Friday, February 5, 2010

Burn the land and boil the sea...

I'm mad at Fox.

Not Fox Movies (nèe 20th Century Fox) for releasing Marley and Me and making me pretend that I wasn't crying on an airplane full of people flying over the Pacific Ocean last year. Not even for letting George Lucas make Phantom Menace. Rupert Murdoch backing Avatar made those offenses forgivable.

Not FoxNews for flapping their arms around like rabid ospreys, shouting above the surrounding din of mass media sound bites and reality TV and talking heads "Hey, look over here! We have Crispy Cremes at our booth! Hey!!" Everyone on TV does it, it's hard to fault them exclusively for playing along. Mostly. Heaven forfend that they should be the classy ones at the dinner table.

Not even their cable network FX, who had the gall to produce what I understand is some pretty quality stuff like Rescue Me and It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia, but not appearing anywhere on the stupid satellite service that I inexplicably pay $60 a month for.
No, I'm mad at the broadcast network arm, simply known as Fox, as in "sly as a". Well, those sly bastards did me a disservice, and it wouldn't come to my attention for another five years (give or take).

I'm not a big TV watcher. We will typically pick up Mythbusters, Man vs Wild, and 30 Rock, but that's about it. My wife likes Craig Furgeson and I'll watch it if I happen to be on the couch, too lazy to move. But, for the most part, we are Netflix junkies.

So, it came to pass a month or so ago that I was browsing Netflix, and came across a 2004 TV series called Firefly. The blurb sounded interesting: 500 years in the future, transport ship, dangerous fringes of space...sounds good. I threw it in the queue, and put the 2006 movie Serenity in my Watch It Now queue, assuming that, based the release dates, I should wait on the movie until I'd seen the series. My expectations were middling, at best (the last sci fi TV show I was really into was the original Battlestar Galactica, although I tried my best to love Star Trek TNG and Enterprise, but the relationship never got past hand-holding and a few flirtatious pecks on the cheek).

I was very impressed with both Firefly and Serenity. Although the whole space cowboy-thing seemed a bit over the top at first, it is completely forgivable as an artistic hook. Joss Whedon, the creator, did a fantastic job of creating a world that is instantly immersive--even believably so--and rich, and deep, and addictive.

The characters are likable and memorable, even so much as some of them are unlikable and maybe even detestable. The captain is about as charismatic a leader as you could write (and I think that has as much to do with the actor Nathan Fillion as it does Whedon's spellcasting), his pilot Wash is a scene-stealer, and the rest of the cast tie the crew together nicely. It's exciting and dark and very entertaining.

Also: catchiest theme song ever.

If you are a Firefly fan but have only seen it broadcast, it may be well worth it to pick up the DVD/BluRay. It has two episodes that, I understand, did not air on Fox: the pilot, "Serenity", split into two segments. Having not watched the show on-air, I think it would be confusing to watch the series not having seen the pilot first.

Anyway, back to my hate-filled thesis: Firefly apparently wasn't making money, and Fox killed it after one season--fifteen episodes, if you count the pilot. I know, Fox isn't a charity, they need to play to the revenue base, blah blah blah. I know that. It just really blows to learn that something that awesome existed for a short time, but was killed off in its prime. Whedon was fortunate enough to get funding for the movie Serenity, which brought the final plot lines that were intended for later seasons of the TV show together (primarily the Reavar storyline which never got a fair shake in season 1), gave viewers closure, and closed in an open-ended but heartbreaking conclusion that put a nice period on the tale.

I'm glad I found it, but it's almost kind of sad. Firefly is one of those discoveries that you make that you wish you could re-discover over and over, like when I first picked up Nirvana's Nevermind on a whim, or realized that a Jägermeister and Redbull was a great way to start the day (kidding, kidding...Redbull makes me crash in the afternoon).

So if you haven't seen it, go see it. If you have seen it, well, see it again. One of these days I'll pine so hard for it that I'm sure I'll buy the Bluray set. I may even check out some of Whedon's other work; but, in keeping with my slow-ass TV timeline, I'll probably need to wait another four or five years until they've been canceled and forgotten by all but his biggest fans.


katey said...

My reaction was exactly the same when I saw it for the first time a few years back. My friend and I were at Serenity on opening night with all the other Browncoats, and it's amazing how many pissed off people there are out there for the same reason!

It truly is TV at its finest. I still think of the characters all the time.

Jeremy D Brooks said...

Katey: I's one thing to get up to speed on it 5 years later, but man...if I was a fan when it was on the air, I would have been pissed.

Jamie Eyberg said...

I hate getting attached to new shows. It means they will be canceled in pretty short order. I still miss My Own Worst Enemy with Christian Slater.

Jeremy D Brooks said...

Jamie: I hadn't heard of that one. I like Slater, though. Just watched Heathers a couple of weeks ago. I'd watch Gleaming the Cube again, but I'm afraid it won't have held up to time.

Jamie Eyberg said...

It was a tv show that was canceled halfway through its season last year. Kind of pissed me off.

Aaron Polson said...

Crazy how so much good TV gets the ax early on.

How many CSI spinoffs do we have now?