There is also Buffy, Angel, Firefly and Serenity. (Dollhouse, not so much.)
I have a particular soft spot for Serenity. Not merely because it is a fine SF film, but because it such a fine anti-utopian film. Mal's speech [spoiler alert] is a great moment:
Somebody has to speak for these people.In one of the special features in the Australian release of the DVD, Joss Whedon says of the film that it explores:
As sure as I know anything, I know this. They will try again. Maybe on another world, maybe on this very ground swept clean. A year from now, ten, they will swing back to the belief that they can make people better. And I do not hold to that.
where the Utopian vision stops. Because whenever you create some kind of Utopia you find something ugly working underneath it.Utopianism is always evil, because it is always a war against people as they are in the name of people as they should allegedly be; it is alway an assault on the core of being human. The utopian aim justifies utter unscrupulousness (because the goal is so wonderful and noble that any means are justified), utter arrogance (because the anointed just know how things should be while any resistance just proves how benighted and inadequate such folk are) and complete control (since otherwise how is one going to be able to remake folk who, as inferior versions who fail to realise their own inferiority, obviously shouldn't get a say). It is hardly surprising that the utopian urge has left nothing but misery and disaster in its wake.
Joss's anti-utopian realism creates a coherent moral structure for the plot of Serenity, with all those themes working out and driving the story. That actions have consequences, that the dark in the human soul is real, are two guiding principles of his art. (Hence his anti-utopianism.) But he also creates vivid characters, great stories and sparkling dialogue.
Joss is even great in what he inspires, as in the classic Buffy versus Edward. (Because real vampires don't sparkle: yes, that was completely gratuitous Spike action. Here's more, from the classic Once More With Feeling, the Buffy-the-Musical episode. I am also fond of the Angel puppet episode Smile Time. Which gives us yet more gratuitous Spike action. Because we love Joss because he is willing to go there, and pull it off.)
But we come back to where we came in, loving Joss Whedon because of this.
[Cross-posted at Skepticlawyer.]