More from Joss Whedon on TV versus Online

joss-whedon-w240.jpgFEARnet has an interview with Joss Whedon in which he expounds on some of the topics he discussed in my two previous interviews: Joss Whedon Talks about the Business Models behind “Dr. Horrible” (and More) and Joss Whedon: Storytelling in Different Media.

The FEARnet article focuses largely on “Dollhouse” and the much-anticipated sixth episode, “Man on the Street,” which debuted last night. But it also touches on the relative merits of working on television versus online:

I read that you intend to leave TV for online media exclusively.  Do you still want to do that?

I never actually said that.  New media is very attractive to me.  It’s an open field.  There’s a lot of freedom and I’m very afraid that that freedom will be taken away before the artistic community has a foothold in it.  So for reasons both artistic and political, I wish very much to pursue new media.

But that doesn’t mean that I’m never going to do television.  Everybody knows I had a rough time getting Dollhouse up-to-speed, but that doesn’t mean I’m never going to do television.  I love television and I love it in a different way than I love the internet, in a different way than I love movies.  The scope and the breadth and the depth that you can get with the storytelling from a TV show are unlike anything else and I love it.

I have to admit I’m shooting a movie right now that really went from script to preproduction in a matter of weeks.  I did Dr. Horrible in a matter of days.  Television can be a grind, but I adore it.  And the people I’ve dealt with have been honorable and honest.  It’s just that getting a TV show off the ground is rough waters, no matter what.  And sometimes you feel up for a swim and sometimes you don’t.

Have you thought at all about doing a TV/internet crossover?

The problem is that we have two opposing models.  Regular television is made for a lot of money, has a lot of crews, employs a lot of people.  You can make a good deal of money in that business, so can the networks and whatnot.  And then there’s in the internet, which is not that at all.  Although Dr. Horrible made money, we didn’t make the kind of money that would make a studio stand up and prick its little ears up.  Nor were we paying people the kind of dollars where they can just do that for a living.  All that means is that shows are probably going to be shown on the Internet instead of reaping reruns on television, which means no residuals for the artists, which means that there’s almost no money model for the internet.  They’re trying to bring them together, but nobody knows how they’re going to mix, how they’re going to meld, where they’re going to meet.

At some point it would be great if they met, if we could have fast, well made, productions on the internet that employed enough people to keep the community in a good place, but at the same time, cut some of the fat out, so that everybody was able to do more work and still feel secure in making a living.  Right now that model doesn’t exist, and none of us have figured it out.

The entire FEARnet interview is here:

My two previous interviews with Whedon are here:

2 thoughts on “More from Joss Whedon on TV versus Online

  1. The first four episodes of Dollhouse had me questioning Joss Whedon a bit. I thought Buffy proved that with good writing and production, even the most ridiculous premise for a television show could be made into something fantastic. Angel was a lot of fun too. Unlike most people I know, Serenity didn’t really do it for me. I didn’t hate it, but didn’t like it like other Whedon projects.

    Dollhouse was feeling that way for the first four episodes, especially after the cringe-inducing American Idol episode, which made me regret having ears. That said, over the weekend, the better half and I caught episodes five and six, and wow, they’ve really gotten me hooked on the show. It looks like it is going to have a strong arc and compelling characters. For a while, I was afraid they were more concerned with Eliza Dushku getting five wardrobe changes per episode; now I’m convinced they have some sort of plan.


  2. Tim:

    Thanks for the comments. While most of my blog posts on the topic have focused on Whedon’s views on media production and distribution (rather than commenting on the aesthetic merits of his work), now that you’ve brought it up — I largely agree. The early episodes of “Dollhouse” were uneven at best and didn’t seem to carry the weight of its own premise. Since before the show debuted, however, Whedon has been saying (in essence), “Wait until episode 6.” And, based on this, I hung in there.

    I’m glad I did. As I tweeted after viewing it Friday night, “Man on Street” (episode 6) was worth the wait. Beyond the plot twists, the show contained sharp, witty dialogue and skillfully navigated among its many moods.

    Let’s hope this isn’t an anomaly but, rather, the start of a trend.



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