Why we love The Joss Whedonverse

1:00 pm EST, June 23, 2013

Here at Hypable it is no secret that we adore Joss Whedon. And we will use absolutely any excuse to celebrate him.

The first show featured on our Rewatchable podcast was Firefly and we did a Buffy-specific episode of Vampire Hype (and behind-the-scenes, it was a Battle Royale-style fight to determine which of the many Buffy fans would be on it).

More recently, we have extolled the virtues of Much Ado About Nothing and The Cabin in The Woods.

Whatever Whedon touches, turns to shiny fandom brilliance – whether or not network television agrees (we’re looking at you, Fox).

From cult television masterpieces like Firefly and Dollhouse, to the third highest grossing film of all time in The Avengers, it seems like Whedon has done a bit of everything.

And to have accomplished all this by the age of 49 (as of June 23) is no small feat. So happy birthday Joss Whedon. Here at Hypable, we love you – and this is why.

Why Marama loves…

‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer’

buffy the vampire slayer
Buffy found its way into our hearts and it has never left. Whether you watched the series when it aired, or have since marathon-ed the lot, there is something about these young adult vampire slayers, witches, vampires and demons that got under our skin. Plus, this had vampire romance way before it was cool.

The show is only dated by the hilarious 90s outfits (ahem, leather pants). The issues Whedon addresses are just as relevant, and the jokes still get us giggling. Even better, in an age of dumbed-down television, Buffy makes us think, with its casual subverting of common television tropes, and incorporation of various styles and genres.

As a character, Buffy herself demonstrates Whedon’s commitment to creating compelling and realistic women (well, as realistic as a vampire slayer who has died twice can be). From Cordelia to Buffy and Willow, Whedon made his women just as funny, complex and fallible as his men.

From the Emmy-nominated “Hush” to musical masterpiece “Once More With Feeling” (in which Whedon gives us a song about drycleaning – what more could you ask for?), the seven seasons of Buffy the Vampire Slayer encompass some of Whedon’s best work.

With writing that was equal parts hilarious and heartbreaking, it is nice to know that we can return to Sunnydale anytime we like.

Why Michal loves…

‘Dollhouse’

dollhouse
In the scope of its creator’s career, Dollhouse (or, as it is often known, “That Other Canceled Joss Whedon Show”) doesn’t cast a very long shadow. The show ran for two brief seasons and concluded quietly, with neither the vast cultural significance of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, or the magnetic devotion of Firefly.

The story of Echo, a young woman who lives without her memory in a “Dollhouse” full of rentable people, was eerie and complex, and the show faced the considerable challenge of bonding viewers to characters who were literally different people every time they appeared.

Dollhouse turned out to offer much more than just the week-to-week adventures of people with programmed memories, though as the show progressed, it became a story about an idea – the value of the self, and how that self is challenged by technology.

But even Joss’s most philosophical work offered a terrific line of characters to love (and love to hate!) sprinkled across a vast moral spectrum. From the resilient Echo/Caroline to the stoic Paul Ballard, and all the way to the fascinatingly repugnant Adelle and Topher, Dollhouse made us laugh and weep and feel as sharply as Whedon ever has.

In the end, like the best of fiction, Dollhouse was a metaphor – and not a static one. The questions it raised about morality and technology were challenging and painful, and defied easy resolution. As it continually raised the stakes (the show is not Whedon’s only work to threaten the existence of humanity within its workings) Dollhouse looked its viewers in the eye week after week and demanded “What would you do?”

Though we didn’t get much time to answer, we’re glad really Joss asked the question.

Why Laura loves…

‘Firefly’

Firefly
Two words: space cowboys, who else other than Joss could possibly make this concept work? Not only does he make it work, but he avoids most of the cliches associated with each genre. Inara isn’t just “the hooker with the heart of gold” and Book is anything but your typical preachy preacher.

The thing that really solidifies Firefly are the nuances to the characters. You feel as if you have known each of them for years. One of the series’ best scenes was in “Out of Gas” where the entire crew is sitting around the table chatting like old friends until disaster strikes. It’s hard to get that sense of camaraderie out of actors in the first season of any show; however, with Joss’ writing it’s believable and a breeze.

Probably, the best tribute that any writer can receive is for people to care about their work years after its debut. One of the more amazing things about Firefly, is that ten years after its untimely cancellation, it’s still gaining fans and the fandom is still as strong as ever. Name any other cancelled-after-one-season show that has achieved that.

In 2012, Firefly celebrated its tenth anniversary at Comic Con with an audience filled with Browncoats. There wasn’t a dry eye on the panel that included stars Nathan Fillion, Alan Tudyk, and Adam Baldwin along with Joss Whedon. The actors all gave Whedon full credit for the show launching their careers. More significantly, Whedon cites the show as the most important thing he ever did.

So, if you haven’t been converted yet, the next rainy Saturday you have, marathon the series. If it doesn’t make you want to take a trip around the ‘verse aboard Serenity, you’re probably sou-less and better off as reever fodder.

Why Karen loves…

‘The Avengers’

The Avengers
Making The Avengers was never going to be an easy task, no matter who took it on. It took five movies to prequel this film. There were several huge and well-loved characters and actors vying for the main spotlight. Not to mention the sheer scale of the story and the impact it would have on the Marvel universe.

In layman’s terms, it was a huge ass deal.

And let’s be real. If handed over to any number of other people, it probably would’ve still made tons of money. But would it have satisfied fans? Maybe not.

In the end, as we all know, it went to Joss “That Guy That Did Buffy And That One Show That Got Cancelled” Whedon, and he delivered everything the fans wanted and more.

He’s a genius with dialogue and a genius with characters. You would think it’d be easy to take already established characters and just keep writing them as they always have been. But it’s not. This project had unbreakable rules, and yet Whedon had to put his twist on it and make it his own.

And he handled it seamlessly. Tony was just as sarcastic, Cap was just as noble, and Thor was just as muscular godly.

He even made the Hulk cool again.

The Avengers appealed to fans of the comics, to fans of the characters, and to fans of the previous movies. Hell, it appealed to people who didn’t even know who Iron Man was before 2012. Needless to say, Whedon was in his element, and it came through in every single frame of the film.

We already knew Whedon was awesome, but now, thankfully, the rest of the world does too.

Why Caitlin loves…

‘Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog’


Written and produced during the 2008 Writers Guild of America strike, Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog was Whedon’s first attempt at getting web-savvy. Whedon self-funded the webseries, which stars Neil Patrick Harris, Nathan Fillion, and Felicia Day.

On its own, Dr. Horrible is over-the-top and full of heart (and, in true Whedon form, heartbreak). The tragicomedy makes us root for the character with a “Ph.D. in Horribleness.” The “hero” is a self-absorbed jerk, and the love interest remains clueless about who truly cares for her to the very end.

It’s both a parody of superheroes – which is even more fun in hindsight considering Whedon’s involvement in The Avengers – and a human story. And then there is the soundtrack, which includes quirky songs like “My Freeze Ray” and “Bad Horse Chorus” that make us laugh out loud.

But what’s truly remarkable about Dr. Horrible is the ground it broke for web entertainment. After being streamed for free, the series went to iTunes and topped the charts for five weeks.

The soundtrack followed the series at No. 2 and also entered the Billboard Top 200 at No. 39, impressive for a digital-only album. And Time magazine listed it in their Top 50 inventions of 2008 at No. 15, praising the success of the unconventional musical.

So, while we love Dr. Horrible, Captain Hammer, and Penny, we’ll forever remember the series for bringing digital entertainment into the mainstream.

Why Louie loves…

‘Toy Story’

toy story joss whedon

Wait, what?

While it won’t come as a surprise to his most hardcore fans, others may be surprised to learn that Joss Whedon was one of the writers on the original Pixar movie, Toy Story. Along with Andrew Stanton, Joel Cohen, and Alec Sokolow, Whedon wrote the screenplay for what would become one of the most influential movies of our generation at the very least.

When I think of Whedon, I think of near perfect characters and dialogue. Whedon only has a screenplay credit and not a story credit, so that means he didn’t create any of the characters. We did, however, likely shape the way those characters are brought to life, and Toy Story and the following sequels (which he didn’t work on) would have never been the same if he hadn’t shaped the characters and the dialogue they spoke.

Shifting to why we love Toy Story, I mean, come on, who doesn’t love Toy Story? It was a groundbreaking film in terms of both animation and story telling, and it works on different levels for audiences of different ages. Previously parents had to sit through movies for their kids, but Toy Story was beloved by parents and children equally.

Whedon had a big impact on Toy Story and consequently the Pixar productions since, but don’t ask him about it:

Nobody wrote Toy Story. Toy Story happened to some toys.

Why Selina loves…

‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer’ (the, er, movie)

Buffy the movie
Forget the TV show! Selina is all about the Buffy the Vampire Slayer movie, y’all.

Oh, who is Selina kidding?

Buffy: the Movie is legitimately one of the worst pieces of cinema, and had the TV show not followed, the world would never have known that Whedon was actually trying to create a strong, empowered female superhero (as opposed to one who sensed vampires via PMS).

It completely suits the, let’s face it, super campy title, and as many critics have noted, not even the actors seemed to believe in the story they were trying to tell.

Luckily though, Whedon did not give up on the story he’d created (and which, allegedly, the Kuzuis are to blame for butchering), and we all know what happened next: the Buffy the Vampire Slayer TV show was amazing, and we all lived happily ever after. Or something.

But the fact that such a terrible movie turned into such a fantastic show makes the movie worth watching, only because we can laugh and throw popcorn at the screen and count our lucky stars that this is not what people think about when they think about Buffy.

And this is why I do, legitimately, love Buffy: the Movie. It is hilarious, and never fails to cheer me up. Come on, that 10-minute long death scene? That was like something out of Monty Python, made even better by the fact that the rest of the cast was playing it totally straight.

I do think that the Buffy movie is an important part of Joss Whedon’s legacy, if only because it reminds us that even the best idea can suffer from horrible execution, and is worth mentioning when celebrating this man’s amazing career and accomplishments.

Plus, Dollhouse was already taken.

joss whedon

‘The Space Between Us’ set report: What if a human was born on Mars?

Hypable visited the set and spoke to the film's stars.

12:00 pm EST, January 17, 2017

Could a human be born on a distant planet and later survive on earth?

It’s not only a premise that the upcoming science fiction tale The Space Between Us asks, but a real question and concern that people at NASA have considered as well.

Inspired by his son’s obsession with Mars, and the kernel of an idea from another writer he works with, film producer Richard Lewis picked up the phone and posed the question to members of NASA.

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Could a human be born on a distant planet and later survive on earth?

It’s not only a premise that the upcoming science fiction tale The Space Between Us asks, but a real question and concern that people at NASA have considered as well.

Inspired by his son’s obsession with Mars, and the kernel of an idea from another writer he works with, film producer Richard Lewis picked up the phone and posed the question to members of NASA.

He never would’ve guessed what was going to happen when he spoke to them.

“I called a group of NASA scientists and said, ‘So what would happen if an astronaut turned out to be pregnant on a flight to Mars?’ and there was just silence on the other end of the call. And they said, ‘Are you listening to our phone calls?’ I said, ‘No, I’ve never spoken to you in my life.’ And they said, ‘It’s going to happen, and we don’t know what to do.'”

That was when he teamed up with screenwriter Allan Loeb and started fleshing out an answer. “I thought, wow, that’s the beginning of an interesting story.” Lewis even worked with his father, a heart specialist, to examine how that muscle would develop differently on Mars, and aspects of this research became a big part of the story.

The Space Between Us is an interplanetary adventure following a human boy named Gardner Elliot (Asa Butterfield) born on the distant red planet. His mother, an astronaut, only realized she was pregnant with Gardner after leaving on her mission to colonize Mars.

Once Gardner reaches his teenage years he becomes interested in leaving East Texas (yep, on Mars) and returning to the home of his species. Not only is he curious about Earth, but Gardner has also fallen for a girl named Tulsa who’s literally tens of millions of miles away in the state of Colorado. The two met online and can relate over their outsider perspectives.

There’s just one problem: Tulsa doesn’t realize that Gardner is literally living on Mars.

Hypable visited the Albuquerque, New Mexico set of The Space Between Us starring Butterfield, Robertson, and Gary Oldman in late October 2015. On the day we visited, Asa, Britt, and crew were at the tail end of their 37-day shooting schedule which took them through New Mexico, Las Vegas, and Malibu.

It was Day 31, and indoor and outdoor shoots were taking place at Highland High School located in the southeast quadrant of Albuquerque. Since it was a weekday, real classes were in session as Asa and Britt shot outdoor scenes.

The real students who walked by the production had mixed reactions. Some watched and Snapchatted the excitement, while others passed by as if a Hollywood production wasn’t filming right before their eyes. Later in the day, after the real students went home, production moved inside the school to shoot a scene where Gardner and Tulsa meet in person for the first time. It’s one of the more touching moments in the movie.

Earlier, Asa walked into our press tent carrying a drone in tow. He had recently purchased it to try and capture aerial footage for fun, and was learning how to operate it in between filming his scenes.

Both the aerial device and Gardner struggle to deal with Earth’s gravity.

When asked how he handles playing a character who has never been on Earth before, Asa describes it as a very unique experience. “It’s hard to put yourself in that kind of position because we [as humans] are so experienced in the world, and to completely strip all that back and be absolutely in awe at everything you see — a tree, a doorman — everything’s interesting,” he says.

space-between-us-asa-britt

Tulsa (Britt Robertson) experiences zero gravity with Gardner (Asa Butterfield).

Living on Mars your whole life doesn’t mean you’re missing hormones, so girls are also of interest in Gardner. On the relationship between his character and Tulsa, Asa tells us, “They both have this longing desire for being somewhere. Belonging somewhere. Tulsa’s been jumping around through various foster homes, she’s never really settled anywhere. Gardner spends his life on Mars. No one knows he exists. They’re kind of united by this experience.”

“He’s an alien, and she’s an alien, and this is the journey of the story,” Lewis tells us. “Watching these two characters connect, and the disconnects, the misunderstandings, and then ultimately they have a connection.”

Those good and bad connections were present in the scene we observed, which finds Gardner surprising Tulsa in her school hallway. As someone who is tough and reserved, Tulsa is understandably frustrated by Gardner’s sudden appearance. The two still haven’t communicated well with one another — Adorably, Tulsa is unaware that when he says he’s from “East Texas” he means the establishment on Mars.

With Gardner now on earth, the two begin to form a close bond as the Mars-born boy tries to discover his roots.

Co-starring in the movie is Gary Oldman, whose character originally organized the trip to Mars. He wasn’t on set the day we visited, but the actor has a very important role in the movie.

The Space Between Us opens in theaters February 3, 2017.

‘Rogue One’s’ best scene doesn’t involve the heroes

It's a nameless character who saves the day.

8:15 am EST, January 17, 2017

Among the many exceptional scenes in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, one of the most poignant ones doesn’t even involve any of the main heroes.

Rogue One  is full of memorable moments, some breathtaking, some endearing in the way we’ve come to expect from Star Wars, and all full of an epic sense of the lengths people will go to in the name of hope. It also stands out because of its representation, with a female main character and a diverse cast of supporting characters. But it’s the scene almost at the very end that makes its story truly unique.

It takes place after Jyn Erso and her band of rebels have already completed their mission, and the Death Star plans that they have given their lives to procure are being physically carried through the Profundity by a single individual, while the ship is under attack. Close at his heels is Darth Vader, finally revealed in all his lightsaber-wielding, terrifying glory, killing rebel soldiers left and right. The door jams in front of the man holding the plans, with only a slight gap left open – just enough for him to fit an arm through and frantically get the device to one of the fleeing rebels on the other side, knowing fully that this is the last action he’ll ever carry out.

Read full article

Among the many exceptional scenes in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, one of the most poignant ones doesn’t even involve any of the main heroes.

Rogue One  is full of memorable moments, some breathtaking, some endearing in the way we’ve come to expect from Star Wars, and all full of an epic sense of the lengths people will go to in the name of hope. It also stands out because of its representation, with a female main character and a diverse cast of supporting characters. But it’s the scene almost at the very end that makes its story truly unique.

It takes place after Jyn Erso and her band of rebels have already completed their mission, and the Death Star plans that they have given their lives to procure are being physically carried through the Profundity by a single individual, while the ship is under attack. Close at his heels is Darth Vader, finally revealed in all his lightsaber-wielding, terrifying glory, killing rebel soldiers left and right. The door jams in front of the man holding the plans, with only a slight gap left open – just enough for him to fit an arm through and frantically get the device to one of the fleeing rebels on the other side, knowing fully that this is the last action he’ll ever carry out.

This character has no name, and we know nothing about him beyond this scene. But faced by the most fearsome threat and terrible odds, he abandons fighting and uses his dying moments to get the plans across the doomed ship, and to Princess Leia.

It’s not common to see a scene like this one – scenes that convey the power of the collective action of many people across different areas – done so skillfully, especially in movies that are so character-driven.

In Star Wars, we’ve always focused on Luke and Leia and Han, and more recently on Rey, Finn and Poe. Although we knew that the Rebellion was the fruit of the efforts of many, we never had such a clear look into just how many lives were involved.

Rogue One the Rebellion

This final scene brings it all together, tying together the various storylines we know in an epic finale, and finally connecting them to Episode IV in a perfect mix of excitement and nostalgia. Without this character, driven by desperate hope rather than fear of his imminent death, Rogue One’s mission would not have ended successfully, Leia would have never received the plans… and none of the story we already know would have taken place.

For once, it was a character whose face we didn’t even see properly, dressed just like everyone else, fulfilling his own small role in a much bigger mission, who saved the day.

This ending, maybe even more meaningfully than the stories of the heroes we know and love, shows us the very essence of the Rebellion: a movement of dedication and sacrifice, full of people like the ones that died on Scarif, that put themselves between the plans and Vader, that drove the mission to success in their dying moments – and that stopped the race to save their own lives in favor of securing the mission’s objective.

We, as the audience, can find ourselves in the nameless rebel soldier and his sacrifice – a realistic and emotional portrayal of what makes any movement for change possible: the sacrifices of a vast number of people whose names and faces we may never know, whose stories may never be recorded, but whose lives were spent in search of a better future for the generations that follow.

What scene in ‘Rogue One’ impacted you the most?

Sherlock season 4, episode 3 is the last new material fans will see for a very long time. Was it a satisfying farewell to the series?

The Sherlock season 4 finale is a healthy mix of emotional highs and lows. But was it, as co-creators Stephen Moffat and Mark Gatiss describe, “television history?” No. It was not. It was not even the best episode of the Sherlock series.

However, it is what we have to left to unpack as we leave Holmes at Watson in 221B by the fire. Let’s get on with it, shall we?

Read full article

Sherlock season 4, episode 3 is the last new material fans will see for a very long time. Was it a satisfying farewell to the series?

The Sherlock season 4 finale is a healthy mix of emotional highs and lows. But was it, as co-creators Stephen Moffat and Mark Gatiss describe, “television history?” No. It was not. It was not even the best episode of the Sherlock series.

However, it is what we have to left to unpack as we leave Holmes at Watson in 221B by the fire. Let’s get on with it, shall we?

The final problem

The greatest flaw of Sherlock is when it gets stuck in its own heightened story telling. “The Final Problem” is the perfect example of retelling the past and not giving the audience any new information. It’s not hard to deduce. The episode does not suffer for this. Because it is not about the game at all.

Eurus’ game is well-crafted, brutal, and unforgiving. She is a master. The episode goes above and beyond to prove that over and over. Eurus wants to understand the complexity of human empathy. The only way she can do that is to cut the people open and see what makes their muscles move.

watson

The maze she crafts tests the resolve of Sherlock, Mycroft, and John. One great example of this is the use of Molly Hooper. It should be noted that Molly Hooper deserves so much better.

Using her love for Sherlock as a weapon, Molly Hooper’s life shatters with three words. Unfortunately, all of this is in service to unravel Sherlock with no resolution on her end.

As he smashes the coffin with his bare hands, John and Mycroft are there to reel him back in. They lend a hand to rebuild the walls that are falling down around him. That is until they literally fall at the doorstep of his childhood home.

The final problem is how do you deliver human connection to someone who does not know how to receive it? That desire to feel that her brothers appreciate her for more than her brain. If Eurus’ favorite person, Sherlock, could just take a moment to play her game, everything can end.

The test, it turns out, is for Sherlock to lean heavily on his capacity for emotional connection throwing logic out of the equation. He makes room for John, Mary, Molly, even Greg in his life. Can he find a way to make room for Eurus in spite of everything he just found out?

“You were always the grown up,” says Mrs. Holmes near the end of the episode. Sherlock takes the family into the next chapter of their life. One where music bridges the gap between them and the entire Holmes family can sit together without words getting in the way.

‘I’m a pirate’

The biggest twist, if you didn’t already work it out for yourself, comes when John discovers the bones of “Redbeard” in the well. They are not dog bones, but the bones of Sherlock’s best childhood friend, Victor.

But the best appearance is by far the inclusion of Mycroft’s Christmas gift — Jim Moriarty.

sherlock season 4 moriarty

Moriarty’s obsession with Holmes begins well before Eurus calls him in for a meeting. But did he succumb to being one of her agents? Probably. But Jim likely steered his own course to Sherlock. But the game… well, the game now reeks of Eurus.

Mycroft Holmes

The Holmes brothers, Mycroft and Sherlock, have the most fascinating relationship on Sherlock. “The Final Problem” highlights the complexity of their past and the trajectory of their future.

The most moving scene in the entire episode arrives when Mycroft, John and Sherlock are contemplating the reality of what may be their final moments alive. Hearing that Sherlock appreciated a talent of his, one that is not based on their familial intellect, moves him to a smile. Well before Mycroft sacrifices himself for Sherlock’s partnership with John, he gets the validation that their relationship is full of mutual appreciation.

mycroft sherlock

The minds of the Holmes siblings may be capable of great feats, but no fortress is entirely secure.

Mycroft’s home at the start of the episode is infiltrated by the combination of Holmes and Watson. Later on, his mind’s security system fails. He is a strong, put together person. After years of arranging Sherlock’s safety behind the scenes, it’s time for Sherlock to step up and do the same.

Is there room for more?

Perhaps we will all meet again at Anemoi. In the credits letters it is typical for the editors to highlight certain letters. The final sequence produces just a single word — Anemoi, the meeting place of the four winds.

While the finale ties up loose ends, recreates the scars that affect the duo the most, it does feel more like a beginning than an ending.

Sherlock may or may not return.

Tags: bbc sherlock