When Joss Whedon isn't writing and directing television shows and movies (like Buffy the Vampire Slayer), writing comic books (like Astonishing X-Men), guest-directing and guest-starring in TV shows (like Veronica Mars) and probably fighting crime at night dressed as a bat (like a crazy homeless guy), there are a dozen other projects he could be doing.
But there are only so many hours in the day. And although we'd love to be wrong about this, we may have to accept the fact that there are projects that Joss has begun to develop that will never see completion.
Here's a look at some Joss projects that will likely never see the light of day, except in an alternate universe:
Buffy the Animated Show
When Buffy went to UC Sunnydale, it became apparent that a lot of fans missed Buffy's high school vibe. Because the actors were otherwise occupied (you know, with filming Buffy), executive producer Jeph Loeb thought an animated show would appeal to their high school fan base AND tell of the stories that got left behind during their many apocalypses.
Joss developed the show in 2001, and 20th Century Fox greenlit it in 2002. Art was commissioned, voice actors were hired (all of the stars of the real TV show, except for Sarah Michelle Gellar, had signed on), and three and a half minutes were animated.
Here's a look at what we've missed out on:
Fox had decided the Buffy the Animated Show would appear in its Fox Kids programming (a block of time on weekdays after school and Saturday morning cartoons set aside for the kiddies). However, in 2002, Fox decided to halt Fox Kids in favor of their own programming.
Fox shopped it to other networks, but they had no takers. Joss declared it dead in September 2005.
Rupert Giles, whose Sunnydale family was just that—a family—is back in England, alone and lonely. Ripper would be a show about loneliness, but it would also be about ghosts ... and, knowing Joss, these ghosts would be figurative and literal. Better yet, this mini-series would have come from the BBC, and the BBC makes the most of atmospheric, moody dramas.
But it's the title of the show that really commands attention: not Giles, which is how most people refer to the tweedy cup-of-tea Watcher. No, the title would have been Ripper, the nickname given to Rupert when he was a hell-raising student involved in dark magic. (We saw a glimpse of him in the episode "Band Candy.")
How would Giles' life as Ripper impact his present? Would he be hunting ghosts or saving them? Would Buffy ever cross the Atlantic Ocean to offer a helping hand (which happens to be holding a stake)?
So many questions, and absolutely no answers.
First a television series, then a mini-series, then a made-for-TV movie, Ripper's format kept getting pared down. We know from prior Mutant Enemy work that this show would not lack ideas; instead, this devolution of format seems more due to a lack of time and budget.
Ultimately, around the time that Anthony Stewart Head signed on to Merlin, Joss' focus turned away from the green and pleasant land of England to the subterranean world of the Los Angeles Dollhouse.
After Angel was canceled, Spike was planned as a made-for-TV movie in May 2005, one that would highlight the talent of James Marsters while telling more about the vampire with a soul (okay, the other vampire with a soul).
Spike would also star Alyson Hannigan and Amy Acker. Tim Minnear was tapped to direct and co-write. And in early 2006 David Janollari, the WB's president of entertainment, said he would love to do the movie with Joss.
But even the best-laid plans of Joss and Tim go often awry.
Money. Despite Janollari's enthusiasm, The WB didn't fund the project. Joss shopped it around to various networks, but they didn't bite, either. By June 2006, he admitted that it didn't look like Spike would proverbially see the light of day.
Sadly, James Marsters said he wouldn't be interested in revisiting the character more than five years after Angel, because it would be difficult for an audience to believe Spike never aged. His fans will have to be content with his exploits in comic books, particularly After the Fall.
In March 2005, Joss was hired to write a script for the DC heroine Wonder Woman that involved her origins and her love interest, Steve Trevor. Although Joss seemed like an excellent fit for the material—it's about a female superhero, after all—after two years, Joss backed out without having completed a draft, only an outline.
Joss told all at Whedonesque.com.
Let me stress first that everybody at the studio and Silver Pictures were cool and professional. We just saw different movies, and at the price range this kind of movie hangs in, that's never gonna work. Non-sympatico. It happens all the time.
Fans shouldn't feel too badly: Wonder Woman has been written and rewritten since 2001. And so far, not one version of the script has been approved.
Joss decided he could better focus his energies on a project more dear to his heart: Goners.
Goners, written after Serenity wrapped, sounds a bit like the way Buffy started, with a female character, Mia, who encounters horror in the real world but combats it with a strength she's learning to use. Words Joss has used to describe Goners include "dark," "darker" and "horrific."
Joss has said he envisions Goners as the antidote for torture porn and called it "inspirational." If anyone could merge heartfelt positive emotion with mutilation, it would be Joss.
Joss announced this "fantasy thriller" in September 2005. I'm writing this in January 2011.
It's hard to pinpoint exactly what pushed Goners to the back burner, but other projects obviously got in the way. However, someone at Universal Studios had real intentions to make this movie: an official website, gonersmovie.com, was created but was later taken down without comment.
Goners' IMDB page once stated that the movie would be released in 2010; currently, it says the movie will be released in 2011, which is unlikely, considering Joss' current commitment to The Avengers.
However, Joss was quoted as saying that he wants to return to Goners after he's finished with The Avengers. Whether it happens remains to be seen.
Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along-Blog II
Penny's dead, and Billy doesn't feel a thing. Where does our Evil Leaguer go from here? There's no word on the plot, but plot is only part of what makes this all-singing web series so delightful. Coming from the fertile minds of Joss, Zack Whedon, Jed Whedon and Maurissa Tancharoen, we believe that almost any story they can tell would be awesome.
Even better: The writers have aspirations of making the sequel a feature film.
Although Joss hasn't officially bowed out of the Dr. Horrible sequel, he's currently working on The Avengers, a massive project that will likely take a two-year chunk out of his life. Also, star Neil Patrick Harris has mentioned that his current schedule doesn't leave room for much flexibility.
And after The Avengers is complete? It will be two years later, and by then, Joss will probably have thought of a million other projects.
However, you can read more about Dr. Horrible and his origins in the comic book Dr. Horrible and Other Horrible Stories.
"Corrupt" (Angel episode)
In this episode, slated to be the second episode Angel, the David Fury-written screenplay, Angel uncovers a plot by pimps who worship a demon who possesses the bodies of prostitutes and makes them murder their johns.
As Angel investigates their brothel, he meets police detective Kate Lockley, who has gone undercover as a prostitute and has become addicted to drugs. Meanwhile, Cordelia poses as a streetwalker to find more information. Ultimately, Angel stops Lockley from taking out the pimps and kills the demon.
You can find a detailed description of the episode here, including some of the show's funnier lines.
What with the prostitution, the drug addiction and all the ultra-violence, this episode was considered too dark for the WB network. However, some elements, such as a body-hopping demon and the introduction of Lockley, made their way into the episode that did air, "Lonely Hearts."
Fans of Joss Whedon, however, can take heart. There is one unseen project that we'll get to view ... eventually ...
Cabin in the Woods
Joss co-wrote and produced this horror film, directed by his former staff writer, Drew Goddard, which also includes appearances by Amy Acker (Fred Burkle/Illyria; Dr. Claire Saunders/Whiskey) and Tom Lenk (Andrew Wells).
Cabin in the Woods, about a group of young people stranded in the woods, was filmed in mid 2009. Although it emphasizes horror, Joss promises some laughs to help take the pain away.
You can see almost no content whatsoever at the movie's website, here.
MGM filed for bankruptcy in November 2010. MGM has this movie plus many others (including the latest James Bond movie and the Red Dawn remake) in a holding pattern.
According to Hitflix, "A final wrap has been delayed by a decision to make it into 3-D." So although filming for Cabin has been completed, we don't know if it's been post-produced or even if scenes need to be reshot.
Until MGM has the money to release the movie, the footage is sitting on a shelf. It's a frustrating thought. But unlike these other unrealized Joss projects, this one has actually been made—and it's one we're likely to see.
As soon as the company's finances resolve themselves, we'll be getting a first-class seat to see this Cabin.