Tuesday, January 31, 2006

achieving serenity

It was a good long weekend, not least because at the beginning of it I got packages containing Sin City: Recut, Extended, Unrated, a near mint 1985 Ferret, 3 Shock Vipers, 3 Crimson Shadow Guards, and 2 Cobra Troopers.

And Serenity.

I came late to the Firefly party. I'm not much of a Joss Whedon fan, and by that I mean I haven't seen much of his work, but more through laziness than malice; and what I did see was motivated more by having the hots for Sarah Michelle Geller than genuine critical interest (I'm over that now, whenever I have impure thoughts about SMG I turn my mind to God: oh yeah God, take it all off; yeah, yeah, shake it God, ooh you're making me burn up; ooooooh Gooooood ...)


Firefly is the best damn dramatic TV series I have seen for goddamn ever; well, X-Files at least. And Fox, official representatives of Iblis on earth, cancelled it before the end of the first season. If I were to be charitable I might say that they cancelled it so it could never go bad; but fuck charity, we all know that Rupert Murdoch will soon be in hell spit-roasted on Satan's slowly rotating ... ah hell, you've all been here long enough to fill in the rest. You can read a synopsis of the malarky on one of the many fan sites, like Can't take the sky.

Like X-Files, I think the key to Firefly is the humour. But it is a substantially different humour. In The X-Files humour served to puncture the opressive paranoia and paralysing seriousness of the main characters that threatened to weigh the whole project down; not for nothing are the best episodes complete pisstakes of the whole enterprise - like Jose Chung's 'From Outer Space', Chinga and War of the Coprophages.

But in Firefly the humour is largely character-based. The characters are funny people. Not clown funny, or sitcom funny, but funny, you know, like those people you know who can give you coughing fits so bad you have to suck on your asthma inhaler and your head hurts like you just missed an anurysm by a hair: that kind of funny. Now combine that with it being an Action Drama Sci-Fi Western, with a shake of Blake's 7, but without so much of the facism. That's Firefly. And at it's core is a concept that you don't here much about these days in our pursuit of realpolitik: Honour.

Serenity is a coda to Firefly, and a damn fine example of how one should make a film out of a TV series. It effectively stands on it's own two feet, without dumbing down the plot or wading through exposition for the newbies. The action is great without overshadowing the story. The space battle is a miracle of decent CGI and great pseudo-amcam camera-work (Battlestar Galactica has a similar feel to it's dogfights). The villan is a metaphor for America (if you don't believe me, listen to the DVD commentary and FF to Joss Whedon's description of The Operative; he doesn't say it but he doesn't need to say it). We get to see Jewel Staite again, who, I may have mentioned before, is a Stone-Cold Fox.

So. Go out and buy Firefly and Serenity. Set aside a long weekend. Snuggle up to your sweetheart on the couch. Maybe fry up some of Ma Stupid's vittles. Surely you won't regret.

... well, maybe the vittles. But I told you not to use so much garlic.

Stuff I'm surfing:
The Top Ten Sci-Fi Films That Never Existed, by David Wong. Even though I really hate his frigging pop-ups, and I kind of like the Star Wars prequels (I liked the politics, dammit!!) ... still very, very true.

Suburban myths - From the Skeptic's Dictionary. Bugger me, there's 74 of them, from Most medical treatments have never been clinically tested, to Vaccination of children with the (MMR) vaccine to prevent measles, mumps and rubella causes autism.

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