and J.J. Abrams
have both played a significant role in fandom and overall media popularity. Their creative similarities are striking enough to call for a showdown, comparing their works and styles. Whedon and Abrams are both part of a new class of filmmakers and television creators: fanboys who are now able to reign over their own fandoms.
This battle royale has been divided into two rounds: television and casting. With more time and space films could have been conquered as well. This fight works best if you are familiar with their work. If you have not had the chance to watch the following media creations, they are highly recommended (get on the "Dollhouse
" bandwagon now - you do not want to drag your heels on this one!)
Round One: Television
They both started off on the typical track of the high school narrative. The title characters Buffy and Felicity are, generally, just girls going through tough high school and college experiences. Both start off with the alleged man of their dreams, Angel and Ben respectively, and the relationships are therefore, obviously, doomed. Viewers (and by viewers I mean somewhat rabid fans) enjoyed both characters struggling their way towards adulthood. While the genres are drastically different (yes, there is a difference between fighting vampires and demons as an extra-curricular activity and just struggling through boyfriend, hair, and relationship angst), the characters are not all that dissimilar. So who wins? Joss. Hands down. Thanks to the aforementioned rabid fans, Buffy is still living on through graphic novels. Also, Buffy gave birth to a sequel where fans were able to follow Angel to L.A. Did Felicity fans have a chance to follow Ben? No.
Although it cannot be confirmed that Joss created "Dollhouse" after watching "Alias," it is a bit too coincidental. Yes, "Alias" had its moments, but most fans would like to pretend that the majority of season four and all of five did not really exist. While "Dollhouse" is still too new to make detailed comparisons, the attempt will be made. Echo ("Dollhouse") and Sydney Bristow ("Alias") are cut from cloth that was divined in the same factory. The difference lies in their origins. Echo, as far as viewers know, signed a five-year contract to become a Doll. Sydney was created as a sleeper agent and never really had a choice in her actions.
Episodes of both shows include various missions in which Echo and Sydney get to play dress up. Supporting characters between the two shows are also eerily alike. Marcus Dixon ("Alias") and Boyd Langton ("Dollhouse") both serve as partners to Sydney and Echo in their various missions. While Boyd is more of a handler, if "Dollhouse" continues on its current path, they will become allies and partners. Topher Brink ("Dollhouse") and Marshall Flinkman ("Alias") come in as the comic relief tech geeks. Even though Marshall is more socially awkward and therefore endearing than Topher, Topher is still stuck in the first season and has yet to reach his full potential.
Finally, there are the assumed villainous brains of the operations: Arvin Sloane ("Alias") and Adelle DeWitt ("Dollhouse"). They both are seemingly in charge of what is eventually revealed as a much larger, global, evil enterprise. We recommend you watch them both. Who wins here? This is difficult because "Dollhouse" hasn't even completed its first season. Points are deducted from "Alias" for the monumental catastrophe that was seasons four and five. Echo, and increasingly Caroline, is more believable to watch, but that is also because of Eliza Dushku
's growing talent. Joss also has the advantage of his behind-the-scences A-team: Jane Espenson, Tim Minear, David Solomon, and Kelly A. Manners. If there is a Manners involved, things can only end beautifully (see the works of the brilliant, recently deceased Kim Manners, the genius behind X-Files
, amongst others). As long as Fox doesn't shoot itself in the foot again and cancel yet another Whedon production, "Dollhouse" will come out on top.
(Editor's note: Abrams produced "Lost" and directed a few episodes; his actual work on the series is limited.)
The matchup here lies in the genre of science fiction. The problem, therefore, lies not in the actual productions, but in network marketing and the audience. "Firefly" never stood a chance. Fox never had a grasp of the correct way to market something that was a science fiction-Western-comedy-romance-action-drama-space opera. "Lost," however, stood a better chance because the science fiction aspect of the narrative slowly snuck up on the audience. Viewers who would have objected to spending an hour a week watching a "sci-fi" show would have turned the channel immediately on "Lost." The ability of both the network and the creators of the show to manipulate the audience's reactions to a contentious genre is what made Lost the success it still is. "Firefly's" amazing cast, spectacular writing, and fan base gave way to the feature production of Serenity
. The production of the "Firefly" follow-up and theatrical release (as opposed to just a direct-to-DVD release) did prove that fans can do more than passively watch a television show. The win here goes to Abrams and extends to the overall team effort between ABC and the creators to keep and maintain an audience for the show.
Round One Winner: Joss Whedon 2-1
Go to the next page to see how their cast members compare...