Monday, May 11, 2015

20th Century Fox's Firefly

The Earth has been trashed. Everybody left. Other planets were settled. They were "unified" by force. Our main character lost. Now he's an outlaw with his own ship and a crew of misfits. Nothing goes right and even when they pull off their latest caper they can't always get payment. Sound bad enough? Welcome to the world of Firefly. The weird part is that things are so bad, they're good. Well, not "good" exactly. More like entertaining.

I'm pretty bitter about the fact that this show was cancelled just as it was coming into its own. The crew was starting to pull together. The captain and the hook...err.... I mean companion were about to admit to their relationship. The mechanic and the doctor won't far away either. The preacher was about to reveal something momentous about his past (I think. I don't have any inside info, but it damn sure felt that way.) and the crazy girl was about to turn into uhh.. well, got me but it felt like something big was coming. That chick had a hint of some kind of super power to her mixed with mental instability. She was a little bundle of awesome just waiting to explode. And then... It was no more. It disappeared. The network took it off the air just as it was really hitting its stride.

This show crossed two of the all-time most popular genres in history and that's no exaggeration. The show's basic premise is SF based (interplanetary colonization/space travel/space opera) but it is influenced heavily by westerns. Some of the firearms in this show are amazing. The language sounds more late Nineteenth Century US than I would imagine the future sounding but it works. It is obvious that a ton of hard work and thought went into plotting/writing this series.

Think about it. How else do you explain a cast that includes:

A.) A former NCO (Mal) in a losing war who somehow managed to have enough money to buy himself a ship.

B.) One of his subordinates (Zoe), also an NCO, his new second in command.

C.) Her screwball pilot husband (Wash) that she hated on sight.

D.) The sellout/traitor (Jayne) that came over to their side when offered a better deal. Oh, and he also happens to be a hero on a specific planet for the weirdest reason ever.

E.) The worlds greatest engineer (Kaylee) who, by the way, has no training with engines but manages to keep things running anyway.

F.) A prostitute (Inara) who rents out one of the ship's shuttles so that she can peddle her wares all over the system. Oh, but don't call her a prostitute. She's a licensed "companion" and the most respectable member of the crew. And who manages to not battle with...

G.) The preacher (Shepherd Book) who was just starting to signs of being far more than he was letting on when the series ended.

H.) The doctor (Simon) who is on the run from the law because he stole his sister from the Alliance.

I.) The sister (River) who appears to have been a product of some type of experimental brain surgery and is apparently capable of a lot more than anyone expects. She also has an incredibly literalist interpretation of just about everything, including the preacher's bible.

Was everything about this series awesome? Not totally. In particular, the way Jayne joined the crew sounds a little too out there for me. I enjoy the Western aspect of the show, but I find it a bit far-fetched to assume that space colonists adopt a centuries old culture instead of creating their own new one. None of that is unforgivable though and it does create an undeniable hook for the show. Well, that and the fact that Big Government (in the form of the Alliance) is seen as the bad guy and guns are portrayed as what they are... Tools, usable for good or ill depending on the user.

Bottom Line: 4.9 out of 5 good, old fashioned Winchester rifles.

20th Century Fox, 2003

1 comment:

  1. With regard to "Why would they pick a centuries-old culture to emulate", to some extent, you have form following function. Housing in a climate resembling the West, built with 19th C tech level, is going to look kind of western.