Joss Whedon Chat Thread

We're big fans of Joss Whedon's television shows here at Billiedoux.com. I have personally written episode reviews for the entire runs of Buffy the Vampire Slayer (including the season eight comics), Angel, Firefly and Dollhouse. Some recent comments that were posted suggested that we could use a place to discuss the Whedonverse as a whole. (That's you, Gus.)

So here it is! No spoiler restrictions, no worries -- post any comment about any or all of these shows you like, including the spinoff comics. Fair warning, though. If you haven't seen one or more of these shows or read the comics, you run the risk of getting seriously spoiled.
---
Billie Doux loves good television and spends way too much time writing about it.

56 comments:

Billie Doux said...

Maybe I should start it off with a comment about Fred's death and Amy Acker playing Illyria. I think -- I don't know, but I think -- that that decision was made before the show was canceled. I don't think the decision was made lightly -- i.e., hey, let's kill off Fred and destroy her soul, it'd be fun -- but that they decided they wanted to do something new with Amy, and Fred had pretty much done everything. And of course, no one gets to be happy in a Whedon show, so she and Wesley couldn't live happily ever after. I probably would have felt better about the whole thing if Fred's soul had remained intact. Complete nonexistence just seemed completely unfair for a character I loved like I loved Fred.

Jess Lynde said...

Thanks for the new thread, Billie! I was hoping for some kind of "spoilers ahoy" discussion space for most of the shows we cover, but the Whedonverse is a great place to start!

Since this all started with "let's debate killing off characters" and Dimitri noted that it is part of Whedon's pattern to whack our beloved favorites, especially right before a Very Important Event, should we now get into Whedonverse deaths that worked and those that didn't?

I'll kick that discussion off with the two deaths that most royally pissed me off: Wash in Serenity and Anya in the Buffy finale. Those two felt to me like Joss just giving the middle finger to the audience, or trying to make us feel all the pain he could just "because." He likes to say he doesn't give an audience what they want, but what they need. Well, I didn't need those two characters to die and neither did the stories. They served no larger dramatic purpose other than "I want the audience and some characters to be sad" or "the battle has no meaning if the heroes don't take a serious loss or two." I'm not buying. Not at that point in a show's endgame. (And Anya's demise didn't even warrant much on screen grieving, if memory serves! Now there's a character that deserved better.)

I was rather pissed about Shepard Book's death, too, but that was more because I felt his story was incomplete, and hated to be left hanging.

HellBlazerRaiser said...

This rocks!!!

I love discussing BUFFY.

I rank my BUFFY seasons thusly:

2, 5, 6, 7, 4, 1 and 3.

ANGEL:
4, 5, 2, 3 and 1

My ANGEL sequence probably bucks the trends a bit too.

(Reposted from the TB thread.)

RE: BUFFY Season Three's low ranking
There were mitigating, outside factors that clouded then and continue to cloud my opinion of Season Three. There are some brilliant episodes and scenes in the third season, but the season as a whole, whenever I watch it, brings me back to what was going on during that time.

Season Two is #1 for me because that’s when the series solidified itself as one of the greatest TV series of all time. I still remember verbatim the discussions we had at work about Ms. Calendar’s murder, Buffy and Angel’s passion, the move from Monday to Tuesday, Cordelia giving in little by little and becoming a Scooby, Spike’s intro and arc, Buffy coming out to her mom, Kendra’s murder and so many other stunning moments.

I lost my pop a couple of weeks before I WAS MADE TO LOVE YOU and THE BODY aired and I was also in kind of a dark place after that – in the summer of 2001 – so Season Five still holds me and the darkness of Season Six registered with me as did the bright ending of that season, as things changed in my life leading to the summer of ’02.

My life at the time kind of followed Season Five’s emotional progression, as odd as that seems. I usually vacillate between S2 and S5 being tied for #1.

BUFFY is my #2 TV series of all-time.
The original DARK SHADOWS is my #1.

I reread all of Billie’s BUFFY reviews last winter as I re-watched the whole series. It was BUFFY that brought me to Billie in the first place.

Billie Doux is the guru of smart TV analysis.

HellBlazerRaiser said...

The fact that Fred's soul was gone was heartbreaking and made it all the more difficult to watch and wrap my mind around.

I still have difficultly thinking about what happened to Fred – with my own issues regarding faith (not the Slayer), death (not of The Endless), the soul (not the arena football team) and the afterlife (50/50 with the BUFFY S6 episode and her monologue at the end and whether or not there is an "afterlife") – kind of affecting how I handled that storyline.

Dimitri A.C. Ly said...

Wash's death worked for me because it gave me the impression all the characters could die by the end of the movie in the style of Custer's Last Stand. This really hightened the suspense in the final act.

I completely agree about Anya though. Truth be told, I hated pretty much every second of the Buffy S7 finale (just my opinion--I know many would disagree), from Angel showing up with a deus ex machina to the super vamps Buffy had so much trouble with suddenly turning into cardboard for the slayerettes to the flabbergastingly self-congratulatory metpahor of Buffy empowering young women everywhere (now that's spoon-feeding your audience). But Anya's death was pretty much the straw that broke the camel's back. So utterly pointless and un-dramatic with insult added to injury when Xander gives us the mournful nod from "Star Wars: A New Hope" (you know, the one when Luke sees his adoptive parents flambeed and looks like he's trying to remember a shopping list).

Another death that's always bugged me is Miss Calendar's. The woman got Fridged.

For those unfamiliar with the term, Fridged was coined by author Gail Simone in reference to a Green Lantern story in which GL's girlfriend gets murdered and shoved into a refrigerator. The expression refers to any storyline in which a woman supporting character gets mutilated for the sole purpose of giving the male hero more pathos. It happens A LOT in modern American fiction, which shows a certain degree of institutional mysoginy in our culture.

On the other hand, deaths that I thought were very effective and touching include Buffy's in S5, Darla's in Angel S3, and Wes' in Angel S5, though I know what happens to him next in the comics, and I don't like it. In my mind's fan fiction, Illyria brought him back and they are gallivanting on peach blossoms somewhere. Lilah helped.

Gus Brunetti said...

I get why Wash and Anya died. They didn't *have* to die, but the message, as I see it, is that, on a war, people inevitably die. Now, Wash's pissed me a little more because it was not in war itself, just a freak accident. But Anya's made sense to me. I love Anya, she's definitely in my top5 favorite Whedon character, and I think dying helping save the world was an honorable death, one that I comfort myself thinking warranted her a place where Buffy was between seasons 5 and 6.

And I don't like S02 as much as the general public, though it was much better on the rewatch. The first time around, I wasn't so invested in Angel and Buffy.

And thanks again for the tread, Billie!

Patryk said...

I think of Anya as a very long Redemption Equals Death trope. After all she did kill so many people in her years as a vengeance demon.

Also Angel's ending would be better if no season 6 comics arrived. The Mexican Army Ending where you can imagine whatever happened, but you know deep inside that everyone died.

TVNerd said...

Angel Comic Spoilers Beware!!!

S
P
O
I
L
E
R
S
P
A
C
E

Having read through all of the first arc of the Angel S6 Comic, I can say that the concept of Fred's soul being completely gone was addressed. Illyria was fractured to be sure, but it was more than that. She was literally infected with Fred's soul, which had begun to fray the edges of her sanity and control.

But I stopped reading because Westley was gone. There was a whole reality reset, that made a lot of sense in the context of the story, and one of the consequences of that was the final loss of Westley. The ironic part of that was Gunn and Illyria went off together to try and figure out how to be human after the events of that first arc.

Still it was pretty obvious that Joss wanted to keep exploring the idea that Fred wasn't entirely gone.

That being said, I completely agree that Joss does have a tendency to kill characters to hurt us. Wash, Fred, most of the characters in Dollhouse, Cordelia, Doyle, Darla, and last but not least Tara.

TVNerd

Mark Greig said...

This is fantastic. Shame it's too early in the morning for my brain to be full working. So instead of something constructive I'll just say fire bad, tree pretty.

jo said...

I'm sure i remember reading somewhere that Joss had intended for Fred to somehow come back and Wesley then have to choose between Fred and Illyria, who by that point he would have developed feelings for. But then the show got cancelled and that was that.

The death that's always stuck with me was Joyce's. I remember watching that episode at a friends house, and then the following episode, and being just completely shocked. It was just so unexpected (i wasn't really into the internet then so i didn't read spoilers) and written so well. Funny, it's the none supernatural death that really got me.

Mark Greig said...

Dimirti, I get what your saying but I don't think Jenny counts as a girlfriend in the fridge. Her murder wasn't a random act of pointless violence just to give Giles some extra pathos, unlike Kyle's girlfriend whose name I can't not recall. There are a clear motive for Jenny's murder. She was attempting to restore Angel's soul, for which he killed her.

Tara, on the other hand, she got fridged. She got royally fridged. And that it still pisses me off to this very day.

CatherineJ said...

I'm pretty sure that in the commentary Joss said that he wanted to 'pus' Amy Acker after seeing what she could do at one of his Sunday night Shakespeare readings. HE felt that she had gone as far as she could with the Fred character and that becoming Ilyria would enable the audience to see a whole new side of Amy Acker's not inconsiderable talent. That said, I was still pretty devastated by Fred's death but it was almost (I say ALMOST) worth it for that utterly beautiful and heart wrenching scene we got between Wes and Fred in her bedroom. And whilst I would have missed him if the show continued (I never got into the comics I'm afraid), I felt that Wes was always ready to die once he had lost Fred - the light had gone out of his life, but there was obviously still a spark of humanity left in Illyria when she offered to 'lie for you' in his last moments - I though that was lovely. I could (and have been known to) bore for England about Dollhouse, I loved it because I love Joss and think that Tahmoh is just a maple syrup covered chunk of Canadian gorgeousness, but I'll leave that for another time. Suffice to say I came to the Buffy party very late, but was hooked almost immediately, and have been an avid Joss fan ever since - he rocks. BTW, as a comic virgin would you guys recommended either the Angel or Buffy series? I just can't decide.....

Juliette said...

Tara's death annoyed me the most because when season 6 started, I was anticipating a really interesting story about the abuse of power and how absolute power corrupts absolutely, one with gradual build-up (I think we'd all kind of guessed Willow was going to be the bad guy!). Instead we got a bad drugs metaphor and then Willow was tipped right over into pantomime villainy out of grief and revenge. All poor Tara's death achieved was to turn an interesting story into a dull one. Plus, I loved Tara.

Joyce's death annoyed me because of the way it was done rather than the fact that particular character was killed off (losing her mother had interesting consequences for Buffy, so that was fine). I get the not-remotely-subtle point - even in the Buffyverse, sometimes people die of diseases and Buffy can't help them. And I loved 'Forever', which looked at why they couldn't bring her back. But if I want to watch someone die of cancer over several episodes, I'll watch ER (and I do). 'The Body' is a very effective look at grief and loss, but it's not Buffy the Vampire Slayer - it's ER.

Seasons in order of preference: 2, 4, 3, 5, 1, 7, 6

Angel: 1, 2, 5, 3, 4 (haven't seen so much of the later seasons though)

Mark Greig said...

CatherineJ, comics can be difficult to get into and Buffy: Season 8 is not the best series to start with. Just to be clear this is strictly my personal opinion, other people might think differently, but if you love Buffy then don't, under any circumstances, read Season 8. In the end it will only make you angry. Very, very angry. And a little bit bewildered but mostly angry. Anger is pretty much the core theme here.

However, I would strongly recommend the Faith arc, 'No Future for You' by Brian K. Vaughan. It's a brilliant read and I think it works perfectly as a standalone read as well as part of a larger story.

As for Angel: Season 6, I only read one issue of and that was enough to put me off for good.

CatherineJ said...

Thanks Mark, I' guessing that's a no then? And I'm sensing just a smidge of anger perhaps?! Given that I adore both Buffy & Angel I think I'll just leave well alone - to be honest that was my gut feeling anyway, but the thought of just a soupcon more was almost too tantalising - glad I resisted and will continue to do so. Thanks for advice

Alice said...

I remember an interview with someone from the Whedon 'verse after the end of Angel that it was Joss' plan for season 6 to be about the Circle of the Black Thorn and the Wes/Fred/Illyria triangle. When they got cancelled he had to condense down an entire season into a handful of episodes.

Still, with the number of eps they had I think Mutant Enemy did a great job.

ras349 said...

To be fair I seem to recall it was the actors themselves who asked to be killed off, in the case of Anya and Wash. It was not Whedon's idea originally to kill off Wash or Anya but both actors approached him and said they wanted their characters to die. I think it is interesting Whedon is so willing to incorporate an actor's wishes into his stories.

Stephen said...

Ah ras349 I hadn't heard that. I heard that when they were originally writing "The Gift" and still weren't sure if it would be a season or series finale, that if it was the last ever episode, Anya would have a really sudden death (when the bricks fell on her), and there were a couple of other things that happened in "Chosen" that were going to happen, but I can't remember the rest now!

Billie Doux said...

I had indeed heard that Alan Tudyk asked to be written out just in case the series returned. But I don't think that was the case with Anya. I could be wrong, but I remember hearing that Emma Caulfield was unhappy about it. And it was a poorly written and unnecessary death.

The one that has always bothered me the most was Tara's. I was deeply into the Willow/Tara love affair, and even though I'm a fan of season six, I'm still mad about what happened in "Seeing Red." To be fair, I'd heard that Whedon wanted to do an episode about three wishes that would have brought Tara back, and Amber Benson said she wasn't willing to return. An episode like that would have made season seven a lot brighter. I kept hoping they'd do it in the season eight comics, but no.

HellBlazerRaiser said...

RE: BUFFY SEASONS “EIGHT” and “NINE”

In a couple of weeks, the BUFFY SEASON NINE comic starts. If you’re going to get into the comics, start fresh with SEASON NINE.

SEASON EIGHT started out with a lot of potential and some fun bits, but as it progressed, it started to feel like the writers lost control of the story and it veered in directions that (1) bent the characters to fit the plot, writing the characters woefully out of character, which lead to (2) a plot that made no sense whatsoever and (4) ended abysmally.

I’m surprised they’re even going for a SEASON “NINE.” I hope they clean up the mess early on.

I love comic books and there is so much more that can be done in a comic – i.e. no budget constraints or worries about actors skills – but the BUFFY team effed it up with SEASON EIGHT.

Billie Doux said...

I agree with HBR. The earlier issues of Buffy season eight were better -- as Mark mentioned, the Faith arc "No Future for You," which was my favorite. I gave up on Angel season six after three or four issues.

Jess Lynde said...

All this talk about behind-the-scenes reasons for characters being written out is bumming me out. I know that television is a business and people's circumstances and desires change, but I like it best when decisions about character deaths are made for story reasons, not actor reasons. Sigh.

Some deaths that worked for me: Buffy at the end of S5, Darla in Angel S3, Fred, and Wes. Lilah's death worked for me, too, but that one definitely seems to fit the "just so you know the poop is getting real now" mold that Dimitri complained about (possibly in the other thread). At least they did a little something interesting with it by revealing some inner workings of W&H and by showing that Wes did care about Lilah.

The thing about Tara's death that made me angriest was that they finally put Amber Bensen in the opening credits, just so they could completely shock us with her sudden exit. That, there, is some dirty pool.

Gus Brunetti said...

I think I'm on the minority here. I'm reading Angel comics, just past #29, and I like it. It's not like the series, but it's a fix.

One character I wish we'd seen more of was the Mayor. If he hadn't died, but stayed alive and powerless, kind of like the Annoying One, I think it would be interesting.

Patryk said...

Jess, Joss wanted to do thatin the pilot (with Jessie) many years before and he finally got to do it with Tara. Got to give him at least some props for subverting Promotion to Opening Credits. :)

Jess Lynde said...

No. No props. Anger, much anger.

If he had done it with Eric Balfour, I would give props.

Bea said...

So, I actually think Anya's death made sense when you think of her whole character arc. This is an ex-vengeance demon that, as exposed in one of season 7's few good eps "Selfless", has defined herself through something all her life. Olaf, vengeance, and then Xander. From that episode on, she becomes an independant if very vulnerable and very human character that learns how to stand on her own.

Later on in the season, she tells Andrew how humans make no sense to her, how hopeless they are but how they fight for what they want and for the people they love, demonstrating that after seasons of questioning the rules of humanity, she finally gets what it is about. So, an unremarkable death in the middle of a battle that she chooses to fight is an utterly human, pointless way to go, which shows precisely how far Anya has gotten from that girl that run away from the fight on S3 or who later on only stayed for Xander.

So, that's the theory, and I'm sticking with it.

Wes' death always made a lot of sense to me, and it almost was a relief, because honestly, what else could the guy take? But in my fantasy world? He took Lilah away after the events in "Habeas Corpses" and they lived happily ever after in a haze of kinky sex. My second choice is that he rejected W&H after "Home" and became Faith's watcher. One can dream, huh?

Anonymous said...

Hmm..interesting that so much of this has been about the many deaths of beloved figures on these shows. Whedon loves to break our hearts doesn't he? I'm still sad about Tara..She and Willow were my favourite couple next to Fred and Wesley. And both ended in tears. Alas, poor sweet Wesley. I loved Buffy more then any other show and still feel it's the best thing ever on tv. Even if there was sadness there was also joy and bunnies..Oh sorry bout that Anya.

Anna

TVNerd said...

To defend Angel S6 a little. I was right there with a lot you about those first few issues. They made Gunn the bag guy, and Angel was human... wtf! But the story really paid tribute to the whole of the series, they brought in pretty much every character you could imagine in ways that really worked.

It obviously wasn't perfect, but from what I've been reading about Buffy S8 it is a much better choice.

TVNerd

Suzanne said...

I am so glad I stumbled upon this thread today. I have read your site quite frequently to read your thoughts on Lost, Buffy, Angel, and other shows, but I came across this thread quite by accident.

So many of the deaths on all of these shows hit me where it hurts, but the ones that got to me the most for some reason were Wash's and Shepherd Book's death. I really wanted to learn more about Shepherd Book since he was one of my favorite characters on Firefly and Wash's just seemed so unexpected.

As for the comments about the comics, I am glad to read them since I keep going back and forth in my mind about whether to read them. I think I will leave them alone (except for possibly the Faith story) so that I can keep the image of Buffy and Angel that I have in my head from the shows intact.

Liz said...

I definitely disliked Shepherd Book's death because his past was never explored at all, after massive amounts of intrigue. I can understand the weaving in of future plot points like Book's mysterious past in Firefly, because they thought the show would have time to reveal it (Blue Sun, anyone?). But in the movie, Mal also references Book's oddly extensive knowledge which I believe was a mistake, given that it played absolutely no role in the rest of the film.

I realize Book's past was revealed in the comic "The Shepherd's Tale", but I thought it was far inferior to the other Serenity comics. It was nice to have some closure, but the story was told with a chain of rather gimmicky flashbacks.

As for Anya's death, I think the brutality of it succeeded in illustrating the danger of the final battle, but the lack of mourning wasn't particularly necessary. If the writers were attempting to illustrate her transformation into a "mere human", the death itself does that just fine. In fact, the others mourning her would make her all the more human because it would stand in sharp contrast to the routine deaths of supernatural creatures.

Valerie said...

Anya was also a favorite of mine but I thought of her death in a different way. The main characters and fan favs get a dramatic or emotional death scene (sometimes even a whole episode or cheesy montage) and maybe even a brief mention the next season. Anya didn’t even get a tear which I thought was a daring move. If you think about it, there is a lot of people in our world who pass without a dramatic swan song .

HellBlazerRaiser said...

Another death that's always bugged me is Miss Calendar's. The woman got Fridged.

Gail Simone is a brilliant writer – her BIRDS OF PREY Volume One was excellent. SECRET SIX was one of THE greatest comic book series I have ever read. I expect BATGIRL to rock!!!

Having written that, I have a problem with "WiR" – Women in Refrigerators – it's been debunked.

What started out as a legitimate commentary on female characters being used as plot device cannon fodder in some stories to forward the story and development of the male lead has been conscripted, rewritten, mangled and mutated to a catch-all for ANY non-white-male-heterosexual character that is injured or killed in a story.

For almost every (I'd say 90%) female character killed, de-powered, brutalized, etc. in a comic book, there is a male character that was killed, de-powered, brutalized, etc. in a comic book.

"WiR" has lost its power and even Ms. Simone regrets coining the term.

I don't think Jenny's murder counts as "WiR."

Alex DeWitt was killed by Major Force to give the lead in that series – Kyle Rayner – a tragedy to spur him into action. (On a side note – at least three of Kyle's girlfriends were killed during his tenure as Green Lantern. Donna and Jade have since been resurrected, though....) I haven't read that arc in at least a decade, but I believe it worked on Kyle (who is my fav GL, by the way; I pulled the TPB to give it a reread.).

Buffy was the lead, not Giles. So I don't think Jenny qualifies as "WiR."

If I subscribed to the theory, then I think Tara would qualify as "WiR," since by that point, BUFFY evolved into a sort of Willow/Buffy series with the stories seemingly equally revolving around the two.

Dimitri A.C. Ly said...

I think that depends how you interpret the term "lead". Anthony Steward Head's name was in the opening credits. Whoever played Jenny's wasn't. Her character had a relationship with Giles but not that much interaction with the other characters. One could therefore argue that Giles is one of the leads displayed in the opening credits and that Jenny is his supporting character.

I agree that WiR has been watered down by constant misuse, mostly, let's face it, by snarky fanboys too eager to flaunt their expert knowledge by denigrating everything they can get their hands on to notice the actual cultural insight Gail Simone was trying to get at.

However, I disagree that her original thesis has been debunked. It's important to remember that the point is not that women get mutilated in comics. It's that valid female supporting characters get mutilated specifically for the purpose of making the male lead grittier. Yes, there are many male characters that get killed too, but their deaths don't usually serve the same purpose in the story.

Incidentally, "purpose" here refers to the writer's intentions, not the villain's. For example, from the characters' point of view, Jenny got killed because she could give Angel his soul back. That's plot mechanics. From the writer's point of view, one could argue that she got killed to make things very sad for Giles and to show the villain means business. Whether that was the writer's intent is what determines whether or not a death is WiR.

While we're getting into the details of WiR, I want to point out that one of the reasons it got watered down is that people keep using it as a barometer to determine whether or not a work is sexist. They do the same thing with the Bechdel test, which is missing the point. Both notions are meant to measure trends, not individual worth.

In other words, the fact that Kyle Rayner's girlfriend got shoved in a fridge does not necessarily make the GL writers sexist, nor would the writers of Buffy automatically be considered sexists if we decided Jenny's demise was a WiR. It's the fact that many comics and TV writers keep going back to that well that indicates a misoginic trend in the overall culture. It's statistics in other words.

In conclusion, whether you feel Miss Calendar's death counts as a WiR (and I would be perfectly willing to retract that it does) depends on whether fans think her biggest legacy as a character is to
a) Show a sexual side to Giles
b) Introduce the notion of Angel being cursed with his soul
c) Make Giles sad and emphasise that Angelus is one evil SOB.

Either way, I wouldn't be so quick to dismmiss WiR as a concept.

Josie Kafka said...

What about:

d) To act as a mentor to Willow, helping her understand an appropriate way to fight evil even if she doesn't have slayer strength?

Gus Brunetti said...

I had forgotten about Miss Calendar. I don't think she really qualifies as a mentor to Willow, but she certainly showed hed a little bit more the way of magic. I say that because she wasn't around for much time, and Giles taught Willow magic too. Most of what Will learned was self-taught.

For me, and I emphasize it's just a personal impression, her death showed that Angelus was definitely a cruel bastard, and that he wouldn't just kill, he would toy with people that Buffy cared about. *His* intention was to hurt Giles, and Buffy by proxy, as evidenced by the flower petals and the body on the bed.

Nevertheless, her death was given a lot of weight and the impression lasted in me for a long time. The death scene was superbly staged. I'd like "Passion" a lot more if it weren't for the dreadful voiceovers.

Moreover, Jenny's death and Angelus's torturing of Giles set up an everlasting dislike from the latter towards the former; which influenced a lot Angel's ultimate decision to leave Sunnydale.

And for the fridging, in the comic book series 100 Bullets, one of the first arcs is a woman getting revenge on the people that killed her husband and estranged her from her son, if I remember correctly. Is fridging OK in this case?

Dimitri A.C. Ly said...

Awesome. We can start a poll!

Josie, I have you down for (d) Josie's take and other takes that involve Jenny interacting with female characters, Dimitri you big sexist!

It was late, and I started with the biased premise that she mainly served as a support to male characters. Selective cheater's memory probably kicked in.

Gustavo, I'm going to put your take under (c). Close enough, right?

I never read 100 Bullets (I know, I should), but from your description, I don't think she falls under WiR because her own character seems the one "empowered" by the death. What say you, Mark and HellblazerRaiser?

Oh, and because I liked reading HBR's ordering of the seasons. Here are mine (subject to constant change because I'm fickle):

Buffy: 4,3,2,5,1,6,7
Angel: 4,1,3,2,5
Firefly: 1
Dollhouse: 2,1

Mark Greig said...

When you think about it, all Willow's interest in magic can be traced right back to Jenny. She only first got into magic when she took over Jenny's classes and started going through her files. So while Jenny wasn't a mentor in the truest sense without her it's unlikely that Willow would've ever become such a badass wicca.

Gus Brunetti said...

Mark, that's exactly how I feel, but you said it better.

Dimitri, yes, that's a c) for me.

The point of my mentioning the 100 bullets plot was exactly that: if the roles are reversed, isn't it just as bad a situation?

And wow, I'm a fan of Buffy season 4, but you're the first person I've seen claiming it's their favorite. Here's my order.

Buffy: 7,3,5,4,2,6,1
Angel: 5,4,3,2,1 (Yeah, I think it got better by the season)
Firefly: 8,13,7,2,5,1,12
Dollhouse: 2,1

Dimitri A.C. Ly said...

Gus, so sorry. I totally misread you description in 100 Bullets. For some reason, I understood that the woman had died. It was late, and I was drunk.

Reverse Fridging puts weight to HellBlazerRaiser's argument that male characters are as mistreated as female ones.

I susect this example would be an exception or certainly the minority by virtue of their being A LOT more male lead characters than female lead characters, but that's just my impression. It's not based on any real insight.

To answer the original question though, I think we should call it Reverse Fridging (Ovening?), so as not to confuse two negating trends. Other examples of Reverse Fridging?

Yeah, Buffy S4 has all the episodes that make me laugh hysterically. That counts for a lot in my book.

Jess Lynde said...

My choice is a combination of (b), (c), and (d). Plus, to make Buffy really realize and accept that she wasn't getting her boyfriend back and that he was now an evil animal that needed to be put down. I don't think it was WiR because it felt to me more about hurting Buffy through Giles, not giving Giles more pathos. And I really think the most important take away was that Jenny's death, and the manner of it, forced Buffy into the head space she needed to be in to do what she does in the S2 finale.

My rankings:

Buffy - 2,3,5,6,4,7
Angel - 5,3,4,2,1
Firefly - 1, Serenity
Dollhouse - 2,1

I was really shocked to see 4 in the first place slot on your Buffy list, Dimitri. I don't think I've ever seen anyone put that first. I briefly wondered if you had seen some alternate reality version of S4 that the rest of us weren't privy to.

Tom L said...

I love this thread! And what a great topic to begin with.

Oh, Jenny. The first time Whedon used his devilish trick. It’s a great twist on a great episode. So, no complaints there.

Angel’s death was excellent, and a great moment for both Buffy the character and the show, but since he came back and even got his own show, it’s hard to see it as death. It’s not permanent. But as a big, located event, it was great.

Buffy’s death was excellent, and a great moment for both Buffy the character and the show, but since she came back and even kept her own show, it’s hard to see it as death. It’s not permanent. But as a big, located event, it was great.

Joyce. Fruit punch. Sniff.

I always close my eyes right before Anya is about to get stabbed. It’s not a nice shot to rewatch. And while her death wasn’t necessary and is too abrupt, it’s Xander’s reaction that ticks me off. Yes, he was supposed to be on a happy finale mode, but still... Talking about Starbucks a little while after getting the news of Anya’s death? Not cool. Having that said, Andrew storytelling her death is probably the only moment on the show I actually liked Andrew.

No strong feelings about Spike’s death. See Buffy’s and Angel’s above, with the difference that I had serious problems with Spike’s arc on season 7, so his sacrifice counts as a nice moment on my book.

Cordelia’s death is one that I really don’t like, mostly because we lost the fun Cordelia at some point during season 3, then she spends a whole season possessed, then we finally get her back for one episode and they kill her? Bastards!

Onto Fred. There’s Jenny. There’s Joyce. There’s Tara. We got it, Joss.

Wesley’s is one you can totally see coming. It’s a sad, poetic ending to a character who probably has the best arc on the Buffyverse. Oh, who am I kidding? There is no “probably” there.

And, at last, Tara. I both like and hate Tara’s death. I like the idea of things appearing to be getting better, only to have a dark turn. Dark Willow was a cool idea, the death scene was shocking and greatly done, and Villains is a pretty cool episode, albeit not well paced. Two to Go and Grave, though, aren’t as great as they could’ve (should’ve) been and have many things that don’t make any sense. Why didn’t Anya teleport when Willow cornered her? Why Willow wanted to torture Giles? Why, oh why, the writers clich├ęd her mind to destroy the world?

Today, I don’t mind those problems that much, and I’m able to have fun watching the Dark Willow episodes. But if you’re going to kill Tara, if you’re going to end what she and Willow had, you better make the story worth it, damn it. And, knowing what Willow will become (so insecure on every freaking season 7 episode), knowing Kennedy is coming, I really wish Tara had stick around. She was a great presence on the darkness of season 6, I bet she would’ve made the doom and gloom of season 7 more watchable.

Billie, Emma Caulfield was ok with Anya’s death (only later she would change her mind). Amber Benson refused to return because she didn’t want to play The First. Again, only later Joss revealed there were plans to bring Tara back, but, if I’m not mistaken, Amber said she didn’t know about it.

My rankings:

Buffy: 5, 2, 3, 6, 4, 7, 1

Angel: 3, 2, 4, 5, 1 (Except for season 1, the others are always switching places)

Dollhouse: 2, 1

Tom L said...

Also, that picture with the four logos? Gold!

Josie Kafka said...

Yeah, d) in terms of magic, but also computers.

Willow was always great at computers and knew she was brilliant. But she hid her light under a bushel (I guess she knew what a bushel was, which means she's smarter than me) until Jenny's death forced her to use her intelligence to negotiate her way through the tricky world of both high school (teaching the computer class) and evil-fighting (taking on the responsibility of doing the spell to bring back Angel's soul).

I think she also provided something of a role-model for Willow--perhaps I should have used that phrase instead of "mentor." Jenny was a beautiful, powerful, intelligent woman who took pride in her abilities. Willow was close to Giles, but a teenage girl is working on figuring out both her internal and external identities, and Jenny provided a model for Willow to work from that she didn't seem to have before.

(Dimitri, I don't tend to go around calling folks "sexist," or even implying it. I suspect you were joking, but just in case I wanted to assure you that I don't tend to paint with such a wide brush.)

As for the rankings:

Buffy: 5, 7, 6, 4, 3, 2, 1.
Angel: 4, 5, 3, 2, 1.

My favorite Firefly episode is "Out of Gas."

Mikey said...

I want to go ahead and say that Angel After the Fall (or Angel Season Six) was damn near perfectly written. Writer Brian Lynch had down every character's voice, and it worked as a cohesive storyline and a continuation of the series.

I highly, highly recommend everyone give AtF a chance, especially after the freewheeling nonsense that was Buffy Season Eight.

Gus Brunetti said...

I've just finished reading the Angel comics, and I liked it a lot, especially the arcs written by Bill Willingham, who created and writes the fantastic Fables. But I have to say I was a bit underwhelmed with the ending. I expected much more from an arc called "The Wolf, the Ram and the Heart". Plus, wasn't it a Hart? The writers of Spike also made this same confusion.

I want to know more about the reasons behing W&H. I want to meet the senior partners, or at least one. And I was hoping the comics would show that. Oh, well, let's hope Spike's, or at least Buffy Season 9 will tackle that.

Dimitri A.C. Ly said...

Josie, I was making fun of myself, not you.

Gustavo, the spin-off comic book "Angel and Faith" has been getting good reviews. I suspect that's where you're most likely to find answers regarding W&H.

Speaking of comics, CatherineJ, I think the most well received Buffyverse comic book is "Fray", about the first Slayer to appear after Buffy destroyed the lineage system. It's also the first to come out and it's written by Joss Whedon himself. I haven't read it myself, but I remember The Dark Shape recommending it on another comments board.

HellBlazerRaiser said...

I haven't read FRAY since it was first published (and then only the first 6 issues, since 7 and 8 didn't come out for what seemed like a decade), but I thought the Slayer line ceased because vamps became extinct at some point before the time FRAY is set?

Has it been retconned to be because of what happened at the end of "SEASON EIGHT?"

HellBlazerRaiser said...

From my experience, "WiR" is a very divisive, inflammatory topic.

A couple of years ago, I had a heated discussion about "WiR" with Gail Simone on the DCMB and we agreed to disagree.

"WiR" just doesn't fit anymore. There are only a handful (maybe ten out of the hundreds cited) of true "WiR" examples that hold up. The rest do not.

Harry Earle said...

While I enjoyed reading the Angel: After the Fall comics, I wouldn't recommend anyone buying them unless you really do like comics as a medium.

Billie I want to say thanks again for reviewing Buffy Season Eight, it was a bit of a slog it seemed, but I am so glad I could just read your reviews instead of the issues.

With all this general discussion of character deaths and Jenny Calendar and WiRs, I wanted to ask who people thought of as the most mistreated Whedonverse characters? I don't mean in terms of the characters going through hell ("Been there, done that") but what were the biggest writing mistakes made? Here's my top 3:

3. Kennedy (BtVS) -
While I think it's completely fine to see Willow moving on from Tara, I don't like who she did it with. It's hard for me to explain what I wish had been done differently with Kennedy, she didn't have much humour but she wasn't particularly badass either. She had a 'take charge' nature but she was only ever a lackey. Perhaps I just wanted more for Willow.

2. Paul Ballard/Echo (Dollhouse) -
I just never bought into the relationship between these two. It was a tricky idea to have the lead character of a series be a complete non-person at the beginning of a series, but even more difficult to pull off writing a male lead who falls for the non-person. It's kinda fun seeing Echo's personality developing, and along with it her feelings for Paul, but Paul seems to have pretty strong feelings for Echo right from the start, which seems to suggest that he's either A) a bit of a stalker B) only interested in Echo's looks or C) delusional to the point where he imagines a relationship that isn't there. None of these are particularly appealing traits for a leading man. It would be ok if he had plenty of other scenes showing his stable and sparkling personality, but he doesn't.

1. Evil Cordelia (Angel, Season 4)
Oh poor poor Cordy. What did they do to you? At the beginning of Season 3, Cordy had evolved to the point that she was my favourite character on the show. She was snarky, smart, brutally honest and developing a deep empathy and giving heart tempered by a healthy desire for new clothes. After she and Angel started to fall for each other, it all rather went downhill, but it wasn't until she returned without her memory that the rape of her character really began in earnest. Despite setting her up to be the Big Bad of the season, pulling strings in order to give birth to herself, the writers didn't let us in on the plan for about half a season too long. Instead, her lack of memory was used as an excuse for her to grow attached to Angel's severely damaged son, and by episode 7 (Apocalypse Nowish) we are treated to what with think is Cordy with her memory back, sleeping with Angel's son. Subsequent episodes don't give us any real clues that Cordy is possessed or ask us to forgive her actions in any way, until halfway through the season when she is finally revealed as the 'Beast's Master', and later as Jasmine. Unfortunately, the writers held off for far too long on the Evil Cordy reveal and made me lose a lot of respect and love for the character. We did get the real Cordy back for one episode in Season 5 (You're Welcome) but it wasn't enough to make up for the Season 4 mess! As a side note, I actually adore Angel Season 4, and it's easier for me to watch in the knowledge that it's Jasmine, not Cordy sleeping with and manipulating Connor not Cordy.

TJ said...

Oh, all those deaths!

Jenny was a real shocker, and it was brilliantly done. It totally backed the story of evil Angelus in a consistent way, and I think it was here I finally got Buffy-hooked.
Another shock was Kendra...but we didn't care much for her, did we?
Angel's death was also a sad one, yet very predictable.

Learning the Weedon-ways of killing off people, I was terrified that they would kill off Faith...and they almost did! I was sooo happy with that coma.

Joyce's death is probably the one that affected me most. I was crying like a baby throughout "The Body". Brilliantly done, and it gave me the answer to why I loved the Buffyverse. It's the real world out there who is the scary one.
Buffy's death was another emotional moment, but somehow we knew she would be back. didn't we?

Tara's death was a complete Jenny Calendar-shock. Rewatching all the seasons numerable times now, I can totally see it coming, but back then I was devastated. In a way I can see why a lot of people had problems with this one, but I never really was that invested in Tara. I loved Tara, but she was always a side-kick for me, and as such, expendable.

The death in season 7 that probably shocked me the most was Halfrek's. Again, I can see now that it was coming, but back then I had to grab my jaw from the floor.
Spike's death didn't affect me at all. Although he was my fave character I knew at the time that he would be back in Angel next season...
Anya's death is a tricky one. The problem with "Chosen" is that it's a but rushed. The episode could easily have been split in two, and then you would have had the time to make Anya's death more honorable. When you think about it though, who else could they have killed off without making everyone pissed? Anya was the obvious choice...

Moving on to Angel we have the death of Doyle, which was sad, but too early into the series to have any impact.
The death of Darla when she stakes herself was long overdue. They really had squeezed out everything from her character anyway (remarkable for a character who only appeared in 3 eps of Buffy, then got killed). I think the "real" death of Darla was much more disturbing when she got killed by the bite of Drusilla in season 2. That was another shocker...

Cordelia's death was bittersweet. By the time of late season 4 I really hated her character. But then when she reappeared in s5 it was the OLD Cordy back, the one we loved, so her death got to me anyway.
The second half of Angel s5 is hard to judge fairly. I remember clearly that the announcement of the cancellation of Angel came just after ep 14 "Smile time". I would guess that they already had filmed eps 15-19 by that time, and totally had to change their plans for the series finale. I think that they originally had Illyria as the big bad, but that they might have saved Fred somehow in the season finale. Now they had to completely change their plans...first step - we need to tie up the Buffy-arc somehow, thus "The girl in question", which was an ep that I felt had been thrown in desperately. I loved it though (that Italian woman was hilarious - "Gypsies? We will speak of them no more" 'Spit'), but the whole episode lacked something vital, and that was Sarah Michelle Gellar.
Then the last two episodes saw a totally new secret circle society, that just felt thrown in, and in the end they kind of decided that Fred was dead and they threw Wes in there as well. All this would not have happened if Angel have had another season I think.
What makes me angry is that WB was choosing between two shows - Charmed or Angel - to cancel. Charmed, who was OK-ish when Shannen Doherty was in it, was on a steep downhill. And WB chose to give them two more seasons, and it turned out to be the worst Charmed-seasons ever...Hmmpf.
Just think of what Weedon & Co could have done with a couple of more seasons of Angel...

Dimitri A.C. Ly said...

HellBlazerRaiser, as I mentioned, I never actually read "Fray", so it's possible I got the description wrong.

Harry, I love your transition from character death to character assassination. Here are my picks off the top of my head.

3. Dawn: I know I'm in the minority, but I maintain that Dawn was a great addition to the cast in S5, someone who could call the Scoobies on their crap and always get away with it by virtue of Buffy loving her sister unconditionally. Unfortunately, I suspect the negative fan reaction made the writers hesitant to portray her as a truly rebellious brat in subsequent seasons, so the character just sort of hung around purposeless until the end of the series. Doesn't anyone find it odd that Dawn was never given a circle of friends of her own? Think how much fun it might have been if she had typical Sunnydale friends (i.e. the kind that end up trying to eat you) like younger Buffy and kept getting in trouble Wizards-of-Waverly-Place style. So much comedic potential wasted because the writers tried to make her the least offensive possible when that was never the point with her.

2. Cordelia: I'm with you on that one, Harry. Mama Bear Cordelia from Angel S3 was unbearable in her excruciating blandness and self-righteous demeanour. Then they made her a rapist -- BEFORE she got pregnant with Jasmine and had the excuse of being possessed. Wow.

1. Chloe (at least I think that's her name): She's the slayerette that got duped by the First Evil into killing herself... or something. Now we never got to know her, so it might seem odd that she would make the list, let alone first place, but it all comes down to the scene in which Buffy buries her in the backyard like a hamster. Apparently, the girl had no parents, friends, or family that might like to be contacted. She wasn't enough of a human being either to get a wake or a funeral or a tombstone or any sort of ritual. She was just a glorified time capsule made out of flesh apparently. I hesitate to use that shark expression because I expect I'm already on thin ice after picking #4 as my favourite Buffy season, but I will admit that it was at this point that I'd lost all faith in a show that was once my favourite.

Harry Earle said...

"Buffy buries her in the backyard like a hamster" Ahhh Dimitri you've made my sides hurt from laughing! I totally agree about Chloe the Hamster, but since I didn't care about her at all, but the mess-ups with Cordy really got to me.

I think Jasmine was in the driving seat of Cordy after the events of Spin The Bottle, so you could say that when she boinked Connor she was really sleeping with her father, using her mother's body, to conceive herself a new body (apparently she didn't like living with Cordy's dodgy hair).

Gus Brunetti said...

I thought Cordy was nor herself from the moment she came back from her brief time as a higher being. One could argue that she was changed when she took that "be part demon" deal, which slowly ate into her.

Josie Kafka said...

Spoilers ahoy for a Shakespeare play! (Although we don't really need disclaimers in this all-spoilers thread.)

Having now seen Joss's version of Much Ado About Nothing, I finally feel like Wesley and Fred got to be happy. I'm choosing to think of Much Ado as an incredibly odd Angel Season Six.

sunbunny said...

Josie - COULDN'T AGREE MORE! They finally finally got their happy ending. Much better than literally dying in each other's arms. If Joss ever does a movie with a happy ending again (a bit unlikely, don't you think), I hope he'll cast another of his doomed couples as the leads. Alyson Hannigan and Amber Benson anyone?

I remember after seeing it, I thought, I *almost* forgive him for killing Fred. ALMOST.

Billie Doux said...

I finally saw Much Ado last night, and today I'm listening to the Joss commentary (there are two -- one with just Joss and one with the cast). During the Beatrice and Benedick big scene, Joss said, and I quote: "It was not until several screenings and several festivals in that I realized I had resurrected Fred and Wesley from Angel and given them a happy ending. In a weird way, the fact that this is all elegant black and white makes it feel like it is a little Fred and Wesley heaven. I don't mean to get all fanficky, but there's a reason why I throw these two actors together again and again."