Saturday, December 23, 2006

FIREFLY AND SERENITY

Ann and I decided to rent the entire first and only season of Firefly a couple of weeks ago. We watched it almost continuously until we'd finished it. We both thought it was one of the best SF series ever. The casting, the writing, the direction--all first-rate. I really enjoyed the economy of the writing--the way in which sometimes very complex emotions and exposition came through effortlessly. We were very sad after having watched the last episode. You mean there isn't any more?

So we watched Serenity, the movie, again, and really thought it was even better than the first time. In part because Joss W. does such a great job of making it a movie you can watch independent of the series or as part of the series. That's an amazing accomplishment. There's even more compression in the movie than I thought before seeing the series--compression of character motivation/relationship, narrative, etc. An economy that made me simultaneously envious of Joss W's abilities and wishing the movie could have been part of the series. Because there's so much rich material there that you could make a series out of the movie and expand the character interactions, etc. This would have a totally different feel from the movie, of course, but be equally effective.

Anyway, Ann and I were talking about Firefly/Serenity and then Battlestar Galactica, which has some similarities in the kind of hand-held approach to shooting and editing but is, of course, otherwise quite different.

I personally think the Firefly model is more flexible and human than the BG model and I had to just take one series to a desert island it would be Firefly. The thing is, a digression on Firefly tends to be a delightful and good thing. A digression on BG tends to seem like a static point in the plot. There's less ability to absorb digressions and make them dramatically potent. (In my opinion. Firefly is also, of course, a uniquely American experience, to my mind. It reflects those kinds of American values and American optimism that has been completely and utterly destroyed as a gestalt by commercialism, cynicism, selfishness, and laziness in this country.)

In the meantime, I've been playing Joss W's commentary on Serenity and studying his teleplays for Firefly. There is a lot to learn in all of this, even if some of it is only applicable in the combination of image and words.

Now, like thousands of other Firefly fans, I'd really like to see the series come back, or another movie. Although I realize this is not likely to happen. Anyway, bittersweet, this late discovery that cut off so abruptly. :(

Jeff

8 Comments:

At 4:39 PM, Anonymous kellys said...

After watching BG 1.0, I thought it was an infinitely better show than Firefly. Then came BG 2.0 and 2.5, where the creators knew they had a hit on their hands and needed to prolong their story line, which caused BG to become more episodic, digressive, and a less poignant piece of storytelling. Because of this, I couldn't agree with your comments more, and think Firefly is the greater of the two works.

Don't know if you've ever watched the Buffy series -- I know on the surface it seems too much like a soap opera to some -- but if you enjoyed Whedon's emotional honestly in FF, you should give Buffy a shot.

Happy holidays!

 
At 12:25 PM, Blogger Keith said...

I love both series but I think there's a bit of an apples and oranges thing here. BSG has a very large driving arc to the series were as Firefly had a strong A story that left a lot of wiggle room for subplots and digressions to breathe. When you're running for your life from the Cylons, there's not much room to stop and, say, have your captain accidentally marry an assassin. Of course, there's also the fact that Firefly stopped before it really got started. Had they lasted until Season 3 or 4, Joss and the gang would have had to have dragged out the revelation about River and her killer psychic brain with a lot of wacky digressions.

In an ideal world, we would have had the opportunity to do a far mor ein depth comparison between two well written and popular series but alas, it was not mean to be.

 
At 1:02 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

But this is exactly my beef with BG when it isn't good--they digress from their central narrative. Like, the black market goods episode, which was like bad Star Trek.

JeffV

 
At 7:20 PM, Blogger Eugene said...

I believe BSG uses the same visual effects company that worked on Firefly. You can even spot a Firefly-class ship taking off from Caprica in the pilot; I think it's just before the scene where Roslyn is diagnosed with cancer.

I agree about the crap episodes of BSG too--that one you mentioned felt more like a bad episode of Babylon 5 to me though :)

 
At 5:54 AM, Blogger ddavelarsen said...

Yeah, we just got through watching the whole run again too. You can see why it got cancelled - too brazen for Fox. This is probably the only filmed SF I've ever really liked, and I can't get enough of it. I have favorite episodes, a crush on Kaylee, everything.

BG lost me the first episode this season, making terrorism sympathetic. Fuck that. Bring me a terrorist or a serial killer and I'll show you what I really think of cowards. I've got their 45 caliber sympathy right here.

I know, I know: It's just a fucking TV show. Chill Dave.

 
At 12:41 PM, Blogger GutterBall said...

Firefly is, hands down, my favorite television show ever. I know that's not saying much, as I don't actually do much TV and didn't watch the show until the magic and wonder of DVD brought it to my attention, but I think I would have even suffered through commercials and shoddy time-slotting to watch Firefly if I'd known about it at the time. It's that good.

Joss Whedon is a god. I'm not worthy.

 
At 3:42 PM, Blogger Joe said...

As far as a new series goes, I think the best we could hope for is that Joss does the same as he's doing with Buffy and do a 'new season' in comics. In between all his Marvel work, and other writing and prepping Wonder Woman and...

 
At 2:10 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jeff, you might want to check out:

http://www.janeespenson.com/

She's one of Whedon's proteges and the blog is mostly about writing for TV, the dos and the don't's, etc.

Mike M

 

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