Addicted to Whedon & Pratchett

Discworld_Companion (by StarbuckGuy)

I’ve touched on this before — I’m addicted to the productions of writer, director, and producer, Joss Whedon. I own the original Buffy the Vampire Slayer movie, all seven seasons of Buffy (TV series), the complete Angel series, and as of today, the complete Firefly series and the subsequent movie Serenity. They arrived in my latest order.

I’m on my second viewing of Angel and, as happened with Buffy, I’m enjoying it much more the second time around. Right now I’m in the very dark season two episodes where Darla has been turned (re-turned) into a vamp by Drusilla and the two are terrorizing LA. Wolfram & Hart are showing more and more of the depth of their evilness and Angel is driving away his friends, Cordelia, Wesley, and Gunn. In fact he just fired them. I’m midway through the season, before their dimensional adventure takes them on a subplot where they find ‘Fred’.

It’s not the plots, which are a bit monster-of-the-week or adventure-of-the-week. They’re enjoyable, if you like SF&F. It’s the writing. Joss Whedon’s originality and freshness has been passed along to all the co-writers of the various series and, as a result, the episodes have the unexpected, surprising twists of dialogue, undercutting humour, and powerful character development and story arcs that flow from Whedon’s own pen. I’ve never encountered writing like this before in pop culture media.

I wasn’t sure I was going to purchase Firefly and Serenity after watching a borrowed version, but I finally convinced Trevor to watch Serenity with me (we often share our fave movies as father/son buddy time) and after viewing it he said, “You’re going to buy these, aren’t you?” That’s his stamp of approval — he’s acquired a considerable video collection of his favourite movies. Well … certainly I couldn’t let him down.

I added a paperback to the latest Amazon order to bring the threshold to the ‘free shipping’ point: The New Discworld Companion, by Terry Pratchett and Stephen Briggs. I’ve only dipped into it a little but it’s a delightful reader’s encyclopedia to the characters and elements of Discworld. Here’s the entry on Conina:

One of the daughters of Conan the Barbarian, and therefore genetically a barbarian heroine who, unfortunately, wants to be a hair dresser. A superb fighter, she carries a large number of concealed weapons, although absolutely anything she can get hold of — a hairgrip, a piece of paper, a hamster — is used as a deadly weapon.

Her hair is long and almost pure white, her skin tanned. She is a demure and surprisingly small figure. Although she inherits her looks from her mother, a temple dancer, she inherits from her father sinews you could moor a boat with, reflexes like a snake on hot tin, a terrible urge to steal things and a sensation that she should be throwing a knife at everyone she meets.

I see a strong connection between my addiction to Joss Whedon and my addiction to Terry Pratchett. Both, in my opinion, transcend the genres they write in, creating art.

Things Joss Whedony

Buffyverse (by StarbuckGuy)

It’s a fine line between dependency and addiction. If it’s something you need to keep you going, it’s a dependency. If you also crave it, it’s an addiction.

I’m trying to decide if things Joss Whedony are crack for my brain. A mere year ago I didn’t even know who Joss Whedon was. Now I may have developed an ‘addictioncy’ for his pop-culture productions.

It all started with Buffy — Buffy the Vampire Slayer — written and directed by Joss Whedon. My son’s girlfriend Kirsten and I share many tastes in reading material, and several times when we were discussing some of our mutual faves, such as Terry Pratchett’s Discworld novels, she’d make references to some parallel in Buffy.

I’d thought Buffy was some kind of air-headed teenage TV program and wondered why she kept mentioning it so often, so I asked her more about it. Little did I know there was an entire Internet infrastructure surrounding the Buffyverse — plot summaries, discussion groups, interviews, fan fiction, and academic writings.

She made me curious, but because I’m not naturally drawn to television programming I wanted to test the waters before investing in a Buffy DVD, so I checked out Season One of Buffy from the public library. Marion and I watched two or three episodes and were instantly hooked. I ordered the box set — the complete seven seasons on DVD — and we watched the 40 DVD’s  in less than thirty days.

A few days ago, we finished watching through the series a third time. We’re also reading a book of essays by science fiction and fantasy writers called Seven Seasons of Buffy.

I’ve never seen television programming like this. Funny with snappy lines often undercutting serious scenes, mythic journeys, the pain of love and loss, and strong acting from the entire cast. The series is a modern-day epic tale. Buffy is a tremendously strong, vulnerable, completely-modern character — saving the world from apocalypses but all the while wishing she could instead be dating and shopping like any ‘normal’ young woman. Who could not fall under the spell of Willow and Tara, or love the attitude of Spike? Even the villains are wonderful: the Mayor, Glory, Caleb.

Buffy leads to Angel, and soon I had acquired the five-season set of Angel on DVD. I’m not as fond of David Boreanaz as I am of the other actors in the Buffyverse, but the Angel series has a strong supporting cast.

Angel leads to Firefly and the followup movie, Serenity. Another excellent brainchild of Joss Whedon with a strong cast and great acting. I must thank my friend Peter for lending me his DVD’s.

Firefly leads to Dollhouse. I’m eagerly awaiting its debut on FOX, on Friday, February 13th. Starring Eliza Dushku (who stole many scenes in Buffy in the character of Faith, the sexy, wild and dangerous renegade Slayer),  I’m expecting another Joss Whedon mindbending, thoughtful, action-filled series.

Crack, I think. Probably a hopeless addiction.

P.S. As Matt pointed out in a comment, I didn’t include Whedon’s latest: Dr. Horrible. I’m not even quite certain what it is, having missed it while it was being released on the Internet, but I know there’s a DVD available for it: Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog. I’m looking forward to catching up to this one.

A Winter Whammy

Common Cold Virus

The photo in today’s blog is one of the common cold virus.  Talk about change, these critter must hold some kind of Olympic record for the speed of their reproduction. Multiply and Conquer!

And they’re very successful at it too! Stats indicate that most adults in North America are invaded by one of this family of viruses between 2-4 times per year, on average. Young kids get even more of them.

My time has come again. The sneezing started last evening and by 3am I was too uncomfortable with congestion to stay in bed so I’ve been lounging around all day, sneezing, coughing, and feeling awful. No trips to the harbour today. No new photos to post.

I’ve spent the day re-watching episodes of Season Six of Buffy the Vampire Slayer on DVD. I’m totally hooked on this series. Just before dinner I watched the wonderful musical episode, “Once More with Feeling.” Not wonderful in a “Hills are Alive” kind of way — wonderful for its creative insight and penetrating lyrics. Some wonderful singing from the cast doesn’t hurt.

This was followed up by “Tabula Rasa” in which Willow, against her own vow and Tara’s warnings, tries to use magic to help Buffy forget her time spent in a heaven dimension, so she can adjust to this one. At the end of Season Five, Buffy died selflessly in “The Gift.” It was perfect. It was noble. There was closure. It was also thought, for some time, it would be the final TV season.

But after FOX cancelled the series, HBO picked it up for another two seasons, and Buffy had to be brought back. It’s not been an easy return to Sunnydale. To Buffy, it seems like hell after where she’s been. She’s lost her way, just as she lost her mother in Season Five. She has to take care of Dawn, her “sister”, and there are money problems. Her boyfriends are gone. Life is bleak.

From this point on it gets bleaker. To me the entire story arc of Season Six is an allegory representing depression. Depression leads to despair, and some very bad choices. Willow and Tara split up, Willow increasingly turns to the dark side, Giles has gone home to England, the vampire Spike still loves Buffy, and Buffy, the superhero, is as vulnerable to depression and despair as any of us.

Makes me glad all I have is a cold.