No recent television creator has generated more critical, scholarly, and popular discussion or acquired as devoted a cult following as Joss Whedon (b. 1964). No fewer than thirty books concerned with his work have now been published (a forthcoming volume even offers a book-length bibliography), and ten international conferences on his work have convened in the U.K., the United States, Australia, and Turkey. Fitting then that this first volume in the University Press of Mississippi's "Television Conversations" series is devoted to the writer, director, and showrunner who has deliveredBuffy the Vampire Slayer(The WB, 1997-2001; UPN, 2001-3),Angel(The WB, 1999-2004),Firefly(2002),Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog(Webcast, 2008), andDollhouse(FOX, 2009-10).
If Whedon has shown himself to be a virtuoso screenwriter/script-doctor, director, comic book author, and librettist, he is as well a masterful conversationalist. As a DVD commentator, for example, the consistently hilarious, reliably insightful, frequently moving Whedon has few rivals. In his many interviews he likewise shines. Whether answering a hundred rapid-fire, mostly silly questions from fans on the Internet, fielding serious inquiries about his craft and career from television colleagues, or assessing his disappointments, Whedon seldom fails to provoke laughter and reflection.
Front MatterFront Matter (pp. I-IV)
Table of ContentsTable of Contents (pp. V-VI)
INTRODUCTIONINTRODUCTION (pp. VII-XII)DL and CB
For its first half century, television, like its media rival the cinema, generated only minimal popular or scholarly interest in its makers. Until the publication inCahiers du Cinémaof François Truffaut’s “Une Certaine Tendance du Cinéma Français” (“A Certain Tendency in French Cinema,” 1954), published in the very decade in which the small screen arrived in our living rooms, “auteurs” (authors) were not an essential factor in movie discourse, and only the last two decades have generated comparable awareness of those individuals making quality TV. Now the serious television watcher, whether scholar-fan or fan-scholar, is likely to be found...
CHRONOLOGYCHRONOLOGY (pp. XIII-XIV)
FILMOGRAPHYFILMOGRAPHY (pp. XV-2)
Fresh Air Interview with Joss WhedonFresh Air Interview with Joss Whedon (pp. 3-13)DAVID BIANCULLI and Joss Whedon
Bianculli: That’s Sarah Michelle Geller and Anthony Stewart Head from the very first episode ofBuffy the Vampire Slayer, a 20th Century Fox production that airs on the WB. The show and the character were created by my guest, Joss Whedon. Viewers put off by the sillyBuffy the Vampire Slayertitle, or by monster dramas in general, are missing something really special here.
Despite its paranormal situations and characters, and sometimes because of them,Buffyis turning out some of the best stuff on TV right now. Genuinely funny jokes and seriously dramatic situations are doled out in equal...
Joss Whedon Gets Big, Bad, and Grown-Up with AngelJoss Whedon Gets Big, Bad, and Grown-Up with Angel (pp. 14-17)PATRICK LEE and Joss Whedon
Joss Whedon, creator of the WB network’s hit showBuffy the Vampire Slayer, takes on added duties this year with theBuffyspinoffAngel. Whedon’s creations have won him a broad fan following, particularly on the Internet, where fans gather to share their enthusiasm for all things Sunnydale. Whedon, one of Hollywood’s best-known script doctors, has also been working on a rewrite of the upcoming feature film version ofThe X-Men. Whedon took a few minutes last week to talk toScience Fiction Weeklyabout his two shows, his fans, his film career, the decision by the WB to postpone...
Westfield Comics Joss Whedon InterviewWestfield Comics Joss Whedon Interview (pp. 18-22)ROGER ASH and Joss Whedon
Joss Whedon is best known as the creator ofBuffy the Vampire SlayerandAngel. He’s also written or co-written scripts for films includingAlien Resurrection, Titan A.E., and the originalToy Story. This month he sets his sights on comics withFrayfrom Dark Horse. Worlds of Westfield Content Editor Roger Ash recently spoke with Whedon aboutFray.
Westfield: What can you tell us aboutFray?
Whedon: It’s a slayer story, but one that’s not connected at all to theBuffymythos, except that it’s about a slayer. I wanted to do a futuristic, slightly sci-fi adventure, but...
The Onion A.V. Club Interview with Joss Whedon (1)The Onion A.V. Club Interview with Joss Whedon (1) (pp. 23-33)TASHA ROBINSON and Joss Whedon
Joss Whedon is a third-generation television scriptwriter, possibly the first one. As he tells the story, he never intended to follow in his father’s footsteps: He started his career as a snobby film student who never watched television and intended to write movies, until he found out how much TV writing paid. Ultimately, he did both, working as a scriptwriter onRoseanneand the TV seriesParenthoodbefore selling his script to the 1992Buffy the Vampire Slayermovie. For several years, he was a film writer and a script doctor, doing uncredited touch-ups onTwister,Speed, andWaterworld, and...
Joss Whedon Answers 100 questionsJoss Whedon Answers 100 questions (pp. 34-41)SFX MAGAZINE and Joss Whedon
1. How are you?
JW: So very sleepy.
2. Where are you right now?
JW: I’m behind you.
3. What are you doing for the rest of today?
JW: Working and playing piano.
4. What’s your favorite British show?
5. What’s your favorite British swear word?
JW: C**t. It’s horrible when Americans say it, but oddly endearing with a British accent.
6. Are you running out of ambitions?
JW: Haven’t written a ballet yet, or directed a film, or known a woman sexually. So no.
7. Which is your favorite Western?
JW:Once Upon a Time in...
Joss Whedon, FeministJoss Whedon, Feminist (pp. 42-63)JAMES LONGWORTH and Joss Whedon
“Even a man who is pure at heart and says his prayers by night, may become a wolf when the wolfbane blooms, and the autumn moon is bright.” Those lyrical strains from Curt Siodmak’s 1941 classic screenplayThe Wolf Mandescribe the tormented lycanthrope Larry Talbot. But they might also apply toBuffy the Vampire Slayer’s one-time heart throb, Angel, who, because of his conflicted nature, is more akin to a werewolf than to a Dracula-like figure.
Still, while vampires and wolf men can sometimes be sympathetic characters, Buffy’s pal Willow observed that “Men can be jerks, deadoralive.”...
Must-See MetaphysicsMust-See Metaphysics (pp. 64-70)EMILY NUSSBAUM
“Every once in a while, I’ll just look up and say, ‘My spaceship!’” says Joss Whedon, bouncing on the tips of his sneakers. The thirty-eight-year-old creator ofBuffy the Vampire Slayergrins and gazes up at theSerenity, a pirate vessel of the future. The ship dominates the Hollywood set of Whedon’s newest genre-bender,Firefly—a show that is part cowboy shoot-’em-up, part space opera, with a sneaky existential streak. At once majestic and junky, theSerenityresembles a blown-up kid’s toy, and its interior has been filled with oddball details. A tiny plastic bobble-headed dog sits on the dashboard,...
The Man Behind the SlayerThe Man Behind the Slayer (pp. 71-79)LAURA MILLER and Joss Whedon
Not many people can create a cult phenomenon, and few of those set out to do it from the start, so fans of Joss Whedon’sBuffy the Vampire Slayermay be forgiven for suspecting the writer/director of possessing superpowers rivaling those of his famous heroine. It would be exaggerating to say that his statements are studied like the utterances of the Oracle of Delphi, but let’s just say that after seven years as the genius behind theBuffyuniverse, Whedon has learned to measure his words carefully.
Salonreached Whedon at his office in Los Angeles a few days before...
JoBlo.com Visits the Set of SerenityJoBlo.com Visits the Set of Serenity (pp. 80-84)THOMAS LEUPP and Joss Whedon
With his latest projectSerenity, prolific writer/director Joss Whedon looks to prove he can achieve success outside the world ofBuffy the Vampire Slayer. Of course,Buffyisn’t exactly the easiest act to follow. Adored by both critics and audiences alike, the show became the WB Network’s centerpiece, made Sarah Michelle Gellar a star, and spawned a popular spin-off.
Whedon’s next project, the sci-fi/western hybridFirefly, didn’t fare as well, lasting only eleven episodes before Fox pulled the plug. When a defiant Whedon announced his intention to takeFireflyto the big screen, even his most ardent fans couldn’t help...
Serenity Now!Serenity Now! (pp. 85-106)JIM KOZAK and Joss Whedon
“If we’d done this and we’d heard crickets chirping, it would have been very depressing,” admitsBuffy the Vampire Slayercreator Joss Whedon.
The veteran screenwriter is speaking of this summer’s “Can’t Stop the Signal” hit-and-run public screenings ofSerenity, the almost-finished sci-fi actioner that marks his feature directorial debut. Whedon, in fact, is hurtling toward Riverside, California, for one of the thirty-five Signal screenings being held that evening in thirty-five cities throughout the United States and Canada.
The crickets’ odds of being heard are not the greatest. All thirty-five of the June 23Serenityscreenings sold out in the...
The CulturePulp Q&A: Joss WhedonThe CulturePulp Q&A: Joss Whedon (pp. 107-128)MIKE RUSSELL and Joss Whedon
Buffy the Vampire Slayercreator Joss Whedon always wanted to write and direct feature films—but even he admits thatSerenitywas a strange choice for his big-screen debut.
“A lot of people told me that—repeatedly,” he says, “because [Serenity’s] a story and not apremisemovie—like ‘Oh! He sees dead people!’ or ‘He’s old and he looks like Tom Hanks now!’
“It’s true:Serenity, which opens Friday, September 30, is hard to sum up in pithy sentences. But let’s give it a shot:
In broad strokes, the film tells the story of space pirate Mal Reynolds (Nathan...
Interview with Joss WhedonInterview with Joss Whedon (pp. 129-137)DANIEL ROBERT EPSTEIN and Joss Whedon
Genre fans, rejoice! Joss Whedon has finally directed for the big screen and he’s bringing some of his TV pals along with him. His television seriesFireflywas cancelled before its time by the Fox network and now the company that owns NBC, Universal Studios, is continuing the adventures of Captain Mal Reynolds and his band of outlaws in the movie,Serenity. Whedon has all the elements that made his television works great, such as hot, ass-kicking females, humor with a sly wink, and well thought-out scripts, but now it’s backed by a $40 million budget. . . .
Joss Whedon—About Buffy, Alien, and Firefly: The Shebytches.com InterviewJoss Whedon—About Buffy, Alien, and Firefly: The Shebytches.com Interview (pp. 138-142)S. F. SAID and Joss Whedon
Credit where it’s due. There would be no Joss Whedon interview here without Pixie, the amazing Shebytches columnist. In fact, I would know nothing about Whedon at all if she hadn’t made me watchBuffy the Vampire Slayer. I’d been aware that the show existed, and that a lot of women I knew loved it, but I’d never really given it a chance. Until I actually watched some—and then I couldn’t get enough.
Same withFirefly, Whedon’s science-fiction western series, and now withSerenity, the brilliant feature film based on that series, which is about to take the world...
The Onion A.V. Club Interview with Joss Whedon (2)The Onion A.V. Club Interview with Joss Whedon (2) (pp. 143-161)TASHA ROBINSON and Joss Whedon
Joss Whedon has had a long and storied history in Hollywood as a screenwriter, on television as the writer-creator ofBuffy the Vampire Slayer,Angel, andFirefly, and back in Hollywood as the writer-director ofSerenity. As an enthusiastic, unabashed fan of all things smart and geeky, it was inevitable that he’d find his way into comics, where (among other things) he’s written the far-futureBuffyspin-offFray, a well-received run onAstonishing X-Men, and theFireflyminiseriesSerenity: Those Left Behind. Currently, he’s wrapping up hisX-Menrun, taking over writing duties for Brian K. Vaughan onRunaways, and...
Joss Whedon on Crafts and CraftinessJoss Whedon on Crafts and Craftiness (pp. 162-169)KIM WERKER and Joss Whedon
Werker: Ok. We’re recording now and I’m here with Joss Whedon. I’m Kim Werker from CrochetMe.com. So, Joss, Captain Hammer—four sweater vests, really?
Whedon: Yeah. Well, four, you know, in that, I mean, he actually has quite a collection.
[Confusion as I interrupt.]
Whedon: Just four at that particular time. He has more than that, obviously. No man can live with only four sweater vests.
Werker: So, the crafty community is dying to know: Are those sweater vests knitted or crocheted?
Whedon: Well. Ok. So this is where we get to the tough questions.
Whedon: I’m aware...
New Media Guru: Meet Joss Whedon the Web SlayerNew Media Guru: Meet Joss Whedon the Web Slayer (pp. 170-174)LISA ROSEN
Joss Whedon is wired to write. If he had lived back in Cro-Magnon time, he would have drawn stories on cave walls. (And some Neanderthal would have given him notes.) Fortunately, he has slightly easier formats today, including films, comic books, and the television showsBuffy the Vampire Slayer,Angel, andFirefly. Last summer, Whedon’s primal storytelling prowess was applied to the brand-new cave wall known as the Internet, with his self-produced, selffunded, self-you-name-it musical,Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog.
A mass of silliness with a tender center,Dr. Horribletells the tale of one young wannabe super villain, the Dr....
Joss Whedon’s Plan to Monetize Internet Content (Watch Out, Hollywood)Joss Whedon’s Plan to Monetize Internet Content (Watch Out, Hollywood) (pp. 175-183)KNOWLEDGE@WHARTON.COM and Joss Whedon
TV and movie writer-director Joss Whedon wants to change the way Hollywood does business. While Whedon works inside the studio system on major projects, he also hopes to blaze a trail on the Internet for creating and monetizing independently produced content. In doing so, he is confronting what he terms the “homogenized, globalized, monopolized entertainment system.”
One of Whedon’s recent projects isDr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog, an online musical comedy starring Neil Patrick Harris, Nathan Fillion, and Felicia Day, written by Whedon, his brothers Zack and Jed, and Jed’s fiancée Maurissa Tancharoen. Conceived during the hundred-day Writers Guild of America...
Joss Whedon Just Wants to Be LovedJoss Whedon Just Wants to Be Loved (pp. 184-190)JOY PRESS and Joss Whedon
Joss Whedon looks rough and rumpled, as if he just tumbled out of bed and into his hotel lobby. Is this what a great television auteur looks like? The man who createdBuffy the Vampire Slayer,Angel, andDr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Bloghas earned a zealous cult following with his special blend of giddy fantasy, brainy humor, and beautifully constructed narratives.
Wearing an unbuttoned shirt covered in tiny retro TVs, Whedon doesn’t resemble a Hollywood icon so much as a guy who spent part of the previous day at New York’s fanboy festival Comic-Con. Where he was, by the way,...
IndexIndex (pp. 191-198)