Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Joss Whedon Doesn't Want us to be Happy: Part One (by Lady Jones)

And now for a series of posts about one of my favorite screen writers and directors: Joss Whedon. I have decided to break this up into several posts and have the other ladies help me out because Joss Whedon's work just cannot be described by a couple of blog posts. This is going to take some serious thought and consideration.

First off, let me make this abundantly clear... I LOVE Joss Whedon's work. I think that he is a brilliant writer with innovative ideas that make what could be campy dialogue and sci-fi content bland and uninteresting into works of awesome (yeah I know that sentence doesn't really make sense but I'm leaving it). I have seen and read just about all of his work and my favorites go in the following order: 1. Dr. Horrible, 2. Firefly, 3. Buffy, 4. Angel, etc...

Since Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog is my favorite work by Whedon (and his family, who contributed a great deal to the work), I have decided to post about it first.
If you haven't seen it, and don't want the ending ruined, then please don't read too much of the following because it's Spoiler-Riffic.

Dr. Horrible is the story of a super-villian in the making. It is a musical, comic-book-brought-to-life, video-blog that takes place over three short parts. Since it was written during the writers' strike it is full of brilliant material that is carefully executed with a meager budget. (Also great re-use of props and costume bits from other series like Firefly and Buffy) My favorite low-budget prop is the pair of OSHA safety goggles that Dr. Horrible wears.

The lyrics to the songs and dialogue are witty and well-placed, and the music itself is seriously catchy. I know several people aside from myself who purchased this series on I-Tunes and then had to purchase the soundtrack as soon as it was available. (We also now own it on DVD with the addition of a singing commentary, which is fricken hilarious btw).

Niel Patrick Harris (of Harold and Kumar, How I Met Your Mother, and Doogie Houser) plays the love-able but obviously tainted by evil "Billy" (aka Dr. Horrible) and I feel this is one of his best performances. Down to every last detail Harris becomes this role. He even has a little eye twitch that pops up at the most appropriate times in the series. Billy is falling in love with the innocent and naive Penny, played by Felicia Day (of the Guild, and Buffy). Penny is the girl who wants to save the world but of course must fall victim to Joss Whedon's romantic plot devices.

If you don't know Whedon's work, then what I am about to tell you won't make sense, but those of you who have followed him know the rage I am about to speak. JOSS ALWAYS wants us to know that two people who fall in love may never, and in the case of his stories, WILL NEVER be together. You will actually fall in love with the relationship that sparks between Joss's main characters, and he will make you want to believe that it will work out. The characters will grow hopelessly attached or in love (or both) with one another and you will grow addicted to their connection. Then, just as you think things are all going to work themselves out, Joss will smash your hopes and dreams and show you that the real world is just too cruel for that. To quote Horrible, "Hopes and dreams are shattering apart, and crashing to the ground! I cannot believe my eyes! Is the world filled with filth and lies! Cause it seems to me EVIL inside of me is on the rise!" - (Harris as Dr. Horrible).

Joss likes to either kill one of the two characters, or make it so that the world will end if the two love-birds get what they want. In this case, Penny has to die. Poor Penny, all she wanted was for the homeless to get a new homeless shelter, but her story has to end with a big shard of shrapnel sticking dramatically out of her chest. Of course, Dr. Horrible is partly to blame for her death, and this fully transforms him into the super-villian he is destined to be. "Here lies everything. The world I wanted at my feet. My victory's complete! So hail to the king!" - (Harris as Horrible).

I mean, I know that this transformation is necessary, and I understand that Joss has good reasons for killing Penny off, but REALLY..I still was sad to see her go! Maybe I'm just frustrated because I still can't believe Wash is dead or that Angel and Buffy can never be together. Maybe it's that I SO DESPERATELY wanted Mal to tell Inara that he loved her and that he was a stupid jackass for waiting so long to tell her. Maybe I just for once wanted to see one of Joss Whedon's pairs work out!

But no, Joss will give me no happy ending. Good on him for not breaking his principles, I suppose, but damn I wonder where all this came from? Has Joss lived a life of hopeless romance with no fulfillment? It makes me wonder, because I could probably write some serious drama based on the shit that's gone down in my life, and maybe that is indeed what is happening here with Whedon. I'd hate to be the girl (or girls) that knows deep down inside that these characters are living out something she did to him. And shame on her (or them) for being so damned evil!

Anyways, back to Horrible...

The super-hero of the story, Captain Hammer, is played by Nathan Fillion (of Firefly). Fillion delivers a great performance and makes us want to either hate him or for some reason be drawn in by his douchebag-charm. Whedon definitely makes Captain Hammer (corporate tool, haha) look like a total moron. For once you will actually be rooting for the bad guy because the super hero is just that pathetic. Fillion is still just as attractive eye-candy for the ladies as he always is, but you don't want to admire him like his role as Captain Mal in Firefly.

Other fun characters include Moist, a sidekick in the making played by Simon Helberg (of Big Bang Theory), and some other random villians in the Evil League of Evil like Bad Horse and Dead Bowie. (Yes, you read correctly. That says Dead Bowie.)

Check out Dr. Horrible even if you don't like musicals. BUT if you like musicals, you will LOVE this more than I can ever describe in a blog post. I have watched this so many times it's probably pathetic and I sometimes can be caught singing along to the soundtrack in the car on my way to work. The story includes some great critiques on society. "The status is not quo!" - (Harris as Horrible), and is chock-full of stuff that will make you laugh. Deep down inside I wish Penny and Billy could have been together, but I know that can never be. I guess I'll just have to continue rooting for the hopeless couples in Whedon's stories!

Horrible is a fantastic work and I've included some fun linkies to get you to where you can watch it.

Keep on geeking out!
Lady Laura Jones


Jayne said...


Sorry. It's like a reflex.

I love Dr. Horrible too, and the songs are total earworms, and yet I am conflicted about it, mainly because Penny got fridged in this. But since it's Joss Whedon I want to give him the benefit of the dobut.

I'm glad you kicked off this Joss Whedon fest becase I have thinky thoughts on Dollhouse, which I'll eventually get around to blogging about once this week is over (and by over, I mean when I hand in my paper on Jesus and his wacky antics. Seriously).

Oh, Joss Whedon, I'm really not sure if I can call you a feminist anymore.

Danicus said...

Joss Whedon... or, as I like to call him, the Ike Turner to my Tina.

Lady Lara Jones said...

Hehe yeah. I can't wait to see your post on Dollhouse Jayne!!!!!!!! (this is mostly because I haven't had time to watch it and want to be educated. lol).
Bring on the Whedon-ness!

bobbie said...


Youre right Jayne it IS like a reflex!

Also, Nathan Fillion was concieved in his mothers womb by the pure concetrated essences of Awesomeness and Sexyness solidified into a being. He's is almost literally a Sexy Jesus, only Canadian. True Story.

Danicus said...

Thank God Dollhouse has just started.
It's still in its infancy, when it's a pretty entertaining show, but I'm not invested enough to feel bad when Joss inevitably kills a character he's made me care about. That part comes later...

Damn you, Ike.