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Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Thoughts On Firefly 1 - 3

The ship's cowboy captain.Over the weekend I rented the first three episodes of Joss Whedon’s Sci-Fi TV series Firefly. I’ve been a big fan of Whedon’s Buffy related TV shows and I am well aware of the good internet opinion of the show, so I was hoping for good things. So far so good. It’s a literal Western in space, down to the guns being six-shooter influenced designs, the space cowboy clothing and the intergalactic saloon bars on distant dusty worlds. Oh, and the rather pleasant Westerns music in the background. It’s more than just visual (and audio) style though, the “wandering honourable outlaws in almost lawless lands” thrust of the show is also obviously a Western trope. It’s not a new influence for Sci-Fi by any means, but it is the best interpretation I’ve seen on TV.

The Western genre is quite a natural fit for Sci-Fi, especially those stories featuring the roaming character(s) and the lawless, frontier lifestyle. Committing a high-tech train heist, tense exchanges in the desert and the looting and investigation of dead ships have made for an enjoyable first three episodes. I don’t know where the show is going and Whedon’s comics influences tend to ensure some form of continuing plot arc (in this case I guess it’s the situation involving the Doctor’s sister), but I’m looking forward to enjoying the sadly short ride.

I think Whedon’s doing a good job of restraining his standard dialogue style, whilst still leaking it in when appropriate. The characters don’t sound like teenagers fighting vampires and the “big bad”, they generally sound more adult. One problem with Angel was the tendency for the characters to continue to converse like the teenagers in Buffy, with too little difference despite their increased age. Nathan Fillon, a man I recognise primarily as The Girl’s boyfriend/husband in Two Guys And A Girl (in my defence, that show did have its moments!), works very well as the honourable scoundrel type of ship’s captain. He’s the character most firmly routed in the Western influence. The rest of them are all solid enough personalities so far – the engineer and the pilot being the more interesting ones to watch at this stage. The doctor and his sister are perhaps too much out of the stock bin of plot devices, but there’s room for them to develop. At worst they’ll be above average examples of those standards, so it’s not a major criticism.

Now if Screenselect can just ship the second DVD to me for this weekend…

Posted by Alex Hopkinson @ 10:28 AM


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