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September 26 2005

Matt Roush of TV Guide praises Serenity with one reservation.

Roush argues that, having seen Serenity, he believes that television is the best medium for Joss's talents.

Well...I'm sad to have that put under a "Roush Riff" headline. It's not an entirely negative comment, but still.

Then again, this is the publication that gave both Kill Bill movies **, and The Outsiders ****...
We want more than the Sci Fi channel to do the next sequel! Universal is our friend!! ;)
But I couldn't help feeling I was seeing an overblown, exposition-heavy episode of a TV show.


I honestly don't get what makes a movie better suited for the big screen. Long, lingering, boring shots of the ship and scenery? Overblown special effects during fight scenes that go on way too long? Some big name actor pretending he's just a regular guy and not really Tom Cruise. If people didn't know the movie was a continuation of a TV show, would they be saying such things?

The movie was awesome because the presentation and storytelling were tight and clean. There were no lulls or gratuitous special effects shots. I don't see what would have made it more suited for the big screen.
Yeah, I totally don't understand the whole "feels like an extended episode of the show" thing. It was very cinematic to me, is it just because it doesn't rely on sfx but actually bothers with crazy things such as character development, plot and well written dialogue?
I don't think he was knocking the movie he just had a preference to see the story in television form, which I personally can't disagree with. Also Universal owns the Sci-Fi Channel, so saying Serenity should stay with Universal and not the Sci-Fi Channel is kind of a contradiction.

[ edited by Zoic_Fan on 2005-09-26 13:34 ]
No, I definitely found it a knock and I'm with everybody else that I do not see what makes everyone say this stuff about it looking like TV. I'm sure they could point out things that were produced technically like TV or something, but I never felt like I was watching TV. I am not the biggest fan of Firefly, but all the time I was watching it the first time I felt like I was watching a movie rather than television. Making a movie out of it always seemed very logical for that reason.

I also often think that if they did not know there had been a TV series and that Joss had spent time in TV they wold not be saying Serenity looks like TV.

...And sure, I would be happy for the sequel to be on Sci Fi if it were a 12 hour mini-series or something. Problem is, that's doubtful.
Personally, I think Joss has raised the bar on what good genre television is...and most motion picture studios have lowered the bar on what a movie is supposed to be.

You ask me...I bet if you get Roush to really think about it, he'd say that Serenity is too *good* to be a movie.
I've gone off Roush a little bit ever since he told Whedon fans to get over themselves.
Matt probabley misses Joss on tv like most of us do.

Joss Whedon shows and I think a show like 24 which I am hooked on, have provided more entertainment for me then many movies at the cinema. Probabley started with Miami Vice in the 80s, then X files in the 90s, then Buffy/Angel, and Angel especially, the way Joss writes, you can rewatch that episode many times and still be on a high from it, awesome writer.

I rent films out from the net, but more often then not, I've watched Angel, Alias and 24 rather then watch those films.

[ edited by SeanValen on 2005-09-26 14:49 ]
I wonder if it was never a tv show, would people say that it looked like a blow up version of a tv show.
Personally the X-Files Movie felt like a blow up version of the tv show. Hopefully, "Serenity" won't.
The X-Files movie is actually something Joss constantly refers to as the model he wanted to AVOID with Serenity. I think Serenity does a bang up job at seperating itself from the TV series - a LOT happens, lots of things change dynamically, and it's big and epic themes and events.

Every time I see the "TV" thing in reviews, I ask the reviewers WHY they think that. Not one has actually provided a decent answer to that yet.

Amusingly, those critics who haven't seen the TV series tend not to mention the TV thing - which isn't surprising. I did find a UK critic the other day who LOVED the movie, went out and got the Firefly DVD set and said to me he doesn't like Firefly - he thinks the pacing is way to slow and it just doesn't work for him.

And I LOVE that concept. Movies should be different to TV. Don't get me wrong, I would have loved Firefly as a weekly show, but I know that ain't gonna happen. I also love movies, and I think Serenity is just that: only a movie. The small plot arcs are gone, but the big ones are there.
In my opinion, "Serenity" did not feel like an episode. And not just because , but because , whatever you want to use to describe it.

Could Joss have pulled it off in a 3-part miniseries? Yes, perhaps, but it would have lost something. That *feeling* of a movie that it does have. It takes you on a ride through various highs and emotions when you're watching it, that TV just can't do a way a movie can. Even the episode, "Serenity" to me, though movie length, felt like a really really good pilot of a television show instead of a movie.

Sure, at the end of a show's run, when you're hopefully looking back at multiple seasons, you can go, "What a ride!" but individual episodes, not so much. It's a different experience. And yes, the story would have been told awesomely over another season and a half, I've no doubt, but it still wouldn't have been the same.

My favorite series of adventure/action films as a kid was "Indiana Jones," and watching "Serenity," I got that same feeling of wow, of cheering the characters on. And as a bonus, "Serenity," has more emotional weight just on story alone, even if you've never seen the crew before.

And the X-Files Movie, though I like it, was an episode of the TV show. The story wasn't any bigger (it's not like Scully hadn't been in danger before, or Mulder either, and seeing the inside of an alien spacecraft or a big bee dome, does not a movie make), and at the end of the story, nothing changed. Nothing was learned. It opened up the X-Files division again, but the characters didn't learn anything new (which is probably because Chris Carter made everything up as he went along)--Mulder yet again found evidence to support his beliefs, and Scully yet again, didn't see it.

"Serenity" continues the crew's story to unexpected places, and it couldn't be more worthy of the silver screen.

[ edited by pat32082 on 2005-09-26 15:19 ]
I have to agree entirely with Gossi here. I am getting tired of people making comparisons to TV and saying the TV series was better and Whedon works better with TV. Yeah, Firefly was fantastic and it worked great on TV and was written as a TV show, with long arcs and many characters. But that's gone now and it ain't coming back. Serenity is a film, based on the same characters and the same stories, but a whole different medium, therefore it ain't gonna be exactly the same, and people shouldn't expect it to be.

Also people keep ranting on that Joss works better on TV. How do they know that? He has created three excellent TV shows that worked fantastically on TV. Yeah, he has a proven track record there.

So far he has made 1 film that was totally his own, that, in my opinion, is excellent and works great as a film. Now that he has made his mark on the big screen, maybe people should wait to see what else he can do in that medium before saying he is better at one or the other.
I hate this divide, because the idea of what is or is not "cinematic" is so badly defined that deeming what is or is not "TV-like" is impossible to say objectively. I will say that since Joss is used to directing for TV, and his budget was relatively small (meaning short schedule), the camera movements were not as fluid as I would have liked. I think he's a brilliant storyteller, a strangely intuitive and primal one, and a brilliant writer, but his visual style isn't yet adapted for the movies yet. He has most of the ingredients of a good director: storytelling ability, pacing, the ability to shape acting. You throw in a little visual ingenuity (it is his first feature film) and you'd have a complete package.

Actually, you know what recent movie I found to be very TV-looking? Red Eye, written by Carl Ellsworth. It was a so-so movie, pretty much redeemed by Cillian Murphy's performance. Looked almost exactly like a TV movie, particularly the lighting.
I don't have any problems with his comments. It's only his opinion anyway, so what's the harm. I think a little perspective is in order, not everyone is going to like everything, or for that matter anything, about this movie.

It's why we are all individuals and not a collective hive mentality, opinions differ. I think the strong reaction against one tiny comment he made that was slightly negative is imo an overreaction.

Simon Telling people, specifically Whedon fans, in that post I feel was maybe a tad blunt but also warranted. I watched Kitchen Confidential and Bones because I like NB and DB, it had nothing to do with being a "Whedon fan". He was responding to someone who was implying the only "Whedon fans" rather than actor specific fans were tuning in. In that regard I do think that some people do indeed, to use his term, need to get over themselves. They and JW are no the centre of the universe.

You can like his shows and enjoy the actors without it being all about JW. I mean is it going to be Whedon fans watching CC on VM and JM on SV, or is it CC fans and JM fans, and fans of the actual shows themselves?
lynnie, don't get me wrong - I think the critic has every right to feel the way he does. I don't agree with him, but that's cool - I mean, let's face it, the movie in question is all about being WRONG about things.
lynnie, a lot of Whedon fans WILL be tuning in to see Charisma and James. Many have posted as much here. Would Charisma and James hold as much popularity if not for Whedon introducing them?

And I have to disagree with you about the "center of the universe" thing. As far as entertainment goes, Joss Whedon is the center of my universe.
Willowy That's all good as far as I'm concerned. But he isn't the centre of everyone's universe is the point I was making. That's all.

And I'm glad that you will be tuning in to support CC and JM, they are fine actors who worked extremely hard and deserve success.

As to them holding as much popularity had they not appeared on Btvs/Ats, I guess the same holds true for all actors and their first role that brings them a lot of attention. But it doesn't follow that they don't create their own fanbase away from the shows they first appeared on.

I know for a fact that many Whedon fans cannot stand either CC or JM and are probably waiting for them to fall flat on their faces. Many Whedon fans are also cheering them on and wishing them well. But they have way more of their own fans than they do Whedon fans. That was what I was meaning, that people more likely tune in to see an actor/actress they like rather than tune in because they used to be in a tv show they liked.

gossi That's cool. All opinions are valid. Opinions are neither right nor wrong.
Dottikin, I agree that this is the (minor) problem with the movie. Not enough visiual ingenuity. I felt that some shots were very TV like, and that it was even set up with a teaser and 4 acts. But this is his first movie and I have no problem giving him time to grow in this regard.
I still loved the movie.
I'm really tired of the 'Serenity looks like a TV ep' remarks. I'm a movie guy and it was one of the things I was afraid of going in. But there's nothing in there that felt like 'just TV' to me. I really and truly think people only say it because they have the thought 'this was a TV show before' firmly in their heads as they walk into the theater.

As for the other debate, I agree with Willowy that those actors might have their own fans now but that's still pretty much only because of Joss' shows. I have yet to see James in anything good that doesn't have the words 'Buffy' or 'Angel' in the title, I don't think DB's fanbase came with 'The Crow IV', I sincerely doubt it was 'Pinata' that put NB on the map and without Buffy, Aly would just be known as that 'Flute chick from American Pie'.

But I also think it's all going to be kind of moot why what fans watch who, if the actors keep appearing in new shows that are as mediocre as most of their new projects are. I know, they're all happy to be working of course, but still...
EdDantes You haven't seen Millennium? If not I seriously recommend it. Superb episode and performances all round including, yes, even JM. The Mountain was awful but JM was good. Cool Money was average but JM was good. Hey even before Btvs JM was good in Northern Exposure. So much so that they wanted to make him a regular.

Also I think in some cases, and in this instance I will use NB as an example, people are fans of his despite the material he was given on Btvs. In the first 3 seasons he had good stuff, after that not so much. It is to his credit nobody elses that I went from loving Xander to hating him in S6 and then forgiving and loving him again in S7, as it is apparent that JW was bored with the character and didn't give him anything to do.

I would at this point request respectfully that people consider not specualting on the guy's private life of which we know very little, as this is usually given as an excuse for how the character was treated.

As to "medicore" again all opinions are valid and are neither right nor wrong. :0)

[ edited by lynnie on 2005-09-26 17:09 ]
Reviewer 1: "It's too much like the TV show!"

Reviewer 2: "It's not enough like the TV show!"

*covers ears* =)
Ronald_SF LOL!! That's why I don't put too much weight on other people's opinions with something as subjective as this. If they like it or not doesn't really effect how I feel about the thing. You know what I mean.
Haven't seen Serenity yet, so I ain't going to judge whether it feels TV. I must say, tho, that for the most part Firefly always struck me as fairly cinematic. I say 'fairly' because it still used a lot of TV-style coverage (tight mid-shots on actors, not a lot of MLS/LS shots). Yet Joss' episodes always felt more cinematic because he was a lot more courageous in his coverage - Objects in Space & the pilots BOTH had a lot of great coverage which visually reflected the story, rather than merely showing it.

... and remember, Joss isn't a stranger to writing features either. Heh, before I even knew of Joss, I always had a strange attraction to Alien Resurrection - the dialogue was fantastic, the pacing was awesome, and the character moments were great...

"No human being could be that humane". Great stuff - despite the obvious problems of combing Jeunet with Whedon.

... and then there's Toy Story, and the wash&rinse on the original Speed...

hi joss!
EdDantes You haven't seen Millennium? If not I seriously recommend it. Superb episode and performances all round including, yes, even JM. The Mountain was awful but JM was good. Cool Money was average but JM was good. Hey even before Btvs JM was good in Northern Exposure. So much so that they wanted to make him a regular.

For James: I never said he wasn't good. He is good. He does what he can even with crap. But I said the stuff they were *in* was mostly crap. And even if it wasn't crap, like Millennium wasn't, it's still not the reason there's a huge James fan base now. BtVS was the reason for that. I wathced Millennium myself, but for the life of me, I can't remember James in it.

And yes, the Mountiain and Cool money were sheer crap to me. He tried his best but there's only so much you can do when scripts are that bad.

Nick Brendon, same thing. I never said he wasn't good (although I don't put him in the same league as James in terms of range). But him only getting good stuff in the first 3 seasons? He and Anya were a long lasting, major couple of the show and that didn't even really start until S4. As for whose credit it is what happened to the character, that is never 'just' the actor since it's the writers that create the actor and give him life and determine what he does and says and what happens to him. And Xander had plenty to do in S6. (He was in it more eps, and had more to do than Spike for one.)

And btw, so it was also NB's fault that you hated him in S6 then? Since the writers apparently have nothing to do with any of it...

Also the notion that Joss was 'apparently bored' with the character is nonsense. At no point did Joss ever say that. As I said, Xander had plenty going on in S6. His relationship to Anya, his troubles, his decisions and their aftermath were major elements of that year and he even got to save the day while the title character was stuck in a hole in the ground.

As for S7, that was a difficult season in which a lot of new stuff had to be introduced and resolved, and as a result, most of the main characters got less attention than we wanted. Xander and Giles moved to the background, Willow was reduced to Kennedy's girlfriend, Spike spent most of his time moping in some basement... They had problems with the season and that's pretty much what Joss and Marti and the rest have all admitted. Not being 'apparently bored'.

I would at this point request respectfully that people consider not specualting on the guy's private life of which we know very little, as this is usually given as an excuse for how the character was treated.

Good thing nobody even brought that up then. Except you, now that I think of it.

As to "medicore" again all opinions are valid and are neither right nor wrong.

And all I can state here is my own opinion. And anything I've seen any of them appear in after Buffy and Angel ended has been mediocre to sheer crap. And what I said before still stands: it's because they were on Joss' shows that they have the fanbase they have. No one is James' fan just because of Northern Exposure. No one even knew who Nick was before he was Xander. DB's claim to fame was getting beat up by Al Bundy.

Doesn't mean they're not good. If they weren't good, Joss wouldn't have hired them. And maybe they'll go on to more greatness. But Joss' shows are the things that put them on the map for people to see that potential greatness and right now it's those characters that made them famous.
I don't care anymore.

No, really, I don't. The "it's an overblown TV episode" complaint sounds ludicrous when you consider all the recycled TV shows that have wormed their way into the movie theaters this summer. The Honeymooners. The Dukes of Hazzard. Bewitched. If Serenity is anywhere as near as good as Roush thinks it is, the nitpick is meaningless.

The only thing that matters now is putting the public's asses in the seats. If Serenity does great box office, then everything else is irrelevant. Star Trek: the Motion Picture was called an overblown TV episode, but it earned $80+ million and revived the franchise for four more TV series and nine more movies. If Serenity pulls in anywhere from $80-100 million, we're set for at least two sequels. But if the box office tanks or disappoints, then it'll be lumped with those other TV adaptations, or worse, the X-Files movie, no matter how much Joss tried to avoid those mistakes. (Hollywood is a tough town.)
EdDantes Again I say opinions are subjective and individual. I expressed mine, you expressed yours. We don't agree and I really don't mind about that. To each their own.

"Good thing nobody even brought that up then. Except you, now that I think of it."

And the reason I mentioned it was only to hopefully head off rumour and speculation about it, not to encourage it. I also knew that someone would mention that I brought it up first by making a smart remark, and hey, I must have second sight or something. LOL!
Ed Dantes is just brimming with smart remarks. As a senior and respected poster here, he's also usually right, IMO. Like now.
Simon: In the same paragraph Matt Rush also said

[..]I know better than to try to patronize or minimize the passion of Whedon fans (a club of which I'm everything but a card-carrying member myself)...

Now concerning TV-movie vs Movie-movie. On a "Friends" DVD special (I know, I know, but it was the conclusion of the series, you gotta have to have seen it once, haven't you) the difference between writing for TV and writing for a movie was adressed, and before I come to the point, this difference IMO is exactly what makes people connect JW to TV and label Serenity as a TV movie.

They said (paraphrased):
TV archs are monumental and details make the quality
Movie archs are simple in comparision and the flow (i.e. the smoothing over details) makes the quality.

Seemingly writers for boh genres are now recognized as different breed in Hollywood, with the TV writers being more famous than the directors, while in movies it's the other way around.

So I interpret the statement "Joss talents are better for TV" as: Joss can tell wonderful, convoluted stories without loosing his footing and make us enjoy every minute, but for a movie he doesn't simplify enough. Now, having seen serenity I think that statement is quite fair, and not disparaging at all, even though I don't entirely agree with it. I think serenity flows just fine, even though different from what we're used to. But why not? It's time our entertainment on the big screen got a bit more complicated. (I've also liked "the butterfly effect" and "the usual suspects", so I'm not ENTIRELY unused to this form of storytelling)
I know for a fact that many Whedon fans cannot stand either CC or JM and are probably waiting for them to fall flat on their faces.


That is an opinion not a fact and one I would rather not see expressed here at Whedonesque as it is extremely rude.
I also knew that someone would mention that I brought it up first by making a smart remark, and hey, I must have second sight or something. LOL!

That's kind of inviting comment when you ask people to please not bring up or discuss something that you bring up! :~P

Ed Dantes is just brimming with smart remarks. As a senior and respected poster here, he's also usually right, IMO. Like now.

Unfortunately, this is true. Makes it hard to argue with someone who's usually right! Although I'm not budging on the 'picking your underwear off the floor'. That's non-negotiable.

Hehe...Hey Ed....Willowy called you a 'senior'. Now you know why I call you my 'old man'.... :~P

On a side note though, I TOTALLY fell for ASH in those pre-Buffy Tasters Choice commercials. Not that I knew who he was...

[ edited by Rogue Slayer on 2005-09-26 18:46 ]
Guess I waited too long to read this; when I go to the link I get a story about SVU...oh never mind, I tried it again and got the rest....gosh I'm impatient where Serenity is concerned!

[ edited by spikeangellover on 2005-09-26 19:10 ]
spikeangellover: the relevant article is at the bottom of the page.
I really like Matt, I thought it was his usual honest opinion on a film.

I wonder why people get worked up over small comments from an overall favourable review? If I based my film watching on his column (which I don't) this wouldn't put me off.

Oh, JM. Now there's an actor I wouldn't mind seeing on the big screen. He's done some wonderful work outside of the Buffyverse - Millennium was spectacular.

Joss... I think he is a very good tv writer - why is that an insult? I haven't seen any of his films, well except that Alien film which I didn't like much. Toy Story was okay :-)

I'm sure Joss will do well outside the Buffyverse. It just takes a while to shake the image, for writers as well as actors, it seems.
That's fine, but if he enjoyed it, I'd rather he didn't put in his "Riff" blurb. And the one thing nobody's mentioned yet, is that he calls it "exposition heavy." IMO, with the exception of to introduce new people to the 'Verse, it wasn't at all like that.

It may have seemed favorable, though the big BUTS are...too bad it's just an episode of TV in movie drag, and all it does is spout expository information, you're better at TV, come back.
What's wrong with putting it in his "Riff" blurb?
Because he usually puts things he hates under there. And to tell Joss to do the sequel on Sci-Fi, says to me that he really doesn't think much of the movie as a film, and so moviegoers would be more inclined to pass.

[ edited by pat32082 on 2005-09-26 19:50 ]
Ed Dantes is just brimming with smart remarks. As a senior and respected poster here, he's also usually right, IMO. Like now.

Anyone saying I'm paying her to talk about me that way is a foul liar and shall be sued.

(Pssst, Willowy, you're check is in the mail)

Hehe...Hey Ed....Willowy called you a 'senior'. Now you know why I call you my 'old man'.... :~P

Grmf...I am however, one year younger than I thought I was, due to my miscalculating for about a year remember? I reccommend that over doing it the other way around btw.

Joss... I think he is a very good tv writer - why is that an insult? I haven't seen any of his films, well except that Alien film which I didn't like much.

Well if it makes you feel better, Joss doesn't like the movie much either. His original script was a lot better, but the sad story of how a good script was changed and fragged up into a crap movie is an old one.
Eh, I thought the exposition at the beginning was a bit stale, to be honest, though I won't go into detail for the non-spoiled.
I've never gotten the impression that his Riff column was mainly for things he hates and it seems to be a fairly positive comment to me. I guess its a matter of perception.
Well if it makes you feel better, Joss doesn't like the movie much either. His original script was a lot better, but the sad story of how a good script was changed and fragged up into a crap movie is an old one.


Ah. Then he he has suffered from a lack of (co)writing and production, just like some of the cast has on occasion. Well lets hope he catches a break with Serenity :-)

Killinj: I agree, it seemed to me to be a very positive review.

I just read the article Simon linked to and couldn't see a problem with that either. I must not be looking with my negative glasses, today :-)
"That is an opinion not a fact and one I would rather not see expressed here at Whedonesque as it is extremely rude.
Simon | September 26, 18:37 CET"

Simon I was not commenting on people here as I know that the posters here are intellegent and thoughtful people. I wont refer to any other boards but there are a great many fans of the shows out there who do actively loathe actors on the shows. They do not shy away from commenting on their dislike and again that is their opinion and they are entitled to them. They don't see anythng wrong in their views and while I might disagree with them I also respect their right to hold their views.

Again I repeat that I was not refering to posters here and if that is how it was taken then I can only apologise.

Rogue Slayer I was pre-empting as I'm sure people are aware. But of course I bow to the more learned and experienced long time posters here and will in future watch my p's and q's.
I agree Lynnie. With Rouge Slayer and Ed Dantes, I'm sure if they are older members we ought to respect their opinions more.

I'm sure fans are utterly respectful of the actors and their choices. They gave us so much pleasure after all :-)
God, all this respect makes me feel.....old! And really, only Ed is old.
"(Pssst, Willowy, you're check is in the mail)"

Did I mention that my rates have gone up?

;)
And I'm sure you both respect the actors enormously :-)

Back to the article though - how did Matt deal with Serenity the series? I'm not as ancient as Rouge, but I would think if he liked the series he is being genuine with his positive review.
I'm not as ancient as Rouge

God yes, Rouge is hella-old. What a hag!

But being Rogue, I'm rather youngish. :~P

Did I mention that my rates have gone up?

Ok, but if that cuts into my cabana boy fees, we're gonna have to renegotiate...
Would that Rogue Slayer be given the opportunity to show James just how much she respects him! :D

And did I hear tell that Ed respects Eliza Dushku with the same fervor?
Sorry Rogue for the misspelling! I'm sure you and Ed Dantes know more than everyone else with or without your names spelled right.
I'm sure you and Ed Dantes know more than everyone else with or without your names spelled right.

Well, we have almost achieved that Zen level of omniscience. I think there should be a special color for our names. Maybe something in the aqua-marine family! :~P

Would that Rogue Slayer be given the opportunity to show James just how much she respects him! :D

And did I hear tell that Ed respects Eliza Dushku with the same fervor?


I have no idea what you're on about.....none at all. Nope....
Did I mention that my rates have gone up?

Sigh, I prefer the days when your rats were low......

And did I hear tell that Ed respects Eliza Dushku with the same fervor?

Funny you should mention that. I had a dream about her the other night in which a lot of respecting was going on....
Okaaaay, people, it's a, um, family board.

And... topic.
Also the notion that Joss was 'apparently bored' with the character is nonsense. At no point did Joss ever say that


So a writer actually has to say they are bored with a character for it to be true ? (and I'm not arguing whether Joss was with Xander) because I have seen cases on various programmes where it was quite obvious that the writers were bored with a particular character and to no great surprise the actor left the programme soon after.

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