In addition to seeing the Grounds for Sculpture museum on my whirlwind vacation to the East Coast, I had the pleasure of finally sitting down and watching Joss Whedon’s short-lived Firefly TV series and the Serenity movie which tied up the series’ loose ends that letters from fans of the canceled series helped make possible.
Three thoughts immediately come to mind:
- I can’t believe they canceled this show. Despite Fox airing the episodes out of order, Firefly was able to:
- Win an Emmy, two Saturns, and a Visual Effects award
- Generate a fanbase strong enough to buy an ad in Variety magazine to encourage Fox to keep airing the show
- Generate a fanbase strong enough to convince Universal Studios to create Serenity
Honestly, how does canceling a show like this make any sense?
- I finally understand a lot of webcomics. So strong was the Firefly fandom that Firefly has been entrenched in the “geek” subculture resulting in myriad cameos/mentions in webcomics, including XKCD, one of my personal favorites (e.g. here and here). Now, I finally get all those jokes and references!
- Nathan Fillion’s character, Malcolm Reynolds, is oddly compelling. He’s a hypocrite with inconsistent morals. He is a bitter man who can’t seem to get over the disappointments of his life. He is quick to anger. He can be somewhat abusive to the people around him. He is readily jealous and can be very condescending. And, he doesn’t plan anything — and when he does, the plans almost always fail. These are not characteristics of great protagonists. Yet, his odd but very strong sense of loyalty (to his crew and to some higher moral purpose he would deny existed if you asked him straight up), his peculiarly libertarian morality, and his “I go the way the wind blows” mentality combined with the nuances of Reynold’s personality that Fillion’s portrayal brings out make those flaws oddly endearing qualities which makes Reynolds seem more real. This isn’t a perfect man – he’s an interesting one.
- Joss Whedon’s vision of the future is very fascinating. I think I’m particularly tickled by two pieces of it
- In the future, the two leading superpowers (the US and China) sort of merge and take over humanity, resulting in everybody, even random “white trash” as Joss Whedon put it in his DVD commentary, being able to speak Chinese the way many Americans today can throw in words like “amigo” and “ciao”. It made for some half-painful-half-funny (at least to the ears of this humble semi-native speaker) dialogue at times, but its an interesting vision which I find oddly compelling.
- As the human race expands, the outermost “frontier” colonies will end up looking/behaving very similar to the “Wild West”; its a bit outlandish (and probably done more for thematic shock value – cowboys riding on horses while shooting laser weapons at spaceships), but there is a certain truth to it
If you haven’t seen it, I can say I’d strongly recommend it – it’s fun, stars some wonderful actors playing to excellent writing, has some great action scenes, and is full of irreverent humor. Check it out!