Getting (further) into Joss Whedon?

So… I’m a huge fan of Firefly and Serenity, and am interested in further exploring the “Whedonverse.” It’s kind of intimidating because Buffy and Angel are such long-running, story-intensive shows.

Which should I start with? I’ve heard that Buffy had a shaky first couple of seasons and then got a lot better. Should I just start at the beginning because of the story, or is there a better entry point? What of Angel?

There seem to be a lot of Whedon devotees around here so I’m hoping to get some good advice. :slight_smile: Thanks.

Personally I’d start with Buffy. It could be fun to watch them in time order, ie start watching Angel at the point that he left Sunnydale. That way the episodes where you get some crossover will be much more understandable. I’m sure there must be some website out there that shows the episode timelines side by side so you know when to watch Buffy season 4 ep 1 and when Angel season 1 ep 3 or whatever.

Seconded. If that gets too confusing, just finish Buffy first. I just finished watching all episodes from Angel, and both series are gold. Just plain gold.

Besides it is fun to see actors from Firefly occasionally making appearances in Angel.

And BtVS, too.

I strongly support what’s been said above: start with Buffy. The first season, which is short, is a little on the shaky side although it contains some golden moments, especially near the end. I do recommend watching it, but if you’re not feeling grabbed and want to skip forward, proceed to the first episode of season 2. You won’t have any trouble understanding what came before, at least in the broad strokes. Season 2 is wildly uneven, and contains some of the worst and many of the best moments of the entire run. I wouldn’t miss it for anything. Things definitely smooth out starting in the almost uniformly excellent season 3. After that, opinions start to vary.

I’m not as big a fan of Angel as other Whedon fans are, although again, it definitely has its moments. (There’s a subtle but disturbing undercurrent of misogyny in it that I don’t care for, and the show’s not nearly as dark as it thinks it is). AtS definitely contains my favorite character arc of any of the Whedon series. I’d say start at the beginning, and either time it to start in conjunction with season 4 fof BtVS, or watch it after BtVS. I’d lean toward the former recommendation, but I watched it in its entirety afterward, and it worked just fine.

If you only want to see one episde, Once More With Feeling is probably it.

Joss Whedon’s top ten Buffy Episodes are:

  1. Prophecy Girl, season 1, ep 12
  2. Conversations with the dead, season 7, ep 7
  3. Restless, season 4, ep 22
  4. Becoming Part 2, season 2, ep 22
  5. The Wish, season 3, ep 9
  6. Doppelgangland, season 3, ep 16
  7. The Body, season 5, ep 16
  8. Hush, season 4, ep 10
  9. Once More With Feeling, season 6, ep 7
  10. Innocence, season 2, ep 14

But if you watch these first, it would probably spoil things if you plan on watching the entire Buffy run in order. The entire Angel run can be watched concurrently, or after finishing Buffy.

I’d recommend starting with Buffy, Season 1, Episode 1. NetFlix is a good way to do it cheaply unless you have generous Buffista friends with DVD’s.

The first (short) season may be less “developed” than the later ones, but it begins the story. You can skip through episodes that you don’t like. Or, more likely, you’ll watch certain episodes only once, while you’ll watch others a couple of times–with commentary (if available).

One of Whedon’s strengths is how character & story develop over time. Thus, even a “bad” episode may have references to the past & foreshadow the future. This gift is the main reason so many mourned the lost possibilities of Firefly.

(Angel is also worth watching. Its first season is “simultaneous” with Buffy’s fourth.)

Start with Buffy for sure. I’m not sure why but I rather lost interest in Angel after Buffy ended, which is odd because I loved him on Buffy. Ah well.

Give AtS a try. It’s got a lot of the same greatness you liked in Buffy. Promise!

I’d agree with starting with season one of Buffy. As others have said, it takes a bit to get up to speed (as do many TV shows), but those shows are enjoyable too and it’ll add to the enjoyment of later shows to see the characters grow over the course of the series.

There is some cross-over between the two series here and there, but it’s pretty minor, and nothing that would ruin stories or cause confusion. I’d say watch Buffy all the way through and then go on to Angel.

I agree with Bridget about Joss’s strength with developing characters (it’s just as evident in Firefly). For that reason I’d suggest not jumping to the best episodes. For instance, you’d no doubt enjoy Once More With Feeling even if it were the first episode you’d ever seen, but you’d miss out on how it gives insight into stuff we’d known of the characters from previous episodes.

These two shows really should be watched from beginning to end in order. It’s not that it’s all one storyline (there are stories that continue over multiple episodes or even a whole season [indeed, most of Angel could be looked at as one large story arc], but there are stand-alone episodes too). But the characters grow and change a lot over the years. If you where to watch all of Angel first and then watch Buffy, it’d be kind of startling to see how differently some of them started out. Yet watch them in order and they grow gradually and organically (and believably).

And once again it makes me wonder how the crew of Serenity would’ve grown and changed over the course of, say, five or six seasons… :frowning:

Fourthing(?) the “Watch them in order” mantra. You can’t really understand the characters in later seasons if you don’t know what they went through in the previous ones. Spike, for example… :smiley:

Oh, I have. I liked the first few seasons but my interest level dropped off. I may give it another shot.

I go with what many others have said: start from the beginning with Buffy. If you skip around and pick out episodes here and there, you’ll have so many questions. (I say this from the perspective of when friends of mine started to watch the series mid-way through and were always asking me to clarify things.) It will be difficult to discern complex relationships between characters, or understand who is human or nor human or formerly human, and how characters change and develop, and how some start out way back in the series and pop up later on, and what’s with the rat named Amy, and what did they do over their summer vacations, and so on and so forth. I agree that “Once More With Feeling” and “Hush” and “The Wish” are remarkable but if I hadn’t ever seen Buffy before those I would have so many questions, it would interfere with my enjoyment.

And later on in the series is where the Angel spin-off happens, which involves other Buffy characters (more and more who accumulate by the end.)

Think of it this way though, if you discover you like Buffy, you’ll end up watching them all anyway so you might as well do it in order. Then if you get really obsessive you can plan your viewing alongside Angel, so you can understand what’s going on in the bigger picture when Buffy characters appear.

I highly recommend Buffy. The first season(in my wife’s and my opinon) is not the best, but stick with. It becomes less a show for intelligent high schoolers and more a show for intelligent adults.

Angel is fantastic, but starts slower than Buffy. I think Angel doesn’t get fantastic until the 4-part season finale of Season 2. After that, it’s as good as Buffy…almost anyway.

Thanks to all who responded to this thread. I, too, like the OP, started with Firefly and wondered if I should explore Mr. Whedon’s work further.

For those who care:

After hearing so many good things about it, I bought the Firefly set early this year and worked my way through it (rationing myself to an episode every week or two, since I knew when I ran out there would be no more). I didn’t fall in love with the series immediately, but it wasn’t too long before I found myself really liking it. I grew to love the characters and their world, and the way the show avoided cliches and told original stories that successfully combined humor, excitement, emotion, and moral sense.

So I decided to give Buffy a try. I found a used copy of the first season cheap enough to take a chance on, and now, after watching about 2/3 of that first season, I’ve been on the edge as to whether to go on to the next season or give up here (and, if I do go on, how many seasons to stay with it).

From what I’ve seen, it’s definitely not up to Firefly’s level—not that I expected it to be. I’m aware that it’s rumored to get better. But season 1, at least, really is a teen show, which I’m way too old for—and it’s set in that TV high school fantasyland where all teens are rich, attractive, impeccably groomed, and played by actors in their twenties. And nobody at the school seems nearly alarmed enough that once a week somebody dies violently. And forget all the demons and stuff—the fact that Alyson Hannigan doesn’t have guys drooling all over her makes it nearly impossible for me to suspend disbelief. And the episodes run a bit to a monster-of-the-week formula, with plenty of genre cliches (e.g. all rescues occur at the very last minute, just in the nick of time). On the other hand, it is kind of a fun show, the dialogue is occasionally clever, and I can see how it has potential to become better. So thanks to this thread, I might at least give Season 2 a watch.

I’m one of the biggest Buffy/Angel/Joss Whedon fans around, and I’m inclined to agree. I was very unenthused about most of Buffy season 1 – flashes of brilliance, but little to set it apart or live up to the hype. I started to change my mind and realize they were onto something great with the season 1 finale, and by season 2, episode 3 (“School Hard”), I was a fan for life.

The kids notice the deaths but mostly suppress the knowledge. In a later episode, a football player hopes for a good season–especially if there are fewer unexplained deaths. (Don’t have the exact words.)

And, at graduation, everyone is congratulated for having the lowest mortality rate of ANY Sunnydale graduating class.

Please continue with Buffy. It gets better after Season One–although Season One does have its moments.

Plus the mention it gets at The Prom. And in School Hard, for that matter.

Season 1 was still great television, just nowhere near as good as the following seasons. It suffered–and still does–by comparison. The half-season run didn’t provide much room for Whedon’s lengthy arcs, but I still enjoy the episodes; and he did as much as he could with a new show on a fledgling network.

So, as others have said, start at the beginning. Heck, there’s even a scene in the last episode of Season 7 that you’ll only appreciate due to having watched Season 1.

I’ve never seen an episode of Buffy or Angel. I did watch Firefly and Serenity.

I’m currently reading the Whedon/Cassady Astonishing X-Men run.

I’m not a rabid Whedonophile others here are, but I can see the appeal.

Speaking of comic books, there will be a Buffy comic book.
(spoilers)
http://popwatch.ew.com/popwatch/2006/07/the_new_buffy_c.html

Brian