Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Joss Whedon, a Writer Before His Time

Beorn and I have been watching lots of Sci-Fi since we no longer have cable. Giving up on broadcast TV (including cable) is a relief. I know lots of people enjoy their TiVo, but that's one area in which I don't feel the need to be surveilled. Now I'm watching the occasional new episode online and mainly relying on our extensive video collection. Recently we re-watched the entire FireFly series and Serenity. When FireFly was first broadcast in 2002 I wasn't a big fan, but after five years the series has grown on me.

In 2002 FireFly's western setting appeared strange, in my mind consigning it to B-movie land. For whatever reason I couldn't get past the mixture of space travel and the wild west. Fast forward to 2007 and the mixture doesn't seem so strange. Considering the recent surge in science fiction and fantasy TV series, Firefly's eccentricity seems less geeky and more visionary.

Once you get past the strangeness of the western costuming (I used to be a costumer for a community theater company, so costumes are important to me.) the characters are just as challenging and fascinating as those from the more widely appreciated Buffy. Like the new BattleStar, Firefly deals with challenging, relevent themes, like what happens to veterans after the war is over and the freedom to be unhappy.

The special effects rather than distracting from the story, either through their showiness or amateurishness, are almost invisible, a natural part of the world. Characteristic of Joss's world, the female characters break out of stale stereotypes. Kaylee, the ship's mechanic, manages to be girly, sexy, and a mechanical genius all at once. The character isn't tough or boyish because she has mechanical abilities and although she sometimes displays little-girl characteristics, she's not asexual as female geeks are frequently portrayed.

If there is anything to find fault with in either the series or the movie, it's that the male characters are less interesting than the females. At times the men seem flat and predictable in comparison. (Also the naming of the series, which rightly should be called, like the movie, Serenity.)

If you haven't watched these sci-fi classics, or were turned off five years ago, I highly recommend you take a second look now.

1 comment:

Panthera said...

I recently got all of the episodes and the movie from NetFlix because my friends rave about it. I hadn't heard of it when it was on the air.

I, too, loved it but had no trouble with it being a western/space show.