Sunday, July 12, 2009

Buffy Season One: Whedon and Maeve Binchy

Just finished watching season one of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Joss Whedon fan, but never watched BtVS so thought I should rectify that.

As a fan of Firefly and now Dollhouse, it's interesting to see how the strong female characters play out in these three different shows and how the male characters relate.

I'm a fan of the Zoe and Wash relationship in Firefly. Zoe's the strong warrior woman who everyone acknowledges can kill you with her pinky. That's part of the appeal for Wash, the pilot. He's also strong with the muscles and all but he's also the laid-back witty one and chooses not to use physical strength most of the time. In the origins episode we see that Zoe really didn't like Wash at first. But other than in that flashback, they're an established married couple.

In Buffy, Xander and Cordelia don't like each other throughout the first season. But in later seasons, they become a couple. I'm looking forward to seeing how that plays out. maybe that's how Zoe and Wash got together. And yes, I know I'm speculating just a bit too much about fictional characters from a show cancelled long ago.

Cordelia makes me think of Adelle Dewitt from Dollhouse. Cordelia's the popular girl who makes fun of Buffy, Willow, and Xander. But in the second to last episode of season one, she turns to Buffy for help and mentions that she's lonely too, but would rather be lonely and popular, rather than lonely and unpopular.

If we think about popularity as power in the high school setting, then in Dollhouse, the parallel is DeWitt head of the Dollhouse. And yet she's also lonely, as is Topher, another powerfcul character. He's the science genious who programs the dolls and yet both DeWitt and Topher had to program dolls to be their lover and friend, respectively.

So far, my favorite Buffy characters are Willow, Xander, and Cordelia. Buffy is the heroine with some of the stock tropes of being the hero: brave, smart, struggling with her destiny as well as being a normal teen. But the secondary characters are the ones who grow the most. Willow goes from smart nerdy sidekick to become a witch, then Dark Willow, and back to good Willow. Xander goes from goofy sidekick to hero, all without gaining any super powers. Cordelia goes from being the mean girl nemesis to being part of the gang. Those story arcs interest me.

In Firefly, my favorite characters are Zoe and Wash, for reasons mentioned above, and Jayne. He's like Cordelia. He's the mercenary who switched sides to join Mal and crew, but he has his own code and priorities. For the right price, he'd sell out the crew and did in Ariel. If the series had continued, it would have been really interesting to see how else the relationship between Jayne and crew would have been tested and or broken. With Cordelia, her character left Buffy to join Angel. Here's another character who switches sides, yet again. Haven't watched any Angel yet, but that's in my Netflix queue too.

On Dollhouse, I'm most interested in Adelle and Topher, for reasons mentioned above, and Sierra and Victor. What are the backstories of those dolls? In the episode Needs, we found out that Sierra became a doll against her will, and that Victor loves her. But what's his story? We didn't get it. And I'd love to see more Alpha, but that's because I have a thing for Alan Tudyk.

By the way, The Park Bench (see my blogroll) is polling for Nerd Man of the Month and I suggested Tudyk. It does my fan girl heart good to see that many others are seconding my Tudyk suggestion.

Back to regularly scheduled blogpost:

I mentioned Maeve Binchy because she takes the same characters and settings and plays them out differently each time. There's always the outsider who may or may not be accepted. In some books s/he is, in others s/he isn't. There's the wise older woman who sees all but doesn't say much. In some books, that works out well, in others it doesn't. And so on.

I know many authors work that way and now that I'm getting in Neil Gaiman, it'll be interesting to see how he works too. What characters, or situations, or values he uses again and again.

eta: note to self -- here's a link to an inteview with Whedon prior to the release of Serenity:

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