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Firefly Reconsidered: Why Firefly Isn't "Hall of Fame" Great

dragoner

Dying in Chargen
Stargate Universe very much felt to me like someone had seen the BSG remake and went "Can't we do that, but in Stargate?"
Pretty much.

Episodic vs serial is also a artifact of the way shows were watched, you might see them once or twice a week, unless you had tivo or something. Which meant that if you missed an episode, it took a whole season re-run to see it again. Now people binge on a service like roku or netflix. It also informs us as a viewer as to how we watch TV; and not really being an American, I go for days without watching TV because when I was a kid, there were only three channels anyways, and the TV was always dominated by siblings and my parents.

Writing is another thing, it has always been hit or miss, with B5, JMS did everything, which is pretty amazing. Sometimes it all just falls together, such as I was reading about Blade Runner, and Roy Batty's dying word was just "Crap" and he improvised the whole "Teardrops in the rain" speech, Deckard was supposed to shoot Rachel in the head, and say if he didn't do it someone would, the street scenes were done by going to Melrose ave and getting a bunch of local punk rock and new wavers as extras, and the whole "dark and smokey" was them experimenting with neo-noir, which in turn has lead probably to the dark and edgy of today's TV. Ridley Scott called it the perfect storm.
 

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MGibster

Legend
And in yet other news that I'm getting older; it's been 19 years since Firefly first and final season aired in 2002. When I started watching Star Trek back in 1982 only 13 years had passed since it was cancelled. Wow. I didn't watch Firefly in 2002 because I had something better to do than watch television during whatever night it ran. But a lot of my friends enjoyed it and I have to say it practically changed their lives. They started hanging around "Brown Coats" and at least one woman I know decided her first tattoo would be a Firefly inspired tattoo. For years afterward every time I'd get together with some of my friends the conversation would turn to Firefly and I'd feel left out. (Queue sad music)

I finally got around to watching it in 2005 before going to see the movie. Did it change my life? No, but I enjoyed it and I wish we got more episodes. I wouldn't put it in the hall of fame though.
 

Snarf Zagyg

Notorious Liquefactionist
And in yet other news that I'm getting older; it's been 19 years since Firefly first and final season aired in 2002. When I started watching Star Trek back in 1982 only 13 years had passed since it was cancelled. Wow. I didn't watch Firefly in 2002 because I had something better to do than watch television during whatever night it ran. But a lot of my friends enjoyed it and I have to say it practically changed their lives. They started hanging around "Brown Coats" and at least one woman I know decided her first tattoo would be a Firefly inspired tattoo. For years afterward every time I'd get together with some of my friends the conversation would turn to Firefly and I'd feel left out. (Queue sad music)

I finally got around to watching it in 2005 before going to see the movie. Did it change my life? No, but I enjoyed it and I wish we got more episodes. I wouldn't put it in the hall of fame though.

I still think it's a very good show, and not to reiterate the points that I put in the OP (and the comments), but it's just hard for me to enjoy with the whole Whedon stuff and Inara stuff and Lost Cause stuff.

And I get it makes me a hypocrite- I still love Buffy/Angel to death ... well, okay ... there are parts (Charisma Carpenter at the end of Angel ...) that I can't take ... but I can't unlearn things. I want to just forget and appreciate the great banter and amazing cast of Firefly, but it's hard.

Ahem.

Anyway, the main thrust of it is that anything that ir really good and gets cut short tends to benefit because it never has a chance to decline. Those rock stars that died early never had to hang around and make bad albums in their 40s. Those TV shows that were ended early didn't have to meander around for the last three seasons like the X-Files.

Even Buffy. I mean- I love Season 6 ... but that's a pretty idiosyncratic opinion. Almost every person (other than me) will tell you that the best two seasons of the show were 3 and 2.


EDIT- PS- yes, getting older sucks. Nothing worse than watching the Olympics and seeing athletes born well after Y2k.
 
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Even Buffy. I mean- I love Season 6 ... but that's a pretty idiosyncratic opinion. Almost every person (other than me) will tell you that the best two seasons of the show were 3 and 2.

As much as I love season 2 and 3 of Buffy, season 4 has some of the best one-off episodes, season 6 has the fantastic musical episode, and season 7 has an actual conclusion to the whole series.

I would have loved to see what Firefly could have become with a second and third season. Thanks to the movie Serenity, at least we know how it would have concluded. But we miss out on the greatness that most good shows only develop after their first season.
 
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billd91

Hobbit on Quest (he/him)
Thanks to the movie Serenity, at least we know how it would have concluded.
We really don't. The screenplay was written after the cancellation of the series as a means of capping things off - there's no indication this is how things would have capped off had the series continued. It might have gone in a substantially different direction.
 

Snarf Zagyg

Notorious Liquefactionist
As much as I love season 2 and 3 of Buffy, season 4 has some of the best one-off episodes, season 5 has the fantastic musical episode, and season 6 has an actual conclusion to the whole series.

...Season 6 is the one with the amazing musical episode (Once More With Feeling).

Season 7 is ... not good. But it does have the conclusion.

Season 4 has Hush, which is one of the best stand-alone episodes (after OMWF and the Body and maybe the conclusions to Seasons 2 and 3), but it is definitely the best Buffy-ish standalone episode, if you know what I mean.
 

Ah, right you are. I've corrected it.

Yeah, Buffy's final season meanders quite a lot. It is one of my least favourite season of the show.
As for Firefly's conclusion... sure it could have gone in a whole different direction. But at least we got an answer to the Reavers and River's powers.
 

Janx

Hero
We really don't. The screenplay was written after the cancellation of the series as a means of capping things off - there's no indication this is how things would have capped off had the series continued. It might have gone in a substantially different direction.
Two by Two with hands of blue.

Very different.
 




MGibster

Legend
I still think it's a very good show, and not to reiterate the points that I put in the OP (and the comments), but it's just hard for me to enjoy with the whole Whedon stuff and Inara stuff and Lost Cause stuff.
The worst of the Inara stuff never actually made it on screen so far as I can remember and I'm not going to fault anyone for having a terrible idea that never made it past the drawing board. Whedon's an naughty word but not so much so that I can't enjoy projects he's been a part of. I can understand why that turns some people off though. As for the Lost Cause thing, well, is it any worse than other works of fiction where the rebels are portrayed as the good guys? Star Wars comes to mind.

Even Buffy. I mean- I love Season 6 ... but that's a pretty idiosyncratic opinion. Almost every person (other than me) will tell you that the best two seasons of the show were 3 and 2.
I thought 5 was pretty good and would have been an excellent place to end the series. And the Mayor was my favorite Buffy villain. So I'd go with 3 & 5 myself. 6 was terrible though the musical was good and season 7 was just horrible.
 


Janx

Hero
The worst of the Inara stuff never actually made it on screen so far as I can remember and I'm not going to fault anyone for having a terrible idea that never made it past the drawing board. Whedon's an naughty word but not so much so that I can't enjoy projects he's been a part of. I can understand why that turns some people off though. As for the Lost Cause thing, well, is it any worse than other works of fiction where the rebels are portrayed as the good guys? Star Wars comes to mind.
let's consider for a moment. Rebels. Yes, we who hate racism and slavery know gosh dang well the Civil War was absolutely about the South seceding so they could have slaves. period. It's been discussed as its own thread within these hallowed halls even.

So. Is every dang story that's got rebels or civil war in it going to get compared to the Lost Cause? At some point, a body's got to look at why they were fighting. Now it probably didn't help that Mal's side had southern accents, but I don't get the feeling Mal trafficked in slaves. The similarity was skin deep.

Continuing that line. Notice how folks pick up on that for Star Wars and Firefly, and only like recently has anybody ever challenged the fact that all the vampires fought for the South. Twilight. Interview. Diaries. All those sons of blood suckers fought for the south and kinda white-washed over the whole "didn't mind enslaving people" it was just the "drinking blood" they couldn't abide.

Throw rocks at people aligned with evil. Not because of their southern accent.
 

Snarf Zagyg

Notorious Liquefactionist
As for the Lost Cause thing, well, is it any worse than other works of fiction where the rebels are portrayed as the good guys? Star Wars comes to mind.

Yes.

Look, I'm not going to pillory people who love it. I'm not going to say that it needs to be canceled, or that it is irredeemable, or anything like that. That's not me- after all, I would go to the mat to defend my enjoyment of Lovecraft, even though I fully acknowledge that he was a racist through and through. I think great art is great art- you can enjoy JoJo Rabbit even though it has Hitler.

But I would say that for me, the specific Lost Cause allegories are so glaringly obvious that they take me out of the show.
 

But I would say that for me, the specific Lost Cause allegories are so glaringly obvious that they take me out of the show.

For me, and possibly for others as well, this is one of those things that skirts by because the series ended young. The references were fleeting enough that we don't really know the details of either side of the war. If the show had gone on long enough, they would have eventually been forced into flushing the backstory out. But because they never got there, we can be blissfully unaware of what direction they might have gone in.

Also, keep in mind that that 2002 was at a very peak time for a racially sanitized version of the Old West. Movies like Wild Wild West and Shanghai Noon were some of the biggest western movies preceding Firefly, and they blatantly re-write the western backdrop to be much more racially friendly for the sake of telling a story. The grittier, in-your-face western style that's currently vogue wouldn't take hold until years later, and would have been very out of place at the time.
 

Snarf Zagyg

Notorious Liquefactionist
Also, keep in mind that that 2002 was at a very peak time for a racially sanitized version of the Old West.

I'm not going to yuck on your yum; but Westerns, as a genre, did not usually traffic in Lost Cause tropes.

If you like it, that's great. For me, no can do. It detracts from my enjoyment, because periodically I have to say, "Wait, I'm rooting for the Confederacy? No thank you."
 

Yes.

Look, I'm not going to pillory people who love it. I'm not going to say that it needs to be canceled, or that it is irredeemable, or anything like that. That's not me- after all, I would go to the mat to defend my enjoyment of Lovecraft, even though I fully acknowledge that he was a racist through and through. I think great art is great art- you can enjoy JoJo Rabbit even though it has Hitler.

But I would say that for me, the specific Lost Cause allegories are so glaringly obvious that they take me out of the show.

See, its just hard for me to do that when the reaction Mal has to the most "Southern Gentleman" type he ever runs into is he's scum of the first water, when they go out of their way to free a bunch of people who've been enslaved at one point, and where the second browncoat you ever see with any frequency is black.

Yeah, since they're fishing in some old Western tropes, some of those are going to evoke the Confederate South, as is any set of characters in that context where a civil war ended and their side lost. But I think you have to ignore a hell of a lot of the presentation to see it as Lost Cause apologism.
 


Snarf Zagyg

Notorious Liquefactionist
Yeah, since they're fishing in some old Western tropes, some of those are going to evoke the Confederate South, as is any set of characters in that context where a civil war ended and their side lost. But I think you have to ignore a hell of a lot of the presentation to see it as Lost Cause apologism.

Look, please stop. I've been being super nice about this. I keep saying that I don't like it. But please stop trotting out this whole, "What? How can anyone possibly not like this? It's just a Western!"

Whedon based it on a CIVIL WAR book. He has stated, on the record and before it became controversial, that Killer Angers was the inspiration*. None of this is remotely in dispute. It's not just Western Tropes ... it's specific to the Civil War in America.

He has also repeatedly stated that he envisioned Firefly as having been modeled after the RECONSTRUCTION era during the Civil War.

"I was taken with the idea of a civil war and rebuilding from the point of view of people who had lost the war." -Whedon.

I mean- Browncoats. C'mon, man. Like what you like, but don't pee on my leg and tell me it's raining. If I don't like something, then I don't like it, and telling me to ignore what I see with my eyes isn't going to change that.


EDIT- Kinja'd by @dragoner

EDIT 2- My footnote got chopped- I had put in that Killer Angels was actually a good book, and the basis of a good movie- Gettysburg. Just inarguable that it planted the seed to make this a post-US Civil War show.
 

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