Joss Whedon on Dollhouse and New Trailer.

November barely began and it has been a pretty busy week so far. ANd the fact that is November, is ironic for Dollhouse. You’ll get the inside joke further in the post.

Yesterday Fox made the new trailer for Dollhouse, only a few days after releasing the first details of their January Programming which includes the bold return of 24, after a over year long gap, that ended up because of the Writer’s Strike (which was no fault of the writers, but the greedy hands of the AMPTP).

This time we get somewhat different trailer from the previous one, at least in tone and also most of the scenes are different from the previous more action based trailer.

If you haven’t watched already, you can check it out down here.

The changes also reflect the fact that the original version of the Pilot was mostly scraped for a new one, that offers some changes from the original plan, onto those changes Joss Whedon posted throughfully about them last week on Whedonesque, in which he update us about a lot of information.

What happened when the lights went out.

Sadly, this is not a naughty post. It’s just Joss nattering on again.

I thought it was time to check in with you once again, gentle viewers. Or readers. Or pictures-looker-ats (that might be viewers). Also listeners, sniffers, haberdashers, Olympic hopefuls, the elderly, the youngerdly, and the mighty state of Oregon (go Oregon-based sports franchise!) Welcome all. Welcome… to me.

What’s me up to? I’m glad me asked. Me’ve (I’m not doing that any more) been working on a little show called Dollhouse. Yes, perhaps you’ve read about how it’s blazing an untrammeled path to surefire success, with nary a hitch or a hiccup, just pure blazing blazery, comet-like and meteoresque. What’s that, you say? You’ve read other things? Dark, Yog-Sothothy rumors about shutdowns and delays? Poppycock! They’re true. But I never pass up a chance to say “poppycock”. (“Balderdash” is so ’07. Let it go.) I know there’s been a lot of concern, various fabulous hues of panic alert readiness. So here’s the skinny. Some of the names have been changed.

The show was ruined by Flim Flinear. Okay, that’s another lie, and you’re probably close to giving up on this blog, so here we go. Yes, we’ve had to make adjustments. Yes, it’s been hard and I’ve been depressing to be around for awhile. Basically, the Network and I had different ideas about what the tone of the show would be. They bought something somewhat different than what I was selling them, which is not that uncommon in this business. Their desires were not surprising: up the stakes, make the episodes more stand-alone, stop talking about relationships and cut to the chase. Oh, and add a chase. That you can cut to. Nothing I hadn’t heard before on my other shows (apparently my learning curve has no bendy part) but frustrating as hell given our circumstances – a pilot shot, scripts written, everybody marching together/gainfully employed… and then a shutdown. Glad I was for the breathing room, but it’s hardly auspicious. So back into the writer cave I went, wondering why I put up with this when I can make literally dozens of dollars making internet movies. Why I do put up with this is divided into three parts.

One: They’re not wrong. Oh, we don’t see eye-to-eye on everything, but wanting the first episodes to be exciting and accessible is not exactly Satanic. Being Satan is, but that’s in their free time and hey, there’s no judging in the Dollhouse. This kind of back and forth has happened on every show I’ve done, so if you liked those, chances are that was a part of why. And the need to focus on the essentials of what makes this universe tick – and which wire to cut to make it stop – really does bring up our game. So we as a staff have gone from blinking like unhoused moles to delving in with the same relish we had when we started. The show is really coming together now, in a way that I believe excites us and satisfies the Network. Of course, I have no idea if anybody else will like it, but I have the same faith in the staff, the crew and the remarkable cast that I always did. More, in fact. And what’s more crucial:

Two: Nothing essential has changed about the universe. The ideas and relationships that intrigued me from the start are all there (though some have shifted, more on that), and the progression of the first thirteen eps has me massively excited. The episode we’re shooting now I wrote as fast as anything I have before, not because I had to (although, funny side-note: I had to) but because I couldn’t stop the words from coming. Because I can feel the show talking to me; delighting, scaring and occasionally even offending me. It’s alive. Alive! Which is a far cry from how I felt a month ago. It’s been hilarious trying to keep up with what’s in, what’s out, who’s met whom and when – we’ve shot all of the first seven episodes out of airing order – but it’s come together in a pretty thrilling way. My huge gratitude to our cast for their precision and patience. Which also includes…

Three: Eliza. Watching her on the monitors at two o’clock this morning I was reminded forcibly how much I wished I were in bed – but also how strong, radiant and unmistakable her presence is. She’s someone who could coast on talent and never ever does. I love to watch her work. In fact, I think I got myself into this mess for that very reason, and though I have this fall occasionally sworn never to eat lunch with an actor I like again, I’m pretty pleased and crazy proud.

So here’s me, slogging away on a show like days of old and not hating life. Again, you guys will be the judge, jury and execu… lawyer, but we do have something to show you. Something, I’m chuffed to say, still pretty damn strange.

As for what’s been changed, well, some things I obviously can’t tell you. Some I can, for the record: The original pilot was in fact thrown out. Again, at my behest. Once it became clear what paradigm the Network was shooting for, it just didn’t fit at all, even after I’d reshot more than half of it (see above re: despair). To get a sense of how completely turned around I was during this process, you should know there was a scene with Eliza and the astonishing Ashley Johnson that I wrote and shot completely differently three different times, with different characters in different places (actually I wrote it closer to eight times), and none of it will ever see air. Which is as it should be (though I’m determined to get Ms. Johnson back in the future). The scene just didn’t belong anymore. Similarly, the character of November has fallen out of the mix, because the show simply moves too fast now for me to do what I wanted with her. Season three, anyone…? Happily, Miracle Laurie is still with us in a new role, playing against (and pining for) Tahmoh’s character, Paul Ballard. Their chemistry is deeply nifty. The only other major cast shift is that the Dollhouse head of security, Laurence Dominic (played by Reed Diamond), who was written just for the now-defunct first ep, has stuck like fly-paper, and Reed is very much in the family for the present. (Most of my problems seem to involve my actors making themselves indispensable. This is the good problem kind.)

Apart from that, it’s all hush-hush: some things I’d intended to hold back are laid out much sooner, and some are rolling out more slowly. We’re still heading toward Tim’s intense two-part mind-blower – right before a thirteenth ep that may actually just be insane.

And finally, young Steve DeKnight, after writing and shooting an ep so cool it helped not only define the show but save its ass, is ending his consulting duties, the f#%&er. I will be crying on the shoulder of Jane Espenson come Monday, so congratudolences are in order. Excited for the Jane Flava.

And there you have it. I’ll be writing more bulletins about “Cabin” and a certain DVD in the very near future, but I wanted to get you all some actual information for a change. I can count on you guys not to tell anyone, right? What’s a blog?

Faithfully, -joss.

PS. In case you didn’t get the inside joke, please re-read Joss info about the demise of a certain character.

Advertisements

Fox new marketing action: Was it really a success?

According to several (for example) websites Fox’s latest marketing campaigns was a huge success.

The tale in a nutshell, for people who don’t speak Portuguese, Fox launched (look how carefully I’m attempting to use classic Marketing tool words) a big promotional 3 day long campaign, called “Quero sair daqui” (I want to get out of here). They set up a large cage in one of the most busy commercial avenues in São Paulo, where they locked an Actor in there, who’d stay there up to 3 days, without leaving. People could try to let him out, buy figuring out the password, through the campaign’s website (which included a live video feed to the cage) and clues were left through some websites, who somehow collaborated with them, and players would be competing to the chance to win a Plasma TV. The whole point, is was a massive action to promote the premiere of the 3rd season of “Prison Break” over here.

I get the thematic take of their marketing plan, but I do question making a  actor (who I hope was at least really well compesated for this work) undertake 72 hours  of work in those conditions, it’s sound almost like slavery. Yeah, I didn’t pass in front of the cage (it’s not in my route to work or back home), so there’s a chance that I’m over-reacting.

Okay, at some extent they did succeed, after all, I am talking about them, and a lot of people were disucussing, if not about them, about the campaign which generated traffic to the campaign’s website. I just find the content of the campaign something quite questionable, I don’t think they’d be so reckless to not at least provide the least human right conditions for the actor and verified with Human Rights organizations, since they were under such public eyes during the whole action.

They did try to combine web with traditional media, and it had a certaing amount of viral pontential, as well as asking for other fan sites, including tv shows websites and blogs to play some role in the campaign. They were definitely out there, if it’ll return as actual audience for the premiere, that’s an issue for another discussion.

“Just doing their Job” a review of “9mm: São Paulo”

9mm

What? 9mm: São Paulo is Fox first effective investment into producing a Brazilian tv show. Their previous attempt should not named, as it’s somewhat close to relation of what “Joey” (the show, not the character) meant for the fans of “Friends”. It’s basically a police procedural drama set in South America largest city São Paulo

There’s is commitment to produce a total of 13 episodes for its first season, which are still under production, 4 of which will be shown this month, at first as testing ground for how it might perform, as the show will also be shown by Fox other affiliated through Latin America. It’s not the first investment from international companies to produce local content. The last few years we’ve seen HBO produce some successful mini series and Sony after some failed attempts into the world of variety show, found in spinning Tyra Banks’ “America’s Next Top Model”, into “Brazilian Next Top Model”, a successful product from the land that is homeland for a 1/3 of “Victoria’s Secret” Top Models and some of the highest paid model in the world.

What does 9mm: São Paulo remind me of? When I saw the first tv spots I thought it would be just another Jerry Bruckheimer-ish CSI rip off. Yes the characters come out from the same archetypes the ones we have in the CSI’s shows, but the result is somewhat different.

In my opinion, the US show that it resembles the most is actually the short lived, but excellent Tim Minear’s “The Inside”, which did happen to be another Fox production. If I had to describe the show for a friend I’d call it a mix of “The Inside” with “NYPD: Blue”, with a touch of CSI.

The show in a nutshell(mildly spoilerific). 9mm: São Paulo it’s an hour-long crime drama, that tells the story of a homicide unit in the largest city in Brazil, as they take on violent cases from dangerous regions of the city. What happens when law and crime might actually walk hand by hand. The team is lead by Eduardo, a young detective in a career fast-track, partly due to his close relationships to a congressman, who might become his father-in-law. Horacio is veteran investigator of the team, with a shady past and a very grey approach toward the cases. Tavares is a 38-year-old newbie, who’s just out of the police academy, and tend to have a very black-&-white view of the world. Luísa, is the only woman in the team, who is a single mom and had her daughter when she was only 15, she has to juggle her constantly busy professional life, while raising a teenage daughter and dealing with an uncooperative ex-husband. 3P is the hotshot youngest member of the team, who can be impulsive and very naive.

This first episode titled Aqui Se Faz, Aqui Se Paga, (Here you sow, Here you pay) have the team investigating two murders, that ends up having a common point in the figure of a talent manager who gives”managing talents”a deeper meaning, and also he has some past relation to Horacio, which leads to its surprising final scene. As the several characters repeat among themselves, they were just doing their job.

What Works? I really liked the casting, it’s clear through the pilot episode that we have a strong main cast, and some supporting cast played by some known actors. I really loved the fact that the team leader is a black man, and they play well into introducing each of the team players and their personal lives and it’s amazing how imperfect they all are. The show pacing is uneven, it get better on the second half, when the cases become one. The use of the “shaky cam”, emulating the reality of a documentary, works well in most scenes, especially in action scene when we have chases or confrontation between characters. I loved the fact that they set the show in São Paulo, not just because I lived here for most of my life (or for the fact that we share a lifelong rivalry with Rio), but it does give a setting of Brazil as urban world, not just “Football”, “Half-naked woman”, “Beaches” or “Coffee”. The dysfunctional characters and their rich backgrounds does show a lot of promise, and make me curious for what we’ll see in the next episodes. They also had some pretty transition scenes effect, it reminded me of a mix of “Angel”, “Woman’s Murder Club” and “CSI: New York”.

What doesn’t work? The shaky cam works well for most of the narrative, but it seemed overused, especially in more intimate scenes, which instead of making the viewer a discreet eavesdropper of a personal conversation, just makes you think that it was being filmed by an overactive operator. I’m all for making it imperfect, however It was getting so distracting on some moments from the first half of the episode, that made me want to scream at the screen for it. Maybe I’m just too spoiled by writers who can pen amazing dialogs, but some of the dialogs in the show were just bad, it made me cringe and feel bad for the actors who were delivering them and were doing their best with the material given. They didn’t play much the team dynamics as a whole, but I expect it will change in the next episodes.

The Bottom Line… as such an ambitious first experiment, for how promising it looks, despite the few laws, It should be considered close to success, and very bright future for other fiction products from local writers and producers. I will surely check the next 3 episodes that they’ll show this month.

PS. I should remember to credit Brian Ford Sullivan, from The Futon Critic, as somewhat the inspiration for this review’s structure.

PPS. In case you didn’t notice, if you click on the picture above, it’s linked to the show official Site.