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Whoohoo! My Firefly DVD box set arrived today! Now, finally, the gaping hole in my Whedon-knowledge will be filled. I just watched the first (double) episode, and it was really, really good - one of my main objections to most sci-fi TV is the ugly, bland design (which is why I liked Farscape), and that wasn't a problem here. I loved the western stuff, too.

Now, back to work. Sigh.


( 9 comments — Leave a comment )
Mar. 2nd, 2004 07:42 am (UTC)
I think they resequenced the episodes on the DVD into the correct order -- what was supposed to be the pilot was shown here well in the season. I was front and center, with my VCR whirring away for the season start, but the episode they did use as the pilot was, well, a bit ... flat. (It must be said that thirty seconds into the starting credits, I was kvetching "Isn't 'A Western in Space' is supposed to be a metaphor?"). That the plot concerned an old-fashioned train heist didn't help matters: I wanted to know about this ill-fated revolution, cool mountain shaped spaceships and secret government experiments, not them thar rootin' tootin' mining towns... In the US pilot,only the captain was a must-watch and there was just one shining Whedonesque moment, and that came just before the end. I only caught a few episodes after that, and while it did get a lot better, and showed real promise, it was quite clear that the network was going to strangle this one in the cradle and I just gave up. (The sucky timeslot didn't help either).
Mar. 2nd, 2004 10:20 am (UTC)
It's funny how excited and envious of you I am! You have the whole series (all 13 of 'em!) ahead of you, and trust me when I say that they only get better!

one of my main objections to most sci-fi TV is the ugly, bland design (which is why I liked Farscape), and that wasn't a problem here.

One of the things that I loved about Firefly from the first moment was that the ship, Serenity, was almost a character itself. It's so clearly a home, and not just a vehicle that gets the crew from A-B. It's got a wonderful lived-in feel to it, unlike the ikea-ised future of Star Trek.

Ahem. I'll stop randomly gushing in your comments now!
Mar. 2nd, 2004 09:14 pm (UTC)
Mmm, Firefly. A friend of mine has the box set and I've seen two episodes so far, the pilot and the train heist one. I was hooked from the moment the engineer said "You're gonna fly with us - you like ships, and ours is the nicest" :)

We're having a Firefly-fest this weekend, going to try to watch as many episodes as we can before our eyes go square.

I think a point of difference between Firefly and some other TV sci-fi is that Whedon realises that TV is a *visual* medium, not just a book being acted out.
Mar. 3rd, 2004 08:03 am (UTC)
Whedon realises that TV is a *visual* medium

Absolutley -- and even more than that, Whedon recognizes TV is TV, a medium in it's own right, not cinema writ small, or radio with faces, or even theatre with a camera. Really, the only other person that's
shown a comporable willingness and ability to understand, use, stretch, and play with the TV medium to reinforce the storytelling itself is Dennis Potter. This makes Whedon's shows different from even say, Babylon 5, which, while also rich on the visual front as well as the storytelling, would never have incorporated say, a silent episode (even though, with the vacuum of space and all, it could have been done without recourse to the peculiar metaphysics of the Buffyverse).

Still, the western stuff in Firefly was just a little bit too literal for my taste, but now I'm resolved to get the DVD's off Netflix and give it another try.
Mar. 3rd, 2004 08:35 am (UTC)
I actually like the western stuff! I think once you just accept that yes, there are horses and twangy guitars, it works quite well.

And yeah, if they'd shown the train episode first, I wouldn't have been too blown away. I also wouldn't have understood what half the characters were doing there. But the pilot was great! Give it another try.
Mar. 3rd, 2004 09:16 pm (UTC)
That's exactly what I was thinking. I did consider mentioning B5, cos it is a favourite of mine, and was never afraid to kill off a regular (a pet peeve of mine). But yeah, B5 could have pushed further.

Not sure I know who Dennis Potter is... any hints?
Mar. 4th, 2004 08:18 am (UTC)
I loved the way B5 would kill off regular characters, and it's something very unique to that show, and something outside even Mr. Whedon's creative zone. Yes, regular characters died or left Buffyverse shows, but you always knew in the back of your mind that is was because of some external, real world force, like the network disliking a character, the show winding down, or the actors' desire to do something else. Even among the semi-regular guest stars only two deaths stand out as truly plot driven: Jenny Calander's and Joyce Summers'.

But B5! Wow. Because you knew it had all been planned out more or less in advance (The season 4/5 compression notwitshstanding), you knew that a 15-episode actor's contract could have been written as easily as a 24-episode contract. A title in the opening credits meant nothing, nothing!. Every dangerous situation became suspenseful as a result. I also loved B5 for its willingness to go for the unhappy episode ending, where everything does not work out in the end. Apropos of that, I really got behind the new Battlestar Galactica when something didn't work out all hugs-and-puppies and I thought "Now, that was a Babylon 5 moment!"

As for Dennis Potter, he wrote a number of groundbreaking television dramas for British television starting in the 60's, some of which were made into movies (with mediocre results because TV is not Teeny Cinema). Pennies From Heaven was one of them, The Singing Detective another. The often dark or painful themes which ran through his work and the unconventiional use of humor and fantasy elements (predating "Ally McBeal" by several decades!) made his work challanging but mesmerising to watch.
Mar. 4th, 2004 09:34 pm (UTC)
Without those moments where you are truly in suspense about the fate of a beloved character, without the unhappy endings, the high moments don't have as much resonance, do they? I wish more tv would get the hang of this.

Haven't seen anything by Dennis Potter then, but he sounds like my kind of guy. Will keep an eye out for his stuff. Thanks for the intro :)
Mar. 5th, 2004 09:24 am (UTC)
without the unhappy endings, the high moments don't have as much resonance, do they?

This is exactly why I loved Millenium. Such an insanely dark show, but it meant that whenever they did find a shred of hope or grace it had a genuine and sincere impact. One more great show lost to Network bungling -- if it's not a crime/medical/legal drama or a sit-com, look for it to either be strangled or starved by the Networks. And then they complain their audience is being sucked away by niche programming on the cable channels...
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