February 27, 2007
Serenity & Firefly: The Space Westerns
As previously mentioned several times, I spent the early months of 2005 watching every episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer the TV series. I gained an appreciation for what Joss Whedon has running around in his head. Joss directed a recent episode of The Office, though he apparently had nothing to do with the writing, ironically considering the vampire storyline. There's been increasing buzz about the short lived TV series Firefly, lately in my "meta-circles" so I added it to my Netflix queue to see what all the buzz was about. I knew from my Buffy experience that there was going to be witty dialog and that the characters would all be uniquely gifted to make the whole of the group more powerful. I didn't have a concept of what the story was, though. Without giving too much away for those of you who will immediately run out and rent it, I'll share what I liked about the TV series and then the movie (that due to a Netflix hiccup, came before the Firefly discs, which incidentally came out of order too). I like that there aren't alien creatures. It sets it apart from just about every other scifi space story. Some might argue the Reavers are alien creatures, but we don't learn enough about them in the TV series to know anything other than they used to be humans and you don't want to be anywhere near them. I like that the visual effects (which won the series an Emmy) don't make it look like one of those weekend mid-day scifi shows on syndicated networks (you know what I mean). There were probably too many characters for the show to not become messy with holes in the story. Perhaps had the show continued beyond the 14 episodes, we would have had some more insight. There are hints throughout the series that we don't know everything we should know about Book, but we're never told what makes him so experienced for a Shepherd. TV has a long history of having romantic tensions play out for a season or a series and there are plenty of cases where once two characters finally get together, it's a letdown, so the tension between Mal Reynolds and Inara (the prostitute in an age where prostitutes are at the top of the social food chain) never came to fruition either by design or because of the shortened series. I'm left at the end of the movie (which comes chronologically after the TV series) wanting more, but I'm not sure there was more to tell about these characters. The conflict and themes were compelling and I loved the universe (the 'verse) they were set in, though so there's potential. I know there are comics about the series, but that's not my thing. The space western worked for George Lucas once too, maybe it's a valid genre for a clever writer to explore.