Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Whedon Makes Headlines

A well deserved nomination for Buffy Season 8 has been announced for the 20th Annual GLAAD-Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation-Media Awards. The event will be held on May 9, 2009 in San Francisco.

The nominations for Outstanding Comic Book alongside Buffy are:

Buffy the Vampire Slayer by Drew Goddard, Jeph Loeb and Joss Whedon (Dark Horse Comics)
The Alcoholic by Jonathan Ames (Vertigo/DC Comics)
Final Crisis: Revelations by Greg Rucka (DC Comics)
Secret Six by Gail Simone (DC Comics)
Young Avengers Presents by Ed Brubaker, Brian Reed, Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa, Paul Cornell, Kevin Grevioux and Matt Fraction (Marvel Comics)

Of course, the nomination is undoubtedly for the portrayal of Buffy's "experimenting" in issue 12 of Buffy Season 8-the plot-point-that-must-not-be-discussed (at least it was in June during Slayage). When it came out, the New York Times even wrote about the "episode" and interviewed Whedon regarding the encounter and other issues of cultural resonance. That article here.

If Buffy didn't always get the broad recognition it deserved while it was on television, audiences and critics seem to be warming to its influence and cultural significance, even if some of them are approximately half a decade late. Thankfully, Buffy's back in the comics and in the media in general as Dollhouse marketing does its thing, always accompanied in promos with the inter-title "From Joss Whedon, Creator of Buffy The Vampire Slayer."

The question that many people are asking is "will Dollhouse be good?" when really they should ask themselves, "when has Whedon not been good?" I would say the positives far outweigh the negatives-including the so-bad-it's-good, "I Robot...You, Jane." A Toronto Correspondent for A'n'E Vibe suggests that "Perhaps Whedon’s problem is that he’s too ahead of the cultural time," and that "His ideas are too vast, too wide-reaching, and too complex for the normal hour-long slots allotted to him." Are general audiences that resistant to the kind of content he provides or is it just an example of not enough good programming and people settling for "simpler" content?

When I was picking up the latest issue of Angel: After The Fall at the comic book shop the other day, the storekeeper asked me if I was excited about Dollhouse. I paused at first because no one had really asked me that just yet and my experience with Buffy, Angel and Firefly have almost exclusively been post-airing. I said, "yes" followed by "I hope it is good!" Then she asked, "Well, when has he ever let us down?" and I completely agree.

There's so much riding on the intitial reactions for Dollhouse and it's a lot to live up to. It's like the anticipation leading up to the Obama administration-ushering in a "New Era" for the United States of America. There is an expectation that this is the new "Whedon Era" while audiences and studios seem to possess shorter attention spans than ever before. Pressure, much? Whedon and FOX assure their viewers that putting Dollhouse in a Friday night time slot paired with Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles-of which Whedon says he is a devoted fan-allows Dollhouse the appropriate environment in which to germinate. I absolutely want Dollhouse to be great. And it is certainly not my faith in Whedon that is shaken, but my faith in how the modern entertainment landscape is one filled with those quick to judge and eager for the "next great thing." Whedon can take all the time he needs with my shows and really, when has that actually taken so long anyway?

My friend Kj made a great point about the evolution of Buffy saying:

i just re-watched the first two buffy episodes on Hulu while spell checking and am surprised to see how it actually feels like the same show. in my mind the first two seasons were so different from what it eventually became.

How true-we liked Buffy in the beginning and we liked Buffy at the end-but it was no doubt different to some extent. Whedon's shows always build and expound upon themselves, if given the time and freedom, and the joy in watching them is how plot and ideas are revealed, not to mention the masterful character arcs. Whedon has a way of fine-tuning all the elements of a "good" television show and making them work well and together.

Whedon's in control of Dollhouse-and he is perhaps more in control in this show than in any previous television series he has been involved with. The exception to that may be Dr. Horrible, but that's somewhat of a different ball game. It's not hard to trust Whedon after the multitude of relevant narratives he has helped create, whether they have been recognized on a large scale like the Emmys, GLAAD Awards or not.

Come February 13th and every Friday after that, I will be watching what I expect to be an example of fantastic television artistry, Dollhouse.


Kj said...

is there info about if/where episodes will be streamed online?

Ian said...

It looks like the episodes will be available via the official FOX website as are their other shows: www.fox.com/dollhouse and Hulu has a strong listing of FOX programming too so I would think that will be an option as well.