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Whedon returns to TV! If there’s ever TV again.

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Joss Whedon coming back to TV? Oh shit yes. And with Eliza Dushku in the lead? Even friggin’ better. Sadly, it’s not a Faith series nor even Buffyverse-related, but really, I don’t care — it’s Joss back as head writer and executive producer of a TV series, and that is honestly all I need to know.

The problem, of course, is that the deal (for seven episodes of Dollhouse, appearing possibly as soon as spring ’08 — go read the link for more details) is with FOX, meaning they’ll air the eps out of order and cancel the show after the third one’s broadcast, but hey… it’s Whedon back on TV, where he belongs. No offense meant to Serenity or his comic book work, all of which I love, but TV is his essential medium of expression.

Pardon me while I go have a fanboy freakout now. omg omg omg omg omg.

Written by Allen

October 31st, 2007 at 11:10 pm

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Review: Buffy: Season Eight #2

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Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Season Eight #2 “The Long Way Home, Part II” Joss Whedon, writer; Georges Jeanty, penciller

See, now, this is what I’m talking about. While I really liked the first issue of Joss Whedon’s continuation of the Buffy the Vampire Slayer TV series, it didn’t absolutely thrill me. I feel like I’m praising it with faint damnation when I say that, and I don’t want you to get the wrong impression about my take on #1. It was very well done — it had some typically entertaining Whedonesque banter and solid artwork — but it felt just a little bit, I dunno, slight to me. That was to be expected, I suppose, since that first issue was almost entirely setup. We only got to catch up with a handful of old characters and were dropped headlong into an entirely new status quo, so yeah, it wasn’t superb — but then again, the seven season premieres of the TV show weren’t necessarily barnburners, either. (The season finales, though? Oh, man.)

So in the end, the first issue of BtVS:S8 was really good if not spectacular.

The second issue, though… the second issue is pure Buffy.

Now we’re starting to get more of our familiar characters back — we have Giles now, we have Andrew! — and it’s almost like they’ve never been away. Ah, but that’s not quite true: they have been away, and they’ve been growing during their absence (some a bit more literally than others). The action in the second half of this issue, for instance, demonstrates just how capable the formerly useless Xander Harris has become at leading an international squad of Slayers. (Strangely enough, the character who seems to have grown the least during the gap since the end of Season 7 is the eponymous heroine herself, though I’m sure we’ll be treated to plenty of growth opportunities for her later.)

The one aspect of this issue which grabbed me most — and I can’t imagine this should come as much of a surprise — is the dialogue. The wonderful thing about Whedon writing these characters he created and worked with for so long is that he knows how they should speak better than any other writer, so it’s almost useless saying that Buffy, Xander and the rest sound the way they’re supposed to. It might be nearly useless, but I’m saying it anyway: the words Whedon puts into their mouths strike notes so perfect that I can hear the actors reading the lines in my head. I realize that for many of you, that distinction might not be particularly profound, but normally when I read (comics, novels, whatever), all of the characters’ voices sound, well, like mine. Jeanty’s art helps — the likenesses might not be photorealistic, but they’re suggestive enough of the actors that it makes hearing their voices that much easier.

We’re only two issues in, but there’s already questions aplenty to be answered: Who’s the floaty guy stalking Buffy (and her dreams)? Who is — or was — Amy’s gross, mysterious and so far unseen survivor of the collapse of Sunnydale? (Dollars to donuts both characters have Buffyverse histories, though I honestly have no idea who either is supposed to be just yet.) And one of the biggest questions I’ve got, one that hasn’t even been directly addressed as a mystery yet: where in the hell did Buffy and company get all the money to finance this massive operation? How are they affording all of this technology, room and board for several hundred teenage girls, and at least two separate compounds (since Giles clearly is somewhere other than Buffy’s Scottish headquarters)? When I watched the original series via Netflix, I usually didn’t have more than a couple of days to wait for new episodes. Knowing it’s going to be thirty days before even getting any more hints is going to prove painful.

If you’re a fan at all of the Buffy TV series, you need to be reading this comic (or at least need to pick up the collections once they come out). So far the series feels very, very similar in tone to the show, though now they’ve got the unlimited budget only comics can provide (just imagine the last page of this issue being done anywhere near as effectively on the small screen). As my boy Timmy B., a recent Whedon convert, said today: “I can’t believe that shmuck was wasting his time in TV.”

Written by Allen

April 5th, 2007 at 10:25 pm

“Astonishing”-ly Cruel

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Y’know, I’m a nice guy. I like being a nice guy. I don’t mean to say that I’m perfect or that I’ve never done wrong by anyone, but in general, I’m kind to most people. It’s one of the things I like about being me, and in general it’s worked out pretty well for me, I think.

Except, of course, when it comes to writing fiction.

My niceness unfortunately extends to the characters I’m writing about — I don’t like seeing people in pain, so it’s always been difficult to be the one responsible for causing pain, even if it’s happening to people who exist only inside my head. But I honestly don’t see a big market out there for stories about happy characters who just, I dunno, sit around and talk about how happy they are, characters whose biggest conflicts come in the form of fluffy pillow fights with their best friends.

Man, I managed to bore myself to tears just typing that last sentence.

However, I’m learning. No more Mr. Benevolent Uber-deity for me. This particular lesson, though a common precept of fiction writing, I’m taking from Mr. Joss Whedon because I’ve been thinking quite a bit about his characters recently. See, Joss has no problems thoroughly f*!%ing up his characters, even his favorite ones — hell, especially his favorite ones. He knows, as all (well, most) successful fiction writers do, that you get to the good stuff by throwing adversity at your characters and seeing how they deal with it. That’s when you find out what your characters are really made of — to hell with what they say, what do they do when they’ve just found out that their vampire boyfriend has once again turned into a murderous, insane monster?

All of this is why I’m suddenly very, very afraid for Kitty Pryde and Colossus in Whedon’s Astonishing X-Men.

I’ve watched enough of Whedon’s TV shows (and by that I mean every episode of all three of his series) to know that if there’s one thing he can’t stand, it’s a happy couple. Happy couples exist (usually only temporarily) in the larger Whedonverse specifically so that he can destroy them, tear them to shreds and see if they give up or come back together stronger than before. And right this very second, Kitty and Peter are happy, having just gotten together for the first time after years and years of being kept apart by small obstacles like other lovers, being on opposite sides of the ocean or one of them being dead.

So something very, very bad is about to happen to one — or both — of these two characters I care about.

I sincerely doubt that Joss is going to kill off either character: Kitty’s supposedly his all-time favorite comics character (not that I think that fact alone would stop him from killing her if the story demanded her death) and he just went to a lot of trouble to bring Colossus back from a several-year-long dirt nap. I have absolutely no idea what he’s got planned, though I suspect it’s going to end up being something horrible emotionally rather than physically. Whatever it is, I think it’s a fairly safe (and upsetting) bet that those two won’t be together once Astonishing‘s current story arc is done.

And Joss is willing to do whatever it is he’s got planned for Peter and Kitty because his love for the story is greater than his love for the characters. [1] Whatever he’s going to do to them will reveal a lot about their inner workings, likely in a way that’s obvious in retrospect but hasn’t been considered before. (Remind me to detail for you later the brilliance of what he just did to/revealed about Cyclops. My god.)

I hope I’ve learned this lesson well. Last night, I wrote the first draft of a scene that would come toward the end of Act 2 of the ginormous comic book opus I’ve been chewing on for awhile. (Yes, I actually wrote something! No, I can’t post it, sorry.) And while that scene itself isn’t particularly brutal, it immediately follows a scene which clearly must have been, and the implications it has for the story’s characters are dire. Even better? That scene allows me to start setting up some hints and foreshadowing going all the way back to the beginning of the story, plot points and character moments I had no idea would be necessary until last night.

My point, if I have one? Be cruel to your characters and they’ll be good to you.

[1] I’ve talked about this topic before in relation to Whedon’s movie Serenity; if you’ve seen the movie or can deal with serious spoilers, please go check out that article. I was proud of that one.

Written by Allen

May 24th, 2006 at 8:51 pm

Oh, how I wish this were real.

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Dammit, this credit sequence for the doesn’t-actually-exist sixth season ofAngel just pisses me off. As much as I already miss the show, thinking about what it could have been had they actually added the three new characters featured in these fake credits as regulars makes me weep with mournful frustration. It could’ve–would’ve–made a great show just that much better. Two of the characters were some of my favorites in all of the Buffyverse, and the other had some serious potential (and I’d always imagined their role would eventually be amplified, anyway).

No, I’m not going to tell you which three characters they added, though all three had appeared on Angel before. Just watch.

And (spoilery, kinda) I’m sorry, but Gunn shouldn’t have been in those credits–there’s no way he survived the big finale at the end of Season 5.

Written by Allen

January 12th, 2006 at 1:38 pm

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