Joss Whedon: Never Say ‘Nevers’ Again?

In a surprise decision, Joss Whedon has departed HBO's upcoming fantastical drama 'The Nevers'...

Despite much early excitement that Joss Whedon was returning to television as a writer and director, it appears that that he has withdrawn from show-running HBO‘s upcoming drama The Nevers.  The show, announced in 2018, told the story of a group of (literally) empowered Victorian women who are thrust into a quest that could forever change the world. The official synopsis read:

In the last years of Victoria’s reign, London is beset by the ‘Touched’: people — mostly women — who suddenly manifest abnormal abilities, some charming, some very disturbing. Among them are Amalia True (Laura Donnelly), a mysterious, quick-fisted widow, and Penance Adair (Ann Skelly), a brilliant young inventor. They are the champions of this new underclass, making a home for the Touched, while fighting the forces of… well, pretty much all the forces — to make room for those whom history as we know it has no place.

Whedon, of course, was the driving force behind Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, Dollhouse, Firefly and the co-creator of the ABC series Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD and directed the first two Avengers movies. Such writing talents as Tim Minear, David Fury, Steven DeKnight, Doug Petrie and  Jane Espenson were part of the Mutant Enemy company that launched all their careers and changed the face of television during the 1990s and beyond.  In more recent years there’s been some off-screen controversies and his version of DC/WarnersJustice League (after he took over from Zack Snyder) was known to be problematic, but Whedon remained a major mover and shaker despite conflicting accounts.

The Nevers was being written by Whedon, Espenson and Petrie and will star Donnelly (Outlander), Skelly (Death and Nightingales), Olivia Williams The Sixth Sense), James Norton (Grantchester), Tom Riley (Dark Heart), Ben Chaplin (Game On, The Letter for the King), Pip Torrens (The Crown), Zackary Momoh (Seven Seconds), Amy Manson (Torchwood), Nick Frost (Shaun of the Dead), Rochelle Neil (Death in Paradise), Eleanor Tomlinson (Poldark) and Denis O’Hare (This Is Us).  The actual production status of the show is unclear, but HBO have indicated that they were still hoping for it to be completed for broadcast next year.

“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,” HBO confirmed in a short statement.

“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,” Whedon said to the Cinemablend site. “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.”