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Costumes & Characters: The Life and Achievements of Joss Whedon

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Joseph Hill Whedon or Joss Whedon as he is known, is a multi-talented man. He is a screenwriter, director, composer, and executive producer and he is also starting a novel. He was the creator of several television series and is known for his media and online ventures. His projects are never new ideas to him, but things he has muddled over for some period of time. This makes them even more believable and entertaining to his audiences. Unique among many of his peers, Joss has a lot of fans who not only love his creations, but him as well and expect all his works to be unique and exciting.

Joss Whedon Biography

Whedon was born in 1964 in New York City. He graduated from Wesleyan University in 1987 and is married with two children. His talent in writing is said by some to be inherited because both his father (Tom Whedon) and grandfather (John Whedon) were also writers of successful television shows. He now resides in Los Angeles, California and continues to work on several projects. Interestingly enough, he has also produced a series of comic books.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer

In 1992 Kristy Swanson appeared in the film Buffy the Vampire Slayer which was based on a script by Joss Whedon. Joss, having little pull in the industry at that point, had much of his original script changed and rewritten, leaving Joss unimpressed with the result but, at the same time glad to have Buffy introduced to the world. Joss has said that he wrote the film as a "scary film about an empowered woman" which they turned into a comedy about what people thought of vampires.

In 1997 the tv series with the same name, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, debuted on the WB. The TV show pilot was written as a sequel to the original script Joss wrote for the movie. The show starred Sarah Michelle Gellar as Buffy and was a much darker and edgier take on the concept then the movie was. The TV show ran for seven seasons and since it's cancellation in 2003 continues to have a massive fan base and an almost cult like following with people of all ages loving anything that exists within the "Buffyverse". The Buffyverse is a word fans use to describe anything that exists in the world where Buffy and her friends reside. This includes any characters, locations, monsters, and mythology featured in Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

One of the things unique about the Buffy series was that while Buffy was obviously the main character, her circle of friends were just as important as she was, and had individual story lines, traits, and quirks. The Buffy the Vampire Slayer franchise had a large line of products released based on it's stories and characters including video games, toys and action figures, CD soundtracks, books and comics.

Angel the Series

Angel was a spin off television program from the Buffy the Vampire Slayer series starring David Boreanaz as Angel. The series was created by Joss Whedon’s production company Mutant Enemy and began in 1999. The series focused on Angel, the vampire with a soul who was the love interest of Buffy for the first few seasons of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. In the TV series Angel starts a detective agency where he is hired by people who are having problems with supernatural "bad guys". Angel first aired on television in 1999 and lasted for 5 seasons. The places, characters, and mythology of Angel all fall within the previously mentioned "Buffyverse".

Firefly and Serenity

In 2002 the third series created by Joss Whedon aired on the Fox television network. Firefly was a "space western" taking place in the year 2517. The show was only on air for 11 of 14 episodes. The episodes that did air were shown out of their intended order, with the pilot episode airing last. According to Whedon, the network Fox didn’t understand the series and gave it a poor time slot, which caused it to fail after only one season. Despite low ratings initially, Firefly won an Emmy in 2003 for Outstanding Visual Effects for a Series and had fairly successful DVD sales. With the success of the show after it's intitial airings Joss decided to create a movie based on the TV show with the same main characters. Serenity debuted in theaters in 2005 and had positive reviews but did not gross well. The film won several awards including "film of the year" from both FilmFocus and Film 2005.

When asked what inspired him to create Firefly Whedon says that after reading the novel The Killer Angels by Michael Shaara, he wanted to create a show about those people who were on the losing side of a battle similar to the Battle of Gettysburg during the Civil War and their lives as immigrants and pioneers settling in a new world. The series, with it's western feel was still however a science fiction series with monsters and space ships. The show starred Nathan Fillion as Captain Malcolm Reynolds.

Dollhouse

In early 2009 Joss Whedon debuted a new television series on the Fox network about a group of people who are known as "actives" and the people involved in their lives as handlers, clients, or villains. The actives in the show are a group of young adults who for various reasons have thier original memories and personalities wiped away. When a client hires the dollhouse one of the actives is then imprinted with a personality and memory to fill the request being payed for. The show stars Eliza Dushku as Echo, an active who in unique in the fact that she begins to remember bits of the person she was before, as well as bits of the various "characters" she has played for clients. The show ran for two seasons. A comic book was also released after the cancellation of the show.

  • Dollhouse
  • Review: Joss Whedon’s Dollhouse

Miscellaneous Television Writing

Joss Whedon has said he always wanted to be a storyteller. His first job writing for television was on the Roseanne series. He spends his time creating new ideas and jotting down scenes and script outlines. Firefly, Dollhouse, Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel are the most known of his television series, but most of the scripts are written by others while Whedon creates the main storyline, timelines and writes major episodes. People note the sexual undertones he puts into his writings and he loves to keep his ideas under wraps until they are revealed in one of his productions.

Feature Films and Video

Much of Joss Whedon’s work is misunderstood, for instance, the feature film Serenity did not do very well at the box office, but fans adored it. There were no big stars in the movie, but that isn’t necessarily Whedon’s goal. He is more concerned with the quality of the writing and production. Fans so love his work that they were livid when Warner Bros said they would reboot a Buffy the Vampire Slayer movie without having Whedon involved. His most recent project is writing for Marvel Studios for the movie The Avengers.

Comic Books

Joss was always a fan of comic books and with his writing skill; it was probably inevitable that he would wind up writing them. In a sort of preview of the Buffy television series, he wrote Fray, which takes place within the Buffyverse. He also put his hand to the comic book series for each of his shows Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, Firefly, and Dollhouse. He also wrote for the Astonishing X-Men and other hero series comic books.

Online Media

There seems to be no limit to the reach of Joss Whedon, his hands seem to be in every kind of entertainment and going online just seemed the natural next step. In order to promote Serenity Joss released a series of short online videos starring Summer Glau reprising her roll as River Tam called "The R Tam Sessions". Then came Sugarshock, which were free web comics, but his Internet hit turned out to be a musical series starring Neil Patrick Harris titled Doctor Horrible's Sing Along Blog.

Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog

This classic good and evil story is anything but usual. It stars Neil Patrick Harris as Dr. Horrible, Felicia Day as Penny, Nathan Fillion as Captain Hammer, and many more who come and go. The series was created during the writers strike in 2008. The three act free series became a sensation and has since been made into a hot selling DVD.

Whedony Dialogue

Joss Whedon’s dialogue writing is renowned. He is known for quippy and rather fluent language skills that are unexpected. He often has his characters make references to pop culture citing both the well known and the relatively obscure. He also is known for creating words by adding a "y" to the end of nouns in order to make them adjectives. For example, a character on the show Buffy the Vampire Slayer named Owen was described as being "Oweny", vampires are described as "vampiry" while a person who betrays another is referred to as "backstabby."

Adding a "y" to the end of a noun isn't the only quirk in dialogue written by Joss. He also tends to add the suffix "age" to the end of words.

Awards and Achievements

Joss Whedon has received several accolades including in 2009 when he was the winner of the Cultural Humanism Award. He has also been acknowledged for his role in assisting with movies and television. The Producers Guild of America gave him the Vanguard award in 2010.


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