A boy and a girl break into the school late at night. The girl is hesitant but the boy is insistent. It is clear that he is up to no good and you begin to worry that the petite, pretty blond will come to a horrible end. But it is the boy that is in for a sticky end as the girl is a vampire. The boy was surprised and so are we.
This is why I am a Joss Whedon fan. He is always taking our jaded expectations and turning them on their heads. The obvious story line becomes a roller coaster ride of the unexpected. This makes his stories so refreshingly different. He is always trying things that appear to be foolish but he makes it work. He can scare us, excite us, make us laugh and make us cry, all within a few minutes of amazing writing.
The scene described above comes from the TV series, “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” in which Whedon does a mix of teenage angst and the horror genre. Big nasty vampire baddies get there ass-kicked by a petite Buffy Summers who really just wants to survive school and be popular. The most popular episode of the series was a musical “Once more, with Feeling“. A musical. Can you believe it? But it worked. And, if you can have a musical episode, how about the episode “Hush” which was done with almost no dialogue (cause everyone lost their voice due to supernatural reasons). This creativity was rewarded with an Emmy nomination.
The cult success of that series led to the spin-off series, Angel. Again confounding stereotypes, the hero, Angel, is a vampire while nemesis is a firm of lawyers who had sold their souls to evil. Okay, maybe evil lawyers is not such a surprising concept but a hero vampire private eye is.
Then, came Firefly. The Firefly universe is a world of spaceships and space ports but whose outer planets look and feel like the old wild west. The hero is an ex-rebel space smuggler and again the most lethal person in his crew is a young girl, River Tam. This also became a big cult hit. So even though the networks pulling the plug on the show, fans drove the push for a movie which resulted in “Serenity”.
After this came Dollhouse, but I never got the chance to see this as it did not reach Malaysian shores. But what came next from Joss Whedon’s fertile mind is again a masterpiece of creativity and the unexpected. Kicking his heels during the Writer’s Guild strike in 2008, Joss came up with the idea of “Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog“, a 2008 musical tragicomedy miniseries in three acts, produced exclusively for Internet distribution where there is a villian that we like and who runs a blog and there is a hero that is obnoxious and distasteful and where everybody sings. Sounds like a ridiculous, disastrous concept?
On October 31, 2008, Time magazine named it #15 in Time’s Top 50 Inventions of 2008. It also won the People’s Choice Award for “Favorite Online Sensation”, and the 2009 Hugo Award for Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form. In the inaugural 2009 Streamy Awards for web television, Dr. Horrible won seven awards: Audience Choice Award for Best Web Series, Best Directing for a Comedy Web Series, Best Writing for a Comedy Web Series, Best Male Actor in a Comedy Web Series (Harris), Best Editing, Best Cinematography, and Best Original Music. It also won a 2009 Creative Arts Emmy Award for Outstanding Special Class – Short-format Live-Action Entertainment Programs.
Joss, keep it coming.
This alarming video records Dr. Horrible’s takeover of the Emmy Awards Broadcast in 2009
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