thread derail train! choooo choooo!
Buffy did have its moments of brilliance - generally due to snippets of very clever scripting, but on average, it's just 'good', rather than excellent, imo. i found a lot of the content to be Joss Whedon clinging to the dream that he's not a balding middle-aged geek, but instead 'in touch' with 'the kids', as it were.
Firefly however, was a masterpiece. there is not one episode which isn't downright excellent. There's never a bad line, a poorly-conceived scene, an out-of character moment. the casting, acting, scripting and effects are all superb. I can't ever see myself stopping watching it. Those 14 episodes are something special. This was Joss Whedon's dream - and it shows in every single scene.
And that'll conclude today's episode of 'Jiminy Jetson: Firefly fanboi'
It was entertaining, for the most part, and I though there were a few excellent episodes (the one where they stole the early model laser and that one with the bounty hunter Jubal Early were among those, though with the latter in part I was tickled by the civil war reference of his name), but there were also a few that were just "okay" imo. Not to knock the show entirely. It was probably the best sci-fi on at the time (when it was sci-fi...sometimes Whedon seemed to forget he wasn't making a western), but I can't agree that every episode was excellent, let alone praise every single scene.
The one where they rip off medicine from the space train was not excellent. It was kind of dull. The one where they have to deliver their old war buddy's "body" to his family had plenty of moments of sappy sentimentality apart from its silly premise. The one where they had to save the whore house from the local bully was another dull one (not to mention not especially original). There's a scene where the space hooker, Inara, sobs uncontrollable after Captain Solo...whoops! I mean Reynolds (how on earth could I make that silly mistake?) has sex with another woman. It was plainly designed to make you feel bad for her, but my friends and I laughed. I reiterate, the space hooker
is upset that the man she has an unexpressed thing for has sex with another person
...and Whedon was apparently serious.
The Han Solo thing really did get to me after a while too. I often felt like writing Whedon to say "I GET IT! That captain has a heart of gold but hides it under his gruff and world-weary exterior. Also, I understand that he and the space hooker are in love but hide that behind a veneer of low grade hostility and petty bickering. I got it when I saw it in Star Wars too!" The main difference between Solo and Reynolds is that Reynold's beloved rebellion lost and he's still nursing the wounds.
The dialogue in Firefly was clever (as it often was on Buffy the Vampire Slayer), and unlike the West Wing (where the dialogue was I think more clever) each bit of dialogue did seem to match the character speaking it for the most part (on the West Wing, all the characters often sounded the same).
Why was space in the future always like the Old West (with a smattering of Chinese curse words thrown in)? I recognize that Han Solo was essentially a western character (right down to his clothes), but was there any more sensible reason given? Take the train robbery episode. Laying track to operate a train is very expensive and laborious...why would they do it in a world with inexpensive interplanetary travel? Just to slow things down? Goods and people were making it to the next town too quickly? So they smelted tons of iron, made creosote, cut tens of thousands of wooden railway ties and sent thousands of men out to lay down railroad tracks? It seemed to me that the sole reason for the railroad was to make things seem "westernish", and it left me a bit unsatisfied.
Then there were the episodes where I didn't see much scifi being involved (like "Jaynestown") they land in a space ship, then they hold a old fashioned 1950's era western (albeit an very implausible one), and then they fly away in a spaceship at the end. Perhaps the western thing was an homage to the original Star Trek (where they often just inserted obviously unrealistic genres into episodes--like the Nazi planet, the Prohibition planet, the Native American planet, the planet that somehow happened to look just like Earth, but where the communists took over after a nuclear war, etc.) Still, the show needed more variety. The mythic Old West only existed (to the extent it did at all) in one region of North America and only for about 40 years or so, it's hard to see why it would be the one and only model every planetary society would adopt 500 years from now.
So, good show, but I think it had its flaws. If I had my choice between bringing Firefly back to the air or keeping Battlestar Galactica on the air, I'd have to side with BSG.
For a moment of night we have a glimpse of ourselves and of our world islanded in its stream of stars—pilgrims of mortality, voyaging between horizons across eternal seas of space and time.
--Henry Beston, The Outermost House