Tag Archives: Joss Whedon

Glee: “Dream On”

Going into “Dream On,” the greatest emphasis was put on the fact that it was DIRECTED BY JOSS WHEDON and featuring GUEST STAR NEIL PATRICK HARRIS.

And, true, those are Very Important Things.

Joss Whedon is amazing. Case in point: the style of the “Safety Dance”* music video/dream sequence. I mean REALLY. The man knows how to film a musical number.

As for NPH, he was, well…welllll…he was NPH. Lots of eyebrow movement, playing with vocal registers, and a style of delivery that is at the ultimate melodramaticomical point just below horrifying. He was maybe a little to NPH-y and caricature-like to make Bryan Ryan convincing as a credible character with real emotions and dimensions at all (not gonna lie, I kept slipping out of the moment and seeing Dr. Horrible and Barney Stinson). My only genuine complaint about his appearance on Glee was that scene in Sue’s office. Neil Patrick Harris and Jane Lynch planning on having angry sex is quite possibly the most uncomfortable thing I have ever experienced.

But I KIND OF DON’T CARE. He was AWESOME. No question. And I found myself needing to revise my claim that Matthew Morrison and Idina Menzel making out is the hottest thing ever. The actual hottest thing ever? Matthew Morrison and NPH duet(s).

Speaking of Matthew Morrison, I am so happy to report that not only has Will Schuester redeemed himself from the puppy dog/dickhead bipolarity that has characterized him thus far in the back nine BUT ALSO Matthew Morrison, who has been significantly damaged, in my opinion, by his character’s dreadfulness, is once again at Sexy Superstar Status. The proof: he can give an astronomy lesson metaphor and deliver the line “You’re creating 13 black holes [by destroying the Glee club]” without making me want to mock him. I actually wanted to swoon a little bit.

Bryan Ryan and Mr. Schu were the first of three focused-on character groups in this episode; the second, Tina and Artie.

I would really like to like them, but the fact is that there just hasn’t been enough time spent on them for me to have any feeling beyond vague wonderment. When the bits and pieces (and I do mean bitty bits and pieces) from the span of the show are put together, these two characters seem kind of…spastic. The best analogy I can think of is, their characterizations are like FBI documents that have been redacted all to hell. We see enough to more or less understand but there are important connective sections missing and the gaps are sometimes significant enough to make nothing but nonsense.

I just don’t get Tina and Artie. Collectively or separately. I understand them a little more together – although Tina helpfully points out how Artie is pretty damn inconsistent (and I feel like she is too). They are just such peculiar characters…mostly, I think, because they haven’t been in the spotlight enough to be developed.

The good (read: amazing) news is, “Dream On” finally granted Jenna Ushkowitz and Kevin McHale a chance to show off the fact that they are both TRIPLE threats. Emphasis on the threat.

Final order of business in “Dream On,” Rachel, Jesse, and Shelby.

Perversely, I am incredibly happy to have Rachel and Jesse back together. Given my excessive loathing of Miss Berry, I don’t know how I can possibly enjoy Rachel + Male Version Of Rachel on screen together for an extended period of time. It makes no logical sense whatsoever. But for some reason, it is outrageously adorable…or maybe that’s just Jonathan Groff. Tough call.

The most important piece of this section of the episode is, of course, the revelation that Idina Menzel IS IN FACT playing Lea Michele‘s mommy. I can’t say I’m totally pleased. All cards on the table, I did share that little Gleek fantasy for about two seconds…but then it got popular and, well, you know, that made it stop being a cool thing to want. For myself, I’m torn between hoping the writers/producers/creators feel a little ashamed for caving to fan demand like that and being incredibly GRATEFUL to the writers/producers/creators for listening so well to their fan community. But my thoughts on the subject are just my thoughts and therefore not at all significant in the larger scheme of things.

So what is significant? Idina Menzel. In every way possible. It has been so long since I’ve heard her sing anything new (the soundtracks to Wicked and RENT don’t get any less amazing, just less wondrous after the thousandth listen) that I almost forgot how utterly fantastic she is. There are not sufficient words in my vocabulary to describe it. So many delightful and superb things happened in this episode, but “I Dreamed a Dream” was the most resonant and most beautiful to me.

I am a little confused about Shelby’s trying to be “found” by Rachel being a Master Plan. I’m even more confused by Jesse’s involvement and creepily close relationship with his choir director. And I’m just a liiittle bit disappointed that the lead and director of Vocal Adrenaline aren’t evil after all. I totally would have made them evil. But maybe that’s why I write reviews and not scripts.

Anyway, as both a whole and a sum of its parts, “Dream On” is a high caliber episode. Not the best and not the most shocking/amazing/stirring/whatever. But I think it will prove to have staying power, influence and greatness beyond its initial airing. And that’s no small thing.

*”Safety Dance” (and the immediately preceding dialogue) was also the moment where I almost totally lost it. Or, rather, where it almost totally lost me. It just happened so fast that it wasn’t until the number was halfway over that I realized it was definitely a dream sequence and I didn’t need to be praying at top volume and sacrificing a goat in hopes of preserving Glee‘s sanity. But seriously. It was a frightening two minutes.

PS – I just looked at the three pictures I added to this post and realized how ALL THREE OF THE SCENES DEPICTED are perfectly color coded and gorgeous. That is aesthetic mastery. Visual magic like that doesn’t happen by accident. Basically, the entire crew and design team of Glee deserve a pat on the back. From Jesus.

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This Week 5/17 to 5/23

Wow. So it’s been a couple weeks since I last bothered posting a schedule. Ironically, those two weeks were probably the most consistent in terms of what I would schedule and what I actually watched. Funny stuff. Anyway, some finales have happened but there are MORE COMING and it is CRAZY.

Tonight:
8pm – Chuck on NBC
8pm – House on FOX (season finale!)
9pm – 24 on FOX
10pm – Castle on ABC (season finale!)

I am about 3/4 of a season behind on House so I will not be watching, but I hope y’all who are enjoy it. As for the Castle finale AAAAAAAH. I do not want to lose this show for the summer!

TUESDAY:
8pm – NCIS on CBS
9pm – NCIS: Los Angeles on CBS
9pm – Lost on ABC
9pm – Glee on FOX
10pm – V on ABC (season finale!)
10pm – Justified on FX

Remember: This week on Glee, guest-star Neil Patrick Harris and director Joss Whedon!!! (And the depressingly inevitable revelation that Idina Menzel is Rachel’s bio-mom…no, that’s not an actual spoiler, but if it’s not true I’ll eat my left shoe).

WEDNESDAY:
8pm – The Good Guys on FOX (series pilot!)
10pm – CSI: NY on CBS

I actually don’t know anything about The Good Guys. But I just might be bored enough of Wednesday to find out.

THURSDAY:
8pm – FlashForward on ABC
8pm – Bones on FOX (season finale!)
9pm – Fringe on FOX (season finale!)

Well, shoot. What am I going to do on Thursday night now? (Something productive? Don’t be silly.)

FRIDAY:
10pm – Miami Medical on CBS

SATURDAY:
Nothing new is airing tonight.

FYI, though, the pilot episode of Lost will be airing at 8pm on ABC. I think I’m going to watch it, just so it’s fresh in my mind as a point of comparison for the finale.

SUNDAY:
7pm – Lost: The Final Journey on ABC
9pm – Lost on ABC (SERIES FINALE!!!)

AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH.

That is all I have to say.

Except that this is going to be a very tense week and I feel like my life is going to deflate a little bit after Lost ends…hard to believe I only started watching it a few months ago. And now it’s OVER. End of an era, for serious.

PS: Read.

Yo Whedon-fans!

…I have something for you.

I was surfing the Animation and Cartoons channel on Hulu earlier (because I didn’t feel like I had the brain function to do any focused watching/reviewing) and, in addition to some great bits of nostalgia, I stumbled on this:

Astonishing X-Men: Gifted

It’s a motion comic X-men series written by none other than Joss Whedon (based on/created from the comic of the same name written by Whedon and illustrated by John Cassaday).

And it is pretty awesome.

For those who have no idea what a “motion comic” is (so, like me an hour ago), it is basically an animation made up of graphic novel illustrations that have been spliced together and edited so that they move. The original art is preserved, which is cool. But the overall effect is a bit stunted and, well, more than a little creepy. Once you get used to the style, though, it’s actually pretty interesting to watch.

X-men crazy like me or not, Whedon devotees can certainly find things to love in Gifted. The writing is very clearly his style. In a world that, unfortunately, includes no currently running Whedon series, Gifted is a wonderful relief.

There are some upcoming movie projects to look forward to in the nearish future – “The Cabin In The Woods” (Joss version of that style horror movie, starring a good many recognizeable faces) coming in 2011, and Joss Whedon has recently been announced as the director of “The Avengers,” which is currently set for 2012.

IN THE MEANTIME (and for those of you who prefer things more of the television persuasion), check out Gifted. It is pretty intriguing. For the visuals and style, at the very least.

A Few Thoughts

“Epitaph Two” was certainly a finale.

I mean that in the sense that it really ended the story. So, in that way, it was highly successful. I’s dotted, T’s crossed, arcs completed, et cetera et cetera.

That said, I gotta say, it was not my favorite Whedon finale.

Mostly because it was just too neat and tidy and, frankly, kind of lame.

I’ve said “it hurts me to say this” before. But seriously this time. Criticizing the sadly premature Dollhouse finale brings me real emotional pain. Because if I put on my Critical Analysis Hat, it really was lacking.

Let me break my reasoning down into characters.

  1. Alpha. I’m sorry, but WHAT THE FUCK. I’m sure this is a development that would have been expanded and explained had the series continued long enough. But given the information we had at the time of the finale, this was just gross. Making Alpha one of the good guys? Having him be the engineer of Echo’s happiness at the end of it all? I love Alan Tudyk, but I don’t love him so much that I want him to come in and throw the narrative stream halfway to hell.
  2. Sierra and Victor. Actually, I had the least complaint about this one. Oddly, their relationship is possibly the most complicated and most developed in the entire show. Yeah, the tied-up ending with them happy with the kid was pretty cheesy. But sweet. And it more or less made sense.
  3. Topher. As with Alpha, this is just something that really needed more series to make sense. We could see the seeds of this personality transition in him. But where we left off right before “Epitaph Two” was a far reach from self-sacrifice in the interest of all humanity. One thing I will say: Fran Kranz is freaking genius in the finale, and in the series as a whole and he really should get more recognition for it.
  4. Paul Ballard. He unfortunately fell victim to the golden rule of Whedon series: the faithful male lover of the strong female heroine must always die. (Seriously, it happens EVERY TIME: Angel, Spike, Wash, even Wesley and Doyle could count here.) So that was a predictable, but solid choice. Not so kosher: putting him in Echo’s head. I’m sorry, but when did the Whedon team decide that happy endings were necessary? CORNY CORNY CORNY CORNY EW. Do not approve.

I feel like “Epitaph Two” was mostly an exercise in showing everyone exactly how much Dollhouse needed to go on longer. The hints we saw of the things that would happen – character transitions in Topher and Adelle, the tech-heads, the Priya/Tony relationship, the Echo/Paul relationship, Mag and Zone – were just enough to prove that having them not occur is a tragic thing. There is no doubt in my mind that Dollhouse would have grown into a mindblowingly amazing show had it run its full course. But, sadly, that was not the case due to network politics and a slow start.

As for how it all ended, my final verdict is that this finale was just not up to standard for Whedon series finales. Even Firefly‘s “Objects In Space,” which was not planned as a finale, was more effective, I feel, in terms of summarizing themes but leaving the right amount of openended-ness (if you consider Serenity to be the finale of Firefly, I’d say the success is even greater). The main problem with “Epitaph Two” was that it was name-appropriate. It really doesn’t feel like there’s that much story left. I just don’t care about the aftermath. It feels done. Closed. Self-contained.

Maybe that works for some people. But I feel like it took a different stance from the series. The end was too much of a fairytale.

Dollhouse: A Non-Review

I’m gonna say it straight up (again): Joss Whedon is basically my god.

Why?

Because he makes me feel insanely stupid.

Obviously, this is the reason why I haven’t been writing weekly reviews about Dollhouse. I know I am absolutely not capable of gleaning any meaningful amount of understanding or analysis from a given episode until the very end of a story arc concludes, at which point the knowledge falls under the “duh” category. Take for instance, the current Dollhouse elephant in the room: BOYD IS THE BAD GUY.

Until halfway through “Getting Closer,” I had absolutely no idea. And at that point my knowledge was only intuitive. I couldn’t have told you that he was going to be The Big Bad, I just wasn’t surprised when the final reveal took place. (Outraged, scandalized, horrified, and shouting at the television, yes. Even shocked, but not genuinely surprised.) Why? Because Joss Whedon et al are freaking INGENIOUS. This is not a plot twist grabbed out of the air to make the end of the season (read: show) all the more WowAmazing. They have been laying the groundwork since the first episode. It’s only now that I’m realizing it. I mean, really, think about it:

  • at the very beginning of the show, Adelle mentions how Boyd just sort of showed up out of the blue. We note this is suspicious, but then more suspicious things occur and we sort of forget/we get used to the idea that Boyd is just a nice guy drawn into the situation. This thinking is later reinforced by Paul following (what we assume to be) more or less the same pass.
  • Harry Lennix has always been the second individual listed in the credits. Again, this is just confusing/forgotten because we constantly assume Paul is the more important character.
  • Boyd always knows. We have no idea how he always knows, but he always knows. And, while Adelle gets called out for her minor(ish) indiscretions by Rossum folk, Boyd disposes of the body of a client killed by a Doll and he gets away with it.
  • and then there’s the whole shitload of dropped hints in “Getting Closer” and the episodes directly previous, but I’m sure you can figure those out.

And the ingeniousness isn’t just Boyd-related. I mean, Fran Kranz listed third in the credits? Topher? Suddenly makes sense in “The Hollow Men” when Topher’s character (and by that I mean his personality, not necessarily his person) drives the entire episode. Did you notice that? How Topher’s personality allowed for every manipulation/progression in that storyline (contained within the episode AND leading up to it, no less)?

This is the thing that I cannot find the words to describe. The thing that makes Joss Whedon and his teams so very good. They are master storytellers. Master and commanders of The Slow Build. All the inbetween stuff is good too (the humor, the romances, the smaller hidden agendas). But the overarching storylines that always make sense but are never predictable – those are the masterpieces.

They’re also the unfortunate downfall. Because it takes a particular type of appreciation of and patience for that to watch series that work that way. The average network television viewer doesn’t necessarily have those qualities. And that’s part of why networks are so reluctant to pick up shows like Dollhouse. It’s kind of a Catch-22 sort of situation. There really isn’t away to resolve that conflict of interests. Which is just a damn shame for all of us.

(Since this is sort of a review of “Getting Closer” but not really, I’m also gonna throw out some major kudos for Amy Acker. She really does not get enough recognition for the amount of talent that she has.)

“Epitaph Two: Return” is NOT coming next week because FOX is hosting a Telethon for Haiti (see, the networks aren’t ALWAYS evil). But the end is still nigh. Tune in in two weeks, and bring your hanky.

This Week 1/4 to 1/10

Well, Happy New Year folks!

I’m making a change to This Week. From now on, schedule posts will start on the Monday and run through the next Sunday. This is because, a) apparently I’m just not very good at getting my shit together on Sundays, and b) there are a lot of premieres coming up on Sundays and I feel I would be remiss if I didn’t give fair warning (read: I won’t remember to watch things unless I put them on this schedule). Another change: no more Melted Brain to-do lists. This may or may not be a good decision on my part.

MONDAY:
8pm – Heroes on NBC (Two-hour Mid-season Premiere!)

Of course, I probably won’t be able to watch this because I forgot how soon its return was and haven’t caught up yet. Whoops. Maybe I have time?

TUESDAY:
8pm – NCIS on CBS
9pm – NCIS: Los Angeles on CBS

I guess these don’t really count as returns or mid-season premieres because it’s only been, like, two weeks. (Also, this is my half-birthday! Hooray!)

WEDNESDAY:
8pm & 9pm – Reruns of Glee, “Mash-up” and “Wheels” on FOX
9pm – People’s Choice Awards on CBS

Does anyone actually watch/care about the People’s Choice Awards? I mean really. You hear more about the Teen Choice Awards.

THURSDAY:
9pm – Dr. Strangelove on ABC

WATCH THIS MOVIE. It is so excellent and ridiculous and it has Peter Sellers (and also a crazily young James Earl Jones).

FRIDAY:
9pm – Dollhouse on FOX

No, no I do not know why FOX is airing only one new episode this week. But, uh, this week’s sounds pretty exciting? (No, seriously: apparently we finally meet the elusive and sinister head of the Rossum Corporation. I do not know who it is, actor or character. I could probably find out, but I have this thing against spoilers. If you know things, bully for you, DO. NOT. TELL ME.)

SATURDAY:
9pm – Rerun of Castle on ABC
11:30pm – Saturday Night Live (Charles Barkley and Alicia Keys) on NBC

Next Sunday:
6:30pm – Serenity on SyFy
9pm – CHUCK! (TWO-HOUR SEASON PREMIERE!) on NBC
9pm – Battlestar Galactica: The Plan on SyFy

I was conflicted about watching The Plan because, while I’m curious and still missing BSG quite a bit, I’ve heard some pretty negative things about it. THANKFULLY, crisis averted. Because there is NO WAY IN HELL I am missing out on Chuck

Don’t ask me why (It’s probably because I’ve been more or less neglecting Melted Brain for a month, shhh!) but I didn’t realize mid-season premieres/returns were coming up so quickly (i.e. this week). BUT. HEY. IT’S ALL GOOD. Well, except for me not being ready to watch Heroes. If I didn’t have to be places and ready to make a good impression at 8am tomorrow, I would totes stay up. And I might anyway(?). IN ANY CASE. Exciting stuff. Chuck! Yes!

HaveĀ  a lovely week.

BIG NEWS

People, people,

I POSSESS FIREFLY.

I have waited for this day for years and FINALLY IT HAS COME.

So, uh, excuse me if I spend the next couple hours in a Whedoncoma and don’t come up to finish those posts waiting in my draft folder. I promise, when I rejoin the real world on Monday, things will actually start getting done around here.

But I mean really.

FIREFLY. IN MY HANDS. AND MY DVD PLAYER.

I’m hoping you are all understanding/forgiving.

If I may, in closing:

SO. MUCH. WIN.

Took Them Long Enough

The rest of the world is finally starting to catch on to what so many of us have known for years: Joss Whedon is way too awesome and doesn’t have nearly enough awards.

On January 24th at the Producers Guild of America award ceremony, Joss Whedon is going to be given the Vanguard Award for achievements in new media and technology.

Dollhouse is still cancelled. There’s still no new show to look forward to. But at least there’s something to make me and my fellow Whedon worshipers smile.

R.I.P.

Well, it’s official.

Dollhouse has been cancelled.

Don’t panic – the rest of this season’s thirteen ordered episodes will air. They’ll run two in a row on FOX starting December 4th, with the season/series finale tentatively scheduled for January 22, 2010.

Sad day for Dollhouse fans, though admittedly not unexpected. We can at least remember that it had a good run, that “Epitaph One” gives us an opportunity to see what the future of the show might have been, and that Joss Whedon is now free to do other things – sequel to Dr. Horrible’s Sing-A-Long Blog? Speaking of Joss Whedon, he was quoted as saying the thirteenth episode of Season Two is a “proper finale” because, y’know, they were already expecting this cancellation and planned accordingly. At the very least, we will not be left hanging. There is, unfortunately, no real hope of the show being picked up by a cable network. SyFy, which would be the most likely candidate, expressed (via Twitter) having no interest in picking it up.

Deep condolences to Mr. Whedon for once again being too awesome for rating-mongering networks. And also to Eliza Dushku, for losing a chance at long years of greatness on a popular network.

Alas, alas, for those of us who actually want our television smart.

In other cancellation/renewal news: ABC’s Eastwick has been discontinued after its initial thirteen episodes (totally called that one), barely-on-the-radar ABC comedy Hank has been cancelled, and, in a strange twist of fate, more episodes of The Forgotten have been ordered (remember how I only made it thirteen minutes into the pilot on this one?).

Ohhhh, Sweeps month. You make life so dreary.

Source: SideReel post from the lovely RachelL

Castle: “Vampire Weekend”

A Halloween-themed episode has no right being as good as Vampire Weekend. By all manner of reason, a Halloween themed-episode should involve a kooky, spooky murder, some specialized seasonal jokes, and an opportunity to see characters in costume. What Castle delivered, though, is a legitimately solid episode with a whole lot of things to love.

First, let me just get this off my chest: WHEDON REFERENCES UP THE WAZOO. They just kept coming. First the extended reference to Nathan Fillion‘s role in Firefly, Mal Reynolds (and also to the show in general via Alexis-Richard dialogue). Then we have a case involving vampires, which naturally leads to a Buffyverse reference. And to top it all off, a mention of Dark Horse Comics, the company that publishes Buffy Season Eight and the Firefly comics. Just thinking about all this again is making me grin. Widely.

But back to the world of Castle. Most shows, just having a case involving the vampire culture scene would be enough to make a case interesting. Not this show, oh no. No, we have to have not only sexy vampires biting each other in red scale light, but also a victim killed with a wooden stake through the heart, a dude with porphyria who has crazy vampire symptoms (perhaps not strictly realistic, but not entirely out to sea), and a death in a cemetary. And that was only the fun stuff. The plot took an unexpected and incredible turn and made “Vampire Weekend” into one of the most heartwrenching cases for me. I’m not going to completely give away the plot, since spoilering isn’t my job or my intent, but I will say that it was twisted, emotionally stirring, and fascinating enough that it could have been a case on its own, without all the Halloween elements. Most ingenious moment: the grave of Elizabeth Dryden.

The Castle family angle for the episode was a solid delivery too. The egg-baby bit was a tad cliche, although the show gets cleverness bonus points for the Dickensian allusion. It was fantastic to see Richard Castle in full-blown superdad mode. He’s done the touchy-feely Daddy stuff plenty, and a good amount of the “my kid is so much better/smarter than me” routine, but we haven’t seen a whole lot of Richard Castle, Father up until this point and it was definitely an enjoyable new angle on the character.

Now, the humor. Castle is always quick and witty and full of funny moments. This episode was a nonstop torrent of puns and gags – I laughed my ass off, personally. My favorite bits include the first minute and a half of the episode with all its Whedon and literary references and jokes, and Esposito’s “What happened, the relationship suck?” comment to Ryan in reference to his vampire-scene ex-girlfriend (it was a really, really lame joke, but I laughed so hard).

My absolute favorite part of this episode, though, was that Beckett got Castle. Twice. Once at the tattoo parlor/piercing studio/cosmetic dental place. And then in the final moments of the episode thanks to one of the greatest Halloween costumes of all time. I really want to figure out how they rigged that coat/puppet, because it was freaking awesome. The greatest importance of this is not the fact that it is funny as hell (which it is) or that it speaks to the growing personal closeness of Castle and Beckett (which it does). Instead, the most important thing it establishes (and this is just my opinion) that Richard Castle/Nathan Fillion is not solely responsible for making this a great show. Beckett/Stana Katic is a subtler but equal match for her totally-out-there costar. I don’t feel like she gets all the recognition and admiration she deserves, most of the time. But it was so in-your-face this episode, I defy anyone not to have noticed.

Halloween episodes are supposed to be fun, but they aren’t expected to be great by any stretch. For those who doubted Castle’s ability to turn into a quality series (and I am including myself in that group), this episode can certainly stand as proof that good things can happen – and that you should never doubt a creative team that has Nathan Fillion and all his talents and connotations at their disposal.