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

Ryujin

Hero
Sense8 was fantastic and illustrates the problem with only considering shows that come to a conclusion. Had the producers not negotiated a final capstone episode to close the story, Sense8 would have been out of luck for consideration for HoF status if HoF criteria required the story to have a conclusion. It consistently got high reviews, it had a passionate fanbase, but it was deemed too small a fanbase to warrant the very high expense of the show (shot on multiple locations across the globe) by Netflix. And that would be a terrible reason to disqualify a series from HoF consideration.
I agree completely. It's also a show that seems to have gotten even more traction after the cancellation was announced. At least I started to notice people who had never commented on it, previously, suddenly doing so in rather high numbers.
 

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payn

Hero
Sense8 was a fresh and interesting take for a show. Though, several of the Sense8s were rather one dimensional and the writing was at times pretty bad. It had weak points, but a damn good premise, and yeap, it was hawt.

I thought Peacock's take on A Brave New World was one of the best takes i've seen on the story. They really did a good job of hitting the nature vs nurture argument. Also, made a post apocalypse sci-fi world seem believable from a tech perspective. Its a damn shame it got dropped by Peacock (which with it's astronomical price tag wasn't surprising) because it was set up for a rather potentially interesting and great second season. Oh, and it's super hawt.
 

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
And by "hot" I mean exactly that, not exploititively sexual for the purpose of showing skin (I'm looking at YOU, GoT).

I have a number of folks I know who watched it not for the novel premise, plot, or characters, but because it was "hot". Since not all scenes mean the same thing to all people, I don't think we can flatly say that it wasn't "for the purpose of showing skin". There's an argument that it was unnecessary.
 
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Stalker0

Legend
It shows that since the vast majority of shows are not allowed to finish, are forced to finish quickly and badly, or have their finishes interfered with by studio execs, the lack of or bad finish should not be held against the show.
So this is a strong statement, lets break it down for a moment.

The assumption here for our debate is that the vast majority of Hall of Fame worthy shows (because we are talking hall of fame, no one cares about the shows that were garbage to begin with). The shows either
  • Were cancelled before they ended, aka no ending.
  • Were cancelled after the last season started (meaning the team did not have a chance to set the last season as the finale season)
  • Had corporate interference in a way that was not typical for that show. (aka if the suits have been "interfering" in the hall of fame worthy show previously....we could consider their interference part of why the show is hall of fame worthy)
Number 2 is probably the most divisive statement... is it fair to say that a TV creative team should always be able to end a show given a full season? I personally think the answer is yes, as others have mentioned most teams work on a season at a time, so if you know ahead of time your ending....a season should be sufficient time to wrap up your current plotlines and indicate the fate of your characters. It may not be the original ending, but it can still be a good one.

The problem is....if we go with the idea of "the show got to go on as long as the creators intended".... well, the problem there is the majority of creators don't have a set end time, Babylon 5 was a unicorn in that from its conception it had a fully planned out arc. If we allow for this, many shows might have "needed" 2, 3, or even 4 seasons to end....and you have to call the ball at some point.
 

payn

Hero
I have a number of folks I know who watched it not for the novel premise, plot, or characters, but because it was "hot". Since not all scenes mean the same thing to all people, I don't think we can flatly say that it wasn't "for the purpose of showign skin". There's an argument that it was unnecessary.
Anything thats got nekid folks is going to get attention. Could they have told a story about 8 folks around the world being connected without any nudity? Sure, but in this case it was relevant. Sexuality, romance, and connection was a main theme of Sense8. I think it was used in a relevant and generally tasteful way. There were no random leaving a bathroom or exposition in a brothel "just because" scenes.
 


dragoner

Dying in Chargen
I truly loved SGU, and couldn't get through even a single episode of SG-1 (I don't think I even knew that Atlantis had existed). SGU felt like a real show, more like prestige TV in terms of complexity and emotional realism. The fact that it went down in flames so quickly, and that so many SG-1 fans lobbied and cheered for its cancellation was the first time I fully realized that there's a version of genre fandom that I'll never understand. Just a huge gulf there, in terms of what we want out of narratives. Kind of a sad moment for me, to be honest, like losing your tribe.
SG1 is royalty of sci-fi, it had a who's who of actors from Outer Limits, Star Trek, X-Files, etc.; SGU was simply doomed if it could not get those fan groups on board, and as far as I know, it died for people not watching it. I know I signed off after getting attacked in the fan groups after noting as most here have is that the characters were unsympathetic, and as one found out about them, the less one liked them. A lot of the SG1 & Atlantis actors went on into Defiance, and Dark Matter, later to appear in the Expanse. It is funny that Atlantis has Aquaman himself in it as Ronon. Once the middle ground was gone with SGU, I just ignored it, I remember trying to watch an episode, not getting what was going on, and turning it to something else. The writing was awful, it did the wunderkind thing at the exact same time as the big alien invasion show that was on. I watched it again later, and it was funny to notice that never do any of the characters really gel with each other, and some, such as with Ming Na Wren, she was sidelined, just so the unknown girl that was kidnapped by aliens could come back with amazing powers
 

payn

Hero
SG:U did try to make a Dr Baltar out of Carlye's character. I know many folks absolutely hate that type of character, but I love them. The bigger mistake was making the unskilled politician's daughter into some kind of destined savior character. Sometimes its nice to get Sci-Fi without all the fated destiny crap thats so common amongst the genre.
 

Grendel_Khan

Adventurer
The "hurry up ending" thing has me thinking about an otherwise great series, "Sense8", which got cancelled and then was given the chance to run an abbreviated season to wrap things up due to public outcry. By necessity it wasn't as good as the series had otherwise been, but it at least wrapped things up fairly well. It was a SciFi show with a rather novel premise and had one of the hottest scenes I can remember in TV/streaming, that involved the entire main cast. And by "hot" I mean exactly that, not exploititively sexual for the purpose of showing skin (I'm looking at YOU, GoT).
Not a very related response but the “What’s Going On?” sequence, where they’re all singing it together in different places, is one of the most beautiful things I’ve seen in any show. I dropped the show toward the end, but I love a big swing, and that gonzo-wonderful moment alone—and everything that built up to making it so powerful—puts Sense8 into the stratosphere for me.

I’m getting misty just writing about it!
 

MarkB

Legend
Number 2 is probably the most divisive statement... is it fair to say that a TV creative team should always be able to end a show given a full season? I personally think the answer is yes, as others have mentioned most teams work on a season at a time, so if you know ahead of time your ending....a season should be sufficient time to wrap up your current plotlines and indicate the fate of your characters. It may not be the original ending, but it can still be a good one.
Some of that can depend upon how you're structuring the writing and filming. I don't know if it's still the case, but for early seasons of the new Doctor Who, a lot of episodes and even individual scenes in episodes were filmed vastly out of order, so even if you know early on in production that you need to change direction, that doesn't mean that you've only been working on the first couple of episodes so far, and can start making your changes from mid-season onwards. You may already have shot scenes for the finale, or at least finalised scripts, and if major changes need to be made, that means getting the writers back in and paying them for re-writes - and if the show's been cancelled, you certainly don't have extra budget to spend on re-writes.
 

dragoner

Dying in Chargen
SG:U did try to make a Dr Baltar out of Carlye's character. I know many folks absolutely hate that type of character, but I love them. The bigger mistake was making the unskilled politician's daughter into some kind of destined savior character. Sometimes its nice to get Sci-Fi without all the fated destiny crap thats so common amongst the genre.
That is what I am saying, she came back from the aliens as some sort of wunderkind. Rush might have worked as half Baltar, but full Baltar with the weird hallucinations, it was difficult to figure out just what was going on. Young was awful too, forcing himself on Huffman and she has a baby and it dies? He's married too. The the the computer whiz kid, his mother dies, and he tries going back with the stones and she dies without recognizing him. Then the weird space mafia teleport in.

One episode starts with Camile (Wren) saying Rush and Young are at it again, which describes a lot of episodes.
 

MarkB

Legend
That is what I am saying, she came back from the aliens as some sort of wunderkind. Rush might have worked as half Baltar, but full Baltar with the weird hallucinations, it was difficult to figure out just what was going on. Young was awful too, forcing himself on Huffman and she has a baby and it dies? He's married too. The the the computer whiz kid, his mother dies, and he tries going back with the stones and she dies without recognizing him. Then the weird space mafia teleport in.

One episode starts with Camile (Wren) saying Rush and Young are at it again, which describes a lot of episodes.
I felt like the stones were the biggest error in the series. The whole body-swap concept was icky enough in the first place, and the way it was used seemed to mostly just introduce soap-opera elements to the show, and dilute the sense of isolation and a mismatched crew all pulling together.
 

dragoner

Dying in Chargen
I felt like the stones were the biggest error in the series. The whole body-swap concept was icky enough in the first place, and the way it was used seemed to mostly just introduce soap-opera elements to the show, and dilute the sense of isolation and a mismatched crew all pulling together.
Yes, except not just those, a whole shuttle full of main characters die, and then it comes back and they are alive, and I don't think that was explained. Then they are alive, even the baby who died on some planet as a colony, the super AI drones attack, and they go into stasis to warp to another galaxy.
 

Ryujin

Hero
I have a number of folks I know who watched it not for the novel premise, plot, or characters, but because it was "hot". Since not all scenes mean the same thing to all people, I don't think we can flatly say that it wasn't "for the purpose of showing skin". There's an argument that it was unnecessary.
Perhaps, but I don't know of any other way to so completely and totally show that the people involved shared the same experiences. GoT tossed in completely unnecessary nudity in order to capture the audience. With Sense8 it felt, to me at least, to just be a natural outgrowth of the initial premise. Whether the viewer picked up on it that way or not would be on the viewer.
 

Stalker0

Legend
Young was awful too, forcing himself on Huffman and she has a baby and it dies?
The baby was the absolute low point of the show for me. Remember when SG-1 did a parody of itself, and part of that parody was Carter (the female lead) shouting "I'm pregnant"....because its so cliche?

Yeah....than they actually did that in SGU.....ug.
 

Ryujin

Hero
Some of that can depend upon how you're structuring the writing and filming. I don't know if it's still the case, but for early seasons of the new Doctor Who, a lot of episodes and even individual scenes in episodes were filmed vastly out of order, so even if you know early on in production that you need to change direction, that doesn't mean that you've only been working on the first couple of episodes so far, and can start making your changes from mid-season onwards. You may already have shot scenes for the finale, or at least finalised scripts, and if major changes need to be made, that means getting the writers back in and paying them for re-writes - and if the show's been cancelled, you certainly don't have extra budget to spend on re-writes.
That makes me wonder another thing about the original premise for this thread: Rather than the early termination of a show resulting in an "it might have been" mindset, could it also create a dislike in others because of the unresolved story lines? That would be no less of a bias than projecting how good something might have been.
 

dragoner

Dying in Chargen
The baby was the absolute low point of the show for me. Remember when SG-1 did a parody of itself, and part of that parody was Carter (the female lead) shouting "I'm pregnant"....because its so cliche?

Yeah....than they actually did that in SGU.....ug.
The baby thing was terrible, and it just kept coming back because she was hallucinating memories of it growing up. Everyone kept dying and coming back, with the only explanation was that it was the aliens.

SG1 sets the tone in the first episode with talking about macgyvering something. They all play off each other great though, and it is cool to watch and guess who is the guest star.
 

Ryujin

Hero
The baby thing was terrible, and it just kept coming back because she was hallucinating memories of it growing up. Everyone kept dying and coming back, with the only explanation was that it was the aliens.

SG1 sets the tone in the first episode with talking about macgyvering something. They all play off each other great though, and it is cool to watch and guess who is the guest star.
I don't think that the cause of the dead returning was ever resolved beyond, "it was that alien tower on the planet." My memory is hazy, because the show didn't really hold my interest. On the other hand the baby...
was a hallucination projected by the ship, in the same way that Rush was seeing a hallucination of himself (his wife? don't remember), because the ship saw her as being integral to the group's survival and was trying to keep her functional.
 

dragoner

Dying in Chargen
I don't think that the cause of the dead returning was ever resolved beyond, "it was that alien tower on the planet." My memory is hazy, because the show didn't really hold my interest. On the other hand the baby...
was a hallucination projected by the ship, in the same way that Rush was seeing a hallucination of himself (his wife? don't remember), because the ship saw her as being integral to the group's survival and was trying to keep her functional.
Yes, I don't know as much even after watching it a second or third time. The problem with Rush's hallucinations compared to Baltar's is that one knew they were real/unreal with Baltar, where with Rush, they could be someone from the ship or his wife that died? Too much was confusing, and forget about asking in the fan groups because that was like stalingrad, with the opposing sides battling it out in the rubble of the franchise. The baby thing I knew was going to go bad, they always do bringing kids into shows, just to jerk you around by the heart strings. It was worse that Falling Skies was doing it at the same time.

Something about Fox and Firefly, it was not as big as a surprise, because they also did a similar cancellation of Space: Above and Beyond, which started out good, then turned into a sort of romance, soap.
 

Snarf Zagyg

Notorious Liquefactionist
That makes me wonder another thing about the original premise for this thread: ... (snip)

So a brief note here.

The orginal premise of the thread was two-fold; first, that Firefly is overrated. I mean, I'm sure that's the kind of reasonable and unobjectionable opinion that is unlikely to get anyone all angered up under the collar.

Second, and more importantly, when considering things that are "all time greats" (as in "Hall of Fame") longevity, sustained excellence, matters. It's not the end-all, be-all. Gayle Sayers, for example, is in Canton (that's the Pro Football Hall of Fame) despite playing only 4 full and most of one more season (call it 4 and 2/3 seasons).

But you want to know something funny? Bo Jackson (brought up by, for example @Maxperson ) is NOT in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Not because he wasn't amazing (he was- one of the best I ever saw). But because he just didn't do it long enough. There was no sustained excellence.

And that's where it circles back to this thread, and the cannoli thread-

If someone enjoys Firefly, that's great! I am not going to come to their home and slap their Firefly DVDs out of their hands. If someone wants to say that Firefly is one of their favorite ever shows, that's cool too. I mean, I am sure that there is someone, somewhere, that is still mourning the loss of Shasta McNasty (yes, I'm talking about you Busey). Subjective taste is a heckuva thing. You like opera, I like free jazz, Chad likes atonal industrial, and Jed likes Ariana Grande; it's all good.

But when someone (like me) is trying to put together different lists of "great" shows, or so-called HoF shows, you can't just put individualistic criteria as your guide. You need to start looking at something other than, "Firefly is awesome because I really really like it."

And when I look at it, what I see in its favor is an amazing cast. Truly- one thing the Whedon-verse was great at was assembling killer casts, and this might have been the best. But what else is ... memorable about it? What makes it a HOF show?

Start with the basics-
1. Did it achieve sustained excellence? No. We've been over that.

2. Was it visually inventive? Some shows (think of the Kubrick-ian Mr. Robot, or Legion) have taken the standard TV fare in new and exciting visual directions with cinema-like directing and cinematography. Firefly ... doesn't.

3. Was it groundbreaking/influential in any way? Buffy codified familiar concepts like the season-long arc and the "Big Bad." Curb Your Enthusiasm and Arrested Development laid the groundwork for the single-camera sitcom and lack of laughtrack that killed off the hegemony of the traditional sitcom. The Honemooners was one of the first realistic (kinda) despictions of working class Americans on TV. And so on. Was Firefly groundbreaking or massively influential? Not really, no.

4. Was it insanely popular? M.A.S.H. or Friends are two incredibly popular shows. Firefly was shown out-of-order and had rating that were so bad that three of the episodes weren't even aired.

5. Did it at least have a single episode that resonates throughout time? Star Trek (TOS) has quite a few, but how about City on the Edge of Forever? Mad Men and the Suitcase? Seinfeld's The Contest? Buffy and Once More With Feeling (or the Body...sob)? Soprano's Pine Barren? X-File's Clyde Bruckman's Final Repose? The Office and Dinner Party? Breaking Bad and Ozymandias?

.... Game of Thrones and The Rains of Castamere? Just listing these names ... you know what I mean. What episode of Firefly ... what single episode of Firefly, is that type of all-time great?


I am sure that people could come up with some other criteria, but ... that's what gets me. Not that someone wouldn't rank it as one of their favorites, but that so many people seem insistent that it's one of the best ever. Which is truly baffling to me. It's a serialized show that never got to tell even a single season's arc. Quite literally, it failed at doing its one job. No fault of its own, but still.

That people love it ... that's great. The characters are lovable. I wish they had done more. Just like I wish that Bo Jackson hadn't suffered that freak injury. But at some point, assuming it's not your personal and idiosyncratic best of, comparisons have to be made.

Is it more HOF worthy than Star Trek (TOS)? TNG? Doctor Who? BSG? Buffy? Angel? Mr. Robot? The Expanse? Twilight Zone? Black Mirror? Red Dwarf? Babylon 5? Fringe? Lost? Legion? The Prisoner? X-Files?

At what point do the various strengths of other shows begin to matter? I don't have the answer, but I do think that for whatever reason, the anger at the early cancelation of Firefly has benefitted it in outsized proportion to its actual quality. IMO, YMMV, etc.
 

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