Monday, February 12, 2007

My Food Is Problematic


I sure took my time getting to it but I have finally been a good obsessive fanboy and bought Firefly on DVD. In brief Firefly is a sci-fi TV show by Joss Whedon, the creator of Buffy (and Angel). The show is broadly in the mould of similar shows like Star Trek; every week the characters fly their space ship somewhere new and find something interesting yet dangerous. The attributes that set this show apart are the setting (in which the outer reaches of human colonised space are very much like the American wild west of old, right down to the deserts, outlaws and train robberies), and of course Joss' distinctive writing style.

This was the third TV show that Joss helmed and he does a confident and assured job of introducing the characters, setting the scene for future story arcs and hinting at the backstories of the people and places involved. Sadly this is pretty much all he got to do as after only fourteen episodes the show was shitcanned by those notorious idiots at Fox. Fortunately the movie Serenity was made to finish up the story and resolve the most immediate loose ends of the plot, but it's a pity that the series itself never got to do much more than show it's potential.

It's just as well that the episodes that did get made are nothing short of great. The setting is very well thought out, and while unfortunately Joss never got to show and explain a lot of what was going on what we do see is pretty cool. The series' strong points are really exactly the things that were good about Buffy and Angel, done by Joss with the years of experience working on those programmes behind him and none of the overwrought emotional baggage that the other shows had accumulated. The humour is as brilliant as you'd expect, but unlike Buffy Firefly works well as a drama too. A lot of this can be attributed to vastly superior acting, which gives it a genuine emotional side that Buffy never really achieved, but I think savvier, less cheesy writing played a part too.

The characters are also one of the reasons this show is so great. Our major protagonist Mel (the spaceship's captain) is a wisecracking but haunted hero in the mould of Angel, but he's far more interesting than Angel ever was because (a) he's played by an actor who can act rings around David Boreanz, and (b) because his backstory is far more down to earth and relatable than 'I'm a 400 year old vampire who's killed thousands of people for pleasure'. At the other end of the spectrum we have River, a damaged young girl who provides loads of humour (in a similar vein to Delirium in Sandman), but who also evokes genuine sadness and pity with her pathetic brokenness. It's a shame we never got to see most of these characters make their way to their originally intended fates, but at least in the movie we get to see River's somewhat predictable, but still way cool, transformation into, well, Buffy...


Andrew Brown said...

Sometimes I think you need better things to do than to watch buffy... But that's just my opinion

Jon said...

And as all regular readers of the Asylum know, Andrew's opinion is always wrong!