Posted in Blog Posts, Flick Central

Firefly, created by Joss Whedon: a Television Review

Synopsis:

The year is 2517 and humanity had worn out the old Earth. So they have terriformed hundreds of other Earth like planets. Some, like the inner allied planets, thrive on technology and the protection that comes with being allied together. Others, such as those on the outer edges, are not so lucky.

For those who have the mind, and want the freedom, they will take just about any job. These rogues run anything from supplies to medicine to people to where ever their money will take you.

The crew of the Serenity (a Firefly class space vessel) is one of these such crews. While on Persephone, a planetary port, they pick up several passengers and a large piece of cargo that is to accompany one of the men. When they head out from port things get dicey for both the crew and their passengers when the contents of the package and the type of jobs the Serenity takes on are revealed.

General Information:

-Genre: Space Western or Science-Fiction Western

-Creator: Joss Whedon

-Length: 14 45 minute episodes with the Pilot running 2 hours with commercials (11 ran on FOX in the US during it’s airing from 2002-2003)

-TV Rating: TV-14 (due to nudity, sexual situations and discussions, violence, and references and flashbacks to war)

-Where to watch: DVD, Blue-ray, Hulu, iTunes, Amazon Prime Video, or check your local library for copies!

-Main Cast: Nathan Fillion, Gina Torres, Alan Tudyk, Morena Baccarin, Adam Baldwin, Jewel Staite, Sean Maher, Summer Glau, Ron Glass

-Page of Reference in RPO: 49

Review (contains spoilers):

I have been watching Firefly regularly over the last 15 years and I must say that when I started this project and sat down to re-watch the series it had been a few years since my last viewing. Sad I know.

I forgot just how good the writing was…but only when watched in the correct order (see Firefly, the Forgotten Fandom for more on that).

While watching through the character developments and the story lines all I can return to is how sad it was that this show got cancelled and we never got to know about so many layers of the characters.

Captain Malcolm “Mal” Reynolds (Nathan Fillion) is the guy in charge of the whole operation. He’s commanding, commandeering, a bit rough around the edges. A bit of a rogue and has a swashbuckling presence that wouldn’t be out of place in the days of piracy. Which is perfect. Because that is just what he is…a space pirate. Yet, he has a side that is unlike what he shows to the world. One that is loyal and dedicated to his crew.

Zoe Washburn (Gina Torres) is the hard kicking, straight laced sidekick. Joined by her husband, Hoban “Wash” Washburn (Alan Tudyk), these three form the main base of the crew. Zoe was Mal’s right hand during the war where they fought on the side of the rebellion and lost. Wash is the pilot of the Serenity and pulls off some insanely important moves that save the crew many times over. The relationship between the Washburn’s feels so real, so true. They balance each other well through their devotion to each other and their marriage is stunning throughout all the pressure put on it by being on the edge of the law.

Kaywinnet Lee “Kaylee” Frye (Jewel Staite) is by far one of my favorite characters. She is bright eyed, joyful, loving and innocent in so many ways. Yet she always feels authentic in her enthusiasm and her view on the world. She is obsessed with beautiful things but is almost always covered in grime from fixing her beloved Serenity despite what and how many times the Captain puts the ship in danger. Everyone in the crew (minus maybe Jayne) is very protective of and loves Kaylee deeply.

Which brings us to the last official member of the Serenity crew when we join them on Persephone as they pick up new passengers. Jayne Cobb (Alex Baldwin), is a sharp shooting, man’s man which works well for him in the backwater deep west feel of the outer planets. He’s an avid collector of firearms and always has a fist to spare in a bar fight with Mal. A mercenary by trade everyone knows they are always one good price away from him selling them all down the river which makes him authentic in the wild-card, ne’re-do-well, charming rogue sort of way.

Inara Serra (Morena Baccarin) brings some dignity to the crew. She is a registered Companion which is basically a very legal and very respected high-end escort, seductress, sex worker, societal woman, and discreet assassin rolled into one. A 26th-century Giesha if you will. She rents a shuttle on the Serenity and gives the whole outfit a level of class that allows them to dock in places that would otherwise be off limits to the rag-tag band. She has her own secrets that unfold but that we never truly get to hear the climax of because the show was cancelled.

While in Persephone we see the crew pick up a set of new high paying passengers who all accept the risk of travelling under the radar of the Alliance and the danger that travelling the outer planets can entail.

Shepard Derrial Book (Ron Glass) becomes the spiritual leader to the crew in a round about way. He is the moral compass of the crew, whether they like it or not…and it often brings him in conflict with Mal and Jayne. We never find out where he comes from or how he was trained in combat or why he has an extensive knowledge of Alliance criminal proceedings that he occasionally uses to keep everyone safe. His mysterious past is part of his intrigue.

Dr. Simon Tam (Sean Maher) is the most reluctant of the “new” crew members. He boards at the beginning of the show with a large piece of property that he watches the loading of with great concern. We quickly learn that this intelligent, well-mannered and quiet doctor is hiding the biggest secret on the ship. His sister, River Tam (Summer Glau). Seemingly law-abiding and tight-laced Simon snuck into the Academy she was sent to and drags her out, trauma and all. River is all but delusional when she appears…naked and in stasis. She struggles with her grip on reality, has insane fighting skills that seem programmed directly into her brain and some psychic abilities that are never truly explained. They find a tenuous place in the crew where Simon begins to fall in love with Kaylee and River starts to become more stable in the fairly unstable world of Serenity.

What we get out of all of this is ONE singular and beyond promising season of brilliant television. And that is it.

We get more questions than answers even with the follow up movie, Serenity.

This is what we walk away with:

Mal is a jerk and it makes for entertaining film particularly when his pig-headed attitude does things like get himself into a gentleman’s duel (with swords) or dressed up as a lady in his “pretty floral bonnet”. Inara’s depth and profession as a Companion are beyond intriguing. Add in a mysterious vial that we can only deduce later may be a medication of some kind and there are so many levels of intrigue within her character. The banter and budding relationship between the two of them remains one of the most irritating parts of the cancellation of the show. We could have seen so much more from this pair.

Shepard Book’s mysterious past may have been explained as would his need to save as many souls in redemption as he can. The biggest question is what happened to make him repent endlessly till his last breath? Jayne and his insane collection of guns would have made for some entertaining television, especially if we ever saw a time when he may have been offered enough to sell out the crew…and if at that time they were enough of a family to make him reconsider.

And speaking of family! Wash and Zoe and their incredible marriage! Would they have gotten their own boat? Or stayed aboard? Or would they have eventually settled down and started a family of their own?

What about River’s trauma and crazy mind powers? Does she ever recover or is she ever able to move on? And the romance that blossomed between Simon and Kaylee was nothing short of perfection. I wish we could have seen so much more of how their little group and their relationships developed.

Overall, a wonderful and delightful show that ended too soon.

It was followed by a single film to “wrap up” the story which will get a separate review (Serenity Review) with my personal thoughts about the ending.

Rating:

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

(would be a full 5 if the series hadn’t been messed up by FOX’s airing schedule because we would have gotten MORE!)

Photo from Google… official DVD cover…

One thought on “Firefly, created by Joss Whedon: a Television Review

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