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04/21/2004 Archived Entry: "Firefly -- Whooee!"
I WATCHED THE FIRST THREE EPISODES OF FIREFLY LAST NIGHT. Debra loaned me the complete DVD set.
You might know that I haven't watched TV in almost 10 years (unless you count catching the Weather Channel in motel rooms). Although Debra has kindly given me some Simpsons and Tremors fixes via tape in the past, I haven't necessarily been impressed by what I've been missing. The TV version of Tremors, for instance, was a ton of fun, but the production values were lower than anything that would have been broadcast even a few years back. So I didn't have high hopes for Firefly.
But whooooeeee!!!!! First thing that struck me was that it was made in a wide-screen format (1.76:1, which is an oddy. What's that? Enhanced for 16:9 televisions?), with crisp images and deeply saturated color. And that thank all the gods they didn't include any damned network watermark on the DVDs. (Well, they wouldn't, of course. But I've come to associate the wretched watermark with television so strongly that it alone is often enough to turn me off to anything from TV-land. How anybody can concentrate on a show when every image is slapped with somebody's cheezy brand name, I dunno. And how any producer with a shred of aesthetic integrity would allow his images to be so fatally scarred, I also cringe to imagine.)
Anyway, Firefly was visually quality stuff.
Even though you could see the low budget in the sets and costumes -- damn, they made the low budget work by having fun turning ordinary surroundings into ordinary, low-life outer-space surroundings.
But of course, best of all, WOWEEEEE, was this thing written by one of us??? I was prepared for some sort of mild, TV-ish, libertarian-leaning subcurrent. But holy cats, that thing was pure, subversive, blatant, anti-government an-cap from start to finish. It could have been written by somebody on The Claire Files forums.
Not to mention the plots were intriguing, the characters likeable (especially Mal, the captain -- who is very much, I suspect, the sort of person a lot of us anarcho-types would like to be in our dreams). In one episode (spoiler, spoiler), Mal -- owner of a smuggling ship on the run from government authorities -- and his crew are hired by a dangerous man to steal cargo from a train. Broke, and adhering to a kind of pirate ethic, they don't ask the nature of the cargo. They're stealing from the hated Alliance (also called "the feds") and that's good enough for them. But then, having successfully pulled off the heist (under the noses of 20 armor-clad fed agents), they learn that what they've taken is a medicine desperately needed by the hard-working people of a mining town. With much travail and risk, they return the shipment. The local "law" catches them in the act, and acknowledges the morality of the return by saying (I paraphrase), "A desperate man might take a job without asking too many questions. But when he learns what he has stolen, he has a choice ..." Mal interrupts, "I don't think he does have a choice."
I had to play the scene a couple of times before I really grokked what Mal meant by his words. But then I just smiled blissfully.
And they cancelled this show? They CANCELLED it???????? Are they effing NUTs, or what? Outa their minds. Flippin' outa their minds.
If you're not already a Firefly fan, here's a good overall review of the series and the DVD set from a British publication.
The only element that didn't ring true to me was this little gamin girly they made the ship's mechanic. She sort of "intuits" the machinery of the ship -- not with alien powers, but just with a loveable girliness. I didn't believe it for one second, and pictured real mechanics groaning at the idiocy. The actress herself is completely charming. But really -- as an engineer? Bring back Scottie! But otherwise, don't change a thing.
And bring back this show! I understand there's gonna be a movie ...
Posted by Claire @ 10:07 AM CST