This guy on IO9 argues that "Dollhouse" is going to be Joss Whedon's greatest work ever. His case is pretty compelling -- except for the bit where he says that most of Whedon's premises are weak, a statement with which I disagree vehemently. Everything he says about "Dollhouse," though, actually makes me look forward to it even more.
It also made me wonder, though, what IS Whedon's best work? "Aliens 3," right? Hahahaha, just kidding. Okay, what's his best TV series? That, for me, is a really difficult call. There's so much to be said for all of three shows.
"Angel" is of course the forgotten cast-off series but boy oh boy was that a great show. First, Angel was a great character -- the vampire equivalent of Jane Eyre's Mr. Rochester. He was dark and brooding and guilt-ridden but he was also vain and inadvertantly hilarious. The episode where he could finally walk in sunlight and, more importantly, see himself in a mirror is brilliant, with this morbid dude frolicking in daylight and asking his friends if he always wears that much gel in his hair. And yet, the show could wring the emotions out of you too, whether it was Angel losing Buffy all over again or losing Cordelia or giving his son away to protect him. But best of all, he got turned into a puppet! "A wee little puppet man!" as Spike said. That in and of itself makes this resilient, creatively flexible show a masterpiece.
Which means it would be at the top of my list if it weren't for "Firefly." Thirteen episodes of pure perfection, a show that gave the world Nathan Fillion and a man named Jayne -- two things for which I will be forever grateful. "Firefly" always had the ideal mix of action, adventure, humor, hijinks, romance, familial love, marital love...and, as Joss always said, whores! (That was my favorite part of every pre-press interview Joss ever did for "Firefly." Every one of his descriptions ended with "and it has whores!" Wouldn't everything be funnier if it ended with "whores?" I say yes.) It's such a shame that Fox pulled the plug on "Firefly" so quickly because each episode was better than the last. This one would be at the top of my list, too, if it weren't for...
"Buffy," which, with all respect to the IO9 dude, is always going to be Whedon's greatest work. And here's why: it was his first show and it was genius from day one. Turning that horror movie cliche of the dumb blonde victim on its head...and then on its ass...and then back on its head again, "Buffy" paved the way for strong female characters who could also be funny and flawed. "Buffy" was an original. And holy cow, was it ever funny. Every episode was packed to the brim with absurd and unforgettable lines that I will continue to quote decades after everyone ceases listening to me. And just as "Angel" and "Firefly" did, "Buffy" could get manic clowns with blood made of Xanax to cry -- when Angel turned on her, when Giles betrayed her and oh my God, when Joyce died. That episode is one of the most heart-rending and crushingly disturbing portrayals of death ever shown on television and why Whedon wasn't given an eternal Emmy award right then and there will always be a mystery to me.
So no matter how great "Dollhouse" turns out to be -- and I have deep nerd faith that it will be awesome (despite my "meh" feelings about the previews) -- it will never be as good as "Buffy." And that's not a criticism. It's just that "Buffy" was the groundbreaker. She made everything else possible and for that one simple reason, it's a show that will never be topped.
Still though, nothing beats "Aliens 3."
What do you think?