Monday, November 11, 2013

Joss Whedon: Much Ado About Nothing, Streaming Films and Shows

Only time for a short post with a long list of titles today.  This evening I'm finally going to catch up with Joss Whedon's Much Ado About Nothing, which played the festival circuit and had a limited release and is now available on several on-demand streaming services. (When a title is available on several services, I'll provide a button link to the least expensive option, and a link to the other options at GoWatchIt). As a double-feature I hope to add Cabin in the Woods, co-written by Whedon, which I probably should have caught up with around Halloween, but then again I've never been much of a Halloween fan.

Whedon is interesting for many reasons. A third generation screenwriter (following in the footsteps of his grandfather John Whedon and father Tom Whedon), he seems equally comfortable in the realms of feature films and hour-long television. He's also equally comfortable working in "universes" devised by others (the Marvel universe) or himself (the Buffy universe). And when he's not working on those more elaborate projects he's able to put together more low-key projects, often working with the same group of actors, like Much Ado About Nothing and Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog. Of the "name directors" who are currently bouncing back and forth between television and feature films, Whedon is not as interesting as Steven Soderbergh (who perhaps now will only do television projects), but I find him far more interesting than J.J. Abrams. Both Whedon and Abrams are in the tradition of "movie brats," but I enjoy Whedon's eagerness to explore different formats (comics, the internet) more than Abrams evolving devotion to Spielberg and Lucas.

The only Whedon series I've watched the whole way through has been Firefly, which is pretty easy since it only lasted one season, with an additional feature film, Serenity. In the list below I've included a documentary on the history of the show, Done the Impossible: The Fans' Tale of Firefly and Serenity.

Posters and Synopses from The Movie Database

Feature Films

Much Ado About Nothing (Joss Wheadon, USA, 2012, 109 minutes)

A modern retelling of Shakespeare's classic comedy about two pairs of lovers with different takes on romance and a way with words.

Cabin in the Woods (Drew Goddard, USA, 2012, 95 minutes)

(Co-written by Joss Whedon)

Five college friends spend the weekend at a remote cabin in the woods, where they get more than they bargained for. Together, they must discover the truth behind the cabin in the woods.

Marvel's The Avengers (Joss Whedon, USA, 2012, 183 minutes)

When an unexpected enemy emerges and threatens global safety and security, Nick Fury, director of the international peacekeeping agency known as S.H.I.E.L.D., finds himself in need of a team to pull the world back from the brink of disaster. Spanning the globe, a daring recruitment effort begins!

Serenity (Joss Whedon, USA, 2005, 119 minutes)

When the renegade crew of Serenity agrees to hide a fugitive on their ship, they find themselves in an action-packed battle between the relentless military might of a totalitarian regime who will destroy anything - or anyone - to get the girl back and the bloodthirsty creatures who roam the uncharted areas of space. But, the greatest danger of all may be on their ship.

Done the Impossible: The Fans' Tale of Firefly and Serenity (Brian Wiser, USA, 2006, 79 minutes)

A documentary covering Firefly's birth, death and rebirth from the perspective of both the fans and the cast and crew of both productions.

Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog (Joss Whedon, USA, 2008, 42 minutes)

Dr. Horrible, an aspiring supervillain with his own video blog, is attempting to join the prestigious Evil League of Evil (led by the legendary "thoroughbred of sin", Bad Horse), but his plans are usually foiled by the egotistical superhero Captain Hammer. Dr. Horrible's life is thrown for a loop when he falls in love with Penny, a beautiful and optimistic advocate for the homeless he meets at the laundromat.


Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (2013-present)

Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., or simply Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., is an American television series created for ABC by Joss Whedon, Jed Whedon and Maurissa Tancharoen, based on the Marvel Comics organization S.H.I.E.L.D.. The series is produced by ABC Studios, Marvel Television, and Mutant Enemy and is set in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, sharing continuity with the films in that franchise. It revolves around the character of Phil Coulson, with Clark Gregg reprising the role.

Firefly (2002-2003)

Firefly is an American space western drama television series created by writer and director Joss Whedon, under his Mutant Enemy Productions label. The series is set in the year 2517, after the arrival of humans in a new star system, and follows the adventures of the renegade crew of Serenity, a "Firefly-class" spaceship. The ensemble cast portrays the nine characters who live on Serenity. Whedon pitched the show as "nine people looking into the blackness of space and seeing nine different things".

The show explores the lives of a group of people who fought on the losing side of a civil war and others who now make a living on the outskirts of society, as part of the pioneer culture that exists on the fringes of their star system. In this future, the only two surviving superpowers, the United States and China, fused to form the central federal government, called the Alliance, resulting in the fusion of the two cultures. According to Whedon's vision, "nothing will change in the future: technology will advance, but we will still have the same political, moral, and ethical problems as today."

Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1997-2003)

Buffy the Vampire Slayer is an American television series which aired from March 10, 1997 until May 20, 2003. The series was created in 1997 by writer-director Joss Whedon under his production tag, Mutant Enemy Productions with later co-executive producers being Jane Espenson, David Fury, David Greenwalt, Doug Petrie, Marti Noxon, and David Solomon. The series narrative follows Buffy Summers, the latest in a line of young women known as "Vampire Slayers" or simply "Slayers". In the story, Slayers are "called" to battle against vampires, demons, and other forces of darkness. Like previous Slayers, Buffy is aided by a Watcher, who guides, teaches, and trains her. Unlike her predecessors, Buffy surrounds herself with a circle of loyal friends who become known as the "Scooby Gang".

Angel (1999-2004)

Angel is an American television series, a spin-off from the television series Buffy the Vampire Slayer. The series was created by Buffy's creator, Joss Whedon, in collaboration with David Greenwalt. It aired on The WB from October 5, 1999, to May 19, 2004, consisting of five seasons and 110 episodes. Like Buffy, it was produced by Whedon's production company, Mutant Enemy.

The show details the ongoing trials of Angel, a vampire whose human soul was restored to him by gypsies as a punishment for the murder of one of their own. After more than a century of murder and the torture of innocents, Angel's restored soul torments him with guilt and remorse. During the first four seasons of the show, he works as a private detective in a fictionalized version of Los Angeles, California, where he and a variety of associates work to "help the helpless", restoring the faith and saving the souls of those who have lost their way. Typically, this involves doing battle with evil demons or demonically allied humans, primarily related to Wolfram & Hart, a demonic law firm. He must also battle his own demonic nature.

Dollhouse (2009)

Dollhouse is an American science fiction television series created by writer and director Joss Whedon under Mutant Enemy Productions. It premiered on February 13, 2009, on the Fox network and was officially canceled on November 11, 2009. The final episode aired on January 29, 2010. Production wrapped in December 2009, with a total of 27 episodes produced including the original pilot.

The show revolves around a corporation running numerous underground establishments across the globe which program individuals referred to as Actives with temporary personalities and skills. Wealthy clients hire Actives from Dollhouses at great expense for various purposes. The series primarily follows the Active known as Echo, played by Eliza Dushku, on her journey towards self-awareness. Dushku also served as series producer.


(Joss Whedon directed Season 1, Episode 19, "Dream On")

Glee is an American teen musical comedy-drama television series that airs on the Fox network in the United States. It focuses on the reconstituted William McKinley High School glee club, New Directions, which competes on the show choir competition circuit while its disparate members deal with relationships, sexuality, social issues, and learning to become an effective team. The initial twelve-member main cast encompassed new club director and Spanish teacher Will Schuester, cheerleading coach Sue Sylvester, guidance counselor Emma Pillsbury, Will's wife Terri, and eight club members played by Dianna Agron, Chris Colfer, Kevin McHale, Lea Michele, Cory Monteith, Amber Riley, Mark Salling, and Jenna Ushkowitz. In subsequent seasons, the main cast has expanded to fourteen and fifteen members.

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