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I won't be watching it again soon, anyhow.

Look, let's just get this out of the way, shall we? I'm not that fond of Joss Whedon. I don't know if it's still cult-chic to LOVE his work, or if it's too mainstream for any self-respecting nerd to like anymore, or whether it's gone full circle to rediscovering his GENIUS now that everyone's panning him. I don't know where we are on the popularometer, but I don't really care that much.

The man makes me uncomfortable, partly because he can't settle his level of clever. He's too fixated on a few themes, and too determined to be Insightful and Iconoclastic, to be really brilliant, and yet he can craft some truly engaging characters. I can't quite leave him in the "seen there, done that" basket, but I can't get on the cheer wagon either. So he just sort of lurks around the background of my viewing habits, surfacing every now and then, to make me go "... huh". And then go find something else to watch. Except there are always those parts of his shows that you wish he'd spent a bit more time on, damn it, and stop feeding the Little Miss Special plot over and over again.

Case in point: I just finished watching the second season of Dollhouse. I've been sketching, and I wanted something on in the background, and the whole lot was on Netflix. I think I must have finished watching the series before, because nothing was really that new to me, but I think last time I was too sick of Whedon to be paying that much attention to what I was watching. Just, "Check, check, check, check, that's completely nonsensical, check, check, oh she's being special again is she you don't say, check, check, check...." Although I don't know if I'd actually ever seen Epitaph One before. I tell you what, Epitaph Two makes slightly more sense once you've seen One.

And, yes, I am tired of the LMS story. We get it, Whedon, there's a special girl who's the specialist special who ever specialled. Thank you. But on the upside, he manages to find some really good music, or at least find someone who finds some really good music, for his shows. Dollhouse, for all it's sad overcomplexity, is no exception. I don't know what he would have done if he'd had more seasons to explore the many different threads he was setting up, whether he would have drawn them all together masterfully or whether they would have just multiplied out of control (my money's on the latter), but it really was something of a hot mess. However, Whedon's strength is the emotional ride of his story. He lands that pretty much every time (despite the corny), and the music he uses has a lot to do with that. Visuals, too, although his love affair with slo-mo kind of makes me uncomfortable. What the man really needs is to be a music video director. That way he'd stop getting lost in his own cerebrum when he tries to tell a story.

Upside: each series he seems to get better at nuanced secondary characters. You can track the evolution, actually. And Dollhouse gives us Topher, Adelle, Sierra and Victor (hooray, a Whedon couple who made it!), Dominic (who was awesome), Zone from the Epitaph episodes (well, okay, I just really like him) – and Alpha. DearsweetAlanTudyk, ALPHA. It is wrong to find a psychotic multiple identity construct so thoroughly, wickedly and adorably delightful, I know this, but so help me, I do. And it wasn't just because of the way he just switched on Paul, when breaking into the House, and because Paul was kind of endlessly jaw-clenchingly irritating. (I mean him with the jaw-clenching, not me. I'm more eye-glazy.)

I guess one-note noble-and-earnest doesn't do that much for me. Obviously I prefer my men violently unstable, hyper-competent and character-arc-y. The redemption arc was a nice bonus, although I suspect it may have been done for the "They'll never expect this!" astonishment value which Whedon loves so much, and which he threw in at every conceivable point of the series. It worked beautifully for the character, though, so I'll give him that one. Although hey while we're on it, Whedon, why on earth do you think Echo is the interesting composite? Because she built herself without going crazy because there's something Special (special special special!) about her physiology? Hey, how about we spend just a little time with the one who it DID drive crazy, who swan-dove off the cliff of sanity and somehow pulled a functioning human being out of the mess with absolutely no genetic advantage? Because that's INTERESTING, DAMNIT.

But what really compelled me to write this post was that with all the tangled, meandering meh-ness of the second season limping toward a hasty denouement, Epitaph Two nailed me. I was crying by the end. I think it was largely Topher, Adelle and Alpha's doing, but still. And that annoyed me, that he could make such a mess of a set of tv episodes and then pull a coda like that out of his butt. Although that is one of his strengths. Say what you like about the man, he can wrangle a damn good ending.


ALSO! I updated the last of the answers to the quote meme; the answers no one got are italicised.

Comments

( 10 speakses — have a speak )
fannishliss
Feb. 20th, 2011 01:43 pm (UTC)
NOW YOU MADE ME WANT TO WATCH IT. DARN YOU.

DARRRNNNNN YOUUUUUUU!!!!
themonkeytwin
Feb. 20th, 2011 07:18 pm (UTC)
Heh, enjoy. I hope. :) The first season is pretty straightforward; the second goes all squirrelly. But they're probably worth a once-through. Just ... when will people learn, more Alan Tudyk is ALWAYS a good thing? HAVE MORE ALAN TUDYK!!!!

... I need an Alan Tudyk icon. :(
fannishliss
Feb. 21st, 2011 12:52 am (UTC)
.... the right side of Brad Pitt's face is a dead ringer for the right side of my husband's face. It is freaky.

I bear abs. no resemblance to Angelina. Except that my braid is long like Tomb Raider. :P


.. btw I am no Whedonite. We liked Buffy for a long time, that is, until they killed off Tara and permanently alienated my husband. then later, I practically memorized Firefly. i love me some space cowboys. mmm. Jayne. :P

We watched s1 of Dollhouse and thought it was okay.
themonkeytwin
Feb. 21st, 2011 03:36 am (UTC)
... o.O

Mmmm, Jayne. :) Definitely Whedon's strongest work, I think. Space westerns are always fun, and the Jayne factor certainly didn't hurt!

S2 really changes gear, and kind of explodes. It IS interesting. But the two Epitaphs are probably the best part of the lot, in the end.

Lookit, Tudyk icons :)
jaydeyn_sitari
Feb. 21st, 2011 01:46 am (UTC)

Yeah. I love Joss' stuff except for Dollhouse. I found it pretty meh. Wasn't terribly interested to begin with and it petered out over time. I liked November though. I still haven't seen Epitaph One and beyond. Hm.

:/
Jaydeyn
themonkeytwin
Feb. 21st, 2011 03:39 am (UTC)
If you get a chance, I do actually recommend the Epitaphs. I fell in love with Adelle all over again in them. Do you mind a spoiler comment or two?
jaydeyn_sitari
Feb. 21st, 2011 04:18 am (UTC)

Not at all. I'm only spoilerphobic about stuff I'm fannish about and even then... well, big plot twists would thoroughly annoy me but that's it. Not with this though.

(Also, ALANTUDYKMUSTBEINEVERYTHING. YES).

:)
Jaydeyn
themonkeytwin
Feb. 21st, 2011 05:44 am (UTC)
Gasp! Sooty and Friends! Okay, there NEEDS to be a crossover with, like, Wash or somebody. Rightnow. Yesterday.

Yeah, the Epitaphs are a post-apocalyptic double episode feature set ten years in the future. The corporation succeeded in making the tech they were aiming for, and it's all chaosy and stuff. Not Reavers ("butchers", this time), but still mindless attacking peoples. Whedon definitely has a Type. (Speaking of, I liked November fine, but always had a Tara 2.0 vibe about her, so I didn't warm to her as much. I liked Tara, but.... *shrug*)

Anyhow, it follows a small group of survivors who discover the abandoned LA House (and thus discover that's where it "all started") and subsequently hook up with the gang, who are trying to piece things (and kind of themselves) together and find a way to fix it all. Topher's a shattered mess, Adelle is so tender and compassionate and still tough as nails, and Alpha turns up ... it really is pretty cool. And stays on-point and fairly actiony, rather than getting all distracted and philosophical, a major bonus. I mean, it's still anvilicious as hell, but still good. And kind of wraps everything up. So ... yeah, if you get a chance.

Edited at 2011-02-21 05:44 am (UTC)
jaydeyn_sitari
Feb. 21st, 2011 09:05 am (UTC)

Nostalgia!!

I got desensitised to the reuse of types when reading David Eddings in my teens. So, I don't mind that he uses the same types but when there's no... spark in the characters for me... I mean: Echo, beyond being Eliza Dushku, was just not my lead. Buffy was totally my lead. Cordelia. River/Kaylee/Zoe/Inara. I loved them all, but Echo... I wanted to get her out of that hellhole but that's as far as my engagement went.

He got better at the secondary characters sure, but really, Sierra was the only one that I wanted to see through. I just... hated how complicit they all were with sexual slavery. Oddly enough, a real turn off. There is absolutely no excuse. None. Not a temporal one (hence being able to deal with Deadwood for example) nor a cultural one. I love the exploration of identity but either way it's corporate rape. Just... can't get behind it.

I like post-apocalyptic and moar Alan Tudyk is SO on, but yeah. I'll find the Epitaphs but I don't think I can stick out another whole season. Leaves a really bad taste in my mouth.

:)
Jaydeyn
themonkeytwin
Feb. 22nd, 2011 01:04 am (UTC)
Ohhhh, you haven't seen Season 2. Well ... okay, that makes quite a bit of difference. Echo becomes a composite and the wipes don't work on her any more (because she's Special), and she can handle it (Special), although there are headaches for a bit. The Rossum corp uses its best technicians (ie, all its Tophers ETA: that is, it's Topher-type people, not copies of him; with this show, I need to remember that's an important distinction) to create tech that can remote-wipe and imprint ANYONE. Which is Bad, and must be Stopped.

Paul becomes Echo's handler; Alpha turns up and fries his brain and takes Paul's imprint, and imprints himself with it cos it totally makes sense at the time cos he's a psycho multiple person with a crush and Echo was gonna kill him but he gets away. So Topher saves Paul by putting the doll architecture in his head and imprinting him with himself BUT WITHOUT HIS CONNECTION WITH ECHO GASP OH TEH ANGST.

Adelle loses control of her House and becomes a completely amoral bitch, willing to sacrifice anyone in order to get it back. After Paul gets brain-dead but before Topher restores him, Adelle sends Echo, Victor and Sierra to the Attic, where Dominic finds Echo and explains that he's hunting "Arcane", a creature that runs around killing people in the Attic. This is quite apart from the fact that everyone in the Attic continually experiences their worst nightmare scenario. It turns out that Arcane and Dominic have found ways to hop from one brain to another, that everyone's hooked into the one mainframe, and Echo comes for the ride, collects Victor and Sierra, and they corner Arcane. Who turns out to be one of the two original founders of the Rossum corp, Clyde, sent to the Attic because of some reason (one big hot mess, I'm telling you). He doesn't remember who his partner was, because they erased the memory – but it turns out that ONE person has seen and can ID this Big Bad ... Caroline! Gasp!

Then it turns out Clyde's trying to kill everyone because he's trying to take down the mainframe, which IS everyone. They are using the fear-adrenaline soaked brains of everyone in the Attic as supercomputer processors. (...) Echo figures out how to get out (Special), and she and Victor and Sierra get out, while the others stay behind. Then it turns out that this has all been set up by Adelle in order to figure out how to take down Rossum, and we're all set for the final run.

AND THEN it turns out that the Big Bad in charge of Rossum is ... Boyd! (Not a joke. Sadly.) And they go and destroy something-or-other so Rossum can't go do the wipe-out-humanity's-brains eeeeevil plan. And kill Boyd. Hooray.

(AND there were other subplots in there, too. I swear – thirteen episodes is NOT ENOUGH FOR THIS, WHEDON.)

... But ten years later: post-wipe-apocalypse....

... Did I mention HOT MESS?

Oooother than that, yeah, I agree with you about the human trafficking issue, although I also accept that the show made it clear that it was ALWAYS a morally dark grey area. That they danced around it and tried to distract us with the shiny, well ... I guess that wasn't the eeeevil they were concerned with, as much as the whole issue of making someone lose who they are, and the question of identity and freedom, which certainly seems more Whedon's bugbear than prostitution or trafficking specifically.

I don't find it odd at all that it was a real turn off!

Edited at 2011-02-22 01:06 am (UTC)
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