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Firefly: the '80s Edition (Except for the Hair)
July 9, 2010 7:35 AM   Subscribe

io9 decided that Firefly needed a "tight-ass killer 1980s intro." So they cut one together: the article, or just the intro itself. A fan's end-credits, even with a nice slight soupçon of MTM at the end. Firefly fans might find it more interesting, though, that io9 noted a little later in the day that Nathan Fillion had tweeted on Wednesday night a picture of Joss Whedon, Alan Tudyk, Nathan Fillion, and Adam Baldwin all looking upward into a bright light, with the text "Together. Again." But ... no, it doesn't mean that, unfortunately. [Still, if you need your Simon or Kaylee fix, look to Warehouse 13 next Tuesday, as Maher and Staite are guest-starring together in "Mild-Mannered" (trailer).]
posted by WCityMike (213 comments total) 28 users marked this as a favorite

 
I don't even like Firefly and that was a great intro. Although for some reason I was expecting it to have the MacGuyver theme. I still think that would've been more awesome.
posted by DU at 7:46 AM on July 9, 2010


Well that was mildly less horrible than the actual theme tune, which was mildly less horrible than that of Enterprise.
posted by Artw at 7:49 AM on July 9, 2010 [2 favorites]


Oh hells yes!

And yeah, way better than the actual opening credits. WAY BETTER.
posted by chunking express at 7:50 AM on July 9, 2010


This needs to be dubbed onto a VHS tape several times, and then re-uploaded to YouTube. This definitely doesn't belong in HD.
posted by schmod at 7:53 AM on July 9, 2010 [13 favorites]


Put me in the "Horrible intro" column. Completely misses the "frontier" atmosphere of the show.
posted by Thorzdad at 7:53 AM on July 9, 2010 [2 favorites]


What is the allure of this show? People seem to go crazy over it, or at least there's an unusually vocal minority advocating for its return. I tried to watch it but its so schlocky, banks on sci-fi stereotypes like waif-fu, and its borderline civil war apologia I couldn't stomach more than a few episodes. I also got a chuckle when they were repairing a spacecraft engine with what looked like car mechanic tools and with obligatory oil smeared clothing and everything. I'm guessing the show has some hidden genius I can't see or its just an especially good masturbatory aid.
posted by damn dirty ape at 7:53 AM on July 9, 2010


The music makes me twitch, but the more action packed visuals do make it seem more exciting.

Did Joss try to sell it to Sci FI before Fox? At least it would have had a natural audience. I suspect Firefly would have always had a rough start at first due to it relying so heavily on the characters with action being after thought. Had it started more like Battle Star Galatica, with a short, action packed mini series that laid the ground work for strong characters, it might have lasted longer.

And possibly done a lackluster finale like BSG, so...be grateful with got a season of awesomeness?
posted by new brand day at 7:53 AM on July 9, 2010


Also Warehouse 13 has never really escaped from being basically The X Files For Dummies with added steampunk set dressing, and still manages to be the best thing on SyFy. Why am I subjecting myself to this crap?
posted by Artw at 7:54 AM on July 9, 2010 [2 favorites]


What is the allure of this show?

The characters and the family type dynamics they slowly build over the first season. Plus the renegade, but good at heart outlaws aspect probably appeals to geeks.
posted by new brand day at 7:56 AM on July 9, 2010 [2 favorites]


stereotypes like waif-fu

Nice.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 8:00 AM on July 9, 2010


That was neat.

Someone should really pick the show back up. I'm looking at you, SciFi
posted by zarq at 8:01 AM on July 9, 2010


Best Venn diagram, ever. Note the careful placement of Brisco County, Jr. And there's Walker Texas Ranger ("every ep")!

The fan trailer, though ... yeah, the original trailer slammed the "Western" bit home, over and over again, but you can hardly blame them. The "Western in Space" concept is something you don't want your viewers to wander in on without preparation. There's whole stretches of that show that go on before you hit the "Honey, we live in a space ship" bits, and that could be a little jarring for, you know, Americans.

What Firefly needs now is not a new trailer, but ninjas. "But wait, adipocere, ninjas are Japanese, not Chinese, and even if you forgive the somewhat sloppy Asian Insertion in the show, that's just beyond the pale!" Ah, but I did not say where those ninjas went.

They don't go on the show, they go in time machines, onto the roofs and into the bedrooms of various Fox executives, and then they whisper things like "Leave the pilot as it is, and we do not mean Wash. Show these out of order and we will also make your internal organs out of order. Preempt even one time and ... well, we don't have a snappy metaphorical punishment, so we just have this ghastly poison which will make you convulse until you must listen to your bones snap, instead." That's pretty wordy, for ninjas, so they might need little self-immolating scrolls or a ninja translator. Later, the ninjas will also sneak into Joss Whedon's house and hit him with a blowdart of long-release Ritalin, hiss "focus!" and dash off into the night.
posted by adipocere at 8:04 AM on July 9, 2010 [25 favorites]


Strong characters, clever writing, charimatic actors, compelling antagonists, and yes, waif-fu.
posted by Optamystic at 8:06 AM on July 9, 2010


What is the allure of this show? People seem to go crazy over it, or at least there's an unusually vocal minority advocating for its return. I tried to watch it but its so schlocky, banks on sci-fi stereotypes like waif-fu, and its borderline civil war apologia I couldn't stomach more than a few episodes.

You know, I wish I knew. The funny thing for me is I can't in good faith defend the show against any of your specific criticisms. You're probably right on the mark with these complaints. And yet, I still really enjoy watching the show, and find myself craving more, for reasons I can't for the life of me comprehend.
posted by saulgoodman at 8:07 AM on July 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


What is the allure of this show?

I wish I knew. Coming from a batshit insane fandom like BtVS even I was unprepared for the browncoats. The kittens had nothing on them and because the show itself was boring I experienced the whole thing through various (apparently largely undermedicated) fan boards.

Mr Shinybaum loved it, I thought Serenity was tolerably good sci-fi but much preferred BSG.
posted by shinybaum at 8:07 AM on July 9, 2010


Also, Firefly's "the heroes are on the side that lost the great war" probably wasn't a popular idea with the general American public a year after September 11th, 2001. America wanted to some ass kicking, not be on the side that always lost or got shafted as it wondered around the frontier.

Battle Star Galactica started in December, 2003 and the initial theme of humanity fighting for its very survival was probably more appealing to the American audience, while not being such a specific US vision that Europe and Australia were able to enjoy it also.
posted by new brand day at 8:12 AM on July 9, 2010


Optamystic: "Strong characters, clever writing, charimatic actors, compelling antagonists, and yes, waif-fu."

Plus, no time travel episodes, no aliens, no monster of the week and no holo-deck .
posted by octothorpe at 8:13 AM on July 9, 2010 [12 favorites]


I liked Firefly cause it was a sci-fi universe seen from the other end. Trek and BSG and B5 and whatnot are all about the captains and commanders or whoever it is who's in charge; Firefly was more about the actual people that had to live in what was, to them, someone else's universe. Back when Enterprise was announced and thinking 'Hmm, that sounds dull', I remember wondering what a Star Trek series from the perspective of a non-Federation crew would be like, and Firefly sort of answered that.

But yeah, I'm not as much a fan as I was with Buffy. Apart from the odd mystery about a few of the characters and some unresolved sexual tensions, there wasn't really much driving it forward.
posted by permafrost at 8:14 AM on July 9, 2010 [2 favorites]


What is the allure of this show?
For me it was the heavy handed presentation of an action cliche followed by an equally heavy-handed flip of the cliche on it's head.
posted by plinth at 8:17 AM on July 9, 2010 [2 favorites]


I remember wondering what a Star Trek series from the perspective of a non-Federation crew would be like, and Firefly DS9 sort of answered that.

Ok, I'm being a prick.

Count me as one of those who completely understands (and even agrees with) the criticisms above, but still liked the show. A lot.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 8:19 AM on July 9, 2010


the initial theme of humanity fighting for its very survival was probably more appealing to the American audience

Not only that, BSG started out high adrenalin and kept it up, until they totally screwed up the ending. Firefly was horribly, horribly boring and you have to work really hard with the storylines if that's the case (see the hugely underwhelming Caprica followup (and kneel before Barnabus while you're there))

Not finding the tight-panted Fillion attractive seemed to be the deal-breaker for me. He's just a boring enough actor that he'd have to be damn good looking to pull off the Big Dumb Kindhearted Cowboy schtick and have me ignore it.

Not that I can talk, I've watched every episode of the godawful Smallville and loved it.
posted by shinybaum at 8:19 AM on July 9, 2010


For me it was the heavy handed presentation of an action cliche followed by an equally heavy-handed flip of the cliche on it's head.

When I found out that upside-down-cliche lines everyone thought were genius had been lifted from a scene in a 1980s Bill Maher z-list film, I gave up even trying to think they were clever.
posted by shinybaum at 8:22 AM on July 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


TBH The show was always better the less literal they were with the whole "Western in space" thing.
posted by Artw at 8:24 AM on July 9, 2010


What is the allure of this show?

Well, to get a bit meta, it was the first post Buffy/Angel Whedon show, and it was an underdog even when it first aired due to immediate schedule muckery. So the fans who were there from the start had super high expectations and a bit of us-against-the-world mentality. They looked past the flaws to embrace the excitement of something new.

By the time Dollhouse came around, I think people were much less accepting.
posted by smackfu at 8:26 AM on July 9, 2010


Ah, well, I loved it. Although it took a long time for my boyfriend to convince me that I might enjoy a space western. He had it on dvd and everytime he would mention it I would just look at him sideways. Once he linked it to BtVS however, I was sold. But I used to cringe everytime the intro came on. I *hated* that song. Even now, just thinking about it, it has invaded my ears. I can still hear it. It is the bad.
posted by thankyouforyourconsideration at 8:28 AM on July 9, 2010


Firefly was horribly, horribly boring...

I'd strongly disagree with that, while noting it very much a character driven show and what action there was tended to be fairly stock. And as someone else mentioned up thread, the heroes were essentially on the Southern side of the Civil War, which had to be disquieting for the general public.

Artw has a point about the literalness of "space western" at times. Come on, they're transporting cattle? Riding horses? Dressing in western garb? There's only so much that can occur before people are like "WTF, where are energy shields and laser rifles, it's the goddamn future!!"

Long term, the show would have needed to grow from "let us be kind hearted and save someone this week" drama.
posted by new brand day at 8:31 AM on July 9, 2010 [3 favorites]


I liked it simply because Whedon knows that there's no sound in a freekin vacuum!
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 8:35 AM on July 9, 2010 [13 favorites]


I think part of the allure comes from the dialogue, the oh-so-quotable dialogue. Another bit of the appeal was the unabashed sensuality of some portions of the show (Inara, I'm looking at you. Okay, I'm not looking, because that makes me blush), about thirty, forty degrees off from just "sexy." Even the somewhat uptight Captain Mal ("Oh God, I can't know that" in response to Kaylee's "Goin' on a year now I ain't had nothin' twixt my nethers weren't run on batteries!") was completely unfazed as to a madame's question ("You aren't sly are you? Cause I got my boys.") as to what flavor he might want his reward to come in. Hey, it's the future, and it looks a lot like the past, but we have gotten a little bit more comfortable with the sex thing, despite some serious frontier retrogression.

And, on a personal note, I like it when someone takes something that's deliberately hard (merging two fairly unmashable genres) and then mostly pulls it off anyway.
posted by adipocere at 8:39 AM on July 9, 2010 [4 favorites]


Not only that, BSG started out high adrenalin and kept it up, until they totally screwed up the ending. Firefly was horribly, horribly boring...

From hearing people talk about it I keep wondering if I was somehow watching the wrong BSG. The one I saw was closer to a soap opera than anything and I didn't find watching people constantly wringing their hands in emotional turmoil about whether or not they were a robot particularly compelling.

I've said it before and I'll say it again: I think it's probably a good thing Firefly ended when it did. I generally don't like Whedon's stuff and I have a feeling he would have taken the show in directions that would have ruined the show for me. Selfish, I know.
posted by ODiV at 8:40 AM on July 9, 2010 [2 favorites]


Whedon knows that there's no sound in a freekin vacuum!

It did have it's moments. To give Serenity it's due, I thought not seeing the reaver things was way more scary than any SFX could have made it, maybe he learned something after the SFX on BtVS didn't age very well. But he lost me completely with Dollhouse and now I'm too bitter to bother with him.

Angel still rocks my geeky world, yay Smile Time.
posted by shinybaum at 8:41 AM on July 9, 2010 [3 favorites]


For me it was simply the interplay between the characters/actors.

I don't care about westerns, sci-fi, cliches, heroes, villains, etc. The actors fit perfectly together and their dialog popped even when the writing was mediocre. I loved The West Wing for the same reason.

Wash: I mean, mind-reading, government conspiracies?? This sounds like something out of science-fiction!
Zoey: You work on a spaceship, dear.

(don't think I got Wash's line quite right but you get the idea)
posted by dry white toast at 8:47 AM on July 9, 2010 [2 favorites]


the heroes were essentially on the Southern side of the Civil War

Do people actually think this? Because that's the stupidest, most superficial reading of the show I've ever heard. I guess if you don't actually watch the show and just read summary pitches of the show, this misconception could be understandable, but it seems unfair to actually characterize the show this way. The heroes were on the losing side of a civil war that happens in the future. The Civil War happened a long time ago and has nothing to do with the setup of Firefly.

Now, might Joss have been mistaken to think Americans could actually get such a simple fact and avoid misguided, pseudo-intellectual analysis of the sociopolitical significance of a campy little space cowboy tv series? Apparently yes.
posted by effwerd at 8:48 AM on July 9, 2010 [9 favorites]


From hearing people talk about it I keep wondering if I was somehow watching the wrong BSG.

The first proper episode of BSG was 33, which was pretty stellar and high adrenalin.
posted by smackfu at 8:50 AM on July 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


Do people actually think this? Because that's the stupidest, most superficial reading of the show I've ever heard.

Thought I was back on Whedonesque right then. Can you even get PTSD from the internets?
posted by shinybaum at 8:53 AM on July 9, 2010


I think part of the allure comes from the dialogue, the oh-so-quotable dialogue.

And then following that up with a line that includes the phrase "twixt my nethers"? That is a great example of the kind of awful writing that made the show unwatchable, and at the same time, a great example of the kind of absolutely bizarre defense of the show by the fans, which always goes "This is why Firefly was so great: [insert perfect example of thing that made Firefly awful]."

People who haven't seen it, and see posts like that, and think "Gee, that sounds just terrible, but people keep using examples like that to try to convince me to watch the show, so maybe...?" No, it's not you. It really is that awful, and its fans are pretty much insane.
posted by rusty at 8:58 AM on July 9, 2010 [3 favorites]


Angel still rocks my geeky world, yay Smile Time.

HOLY SHIT YES SMILE TIME.

*cough* Anyway.

Didn't find Firefly boring at all, but you have to enjoy that kind of pacing.

Re: "not much driving it forward" and "the show would have needed to grow from "let us be kind hearted and save someone this week" drama" -- it was getting there. The whole conspiracy surrounding River was just kicking off (though where could it have gone beyond the obvious, I'm not sure). Blue-handed dudes, etc..

And I don't think you can use Dollhouse as your Whedon-fanbase control group. You would have to somehow factor out the Dushku hate, and that would take Wolfram-and-Hart level black magic.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 9:00 AM on July 9, 2010 [3 favorites]


There's only so much that can occur before people are like "WTF, where are energy shields and laser rifles, it's the goddamn future!!"

They had those! But the core worlds were definitely where the high tech was.

Not that I can talk, I've watched every episode of the godawful Smallville and loved it.

Dude. That's like, negative 1000 geek cred right there. I feel so sorry for Allison Mack, the only good actor/actress left on the show. I don't understand why they bothered once Rosenbaum bailed.

Not finding the tight-panted Fillion attractive seemed to be the deal-breaker for me.

*this Fillionsexual cries a bit on the inside*

I think it's probably a good thing Firefly ended when it did.

While I would have given my heart and soul for more Firefly, I do somewhat agree with this as well. I'm just imagining the show running 7 seasons and fans bitching about the Inara/Reformed!Reaver hatesex in season 6 and repetitive Mal monologues in season 7. And while Firefly was responsible for bringing my wife and I together, in a very real way that only happened because of the premature cancellation, which led to the passionate fan base, fan shindigs, etc.

the heroes were essentially on the Southern side of the Civil War

That's actually a fair cop against the original premise of the show. The voiceover of the original version of the pilot is especially jarring. I love Joss but he is sometimes strangely tone-deaf when it comes to certain issues. I know he only meant to comment on the rebellion aspect of the Civil War and not the slavery part, but they're intrinsically linked in American history. And while I don't mind the term Browncoats these days, when I first started watching the show it seemed uncomfortably close to Brownshirts.

But despite all that and the other problematic aspects of the show (no Chinese people really visible? *sigh*), I still loved it. The characters, the dialogue, their interaction and let's not forget Nathan Fillion's fine fine ass.
posted by kmz at 9:04 AM on July 9, 2010 [2 favorites]


Do people actually think this? Because that's the stupidest, most superficial reading of the show I've ever heard.

Actually, it's not a stretch to pick up the American Civil War and Southern influence in Firefly.
posted by new brand day at 9:04 AM on July 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


The cowboy hats and horseback riding and cattle herding and saloon/brothels were a bit over the top, but they were fun. You know, I wouldn't mind watching a hard(-ish) sci fi show or movie about what colonizing frontier planets could actually be like in the future. Something about the intersection of hardy survivalism and high technology makes for a cool setting for adventures. Does anything like this exist? A couple years ago I started writing (and never finished, come to think of it) a web series about an experimental wind-energy harvesting operation in the Great Red Spot of Jupiter. It wasn't the same thing but some of the concepts overlapped, putting roughnecks and Deadliest Catch-type people into the fragile environs of space.
posted by The Winsome Parker Lewis at 9:04 AM on July 9, 2010


Dude. That's like, negative 1000 geek cred right there. I feel so sorry for Allison Mack, the only good actor/actress left on the show. I don't understand why they bothered once Rosenbaum bailed.

Oh, I know. I know that SO HARD. My username is because Rosenbaum is so very very shiny. Once he left I clung to Alison Mack like she was a liferaft of actual acting on a sea of hot men in leather outfits.

But such is life. I'll always have the DVDs from back when two good actors was more than any other WB show was giving me. I'm aware the show sucks monkey butts, I just can't let go of the past.
posted by shinybaum at 9:09 AM on July 9, 2010


> mildly less horrible than that of Enterprise

In the Corpse household it is traditional to sing, as emotionally and loudly as possible, It's been a looong road to get from here to there... when any TV show plays a theme song.
posted by The corpse in the library at 9:10 AM on July 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


I don't think you can use Dollhouse as your Whedon-fanbase control group. You would have to somehow factor out the Dushku hate

My wife teases me constantly about my little rose tinted moments for Dushku, but I watched about 5 episodes near the end of Dollhouse and was left completely cold by the Chuck-esque "Oh no, scenario has occurred that conveniently matches past personality, downloading perfect solution now!" eye flickery crap. Maybe it was the wrap up of it that meant it was clumsily crammed together to 'finish' while they still had episodes, but I couldn't watch it due to the hideously convenient plot twists. Much as I liked a lot of characters in it (the boss of the Dollhouse had some great lines and some excellent cutting sarcasm). I also thought that perhaps creating a vehicle for an actor that was popular through being sassy and attractive in a cult show (Buffy) wasn't such a great idea when she really isn't a stellar actress by any means. Nice thought, but she didn't exactly step up to the plate for me.

I really liked Firefly though. It was entertainment, and it had enough of a plot for me to be entertained. It had banter and amusing characters and enough of a plot to mesh them together. Anyone that is looking for deeper concepts or hand-wringing 'drama' is, to my mind, missing the point. It was entertainment. I don't think it needs to be judged against great drama necessarily.
posted by Brockles at 9:10 AM on July 9, 2010


It's fantasy world-building. Some people like what-if style world-building sci-fi/fantasy, and others find it boring. Among people that like it, there are some who only dig specific settings - hard fantasy or hard sci-fi, or alt history or what-have-you.

Me? I tend to eat it all up. Give me cyberpunk psychics on a planet full of beetle-men, throw in a soft-focus sex scene or two... yeah.
posted by muddgirl at 9:19 AM on July 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


Firefly was great by sci-fi standards. It's a low bar, unfortunately.

It was new, it was different, the lead is charismatic, the dialogue was quirky and fun, the sexy characters and scenes were actually sexy, and even the stupid parts were kind of good-stupid (c.f. NCIS.)
posted by callmejay at 9:20 AM on July 9, 2010


I watched about 5 episodes near the end of Dollhouse and was left completely cold by the Chuck-esque "Oh no, scenario has occurred that conveniently matches past personality, downloading perfect solution now!" eye flickery crap

OTOH, this was a bit of a nice change for the show, bring together standalone episodes into some kind of overarching storyline. They did not do this in the entire first season, for instance.
posted by smackfu at 9:21 AM on July 9, 2010


I missed out on Firefly the first time around because they ran the train robbery episode first; as an SF and technology geek that was too too much suspension of disbelief for me to take in one go -- let's face it, it's pretty dumb even once you've got a feel for the show -- and I didn't watch the rest. I rediscovered it a couple of years ago and slowly realized how much ass it kicked once you bought in. I treat the science, technology and physics as being fabulistic; a fantasy without pixie-shit. Accept the framework as given then settle in and enjoy the scripts and performances, which rocked pretty hard. Would have liked real resolution on Shepherd Book, though.

On preview, kinda what muddgirl said.
posted by George_Spiggott at 9:21 AM on July 9, 2010


No techno music on the trailer. The original soundtrack worked just fine, thank you.

The problem with "Firefly" was that Joss/Fox/Initial Adience assumed that the rest of the audience was smarter than it turned out to be. Now, I can't account for Fox's entire broadcast audience, but I'm assuming that the 'general audience' for this show had a substantial knowledge of pop culture and television history to make this show a 'go'. Everybody 'knows' that the Western craze of the early '60s was replaced by the Sci-fi craze of the mid- to late '60s, allowing for such misbegotten creations like Star Trek, The Jetsons, My Favorite Martian, etc., etc. The smart thing that Joss was doing here wedded that history with future tendencies like China going full-bore into Space.

The Blue Hands Group and the breakdown between private and personal technocrats was brilliant. Sadly, Fox is only good at selling Geritol and Tax cuts to the masses, otherwise, their marketing department might have been able to get behind this show and see it properly. Alas, Fox was only able to sell us the 2002 edition of the American Civil War that's been raging since 1980. For some reason, there's still more money in selling woulda'/coulda/shoulda than putting men on the Moon (or Mars, or Io) than making techinal innovation part of anyone's lfe.

Welcome to America.
posted by vhsiv at 9:29 AM on July 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


Would have liked real resolution on Shepherd Book, though.

:( 10x this.

Firely wasn't serious sci-fi. Whedon doesn't do serious (well). So sure, through the lens of serious sf it's unremittingly hokey. It is fun, though, when you let that go. Maybe if there was a lot more, good, serious sf out there, people could more easily relax into a sci-fi series that doesn't take itself too seriously. As it is, it's too busy Representing The Genre in some people's minds, I think.

I wouldn't dismiss it as only fun, though. Objects in Space? Out of Gas? Those are some seriously impressive episodes.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 9:29 AM on July 9, 2010 [8 favorites]


But he lost me completely with Dollhouse and now I'm too bitter to bother with him.

Sorry for the derail, but did you watch it all the way through? The show hit a serious low point toward the end of the first season, and recovered miraculously in the second (to the extent that I'd consider it one of the better "Sci Fi" serials of the past decade). If the first season lost you, watch "Epitah One," and hopefully you'll be hooked again. It's also heartening to see that, unlike Firefly, the show got a proper beginning, middle, and end.

The cowboy hats and horseback riding and cattle herding and saloon/brothels were a bit over the top, but they were fun.

Augh. That episode was horrible, and should have been kept to the scrap heap. Firefly was a great show, but that episode was just. awful.
posted by schmod at 9:35 AM on July 9, 2010


Would have liked real resolution on Shepherd Book, though.

:( 10x this.


There's actually a graphic novel coming out in a few months that will provide background on Book. (Though honestly the movie already heavily implied the gist of it.) Serenity: The Shepherd's Tale.

Objects in Space? Out of Gas? Those are some seriously impressive episodes.

Yes yes yes. Objects in Space in particular is probably my favorite Whedon hour ever. Followed maybe by Restless. Whedon is best when Whedon gets weird.
posted by kmz at 9:39 AM on July 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


The episode with the Space Brothel was up there with the episode where they visit the Space South to go to a ball in terms of cringe for me.
posted by Artw at 9:39 AM on July 9, 2010


The show hit a serious low point toward the end of the first season, and recovered miraculously in the second

Eh. It had a few good episodes, but you had to watch a lot of crap to get to them, and overall I have a hard time recommending it.
posted by smackfu at 9:41 AM on July 9, 2010


Float Out, the recent Serenity comic by Patton Oswalt, has one moment (on the last page IIRC) that will make fans ooh and ahh, other than that it's pretty atrocious, celebrity writer or not.
posted by Artw at 9:41 AM on July 9, 2010


And oh, the io9 trailer was amusing, but the omission of Simon Tam is unforgivable. I'm glad to see Sean Maher getting work again after a bit of a dry spell. He's too awesome to not be on our screens more often.
posted by kmz at 9:43 AM on July 9, 2010 [4 favorites]


Sorry for the derail, but did you watch it all the way through?

No, but I accept that one day I might and it might be good. It takes me years to even start some shows, especially when the fan discussions turn me off. Whedon has some skanky race issues and a few skanky gender issues and his fans wind me up defending him so I'll leave it a couple of years until I might enjoy it on its own merits.

(I could avoid the whole internet and try watching now but that hasn't worked out well in the past)
posted by shinybaum at 9:44 AM on July 9, 2010


That was an awesome intro. Dammit! Now I wanna see Firefly again. Right the hell now.

Stupid work.
posted by dendritejungle at 9:46 AM on July 9, 2010


The episode with the Space Brothel was up there with the episode where they visit the Space South to go to a ball in terms of cringe for me.

But the hooker had a heart of gold!!
posted by new brand day at 9:47 AM on July 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


Actually, it's not a stretch to pick up the American Civil War and Southern influence in Firefly.

I'm on my phone so the mobile version of wikipedia might have been hiding the part of that article that supports your comment but I didn't see it. I don't think it matters anyway. Anyone who thinks there's some Civil War significance in Firefly is reaching. What else in the show supports this? What about the show even justifies looking at it in political terms? Any politics in the show is incidental to telling a story about space cowboys. Now DS9 was an overtly political sci fi show that justifies such belabored interpretation but Firefly wasn't.

So does this mean that any sci fi story written by an American author that involves a civil war will always signify some relationship to the Civil War? Because that's ridiculous.
posted by effwerd at 9:51 AM on July 9, 2010


I re-watched the 90 minute pilot double-episode last week and it reminded me of my initial reaction to the show. For the first 85 minutes I thought it was a mildly intriguing premise with some promise. Then, right near the end, when the Fed escapes and the guns are all pointing in a clichéd & tense moment - one that promised to be long and drawn out- Mal waltzes straight in and without breaking stride shoots the Federal agent. I thought to myself, "Well, that was incredibly easy." At that moment I fell in love with the show.
posted by yeti at 9:51 AM on July 9, 2010 [7 favorites]


Firefly was a fun (and funny) mix of two of my favorite genres. I saw it without seeing any of Whedon's other stuff, and immediately fell in love. And, yes... no sound in space goes a long way.
posted by brundlefly at 9:57 AM on July 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


So does this mean that any sci fi story written by an American author that involves a civil war will always signify some relationship to the Civil War? Because that's ridiculous.

I love Firefly and Joss but it's well known that Joss was thinking of the American Civil War for the original premise of the show. While the show itself doesn't dwell on specific Civil War parallels much (thankfully), anybody familiar with the history of the show knows about the Civil War origins.

Just look at this original intro.
posted by kmz at 10:07 AM on July 9, 2010


I loved Firefly, but judging it harshly because it has "waif fu" and other genre clichés is a bit harsh. Fundamentally, it was a television series, and there haven't been many really impressive science fiction television series. Firefly was one of the best because of the witty dialogue and fun characters. Its setting is hokey and its action is hokey, but it managed to have some really powerful episodes ("Objects in Space", "Out of Gas", "The Message").

Gene Wolfe, Iain Banks, and Vernor Vinge are not coming to the small screen.
posted by sonic meat machine at 10:09 AM on July 9, 2010 [2 favorites]


(By the way, full credit to those of you in this thread who said, basically, "I like firefly even though all the criticisms of it are true, and I can't explain why." That strikes me as a totally valid and respectable viewpoint. I have a number of things I like in that way, probably everybody does. My snark above was not aimed at you guys.)
posted by rusty at 10:12 AM on July 9, 2010 [3 favorites]


Man, some people are really in denial about the whole Mal being on the side of the Space South in the Space Civil War thing.
posted by Artw at 10:15 AM on July 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


That would be space denial, Artw.
posted by brundlefly at 10:17 AM on July 9, 2010 [10 favorites]


Actually that would be Sp-South, Sp-Civil-War, and Sp-Denial.
posted by kmz at 10:18 AM on July 9, 2010


Actually, it's not a stretch to pick up the American Civil War and Southern influence in Firefly.

Sure, it's easy to see the influence of the American Civil War on certain aspects of the overall world, plot and characters, but it's definitely a stretch to imply that Firefly is some how supporting the idea of "the South will rise again" and all its racist connotations.

Whedon is clearly not a neo-con or a KKK sympathizer. Quite the opposite, really. In individual episodes of many of his shows I see more feminist and left-leaning influences. And ultimately, Whedon is insterested in outsiders, freaks and weirdos who don't conform to the ruling class's expectations.

Also, painting the Civil War as a conflict over slavery/racism is to paint a very simplistic picture of the actual history and ignores a lot of other facts about why many people fought for the South.

On the subject of Dollhouse, in my opinion its best moments are when Tahmoh Penikett is on-screen. But I must not have been that impressed with the first season because I have made zero effort to watch the second season.

Also, speaking of Nathan Fillion, Castle is my guilty pleasure.
posted by jnrussell at 10:20 AM on July 9, 2010


Plus, no time travel episodes, no aliens, no monster of the week and no holo-deck .

This is precisely why I haven't watched all of Firefly yet. Well, the no aliens thing, specifically. Battlestar Galactica, too. I find the idea of an otherwise empty, human-filled space to be incredibly, crushingly depressing. Surely I'm not the only one?
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 10:20 AM on July 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'm on my phone so the mobile version of wikipedia might have been hiding the part of that article that supports your comment but I didn't see it.

From Wikipedia: "Whedon developed the concept for the show after reading The Killer Angels, a novel chronicling the Battle of Gettysburg during the American Civil War. He wanted to follow people who had fought on the losing side of a war and their experiences afterwards as pioneers and immigrants on the outskirts of civilization, much like the post-American Civil War era of Reconstruction and the American Old West culture.[8]"


What else in the show supports this? What about the show even justifies looking at it in political terms?

The entire premise is built around the individual self deciding their fate vs the intrusion of the government/society. I mean, it's in the opening theme song of every episode:

"Take my love, take my land
Take me where I cannot stand
I don't care, I'm still free "

The entire war of the Alliance vs the brown coats mirrors the American civil war (minus the slavery), big government vs state rights.
posted by new brand day at 10:20 AM on July 9, 2010


I'm in the "love" camp for Firefly, for a few key reasons.

First, I'll dispense with the "well, ummm..." apologia, which is pretty much something you have to just let go:

• There are no Chinese people. I know that they're supposed to have been in a separate population block that's cut off from the non-Asian folk, but seriously. Everyone's always saying little Chinese things, but why?

• There are virtually no black people. Well, there are, but the four focal point black characters are (1) evil and sadistic, with issues, (2) amoral, working for evil, with issues, and (3) a great and likeable character that sadly borders on being a magical negro, and (4) Sarge (oops, wrong show), I mean Zoe, who's actually okay.

• There's little evidence of the "sly" people we hear about. This is typical of TV unless very recent times, but still. And would it have killed them to give Jayne an identical twin brother who's sly? Sheeeeesh.

• They really wrote terrible dialogue for Kaylee. She seems to have been handed the most egregious of the scene-setting pseudo-Westernisms, "ain't ain't ain't ain't ain't," but it could have been better.

• I seriously doubt that stark raving berserker maniac living zombie Glenn-Beck-crazy murderpeople like the Reavers would have had the composure to operate spaceships. Hell, I can't even get my lawnmower started if I'm mildly pissed-off—pull, pull, pull and then I just kick the damn thing over—so I have a lingering suspicion that calculating proper reentry angles would have probably stymied the Reavers.

That said, I think there are some really, really distinctive and wonderful things about Firefly:

• The science is pretty reasonable, as speculative science goes. They don't just gloss over relativity so that they can go from star to star (the "'Verse" is a single solar system), and they don't have teleportation (Star Trek's FX budget timesaver). They also don't run into hundreds of rubber suit aliens who somehow evolved looking just like us and living in civilizations annoyingly similar to ours, and they don't use embarrassingly bad writing to justify their rubber suit aliens. There's also no "chronotons," time travel, particle/radiation of the week, forward deflector dish shenanigans, Mos Eisley muppet show freakishness, ubiquitous laser guns, or other endless teen-boy masturbatory gadgetry.

• Every other episode does not revolve around THE ENTIRE UNIVERSE ON THE VERGE OF DESTRUCTION!!! Hell, I love my idiotic old Doctor Who, but I'm getting mighty sick of the constant threat of complete universal apocalypse (here, here, here, and here, to quote a few egregious examples). Jeez, you'd have to be amazed we're here at all, what with how easy it is to destroy THE ENTIRE UNIVERSE. The stories tend to be smallish, not stuck in service to the MIGHTY ARC, and involve as much failure and humiliation on the part of the heroes as on the vanquished. That's refreshing.

• There's a genuine ensemble cast at work, adding their own subtleties to work around the occasional lumpen writing. Heck, even the most shallowly-drawn character, Jayne, is at least given a believable level of stupidity and singlemindedness to make him work. Sure, there's a waif-y thing going, which is just a marketing device that works. Hell, I'm shallow enough that I'd be sucked in by a sly brother-of-Jayne. TV, you know.

• The Western thing? That part is the least of my worries. If you're moving thousands or millions of people across light years, terraforming solar systems, and building a complete set of fresh societies out of history and whole cloth, it doesn't seem all that unlikely that the best sociologists of Earth-that-was might look to cultural systems of colonialism and basically code them into the societies they build. The frontier thing isn't all that bad when you're not building it on the bones of a pre-existing culture.

I love that, while I was enjoying the space cowboy opera of Firefly, I was also inclined to think about the world-building there, and how much of it seemed pretty reasonable and realistic. I'd love to see SF TV tackle some real stuff, sometime, from hard science to romantic science, but TV has such a long history of vandalizing good works and completely missing the point, so I think keeping it breezy and simple on Firefly was a good thing.

Now, the rest of Whedon, I just don't get, but I suspect it's because my mileage, as they say, is varying.
posted by sonascope at 10:22 AM on July 9, 2010 [7 favorites]


That "twixt my nethers" line (along with a few others) makes me flinch every time I hear it.
posted by ODiV at 10:28 AM on July 9, 2010


but it's definitely a stretch to imply that Firefly is some how supporting the idea of "the South will rise again" and all its racist connotations.

I never said nor contend that it is, but from an American perspective, putting your heroes on the obvious side of the South is bound to create some uncomfortable feelings and associations.

Also, painting the Civil War as a conflict over slavery/racism is to paint a very simplistic picture of the actual history and ignores a lot of other facts about why many people fought for the South.

Good thing no one did that. Wheadon specifically and wisely excluded that element to focus on the individual vs government aspects.

I find the idea of an otherwise empty, human-filled space to be incredibly, crushingly depressing. Surely I'm not the only one?

I like it because I felt Sci Fi has seriously screwd up the whole idea of aliens, to the point where it's boring and cliched. Not having aliens was a nice change of pace.
posted by new brand day at 10:31 AM on July 9, 2010


• There are no Chinese people.

Hello, River and Simon TAM, that's Asian, right?! Um...
posted by new brand day at 10:34 AM on July 9, 2010


Lack of episodes revolving around timetravel/other magic tech and forehead bump aliens is definitely a huge plus.
posted by Artw at 10:35 AM on July 9, 2010


Gene Wolfe, Iain Banks, and Vernor Vinge are not coming to the small screen.

In some ways Firefly did remind me of Consider Phlebas; at least everything in it that had to do with the Clear Air Turbulence. The whole part about robbing the Orbital and the captain playing a game of Brockian Ultra-Poker (or whatever) could have been an episode of Firefly. A fairly expensive one...
posted by George_Spiggott at 10:35 AM on July 9, 2010


I seriously doubt that stark raving berserker maniac living zombie Glenn-Beck-crazy murderpeople like the Reavers would have had the composure to operate spaceships.

I was thinking the same thing the other day. Sort of sad that it's only dawning on me after years of thinking Firefly was awesome, but hey, stories need their bogeymen.
posted by dry white toast at 10:38 AM on July 9, 2010


The escape from The Ends of Invention would be quite something to see.
posted by Artw at 10:38 AM on July 9, 2010


Sure, it's easy to see the influence of the American Civil War on certain aspects of the overall world, plot and characters, but it's definitely a stretch to imply that Firefly is some how supporting the idea of "the South will rise again" and all its racist connotations.

Whedon is clearly not a neo-con or a KKK sympathizer. Quite the opposite, really. In individual episodes of many of his shows I see more feminist and left-leaning influences. And ultimately, Whedon is insterested in outsiders, freaks and weirdos who don't conform to the ruling class's expectations.


He lifted the "heroes who were on the losing side of a civil war" straight from movie Westerns ("The Searchers" springs to mind). It's a romantic notion. He's riffing on the genre, not directly on the history of the era.

Unfortunately, the genre and the history can't be totally separated, and you'd have to be very careful in trying. I understand what Whedon was trying to do there (and, like I said, I loves me some Firefly), but I think he could have handled it better.

In some ways Firefly did remind me of Consider Phlebas

Ha! I'm actually reading Consider Phlebas for the first time right now, and have been thinking the same thing.
posted by brundlefly at 10:39 AM on July 9, 2010 [2 favorites]


I seriously doubt that stark raving berserker maniac living zombie Glenn-Beck-crazy murderpeople like the Reavers would have had the composure to operate spaceships.

Road-ragers.
posted by Artw at 10:39 AM on July 9, 2010


He lifted the "heroes who were on the losing side of a civil war" straight from movie Westerns ("The Searchers" springs to mind). It's a romantic notion. He's riffing on the genre, not directly on the history of the era.

I was thinking more The Outlaw Josey Wales, but really The Searchers is far more appropriate.
posted by Artw at 10:42 AM on July 9, 2010


Also, painting the Civil War as a conflict over slavery/racism is to paint a very simplistic picture of the actual history and ignores a lot of other facts about why many people fought for the South.

Good thing no one did that. Wheadon specifically and wisely excluded that element to focus on the individual vs government aspects.

It might have been specific but it wasn't wise. He's got a history of colour blindness to the point of active racism already, you wouldn't set something in the second world war and completely blank on the holocaust even if you were focussing on something you felt was more interesting.

Damn, now people will find a million instances of films that do precisely that. But my point was, dead bro walking wasn't created for no reason. It was a mistake for him to ignore race because he's always ignored race to the point of allowing racism to happen in his stuff.
posted by shinybaum at 10:44 AM on July 9, 2010


I like it because I felt Sci Fi has seriously screwd up the whole idea of aliens, to the point where it's boring and cliched. Not having aliens was a nice change of pace.

Aw . . . I love me a good SF alien. Or a bad SF alien. I guess I'm just into aliens generally.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 10:47 AM on July 9, 2010


I seriously doubt that stark raving berserker maniac living zombie Glenn-Beck-crazy murderpeople like the Reavers would have had the composure to operate spaceships.

This always bothered me about The Flood in Halo. Hell, they had whacked out hands, how could they fly any ship not designed for them?
posted by new brand day at 10:50 AM on July 9, 2010


I'm late to the game, but I still want to say this: While the 80s version of the trailer really nailed a lot of the clichés and stereotypes of those sorts of introductions, it messed one thing up, big-time. If it were really the 80s, when we were introduced to Inara the music would have changed slightly and gone into sexy-sounding mode, for about 10 seconds, before jumping back into the normal tune. Maybe an alto sax would briefly do a solo over the top of the music.

That is how the 80s worked.
posted by barnacles at 11:06 AM on July 9, 2010 [22 favorites]


I don't think that being inspired by the American Civil War to make a series that relies on only the most generic and innocuous aspects of it (i.e. what happens to the losers after a war) is as bad as some people here are making it out to be. I always thought of the Browncoats as being more like the Rebel Alliance from Star Wars (scrappy underdogs fighting teh evil!) than anything else. It's cliche, but being troubled that the original germ of the idea came from the Civil War is making a mountain out of a molehill.
posted by Mavri at 11:08 AM on July 9, 2010 [2 favorites]


Maybe it could be like Stingray, and the Intro would be all action and spaceships and the Outro song would be all about how lovely she is?
posted by Artw at 11:08 AM on July 9, 2010


It's cliche, but being troubled that the original germ of the idea came from the Civil War is making a mountain out of a molehill.

Tell that to a Civil War re-enactor.
posted by new brand day at 11:12 AM on July 9, 2010


I never said nor contend that it is, but from an American perspective, putting your heroes on the obvious side of the South is bound to create some uncomfortable feelings and associations.

I kind of liked that. It created interesting dissonances and tensions.

I love Firefly. I do understand the criticism - I enjoy it despite (or because of) its flaws. I have very low standards when it comes to scifi. More importantly, it's appealing because of Joss's strength with writing character interactions.

Many ensemble pieces neglect to use that to the fullest degree in order to concentrate on plot. For example, each LOST character had a few other characters that they interacted with a lot, and several who they never seemingly spoke to at all. In Firefly, we basically knew what every character's interactions were like with every other character (or as much as was possible in the short time it existed, anyway.)
posted by Solon and Thanks at 11:15 AM on July 9, 2010


Being a Space Redneck, Mal of course glorifies the Space South whilst glossing over it's history of enslaving genetically engineered intelligent kittens.
posted by Artw at 11:16 AM on July 9, 2010 [2 favorites]


Well, the no aliens thing, specifically.

I think I prefer a show that's just honest about not having aliens to a show where they have "aliens" who are people with funny foreheads who all behave exactly in accordance with their Defined Racial Characteristic, and none of which would really be that out of place psychologically in modern California.

Best about this, but still not very good: Babylon 5.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 11:19 AM on July 9, 2010 [3 favorites]


sonascope makes good points that pretty well lay out why I liked Firefly, and (in his first section) why I also don't miss it that much. I will even cheerfully acknowledge the "It was frequently better than Star Trek" portion of his post; I'm a giant Trek fan from small times, but if I had to put season one of TNG against season one of Firefly, I would shifting VERY uncomfortably and stammering about, "You gotta understand the CULTURAL CONTEXT of the show's arrival in American television, DERP DERP DERP"
posted by Greg Nog at 11:24 AM on July 9, 2010 [3 favorites]


While not totally Mundane SF there is something rather Mundane SF like in Firefly's choice to reject a wide swath of SF tropes.
posted by Artw at 11:25 AM on July 9, 2010


It's cliche, but being troubled that the original germ of the idea came from the Civil War is making a mountain out of a molehill.
...
Tell that to a Civil War re-enactor.


I don't get what you mean? Civil War re-enactors love Firefly?
posted by Greg Nog at 11:26 AM on July 9, 2010


My god old TNG is painful to watch. People who demand shows respectfully based on your carefully considered ideological values, that is what you are asking for.
posted by Artw at 11:26 AM on July 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


Cahptain... I sense that Artw is feeeling... AHNgry.
posted by Greg Nog at 11:27 AM on July 9, 2010 [2 favorites]


Damn would I love a high budget Consider Phlebas mini series. Banks is exactly the right balance of intellectual and cheesy to hit that sweet spot for me.

Which is probably why I liked Firefly. It was too cheesy, but not by much. It also had (some) actual adult characters, unlike the majority of Whedon's stuff. I can watch Buffy, but I don't find it compelling at all, maybe if I were still a teenager. The only part of Dollhouse I found at all interesting was the final episode - I would have watched a second season if it was 50% future episodes based on the societal collapse brought on by the Dollhouse technology.

I'm fine with crazies flying spaceships. I see nuts driving on the freeway all the time. Serenity needs a real pilot because she's a smuggling ship, not because going from A to B is difficult.
posted by ecurtz at 11:28 AM on July 9, 2010


Farscape has some pretty alien aliens (in behaviour as well as appearance), if you're not put off by space muppets.

I seriously doubt that stark raving berserker maniac living zombie Glenn-Beck-crazy murderpeople like the Reavers would have had the composure to operate spaceships.

More than Klingon-level violent restlessness would indeed be a problem. I'm imagining those squeeze-ball stress relievers as standard issue onboard a Reaver ship.*

Replace "squeeze-ball" with "near-dead captive"

Though, if Mrs. B's booty-knitting is any indication, the Reavers must have some patience to be sewing those corpse skins into their clothes.
*cut to happy 1950's jingle-accompanied scene of Reavers contentedly sewing*
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 11:28 AM on July 9, 2010


Cahptain... I sense that Artw is feeeling... AHNgry.

God. Let's all be calm and reasonable and discuss all our feelings in a circle...

There should have been a TNG episode set in the Montessori system.
posted by Artw at 11:36 AM on July 9, 2010 [4 favorites]


This is an interesting post because I just started watching firefly.

I watched all of them in the period of like a week. Here's the thing - I didn't love the show. I WANTED to. But for everything I liked, there was something that made me cringe. There's a much more ominous thing going on -- and I couldn't quite put my finger on it -- but there was some sort of celebration of certain ideals (for lack of a better term) that I was very uncomfortable with. I wish I could explain more, I hope that someone else can finish that thought for me...
posted by MysticMCJ at 11:44 AM on July 9, 2010


Farscape has some pretty alien aliens (in behaviour as well as appearance), if you're not put off by space muppets.

Yeah, I was going to mention that. I understand that to most people, muppets=silly (even here on metafilter, where we love them!), but I think it's a great way to avoid the rubber forehead alien problem.

Not that I mind rubber forehead aliens, mind. My favorite TV aliens are the Tenctonese from Alien Nation, with their ridiculously detailed culture and biology--even if they were largely used allegorically as a sort of stand-in for Any Oppressed People.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 11:45 AM on July 9, 2010


Well, let's face it, if we were in Firefly we'd all Space Latte sipping Space Hipsters from the Space North and we'd consider the Firefly crew to be a bunch of criminal, inbred, probably methed up Space Hillbillys that we'd be all snootily disdainfull of. And so would Joss Whedon, as I'm sure he's pointed out.
posted by Artw at 11:50 AM on July 9, 2010 [7 favorites]


What is the allure of this show?

One scene in Serenity:

The villain says to the Captain, "I'm just here to talk. I'm unarmed..."

BOOM. Captain pulls out his gun and shoots the guy.

OK. That's pretty damn awesome.

"I'M NOT AN IDIOT. I'M WEARING BODY ARMOR."

Even more so.
posted by effugas at 11:56 AM on July 9, 2010


I don't get what you mean? Civil War re-enactors love Firefly?

Well, it was made by Northerner.
posted by new brand day at 12:00 PM on July 9, 2010


And if wishes were horses, we'd all be eatin' steak.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 12:07 PM on July 9, 2010 [2 favorites]


The episode with the Space Brothel was up there with the episode where they visit the Space South to go to a ball in terms of cringe for me.

Shindig is a bit of a mess (the whole Mal/Inara thing was never well handled) but you have Kaylee's awesome dress and the origin of "Captain Tightpants". Not to mention this sequence while Mal has the asshole who was trying to kill him at his mercy:
Mal: Sure. It would be humiliating. Having to lie there while the better man refuses to spill your blood. Mercy is the mark of a great man.

[lightly stabs Atherton with the sword]

Mal: Guess I'm just a good man.

[stabs him again]

Mal: Well, I'm all right.
posted by kmz at 12:08 PM on July 9, 2010 [6 favorites]


Farscape has some pretty alien aliens (in behaviour as well as appearance), if you're not put off by space muppets.

I'll grant you that; the show just wasn't my bag.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 12:18 PM on July 9, 2010


No matter how great people tell me Farscape was, the muppets are an impassable barrier for me.
posted by Artw at 12:21 PM on July 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


Really? I thought Farscape aliens were awesome, better than a guy in a rubber suit.
posted by new brand day at 12:25 PM on July 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


I also loved the muppets! I got sort of bored midway through Season 2 and just stopped watching, but the space-muppets were pretty much my favorite part. I would watch an enitre series with no humanoids whatsoever!
posted by Greg Nog at 12:27 PM on July 9, 2010


Both the show’s vibe and the muppets take a bit of getting used to, but it’s relatively effortless if you start from the beginning. And, I don’t know, any given sci-fi world should be a bit of an acquired taste, or it's not trying hard enough.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 12:28 PM on July 9, 2010


(In the final accounting, Safe is probably my least favorite ep, but even that gave us "Big Damn Heroes".)

Also, speaking of Nathan Fillion, Castle is my guilty pleasure.

Castle is the only procedural I can watch. You can tell all the actors are just having so much fun. And my Kinsey fluidity about Nathan Fillion aside, I think he does have that rare ability to elevate an entire cast. I will watch just about anything with him in it. (Though I tried but couldn't get through all the Desperate Housewives eps with him, nor have I tried White Noise 2. I have my limits.)

There's a clip from a con (that I sadly can't find right now) where one of the other Firefly people (Morena, I think) talks about how during negotiations with Universal for the movie, the studio was trying to shortchange the other main cast members on compensation. Nathan put his foot down and said he wouldn't do it unless all the other actors got contracts to their satisfaction. He really was being the captain.

All right, I really need to stop spamming this thread and get back to pretending to work.
posted by kmz at 12:28 PM on July 9, 2010


Really? I thought Farscape aliens were awesome, better than a guy in a rubber suit.

Hey, it’s like not liking fish: I’m sure the people for whom the whole fish thing isn’t a problem are having a great time exploring the universe of culinary opportunities that is opened up by that, but I’m just not ever going to be joining them there.
posted by Artw at 12:29 PM on July 9, 2010


That's cool. All I'm saying is that the muppets were an absolute dealbreaker for me, too, but somehow that changed with exposure.

Also: Nathan Fillion is Canadian?!

Also also: IMDB: Nathan Fillion
The Arrogant Worms: Three Worms and an Orchestra -- 25 October 2003
Nathan Fillion ... Himself (?!?)
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 12:33 PM on July 9, 2010


Huh. I thought Farscape was terrific and Firefly nearly unwatchable. Farscape had most of Firefly's strengths with few of its weaknesses.
posted by Justinian at 12:39 PM on July 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


Wait, I always thought Kaylee was a little "sly". No?
posted by lunit at 12:40 PM on July 9, 2010


Wait, I always thought Kaylee was a little "sly". No?

Because she was tomboyish?
posted by brundlefly at 12:45 PM on July 9, 2010


No, in one of the first episodes - maybe the pilot? - I could have sworn there was an allusion to her dating a woman. I could be misremembering, though.
posted by lunit at 12:49 PM on July 9, 2010


It's funny how people complain about the mixed technology in Firefly - the horses and hovercars, shotguns and laserguns, space suits and cowboy boots, and so on. We've got that gap in this world right now. The wealthy areas have iPads and Apache gunships but out on the edges there are people living in shacks, with no transport, no electricity, no state aid.

Somewhere out on the edges of a desert there's a bunch of people with an old truck doing a bit of smuggling, transporting some prize cattle, and maybe hiding a couple on the run from the police. It's not an improbable situation.

Now Star Trek's society and economy - that's improbable.
posted by BinaryApe at 12:52 PM on July 9, 2010 [23 favorites]


Come on, they're transporting cattle? Riding horses? Dressing in western garb? There's only so much that can occur before people are like "WTF, where are energy shields and laser rifles, it's the goddamn future!!"

For me this was some of the best worldbuilding I've seen on TV. If we ever really colonize Mars, we for damn sure are going to bring cows and chickens.

And just looking around the world now, it's pretty obvious that if "we" (i.e. rich people) ever have energy shields and laser rifles and electric hovercars, there will still be tons of people who instead only have AK-47's, wear old-fashioned clothes, and ride horses or vehicles with internal combustion engines.

The idea that in the future everyone will be at the exact same level of technology is just as stupid as thinking other planets would have a single, homogeneous culture.
posted by straight at 1:08 PM on July 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


The western/southern thing is pretty well established in the genre: the interesting gunslinging types are usually Rebs: Outlaw Josey Wales, Johnny Yuma (was a Rebel, he rode through the west...)

Country and Western is mostly Southern, if you get my drift.

Firefly had some really bad dialog when they tried (and failed horribly) at anachronistic dialect.

But they also had some nice slaps at tropes:

In the Little Whorehouse on the Prairie - the bad guy's super laser pistol runs out of batteries at the critical moment.

Dead guy in the mail - supposed alien is a two-headed calf

There were enough of these to keep you interested past the flat spots.
posted by warbaby at 1:13 PM on July 9, 2010


Man, some people are really in denial about the whole Mal being on the side of the Space South in the Space Civil War thing.

Except for the part about the Space North being the only ones implicated in any sort of Space Slavery. That sorta seems important.

It's really more like a Space Civil War where the Space North space lost. Space.

Space.
posted by straight at 1:19 PM on July 9, 2010 [5 favorites]


I'm pretty surprised to see so many people down on the dialogue. That's one of my favorite parts of the show. It's certainly not realistic, but I don't think it's intended to be.
posted by brundlefly at 1:24 PM on July 9, 2010


The idea that in the future everyone will be at the exact same level of technology is just as stupid as thinking other planets would have a single, homogeneous culture.

Sure, but the blatant ripoff of western tropes seemed really jarring at times. For example, when Mal and co were trying to sell off protein bars or some such (which would feed a family for a mouth), that seemed to make more sense in terms of a future where traveling between planets was common enough experience.

It would have been better if the show had dealt with the themes of being on the frontier as opposed to copying so rigidly at times, the American west.
posted by new brand day at 1:26 PM on July 9, 2010


If you need to convince anyone of how good the dialogue can be, just visit the Objects in Space quotes page. It's chock full of goodness. (it's my fave, too, kmz)
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 1:27 PM on July 9, 2010 [2 favorites]


Battlestar Galactica, too. I find the idea of an otherwise empty, human-filled space to be incredibly, crushingly depressing. Surely I'm not the only one?

Of course not. Cavil felt exactly the same way!
posted by vorfeed at 1:37 PM on July 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


Well now you've just forced me to read spoilers.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 1:47 PM on July 9, 2010


Being a Space Redneck, Mal of course glorifies the Space South

I think it's really interesting how tricky it is when you make fictionalized versions of real events.

If you create a universe with a fictionalized version of the American Civil War in which the North analogue is actually more evil than the South Analogue because it's the North that does things like Nazi-style medical experiments to mentally control and enslave people, is that somehow an apology for the real life American South? Does that really somehow help promote the whole War of Northern Aggression viewpoint?

Or is it maybe making the point that it's only an accident of history that the winners of the Civil War were the "good guys"? That the North didn't prevail because righteousness always wins, but because they had more money/troops/good leadership/whatever. That "preserving the Union" is only a good thing if the Union actually is a more just society than what rebellion and succession would create?
posted by straight at 1:48 PM on July 9, 2010 [6 favorites]


I love arguing about science fiction on the internet! You guys, let's never change!
posted by Greg Nog at 1:54 PM on July 9, 2010 [8 favorites]


Well now you've just forced me to read spoilers.

Sorry, that was meant as an in-joke for those who've seen the series, not as something you should necessarily look up.

That said: if reading spoilers will save you from the eternal suffering that is season 4.5, then my work here is done!

*turns to someone else* Hello, my name is vorfeed, and I abjure RDM and all of his works. Have you heard the Good News today?
posted by vorfeed at 1:56 PM on July 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


These credits are kind of a cute attempt, but pale in comparison to the fake-'80s vibe of Garth Marenghi's Darkplace (which got the "opening theme brightens up for the pretty girl" bit right, among many other things).
posted by Lazlo at 1:58 PM on July 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


It would have been better if the show had dealt with the themes of being on the frontier as opposed to copying so rigidly at times, the American west.

Oh, good god yes! I always amazed at how people make these elaborate supportive arguments about the core worlds are tech heavy and the outer worlds are not, but they never noticed that everything is decorated in quaint Americana. Really? People in the future on poor outer worlds are going to use American antiques to decorate their wooden shacks?

Overall, the show isn't that bad. If you can swim through the abundant overwrought support, you can enjoy it for it's hokey-ness and it's strengths.

Also, everyone please note, not having sound effects in space does not justify it as being any closer to hard sci-fi. Gravity on ships, and "magically" traveling between planets fully negates any such notions.
posted by P.o.B. at 1:59 PM on July 9, 2010


You lot will be saying The Dukes of Hazzard is a bad thing next.
posted by Artw at 2:03 PM on July 9, 2010


the space-muppets were pretty much my favorite part. I would watch an enitre series with no humanoids whatsoever!

So a sci-fi Fraggle Rock, then?

BLEARGH
posted by grubi at 2:03 PM on July 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


Starring William Shatner as Uncle Traveling Matt!
posted by Greg Nog at 2:06 PM on July 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


Dance your cares away
Worry's for another day!
Let the music pla--
*consumed by muppet Reavers*
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 2:06 PM on July 9, 2010 [5 favorites]


You lot will be saying The Dukes of Hazzard is a bad thing next.

The General Lee as a spaceship!

With open windows!

Jumping between planets, yee haaaaaaa!

Boss Hogg was already an alien.

Hmm, Dukes of Hazzard in space sounds like a good pitch actually.
posted by new brand day at 2:14 PM on July 9, 2010 [2 favorites]


I think the mixed technology is possibly one of the most on-target, future-realistic things about Firefly. One of the things I hate about SF is how it reinforces the marketing-designed future, where we're supposed to use technology for everything, no matter how silly, wasteful, or pointless the use is.

I grew up looking at the year 2000 as some sort of magical goal of futurism, when we'd be living in the world of the future. "Flying cars!" they cried, "We'll all have flying cars!" We don't have them, of course, and it's not because we can't make flying cars—it's because flying cars are flat-out bug-nuts stupid and every single thing about having them would create more problems than they would solve.

The thing about a horse—it's a self-fueling, self-repairing, self-guided and AI (or NI, to be more precise) controlled piece of transportation and farm equipment that craps fertilizer that can also be used to make paper and locally-sourced building material. Why come up with a complex assortment of systems to do a sort of simplified set of tasks when a free biological system already works?

For security on one of the worlds in the 'Verse, you could come up with something with lasers and sensors and loudspeakers, or you could keep a few geese, which would give you eggs, meat, and keep the bed warm (in the big drawer under those Scandinavian farm beds).

I love giving the writers the benefit of the doubt and assuming that they knew that an advanced culture, planning out a new colony of inhabited planets, would take to heart the notion of appropriate technology. We're so brainwashed in this society, scared to death of silence and darkness, and we panic like ninnies when the internet's down or the cable's out or the power's out. Sitting on an overcrowded, out-of-control Earth-that-was, would they be thinking about flying cars for every use, or would they look back to what worked in the past, and worked well.

Maybe a sensible future isn't what people want to see, and maybe that's what was wrong with Firefly (among it's other faults). It might just be that that sort of thing is too much a vestige of hippie SF of the 70s, but I liked books like Ecotopia, which was tremendously inspiring, in spite of its didactic, overbearing, and story-free structure. In Firefly, I get some of the wonder and optimism, but tempered with a bit of social realism and character development.

A few years ago, during a wind storm, a huge tree came down on my property in West Virginia, snagging the power line to my rambling wreck of a cabin. It yanked the line off the side of the house, ripped the meter off the wall, and catapulted it into the woods like a slingshot. In the time it took me to get the power company to look at the place, they decided that I'd have to do work on the wiring and get inspections to the tune of several thousand dollars, which I just can't afford. I had this demoralizing sense that—well, with no power, there's no water (well pump), no light, no air conditioning, no stove, no computer for writing...umm, that's about it for me being a guy with a palatial mountain estate.

I let it brew a while, and it occurred to me how I could come up with workarounds, with smaller, simpler technologies to solve problems. Can't run the well on solar, or the hot water heater, but if I take that out of the mix, a few panels will give me more than enough juice to run a vent fan, LED lighting, and my netbook, hooked up to a little sound system running on a nice efficient Tripath chip. Water from rain, caught in barrels, pumped up with a pitcher pump and filtered in a DIY filter stack. You let what you can't have settle in, and the ingenuity really kicks in.

I've been building a second cabin out there, with the intent of eventually dismantling the lopsided, oversized, badly-built original, and without power tools, I've been finding more and more that power tools really weren't as essential as I thought they were.

That's what I love in Firefly, and maybe it's just me, and my own particular interests and biases, based on my history, but I feel inspired by the worldbuilding, enough to let some of the missteps slide. For the record, I actually watched Firefly on my iBook over a year's worth of visits to that cabin, parking it on the table next to the old sagging couch, and sitting there in the dark, listening to passing trains and the fauna outside. I can't say my experience is in line with the mainstream, so take that for what it's worth.
posted by sonascope at 2:15 PM on July 9, 2010 [17 favorites]


Oh, good god yes! I always amazed at how people make these elaborate supportive arguments about the core worlds are tech heavy and the outer worlds are not, but they never noticed that everything is decorated in quaint Americana.

I don't see much point in explaining that sort of thing. It's not hard SF. I don't think it intends to be hard SF. The setting is just as stylized as the dialogue.
posted by brundlefly at 2:17 PM on July 9, 2010


Gene Rodenberry pitched Star Trek as "Wagon Train to the stars," so the space western thing isn't new with Firefly.
posted by kirkaracha at 2:20 PM on July 9, 2010


Tell that to the people who keep using that as prop for their argument on why the show is so great.
posted by P.o.B. at 2:21 PM on July 9, 2010


Why? I think the show is great for entirely different reasons.
posted by brundlefly at 2:22 PM on July 9, 2010


It's not about the fact that the show has cowboys and horses, it's about the fact the show relies so heavily on those things. For instance Star Wars had farmers and space cowboys.
posted by P.o.B. at 2:25 PM on July 9, 2010


Well, than my comment wasn't addressing you.
posted by P.o.B. at 2:26 PM on July 9, 2010


Right, and Firefly has a totally different aesthetic from Star Wars. I guess I don't get your point. Is your objection that the show's extreme "western-ness" is not realistic?
posted by brundlefly at 2:28 PM on July 9, 2010


When constructing a fictional frontier of the future, it's important to make sure all the details are historically accurate. Wouldn't want to get it wrong or anything.
posted by The Winsome Parker Lewis at 2:30 PM on July 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


I always amazed at how people make these elaborate supportive arguments about the core worlds are tech heavy and the outer worlds are not, but they never noticed that everything is decorated in quaint Americana.

Like I say, in general the less literal the Western in Space thing is the better the episode.
posted by Artw at 2:32 PM on July 9, 2010


Gene Rodenberry pitched Star Trek as "Wagon Train to the stars," so the space western thing isn't new with Firefly.

I always thought that was a little odd, as there’s not that much all that Westerny about Trek that I can see. When I read the pitch document it seemed more like he was talking more about the format of the show Wagon Train than it being a Western.
posted by Artw at 2:35 PM on July 9, 2010


So you take umbrage with my comment although it doesn't apply to what you think and apparently you didn't read it either? Look, people often use examples of how "realistic" the show is, and seem to skip over the obvious things that make it quite unrealistic.

When constructing a fictional frontier of the future, it's important to make sure all the details are historically accurate.

I thought they were quite accurate in depicting fictional American old west shows. But hey it was so realistic because it was ol' timey!!!
posted by P.o.B. at 2:38 PM on July 9, 2010


I'd agree ArtW. Those were the episodes I liked best.
posted by P.o.B. at 2:39 PM on July 9, 2010


FWIW, the Tor.com Star Trek rewatch is up to the one where they find Romans in space for no reason whatsoever.
posted by Artw at 2:43 PM on July 9, 2010


And yes, they’ve already had Space Nazi Germany and the one where they find a planet whose history parallels earths exactly (including the US Constitution!) until a nuclear war turned everybody into cavemen.
posted by Artw at 2:45 PM on July 9, 2010


So you take umbrage with my comment although it doesn't apply to what you think and apparently you didn't read it either?

I'm not taking umbrage at anything. Chill out. I just think that those who praise the show for its realism are missing the point and those who criticize it for its lack of realism are missing it as well. It's a stylized genre pastiche, not a futurist manifesto.
posted by brundlefly at 2:47 PM on July 9, 2010


Did they get to the one where the Klingons are all beatniks?
posted by P.o.B. at 2:47 PM on July 9, 2010


NO, YOU CHILL OUT!

No, but really, brundlefly, we seem to be in agreement.
posted by P.o.B. at 2:49 PM on July 9, 2010


*bows*
posted by brundlefly at 2:50 PM on July 9, 2010


Did they get to the one where the Klingons are all beatniks?

Season 3 seems to be far more weird and bad than I remember, but it hasn't gotten that bad.
posted by Artw at 2:51 PM on July 9, 2010


Now Star Trek's society and economy - that's improbable.

Star Trek is produced by the Alliance's PR department.

Hence poverty, disease, etc. exist on record only as either (1) something to show the heroic, unflagging heart of the the Alliance over the historic blights of the people (or some Soviet-esque/B5-sque slogan), or (2) quaint cultural "diversity," all inhabitants of which are there by conscious choice.
posted by small_ruminant at 3:09 PM on July 9, 2010


I always amazed at how people make these elaborate supportive arguments about the core worlds are tech heavy and the outer worlds are not, but they never noticed that everything is decorated in quaint Americana.

Yeah, the idea that in the future people will take fashion and decorating cues from some idealized version of the past. Completely ridiculous. Could never happen.
posted by straight at 3:10 PM on July 9, 2010


One of the things I hate about SF is how it reinforces the marketing-designed future, where we're supposed to use technology for everything, no matter how silly, wasteful, or pointless the use is.

A thousand times this.

NO, YOU CHILL OUT!

Fight! Fight! Fight!
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 3:12 PM on July 9, 2010 [2 favorites]


In addition to all the great reasons listed here, my love for Firefly stems from a really personal place regarding the concept of a team. More specifically the leadership and loyalty inherent in a dysfunctional crew.

It can be summed up by just one scene from the pilot, though the sentiment was prevalent in every episode.

"You're on my crew." When pressed again, with Simon citing the ease with which they could have simply been abandoned and the problems caused by their presence, Mal reiterated, "You're on my crew. Why we still talking about this?"

There is something about the writing and acting on the show that really rings this particular bell for me. Not a blind faith in your crew-mates, but a simple "We're on the same team, so I might dislike you, but I'll kill and die to protect you."

It resonates with me, and I have absolutely no idea why.
posted by quin at 3:17 PM on July 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


the Tor.com Star Trek rewatch is up to the one where they find Romans in space for no reason whatsoever.

Not for no reason whatsoever, for *waves hands* SPACE JEBUS!
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 3:17 PM on July 9, 2010


The sun!
/slap
The son!
/slap
The sun!
/slap
The son!
posted by Artw at 3:21 PM on July 9, 2010 [2 favorites]


Star Trek is produced by the Alliance's PR department.

Star Trek is the Culture gone horribly, horribly wrong.

Instead of loads of sex and drug glands we get stiff, boring ART! MUSIC! and chess games and other sorts of PROFOUND NO FUN.

Instead of Contact, we have the Prime Directive to make sure the Space Proles keep to their place.

And there's that creepy insistence that intelligence be meat-based... I just won't think about that. It makes my gridfire projectors itch.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 3:21 PM on July 9, 2010 [5 favorites]


You know, you probably shouldn't read the Hyperion books.
posted by Artw at 3:34 PM on July 9, 2010


He wanted to follow people who had fought on the losing side of a war and their experiences afterwards as pioneers and immigrants on the outskirts of civilization

Thanks for pointing this out, new brand day. This morning was a very hectic time in my life so it was difficult for me to read that on my phone with much clarity, but thankfully that's over for the next hour or so. But, like Mavri notes, it just seems like too much to say that the Browncoats represented Space South with all the connotations that brings with it simply because it was inspired by genre fiction. Now maybe if Zoe had been a Space Maid, I'd be more inclined to agree. But there was nothing in the show, essentially or otherwise, that supports this idea that Mal and crew were the "Southern side of the Civil War" more than they were vets of "the losing side of a war."

Also, the comment about the Browncoats as the Space South being the entire premise of the show seems to value backstory over what is happening on screen. The political backstory is an excuse to drive the drama, which was essentially good hearted cowboy smugglers in space. Seeing the show as a vehicle for a political message is caring more about some overwrought post hoc interpretation of the show rather than seeing the show for what it was, a light hearted sci fi comedy drama.

I could go on, but that's about all I can put into this. I'm not even a fan of the show. I watched the series twice just to be sure. It had potential and if it had a chance to grow, it might have gotten better. But that's neither here nor there now. Besides, I like Castle a lot more. Hell, I like Chuck a lot more than Firefly, too.
posted by effwerd at 3:35 PM on July 9, 2010


De Space Nile is a Space River in Space Egypt.
posted by Artw at 3:41 PM on July 9, 2010


Yeah, the idea that in the future people will take fashion and decorating cues from some idealized version of the past. Completely ridiculous. Could never happen.

Ohhh! So there's some hip and trendy outer worlds that I didn't see on the show?
posted by P.o.B. at 3:57 PM on July 9, 2010


Yeah. Instead of horses they ride Vespas.
posted by brundlefly at 4:00 PM on July 9, 2010


Hover Vespas that shoot those smoke rings like on the Jetson? I'm there!
posted by P.o.B. at 4:04 PM on July 9, 2010


This is how Space Rome should have been!
posted by Artw at 4:08 PM on July 9, 2010


Do not mock, sir! It is possible this is how Space Rome will be!
posted by P.o.B. at 4:12 PM on July 9, 2010


It can totally happen.
posted by P.o.B. at 4:13 PM on July 9, 2010


...without sound.
posted by P.o.B. at 4:14 PM on July 9, 2010


> "There are no Chinese people. I know that they're supposed to have been in a separate population block that's cut off from the non-Asian folk, but seriously. Everyone's always saying little Chinese things, but why?"

Last time I checked, everyone was speaking English. The only English person on the show that I can remember was a hideous, hideous stereotype that made me want to stab my ears repeatedly.

Or is that different because Americans are so used to thinking of English as "their" language? Let's face it guys, a fair proportion of the world that speaks English does not come from England. It's not an unbelievable fact that the majority of the world would have Mandarin seep into their language without ever socialising with mainland Chinese culture. You can take it as an example of great power from an unseen place and move on.

Also, I can count on one hand how many television shows have dealt with Chinese culture without being patronising. There are very few Chinese(-American) actors on US TV. For that, I am thankful, because I get to imagine a whole part of the world without intervention and more accurately than Whedon ever would have got it.
posted by saturnine at 4:33 PM on July 9, 2010


The only English person on the show that I can remember was a hideous, hideous stereotype that made me want to stab my ears repeatedly.

I'm always surprised to remember that Mark Sheppard is English and not an American putting on a crappy fake accent. And then I forget it again until the next time he turns up in a show doing a Space Mockney routine or what the fuck ever it is that he does.
posted by Artw at 4:50 PM on July 9, 2010


For security on one of the worlds in the 'Verse, you could come up with something with lasers and sensors and loudspeakers, or you could keep a few geese...

Why not geese... WITH lasers.
posted by Evilspork at 4:56 PM on July 9, 2010


Simon Tam was yucky and always gave me the wiggins. Thank god they left his creepy ass out of that trailer.

rusty said: That is a great example of the kind of awful writing that made the show unwatchable, and at the same time, a great example of the kind of absolutely bizarre defense of the show by the fans, which always goes "This is why Firefly was so great: [insert perfect example of thing that made Firefly awful]."

That's just how I feel about Babylon 5! Seeing the most cringe-worthy dialog and "humor" moments of that show referenced as what made it great always made me...cringe. Not that I usually go around thinking about the bad parts of B:5 - a podcast I listen to has been doing a rewatch.

kmz said: But despite all that and the other problematic aspects of the show (no Chinese people really visible? *sigh*)

I was always really baffled by the lack of Asian actors in any role, too. saturnine, the backstory on the Alliance is that it a government formed when the US and China combined to take over Earth. Chinese influence is prevalent through the show in clothing, set design, and dialog. So yeah, to me it is unbelievable that we see no Asian actors, even among the Alliance.

But for me a bigger stumbling block was, how I was supposed to invest in Mal/Inara when Mal was always going around throwing up a little in his mouth about what a whore Inara was?

That really made me dislike Mal.

And I had a hard time adjusting my ears to the space Western lingo. But overall, I enjoyed Firefly. It's not the Best Show Ever, and I was mostly in it for Jayne, but it was fun and shone brightly at times.
posted by Squeak Attack at 4:58 PM on July 9, 2010


Hey everyone, can we argue about Comic Sans next?

(I kid because I love!)
posted by ErikaB at 5:02 PM on July 9, 2010


And I had a hard time adjusting my ears to the space Western lingo.

So did the actors, but it didn't stop them from delivering them in bad accents.



Sometimes.
posted by P.o.B. at 5:03 PM on July 9, 2010


how I was supposed to invest in Mal/Inara when Mal was always going around throwing up a little in his mouth about what a whore Inara was?

It always seemed to spring from jealously and part of their general flirting/fighting.
posted by new brand day at 5:29 PM on July 9, 2010


> "saturnine, the backstory on the Alliance is that it a government formed when the US and China combined to take over Earth. Chinese influence is prevalent through the show in clothing, set design, and dialog. So yeah, to me it is unbelievable that we see no Asian actors, even among the Alliance."

I haven't read too hard into canon but it's not completely unbelievable to imagine the negotiations could also involve a continued separation of Chinese and non-Chinese in order for the China to maintain a level of propaganda, cultural identity and nationalism. If you're Chinese in America in 2010, you can move entirely in Chinese-only circles: dentists, doctors, realtors, Chinatowns, restaurants, jobs, friends, spouses. Maybe not mainstream schools, but there are Chinese schools where you maintain your use of language and cultural traditions. Mainland China is nationalist, maintains a wall against foreigners, and yet exports religiously to the outside world.*

More importantly, something I have learned from experience: in Chinese culture, a word might mean something entirely different depending on the tone in which it is executed. So an "alliance" could still realistically mean "here, we'll sell you our stuff, we'll have a common army, but we won't necessarily let you come to dinner".

Add to that how Westerners are known for fapping over Asian culture while excluding the actual people. How many Chinese people can you name on American television? How many Chinese language films have most Westerners seen in the cinema? How many Chinese/Chinese American people do most Westerners actually know? But I bet most people have eaten Chinese food, exploded a few fireworks and know how to say "hello" in Mandarin.

So for me, it's perfectly realistic to imagine a future where the Chinese are seen but not heard. It's happening right now. The only place I would quibble with is the trading port, but even then: who is to say the Chinese wouldn't hire white people to represent them there?

*How Hong Kong and Taiwan would factor into this, I have not considered.

I feel like such a nerd on this thread.
posted by saturnine at 5:36 PM on July 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


i really, really like westerns and i'm not the biggest sci-fi fan. to me, it's a straight up western with new set design, which is why i like it.
posted by nadawi at 5:38 PM on July 9, 2010


It makes my gridfire projectors itch.
You know, I'm pretty sure SC have a cure for that kind of thing. All you need to do is agree to be demilled and reduced to being a glorified courier.
posted by Electric Dragon at 5:38 PM on July 9, 2010


Perhaps my last link should have gone here instead. I got a little too trigger happy methinks. Fun topic to discuss.
posted by saturnine at 5:40 PM on July 9, 2010


VFP_Xenophobe has a nice ring to it.
posted by Electric Dragon at 5:40 PM on July 9, 2010


Star Trek is the Culture gone horribly, horribly wrong.

Instead of loads of sex and drug glands we get stiff, boring ART!


Totally.

I think Use of Weapons would be a better source novel for a TV series or movie than Phlebas.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 5:56 PM on July 9, 2010


> It always seemed to spring from jealously and part of their general flirting/fighting.

Yeah, got that. Do you think that makes it less gross?

> who is to say the Chinese wouldn't hire white people to represent them there?

saturnine, you have convinced me!
posted by Squeak Attack at 6:09 PM on July 9, 2010


Yeah, got that. Do you think that makes it less gross?

Sure, 'cause it was understood that Mal didn't think less of her per se, rather her choice of work. He was kinda old fashioned.
posted by new brand day at 6:18 PM on July 9, 2010


VFP_Xenophobe has a nice ring to it.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 6:31 PM on July 9, 2010


Put off by Mal's outdated sexual mores, but are cool with Jayne's casual attitude to violence? I think Mal's issues with Inara's profession was a flaw of his, sure. I think it's possible to have "heroes" that we don't 100% agree with. I don't think the portrayal of his feelings on this issue was meant to promote them to us.
posted by ODiV at 6:32 PM on July 9, 2010


Naw, she was always hurt by his disrespect for her profession. I don't think she thought that part of his personality was cute, or flirty, and do I think it carried over to disrespecting her. If by old fashioned, you mean Mal was a kinda possessive bully, then I'll agree.

It bugged me that the show wanted us to buy the socially powerful, socially well-respected Companion, and then had its lead (and others) repeatedly treat her like a whore. It made me think Joss didn’t quite have enough imagination to fully envision the world he himself built.
posted by Squeak Attack at 6:33 PM on July 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


i thought it furthed the very joss whedon thing of making his heros flawed and not entirely likeable. i mean, it's not like buffy was the bastion of good ideas and moral upstanding fiber.
posted by nadawi at 7:08 PM on July 9, 2010


It bugged me that the show wanted us to buy the socially powerful, socially well-respected Companion, and then had its lead (and others) repeatedly treat her like a whore.

I'm not sure what you saw there, but I always thought it was just a weak riff on the "westernized" idea of a Geisha. Call it what you want, but in other words she was a whore/prostitute/call girl/escort.
posted by P.o.B. at 7:08 PM on July 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


It bugged me that the show wanted us to buy the socially powerful, socially well-respected Companion, and then had its lead (and others) repeatedly treat her like a whore.

And we all know Mal has a lot of respect for the socially powerful and well-respected!

Basically, Companions are the domain of the rich. Mal has no problem with whores, but he does have a problem with anything that smacks of the rich and socially powerful. It's why his feelings for Inara confuse him so, and vice versa. in their respective social roles, both have contempt for the other, Mal for Inara because she's the toy of the rich and has all these pretensions of belonging to that class, and Inara because Mal is a space-redneck and space-truck driver, with no fancy pedigree.

He calls her whore not because he thinks whores are bad, but because Inara thinks she's better than one.
posted by Snyder at 7:15 PM on July 9, 2010 [8 favorites]


I had never thought of it like that Snyder, but that's a really interesting way of looking at it.
posted by quin at 7:34 PM on July 9, 2010


I really like the blend of technologies in Firefly from many different eras- I can't remember what episode it is, but at one point it's shown that one of the control systems on the ship is running Windows XP. This might have been a cheap way to avoid having someone make a fake, custom interface, but it also strikes me as realistic- I'm sure hacked-up versions of computer software from the present will find itself installed on all sorts of crazy systems in the future, kind of like how we still use 80s and 90s technology in the workplace for legacy support.
posted by maus at 8:46 PM on July 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


Besides all the well-known kicking around the show got from Fox execs, I always had a pet theory that another reason the show never caught on more was because of bad timing for its romantic theme of the little guys outsmarting the overcentralized, oppressive government and operating on the fringe of the law. The show premiered a year after 9/11, and the US (epecially the media) was still largely in semi-paranoid mode of equating dissent with treason and giving the president whatever powers he wants, etc. A lot of people really wanted to trust in the strategy of more centralized government to protect them from a new external threat.

In contrast, Firefly was about individual freedom to choose to negotiate your own survival in a dangerous world and the type of leadership required to keep a group alive outside the protection of government. In the minds of many prospective viewers and/or Fox execs, I doubt that the cognitive dissonance was welcome. My two cents, anyway.
posted by sapere aude at 10:16 PM on July 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


I would imagine that the commenters who unironically view this as a great improvement are the same peopel who a decade ago were on about how The Blair Witch Project would have been a better movie if it had music and slicker editing.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 4:50 AM on July 10, 2010


i thought it furthed the very joss whedon thing of making his heros flawed and not entirely likeable. i mean, it's not like buffy was the bastion of good ideas and moral upstanding fiber.

In the words of Daniel Clowes: "Likable characters are for weak-minded narcissists."
posted by Amanojaku at 8:50 AM on July 10, 2010 [3 favorites]


I think Use of Weapons would be a better source novel for a TV series or movie than Phlebas.

I've cast and filmed that book in my head so many times it's not even funny.
posted by permafrost at 3:37 PM on July 11, 2010


kmz: And oh, the io9 trailer was amusing, but the omission of Simon Tam is unforgivable. I'm glad to see Sean Maher getting work again after a bit of a dry spell. He's too awesome to not be on our screens more often.

UPDATE: io9 heard you, kmz, along with many others:
People complained that we left Simon Tam out of our 1980s-style Firefly opening credits. You failed to realize: That was Firefly's second-season intro. By then, Sean Maher had cashed in on his unbelievable popularity, with a spin-off. Check it out.

Here is the intro to that show which, as we all remember, lasted even longer than the TV institution that was Firefly. I still have a tough time imagining Friday nights on Fox without the handsome jawline of Dr. Simon Tam delivering diagnosis. Man, could that guy carry a show!
posted by WCityMike at 3:56 PM on July 11, 2010


Speaking of film/TV adaptations of Banks novels, allegedly the short story A Gift From the Culture is in the very early stages of production.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 6:04 AM on July 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


I saw that WCityMike. I'll forgive them... this time.
posted by kmz at 7:20 AM on July 12, 2010


EndsOfInvention - that always seemed a bit of a weird one to adapt - do you explain the culture or ditch it? - has anything been heard of it at all since the initial announcements?
posted by Artw at 7:22 AM on July 12, 2010


Last update I can find is Oct 2009 so I guess not.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 7:53 AM on July 12, 2010


He calls her whore not because he thinks whores are bad, but because Inara thinks she's better than one.


And as proof that Snyder's interpretation is on target, look at the two most-reviled episodes by commenters above. Both serve largely to provide exactly this context for the Mal/Inara relationship.

First the A-Team episode, where the gang helps out the Whorehouse-With-A-Heart-Of-Gold, demonstrates that Mal has no problems with prostitutes per se.

Then the Southern-Belles-In-Space episode shows that what Mal hates is not that Inara is a prostitute, but that she's upper class. He hates that her primary business and social identity is as part of that decadent upper class who are his enemies.
posted by straight at 10:23 AM on July 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


TBH Use of Weapons would be tricky as well - I'm really not sure that it's wonderful structure, which is the heart of what makes it work, would translate all that well into a feature. Player of Games might actually be the best bet.
posted by Artw at 10:24 AM on July 13, 2010


And as proof that Snyder's interpretation is on target... First the A-Team episode, where the gang helps out the Whorehouse-With-A-Heart-Of-Gold, demonstrates that Mal has no problems with prostitutes per se.

Neither does Inara. She seems differentiate herself from them but she obviously knows she is kindred.

And I'd say the train heist episode is the huge stinker.
posted by P.o.B. at 4:45 PM on July 13, 2010


The problem with Player of Games is that a lot of crucial plot points happen inside the game. And no amount of movie special effects and imagination are going to create a game which can stand in as the game, which in the book is after-all is the central culturo-political concept of an entire culture.
posted by Authorized User at 11:17 AM on July 17, 2010


Very good point, that. Not necesscerarily a concrete dealbreaker though - people happily make movies about chess or poker and just abstract out all the details while preserving a sense of what's going on.

In my mind the movie version of the game would be a bit like this.
posted by Artw at 12:08 PM on July 17, 2010


(Which brings us back to making things 80s retro, I guess)
posted by Artw at 12:09 PM on July 17, 2010


And as proof that Snyder's interpretation is on target, look at the two most-reviled episodes by commenters above. Both serve largely to provide exactly this context for the Mal/Inara relationship.

First the A-Team episode, where the gang helps out the Whorehouse-With-A-Heart-Of-Gold, demonstrates that Mal has no problems with prostitutes per se.


Chiming in way late, but I find this piece of the discussion interesting. I just watched the whole series again over the last couple of days (and yes, for me it's one of those things where I can see that every criticism I hear is perfectly valid, and yet somehow I love it love it love it).

But in the "Heart of Gold" episode, one way that Snyder's argument that Mal calls Inara a whore "not because he thinks whores are bad, but because Inara thinks she's better than one" is supported when Inara pointedly corrects him when he calls the prostitutes on the planet "a houseful of companions," and she says no, they're whores. And her whole argument for why they're whores is that they're not part of the Guild.

We get down on the planet, and the prostitutes are pretty much good people trying to make a living. There's no reason for Inara's--not quite contempt, but disrespect, I think--except that they're not part of this very controlled Guild.
posted by not that girl at 12:14 PM on July 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


I was a little skeptical of the interpretation, but I'd forgotten all about that moment, ntg. Very interesting.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 1:39 PM on July 23, 2010


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