Good Buzz: Joss Spews, I Quaff Firefly

SOURCE: ScoopMe!

by Carter Bell
8/29/2002

I know, I know, we here at ScoopMe got you guys all riled up over Ms. Eliza Dushku’s Tuesday night appearance on the David Letterman show since she was supposed to announce her plans for the upcoming broadcast season. NOT!

Eliza chatted about her soon to be released film, City By The Sea, co-starring Robert De Niro and James Franco, but nary a word uttered as to whether or not she’d be reprising her most noted role as Faith, the vampire slayer, on either Buffy or Angel.

Actually maybe she did say something in reference to her TV persona, only to have it cut from the final broadcast. I find it hard to believe that she’d dangle promising tidbits in front of Mutant Enemy’s minions (we fans) as a way of getting them to tune into David Letterman.

Anyway, as far as the gossip on the internet goes, Dushku’s return is basically a done deal. The Hollywood Reporter confirmed that our favorite rogue slayer has signed on as Faith for five episodes of Buffy and three episodes of Angel this season. That’s stellar, and her appearance comes at an interesting juncture, as indeed it would have to be if, Joss et al, intend to continue Buffy after Sarah Michelle Gellar departs at the end of the season. Remember, the slayer line now goes through Faith, not Buffy. That’s why the Watcher’s Council was so hot to off Faith two seasons back, as only her death would trigger the arrival of a new slayer.

So if Mutant Enemy is serious about keeping the Sunnydale story going without the amazing gifts of SMG, they need to find a new slayer fast. I’m going to miss Sarah, but seven years is seven years, and I wouldn’t stay either unless FOX and UPN were willing to part with some serious moolah. Besides, the ensemble that has grown up around SMG’s Buffy is as talented as any group of actors on television today. With Nicholas Brendan, Alyson Hannigan, and James Marsters all on board for a season eight, it would be criminal of Mutant Enemy not to give Michelle Trachtenberg – a natural successor to the slayer line – a shot at slayer-fabulousness.

OK, enough about Sunnydale, into outer space.

Firefly is fast becoming the show to watch this fall. The buzz surrounding it couldn’t be more positive and it seems that every television reviewer worth reading is already betting on Whedon to create another hit. Saturday, September 21 ratings will ultimately decide on whether or not to believe the hype, but until then, our boy Joss is golden in Tinseltown.

A few weeks back, Mr. Whedon granted a somewhat exhaustive interview to Kathie Huddleston over at SciFi.com concerning his latest televised offspring. Over the past couple of weeks I’ve alluded to this interview, but now I think it high time I confront it head-on. If you would like to see it in its entirety, pop on over to www.scifi.com or click here.

When asked to describe his latest creation, Whedon replied, “It’s a sci fi-action-drama-Western thing. Which of those comes first is a bit of a bone of contention, but it’s something that I thought up about three years ago and had on the boiler because I didn’t want to jump in for a while – not until I had three shows running. Then I thought now’s the time.”

“How can I describe it? It’s Stagecoach. It’s a chance to get back down to earth by going into space. As opposed to my latexy shows, which I love very much, it’s nice to have something with no monsters in it. It’s really a chance to deal with people who are not bigger than life, are not superheroes, are really just working-class people trying to make their way in an extraordinarily difficult environment. Sort of finding their way, finding themselves, their morals, their families, their loves – and with a lot of violence, too. As we learn on Buffy, violence resolves problems that talking can’t solve,” he says with a laugh.

Wow, Whedon without latex, is like Bochco without bravado, or Kelley without sex, or Carter without conundrum. Weird. Still, I like that Joss is willing to work without a net, and creating an outer space show without the prerequisite “latexy” alien popping in week after week seems not only gutsy, but revolutionary. Don’t sweat the make-up, however, as Joss is quick to affirm that Firefly will be as, if not more, FX driven than either Buffy or Angel.

“We’ve got Radium just going out of their minds, Radium Effects, and doing the best visual effects that I’ve ever seen on TV. They’re better than most movies I’ve seen and they’ve done an extraordinary job. Because the whole mission statement of the show is to put you there. It is not to make space something grand and epic that you watched from afar. It is to make it something mundane that is happening to you the way your life happens to you. To that end, we shot most of thing hand held,” says Whedon.

“We tried to make it feel a little bit like somebody happened to have a camera and found all these people talking,” he continues, “as opposed to the stately, very controlled kind of filming that I usually do with Buffy and Angel.”

Uh-oh and thank God this show is set in space, because we all know how devastating Joss can be when he strives for “realism.” Don’t get me wrong. I absolutely adored The Body and was one of the first Scoopers to support the GBAE campaign, but I don’t know if I can take such intense reality week after week. Luckily, Joss asserts that Firefly won’t be all doom and gloom and post-apocalyptic despair.

To truly understand what Firefly and Joss have in store for us come Sept. 20th, it is necessary to explore Joss’ original inspiration for the series.

“It was The Killer Angels, [a book about] the Battle of Gettysburg that I read in London when I was on one of my vacations where I didn’t write anything, but I did come up with Firefly and a couple other shows,” he says. “The minutia of the Battle of Gettysburg and the lives of the people in it really made Firefly just pop out of my head. I want to get into people’s lives this intimately. I want to do it in the future and show that the future is the past. So I built the structure of the world and the look of the show on the Reconstruction Era.”

While the subtextural politics behind Firefly remain obscured, one thing that the series can boast is an amazing ensemble. I personally have been a big fan of actress Gina Torres, (Hercules, Cleopatra 2525, Alias), Nathan Fillion, (Two Guys And A Girl, Saving Private Ryan, One Life To Live), and Ron Glass (Barney Miller), for years. Joss seems equally high on his newest cast and when asked what the biggest challenge was in getting Firefly to fly he responded, “The biggest challenge – it was very hard to cast, to find the right people. And, boy, did we. I just can’t say enough about them.”

When asked about the wisdom of starting a series with nine regular players Joss replied, “The thing about a big cast is it makes stories much richer, because you have nine people that you know and care about react to every single event. And when you have nine different, often conflicting, and sometimes rather unexpectedly in-sync perspectives on an event – there’s a lot more to it.”

Wax on Mr. Whedon.

I for one can’t wait to find out what in the Hellmouth you’re talking about.