“Well look at me. I’m all fuzzy”, Or A Love Letter To Joss Whedon
I’ve wanted to write a post like this for a very long time, and in honor of the fabulous new Much Ado About Nothing, I’ve decided today’s the day. I have a hard time writing in an at all critical way towards a set of shows that – with the possible exception of Dollhouse, which I’m not going to go into here, but was both deeply awesome and too creepy for me – I have nothing but warm feelings towards. This is mostly just going to be a very long love letter.
I was very, very young when Buffy the Vampire Slayer went off the air. I watched literally zero TV, and my parents had friends who would schedule their weeks around new Buffy – and eventually Arrested Development – episodes, but in 2002, House hadn’t begun yet and my parents themselves watched almost exclusively cooking shows. While I do think Hugh Laurie is an extremely talented guy, this was not the greatest introduction to quality television ever.
Thankfully, very soon after I became interested in TV, I found a scrappy little web series, filmed in a week and starring such people as Neil Patrick Harris, Nathan Fillion, and Felicia Day. Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog was obviously very cheaply made, and didn’t have the greatest special effects ever, but to Slightly Younger Me, it was a revelation: here were a bunch of clearly very talented people (including Simon Helberg in a role that didn’t make me want to tear my hair out), most of whom I hadn’t ever seen. Maybe more importantly, they were acting to amazingly constructed dialogue, not to mention extremely catchy songs.
Very soon after that, my brother bought the family a Firefly DVD. This, too, was a revelation: I’d seen a few space westerns, but none had the kind of amazingly constructed dialogue that Firefly did, and nothing made me quite as sad as the death of Wash.
The logical next step into Whedon world was Buffy.
I was hesitant to invest too much time in this series, both because the summaries seemed to suggest Buffy was another cheerleader who fought vampires (and probably fell in love with one of them), and I was very, very over the Twilight phenomenon, and because the first few episodes, which I watched for free on Amazon Prime, had a ‘Monsters of the Week’ quality that I didn’t love.
Thankfully, I had a lot of free time that summer. I was already a big fan of Alyson Hannigan, and thanks to her and Spike, I made it to the first truly great episode – Angel – and fell in love. The rest of the series breezed by (I watched seasons 2 through 7 in a week and a half, which a bunch of extra time allotted to season 6, because my sobbing between episodes reached new heights). I fell in love with Whedon dialogue to an extent I hadn’t before, and I found amazing new actors to love. I decided first that Joss Whedon, as the mastermind behind Dopplegangland, Hush, and the Gift, was a god, and then, as season 6 slowly but surely killed any happy thoughts I could possibly have, that he hated humanity.
(Seriously, killing Tara? I don’t ‘ship’ almost anyone, but Tara and Willow were very, very special.)
I spent the rest of the summer intermittently criticizing my parents for not being into the show when it first aired, compiling various lists of my favorite episodes, and re-watching everything on those lists.
And you know what? It was totally worth it.
A new Whedon show premieres in September on ABC (Tuesdays at 8 PM). I wish I was as confident of its chances of lasting past a season as I am of its ability to bring the awesome. But no matter how long it lasts, or if it’s not as good as Buffy – because really, few things are – I’m looking forward to it.