Poet John Greenleaf Whittier may have said it best in relation to today’s breaking news of Joss Whedon exiting HBO’s 2021 offering The Nevers: “For of all sad words of tongue or pen, the saddest are these: ‘It might have been!’” Whittier, of course, never worked for those diligent gremlins over at The Hollywood Reporter from whence my headline derives, but his words hit home like, er, poetry. For creative industry powerhouse Joss Whedon – the man behind Buffy the Vampire Slayer and the poor shmuck stuck with salvaging WB’s dumpster-fire known as Justice League back in 2017 – has indeed pulled a banana-split and, much like Elvis before him, has left the proverbial building.
The Nevers is an upcoming HBO science fiction drama series starring Laura Donnelly, Viola Prettejohn, Ann Skelly and Zackary Momoth. The premise, devised by Joss Whedon, is an epic telling of a group of Victorian women who discover they possess out of this world abilities. Along with great power comes great responsibility (thanks to Stan “The Man” Lee for that salient evergreen line, by the way) and the gang of ladies also discover that they have vicious enemies they must contend with along with a mission that could possibly change the world. Flop sweats, anybody?
The Nevers was meant to mark Whedon’s return to the land of television. Prior to the new HBO show, Whedon last worked on the FOX television show Dollhouse.
In a public statement about Joss Whedon’s departure, HBO said that “we have parted ways with Joss Whedon. We remain excited about the future of The Nevers and look forward to its premiere in the summer of 2021.”
This exit by the show’s creator and prime architect marks an abrupt shift for what began as an exciting new chapter for HBO and the writer-director. The Nevers had been picked up straight to series by HBO back in 2018 after a bidding war with Netflix and Whedon was poised to take on writing, directing, executive producing and showrunner duties for the new series. Doug Petrie and Jane Espenson – two longtime collaborators with Whedon – are still tapped to write the show. Bernie Caulfield holds an executive producer title on the show.
Joss Whedon – who has taken his share of brickbat bouquets along with loads of plaudits over the years – issued the following statement regarding his ouster from the show: “This year of unprecedented challenges has impacted my life and perspective in ways I could never have imagined, and while developing and producing The Nevers has been a joyful experience, I realize that the level of commitment required moving forward, combined with the physical challenges of making such a huge show during a global pandemic, is more than I can handle without the work beginning to suffer. I am genuinely exhausted, and am stepping back to martial my energy towards my own life, which is also at the brink of exciting change. I am deeply proud of the work we have done; I’m grateful to all my extraordinary cast and collaborators, and to HBO for the opportunity to shape yet another strange world. The Nevers is a true labor of love, but after two plus years of labor, love is about all I have to offer. It will never fade.”
We’re always sad to see a truly unique and creative presence depart for new territories prematurely and we wish Joss Whedon only the best on whatever new adventures await him.