GENERAL DISCUSSIONS

Firefly and Serenity - differing reactions.

POSTED BY: ELOISA
UPDATED: Tuesday, March 14, 2006 12:47
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Thursday, March 9, 2006 11:18 AM

ELOISA


I'd better start this by saying I've had a very bad day at work so am currently semi-paralytic in front of my computer under the influence of sugar and caffeine and my vocabulary has shrunk accordingly. However... thought I'd take this opportunity to share something that's been puzzling me for a while.

This is probably something that's been talked about ad infinitum on this board, so I just hope it's not too boring to sit through again.

I saw Serenity before Firefly. If Firefly's ever been shown on UK terrestrial television, that fact escapes me; I'm not a Buffy/Angel fan who might have come into the 'verse from the Joss angle; and the DVD-word of mouth phenomenon passed me by, possibly helped by the fact that I left university six months or so before the US launch. Hence, I knew about Firefly only in that it was obliquely mentioned in the preview/review/advert I'd read on the BBC. (Did I mention that the British version of the DVD has stickers on the front saying that the BBC Film 2005 programme voted it best film of the year? Did I mention that I like the Beeb? No?)

Anyway... Serenity. Came straight into it. Loved it. I hate being spoonfed at the start of a story; I read for preference, rather than watching films or television, and the fact that I write as well helps me to pinpoint that one of the benefits of the written medium is that a good book's chapter 1 absolutely has to be chapter 2 (at least) of the story. Before now I have literally written a first chapter, written a second chapter and completely deleted the first one to make sure I'm starting at the right place and, particularly, the right depth. A decent author should start with the fictional world set up already and with the characters in action, whatever "action" comprises, if only to show the reader from the outset what kind of story it is going to be.

But I loved far more about Serenity than the fact that the scriptwriter approached the story in the way that a good novel should be approached, or the fact that the actors seemed so sure of their roles and and comfortable with their co-stars - I never got the odd dissociative feeling that I was watching Nathan Fillion and Summer Glau instead of Malcolm Reynolds and River Tam, for instance - and the fact that the level of intricate detail in the setting, the sociology and the politics was, again, easily equal to that of a good SF novel. What I loved beyond all else was that it was SF-noir, a story that emphasised moral grey areas and where the side that won the civil war was undoubtedly in the wrong. I was grinning like an idiot all the way through the film, even when everything went wrong and during the bit at the end when I was certain Simon was dying; I just about danced all the way home; I think I got through 2000 words that evening just from the buzz it gave me. I loved that storyverse so much I could have written it, and believe me, that is unusual.

Retrospectively, the most important things I missed through seeing the film first:

Inara's profession.

Book's significance in the BDH lineup -
he felt like a recurring mentor rather than an integral part of the crew.

The fact that Simon and River didn't escape straight onto Serenity - when you don't know what her dorsal view's supposed to look like, the mistake is understandable.

The nature of Mal and Inara's relationship - I got the impression that they'd had an affair that had gone sour, rather than not having got round to having the affair at all.

All these things, you might say, are detrimental to a person coming to the 'verse the wrong way about. Possibly, possibly. IMO the sheer scale of plot visible in Serenity from the outset is more than worth it.

And then there was Firefly. Firefly. Wittier, warmer, longer, with far more time to explore character relationships (like a novel rather than a novella, in fact). Don't misunderstand; it took me five seconds flat to start loving the series, and it was repeated viewings of the series rather than trips back to the cinema that turned me into the unreconstructed Browncoat that I am, but the reason for it still escapes me. Several episodes of Firefly feel like a sitcom in space - admittedly an incredibly well-written and clever one - and that is not something I'd expect to be so gripping. Maybe there's something specially magnetic about the whole damn thing.

But it left me wondering why on earth I'd suddenly got into liking a TV series, when sheer quality shouldn't by rights have been enough. Am I too picky? Am I trying to deconstruct the whole Firefly experience too far? I wish I knew. I wish I had the ability to understand why my reactions to the movie and the series were so different and so critical to me. Most of all, of course, I wish there was more Firefly so I could prod at it better, but no...

There's an interesting dichotomy in my received impressions of the film versus the series. It seems pretty clear from the series DVD commentaries that Joss wanted Firefly to be as dark as Serenity turned out to be, putting the movie closer to the original plan. Yet the series's vision of focusing on nine people's everyday lives in a difficult situation pretty much vanished in the film, at least after the bank heist. By the end the BDHs are right in the middle of events as massive as in any SF blockbuster, which seems to detract in its turn from the intimacy of the series. Odd? Perhaps.

Ah. Blood sugar level dropping like Serenity in atmo with a broken port compression coil. Must go away and make more hot blackcurrant squash. Chat nicely, people.

(Ooh, one more thing. On my way home from work tonight I spotted a poster on a station platform advertising a Buffy and Angel DVD special offer. The poster was headed "From the creator of Serenity and Firefly".)

***
http://forums.ffonline.com/forumdisplay.php?f=19
Creative Writing

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Thursday, March 9, 2006 12:11 PM

DAVEC5


What a lovely post. Creative writing indeed. Let me preface the following rant by saying that i was just kicked out of the Firefly Haiku room...sometimes my humor is unappreciated.

As for which came first the Movie or the egg, I was a fan of the tv series first and foremost...and thought the BDM was, indeed, darker. It just didn't have that Hoss & Little Joe, Bonanza feeling. A hominess that really drew me to the characters. The film also seemed to have an urgency to it about tying things into a neat little bundle. I watched it and thought, huh, Whedon is writting this little puppy off.

Don't misunderstand, I did like the movie, but it was that week to week soothing elixir that I became addicted to. And like a junkie who's just lost his only connection, I was cut off way too soon.

So, where does that leave us? Nothing to do but imprint our brains with constant reruns of the only Firefly/Serenity available. I know there is a large community of fan fiction writers who continue the story of the verse...somehow that leaves me a little cold....it's really not the same is it? But, I applaud them for the great effort they put into their work and I do read it from time to time.

At the end of the day, i still have an ache in my heart for more of this wonderful story, but knowing that i am not alone and that there are many fans from around the world is a comfort. Who knows, maybe there will be many more movies and some day Nathan Fillion will be doing bad spoken word recordings, not unlike William Shatner (captn. Kirk)...and we'll all still love the big galoot just the same.

One more thing, if you're not familiar with the Buffy/Angel saga, you might give it a try. At least with Buffy, Whedon was able to fully expand the story arc. So much so, that it did indeed spin off an entirely different story line with Angel. and Spike is a hoot....




"Jayne, you wanta leave this table...." Mal

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Thursday, March 9, 2006 3:00 PM

DONCOAT


Quote:

Originally posted by Eloisa:
But it left me wondering why on earth I'd suddenly got into liking a TV series, when sheer quality shouldn't by rights have been enough. Am I too picky? Am I trying to deconstruct the whole Firefly experience too far?

You know what the most important thing about Firefly is?

Well, I guess you do, since you already know what I'm about to say...

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
I don't disagree on any particular point.

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Thursday, March 9, 2006 3:22 PM

GARBAGECANMUSIC


The thing that hurts most about the movie/series (and I may say this over and over again in the future) is that this story arc was supposed to take 2 seasons. 44 Episodes. 44 hours.

Instead it had to be told in roughly 17 hours (14 episodes, 1 unproduced script, and the 2 hour movie), AND the movie had to made in a way where non-fans would be included....



How much is that little Geisha in the window?

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Thursday, March 9, 2006 4:18 PM

SHINY


Whoa. Good post. ;)

(sorry, I probably need several cups of coffee to be articulate enough to post a serious response)

---

I don't need a gorram back-spaceship driver!!!

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Thursday, March 9, 2006 4:23 PM

MILFORD


Two things:

1-Welcome aboard. The more of us there are the better. Especially when Browncoats are as insighful as you are, which leads me to...

2-Great post. Your analysis is very interesting. I'm currently working on some letters to networks about relighting Firefly, but my view is a bit skewed because I was one of the lucky few who caught it on TV originally. It's great to get a perspective like yours, of someone who has come to the verse Serenity-first.

By the way, the analogy of Serenity and Firefly to novels and novellas is dead on.

Leaning into the wind that used to carry me- Stavesacre

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Thursday, March 9, 2006 4:23 PM

FLORALBUNNY


...but we still like to hear you say it.

The Bun has *never* been hooked this way by a TV series. Never.

bun
-- bastards singed my turtle --
----- why's the rum gone? -----

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Thursday, March 9, 2006 4:30 PM

FOLLOWMAL


Quote:

Originally posted by DonCoat:
You know what the most important thing about Firefly is?

Well, I guess you do, since you already know what I'm about to say...

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
I don't disagree on any particular point.



Brought tears to my eyes, DonCoat. Thanks.

" You hold. Hold til I get back." Mal

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Tuesday, March 14, 2006 12:47 PM

ELOISA


*reads original post* Lord, I was out of it last Thursday. Many apologies. Anyway:

Quote:

Originally posted by davec5:
As for which came first the Movie or the egg, I was a fan of the tv series first and foremost...and thought the BDM was, indeed, darker. It just didn't have that Hoss & Little Joe, Bonanza feeling. A hominess that really drew me to the characters.



And that hominess, along with the humour (and the BDM has far more laugh lines than I ever remember) is precisely the thing that I would have expected to turn me off the series. Each to his or her own.

I think if you take Serenity out of the series context, its pacing isn't an issue. It's possibly only because you're expecting it to feel a particular way - the way you would if you're thinking of the series as a series, a branching story on its own, separate from its component parts. If you consider many of the episodes individually, they are just as fast-paced. Train Job, Ariel and WS come to mind as obvious action-oriented analogies, but if you consider the level of detail in an episode like OiS or OoG (or, let's be honest, any of them), they're all chock-full of something, and the BDM is as much about big ideas as big moves.

How any creative artist can give up on a story of this strength is beyond me. I therefore don't think Joss can have done. When the characters are there in your head, they won't leave, and I believe they will reemerge, in one form or another. (I'm currently imagining what it must be like for the poor guy to have Mal, Jayne, Buffy, Spike and Angel permanently cohabiting and probably arguing over who gets the best armchair. I thought I had problems.)

NB I converted my little brother to Firefly (he saw the BDM for the first time on Sunday night and was completely blown away, but still made some very insightful comments about the way Zoe's bound to have been affected by it all). He's now trying to convert me to Buffy....

***
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Creative Writing

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