Concept4Banner1024 The Plural of Apocalypse: The Future is Worth Fighting For...

 Thursday, September 29, 2005

The Future is Worth Fighting For...

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I have been waiting to make this post. Among my rants and raves about politics, my personal life and just about everything else, I have wanted to do this. But I couldn’t, not yet. I had to wait. Hell, I don’t even know if anyone besides my friends even reads this blog, but I’m gonna pimp none the less.

I love TV. I mean really love TV. If there were no TV, I might consider crawling in a hole and dying (okay maybe not, if I have access to a DVD player). But see this is the problem, everything I love on TV either gets reworked, cancelled or otherwise bastardized. But I still love TV. I love it even more now cos I can keep it forever, trapped on DVDs.

There is some TV on DVD that I never watched when it was on network TV. The whole first season of both Scrubs and Arrested Development I missed, but I bought cos I love these shows now. Dead Like Me I was only introduced to in the episodes before it’s cancellation, seeing as I loved the short lived Wonderfalls from Bryan Fuller I figured DLM was worth the gamble. It was.

I am not an overly emotional person. I don’t invest my emotions in people (okay I do, just not as freely and blindly as most people), cos frankly they will always let you down, they will always take what you give them and run rough-shod over it until there is nothing left but your bleeding trampled little heart. I invest in other things: pets, objects, places, and TV. I know that’s lame. Why invest in TV? Because sometimes it's all that stands between you and madness, plus sometimes you find a really good story...

Sci-Fi has always been a safe haven of sorts. Both of my parents are Trekkies (not Trekkers, they are old school), my dad is a Stargate SG1 addict, my mom’s favorite book is Andre Norton’s Star Man, it’s sort of destiny for me to find myself loving sci-fi. And I do. I love Sci-fi because in sci-fi more than most genres they can attack actual socio-political situations and work through them. They can examine human emotion and intention in ways that Law & Order cannot. And 99% of the time when they examine the human condition, they do it through metaphor, and make it smart, sci-fi is generally not for the dumb in our society. Most of my most beloved Sci-Fi has either been cancelled (Farscape) or outlasted it's usefullness (Andromeda, X-Files). Mostly though, it's just been cancelled.

There are few TV writers, producers and directors I trust blindly. I know, half of you are going, whoa you actually pay attention to that stuff? Yes I do, because when I find something I can get invested in, something that does it’s job and entertains me for an hour, takes me some place else, and above all has an amazing story behind it, I want more. I’m a junkie for it, and I have to know my dealer. Some of my dealers are the aforementioned Bryan Fuller, Jane Espenson, Drew Goddard, Drew Greenburg, David Fury, Ben Edlund (who needs to breed with Jane Espenson to create the smartest funniest children on earth), and a few others.

In this few, this band of buggered, there are even fewer I would trust with my own life. The only two really are Tim Minear and Joss Whedon. Both of these men have worked together and apart (but I like them best when they are together). Between them I have become invested in the following shows: Buffy the Vampire Slayer, X-Files, Angel, Wonderfalls, The Inside, and lastly Firefly. I put Firefly last because it was their greatest collaboration. For me, it was one of the few times that I actually felt like a TV show was perfect. It was what TV was meant to be, it gave me hope. Of course I didn’t find out about this show until it was cancelled and released on DVD.

Joss had been successful, he took a failed movie and made it into a successful TV show with Buffy. Then he spun of Buffy's love interest Angel into his own show. Buffy's metaphor was simple and rang true for so many of us: High School is Hell (and on this show the High School was centered over the Hellmouth which is like a gigantic magnet for evil, fun). Later the show was about how to grow up, move on, find out who you are, what you are capable of. Plus Willow became a junkie and flayed someone alive (I can always get behind flaying). Angel, well Joss always compared Angel to a recovering alcoholic, someone who is trying to make up for all the bad things they did while they were an addict, while coming to temrs with the fact that at the time they couldn't control themselves. Angel was darker, it was bleaker, it had evil lawyers. Angel was about surviving in the adult world, finding your way through the adult world, and creating a new family around you while you do.

Then there was Firefly. To me Firefly is Joss Whedon’s swan song. It is his mastery of the TV genre. I will not discount that many others were involved in this, most especially Tim Minear, who is exclusively the only person Joss would trust with the legacy of this show even today. This show is perfect. This show was cancelled after only 11 episodes had aired, out of order, with the 2 hour pilot being shown last. Yeah sounds like a recipe for success, thanks Fox.

I like to describe Firefly as Star Wars, if Han hadn’t left that bar and had gone off on his own to have a show. Only there is no Wookie (no aliens at all in fact), but there are fugitives, a preacher and a space whore. The biggest difference between Han and Malcolm Reynolds is this: there would be no question as to who shot first, Mal would’ve shot, and been gone before the question could be asked.

The basic gist is this, 500 years in the future, we sucked Earth dry and had to make a new home. We terraformed a bunch of planets and moons, and stuck people on them. The only 2 superpowers to make it through the destruction of Earth That Was are the Americans and Chinese who form the Anglo-Sino Alliance. This Alliance controls the core planets, where all the 'civilization' and sophistication is. In the recent past (on the show) there was a war, the people on the outer planets (the rim) wanted their freedom, so they started a war. The Independants (aka Browncoats) waged a good war, but they pretty much lost it all at the Battle of Serenity Valley.

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Captain Malcolm Reynolds lost his faith in god and probably man in Serenity. His first mate is Zoe, a woman who was with him through the war, and who stands besides him now. The mechanic is Kaylee who is especially gifted with machines, and cute to boot. The pilot, Wash, is sort of an idiot savant pilot who loves plastic dinosaurs and his wife, Zoe. Wash has issues with the way Zoe follows Mal, the sort of issues that create tension. Jayne Cobb (a man, a man named Jayne) is the head of Public Relations, which means he carries a big gun and likes to shoot people. He loves guns and women, but it's not clear which is a priority. Inara is a Companion, which is sort of like a Japanese Comfort Woman or Geisha, but with sex. Her career is higly esteemed and she is also known as the Ambassador. She rents a shuttle from Mal, and they have palpable sexual tension.

Then there are the passengers. Shepard Book is a preacher with a mysterious past. It seems he has or had some connection to the Alliance, but has left that life behind to seek and spread the word of god. He and Malcolm rarely see eye to eye, one is a man of faith and one is a man of reason, nearly the two shall meet. Then there is Simon and River Tam. Simon was a trauma surgeon at one of the top-notch hospitals in the core. His little sister River was a child genius and enrolled in an Alliance run academy. Things were okay until she started sending Simon letters and mesasges that made no sense. He understood she was in trouble and arranged for her to get out of this facility. But the Alliance did something to her, she's a little bit psychic, a little bit psychotic and a lot dangerous.

The show centered around a few main arcs: What happened to River, What are we going to do about River, We have to keep away from the Alliance, We have to find ways to make money so we can keep afloat.

The ship is a Firefly class transport ship, the Captain so lovingly named Serenity. He named it that because once you've been there, you never realy leave.

The show was a Sci-Fi Western cross. As Joss said it was about the people the Enterprise would have blown right past without a second glance. There were no aliens, cos people are far more evil and scary. The show was good.

I acquired this on DVD, my father and I watched basically the whole series in one sitting on Christmas Day. I had never been so sucked into a world that felt so real, so tangible. With stories that weren’t black and white, that didn’t have happy endings, that didn’t end with everyone okay. Characters that seemed like people you could meet people you’d like to be trapped out in space with. In other words it was classic Joss, but it was even better. It made me laugh and cry and when I got to the end of the 14 episodes I wanted more and more. But there was no more.

I’d give you more details, but 99% of the people reading this already know them. If you don’t, head over to Amazon or NetFlix and get your hands on it. It’s the best TV you never saw. It’s Fox’s number one selling DVD set of all time, and the reviews on Amazon alone should get you hooked. It’s sci-fi, but it’s not made for sci-fi geeks. It’s a western, but it’s not. It’s so much more than any genre could contain.

Thanks to it, I have become that fan who pushes the show on everyone I know. I don’t have a single friend who hasn’t been suckered into watching at least one episode if not the whole damn series (some who finished it in just over a day). There isn’t a single person that I can think of who has hated this show. My friends come from all walks of life, and different backgrounds and different preferences, but they all liked it, and some of them loved it just as much as I did.

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Now flash forward to this Friday. Serenity, the major motion picture based on Firefly, hits theaters. Wait, you are saying, who makes a cancelled TV show into a movie? Joss did, with a little help from his insane fan base (who have purchased over 200,000 copies of this show on DVD in the US alone), and the fine people at Universal. See when they cancelled Firefly, Joss couldn’t let it go. He promised his actors and his fans that his show would be back, in some way shape or form. He wouldn’t let it die, as long as the fans didn’t.

Now I've already seen the movie at an advanced screening. I think it is the new Star Wars for those who were disappointed by the last 3. This movie has what made that so good at first. There is genuine peril, people die, battles are forged, and while there is an ending, it's not really the happiest possible ending. But it has what people want. What people need. Which is a good story about people who are trying to survive, trying to make it when all the odds are against them. It's an underdog story (in 2 ways, the movie itself and how it got made), and it's damn near perfect. The little guy won this time.

I want the little guy to keep on winning, so I am urging anyone who reads this to go see Serenity this weekend at the theaters. It made me remember what it felt like the first time I saw Star Wars. It made me scared, it made me laugh and it made me care. It was more than fancy guns and cool explosions (although those are in there, there’s also a whore, I did mention that right?). The movie takes big risks, the kinds Lucas and Spielberg used to make, the kind that may not be popular, but that make the story worth telling. That’s more than most movies these days can say (god I feel old writing that).

You don't need to be a fan of Firefly to enjoy it. It would help, but they lay down the 'verse pretty well on their own. It’s about freedom, and what you are willing to do to get it back or keep it, what happens when it’s been taken from someone and how you find your faith in anything after having lost it. It’s a story anyone over the age of 13 can relate to (if they have half a brain), and it’s beyond what I can write here.

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If you still need more convincing these are my 5 reasons you should see Serenity this weekend:

1. To give a big FUCK YOU to any network that cancelled a show you truely loved.
2. Explosions, sword fights, chases, robberies, gun battles and cannibals.
3. Ass kicking girls in very tight pants, Ass kicking men in very tight pants.
4. A man and his sex-bot
5. Popcorn tastes better when you are at the theater, and when you are watching a great story.

See the movie. If you hate it, sound off to me in the comments section. If you love it, take 2 friends and see it again.

Doing the impossible makes us mighty! No power in the 'verse can stop us now!

And old school fans sing it with me:

Take my love, take my land, take me where I cannot stand.
I don’t care, cos I’m still free, you can’t take the sky from me.

Take me out, into the black, tell ‘em I ain’t coming back.
Burn the land and boil the seas you can’t take the sky from me.

There’s no place I can be, since I found Serenity, you can’t take the sky from me.

Votes Of Sympathy:2

Comments Blogger solus sententia said...

A great intro to Chez Serenity. I liked the bits about Buffy and Angel too. Now I want to go see it again!

10:49 AM  
Comments Blogger Flap said...

Saw it again today...just as much fun as the first time last week. I feel vindicated now, the little show that could, finally has done it. I really enjoyed this particular post BEG, I am considerably older than you, I am from the time when if you were a fan of SciFi, you were considered strange, demented, retarded and worse. It has come a long way nowadays thankfully.

7:32 PM  

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