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parrot_knight [userpic]

You can't take the sky from me

December 6th, 2005 (12:43 am)

I promised some more reflections on this fine series. I commented last time that the series is 'patchy' because of uncertainty emanating from Fox; it was never certain in which order the episodes would air, or indeed whether the first episode, the original pilot, would ever be broadcast at all. As it is, Firefly has reached its most appreciative audience through the 'narrowcasting' of DVD, and Joss Whedon reveals on the commentary that by the time he and Tim Minear were spending a frantic weekend writing 'The Train Job' (the second episode on the box set, as many of you reading this will know) to act as the shorter, snappier, funnier new pilot. I might speculate that Joss was attempting to escape an emerging stereotype of a 'Joss Whedon' show as a lighthearted romp with monsters; the deleted warfare scenes from 'Serenity' (the original pilot rather than the theatrical movie) suggest something more self-consciously concerned with the characters' inner lives than much of what we eventually see on screen.

As it stands, the half-season of Firefly which we have suffers under the shadow of that missing pilot. Instead of painting in much of the detail for his central characters in the first episode and then letting more texture be revealed, Joss was forced to sketch in the characters swiftly and add in texture between the broad strokes, with the result that character development seems more fitful than it does in either Buffy or Angel. The loss of the original, introverted Mal Reynolds is particularly saddening; it would have made 'Safe' more believable (good episode though it is) because it would have made Jayne's belief that he could get away with betraying Simon and River under the nose of Mal more credible; as it is Jayne just appears more stupid than devious.

I was particularly taken by the central relationships on the series, and it is a tragedy that production ended just as they were taking their proper role in a Whedon series as appearing to be plot-driving characters, almost as opposed to plot-driven. I've yet to listen to the commentary track to 'Objects in Space', so I don't yet know Joss Whedon's own reflections, but I loved the treatment of River in this episode. We've learned from 'Safe' that River's brain is now exposed to everyone else's emotional state; it's convincing that she is at her most 'sane' when removed from other people and their hostility, just as she picks up a gun because she is focusing everyone's suspicion of her. Possibly.

I'm not surprised that Kaylee was designed as the heart of the crew, because I warmed to her immediately, when watching the pilot back in July with pellegrina. Perhaps this was why I was taken aback at her flashback 'introduction' receiving the attentions of laid-back and laying mechanic Bester (did I get his name right?) in 'Out of Gas'.

I must go to bed (it's been a busy day not working, as I might explain later) but I miss the fact that we'll never know the answers to all the questions the series left us. Who was Book really, for example? We know what Mal, Zoe, Simon and River are running from (and those two pairings are mirrors in ways that could be explored on another occasion) but what of Inara? And so on...


Posted by: Penny Paperbrain (pennypaperbrain)
Posted at: December 6th, 2005 08:33 am (UTC)

You have your finger on the geek pulse. Is there going to be more from that universe? Did the film do well enough for a sequel?

Posted by: parrot_knight (parrot_knight)
Posted at: December 6th, 2005 09:25 am (UTC)

The film didn't perform as well as was hoped and despite strong figures in its opening weeks in the US and UK was pulled from cinematic distribution in some markets. The future shape of Firefly/Serenity, and whether there is one, depends, apparently, on the movie's DVD sales.

Posted by: Penny Paperbrain (pennypaperbrain)
Posted at: December 6th, 2005 11:07 pm (UTC)

That's a shame. I didn't realise its star had foundered after the strong start.

Posted by: parrot_knight (parrot_knight)
Posted at: December 6th, 2005 11:16 pm (UTC)

Nor did I until I did some research on the topic over the weekend. The favoured option at the moment seems to be a TVM for the Sci-Fi Channel, but as usual everything depends on Joss. I hadn't realised that there had been stirrings at Twentieth Century Fox for new Buffy/Angel material without Joss's participation - see here for one version of this story. He didn't like that, and nor would he want to take Serenity forward without being actively involved; it looks as if most of his time for the foreseeable future will be taken up with Wonder Woman.