Worth a Watch: “Firefly”
There’s a list of shows and movies I’ve been trying to watch since, say, 2001. Number 13 is “The Godfather” (I and II). Number 10 is “The Wire.” Number eight is the last two episodes of “Pushing Daisies.” I did get to cross off “Dr. Strangelove” (number six), the “Let It Be” documentary (nine) and “Synecdoche, New York” (20) over winter break, but only after adding “Bottle Rocket,” “Babel” and “Undeclared.” Basically, this list is going to last me a while, which is both depressing and awesome.
But I did recently start on numero uno on my list o’ dreams: “Firefly.” Podcast listeners, all 48 of them, (shameless plug No. 1: Listen to “The Cadenza Show”) will tell you how much I like this show. I like it a lot (I predicted as much. That’s why it was at the top of my list.)
If there’s one thing I’d compare it to, it would be “Star Wars.” I know what that sounds like, and I don’t want it to look like I’m making this comparison lightly. In my mind, the original three “Star Wars” from the late ’70s and early ’80s are the quintessential space operas. They do not revel in their kooky technologies (for instance, nobody ever says, “Look at that crazy golden robot and his short, rolling friend!”). The characters play it natural, which lets the viewers who are stuck on Earth ease into the atmosphere, which is, let’s be honest here, a little more than kooky. C-3PO’s wires hang out of his belly. The Millennium Falcon isn’t cool because it’s the fastest ship alive. It’s cool because it’s the fastest ship alive, and it looks like a pile of garbage.
I’m not saying that “Firefly” is a space opera. It isn’t, but it looks so nice precisely because it’s covered in grime. If Han Solo is an outlaw from the Old West without a friend in the world (besides Chewy, of course), then “Firefly’s” Mal (Nathan Fillion at his best) is that same bandit with better people skills.
I am three episodes in, but I was hooked in the first 10 minutes. Mal, back when he was known as Captain Reynolds, and his second in command, Zoë, are forced to surrender to an onslaught of soldiers. They are “Browncoats,” and they have just lost the civil war. The camera slows down time as the pair stares with dejected gazes at the winners’ ships, which are finally landing. A moon-faced Browncoat gets shot inches from Captain Reynolds. He does not bat an eye. He only stares.
War is hell. Thankfully, watching this show is not. Will my impressions change? (Not likely, but tune in to the second episode of “The Cadenza Show” to find out! Now ending all shameless plugs.) I never watched “Buffy” or “Dollhouse” when they were on. They are other projects from creator Joss Whedon, and from what I hear, the networks treated them just as badly. It looks like I have more stuff to add to my list.