Why I Like Joss Whedon

Before I had even heard Whedon's name, I was cruising through the paper when I ran across a Buffy The Vampire Slayer entry which didn't have the shading that meant "movie"

"A series?" I thought. "The movie was a lot of fun but how are they going to sustain a whole series?"

I checked it out. It was the episode with the hyenas and I was hooked. It was funny, creepy and smart. I also assumed it was doomed because "funny" and "smart" are usually death sentences for a TV show (see Greg The Bunny). I watched Buffy every week and at the end of many episodes I would reply to the "next week on" teaser with the statement, "Well, this is it. The show has jumped the shark." But I would tune in the following week to see that Joss had managed to take an idea that was stupid on its face and make it work.

This is because Joss Whedon has seen all of the same TV shows and movies that we have and he has been annoyed by the clichés and cookie-cutter plots as much as we have. The good news is that he's a good enough writer to do something about it.

Which brings me to Firefly which I like much more than Buffy and cosmically more than Angel.

The first episode of Firefly I saw was The Train Job. Mal, is facing down a thug who works for a crime boss that the main characters have just angered. Mal offers him a deal and the thug responds with the usual, "We will hunt you down. We will dog your steps. Everywhere you go we'll be one step behind" stuff. Mal nods and kicks the guy into the starship engine. The other thugs are much more agreeable after seeing that.

Talk. About. Hooked.

The main character on a TV show just did something that my brain had been screaming for other TV characters to do. He did something ruthless and smart. I'm not saying I want more death on TV. What I'm saying is I want fewer discussions of the "why didn't he just shoot the guy" variety to be necessary. I want clearly-defined characters with internal consistency. Kicking that guy into the engine told me that this show was different. This show was for me. It also, correctly this time, told me that this show was doomed.

Serenity comes out on my birthday. Even if there are no more Firefly-related movies or shows, I'll get to see some of my favorite characters on the big screen.

And Joss will keep writing stuff.

And maybe I will, too.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

For more Joss fun, check out Astonishing X-men. Definitely one of my fave comic series. I, too, really miss firefly and loved serenity. There's also some "comic fixes" you can get for those: serenity, better days, and a movie prequel.