So, we're a little over a month into lockdown, you've already rewatched all of Buffy, Angel and Firefly multiple times and you're currently rewatching Dollhouse with us, while listening to our Patreon Exclusive Podcast "Dollhouse Awakens"
So, that raises the question: What else is there to watch? You want to watch something Whedon, but you've watched and watched all the Whedon. You want something Whedon adjacent to watch, while you wait for the new Whedon you're waiting to watch, right?
Well! Look no further.
As someone who has watched all the Whedon, I figured I would help my fellow Neverites out, by recommending some shows to watch, that while not made by the man himself, have a similar vibe and thus, should scratch the itch.
Did you like: Buffy the Vampire Slayer?
Why not try: Xena Warrior Princess!
Before Buffy kicked and quipped her way into the hearts of nerds everywhere... There was Xena!
Starring Lucy Lawless as the titular Warrior Princess, and Renee O'Connor as her "Good Friend" *knowing wink* and Bard Gabrielle, the series was created by Rob Tapert, along with EP's R.J. Stewart and Sam Raimi.
Originally, Xena was a minor recurring character in Hercules: The Legendary Journeys. She was originally meant to die, at the end of her 3 episode arc. However, the producers noticed a huge following already developing behind the character and instead of killing her off, they decided to give her her own show. This proved to be a wise move, as Xena quickly overtook Hercules in the ratings, and never dropped out of the top 5 spot in it's entire 5 season run.
The plot of Xena is a simple one. In her youth, Xena was something of a terror. Ripping her way through Ancient Greece, she quickly earned herself the title "Warrior Princess" due to her unmatched skills at warfare.
But that was a long time ago... Wearied by a life of never ending warfare and general badassery, Xena had a change of heart. So now, with the help of her good friend Gabrielle, she wanders the land and tries to help people in need, in an effort to make up for the sins of her wayward youth.
I've always been a huge fan of Xena. It had that perfect blend of action, comedy, and real heart that makes a show stand the test of time. Yes, it is incredibly cheesy, and jumps the shark something awful in the later seasons. But by that point, you're so invested in the characters, and the crazy world they live in, that you're more than willing to accept the fantastical elements of the show.
Also, I don't care what the writers/producers say. Xena and Gabrielle were a couple, and no one can convince me otherwise.
If you want to watch Xena:
The whole series is available to buy on Amazon Prime, as well as on DVD/Blu-ray.
Did you like: Angel?
Then why not try: Black Lightning!
Black Lightning stars Cress Williams as Jefferson Pierce. School Principle and retired superhero. Living in the fictional community of Freeland, America, where a gang known as The 100 rule the streets through fear an violence, lead by the fearsome Tobias Whale (played brilliantly by Marvin "Krondon" Jones III). When Jefferson's two daughters are kidnapped by the gang, he has no option but to suit up and come out of retirement to rescue them.
Much like how Angel was initially conceived as a more mature take on Buffy's general setup, Black Lightning is the CW's attempt to make a more adult comic book series. Created by Mara Brock Akil and Husband Salim Akil, and produced by CW overlord Greg Berlanti, Black Lightning uses the world of comics as a framing device, to tell stories of family, community, standing up for what's right, and America's trouble relationship with the racial divide.
I really tried to enjoy the CW comic book shows. I gave Arrow and Flash so many chances. But weak writing and a lack of overall direction lead me to drop them all. However, Black Lightning, with it's more mature lead and focus on genuine story telling is the one show that I've stuck with, and continue to watch to this day.
As it was with Angel, Black Lightning's main strength is the quality of it's cast. There are no real "weak links", with every member more than able to hold their own. And even a few characters who are initially annoying (I'm looking at you, Jennifer!) you'll grow to appreciate, in time. Black Lightning just finished up it's third season, with a fourth season currently in production.
If you want to watch Black Lightning:
The show airs on the CW in the US, and on Netflix in Europe.
Did you like: Firefly?
Then why not try: Farscape!
When a test flight to prove one of his theories goes very wrong, astronaut John Crichton finds himself stranded on the other side of the universe, with only a ship full of escaped prisoners to help him find his way back home.
The brain-child of Rockne S. O'Bannon and the puppetmasters over at the Henson Creature Shop, Farscape had a style that was all it's own. Combined with a masterful balance of drama and comedy that makes it a must watch for all Whedonites.
Okay, I'm going to need to really control myself here. Farscape is one of my all time favourite TV shows, and I could talk for days about how great it is.
The series ran for 4 years on the Sci Fi channel. Sadly, it was cancelled before they could air the 5th and final season, so the plot was wrapped up in a mini-series titled "The Peacekeeper Wars". Cancelled too soon, leaving a movie to finish the plot.
Why does that sound so familiar?
In much the same way that Buffy changed the way we think and talk about fantasy TV shows, Farscape's effect on Sci Fi is undeniable. More than 20 years later, the effects of Farscape are still being seen. Most recently in the global smash hit "Guardians of the Galaxy", which director James Gunn says was hugely influenced by Farscape.
So, we have to ask ourselves: Why is Farscape such an enduring series, and if I love Firefly, why should I check it out?
The answer is simple. In the same way that Firefly used the backdrop of deep space cowboys to tell a story about family, friendship and freedom, Farscape uses a sci fi setting to spin us a grand tale about love, loss, and taking a stand against tyranny. No matter the cost.
And I think we can all agree, that is a timeless message, that is as true today as it's ever been, and is something Joss would definitely support!
If you want to watch Farscape:
All four seasons, and the miniseries "The Peacekeeper Wars" are available to stream on Amazon Prime. They're also available on DvD/Blu-ray.
Did you like: Dollhouse?
Then why not try: Orphan Black!
One of the most underrated series of all time, Orphan Black is another show I have to physically stop myself from bringing up in every conversation I have. If you've listened to our Dollhouse podcasts, you'll already know how often I fail at this task.
But, to be fair, I have great reasons for bringing it up so often.
Orphan Black follows down on her luck grifter Sarah Manning. Returning home after a year away, she has an opportunity lined up for some quick cash. Then, she's taking her young daughter Kira, and leaving for good.
But when she spots a woman that looks exactly like her at the train station, and that woman jumps in front of a train, Sarah forms a plan that will have consequences she never could have foreseen.
There's a long running joke, about JRPGs, that in Chapter one your task is to rescue a lost kitty, and by the final chapter you have to kill God.
In many ways, this applies to Orphan Black, as well. While the initial premise is fairly simple, the ride you take over the five seasons will lead you to places you never thought possible. You'll laugh, you'll cry, you'll never be able to hear the word "Chicken" in the same way again.
Orphan Black has a very strong supporting cast. Jordan Gavaris as Sarah's hilariously over the top rent boy foster brother Felix. Maria Doyle Kennedy as long suffering foster mother Siobhan "Mrs S" Sadler. Kevin Hanchard as by-the-book detective Art Bell. All deliver very srong performances.
But the show is carried, firmly, on one set of shoulders.
Tatiana Maslany deserves all the awards she recieved and SO many more for her mindblowing performance as Sarah Manning.
And Beth Childs.
And Alison Hendrix.
And Cosima Niehaus.
And I could go on and on and ON.
In the same way that we commend Eliza Dushku for the multiple roles she played in Dollhouse, in Orphan Black Tatiana Maslany plays no less than 10 distinct roles. All amazing in their own way, all very strong characters, that show us that strength should not soley be measured in how much ass you can kick. Any one of them would have been an award winning role, to play them all at the same time, often in the same scene, is nothing short of legendary. So, do yourself a favour. Watch the show!
If you want to watch Orphan Black:
All five seasons are available to stream on Netflix in Europe and Amazon Prime in the US. They're also available on DvD/Blu-ray.
So, there we have it, folks! Four shows to sink your teeth into, while we wait for The Nevers to begin. I hope you enjoy the recommendations. Feel free to comment below, either to add your own suggested shows, or to share your opinions on my picks.
Stay safe, Neverites!