Dollhouse

November 10, 2008

I have high hopes for Joss Whedon‘s new series.

Despite being on Fox, the network that hunted down and destroyed Firefly (for which I’ll not easily forgive them), Joss has gone back to them with his new show – I like to think of it as Joe 90 meets Alias.

Eliza Dushku, Faith in Buffy: The Vampire Slayer, gets to play a secret agent type whose mind is wiped after each mission. I always did say debriefings go so much better when you’re the sole survivor and frankly if you can remove even your own jaded history it’s that much smoother again.

But then came the news that Fox had decided it didn’t really like the pilot episode (oh-oh) and that a new one would be needed (deja vu all over again).

Finally we get to see a trailer:

and in true Fox tradition, they immediately announce the show will air not on the Monday night slot it originally promised (where people would actually see it) but on the Friday night Death to the Show we Don’t Understand slot.

The full list of DTTSWDU precedents is found here:

The Adventures of Brisco County Jr. (1993)
MANTIS (1994)
Strange Luck (1995)
VR.5 (1995)
Sliders (1996)
Millennium (1996)
The Visitor (1997)
Harsh Realm (1999)
Freakylinks (2000)
Dark Angel (2000)
The Lone Gunmen (2001)
John Doe (2003)
Firefly (2003) (hattip: Ain’t It Cool).

In fact, the only show to do well in that slot was the X-Files and that was a hundred years ago.

So, good luck to you Joss. I’ll watch the show. I might even love the show. But I won’t expect to see a second series and I imagine I’ll be watching most of it on DVD.

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See, a little bit of faith and The Swede delivers.

Still not sure, but now I’m not sure as in “WTF is going on?” which is generally how I like my entertainment.

Can you see the pitch in the limo with the Fox exec though?

JS: Got a new show for you.
FF (Fox Fuckhead): Yeah? (chews cigar to other side of the mouth) Does it have any aliens in it? (FF sniggers and ends up coughing juicily for a bit. You know he’s working on half a lung).
JS (calmly): No, no aliens. But it’s got girls. And they have no memory. They kick your ass on a mission and then you wipe their mind and they start over again the next day as someone new.
FF: Sounds like my first wife.
JS: Think Alias but with a science fiction twist. Joe 90 meets Alias.
FF: I’ll think about it. But really what we want is a musical comedy that features animatronic hobbits. Hobbits are big right now. Maybe we can bill it as The Hobbit meets Electra, will that work?
JS: No.

and so on. Although to give them their due, the FF this time round does at least appear to be a bit more stable than the whackjob who greenlighted Firefly then crapped on us all from a high height.

The Dollhouse. Hmm.

May 16, 2008

Click here if you want to live.

No, I mean, click there if you want to see a clip from the new Joss Whedon series. It stars the Other Slayer and That Guy off Battlestar Galactica. Y’know, the one that boffs the Cylon. Back before we realised they were ALL Cylons.

Of course, I haven’t seen series four of BSG yet, so anything could happen.

Watched it yet? Go ahead. I’ll wait.

So, what did you think? I’m not sure, myself. Looks like a cross between Bones and Alias and I’m not sure that’s the best use of The Swede’s time (cough cough Firefly II: After We Forget About The Movie cough).

No, that doesn’t mean I won’t watch it. Of course I’ll watch it. I’ll watch it, buy the DVDs, probably upgrade to the widescreen edition when that comes out, then the BluRay and hell, probably the crystaline memory chip version as well.

There’s a hint of Whedonesque. “You’ve got to be straight with me”. “Do I? Because you people have been pretty frickin’ bendy with me”. But the music… that’s not right. It’s thriller music. What’s that all about?

Of course, there’s not a lot you can glean from such a short clip. I’ll need to watch three or four series before I make my mind up.

I’m just saying, that’s all.

No seriously, take my land…

badump-bump.

Here’s the opening sequence, just because I can:

and then, for your viewing pleasure, “the hijinks that ensue”.

No, we believe you. No hijinks whatsoever.

But then, I think we should call it “your grave”!

That one’s not so good, so here’s Nathan’s magic trick:

which is funnier, but really we all know Book’s brains are in danger.

and I really miss Book.

Following on from thinking about putting TV on the internet and how to do it properly, I’ve been wondering about how to continue with Firefly as a TV show.

There is a problem, however.

No, I’m not talking about Fox’s ownership of it, or the problem of rebuilding the creative team both behind the camera and in front… not insurmountable I feel. No, the problem is Serenity.

Serenity the movie is, in essence, season two of Firefly condensed into a two hour epic. I loved Serenity, don’t get me wrong, but it does tend to act as a full stop on any plans for season two.

Whedon hasn’t let that stop him with Buffy, of course… the new Buffy episodes are in comic book form rather than TV and a different medium means a different look and feel. For a start off, there’s no Alyson Hannigan, which is a crime against humanity, but then there’s the physical limits of what you can do (TV = limited, comics = unlimited) and that’s changing the way the story’s told and, just as importantly, the story itself.

But it means there’s a precedent for continuing with a universe in a different medium.

So, what to do about season two?

There are a couple of options. First, we can ignore Serenity entirely and start over. This is appealing on at least one level because we can find out more about Book’s backstory, and that appeals to me no end. But it’s not like we’re going to be surprised by anything that happens and that’s a bit tricky for a full season.

Or, we can carry on from the end of Serenity… but that means no Book backstory and no Wash and that’s just horrible to contemplate. Not impossible (this is a Whedon universe after all. People die) but horrible. That would work.

Or there’s a third choice – set season two with whichever actors want to return to the show and set it some decade later… things have moved on, people have changed, the universe is basically the same but has also turned. There are new challenges and new issues…

That’s probably got my vote. I’d like to see that. I’d like to know what Zoe’s kid is like (of course she’s pregnant). I’d like to know what happens to Jane and to Badger and to all of them.

Or am I barking mad? Hey, someone call Joss and see if he can fit it in. He’s used to multi-tasking.

UPDATE: As I said some time ago, I’m late to this whole blogging thing. It would appear I’m also late to the idea of Season Two of Firefly… Oh well.

Television does the internet

November 18, 2007

I’ve long been an advocate for distributing TV over the internet. There are those that say there’s already a perfectly good medium for TV, it’s called “television”, and there’s no need to bother with this pesky new medium.

They’re morons and we should not bother ourselves with them any longer.

OK, that’s a bit harsh. What they’re talking about (as far as I can tell) is that watching TV on a computer is not a good experience and I’ll agree to that. They also seem to be people who, for the most part, don’t actually watch TV so they don’t see the point to downloading TV shows online.

That’s cool – it would be boring if we were all the same. But I do like TV. I spend a lot of time with my TV and I don’t like watching TV on my computer (small screen, annoying chair) either. So I don’t. I burn it to disk/download it to a thumbdrive/ wireless connect it to the back of my big screen plasma TV (well, I would if I had one).

The point about TV on the internet is not that I can watch it on a poky screen, it’s that I can watch any episode of any given TV show whenever I fell like it, rather than waiting for a TV network I can pick up to air it. With ads. And with edits. When it suits them. Y’know, later.

Case in point, TVNZ‘s decision to break The Sopranos with four episodes of the penultimate series left to screen. Why? Who cares. I don’t, and I wasn’t alone in being outraged by this. So I voted with my mouse and watched them online.

A word about watching TV online – it used to be tricky with all those P2P file sharing apps to download and torrents to seed and so on. Not any more. First, who can be bothered and second, the ISPs are all busy blocking/shaping/throttling the ports that P2P run on.

Joox, on the other hand, does not use different software. It’s a highly illegal website that simply points visitors to illegally downloaded TV and movies. This is bad.

It’s also good, because it means I can simply stream the show I want, save it as a DIVX file and watch it with any free DIVX player I like. Because it’s just a website, it transmits data back and forth over the usual ports so suspicious ISPs can’t do much about it.

I have downloaded and watched the latest series of Doctor Who and Battlestar Galactica, and will no doubt get the new Bionic Woman (just for old time’s sake), Life on Mars series two (why wait) as well as The Professionals and The Sweeney (I was too young to watch it first time round). I’d do the same with The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy radio series if I could find it and, here’s the catch, I’d pay for it as well because frankly I think all these shows are worth watching and keeping and I can’t be arsed waiting for TVNZ or Prime or TV3 to get its act together, realise the AC Neilsen set-top box system of ratings for viewership numbers is fatally flawed and start branching out beyond games shows/cooking shows/reality shows/”blockbuster movies” we all saw years ago and the news.

Today I see this story in the New York Times and thought, “Almost, but no. Still getting it wrong.”

I don’t want to watch a show in eight minute segments on my PC via MySpace. I want to watch a full-length episode delivered to me by whatever means I want and watched from my over-stuffed recliner in the lounge.

Instead, I think the internet approach will work well for two extremes – shows like Top Gear which have a worldwide following and shows like Firefly which didn’t gel with the network.

Top Gear has around half a billion viewers worldwide. If everyone one paid a dollar an episode … well, let’s just say Clarkson could buy the Isle of Man and possible the Isle of Dogs as well and turn them both into his own personal race tracks.

Top Gear is an established brand that would not only survive but, I think, flourish in an online-only world.

The other end of the spectrum is Firefly, the show that Fox (bastards) cancelled after half a series because they didn’t get it. Joss Whedon went on to make a movie instead of season two but frankly I’d rather he’d gone online and made the shows to air via the ether. I’d have paid, and so would enough people (I believe) to have made it worthwhile. I’d even have bought the DVDs as well, because there’s something visceral about holding an entire series in your hands.

So, early days yet, but one thing’s for sure: the network’s hold over the viewer has gone the way of the dinosaur (much like the video shop). However, just like the dinosaur (and the video shop) network TV stumbles on, convinced it’s still alive and vital and completely oblivious to the fact that its head has been cut off.

Joss Whedon

November 1, 2007

For those that don’t know, Joss Whedon (not Joe Sweden but that’s also a cool name) is the writer/producer/thinker upper behind Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel and my all-time favourite show-that-should-have-been Firefly.

Firefly is a hard one to explain to folk who’ve never seen it. To really appreciate the full pathos of the decision to cancel Firefly after only one season you have to really be a Buffy fan. Buffy fans know that the first season of Buffy was OK. The second season was better by far and that used up all the available storylines associated with the original pitch and the writers had to say “OK, what happens next” and that’s when the magic really started. Because they can write, and they care and they can make you laugh and make you really get angry with them and shake the TV set like a dog.

Bastards.

So anyone who knew that, and knew that season three of Buffy ROCKED and that season four was well cool and season five owned the world and that six and seven were fabulous and that the last episode was exactly right, knew that once the initial storyline of Firefly (psycho girl in box wakes up, kicks people a lot, re-writes history) was all done, we’d get on to the really cool stuff. The stuff they didn’t think too much about in the early episodes. Where does Book come from? What is that thing that looks like a suicide kit but isn’t that Inara takes out at one point. Will Wash ever knock up Zoe and how will she cope with that.

All those moments will be lost in time, like tears in rain. Sorry… slipped into an alternate universe there for a moment (or is it… Firefly is the spiritual successor to Blade Runner: discuss).

Instead we got ripped off. Totally. Damn you Fox, if you’re not already doomed.

There is good news though – Whedon has signed on to write/direct/produce/think up stuff for a new TV show: Dollhouse. Here’s a link to the interview. Fox, don’t fuck this one up, OK? Or we’ll come round and whup you upside the head with a cluestick.