyond Season Five, some of which was marred by sentimentality, but it's an impressive body of work to have knocked out in a just few short years.

One of his great strengths too I think has always been his ability to choose great co-workers, including old pros like Jim Kouf, who did my fave Angel ep, Five by Five.

Plus among my female acquaintances, Buffy is highly esteemed. One of mother's friends, who's over 70, loves it, one of the contributors to Roz Caveney's book on Buffy came to my birthday party a couple of years back, she was about 50, the teenage girls in my street love it, and so does my 9-year-old niece. Surely winning that breadth of demographic among women is evidence that with Buffy Joss & co hit some kind of major cultural truth nerve? And I just don't think that happens very often (btw I'm not saying it's just a show for women, I know lots of guys who like it too).
A few commentage bits.

Fraying: Sports fans are, of course, totally normal - which is to say average and mean.

Futile: It creates an interesting conundrum. Unless you're going to go all JMS (Babylon 5 writer) and write practically every single episode in a given season and burn out just a tad toward the end, you need to delegate, which means inevitable dilution of vision, with accompanied occasional unexpected dividends and losses. By inspiring such feverish devotion, you make problems later on when, perhaps, you'd like to take things in a different direction, seeing as people can quote "previously on Buffy" chapter and verse.

People change over time - episodic television more often reflects the previous year than the previous seven - and, short of creating a new show with all the rigmarole of that process, it's easier to tell a story with characters you have to hand, even if it's stretching the background a little (or indeed a lot). It may be fanwankery (horrible expression) but I'm more likely to appreciate the story currently being told for its effect on me than worry about how well it gels with the insurmountably huge amount of backstory. (Within reason. I still don't like Enterprise that much). Also, despite the alcohol, you have so many less typos than me that I may have to borrow your liver next post, if it's not too inconvenient.

Caroline (from much further upthread): Thanks - my parents came up with it by themselves - I don't even think they'd seen Buffy at the time. Isn't it "ironic"?.

c lake: My black market buffy distribution network is almost entirely comprised of literary bisexuals. Go figure. However, through them I have sourced the odd missing episode to fathers at my workplace, single women, and my flatmates. The appeal is strangely universal. Except, perhaps, for my flatmates, who have to put up with me singing along to the CD of OMWF at very odd hours of the day.
As someone who just posted a lukewarm, somewhat negative, but professionally objective review of the latest episode--and had it censored--on another board, I agree with jsnell's points.
EdDantes you have hit the nail on the head. As time went on JW concentrated on the emotional impact of stories rather than the plots. Many times I have watched a poor episode and thought "I can see what they were trying to do but...". Showtime was a perfect example. The episode is silly and well, a little stupid really but you can see what they were trying to do, getting to the speech at the end.
longtime reader, 1st time post...(finally able 2 register again, thank goddess)

read the article and the first 20 or so responses.

it's nice 2 c that this site will post unflattering comments, gives it balance. good work there.

but the writer was biased. no big. seems most of the fox elite don't know their knuckles from a jump rope...

some of the very things that schmuck was whingeing about are the reasons we stayed hooked in, interested, passionate about these shows.

i myself deplore the magic-as-drugs theme in buffy's later years,

and really felt uncomfortable with the graphic torture in firefly, esp kaylee getting asked a sadistic question later on in ffly...

those were just too much. places teevee should never go, just cuz they might damage the casual channel surfer...

but this article blasted this site's namesake for taking plots in unconventional directions. and dammit-all...that's WHY i watched these shows. they go for the connection with the viewer and never forget to take me on a rollercoaster ride of does both.

takes me away from mundania and gives me a wild wicked unexpectable ride as it does it.

the finest of entertainment does this. shakespeare wrote to the rabble to give the common man the chance to exercise his imagination in free time, not just his arms and legs workin for the man.

the ratio of poor eps to good ones is so small for these series. and the arcs anchor the weaker scripts in a larger storyline so that even the few mediocre eps get appreciated with a 2nd and 3rd viewing.

can't speak for the rest of teevee. if the shite the other networks are airing has comparable violence and evil as what little i disliked about firefly, then there's good reason I gave up on network teevee long ago.

fox, upn, and wb will always seem like channels that fell from the cable system of my youth...not trad networks like the big three that dominated when I was a wee lad.

those of u ain't given firefly a shot, need 2 do that today. these are among the best of the best eps mutant enemy has ever shot. they unfold like brilliant chinese boxes...every viewing another detail...and always brilliant camera work and stunning lighting.

then there R the characters...and i love them all. (maybe not badger, and i'll off niska myself if i ever see him again.)

why are mutant enemy shows getting a rough ride?

because our demo is the one the republicans, who own rupert murdoch, want to silence, force to vote at black boxes with no paper trail, and eventually draft and send in as 3rd wave replacements in iraq summer 2005.

so we can see serenity in the theatres before going off to die for oil and capitalism. brother in the sands of someone else's desert messes with my head.

so happy 2 hear the wb previewing wfalls and angel movies...

now we can bench the save my show campaigns and concentrate on never letting companheiro bu$h get elected in this country...
'one of u is gonna fall and die, and I'm not cleaning it up!'
-malcolm reynolds of serenity
I agree with the idea that Whedon was always more interested in the emotional/thematic content of the series than with the nitty-gritty details of the story. Buffy is one of the top shows on network TV when it comes to continuity, but I long ago made my peace with the idea that sometimes what really amounts to minor continuity should be sacrificed for better dramatic/comedic effect. I mean, would everyone rather have had Anya simply smash her power center in "Selfless" instead of making the choice that resulted in Halfrek's death?

That said, in regards to the deux ex machina, misdirects, etc. Something that has not been addressed is that Whedon and his teams of writers are producing 22 episodes per season, with each episode being written in a time period of a few weeks to only a handful of days. Sometimes you have to take narrative shortcuts, it's just a practical reality, and if there were no other compensating values, I would decry the Whedonverse shows. I mean, do I care about the details of the Troll Hammer or the Dagon Sphere, or do I care about Spike's willingness to sacrifice himself in the good fight, Willow/Tara's reunion, Giles killing Ben, or Buffy's final sacrifice. That's why I watch Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

BTW, I don't think it's just something restricted to the later seasons. Looking back on S1-3, it would take someone about five minutes of not so serious thought (if not less) to unravel the majority of the episodic plots.
It's not that I agree with the article--the things that bother us on an individual level are so idosynchratic that it would take a Masters thesis to disassamble and reassamble. But I do think Joss is indeed ready for some honest criticism.

In 'Black Elk Speaks'; Black Elk says something very interesting--he says that it's a shamans job, a duty to understand and apply the power of story telling. When times are good--the shaman tells stories of heartbreak and great suffering to remind the people to be grateful and that things change. When times are bad--one should help heal with stories of love and prosperity to be found in peace. To put a vision in front of the people's mind's eye. Replace depressing thoughts with uplifting ones.

When BTVS first hit the air it was what? 1996? Times were good. Well, times are bad now, very bad and yet Joss is hitting harder than ever. I've realized something. Joss isn't a bad storyteller. Just terribly, terribly out of tune.

Lets face it. ATS debuted last Fall with 5 million plus viewers, last week sported, even with all the finale hub--only about 3.6 million.

Joss may be a great storyteller but terribly out of tune with what people need. Doesn't matter if you call the populace stupid or innane--Joss's stories hurt. They hurt big time. And if you are already hurting--no one, well mostly no one wants to get smacked some more. Especially without recourse or a track record of providing a healing somewhere down the road. Joss isn't famous for the bandaid after the blow. He's more like--'just spit on it.' Which is a philosophy that can work for a certain place and time. But not now. Not for a lot of people.

He isn't developing a new audiance. Instead he's seemed to have lost the people Spike initally drew in. What does that mean? The people who are watching now are the same hard core fans who have always watched.

He drew in 2 million women (mostly, assumedly) and then successfully eliminated all feminine energy on the show. From stripping Spike of his season 7 PHD to Cordy, to now Fred.

Let's face it, Harmony has no female--that is to say female as in supportive, yielding sympathic energy. The current show reminds me a little of the 'Kingdom of the Spiders'. Where the men killed all the women in the world. Doesn't matter you can say 'it's just how things worked out' But every writer, EVERY writer writes from the subconscious. That's what keeps it all connected together.

Why is he doing it? Maybe he was planning on the void being temporary and would be filled with season 6--who can say? So lets skip that.

So now the show has no female energy--unless they allow Spike's to return and the thought of watching a sexless diety rattle in Fred's lovely person is heartbreaking to me. NOT bad storytelling--just very hard to watch.

And please don't mention Eve--that whiny thing is not a woman. Not Like Cordy or Fred.

So, for the first time last week--I had absolutely no trouble taping the show and saying--oh I'll watch it later. When what I was really saying was--I'll watch it when I'm in a good mood so I'll only depress a little instead of a lot.

So I think movies should be his thing. He can get the financial backing ahead of time--so he can go big budget. The enclosed time will force a story arc with a beginning, a middle and an end and he can say whatever he likes. Movies are perfect for him right now.

I really understand now that Joss should tell the stories he wants to tell--and I think he should and in time they may be held up as icons--but right now, he seems to be out of tune with what a lot (not Angel fans obviously) of people need and they are saying it with viewer votes and this is what happens.

O.K. I'll say it. Watch a West Wing Ep. Any ep. They are amazing. Astonishing detail,emotionally resonant and not all cake and cookies either. They have intelligence, balance and recourse.

I will probaly test watch an ep or two of Well's vampire show because I've been crying ever since the end of BTVS7 for an extended discussion on the next level of transumuting evil living off the host body of our collective experiance. Ie: Bush sucking the life right out of the will of 'the people' and personal liberties.

There is a lot going on in our world that could be discussed sotto voche in a vampire show.

Something ATS5 really, really just isn't doing. Not in an integrated cohesive way. Smicks and smacks but not pulled together. Not in a mature world view. The writers are writing as if they are not alive in the world. Cordy dies and the next week Angel is considering dating. Who are these people?

And as I've said before, Joss retrograded Spike instead of maturing him. Perhaps he was trying to find a way to fit Spike in without upsetting too many hard core Angel fans but by doing that,he laid the floor level for the discussion he wants to have--which is to say retread, retread is boring and so the ball gets tossed to somebody else. That's the way it works.

The decisions one makes in a capitalistic structure can work for you when you're in tune and againest you when you're not.

I'll see him in the movies. He could blossom there. And hey only and hour and a half of pain vs 22 hours of pain.

The movies could be his thing for right now.
some of the very things that schmuck was whingeing about are the reasons we stayed hooked in, interested, passionate about these shows.

the ratio of poor eps to good ones is so small for these series. and the arcs anchor the weaker scripts in a larger storyline so that even the few mediocre eps get appreciated with a 2nd and 3rd viewing.

Exactly. While I can see how it must be frustrating for the reviewers who "generally liked the shows" to be "accused of being clueless," I don't think the two are mutually exclusive. I'm sure for most folks it would be difficult not to like the show--I mean, cute actors, snappy dialogue, cool special effects--but it doesn't necessarily mean that they are going to understand why these programs reach people on such a deep level. It's hard for me to grasp that a regular viewer wouldn't be drawn into this but then it's hard for me to grasp a lot of things that are purportedly popular: reality TV, George W. Bush, cigarettes... It seems clear to me from the list of the reviewer's favorite episodes that mild entertainment was all he wanted whereas I think many of us really appreciate being challenged and treated as though we are intelligent.

and really felt uncomfortable with the graphic torture in firefly, esp kaylee getting asked a sadistic question later on in ffly...

There was an interesting discussion about this at I had to pause the disc after Juble Early (sp?) threatened Kaylee because I was so appalled. Later though, I came to really value that it was in there. The reason is because one of the elements of the story from the very first episode was based upon the audience really empathizing with Kaylee. When she feels, we are supposed to feel. I think that they were very successful with this. Therefore, when she is threatened in a horrible and sadistic way, I think it was really brought home for a lot of viewers who have never thought about the issue or maybe only very abstractly. While people who have experienced such things may not be able to watch that part, I really appreciate that it was made very real for everyone else rather than the titillating way that rape is usually portrayed in the media.

And this has got to be one of the most interesting threads I have read here. Y'all are really cool.
Oh, isa, you posted while I was composing mine--excellent post.

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