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“In the end, I think the problem is pretty simple: Joss Whedon hasn’t written anything particularly good since the last season of Angel.”

Considering the previous season of Angel wasn’t all that great either, I’m perfectly willing to blame the final season’s being enjoyable on Ben Edlund.

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Lister Sage said on August 6th, 2009 at 12:17 pm

In the end, I think the problem is pretty simple: Joss Whedon hasn’t written anything particularly good since the last season of Angel. He’s written things that were good in spots, or that had the potential to be good, and his genius for casting is as strong as ever, but if you look honestly at his post-Buffy/Angel work there’s nothing that would, for anyone who wasn’t already a fan, rise much above a “meh.” Whether this is because since becoming JOSS WHEDON he’s started to believe his own press, or whether he just had a few good ideas in him and is now slowly joining Kevin Williamson in aging-wunderkind-land, is hard to say, but he’s certainly not bringing his A game to the Buffy comic.

OH THANK GOD! I THOUGHT I WAS THE ONLY ONE!

To clarify a little. I haven’t read the Buffy comic, I’ve seen maybe one or two episodes of Buffy and Angel (maybe a little more with Angel given that I would occasionally put it on after coming home from classes, but only because…I have no idea), I did like the movie (which I consider kind of ironic as Whedon himself doesn’t), a half dozen of Firefly, Serenity, skimmed his Astonishing run, but overall the best he has ever been is a lukewarm writer. But the thing that really gets me about him is the constant, massive, sledgehammer over your head, proverbial blowjob that geeks and nerds seem to give him. And I am sick to the point of desperation of all of it. He sucks and its high time his fans came to grips with it.

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mygif

Yeah, I called the Twilight parody thing too.

The thing about Whedon is that much of the time he’s sharing writing duties with a bunch of other people, so it can be a little hard to tell what’s his fault and what’s other people’s. The Buffy comic is the same way, since it’s written by a gaggle of people, some of them hackier than others (*cough*JephLoeb*cough*) I tend to think Whedon remains a decent writer (though he has declined a bit from his heyday) but his big problem is that he’s spreading himself too thin–he’s apparently writing comics, working on Dollhouse, AND preparing this “Cabin In The Woods” movie all at once. I’m especially interested in that last one, just to see a Whedon-directed feature film with an original premise.

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No comment on how the latest plot point in the ongoing female empowerment fantasy that is Buffy is “our powers are scaring people and also icky, we must get rid of them to be accepted by society and safe again”?

Because, y’know, I have some comments about that if you want to borrow them. Most of them involve swearing.

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I think the problem with Whedon is that people, thanks to his dedicated fanbase, expect him to always be A-list. A lot of his recent stuff isn’t amazing (although it’s usually entertaining), and even Firefly probably would’ve gotten tired if it weren’t for Serenity forcing Whedon to actually rush the story into an acceptable climax.

That being said, the first 3 seasons of Buffy are among the very, very best that TV has ever had to offer. There is a balance between character development and plot, and a balance between humor and genuine pathos, that very few works have ever successfully pulled off. I find that, when people start dismissing Whedon, it’s important to look not at the stuff he’s made since becoming a name; but rather what earned him his status.

(I’m actually rewatching Buffy from the beginning this summer, and it’s still amazing me. On the other hand, I admit that I’m not exactly eager about getting into Seasons 6 & 7–the “let’s ignore character development in favor of pumping more and more outlandish drama into your veins” seasons–and I’m never planning on reading Buffy Season 8, etc. That whole balance I was discussing earlier? Really falls apart after a point.)

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candlejack said on August 6th, 2009 at 12:43 pm

Y’all didn’t like Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog? I’d classify that as the last great thing to come from Whedon, myself.

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I’m gonna place Dr. Horrible square in the “not amazing (although it’s usually entertaining)” category. It wasn’t bad for what it was, but what was it? A goofy riff on superheroics crossed with mundanity (something nobody has ever seen before, certainly) with an almost distressingly dark–but still goofy–third act. Even if you like the ending–and I’m not sure where I stand–it’s hard to deny that it’s virtually the definition of tonal inconsistency.

And, yes, Neil Patrick Harris is great in Dr. Horrible, but that’s sort of a given with him, isn’t it?

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Whedon has written great stuff since Angel went off the air, like Dr. Horrible, Sugarshock, and the “Man on the Street” episode of Dollhouse, for instance. The problem with the Buffy comic is that it’s completely missing the point of the Buffy storytelling engine, and we haven’t been given any reasons at all to care for faceless hordes of slayerettes.

Whedon’s still one of my great storytelling heroes, and the best of Buffy and Angel still hold strong; plus there’s the nigh-perfect Firefly/Serenity. So his endeavors in comics haven’t been that great. It’s okay. His best medium is television.

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candlejack said on August 6th, 2009 at 1:12 pm

I guess it’s all a matter of taste, Bah. (You have it, I don’t. *grin*)

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Whedon’s post-Angel career consists of Serenity, Dr. Horrible, Sugarshock, Dollhouse, and the Buffy and Firefly comics.

Serenity was, to my mind, a truly fun action/SF movie, even if it wasn’t as great as the show. Sugarshock and Dr. Horrible were both fun, but extremely disposable. Dollhouse and the comics are group efforts; the two Firefly comics were both pretty lousy, but Buffy and Dollhouse have ranged between decent and mediocre.

Just as rabid Whedon fans stretch to defend Dollhouse, there’s another contingent that slams it harder than it deserves. Post-“Man on the Street”, it’s a watchable, occasionally very good show with some interesting ideas that could elevate it to greatness, or at least goodness, if they’re allowed to flower. It also has a lot of flaws that need to be overcome. Could still go either way.

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“I’m especially interested in that last one, just to see a Whedon-directed feature film with an original premise.”

It’s actually Drew Goddard (writer of Cloverfield, Lost, Buffy and Angel) who’s directing. You wouldn’t know it as every single interview is given to Joss (they’re co-writing it).

I, too, have been reading the Buffy comic out of inertia, but I have REALLY been loving Dollhouse – even the first few episodes that no one else likes.

(Also, check out the first two volumes of Dark Horse’s Buffy Omnibus series. They make up a kind of Season Zero, and are far more compelling than Season Eight has managed so far).

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I’ve liked parts of the BtVS S8 comic, actually. I liked the setup arc, and the Fray crossover was mildly entertaining, and I really liked the Faith story.

And parts of it have been terrible. I love Jane Espenson’s writing, but…her issues have been at best mediocre. Also, why the hell would Whedon let Loeb anywhere near Buffy? Sheesh.

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Goddard directing, huh? Well, I’m actually a little less interested, then. (Goddard was a good writer on Buffy, but he does seem to have lost the thread sometime around “Cloverfield”.)

…It does sort of seem like Whedon’s determined not to do anything by himself these days…

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(Of course, even that ending was an unfortunate compromise: what they should have done was make every woman on Earth a Slayer, the logical conclusion of the show’s female empowerment fantasy.) Not only does this make it hard to come up with believable villains, but it makes Buffy herself a lot less special.

I don’t understand why a flood of Slayers needs to be a problem. Certainly, there was no problem when they introduced a handful of slayers and declared them either prone to insanity or hubris or corruption.

So, in that sense, I could absolutely see a “World Full of Buffys” take a brief stint off into feminist utopia, and then come crashing back to reality as female empowerment goes over the edge. Press monsters to near-extinction, end male rape and domestic violence, bring about world peace, then watch the system start sliding off the rails once power starts to corrupt. And then you go full scale into a Slayer Civil War.

I mean, in that sense, Buffy becomes a hero not for having sweet kick ass powers, but for having a noble spirit. She’s not just super cool, she’s incorruptible. Special because she takes great power with great responsibility. That sort of thing.

In the end, I think the problem is pretty simple: Joss Whedon hasn’t written anything particularly good since the last season of Angel. He’s written things that were good in spots, or that had the potential to be good, and his genius for casting is as strong as ever, but if you look honestly at his post-Buffy/Angel work there’s nothing that would, for anyone who wasn’t already a fan, rise much above a “meh.”

That, at least, I totally disagree with. But I’m genuinely enjoying Dollhouse, so I guess my opinion isn’t quite mainstream.

But I think you’ve put Wheadon on a pedestal. Everything that isn’t Buffy/Angel isn’t good enough because it isn’t Buffy/Angel, as far as I can tell. Firefly, in my opinion, was as brilliant as anything Wheadon has ever done.

I, too, have been reading the Buffy comic out of inertia, but I have REALLY been loving Dollhouse – even the first few episodes that no one else likes.

That stuff was all setup and fan service. Hell, the first season of Buffy wasn’t the most fast-paced in the world. Oooo. Evil Vampire Master. Oooo. Ominus Child of Dooom.

Best episode in the entire series was the one where Spike and Drusilla show up and clean house. I think that was the show where I realized Wheadon’s balls had drop. Tossing half the ongoing plot out the door to make room for a ton of awesome? I approve.

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Edgewood Dirk said on August 6th, 2009 at 2:40 pm

I was excited by the first few issues of the comic. But my interest has also sadly waned. Honestly (and yes, I am tooting the horn of a friend of mine, but don’t we all do that?) if you want to see a Season 8 of Buffy that you can be proud of that does the ongoing story right, go see:

http://www.btvschosen.com

Seriously. You won’t be dissapointed. Well, maybe a little, when you get midway through Season 9 and find out she’s only just started getting back to the story after a 2 year hiatus! Make JetWolf write more!

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I can definitely see why they had an army of Slayers emerge, and it’s precisely because it *does* make Buffy less special. Short of destroying all the vampires and demons on Earth, the only way to ease Buffy’s Slayer burden and let her have a slightly more normal life was to do something like that. I actually thought it was a clever compromise–Joss still wanted his big final battle (a movie?) and Angel was still running, so he couldn’t have the “true” ending of the Buffyverse, but he still needed to provide some closure on Buffy’s part.

Zifnab’s onto something in terms of how the “Slayers hated and feared” business should have been handled–a bunch of superwomen suddenly emerging certainly would shake up the Patriarchal Male Opressors–and the “Twilight makes everyone like Vampires” thread is solid. Too bad it was handled so poorly by Espenson.

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I can see your reasoning. The comic certainly isn’t the show, but it has its merits. For one, there’s an unlimited budget, which means Whedon can go nuts with whatever ideas he comes up with.

Admittedly, I buy the comic in trade form and I find it’s a much better read that way. Each story is more or less self contained and wraps up at the end of each volume.

I’m hating how long the mystery of Twilight’d identity is going on, though. My one theory was shot down recently in the Fray crossover and I’m afraid all the build up won’t be worth it. Unless it’s someone huge, like Giles or her father or something.

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I don’t know that I agree – I mean, ok sure, the best comics of S8 were written by other people (BKV for one…actually yeah, just him), but Angel: After the Fall is just great, IMO, making a lot of good use of past characters while still moving the story along. Although I could do without the cop coming back…but really I’m just waiting for Doyle’s triumphant return.

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I’ve been reading off inertia myself. I consider the idea of making every woman a Slayer as bad as making vampires popular. Buffy’s always been a show that could secretly actually be happening around us. THat would take that away.

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Jason: my point was that that would be a good way to _end the series_, by bringing the idea to its logical conclusion. The ending they chose was a bad compromise that robbed that idea of its power while still sabotaging future stories.

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Actually, though, Jason makes an interesting point. Even though we know the Buffyverse is fictional, it’s easier to connect with when it has nothing that directly contradicts our own observations. Thus, secret vampires/demons/superpowers are fine, whereas everybody’s-a-slayer is problematic.

Also, candlejack: I will certainly not argue that Dr. Horrible isn’t fun, and I’m sorry if I came across as just being contradictory. If you think it is great, well, that’s certainly a valid argument to make; just don’t try to defend Buffy Season 6 and we will get along just fine. *does that dramatic thing where you punch your own hand as a show of MASCULINITY and POWER*

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Yeah, Vaughn’s Faith arc was awesome, actually. That horrible Fray nonsense must have shoved it out of my brain.

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Can I still hate you for saying what I know to be true but am loath to admit, yes yes I can. Though I vehemently disagree with anyone trying to defend Angel, or as I tend to refer to it as the show that should never be mentioned. I mean really entire seasons hinge on the premise that no one ever thought to pick up the phone and call for help from the A team that lives what 10 min away… anyway I digress where was I, oh yes the colossal mind fuck that is Joss. I personally thing that Firefly was his best work, but his more resent offerings seem to be a bit of bait and switch. Dr Horrible is ok if you ignore the fact that it is Joss further abusing the kill the pacifist trope, Dollhouse took half a season for Joss to even show up and the writing was for the most part up staged by the damn set. I gave up on the comics when they decided to resurrect Warren in direct violation of any common sense.
Where was I… Oh yes how this is all your fault for pointing it out. Please leave me to my denial and disillusionment in peace.

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I think that the whole “Whedon’s gone off his game” argument tends to let nostalgia lead it by the nose. I only got interested in Whedon’s work during the second season of Angel; and whenever I’ve gone back to look at the early seasons of “Buffy”, I’m always struck by how the writing from then suffers in comparison to nearly everything he’s done post-Buffy. I’m talking plot holes, predictability, and metaphors with the delicacy of sledgehammers. People seem to only remember the good parts.

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Taneria- Two hours actually. Looking at the seasons Angel and Buffy overlapped, in season 4 there was no reason to believe they could do much to help, in season 5 the Scoobies were on the run, and Angel was in another dimension(though they didn’t know that so not running TOWARDS AI was indeed stupid), season 6’s big apocalypse showed up with almost no warning and Angel did show up in season 7.

Colin- I can’t stand all the metaphor talk about Buffy. None of themreally show up to me. Really the most obvious metaphor in the show is one no one mentions, the danger of hiding your true self behind a mask, the whole it’ll become you thing. I mean Buffy’s a valley girl turned warrior, Willow’s a hacker turned witch and both suffer mightily from their duties. Xander meanwhile is an ordinary guy turned… ordinary guy helping fight evil and he suffers the least of them.

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Allow me a moment to squee that Bill Reed actually used the term “storytelling engine” to describe what’s wrong with Buffy Season Eight…

And then say, “He’s absolutely right and a smart guy to pick it up.” The problem isn’t that Whedon’s gone off his game, the problem is just that the set-up of “Buffy and her secret super-army of Slayer girls fights supernatural evil wherever it can be found, like G.I. Joe with boobs” just isn’t as compelling, interesting, understandable and easy to write for as the original premise of “high school kids fight literal demons that represent their metaphorical ones.”

As I said in my “Storytelling Engines” column on Buffy, it’s no coincidence that the comics spent years writing stories set during Season Three, more than any other. It’s the era of the show that had the set-up with the most hooks to hang good stories off of. Whedon’s dancing as fast as he can, but he’s basically writing his way out of a plotline he never expected to actually have to finish. It’s no surprise that it’s rough.

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the thing about Buffy’s current “storytelling engine” is that it didn’t have to be this one. At the end of the show and in season 5 of Angel they mentioned places the story could go. Joss threw them away as misinformation and came up with this.

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MooseAlmighty said on August 6th, 2009 at 10:00 pm

Reading on inertia describes my pull list pretty well right now… Really need to purge some and find better titles. I only have 10 on my pull list but still the inertia sets in. (OK 11 titles if you count The Twelve ha ha…)

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Iceshadow said on August 6th, 2009 at 10:46 pm

As someone who’s never really felt one way or another about Whedon (I liked what little I watched of Buffy and Angel though), I got to say I was seriously turned off to him when I read his Runaways arc. It started ok, but then quickly became God-awful.

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I should be getting ready to go to work, so I’m not going to dive into some of the meatier issues in this thread.

I just want to say that I love (or at least really like) almost everything Brian K. Vaughan does, but his take on Buffyverse dialogue made me want to bash my own skull in with a large and exceptionally pointy rock.

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oddpuppets said on August 7th, 2009 at 12:18 am

In the end, I think the problem is pretty simple: Joss Whedon hasn’t written anything particularly good since the last season of Angel.

Them’s fighting words, pardner.

I’ll be honest, I haven’t watched…well, almost ANYTHING of the Buffyverse. I watched the musical episode because I’m a sucker for musicals in TV shows, and I tried watching the first episode and sort of went ‘Meh”. Couldn’t see where all the fuss was about.

However, I dare you to say that Firefly is not one of the best character dramas ever to exist in television. I only got into it after the show was cancelled and now I wished I had been there at the start. The characters are characters, there are guns and splosions and space ships, and the drama is fantastic. Except for the sub-standard pilot, Firefly was a tight drama. It didn’t have any waste or fat, it was just tight.

I would give up the second season of Dollhouse for even a few more episodes of Firefly. Serenity was a standard, ‘meh’ SF movie that would’ve been better as a TV show. Actually, most things could probably do with being a TV show. Preferably on AMC or HBO.

(Dollhouse sucks. It has promise but no bite.)

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mygif

For everyone mentioning Firefly, that show ended before Angel, and hence is excluded from MGK’s statement.

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For everyone mentioning Firefly, that show ended before Angel, and hence is excluded from MGK’s statement.

Not my statement, I would point out. I mean, these posts have a byline! (How else would you know when Flapjacks is about?)

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Jason- I was more going for hyperbole there then anything else but I think the point stands, any time you are looking at a situation where the thought process goes, if we fail the world ends and you don’t pick up the phone is just too big a leap to be believable to me. Never mind my opinion of the character development on Angel, namely that the only characters that weren’t butchered beyond recognition (aside from Wesley which I grant they did a good job making actually interesting and someone you actually care about) were all characters originating on Angel. The lengths taken to keep Spike on the show at the expense of his relationship with Buffy and Dawn, the entire Angel Cordelia relationship. Just thinking about it makes me want to rip my hair out.

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candlejack said on August 7th, 2009 at 3:08 am

My taste is bad, Bah, but it’s not Season Six Buffy bad. (Beyond all other problems, Amy just really pisses me off. She was a big early warning bell for me that the Season Eight comic might be really, really pointless.)

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As a big Joss Whedon fan, I’ve also felt surprise at how increasingly detached I’ve become from the Buffy and Angel books.

The art, as you’ve mentioned, was also an immediate factor for me in my dislike of the Angel series, even if the story itself was pretty interesting. I’m going to check in on the Angel book again when the issues written by Juliet Landau drop – hopefully the art has improved.

As for the Buffy comics, well, even with Brian K. Vaughan guest writing, I can’t help but agree that they’re lacking. I actually rolled my eyes and yawned at the death of Xander’s would-be girlfriend because it was almost like a parody of a Whedon story. Dawn’s giant-ness, Buffy’s foray into bisexuality and even the Fray crossover all seemed . . . I don’t know? Desperate? Flashy? Strangely meandering? Hard to put it into words but yes, outside of the notion of Giles and Faith having their own spinoff, I’m not too fond of the current series, much to my chagrin.

Still, I’d have to respectfully disagree with your statement that “in his post-Buffy/Angel work there’s nothing that would, for anyone who wasn’t already a fan, rise much above a “meh.”” Dr. Horrible’s been nominated for an Emmy in a special category and I’m pretty sure it’s made Whedon fans out of more than a few non-Whedon fans. Also, I laughed my ass off at Sugarshock but I’m pretty easily amused. :)

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The run on Angel has been much more bold and interesting and has, yes, horrible, horrible art.

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eh, Dr Horrible was genius, Serenity was fun and Dollhouse/his comic misadventures were supermeh.

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@KDBryan: First Landau issue came out on Wednesday. Not had a chance to read it yet though.

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I have not seen Dr. Horrible. I do not want to see it. Musicals after the heyday of musicals really do not appeal to me(I never watched the Buffy musical ep either) and from what I’ve read of the plot it’s romance is exactly what you expect from a Joss romance and so a massive turnoff.

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“Y’all didn’t like Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog? I’d classify that as the last great thing to come from Whedon, myself.”

Well yes, that was wonderful. Perhaps an example of how when faced with logistical problems and constraints such as limited budget, calling in favours from friends and setting your hopes on *new media* downloading – can be inspiring.

Plus it had a sense of fun about itself. Dead god….is Joss Whedon becoming Woody Allen! Intelligent humour replaced with pretension?

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*dear god. Feck.

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Did you reference Gilbert and Sullivan in a post about Joss Whedon?

Seriously.

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