Regular EB readers know our 10 x 4 series, in which we hand out a a series of questions both incisive and fun to rising artists and musicians who might not otherwise have such exposure. There’s one question in particular which I’d like to point out:
“Buffy: great show or greatest show?”
Regardless of what your answer might be, you have to wonder what kind of genius it would take to make this question even worth asking. To answer that, follow me through more than fifteen years of TV history, all created and written by the exceptionally creative mind of Joss Whedon. It all started in 1997 with…
Buffy the Vampire Slayer
No need to waste my breath raving about Buffy, right? Seven seasons of pure mystery-girlpower-entertaining-vampire-madness, packed to the brim with engaging characters, groundbreaking scripts and brilliant dialogue that literally changed the way we speak.
I can’t think of a single spinoff that has been as good as the original. Angel is no exception, but a TV show about a vampire with a human soul is still much better than most of what’s on television. Plus I’m pretty sure it’s the only work David Boreanaz has ever had post-Buffy, aside from a really really unpleasant movie career and yeah, Bones, which is rather unpleasant too.
First aired in September 2002 and canceled shortly thereafter, with only 11 of the 14 already-produced episodes being aired. Firefly is the second best spaceship-based sci-fi show (after Battlestar Galactica) and the best Western series (yes, better than Deadwood and Hell on Wheels) ever made. Part of that success is owed to the fantastic crew of the Serenity and its smuggler-in-chief Malcolm ‘Mal’ Reynolds, played by Nathan Fillion. If you haven’t seen Firefly, the concept of a ‘space western’ might sound as strange to you as the idea of producing a supervillain-musical in pre-Glee times (yeah, Joss Whedon did that too, which we’ll get to in a second), but I promise, it’s as hilarious as it is thrilling.
After the demise of Firefly, the Browncoats (that’s what Firefly fans called themselves) went completely nuts and demanded a renewal of the show. They ultimately failed, but they were given a 119-minute feature film instead. Serenity explains the origin of the Reavers (just watch the show) and is much darker than Firefly, but the worst thing is that in the end Joss Whedon all but ensures that there won’t ever be a sequel. Bummer.
Dr. Horrible’s Sing Along Blog
Whedon produced this web-only miniseries (starring Neil Patrick Harris) without a big studio at his back; he pulled this one off essentially by himself. Divided into three acts, it’s a really weird show with a lot of singing, but at this point, could you really expect anything less?
What on the paper looked like a clever commentary on the concept of identity and modern technology turned out to be quite flat. The show is about an illegal prostitution ring where all the prostitutes (referred to as ‘dolls’) got their memory erased and uploaded with another personality. After two seasons, it was canceled and ended in a dystopian fucked-up future of Terminatoresque proportions (hell, maybe worse).
Okay, so now you know Joss Whedon’s résumé. Despite a few flops, it’s pretty damn strong. He has two new films as well: Avengers – which is a great popcorn flick – and Cabin In The Woods, which, according to Bret Easton Ellis’ twitter, is “the funniest movie I’ve seen in about a year. It might look Empire but it has a gleeful post-Empire sensibility.“
If you’re in Vienna (like me!) you have the opportunity to catch Cabin In The Woods today at the Slashing Europe Film Festival. I’ll be there!