Friday Diversion: Much Ado About Whedon

Back in 1993 Kenneth Branagh made Shakespeare cool. Well, to me he did. “Much Ado About Nothing” was the first truly “accessible” Shakespeare movie I had seen. Not sure if that was Branagh or the Bard, but “Much Ado” remains one of my favorite films.

As such, the Whedon remake intrigues and scares me. I rather he covered ground I didn’t find sacred. Do “Taming of the Shrew” or “12th Night.” But, I’ll live. Especially as I love how/why this film was made. Whedon and friends sit around every weekend drinking and reading Shakespeare. Why not film it?

First, onto the Diversion and the trailer:

First, before people calling me a Whedon Hater, I love, LOVE 95% of this trailer. I love the look. I love the music. I love the Black and White with hints of color. I love the arrangement of Whedon cast. I love hearing the dialogue I heard in the Branagh version. If someone new can crack humorous Shakespearean dialogue it should be Joss. And, even though he doesn’t speak in the trailer, Nathan Fillion should KILL as Dogberry (he’d be a better Benedict  but I’ll take what I can get).

What I didn’t like…don’t kill me Internet world but…

1) I’m not a fan of Amy Acker. Thus her being Beatrice doesn’t excite me. HOWEVER, she does pretty well in the trailer. So, right now this is a “pass.” I’ll hold judgement but not count anything against it.

2) The big problem is watching Alexis Denisof chew Shakespearean dialogue like a kid in my High School drama class. He doesn’t deliver any line (in the trailer) with any naturalism  It is all clunky. Nothing seems fluid. NOW, that might be fault of the trailer. “Much Ado” features rapid-fire dialogue  Chopping it up for the trailer may take it so out of context that it loses all ebb and flow. I hope so. I loved Denisof in “Angel” and have always been shocked he didn’t break into anything more after it (I assume his stints on “How I Met Your Mother” were gained by sleeping with a star).

On the double plus side, it’ll be nice to finally see Fred and Wes get together.


The Threeway: Best Post-Buffy/Angel Roles (Janie’s Take)

This Threeway was an interesting choice given that roughly 90% of the Buffy/Angel cast have gone on to do relatively little. I loved ‘em all in B & A, but most never seemed to find their footing after the show (Bones’ David Boreanez and How I Met Your Mother’s Alyson Hannigan Denisof, the 10% exception). Even Seth Green, who I all but bowed and worshipped in Buffy, hasn’t done anything to excite me lately.

(Sorry A1, Robot Chicken? Not really exciting me)

So, as much as the initial thought of this Threeway (something to do with Joss? Okay, I’m in! I’m in!!) excited me, when I really thought about it, the pool was pretty small.

#3: Emma Caulfield in TiMER.  Like everyone else, I found Anya annoying as crap on Buffy. But I loved her in TiMER, a little Indy gem that came out in 2009. Or maybe it wasn’t her that I really liked, just the movie overall. Regardless – a great concept for a film. What would your life be like if a timer on your wrist counted down to the moment you would meet your true love?  It’s available on Neflix Instant. Check it out.

You don’t recognize Wes? Seriously?

#2 Alexis Denisof as The Other in The Avengers. Yeah, he’s that alien thing who’s behind Loki’s attack. And no, I wouldn’t have known if A1 hadn’t pointed it out earlier. And yeah, this is pretty much cheating. But, oh well.

“Humans… They are not the cowering wretches we were promised. They stand. They are unruly, and therefore cannot be ruled. To challenge them is to court death.”

#1 Amy Acker in… pretty much everything she’s ever in. I loved sweet little Fred in Angel. I loved that everyone was in love with her, because how could you not be? But

Sweet Fred.

towards the end of the series when she became Illyria –

Sweet Mother of God… Fred??

that’s when I truly began to appreciate Amy Acker, the actress. She can go from girl-next-door to ass-kicking powerhouse in 1.1 seconds and it’s a beautiful thing to behold. She hasn’t had any real breakout roles yet, but I believe she will and she’ll be around for a long, long time.

The Threeway: Best Post-Buffy/Angel Roles

This might, might, come as a surprise, but we here at Sweep The Leg enjoy the works of Joss Whedon. Now while you cinch your jaw back up and pick yourself up off the floor, I would like to point out that we understand that carrying a torch for a pair of shows that have been off the air for nearly a decade is unhealthy, maybe even foolhardy. So we are not going to obsess about “Buffy” and “Angel,” no.

We’re going to obsess about what the alum of those shows have been up to since!

3. Can we talk for a second how unrepentant of a nerd Seth Green is? That wall of action figures in Weird Al’s “White and Nerdy” video?  His. The Twitter feed that’s littered with gushing send ups of NASA and various video games? Also his. That stop-action animation show where you’re just as likely to see Voltron break dancing as you are Clifford being castrated by a bucket crane? You bet your ass that’s his. Green’s greatest hat trick was getting cast as the “cool” kid on Buffy; because he could then use his spotlight to illuminate hardcore geekdom and somehow convince everyone else that it was just as “cool” as playing in a band and occasionally wolfing out and trying to eat your friends. “Robot Chicken” was his first big production credit after “Buffy” ended and it seemed incredibly niche: 80s nostalgia-bait, as depicted by their action figures, acting out the horribly inappropriate scenarios that all nerds have entertained themselves with since time immemorial. But it worked, because he knew what all nerds know, pop-culture characters acting in ways that go deeply off-script is damn funny. Just queue up the…OK, you know what, I just spent a good 15 minutes lost in “Robot Chicken” clips and can’t even remember which one I went looking for. It’s funny, it’s nerdy, and it’s the best thing Green’s done since “Buffy.” M’kay?

2. Ah, Wes. Alexis Denisof as Wesley Wyndham Price was by far my favorite character in “Angel.” So much so, that I wrote up a long treatise wherein I proposed that the underlying story of that series was more of a character development arc for him than for the main character. So maybe I’m biased. Scratch that, I’m biased. Still, his character on “How I Met Your Mother,” Sandy Rivers, is goofy fun personified. It’s not quite an “Anchorman” quality send-up of network news anchors; but the barely-believable American accent and over-exaggerated mannerisms come together in a way that’s wonderfully watchable and makes me wish that they’d get rid of Ted and replace him with Sandy.

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In Which I Am a Poor Excuse for a Whedonite

Did anyone else realize that “The Other” that taunted Loki (and brought us the reveal of the next Big Bad) in “The Avengers” was Alexis Denisof? I didn’t even look at the credits; assuming that all the big names were obvious. I should have known that Joss would slip Buffy alum in there. Pretty damn clever.

MTV Splash Page has a great interview with (what for me was) the reveal.

Anything you want to add, Wes?

My thoughts exactly.