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Old November 5 2008, 09:15 PM   #136
FordSVT
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Re: Dollhouse in Trouble?

So Joss is a screen writing God of some kind and Fox execs are retarded. Time after time they apparently buy a product from Josh that turns out to go in a different direction that what they thought at first, and they (not his writing or production) are ultimately responsible for all of his failures. Everyone would love Joss and he'd make a billion dollars and have the highest ranked show on TV if Fox would just let people give him a chance.

Why am I supposed to automatically assume that it's Fox's problem? Because he said so in a commentary? Perhaps Whedon misrepresents himself or his work at times or can't deliver what hepromises? Perhaps he's a bit naive and doesn't really understand the business side of television very well even after all these years?

If Fox is so stupid and shitty and Joss so smart and great, why aren't other networks lining up to get him? Why does he keep working for a company that keeps "fucking him over"? To 100% believe Whedon is pretty unrealistic, I don't believe 100% of much of anything anyone says. There is always a middle truth.
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Old November 5 2008, 09:33 PM   #137
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Re: Dollhouse in Trouble?

I don't think anyone's taking that extreme a view......

What I got from his statement was: Joss had an idea. Fox had a different idea. Once the discrepancy was discovered---far earlier and thus more correctably than it was with Firefly---Joss set to work bringing his product more in line with what Fox wanted, because hey, better to tell a variation on your intended story than not to tell it at all. He never said the new direction was inferior or more simplistic, merely different.

Of course, as any writer could tell you, approaching an idea from a previously unconsidered direction often opens up story options you never would have considered otherwise. So it's certainly not a bad thing, especially this early in the process. It's simply inconvenient and expensive.
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Old November 6 2008, 12:03 AM   #138
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Re: Dollhouse in Trouble?

Lindley wrote: View Post
I don't think anyone's taking that extreme a view......

What I got from his statement was: Joss had an idea. Fox had a different idea. Once the discrepancy was discovered---far earlier and thus more correctably than it was with Firefly---Joss set to work bringing his product more in line with what Fox wanted, because hey, better to tell a variation on your intended story than not to tell it at all. He never said the new direction was inferior or more simplistic, merely different.

Of course, as any writer could tell you, approaching an idea from a previously unconsidered direction often opens up story options you never would have considered otherwise. So it's certainly not a bad thing, especially this early in the process. It's simply inconvenient and expensive.
Exactly. And I'd say that the reason a lot of people side with Joss, which seems to bug people for some reason, is because he is a writer who has made television programmes that people like. People like them a lot - that is fact. The Fox people are executives who probably have a pretty good idea what makes money and what doesn't, but they aren't creative people.

Now, I know the argument that always gets used in these discussions is "Well, it is a business, so they have a point." They do, from a business point of view, but only from that. In a perfect world ratings wouldn't matter and people who enjoy Joss's writing, undiluted, wouldn't have to give a toss how many people watch his shows, as long as they still could.

The execs might be right this time, and Joss doesn't seem too bothered either way, but it certainly seems reasonable and natural for people who already enjoy his writing to side with the guy who's idea the show was rather than the people who come along later and try to make money with it.
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Old November 6 2008, 12:31 AM   #139
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Re: Dollhouse in Trouble?

It's natural, but certainly not objective when discussing the reality of why or why not a show would be changed or cancelled.

I'd point out that even the most popular of Whedon's shows never garnered more than a few million viewers, barely registering in the Nielson ratings. Decent for a WB show or something, but hardly a widespread fan base.

I've got no problems with people who enjoy his work or wish he would have a better chance to create what they want him to, but this argument reminds me of one I have with people about why the last generation of Chevy Camaro was discontinued. Never tell a Camaro lover why they cancelled it, they won't believe anything you tell them. The fit and finish, the ride position, the poor visibility and ingress/egress, the redneck stereotype, the more everyday friendliness of the Mustang. None of it is true from their POV, and therefore everyone else just "doesn't get it" and they'll get irate if you try to tell them different. People who like Whedon tend to be the same, everyone else doesn't "get it", and the only things stopping the entire world from loving everything he does just as much as they do is some cryptic shit about him not being "given a chance". He's had his chance, just as much as anyone else has had their chance, even moreso. He just doesn't seem to produce, and if this latest project falls through he'll probably be writing comics and touching up other people's screenplays for the rest of his life.
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Old November 6 2008, 01:16 AM   #140
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Re: Dollhouse in Trouble?

Well, I see your point about ratings, and to be honest its kind of a shame isn't it? I mean, I know you don't like his writing, that's fair enough, not everyone will, sadly, but the problem comes down to when people say that his stuff doesn't get the ratings because its crap, which is, to be honest, a stupid argument.

I won't say "you don't get it" because most of the people who post here but don't like Whedon probably do "get it" but just don't like that kind of writing, and you know, fair enough, we don't have the same tastes.

His fans get cross when people cite audience figures as a way to belittle something they didn't like. "Ha, no-one watched Firefly so it was rubbish." Well, no, it wasn't, you'll find thousands of people, some of them quite well-versed in television criticism who'll disagree, but because it got low audience figures its clearly shit. Now, considering we're on a board celebrating a show that limped along in the ratings and was considered a failure when it was cancelled doesn't that seem like a strange double standard?

Essentially, all I'm saying is, maybe Whedon's stuff really is too niche for a big network like Fox, not enough people like it, not enough ever will, I'm willing to accept that, but don't cite its comparative failure with the public as a measure of its quality.
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Old November 6 2008, 01:35 AM   #141
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Re: Dollhouse in Trouble?

On that we agree, ratings are not directly correlated to "quality", just as product sales figures do not indicate the best product. And what is "best" is going to be different on an individual basis.

I've never said (and I know you weren't pointing at me) that his shows are crap because they have bad ratings, only that his programs don't appeal to the relatively broad audience necessary to keep a show on a major network, and in that case ratings are definitely relevant to the conversation. He's a geek with certain sensibilities that appeals to a narrow audience of devoted fans. I just wish they'd realize that instead of calling everyone else tasteless. And believe me, if you've run across a Browncoat on this board you've tasted that. Especially when Serenity hit theatres, that entire year was pretty bad. To say something bad about Whedon or any of his shows in the Sci-Fi forum was to invite the wrath of about a dozen posters, many of whom would skirt the line of warnable offences to give you their opinion of your opinion.

"Post #827 about why the world is stupid and Fox is stupid for Serenity's failure", and "Ten reasons I can rationalize that Serenity was not a BO flop and there will be a sequel". Many of these conversations always led back to why the mainstream audience doesn't seem to love his work, and it's never about him, it's always about extraneous factors in some minds; that's what I was talking about.

See Lindley's response in this current thread for a mild example of the "you obviously didn't get it but I'm sure if you watched it again with the right frame of mind you would" attitude. Not that Lindley was being hostile about it, he/she wasn't.
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Old November 6 2008, 02:11 AM   #142
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Re: Dollhouse in Trouble?

Cap.T wrote: View Post
Whedon gives an update on Dollhouse:
http://whedonesque.com/comments/17945

Among the things he mentions:

  • The original pilot won't see the light of day
  • The character November has been dropped but the actress is playing a different part
  • Steven DeKnight wrote and directed an episode that "saved the shows ass" and departed Dollhouse after that because his consulting stint was over
  • As of Monday Jane Espenson will work on the show
  • It sounds like Whedon was ready to throw in the towel at one point, at least some parts of his post read like that
Woo hoo! Jane Espenson (she of so many awesome Buffy episodes)? Steven S. DeKnight (ditto), albeit in his case only for one episode ?

This should be a winner. I always love Joss' shows, and have enjoyed every one to date. I just pray Fox's interference doesn't mess up the quality of Dollhouse.
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Old November 6 2008, 02:14 AM   #143
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Re: Dollhouse in Trouble?

I'll say it again: "Futurama" got it right when the Professor called them:

"The new morons at FOX."

And Joss is just sitting it there, making excuses over the changes the newtwork ordered and taking it. I hope he doesn't like his idea and characters too much.
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Old November 6 2008, 02:31 AM   #144
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Re: Dollhouse in Trouble?

FordSVT wrote: View Post
And believe me, if you've run across a Browncoat on this board you've tasted that. Especially when Serenity hit theatres, that entire year was pretty bad. To say something bad about Whedon or any of his shows in the Sci-Fi forum was to invite the wrath of about a dozen posters, many of whom would skirt the line of warnable offences to give you their opinion of your opinion.
The more hostile responses tended to come from the anti-Serenity crowd, really. The fans were merely enthusiastic, not really hostile. Things did heat up a bit on both sides towards the end, but it was a mutual escalation. Unfortunate if a few folks not part of the build-up got caught in the crossfire.

Frankly, that entire episode never made much sense to me. Everyone overreacted rather strongly on both sides.

My theory: In a time when TV was fairly dull and Enterprise was a disappointment, Firefly provided a perfect storm----made all the more powerful by the combination of its own "underdog" message and its quick cancellation. There was something to point to, to say simultaneously "this is what's been missing", and when it was ended, "This is what's wrong with TV." Everyone knows there's something wrong with TV, but rarely has so obvious a rallying point presented itself.

And the backlash? Well, I suppose it might have been just those who hadn't yet figured out there was a problem at all (or even liked Enterprise!), telling the neighbors to keep their campaign down to a dull roar. Plus a few trolls who fed on the misfortune of others.

See Lindley's response in this current thread for a mild example of the "you obviously didn't get it but I'm sure if you watched it again with the right frame of mind you would" attitude. Not that Lindley was being hostile about it, he/she wasn't.
He.

And if we say that, it's only because we believe it to be true. Since it's impossible to disprove and it is possible to gather supporting evidence, I see no harm in the belief.

Those who drop Babylon 5 after 3 episodes have no clue of the depth and extent of the eventual tale, and possibly never will. Those who dismiss DS9 for "never going anywhere" are likewise unknowingly gypped. It's the same thing, really: The story is there, and the story is strong, and the characters are fun and constantly changing. What's not to like?

A lot of times I can identify reasons why someone might not embrace a story or show. Things about it that could be off-putting. Certainly the whole "vampire" thing deflected my interest in B/A for years, and there are other aspects that fit this category: the low budget in season 1 primary among them.

And they're all irrelevant in the grand scope. I see these tiny little objectionable things, and they're just so insignificant against the greater scope of what the shows do right......how can I believe other than I do regarding their "if only" appeal?

For instance, Firefly's sense of scope never made sense. Hundreds of terraformable bodies and no FTL? But that's irrelevant next to the things it did right. The dust and horses thing? Certainly hard to get used to, but once you do, it's the signature look. I could go on.

The only substantive reason I've ever heard for disliking Whedon's work is that some find his dialog grating. I'm not sure why; it's fairly normal 90% of the time. But that other 10% does crop up just enough that it could qualify as a problem to someone who didn't like it.
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Old November 6 2008, 10:34 AM   #145
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Re: Dollhouse in Trouble?

Lindley wrote: View Post
A lot of times I can identify reasons why someone might not embrace a story or show. Things about it that could be off-putting. Certainly the whole "vampire" thing deflected my interest in B/A for years, and there are other aspects that fit this category: the low budget in season 1 primary among them.

And they're all irrelevant in the grand scope. I see these tiny little objectionable things, and they're just so insignificant against the greater scope of what the shows do right......how can I believe other than I do regarding their "if only" appeal?

For instance, Firefly's sense of scope never made sense. Hundreds of terraformable bodies and no FTL? But that's irrelevant next to the things it did right. The dust and horses thing? Certainly hard to get used to, but once you do, it's the signature look. I could go on.

The only substantive reason I've ever heard for disliking Whedon's work is that some find his dialog grating. I'm not sure why; it's fairly normal 90% of the time. But that other 10% does crop up just enough that it could qualify as a problem to someone who didn't like it.
That's a similar experience to mine. When Buffy began on the BBC the promos made it look like a moronic children's show and, being of that age were children's programmes were of next to no interest to me (11, or maybe 12 ) I didn't tune in until mid the second season, when, to my surprise, it turned out to be something else entirely. I'm not big into the whole vampire thing and probably never will be, in fact, I'm not usually a fan of Buffy's more vampire-centric episodes, so I rate Season 2 a little lower than most people do, and I heartily applauded how pathetic and weak your average vampire became by the end of the show.

Firefly's idea appealed from the get-go but it never got an airing over here and I finally decided to pick up the DVDs only a couple of months before Serenity premiered, which was one of the happiest coincidences you can imagine, given how much I found I liked the show.

As for the dialogue thing, I love it. I especially love Firefly's dialogue with its strange faux-historical syntax. It takes some getting used to, but it becomes almost lyrical, and the barbs are genuinely funny. As for Buffy and Angel well, I'm British, how do I know what American teenagers speak like? But if I they speak like that, I'm all for it. There probably is an argument that Whedon's dialogue is, on occasion, too clever by half, and it certainly stands out amidst the staginess and formality of say, Star Trek, but I've always found it to be a lot of fun.

I was only around for the tailing off of the Serenity thing, but as far as I could see, the assessment that there were fanatics on both sides seems accurate. I've definitely seen enough "no-one watched Firefly and then no-one saw Serenity so they suck and always have done and so does Whedon and therefore retroactively Buffy and Angel and everything you've ever loved and you're too stupid to admit it" posts but there are also too many of the "you just don't get it" type as well. Probably that happened a lot because this stuff doesn't have its own forum, so the discussions happen here, and people who don't like it get irritated by the flood of threads about it when it lands. I mean, I don't like Stargate, so I avoid the Stargate forum, because its bound to be full of threads I disagree with.

The problem is, while there are Whedon fans, there will always be Whedon bashers, and unfortunately, because his endeavours seem to be hitting snags lately, the bashers tend to feel the need to express themselves, and his fans become defensive, probably irrationally so.

Perhaps the best thing to do would be to hope that Dollhouse is a success that lots of people (maybe even people that haven't liked his work before) can enjoy and not to judge it based on things that Whedon has rambled about on his blog or interpretations of his past work that aren't really born out by reality. (After all, how can you judge if dramatic events have enough buildup if you don't like the show enough to watch said buildup?)

Christ, I've written a novel. Sorry for rambling so much. Erm.... Go Dollhouse!

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Old November 6 2008, 10:42 AM   #146
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Re: Dollhouse in Trouble?

^Actully Firefly did air over here, but it was on the Sci-Fi Channel. But I agree with pretty much everything else you said.
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Old November 6 2008, 10:51 AM   #147
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Re: Dollhouse in Trouble?

Bob The Skutter wrote: View Post
^Actully Firefly did air over here, but it was on the Sci-Fi Channel. But I agree with pretty much everything else you said.
Oh yeah, I just had freeview at the time (still do). I didn't realise it had airred before Serenity came out.
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Old November 6 2008, 10:59 AM   #148
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Re: Dollhouse in Trouble?

Bishbot wrote: View Post
Bob The Skutter wrote: View Post
^Actully Firefly did air over here, but it was on the Sci-Fi Channel. But I agree with pretty much everything else you said.
Oh yeah, I just had freeview at the time (still do). I didn't realise it had airred before Serenity came out.
Yeah, they aired it loads, I seem to remember they did a few marathons of it too, including the weekend Serenity was released. I believe it was one of their first shows to draw ratings as high as the movies at 10.
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Old November 6 2008, 03:32 PM   #149
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Re: Dollhouse in Trouble?

Bishbot wrote: View Post
As for the dialogue thing, I love it. I especially love Firefly's dialogue with its strange faux-historical syntax. It takes some getting used to, but it becomes almost lyrical, and the barbs are genuinely funny.
"Lyrical" is a good description of Firefly's dialog. It's like poetry spoken straight sometimes....and yet it works.

As for Buffy and Angel well, I'm British, how do I know what American teenagers speak like? But if I they speak like that, I'm all for it.
The notion that the dialog on Buffy and Angel is "teen-speak" is a common misconception, especially among those who haven't seen much. First off, Angel isn't a teen show. Second, Buffy only tried to use "real teen language" once---in the pilot. The scene in question is the most dated thing ever, and I'm glad they dropped that straight off.
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Old November 6 2008, 10:38 PM   #150
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Re: Dollhouse in Trouble?

At the end of the day, there are some people you're just not going to be able to sell on Whedon's stuff--people have differing tastes. And this is coming from a die-hard Whedon fan who thinks his shows are the most compelling and involving out there. Whedon is a genius in my book; at the same time, I understand not everyone thinks that way and his shows don't necessarily appeal to all viewers. Fair enough.

As for Dollhouse, Whedon doesn't really have a choice but to find a way to work with FOX. You can't avoid the network, period. I'm looking forward to the show, and will go into it with the same open mind I did going into Firefly: it's something completely different from a writer whose work I love.
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