Tuesday, August 01, 2006

What I do on an Off Week (Corrected)

Without a Nextel Cup race, last weekend, I had to find some other things to write about. Yes, there was still plenty of racing, and I enjoyed watching it, but I do enjoy other forms of entertainment as well.
There was once, on Fox, an excellent science fiction program called Firefly. The story was unique, and had a loyal fan base. Produced by Jos Whedon, of Buffy The Vampire Slayer fame, the character developement was captivating, the story lines enrapting, and the show had a fairly large, and very loyal, fan base. Unfortunately, because the show's Friday night ratings were not quite up to what Fox expected, and because Whedon's style takes time to develop the action, Fox pulled the plug, in a move which many of us felt was premature.
Recently, I checked out from the library a DVD set of Firefly: The Complete Series, as well as the companion movie, Serenity. I'm still hooked on the show, and it's unrequited love.
It's a Western, it's Science Fiction, it's two genres in one. There is an elaborate socio-political structure in the future world of Dragonfly that is presented by subtle implication. The Chinese have taken over the world and many of its extraterrestial colonies. Everyone speaks Manchuran as fluently as they speak English, and the Feds are seen as a benevolent, yet oppressive governmet. While the core worlds of the Federal Union have all the futuristic technologies one would expect, the fringe worlds, those which the Feds have ignored, are cut off from that technology and live in the 19th century. Thus the dual genre.
The people of the fringe worlds depend on starfaring privateers like Malcom Reynolds. Reynolds, or "Mal," as he is called by his friends and crew, for vital supplies and trade. Reynolds wsas a soldier in the resistance movement, fighting for freedom from the Feds. (As a Libertarian, I find this theme very enticing) After the defeat of the resistance, Mal procures a "Firefly" class cargo spaceship and goes into business for himself. He gathers a crew, consisting of his second in command from his resistance unit, her husband, a rogue outlaw from the Fringe, a "Shepherd," or pastor, a professional Companion, a fugitive doctor who rescued his sister from the sadistic experamental phsyc labs of the Feds, that sister, and a girl-next-door. The interaction of Mal and his crew of misfits is what the show is all about.
Mal is a leader who likes to run a tight ship, no easy task considering the outcast nature of his crew. He is tough, but compassionate; selfish, yet humanitarian. In one episode, commisioned by a sadistic black marketeer who tortures those who fail him, Mal and his crew heist a train cargo, from under the noses of a Federal platoon which is on board the train. When the crew discovers that the stolen goods are much needed medication for the world they are on, Mal returns them to the people of the world, risking the wrath of the kingpin who hired him.
The show was rich in characters--all the fringe world people Mal has to deal with are out for themselves, and the trade business is extremely risky. There are no alien races, everyone is somewhat human, although the behavior of some is quite alien. Take the Reavers, for example. The Reavers are a horde of spacefaring berzerker barbarians, whose only purpose in life is to "rape you to death, skin you, eat you and kill you, in that order." The Feds deny the existance of the Reavers, but the crew of Serenity has a few run ins with them. The secret origination of the Reavers in revealed in the movie, so I will not give it away here.
There was eye candy galore, for any gender, and the action would satisfy fans of both Western and Sci Fi shoot-em-up fans. That is the type of show it was.
To understand the movie, Serenity, you would most likely have had to seen at least three episodes of the show--no matter which episodes, any three would do. It fills in the gaps which were left out of the truncated twelve episode series. It is definitely a cult experience, and if it hadn't been curtailed, it would have been as big as Star Trek.
I would have liked to see the show continue on and on, but unfortunately that wouldn't happen. I'll just have to settle for watching the original twelve episodes over and over again, and enjoy it.

3 comments:

James Cooper said...

Hi, came here by way of blogmad.

Thought I ought to note that the series was called Firefly, not Dragonfly. And yes, it was an excellent show -- one of my all-time favorites. In a sense I was very sad to see it go, though not terribly surprised given Fox's history with shows I like, but in another sense I am glad the series ended before someone had a chance to ruin it.

And the sci-fi western theme definitely gets a big thumbs up from me too.

RevJim said...

James, thanks for setting me straight. I guess I was hlf asleep when I wrote this. I knew it was Firefly Had dragonflies on the brain.

Kyle Korleski said...

You can also find episodes of Firefly on iTunes.