Serenity

I was looking for something to fill the Sydney Bristow-shaped hole in my heart, and I found Serenity. Err, “Firefly.”

Mac got me the DVDs a while ago, and we’d planned to watch them together but either forgot or got distracted by “NewsRadio” and World of Warcraft. I’m surprised at how much I’m enjoying the series. I’d seen the show before, of course — I’m realizing that of the seven I’ve seen on the DVDs so far, there’s only one that I hadn’t seen when it was originally aired. They just didn’t stick with me, for various reasons.

One is that it’s full-to-bursting with Whedonisms, and a little of that goes a long way. When high-school-to-college-aged characters use little catch-phrases and wry self-aware commentary, it’s endearing because that’s how nerdy outcast high-school-to-college-aged people talk. When gruff-but-lovable outlaws do it, it just comes across as fey. That tone of “look at me! look at how clever I am!” was just a little overwhelming when I first saw it.

And that carried over into everything, which was reason two. Having no sound in space bugged me because it was accurate, but too self-aware accurate. It’s a very minor thing, but it just came across as “yes we’re making an adventure sci-fi show but we’re defying convention because we know that there’s no sound in space because we’re so smart.” Yes, the silence seemed smug. That’s probably more a sign that I was burned out on “Buffy” and “Angel,” but there it is. What was more troubling was how they kept doing the shaky-zoom-cam thing with digital shots, which was a gimmicky effect that was the equivalent of lens flare for the late-90’s-early-00’s. (Attack of the Clones used it too, and I hated it.)

And the last is Fox’s fault, apparently, because of the way they presented it. The first episode aired is definitely not the strongest and doesn’t give as good a first impression. And it’s only by seeing the episodes in the order in which they were intended to be seen that the whole thing comes together. The characters really become characters, and their conversations seem less like overly self-conscious attempts to be clever and more like the way these people would actually talk to each other. The attempts at intrigue were deftly inserted, and weren’t as ham-handed as they’d seemed watching bits and pieces out of order with commercial breaks. The characters do stop being one-note, and the relationships do develop realistically.

And there’s continuity! They pick up a herd of cattle at the end of one episode, and they drop them off at the beginning of the next!

So the fans can wail and gnash that the show got cancelled, but I’m looking forward to two more discs and the episodes that I haven’t seen yet because they were never aired. Maybe things will change dramatically once I see it develop more, but at the moment I’m not all that upset that it got cancelled. It just feels more like a story arc than an ongoing series; I don’t particularly care how this world develops, I just want to know what happens to the characters. I want a story with a beginning, middle, and end — the kind of story you’d find not in a series, but, say, a movie.

And I don’t care what Joss Whedon says; the show is such a rip-off of “Cowboy Bebop.” Even if they didn’t intend it to be. Seeing as how “Cowboy Bebop” is one of my favorite television series of all time, that’s high praise, not a criticism.

7 thoughts on “Serenity”

  1. I could never get into it when it originally aired either, so I though I’d give it another try once the Sci-Fi channel started re-running it (in order, too).

    But nope. It’s STILL not clicking with me. It may be the dislike I have for Westerns in general, as well as the general boredom I get when watching any show set in space, so that just adds up to a bad combo for me. But I think I’d still find it more entertaining if I the lead actor wasn’t so frigging…bland!

  2. It’s definitely more Sci-fi than Western, and even with that, I’d say it’s about as much a science fiction show as “Buffy” was a high school drama. I’m not going to pretend I don’t love seeing spaceships and gunfights (and, something that worries me more than a little — I’m really digging the clothes), but it’s more about the characters than anything else.

    And I don’t think the captain is that interesting a character or an actor. But I didn’t think Buffy was the most interesting character of that show, either; in fact, she really annoyed me for most of it. Watching them back-to-back has gotten me more into all the characters and how they relate to each other, instead of being interested in “the lead.”

    And besides, Gina Torres (Zoe, the first mate) is just so freaking awesome in it.

    I’m not trying to sell it, understand, just explaining why I’m getting into it after my initial non-interest.

  3. I loves me some Gina Torres, and I like her husband, the Pirate. And I think Jayne is kind of hot (and have ever since he was My Bodyguard), but the other people on the ship? I can’t even remember their names. And I’m about 5 episodes in!

    Well, I know that looney chick is named River, which sounds too much like Reever, and if there isn’t some reason for that similarity, then that’s just lame.

    Again, I think it’s just me. I just can’t help but kind of zone out when I’m watching it…

  4. “River” sounds like “Reaver?” You’re kidding, right? I can’t get behind that criticism. If only beause the reavers were only mentioned in one episode. (And, apparently, the movie).

  5. I kind of am kidding…although the first Reaver episode makes such a big deal about them, that I think your supposed to have them in the back of your mind for the rest of the series.

    And kidding or not, I still think it’s just kind of dumb to name her “River” and the Big Bad “Reavers.” I just do.

  6. You think that’s dumb? My nomenclatural gripe with the show is that the character River Tam is played by the actress Summer Glau. Actors in fantasy/sci-fi shows should not have wierder names than their characters.

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