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Whedonesque - a community weblog about Joss Whedon
"And working up a load of sexual tension and prancing away like a magnificent poof is truly thanks enough."
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March 21 2006

George Lucas Vs. Serenity - the webcomic version. According to the PopcornPicnic's Lucas, all that pesky character development is where Joss went wrong...

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you...perfection.
That is perfection.
Perfecto. Ra. :-D
Perfection, genius, sweet sugary-sticks-to-the-roof-of-your-mouth pointed humor right there. And I think I know the guy watching the TV ... *subtley motions toward D'hoffryn*
Lucas lost his way, to put it nicely. But even on his best day, George's characters aren't nearly as interesting as our man Joss's.
Sweet mother of all goodness! This is wonderful and so very much on the mark!
Nooooooooooo!

I mean, Yes.

Yes, absolutely.
Me agreed very much with that sir.
(Read this with a very heavy jar-jar-bink-ish accent)
Funny. The ramblings of a rabid fanboy, but funny nonetheless.
Numfar PTD Hmmm...yes agree I do. (spoke in Yoda voice.)
That was great!

These webcomics are awesome.
Personally I think it'd be a fun writing exercise to discover what Whedon would have done with Lucas' world and characters. Although he doesn't need to, cuz he's got enough worlds and characters of his own. Still, Whedon writing Lucas? Would make for interesting 'fan fiction' *smirk*.

...

Or maybe ghostwriting. God knows Lucas' needed somebody to come up with better phrases than, "It could be a trap," or "You stupid little astro droid," or "I have a bad feeling about this." Although "these are not the droids you're looking for" was brilliant genius. Gotta give him that. Half of Yoda's lines I bet Lucas found in fortune cookies.

[ edited by ZachsMind on 2006-03-21 06:18 ]
It'd be perfection if I hadn't heard this a thousand times before and more succinctly. Not that I disagree with what the comic says, but it's just too easy of a target now.
Hahaha! This is great! It just made my day :D
Why fanfiction? I think the best film in the whole series is Empire Strikes Back, which is credited to Lucas for story and Lawrence Kasdan and Leigh Brackett for screenplay. And according to imdb: Brackett, a SF novelist, "[d]ied of cancer after writing the first version of the script of Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back (1980). Because it was an unfinished script George Lucas revised her draft and engaged Lawrence Kasdan to finish the screenplay." Lucas didn't even direct the movie -- Kershner did, and wonderfully so. I've seen one other movie of his, The Eyes of Laura Mars, a hyped-up neo-noirish movie about kinky high fashion photography and serial murders, and it has the same energy and visual pop that Empire did. The best thing Lucas could've done for the series would have been to hire talented people to do his work for him.
See and that is where you have made the biggest point of all... Joss is able to share his vision with other talented people and let them do their jobs. He has the ability to convey his vision and get the best performaces out of other writers, directors, etc. Lucas seems to live inside his own head, so he tries to do everything himself as if no one else could possibly understand his world or bring to life his vision. I wish he had the self control to have let someone else do his writing, or directing, I love the prequel's premises, I wanted to know more of the political stuff, but it was done with such drudgery, there was such potential to express that feeling of fate vs. choices etc...
George Lucas makes the world's best trailers, but I think Joss Whedon made the world's best film.
Joss is able to share his vision with other talented people and let them do their jobs.

And, even better, his presence makes them better. All of the writers have consistently praised Joss for adding jokes and passages to their scripts, improving them. For the first 4 years of BtVS (which I consider the glory years), he re-wrote every script. And still, my favorite episodes are the ones solely from his pen: "Innocence", "Becoming, pt 2", "Doppelgangland", "Hush", "Restless", "Once More with Feeling". Seriously almost every one of my favorite episodes comes from his pen -- it's amazing to have an uber-talented writing cast that includes Drew Goddard, Marti Noxon, Jane Espenson, Tim Minear, et al. and let them do great work for the series, it's even more amazing that Joss's own exclusive work is dynamically better than theirs.

(Though I would also argue that some work stands equal -- Minear's "Out of Gas" and "Are You Now or Ever Have Been...", Noxon's "The Wish", Vebber's "The Zeppo", Petrie's "Fool for Love" all spring to mind.)
Is it just me or does George Lucas look like Santa with a pompador? Like Santa and Elvis had a love child.

I would be very curious to see what Lucas actually thinks of Serenity though.
war_machine, your curiousity reminded me of a story I once read about an American opera singer named Lawrence Tibbett, who was famous for his rendition of a song called "Last Night When We Were Young." It was kind of his signature tune, and he'd been singing it for years. In the 1950s, Frank Sinatra gave his astounding, masterful version of it on an album called "In the Wee Small Hours". It was played for Tibbetts, who simply said, "Oh, I see."

I'd like to think that Lucas had a similar epiphany, but I'm not a whole bunch hopeful.
I'd like to think that Lucas had a similar epiphany, but I'm not a whole bunch hopeful.

Yeah probably not Personally I've wondered for a while if Lucas hasn't been too powerful and rich for too long. The guy is probably surrounded on a daily basis by people who say 'Yes sir! Brilliant, sir!' all day long.

At least that would explain why he still insists on writing his own dialogue and thinking that it's actually good. Seriously George, break the story, that's fine. But there's a reason Empire is still considered the best: someone else wrote the actual script!

So, yeah, I agree with the joke in this article as well. (in case you couldn't tell yet).
I remeber an interesting article I read through Wedonesque about...was it Kasdan? (I don't remember and I do not have time to look in the archives just now.) Somebody involved in Lucas's work at the beginning. Anyway, in it one really got the impression that Lucas gave up on the idea of making art (other than visual CGI art) because the stuff he made as pure entertainment was so popular. He seemed to give into the idea of just giving people what they seemed to want rather than an artistic vision of his own. If that is true, I do not think there is an epiphany to be had. In that case, he made a choice. Joss just made a different choice.
Too true. Whilst the Star Wars OT was an iconic and wonderful series of films, the prequels are vapid and soulless, with few bright points. I would actually love to hear what Lucas thinks about Serenity, although he may not have heard of it or something.
newcj if it's true then it's just incredibly sad.

[ edited by war_machine on 2006-03-21 19:43 ]
I took my friend to see Serenity the day it came out and he had NEVER really watched the series. I got him to watch 2 episodes prior to the movie. After the movie I was getting his thoughts on it and he's a die hard Star Wars original triology fan (though he was so let down by the newest Star Wars episodes), we were talking about Star Wars vs. Serenity and we both agreed that the prequels became about CGI art and big blow-ups and you didn't feel for the characters. You weren't a part of their world. Joss obviously didn't have the same budget as Lucas but I think even if he did he wouldn't have overdosed on CGI and big blow-ups. He gets 'it' and it is sad that fewer people do.

I would love to hear what Lucas actually thinks about Serenity. Though I'm sure I'd walk away with a sour taste in my mouth. The guy got put on a pedestal too quickly and he got big headed. IMO
LMMFAO!!!

Seriously, that was great.
But there's a reason Empire is still considered the best: someone else wrote the actual script!


Except that Lucas did co-write Empire. Leigh Brackett was initially hired, but Lucas didn't like her draft and threw it out shortly before her death. Lucas then wrote his own version and turned it over to Lawrence Kasdan to polish/rewrite. Leigh Brackett gets a credit, but it's honorary only.

I think it's funny that the same writing team wrote (in my mind) the best and worst Star Wars films: Empire (best) and Jedi (worst).

(Though I would also argue that some work stands equal -- Minear's "Out of Gas" and "Are You Now or Ever Have Been...", Noxon's "The Wish", Vebber's "The Zeppo"


Correct me if I'm wrong here, but didn't Joss basically toss out both of Dan Vebber's teleplays -- "Lover's Walk" and "The Zeppo" -- and write them himself? Vebber's credit remains on the episode, but as far as I know Joss is the one who really banged out those drafts.
Dan Vebber didn't write Zeppo? The deuce you say! I understand that Whedon often rewrote the submissions. Espenson has explained before how the writing process would go with Buffy, Angel, and Firefly. You'd submit a script. Whedon would make notes and hand it back to you. You'd make the changes he wanted. This would go back and forth a couple few times. You'd fight him on one point or another and apparently he'd usually win, because at some point Whedon would just take the rest of the script and make the final changes himself.

Zeppo is, in my opinion, one of the best written episodes of the entire series, from a perspective of character, plot design, and how it's constantly got these twists and turns in it and completely upsets the usual formulaic plot design. The B story becomes the A story and vice versa. It turns everything on its head. The grandiose becomes almost insignificant, and the trivial gets center stage. It's brilliant.

I've always assumed that ingenuity came from Vebber. So have I been admiring Whedon all this time with this episode? Just how much of each man is in those words?
Well, it would fit. "You like the dialogue? Ok. I'll do a silent episode" "Ah, the plot draws you in. Time for a dream within a dream" "Vampires and witty banter galore? How about a very real and painful death instead?". "Plot A getting just a little too expected? What if it is actually plot B?"
I think it has Joss's hand all over it.
We had a discussion about the extent of Vebber's input in The Zeppo here before, and one well-informed W member - was it Ocipital? - described in detail how much Vebber did and how much JW. And there were a couple of other eps which Joss worked on much more than has been told. I wish I could find the link but . . .

I remember an interesting article I read through Whedonesque about...was it Kasdan? (I don't remember and I do not have time to look in the archives just now.) Somebody involved in Lucas's work at the beginning


I think it was probably the in-depth filmforce article about Gary Kurtz that I posted. And, again, don't have the link to hand. But you read it already. And it was good.
Kurtz is bitter about the fact he was fired after Empire Strikes Back. And to be frank, he should've been fired. He was the producer, and the film was mis-managed and came in $20 million over-budget. Managing that kind of money is totally the producer's responsibility, and Kurtz screwed up.
There's no doubt some truth in what you say, TDS, but I doubt Kurtz remains bitter 25 years on, or was in 2002 at the time of the referenced interview. And whether or not Empire was "mismanaged" and over-budget, it remains the most critically well-received and arguably most popular of all the SW movies. And obviously there are a fair few fans who think the departure of Kurtz and Marcia Lucas had quite an impact on the subsequent SW films. But that's all OT and largely conjecture anyhow.

Wish I could find that Vebber thread.
Here is the thread.

Btw, here's a google tip, to find the thread I searched for: "Vebber site:whedonesque.com"
Ocipital's post in that thread reads like an educated guess. Was the original premise Vebber's, and the dialogue was all Joss, or did Vebber have little to nothing to do with what happened on screen? I'd want more details than that. I guess we'll never know...

*dramatic pose*

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