Saturday, January 14, 2006

Firefly why the cancellation!?

So I have finally gotten around to watching the first two DVDs of Firefly and this series is stunning. It has a tight set of characters in a persistent, but changing environment (the ship Serenity and the different worlds she visits) which is a winning combination in any fiction, but the characters are so varied. In most TV and film series the audience is introduced to one character that they are expected to identify with, then others come together and the audience sees the relationships form. The Matrix, Star Trek Voyager, Star Wars and Romeo & Juliet all have this same formula, but with Firefly we witness an established crew put in difficult situations. I mention this because Joss Whedon uses this so intently for the benefit of the series. For example there is a scene between Wash (the pilot) and Zoe his wife (also the ships second in command) in bed just after having amazing sex. Zoe starts to fall asleep and Wash says:
you know what happens when the acting captain falls asleep?
Jane slits my throat and steals the ship
Jane being another crew member who isn't a bad person, but give an inch and he will take a mile.

I also like the fact that Joss's writing isn't prolific with the dialogue. There is an incident where Kaylee (the engineer) is asked about a problem she was fixing. Her lines never contain anything negative. She is a very positive person. If anybody says anything bad she remains quiet and gives them a hurt look. Yet when asked if she has finished fixing it yet she simply says 'no'. Joss purposefully missed an opportunity to add comic relief or reinforce her character. Instead preferring to keep the pace of the story going which is excellent because too many writers will keep their characters chuntering for too long and most American TV series and comedy films will pack the dialogue with as much rubbish as the writer can think of.

Anyway the writing is simply amazing and in 'Our Mr and Mrs Reinalds' the crew help a small village by killing some highwaymen, unusually for an American fiction the audience is left to assume who or what these men are, (this is a trait more commonly found in Asian cinema) but after the celebrations are over Mal (the captain) is found to have Married a girl (there was much drinking and nobody can remember the brief ceremony). The dialogue between her in his cabin is brilliant, simply brilliant. She is standing naked infront of him and he asks why she did this:
I lived my life in the maiden house waiting to be married off for trade
I seen my sister paired off with ugly men, vicious or blubberous
Men with appetites too unseemly to speak on
and I have cried for those girls,
but not half so hard as the night they gave me to you.

>Is there blubber?

I cried for I'd not dreamed to have a man so sweet, So kind and beautiful.
Had I the dare to choose, I'd choose you for all the men on all the planets the sky could show me.
If I am wed then I am a woman, and I will take your leave to be bold.
I want this.
I swell to think of you in me,
And I see that you do too.
>Well, that’s just...
Leave me at the nearest port, never look upon me again.
I'll make my way with the strength that you taught me.
Only let me have my wedding night...
I have seen films with such dialogue, but never TV series and the quotable content is astonishing like "Don't you stand for that, if anybody tries to kill you, just kill them right back". And there is swearing too, only the swearing is done in Chinese and Gaelic so not to offend, which actually adds to the imaginative depth of the fiction because there is no explanation as to how these characters know such varied languages.

The set design is also brilliant as well as the attention to detail. Serenity is an old Firefly class ship and there is evidence of past owners like faded flower paintings on the wall of the galley, the dinning table is wooden and the chairs are of all different styles so obviously scavenged from different places.

I could go on about the use of body language and the CGI work, but this series is stunning and it was cancelled WTF!!!