Monday, September 8, 2014

A Guide for the Joss Whedon Skeptic

I'm nearing the end of a Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel re-watch.  At the end of it, I'm going to write the definitive (DEFINITIVE, dammit) treatise on how the two series stack up.  But another topic first.

Sometimes, when I mention that I'm watching either of these shows, I'm met with a look kinda like this:

Because there are people out there who cannot get past the vampire thing and think that Buffy and Angel are just quippier Twilights.  We should have no patience for these people because evidence abounds as to the quality and cultural relevance of the Buffy.  But it might be we love them and need to guide them past their prejudices.

And so I've decided to write the definitive (DEFINITIVE!) guide to the Whedonverse for the skeptic.  Argue with me if you must... but, you know, I wrote down DEFINITIVE and I'm pretty sure that will hold up in a court of law.

The skeptic's foray into the Whedonverse begins with Dr. Horrible's Sing-along Blog.

Why? Because it's perfectly Whedonesque in that you are delighted and amused for the first 35 minutes of it - It's so clever!  Someone's writing for smart, sensitive people!  Oh my god, did Nathan Fillion just say "The hammer is my penis"? HAHAHAHA.  And then Whedon rips your heart out.  And then makes you doubt the reality of what he's just presented.  All in 42 minutes.  Plus, Neil Patrick Harris.

Piquing the Interest
Next up, we're gonna watch Cabin in the Woods.  

In this entry, our novitiate learns how Whedon can rapid-fire crack you up and then scare the shit out of you and then crack you up again.  Cabin in the Woods is pure, uncut Whedon.  And the person who rolls his eyes at Buffy will find nothing mockable in this movie.  He'll leave with interest piqued.  "Is Buffy really like this?" he asks.  And you'll nod sagely and then say "well, mostly.  You're not ready yet."  

Whedon 101
Our Whedon skeptic is still not ready for a series. There is prep work to be done.  He must be divested of his dearly held belief that the story of a tiny, blonde vampire slayers is inherently stupid. Let's show him what Joss did with the superhero genre and sit down with The Avengers.  

Sure, he's probably already seen it.  But now he's watching with eyes wide open.  Now he knows that there's really only one guy with the writing chops to make the line "Hulk Smash!" feel fresh.  

Whedon 201
Now it's time to break the heart of our new Whedon fan.  It's time to show him what happens when you love Joss Whedon.  It's time he knows about the heartbreak.  Its time for Firefly.

He'll go "Hey!  It's that guy from Barney Miller!" And he'll learn of the enviable hotness of Gina Torres and wonder why she isn't a huge star.  And he'll see Christina Hendricks and think "Of course, she's a huge star."  And then it'll be the end of one season and he'll be all "WTF?!  Fox canceled this show!  THERE IS NO JUSTICE IN THE UNIVERSE!"

Whedon 201, Part 2
What the hell, let's let him watch Serenity now.  One of the benefits of coming into this late is he can get resolution and remember that Joss Whedon is the only guy out there who can make a damn movie of his own beloved TV show and make it so EFFING GOOD!

Also, he'll probably do this:

You know why.

Whedon: Profiles in Buffy

And now he's ready for the big time.  We have stripped him of his skepticism.  He's ready to walk through the door that was the entryway to the Whedonverse for most of us.  And he's ready to internalize the message Joss has been sharing with us.

It's a journey you can take with him. You'll be there during Innocence and The Body.  You'll bitch about Riley together and bemoan Beer Bad (oh my god, that episode).  He'll be shocked at how good and how scary Hush is.  He'll be delighted at all the feels in Once More With Feeling. You can discuss Glory (personally, I'm a fan) and Dawn (she got more tolerable as it went on...).  And you can share in his likely disappointment in the finale.  It's a little disappointing, right?

Whedon: Profiles in Angel
To get past that disappointment, he'll dive into Angel posthaste.  

(I just watched this tonight and oh the lolz)
You can join him in Keritas and Pylea.  You can talk about how awesome season 1-3 Cordelia was and how awful season 4 Cordelia was.  He will have real opinions about Conner. And he'll be there at the finale because that, my friends, was a fucking finale - I wanna slay the dragon.

Whedon Graduate Studies
Oh, let's get cultured and watch Much Ado About Nothing.  Wes and Fred were always meant for each other....

Optional Studies: Whedon

Look, I watched Dollhouse.  It began too badly to make up for its course-corrected ending.  Also, let's face it: as an actress Eliza Dushku has a really great body.  

But, the ancillary performances are pretty fantastic.  I was especially blown away by this guy (another one on the Whedon "why aren't they bigger stars" list). But the show suffered from too much network influence and floundered too badly in the beginning to really recover.  But it's on Netflix if he's got a hankering...

Whedon Course Review

So what do you think?  Did I miss anything from my definitive (DEFINITIVE!) list?  Do you question the order?  Do you think Buffy and Angel should be watched in tandem?  You can argue all you want, but this is a DEFINITIVE list.

Also, Tony Soprano didn't die in that diner.