Thursday, November 01, 2007

Joss Whedon's Dollhouse

Great news came out of nowhere today with the news that Joss Whedon’s going to be doing a new show, Dollhouse with Eliza Dushku. I’d hoped that he’d go back to TV at some point, but wasn’t expecting it to happen so soon, so this was an out of nowhere great surprise.

As for the show itself, it’s definitely got potential. It sounds at first like it’ll be a bit standalone heavy, but the beauty of a Joss show is the evolution of it. Watching the first season of Angel, I wasn’t thrilled with things, but as it went along, it really picked up. My big fear is that the show will get screwed like countless other Fox shows and not get a chance to develop. It would be pretty tough to take a cancellation after seven episodes, or a summer burnoff for the series. At this point, Joss has a pretty big fanbase, hopefully it will be enough to get the series up and running. If nothing else, there’ll be a lot of chatter about it online.

Joss seems to have acknowledged that he pretty much failed to make a go of it in the movies. There’s a different sort of storytelling in film, and I don’t think his talents are particularly suited to it. While he clearly can do really powerful, visual storytelling, as in Restless of OMWF, I don’t think that’s his default mode. For Serenity, he went with a fairly straightforward visual style and straightforward story. It’s a good movie, but it’s not much better than any given episode of the Firefly series. From that point of view, why should we want two hours of Joss every couple of years when we could twenty hours every year?

Ultimately, TV in its current incarnation is just a much better medium for storytelling than movies. When done properly, which admittedly it isn’t most of the time, it can allow for a vast canvas of stories that don’t require the three act structure and obvious character arcs of most Hollywood movies. In The Wire, you have no idea who’s going to die or be successful, there’s just so many people in there, anyone is expendable.

For me, movies today should move more towards Wong Kar-Wai or Malick style storytelling, the sort of atmospheric style immersions that aren’t possible on a TV schedule. That’s a reason I’d consider The New World and Miami Vice the best films of recent years, they weren’t so much about story as about going to a place and lingering there. If The Wire was a movie, I’d enjoy it, but not in the same way as the series.

Next year looks like it’s going to be an incredible year for TV. We’ve got the last season of The Wire and the debut of Alan Ball’s True Blood and Joss’s show. A lot of really great shows have ended over the past couple of years, and now it looks like we’re finally getting the replacements in.

And speaking of good news, it’s also great to hear that Terence Malick has a new film in the works. Not much is known, but the title, Tree of Life, certainly sounds intriguing. Malick is one of the most distinctive, visually skilled filmmakers ever. He uses the medium like no one else, and is coming off his best movie. Obviously, it’s a long way from starting, but I really hope this movie happens in the near future.


classless said...

In the meantime you might wanna dance to this little mashup we did with the Buffy titles:

Buffy The Slayer & The Angel of Death

Patrick said...

I'm downloading now, looks pretty cool.