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Pop Culture Tid-Bits: GH references Buffy, and other unrelated topics..

1. TV shows collide...

On General Hospital today there was the following conversation between Derek Wells (aka Julian Jerome, a nefarious mobster posing as a publishing magnate) and Franco (an alleged serial killer and street artist). They are arguing over Carly, whom Franco has a thing for and wants Derek to stay the heck away from.


Derek:So you see yourself as Carly's protector? Isn't that a tad hypocritical considering you have a criminal record? Unless you plan on selling her on the idea that she can redeem you.

Franco : We're sort of in the middle of a disagreement on that..

Derek: Which brings up an interesting philosophical question - can something or someone as evil as you are experience love and if they can experience love are they still evil?

Franco: A query completely exhausted during the third season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. I will leave you to ponder that.



I burst out laughing. Classic. Although it was actually exhausted in S5-S7 of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, because apparently the writer's hadn't made up their minds on the topic.
(Also, considering the number of times Whedon reference General Hospital in interviews and the series, it's about bloody time.)

As a side note? I've come to the realization that my difficulty with Joss Whedon's work post S1 Dollhouse (Man on the Street), although I saw signs of it there too but was too distracted by the cool urban legend references (hello! cultural anthropology minor!) to think too much about it, is...he's stopped focusing on character building, character emotional arcs, and character relationships romantic and familial. Instead it's all about the big power hungry organization or fighting the machine or the power made gods or dealing with your superpowers. Which I'm sorry, I find dull and redundant. Other people have handled these topics better long before Whedon wrote a script. But the characters - those rich, textured, relateable, psychological portraits of characters appear to be missing. I just see stock characters or pale imitations of previously created ones, like he's pulling a dusty action figure off the shelf. Also too much emphasis on gimmickery and film angles, not enough on telling the story...Director Whedon, sorry to say, isn't as interesting or as entertaining as the television scribe. (Yes, I know your mileage may vary on this, yaddah, yadda, yadda. I'd be more interested to see if anyone out there agrees with me. I already know who doesn't.)

2. The co-worker (who is also a frustrated television/screen scribe and who'd convinced me to give Breaking Bad a try in the first place) - sent me an email today on what he thought of the season finale and last eight episodes. The skinny? He thought it was a huge mess and was incredibly disappointed.

Coworker: (I'm paraphrasing) This series should have ended with the Season 4 finale. They didn't know what to do with Jesse. Killing Jesse's girlfriend was out of nowhere and didn't further the plot. What was that undergound railroad bit with Hank and Walt? The whole bit in New Hampshire was a waste of time, except it was nice to see Robert Forrester on screen again. And how did he easily poison Lydia when it was so hard to find a way to poison Gus Fringe? Also the shootout at the end was complete ex deux machina...and totally a cliche. (A nazi biker gang? Really? Is this a Charles Bronson movie?? ) And no big organization would allow a meth lab to be in a bus." (In short he gave me a two paragraph rant.)

Me: I don't entirely disagree - but? Hey, at least Walt took a bullet for Jesse.
Also there were a few great scenes in there: the phone conversations with Skylar and Flynn,
Hank figuring out Walt was Heisenberg on Walt's toilet, Walt's last conversation with Skylar in her new home, Walt playing one last con on his ex-partners with the aid of Jesse's pals,
and the finale scene between Walt and Jesse. Seriously this is more than we get in most tv series. Also, it's my personal view that 98% of tv series should be limited to no more than
4 - 5 seasons, and 20 minutes should be shaved off of 98% of movies.

Co-worker: Yeah, that's true. I just wish I was part of that writing team.

Comments

I actually agree with you on Whedon. It was already obvious in the comics, it was like he'd lost the heart and soul part of the characters. Focusing so much on the big storylines that he forgot about what actually made Buffy work.

Same with Firefly, Dollhouse and SHIELD, none of them seem to have characters with souls, who are more than just pawns to move the story along.
While I think Firefly and Dollhouse did have some interesting and complex characters...but not quite in the same way as Buffy and Angel did. There was something missing. I'm not quite sure what it was. But there's something about both shows characters that didn't quite work for me.

The writing seemed off somehow. Like it was trying too hard for the big themes, instead coming across as sort of cheesy and cliche. Comic booky.
Both shows lacked the writing that made me a fan - The Body, Once More With Feeling, Restless, HUSH, WHO ARE You, Prophecy Girl, Nightmares, Passion,
Fool for Love, Spin the Bottle, Hole in the World...writing that pulled from the emotional gut more than from the head.

What was missing from Dollhouse was the ability of ED to act. That has to affect the characterization.
Third season of BtVS? Some mistake, surely.
No, that's exactly what the character said. And to a degree that topic was exhausted in relation to the Buffy/Angel relationship in S3. (Angel came back from being evil, could he be redeemed, could he feel love, and if he did feel love was he still evil?)
Director Whedon, sorry to say, isn't as interesting or as entertaining as the television scribe.

My mileage doesn't vary sadly. I'm not hating Agents of Shield but some of the characters are very familiar. I think the problem with Joss is that he is now allowed to do what he wants to do rather than what he needed to do, to paraphrase him nastily. He's able now to put his beloved world of comics on TV, where it doesn't necessarily fit, instead of the character exploration he did so much better. Sigh!
I think the problem with Joss is that he is now allowed to do what he wants to do rather than what he needed to do, to paraphrase him nastily.
Yes, I'm beginning to think there's something to that adage...sometimes what we want to do isn't what we are meant to do, or where our true talent lies? I also think money and fame can be corrosive to artistic talent.


He's able now to put his beloved world of comics on TV, where it doesn't necessarily fit, instead of the character exploration he did so much better.

Ironically, I remember wanting to see the comics on TV back in the 1990s, but now...I realize they don't quite work on TV. Nor do I think Whedon fits the genre, it's too action and plot oriented - not Whedon's strengths.

Whedon's best episodes of Buffy were episodes weren't action/plot oriented, they were character oriented - Restless, The Body, Once More With Feeling, Who are You, Lie to Me, Innocence, and to a degree
HUSH. The action oriented episodes like The Gift, Chosen, Welcome to the Hellmouth, Lessons - were sort of a mess in places...with plot holes etc. Now, he's moved away from the type of writing that made me a fan.


he's stopped focusing on character building, character emotional arcs, and character relationships romantic and familial. Instead it's all about the big power hungry organization or fighting the machine or the power made gods or dealing with your superpowers.
This sounds like a correct diagnosis. Mind you, I've not watched anything he's done since the trainwreck that was the comics appeared, so...