Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Give Me Something to Sing About!

Regarding musicals, Whedon has said many nice things. But this really stood out to me:

[My kids] don't watch TV and we only watch a few things selectively, and I tend to show them musicals first because I don't like to show them a lot of heavy cutting. I don't like to do that to their brains. I like "Mr. Rogers," I like long takes. Musicals are very peppy and they are very much about just showing you what's going on instead of the magic of cutting and cutting and cutting, so that they become confused, visually. So since I'm easing them into the whole concept of filmed entertainment, it's a good place to start. Besides, I get to watch them. [And Singin' in the Rain] is the best movie that has ever been and I have shown that to my kids, because it's "Singin' in the Rain." Every number is magical and every joke is actually funny and every bit works, so that makes sense.

Last night, we watched the musical extravaganza "Once More, with Feeling" and noticed several things. A quick recap:

1. No one lies when they sing, whether their feelings center on mustard stains or on deep fears of abandonment and loss. It seems the further we get from regular dialogue ("Hush" serving as another example); the closer we get to the truth.
2. Xander obviously never read the "Halloween Rules" handout or he would have known better than to wish upon an unknown talisman. Silly boy! But at least he got the 30s screwball comedy duet with Anya in return.
3. Whedon's musical lineage can be traced directly back to Stephen Sondheim and Oscar Hammerstein, both of whom "revamped" (no, I won't apologize for the pun) the American musical. In fact, Whedon posted about his own "fan feelings" upon meeting Sondheim. (You need to scroll down a bit - Joss's tagline is purple.) He's clearly a big fan.
4. Good musicals contain songs that advance the plot, rather than bringing the action to a screeching halt so pretty girls can twirl about the stage.
5. Be very careful with resurrection spells - they are notorious for going wrong.

"Once More, with Feeling" is very popular among fans and I'm pleased that several of you expressed versions of, "I wasn't sure about this, but I'm glad I saw it." I've already discussed the stage show (that's now caught in a licensing dispute), but here are some other links you may enjoy exploring.

The lyrics. This site also has plot summaries and screen captures for each episode.

Notes on the DVD commentary. Here you'll find some interesting snippets on the creative process of putting together the songs, the dance sequences, and what Whedon thought worked and what he thought needed polishing.

How a chaplain uses BUFFY to relate to patients in the emergency room.

Next week, we'll look at identity. If you don't know who you are, how could you construct an identity for yourself? Take a look at the contents of your own purse, backpack, wallet, etc. - is that you? We'll get a look at these issues in "Tabula Rasa," which is the very next episode after "OMWF." We get bunnies AND kittens in this one!

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