I think it’s time to fess up. I’m just not as enamored with Joss Whedon as many seem to be. I believe him to be a talented man. I still consider myself a fan of Buffy, Angel, and Firefly. He’s done good work and, occasionally, brilliant work. To successfully combine genres - comedy, drama, horror, sci-fi, and fantasy - you have to have real talent. But the man has made creative missteps. Or grown bored, moved on to the Next Big Thing, and left his other work to suffer and the fans with it. I also believe that after greatly admiring the work of certain individuals only to later discover they simply had one great idea and not much else going for them (I'm looking at you George Lucas and Chris Carter) I learned not to become too enamored with creators/writers/showrunners. It’s why I remain critical of Ron Moore. The “reimagined” Battlestar Galactica could have been a disaster in someone else’s hands, yet Ron’s vision hasn’t been perfect.
I felt I needed to state I’m still a fan of Joss Whedon’s work before saying I was not impressed by Dr. Horrible. The songs were well written, a few even were catchy. The actors did an excellent job in their roles. But there was nothing particularly original about this creation. Buffy was unlike anything on TV before. Angel, while similar to Buffy in ways, still felt different. And Firefly resembled neither show beyond Joss’s gift for snappy dialogue. Dr Horrible was a Buffy rehash to me - ‘Once More with Feeling’ meets ‘Storyteller’. Only this time the wanna be supervilian wins, sort of.
When is Joss going to realize that killing off characters in the closing moments is no longer a shocking twist when he does it all the time? There was Anya and Spike (though I’m not certain we can count Spike given his resurrection). And Lindsey and Wes. Then Book and Wash. Now, poor Penny. I have no problem killing off major characters, even beloved characters. I’m in the minority of those that loved the Angel finale. I don’t believe they all died, but, if they did, it would seem fitting to me that a group trying for so long to fight the good fight, no matter how hopeless it seemed, would go out fighting. But Penny’s death, much like Wash’s, played as a ‘gotcha’ moment, one meant to jar and upset the audience. And though Joss believes himself a supporter of feminism, Penny becomes the helpless victim, sacrificed to show a victorious, but brokenhearted Horrible that you should be careful what you wish for. Why not have Penny see Hammer *and* Horrible's true selves and have her walk out of both men's lives?
Prior to Penny's death, I had planned to rewatch the series (or do we call it something else?). As with all of Joss's work, there are always layers, nuances and messages missed upon initial viewing. But when I came to the end, which left me going, “Again?!”, I just lost any interest in rewatching the whole thing. The more I actually think about it, the more it pisses me off. As I was discussing with Beccatoria Joss is just not as clever as he believes himself to be and I fear he’s fallen victim to buying into the adoration of fans and critics. I’m even more wary of Dollhouse now. I wasn’t wowed by what I’d read of the premise and I find Joss’s admiration of Eliza Dushku's acting perplexing. Mostly, I’m just looking forward to seeing Tahmoh Penikett in something other than BSG.