Jun 24, 2005


firefly Based on seeing a similar set of comments about the TV series Firefly as I saw for the movie Primer, I decided to load up my Netflix queue with the first and only season of Firefly. Apparently Fox cancelled it after the first season. Like many shows that get cancelled there was an uproar from a passionate base of fans. The creator is a Joss Whedon who did the Buffy series of which I have zero experience with but who apparently garners a rabid fanbase.

It's no secret I'm not a fan of TV. I remember seeing an interview with Rod Sterling of The Twilight Zone fame - an incredibly engaging man - where he waxes about the possibilities of TV from education to exploring new ideas in storytelling to opening up politics. Can you imagine if he were alive today? He would be just sick. I guess he's right that the possibilities are there, but the realization just never happened. At least for me. Cable was cut off a few years back. While I went through withdrawal symptoms (what does one exactly do when you get home from work/school if not turn on the TV), I've gained a great deal of time back in my life. Of course I'm a little left out when it comes to popular culture discussions at parties and so forth. I do a lot of nodding now. Seems to work and allows me more time to focus on drinking.

So last night I threw in Episodes 1-3 (disc 1). It's an odd premise - science fiction western. Now you're probably thinking it's a western in concept. You know - laser slinging space cowboys on the frontiers of space. No it is actually a western. Horses, dusty plains, outlaws, banjo background music, etc. In between it's sci-fi. Sounds terrible doesn't it. And in fact the premise is terrible. Watching the shows last night did nothing to change that.

However a shitty premise doesn't make or break this show. What overwhelms the terrible premise is a collection of incredibly interesting non-TV characters. Your standard paternal captain who is constantly on a power trip and angry at everything, a lieutenant comrade (the one boring character so far), a ship engineer who has never been depressed in her life, a man of the cloth who seems to have some bad ass ninja skills and terrible coping skills, A 'ship bouncer' who wants to hurt everything, a prostitute who has some weird relationship with the captain, a ship pilot who should have followed his dream of being a movie director, a rich doctor who is constantly getting punched, and his sister who is so smart she seems to be some kind of government weapon. I don't recall a lineup like that on St. Elsewhere.

The writing is interesting as well. They swear in Chinese. They speak English with some nouveau cowboy dialect ("There's just an acre of you fellas, ain't there?"). No one really seems to get along. You're not sure who you like or if you should like any of them. One minute you think you understand a character, they shift when put into another situation.

And finally it's not entirely clear what is happening after 3 shows. This is good. I'm not being forcefed the storyline. Parts of the setting are revealed slowly by what is happening onscreen. It's not heavyhanded in any way.

It's all quite cleverly done. It's not perfect. There are moments of standard TV-Land crap (e.g., the standard predictable love interests) that permeate the script. But it's interesting enough that I will watch all of the episodes.

1 comment:

Andrew said...

Nice to see you're a late adopter, too. I've adored the series, which, as short as it is, accomplishes in only 14 episodes, what some shows take two seasons to suggest. Now, how do we wean Ryan M. from Enterprise and demonstrate to him what well-written fantasy TV looks like? ;>