Deeper Into ‘Dollhouse’

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The Joss Whedon-helmed television series, Dollhouse may have only lasted two series but the fact that I am here announcing the second published volume of essays on the series over four years after its last episode aired is testament to its status as a rich, provocative narrative worthy of serious discourse beyond the living room.

81yyuky1LEL._SL1500_This week, Joss Whedon’s Dollhouse: Confounding Purpose, Confusing Identity published by Rowman & Littlefield hits shelves. While it is the second Dollhouse book published—the first being the Jane Espenson-edited, Inside Joss’ Dollhouse: From Alpha to Rossumthis one distinguishes itself by being a collection of purely academic writings.

When my essay on the character of Claire Saunders was chosen to be in the Smart Pop Books collection just before the show ended, I must admit I thought that it would likely be the first and last Dollhouse book. Then along came Sherry Ginn, Alyson R. Buckman, and Heather M.Porter with an opportunity to contribute to the world of Dollhouse and Joss Whedon scholarship once more.

This time, I wrote about the evolution of Echo from a code name to a unique, newly-formed individual. Of my chapter, “Ritual, Rebirth, and the Rising Tide: Water and the Transcendent Self,” Buckman writes in the book’s intro:

Klein traces the many ways in which water functions in the series as a transformative agent, especially in Echo’s journey. Greek mythology, Japanese design elements, and psychology all come together in Klein’s essay to illustrate how important water is to Dollhouse.

My fellow authors delve into the show’s considerations of law, race, gender, ethics, and psychology. A full list of the book’s chapters can be found on the publisher’s site.

Joss Whedon’s Dollhouse: Confounding Purpose, Confusing Identity is available on Amazon. If you read it, let me know! I look forward to discussing with you. Perhaps a rewatch is in order as well.

For more information, download the press release or contact me at ian@ianklein.me.

Husbands and the Wild West of Web Series

“…you’re peeking at a future-of TV, of America.”

-Ira Glass of This American Life as prominently displayed on the homepage of Husbands

If you haven’t been watching Husbands, a web series created by TV vet Jane Espenson and Brad “Cheeks” Bell, I am not only open to forgiving you, but I will wait all of the  30-ish minutes it will take you to watch the first season and the first two of three episodes of Season 2 which have gone live up until this point in time. Done now? Okay, great! Fresh, charming, more jokes than you can handle in one viewing, right?

The reason I might be open to forgiving someone for not seeing Husbands until now is that in many ways the web is still a bit like the wild west when it comes to web series staking claim to audiences. There are lots of pioneers, some, like Husbands that have become more successful than others, but getting settlers from the east to come and take up permanent residence in your new territory can be challenging.

Unlike television, an ever-present fixture in the living room-the modern day equivalent of the burning campfire, the sprawling, multi-faceted nature of the internet does not possess the same capacity for discovery of new material. There is no direct equivalent for channel surfing on the internet, no TV guide to browse, no built in seasons-times designated for the debut of new material. If web series is the new television-and indeed there is much evidence to support this-how can we make it easier for people to find web series they might like?

There are countless ways one can find a web series today, through various social networks, word of mouth conversations, YouTube spirals, news articles (if the series is lucky) but if someone wants to wholly embrace this burgeoning medium as a substantive form of entertainment, the first step shouldn’t be so difficult. There is certainly movement toward a comprehensive experience-Web Series Channel comes to mind-but it’s still in a nascent stage. I think a more radical change is needed. For web series, it’s in creators’ best interest to carve out new shared territory where mutual discovery benefits all.

Right now, the best way to finding new web series still appears to be following the careers of your favorite artists and the recommendations of those select few individuals whose artistic opinion you value most dearly, but the collective and individual successes of web series will necessitate a substantial evolution of the platform. With Husbands already bursting the seams off the medium with a digital comic on the horizon, its trajectory-along with similar successes like The Guild-will  have a significant bearing on where others will go. Simply an exclusive channel for web series already seems like it would be inadequate.

It’s clear that the medium or platform through which stories are told will continue to become less significant than the stories themselves. As the public becomes more comfortable with cross-media storytelling, more storytellers will expand westward seeking out the next frontier of audience experience. Build a good story, and they will come; we should do all we can to help them find the way.

If you need more of a Husband fix before the third and final episode of Season 2, you can check out several behind the scenes videos here, one of which includes a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it cameo by yours truly. I use the word “cameo” loosely-I’m eating lunch in it-but meal time is really important during a long day on set.

SMG is Back

Sarah Michelle Gellar returns to television this fall in Ringer, a new series on the CW born of the two networks WB and UPN that aired Buffy the Vampire Slayer over the course if its seven seasons. SMG is playing not one, but two characters. She will star as twin sisters Siobhan and Bridget, the latter of which takes over the life of the former when she dies in a boating accident. Siobhan, it seems, will appear beyond the pilot in flashbacks throughout the series. CW’s confidence in the series is clear as they released three clips to Zap2it earlier today. You can see those here, but there are spoilers and lots of mirrors.

In a January interview with Entertainment Weekly, the pilot’s producer Peter Traugott described Ringer as “an edgy thriller about redemption and about revenge.” As I watched the above clips, I was already tensing up! Traugott also assured fans of Buffy that they would be pleased and explained that Sarah “wanted part of what she initiated” with this role. You can read more from Traugott there though note the change in the network from CBS to CW which officially announced the show at its upfront presentation this week.

Just before the upfronts, Sarah revealed to TVLine the two major reasons for her return to the small screen.

Ringer will air Tuesday nights from 9-10pm the same night Buffy aired during its run on the WB.

Buffy Rewatch: Weeks 16-20

I have a little catching up to do on the Buffy Rewatch. I’ve spent the last month finishing up graduate coursework, producing a vaudeville-inspired show made up of eleven short plays, and preparing to move across the country. You know, life as usual. But the rewatch is going strong as ever and has featured more wonderful people as guest writers. Season three is considered by many to be the most consistent throughout along with some of the best character arcs in the series.

I was to be introducing Season Four on the blog next week, but unfortunately the timing did not work out. A big thanks to Nikki for taking the reins this one time. And has it really been almost a year since the last Slayage conference? What this means: only a year left until the next one which will be held coast side at The University of British Columbia in one of my favorite cities, Vancouver, CA.

Here’s a recap of the last few weeks of the rewatch since the last time I chimed in:

Week 16

3.10 Amends
3.11 Gingerbread
3.12 Helpless

“Amends and Miracles”
Robert J. Wiersema

“Mothers, fathers, lovers: problematic relationships at the heart of season 3”
Janet Halfyard

Week 17

3.13 The Zeppo
3.14 Bad Girls
3.15 Consequences

“This essay doesn’t have a title because I handed it in to Nikki Stafford about two months ago knowing I’d be busy at PCA, and in her typical way she didn’t notice until a few days before the post was going live that it lacked a title, but she didn’t want to bother me so she left it title-less: Did Nikki succeed in making this non-title even longer than the title on the speech she co-delivered at Slayage 4?”
Ensley Guffey

Additional guests: Janet Halfyard, Michael Holland

Week 18

3.16 Doppelgängland
3.17 Enemies
3.18 Earshot

“So, tell us, Angel — how alike ARE vampires and their original mortal selves?: A look at Willow and VampWillow in “Doppelgängland”
Suzie Gardner

“Enemies,” “Earshot,” and Empathy: How Buffy Makes Us Feel
Tanya Cochran

Additional guest: Janet Halfyard

Week 19

3.19 Choices
3.20 The Prom

Guest: Kristen Romanelli Watcher Junior

Follow Kristen on Twitter @watcherjunior.

Week 20

3.21 Graduation Day, Part 1
3.22 Graduation Day, Part 2

“You killed me”: Buffy, Faith and the Death of Slayers
Steve Halfyard

“Graduation Day: The Future is Ours”
Jennifer K. Stuller

Follow Jen on Twitter @InkAmazon.

Nikki also wrote a bonus post this week as we enter Season 4 which happens to coincide with the beginning of Angel, the show’s spin-off series. If you’ve ever wondered how exactly both shows fit together or how to watch them in tandem, look no further than “To Angel or Not to Angel.”

When my friend Kj began watching Buffy and Angel, I remember having such a discussion and a bit of research. She ended up watching them simultaneously and according to continuity. It’s a big undertaking and wish I had had the luxury of doing so when I first watched the shows. I had a thesis due at the time. As it was inspired by Buffy, I had to finish that series first.

News: Star Tours, Transformers, Sarah Michelle Gellar, Dorian Gray, Twitter

• Disneyland has begun holding Cast Member previews for the revamped Star Tours attraction and the word is good! While Star Tours: The Adventures Continue, along with The Little Mermaid: Ariel’s Undersea Adventure, officially opens June 3rd, I would expect from past experience that there will be soft openings for the general public happening within a couple weeks of the “launch” date. Here’s the press release which mentions the attraction’s 50 possible story combinations. Above image is from the original version of the attraction.

Theme Park Insider has new concept art from the Transformers dark ride at Universal Studios Singapore, a copy of which will open at Universal Studios Hollywood next year. Several of the images reveal a heavily themed queue.

• A new trailer for Transformers: Dark of the Moon was released on Thursday and is surprisingly appealing. The action seems to have a lot more clarity than the previous films—especially the second—let’s hope the same goes for the plot.

• The Daily Beast takes a look at the “8 Best Pilot Scripts of 2011” which includes the noir-esque CBS thriller Ringer starring Sarah Michelle Gellar as a pair of twins, one of whom assumes the other’s identity when she dies.

• One of my favorite novels, The Picture of Dorian Gray has been rereleased as The Picture of Dorian Gray: An Annotated, Uncensored Edition restoring much of Oscar Wilde’s original text. Adding to the appeal of this edition is its use of Caravaggio’s painting, Narcissus, as its cover.

• If the data plan cap on the iPhone wasn’t enough for you, beginning today, AT&T will cap data usage for its DSL customers at 150GB per month. Don’t worry, that’s still a lot of tweets.

• How do you send your tweets? If you use Tweetdeck, you’ll now be using an official Twitter product since Twitter just acquired the program from UberMedia for $40 million–$50 million.

Mars Hill Graduate School, a Seattle school of which many of my friends are alumni, will be renamed The Seattle School of Theology and Psychology.

• Happy 30th Anniversary, Mom & Dad!

Buffy Rewatch: Week 15

In this week’s trio of episodes, everything changes. Twice. The kiss between Willow and Xander witnessed by Oz and Cordelia literally makes the world a different place first in “Lovers Walk” by drastically shifting the group’s social dynamic and again in “The Wish” by supplanting reality itself.

Within “Revelations,” “Lovers Walk” and “The Wish” the lives of Buffy and her friends are turned upside down and both times it happens because of heartbreak.

This week, Nikki Stafford’s rewatch features essays by two individuals. Author and expert of things both marketing and Glee related, Suzie Gardner is first up with “‘Just Friends’: Buffy/Angel and Willow/Xander in “Revelations” and “Lover’s Walk” (and also some commentary on “The Wish”).” Then, Angel expert Stacey Abbott talks about the resurgence of Sunnydale’s vampire population demonstrated in these episodes in her essay, “The Vamps are Back.”

Come for the slaying, stay for the heartbreak. There’s plenty enough of both.

Buffy Rewatch: Week 14

This week on the Great Buffy Rewatch, Nikki Stafford points to these episodes as being “about returning home and facing reality, and realizing the importance of maturity.” Nikki also helps us face the reality that Anthony Stewart Head once played Frank N. Furter in a production of The Rocky Horror Show in London’s West End along accompanied by alarming photographic proof.

On the guest writer front, music expert Steve Halfyard returns to talk about the modified love theme for Buffy and Angel which she terms “This is what is left” and one of Nikki’s colleagues at ECW Press Jennifer Knoch writes about getting back in touch with one’s younger sensibilities and dealing with humanity’s bestial nature in her article “Unhappy Homecomings: Returning to the Beast, or Teen, Within.”

3.4 Beauty and the Beasts

  • Faith-isms (and just those from the opening scene):“doing the ditty” “kicking the gearshift” “good down-low tickle”
  • I like Scott. He seems earnest. Long term Buffy material? Probably not. Rebound material? Absolutely.
  • Xander Physical Fitness Watch: he’s still in good shape. Also see previous episode in which he wears a tank-top as he boogies on the dance floor. Watch it again. It’s totally boogy-ing.
  • Willow’s Scooby-Doo lunch pail. Nice touch.
  • “I’ve been at Mr. Donut since that TV did that snowy thing” –Willow That doesn’t happen anymore does it?
  • I love jello with marshmallows in it. And fruit salad.
  • The timing of Angel’s entrance is great. I’ve even seen the episode before and forgot he had escaped!

3.5 Homecoming

  • Scott. You were used.
  • Introducing: The Mayor.
  • “You have all my Faith” -The Mayor. Colorful character reference bingo.
  • Return of Lyle Gorch!
  • “Welcome to SlayerFest ‘98” 1998?! It’s easy to forget when this show aired as it’s so present and rarely relies on the date.
  • Brie is listed under Cordelia’s weaknesses. This is a reference to an exchange between Xander and Cordelia in the second episode of this season, “Dead Man’s Party”  Xander: Well, I hate brie. Cordelia: I know. It smells like Giles’ cat.
  • Who would have thought that Gorch and his redneck girlfriend would have such a good plan for actually finding Buffy? Perhaps it’s because he has been in town before in the context of the season two episode, “Bad Eggs.”

3.6 Band Candy

  • “It’s like being in the Real World house. Only real.” –Buffy
  • Willy Lomano (Death of a Salesman) reference. Highbrow.
  • Angel: Tai Chi Master. I didn’t know he could do that either.
  • Return of Ethan Rayne. One of this season’s strong suits is its ability to tell a stronger story through characters made familiar to the audience in earlier seasons (as well as previously hinted at ones such as the Mayor).
  • “We’re pretty much in a talk or bleed situation. Your call.” –Buffy to Ethan. The line packs a good punch, but I’m going to refrain from using this in meetings with clients or colleagues.