Ok, if you’re already humming the theme song, I sincerely apologize. It is, honestly and truly, the worst theme song ever. And if you get it stuck in your head, I welcome your hatemail.
For those of you not getting the joke, I’m talking about Firefly. One of the most monumental tv fuckups ever perpetrated by the Fox network was cancelling this show. And that’s saying a lot, after the whole Bush/Gore thing.
Quick synopsis: quirky crew living on a spaceship in a post-Earth galaxy, trying to make ends meet via various types of theft and con artistry, while spending most of their time keeping out of the way of an evil overlord-type government (a la the Empire), accidentally take aboard some fugitives running from said government. Everything becomes immediately more intense with the running and the chasing and the outlaw shenanigans. Also, one of them was the victim of a government brain-poking experiment and is now a psycho and may or may not be a psychic.
This does not summarize well. It might be one of those “you had to be there” things. But I can talk around the edges of those things all day long. That’s how I got a Literature degree, bitches.
First of all, let me just get this out of the way: I love Joss Whedon. Love love love. I was a huge Buffy fan. I hate musicals but know every word of Dr. Horrible’s Singalong Blog. And I’m foaming at the mouth waiting for The Avengers. But I’ve got to say that the best thing in the Whedonverse is definitely Firefly. Because it’s so different. Not only from all of Whedon’s other work, but also from everything else on television. Allow me to qualify that statement. It’s a futuristic space western. That’s right. Space. Western. The only one I’ve ever seen done properly. “Oh, but what about Star Wars?” you say? That was a movie (or three, or six…maybe) and it was more a space opera with a bit of a western-style bent, and a couple of good western moments, mostly evidenced by Han Solo’s leather vest and the whole damsel in distress thing. Firefly is a full-on (hot dudes in thigh holsters, dusty shootouts, stolen merchandise rustling, and an occasional horse battle with laser guns, there are even cows at one point) freaking space western! But it’s not gratuitous. Here’s why not: It’s 2517 and Earth is gone and humans are colonizing the outskirts of space. It’s the American western frontier, but on planets that have been terraformed for human use (consumption?). They speak Chinese every now and then, because when Earth fell it was the other superpower and everyone spoke Chinese. Good future-historical realism. They use awesome Asian-feeling guitar music for the same reason (I would say Country-feeling world music, but I hate the term “world music” – don’t we all live in the world?). There’s a really great conspiracy theory backstory. I’m a sucker for a good governmental conspiracy. The cast is fantastic. The effects are top-notch and the sets are amazing. It’s filmed beautifully. And the dialogue’s so witty. I love witty. (Way to a girl’s heart is to be clever; I don’t care what bullshit society feeds you about being rich or good looking – just be clever.) There’s a very en medius res feel to the writing, no pandering or overexplaining or talking down to the audience. A welcome relief in scifi. Furthermore, it’s Joss fucking Whedon. That should really be enough. And if you don’t know who Joss Whedon is, well, there may be something wrong with your geek nerve. You should have that checked out.
Firefly aired on Fox in 2002. They made fourteen episodes, but only got to air eleven before they were cancelled. This is because Fox are (is?) asshats and aired the episodes out of order, then proceeded to change the night and timeslot numerous times so no one knew when it was on. How is this a good idea? For any show? What the hell were they thinking? Meanwhile, people were really stoked about the show but couldn’t find it to watch it, so the ratings were nothing. Ooh, logic. It’s so complicated. Oy, how I hate red tape and bureaucratic fuckery. Especially when it gets in the way of my scifi enjoyment. “Ok, so what, Vanessa? It’s just an old tv show. There are so many. Why do you care about this one so much?” Because it’s not fucking stupid. I’m an American. I’m inundated pretty constantly by things that are inane and ridiculous and worthy of my considerable scorn. Granted, my tv’s not attached to anything but my DVD player, so it’s not as bad as it could be. But even the History Channel and Discovery have gone all reality programming on us, right? Every now and again I find something that’s well-written, well-produced, and emotionally evocative. And of course they fucking cancel it. Because I’m in the minority. Networks don’t care about me and my intellectual snobbery.
No, you know what? I’m not even going to own that. It’s not snobbery. I do not appreciate that the marketing strategy for the vast majority of the entertainment industry is to account for the lowest common denominator. “Looky here, Bumpkin: bright things! Shiny things! Things that yell! Things that explode! There, there, don’t you worry about real life. Just sit there in your nice, comfy chair and get fatter. Worry about these things that we’re telling you that you want to buy but you can’t because you’re broke. Continue to feel worthless because you can’t meet these material goals. Stress yourself out tomorrow at your job that you hate and that doesn’t pay you enough to feed your family with food that’s not real. And then when your blood pressure goes up and you die of a heart attack, you won’t be miserable about the sad state of your sorry wasted life, because we told you that that’s what your short time here on Earth is all about.”
Sorry. I kind of took a hard turn there at the end.
And I don’t mean to be so down on the American masses all the time. I’d like to think that most people are smarter than they’re given credit for. It’s a testament to their opinion of us that we think about ourselves this way.
There’s really no way to transition out of this rant. Awkward.
Anyway, despite all my flying off the handle, you should check out Firefly. You can find it on DVD (should I be capitalizing that? I don’t even know) in all its fourteen-episode awesomeness, with the bonus features and all the blah blah. And I recommend that you buy it instead of watching it online or something, because homeboy needs royalties so we can get more geeky things out of him (like The Avengers – have I mentioned I’m excited about The Avengers?).