Well. Um. This was apparently no contest.
Favorite Joss Whedon show?
Firefly got an astonishing 79% of the votes, killing the competition dead (and then jumping up and down on their collective corpses). An exceptionally distant second place goes to Buffy the Vampire Slayer, which at least managed to get votes. Dollhouse and Angel tied in last place with no votes at all.
While reading people’s comments on this poll (and elsewhere on the web), I was surprised by what sometimes struck me as a Firefly rules, Buffy drools sort of attitude. Though I might have picked Firefly if I’d had to choose—since I clearly didn’t have to break a tie, I didn’t agonize too much over the decision—I feel like Buffy doesn’t always get the credit it deserves. And, you know, that’s okay for this poll—I did say favorite show, not necessarily best—but I felt inspired to write a few (several) things about all the Joss Whedon shows.
Buffy The Vampire Slayer
I loved Buffy when it was on. Unfortunately, I didn’t have the WB. So, I watched episodes when I could on other people’s televisions and kept up with what was happening through five seasons before the show moved over to UPN. (It helped when FX finally started churning out massive reruns.) I watched all seven seasons of Buffy. And though I hated most of seventh season, I made it to the end . . . which is actually a big deal. I have dropped countless shows because of various problems that I’ve had with them, either with how they’ve spiraled downhill into Crazy Town or just refused to develop at all. (Ex: Glee, House, Heroes, The West Wing, Alias, Grey’s Anatomy, and easily the most painful loss of all, Supernatural.)
But Buffy was really something else, and I loved the hell out of that show. People say it went downhill after Season Three, but some of my very favorite episodes are in Season Four (examples: “Something Blue,” “Hush,” “Restless”). Seasons 5, 6, and 7 are my least favorite seasons—but it’s important to understand that some of the not-so-awesome episodes in those seasons are still ten times better than half of what’s on TV right now. (Well, except Season 7. I really hated Season 7. Though, to be fair, I haven’t given it a second chance yet.)
Buffy had a great cast, great dialogue, great soundtrack, great stories, great themes, great directing, etc, etc, etc. I sometimes actually forget how much I like Buffy until I go back and watch episodes on DVD. I’ll spend some time praising the shit out of Firefly too, but I don’t know that the gap between the two shows is nearly as large as some people are making it out to be, at least not for me.
I have considerably less to say about Angel because I still haven’t seen most of the show yet. I watched first season on DVD . . . and then kind of just stopped. Not because the show was bad—it was fine—but I didn’t love it the way I loved Buffy, and I had other shows I wanted to try out.
I have since been informed—multiple times—that Angel gets ridiculously better after the first season, and I do plan to watch the whole series at some point, despite already knowing a few things that happen in later seasons. It’s just probably not going to happen anytime soon. Cause I still have all these things I want to try out, and Angel is pretty middle of the road on that list.
The amazing thing about Firefly is how perfect it was from the very beginning. Most shows need time to grow into themselves. I mean, that’s natural. It totally makes sense. But Firefly came out the door at genius level, and it remains the most painful cancellation I’ve ever experienced. (Although Terriers is up there, and I still think that Dark Angel deserved a third season, despite a rocky second.)
The problem with comparing Buffy and Firefly is that Buffy lasted seven seasons and Firefly barely made one. It’s easy to say Firefly would have continued to be perfect, but there’s simply no way of knowing that. I’m not just talking about dragging out too long and losing focus, either. Sophomore slumps happen to some really great shows, and while I’d put Firefly back on the air today if I could, there’s just no way of really knowing what seven seasons of Buffy versus seven seasons of Firefly would be like. It’s easy to look at some of the later seasons of Buffy and go, Wow, those episodes aren’t anything special like “Out of Gas” or “Objects in Space” were, but Firefly didn’t face the challenge of developing characters and plot lines over multiple seasons, either.
To be clear, I really, really, REALLY adore Firefly. I just think that a straight comparison between it and a long-running show like Buffy is harder than it sounds.
Dollhouse was an exceptionally ambitious project. It was also, in my opinion, pretty flawed. Still worth watching, actually, but the show had some serious problems, and most of those problems centered around Eliza Dushku. She may be able to hold a lead in some other show, and I found her enjoyable enough as Faith, but Dollhouse demanded a very talented, very versatile lead actress . . . and Dushku just wasn’t it. Compared to the rest of her brilliant cast, she was more than just drowning; she was dragging the whole show down.
On the other hand, there were flashes of sheer brilliance in Dollhouse that made it worthwhile despite some glaring problems. It was nowhere near as perfect as Firefly, but it was challenging and interesting on multiple levels. I, unfortunately, never did see the last few episodes (socially challenged as I am, Fridays are still a busy night for me, and I didn’t have a DVR at that point) but I’ve accidentally stumbled over a few big spoilers that have proven to be kind of a mental block against the series. Clearly, I’ll finish it eventually . . . three episodes! three! . . . but I have a feeling that this one didn’t end on a note that I’d be happy with.
Okay, so. Those are my thoughts. Hmmm. Maybe I should create a television category for this blog, too : )