Joss Whedon will follow The Avengers with Wastelanders, "a dark piece" with no singing
|NEWS - OFFWORLD|
The only thing that could make it sound scarier would be the presence of bunnies...
After the highly anticipated superhero team-up of The Avengers, writer-director Joss Whedon will team up with Warren Ellis on the five-part sci-fi web series Wastelanders.
Joss Whedon explained thus: “I really want to make something tiny. You know, get back on the internet. Just something really home-baked...It’s going to be something that I put out there because I feel like I have to, and I don’t have to rely on anybody else to let me...Right now, [the internet is] the punk rock of filmmaking. And I want to be a part of that.”
Warren Ellis has previously described Wastelanders as “sort of a funny horrible story about the end of the world”, and now Joss Whedon says that "there ain’t no singing. It’s a dark piece".
But what about the singing? Two of Joss’ best pieces of work, ‘Once More, With Feeling’ and Doctor Horrible’s Sing-a-Long Blog, have had singing, and they were triumphs both musically and overall. And Commentary! The Musical was silly fun. (He also directed an episode of Glee, ‘Dream On’, which was very good but not in the same league as 'OMWF' or DHSALB, though he didn’t write either the screenplay or the music for that. Though “Safety Dance”, from that episode, was brilliant.) Doctor Horrible 2 has been in the works for a while now, but when it finally happens will depend on everyone's availability.
Warren Ellis has mentioned that, in their discussions of Wastelanders, “Joss was worried about the lack of singing.” Joss was probably right; all of his work would be even better with added singing. Including The Avengers, which he’s said won’t be a musical because “enough people want to kill me already”. Perhaps they could include Simon & Garfunkel’s "The Sound of Silence" in Wastelanders, for both self-referentiality and its relevance to the post-apocalyptic setting. It would work in a similar way to Jed Whedon & Maurissa Tancharoen's song "Remains" in Dollhouse's 'Epitaph One'.
Back to the web series' promised (or threatened) darkness, it seems that none of the characters are going to have something to sing about. Joss Whedon has done dark really well before (c.f. Dollhouse, Buffy the Vampire Slayer S6 (especially the likes of ‘Dead Things’, ‘Hell’s Bells’, and ‘Normal Again’, although those were all written and directed by other people)), though sometimes the dark tone seems a little overpowering (like the dark moments in Firefly / Serenity, for example, though 'War Stories' at least mixes in some humour) and makes the show less enjoyable than it ought to be (like the beginning of Buffy S6, bar the opening 10 minutes, for example).
Is this just going to be a normal Joss Whedon level of darkness (loveable characters dying, betrayal, heartbreak, torture, mind-wiping, terrifying rampaging monsters, Angel or Wesley dancing, etc.), or does he mean that it’s going to be dark even for him? (Though Dollhouse, which is probably te darkest thing he’s ever done, nonetheless treated the issues with sensitivity and nuance.)
You just know that if there were a show called Fluffy Adorable Kittens created by Joss Whedon, that they’d be the most loveable characters ever, each of them like Fred, Kaylee, Tara, and Penny all rolled into one, and then one of then would turn evil and brutally slaughter the others. And yet somehow, it would be done with sensitivity, and be awesomely heartbreaking. But if he did make a show called Fluffy Adorable Kittens that was actually just fun and laughter and happiness, it would still be terrifying, because the audience (at least the existing Joss Whedon fans among them) would be on the edge of their seats, expecting something terrible to happen at any moment. But it wouldn’t. And then it would be cancelled, and they would weep.
In fact, perhaps the mysterious, ominous-sounding meta-textual horror Cabin in the Woods will be almost exactly this. Despite all the hype about how dark and scary it’s going to be, maybe, in a typically Whedonesque subversion of expectations, the film will actually be composed entirely of kittens frolicking in sun-dappled meadows. And surviving. Even through the unexpected end credits scene.
In Star Trek (2009), Dr. ‘Bones’ McCoy says “Space is disease and danger, wrapped in darkness and silence!” Perhaps a similar thing is true about the work of Joss Whedon. Except sometimes people are layered. There's something totally different underneath than what you see on the surface. And sometimes, there’s a third, even deeper level, and that one is the same as the top surface one. Like with pie. (So, are you gonna see his shows again?)
In any case, Wastelanders should get pretty interesting. (Define interesting…) However, it’s crying out for a spin-off, Wastelander, about a mindless male model (whose brain’s actually been wiped) trying to find his place in a post-apocalyptic future. Played by Nathan Fillion. (As the male model, not the post-apocalyptic future.)
In case you were wondering, yes, that was pretty much just an entire article devoted to analysing the meaning of the word “dark” in this context. Next time: “effulgent”. Not really. It’s gonna be “the”.
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