Two words: Joss Whedon.
I’ll have to back up a little so that my downward spiral is publicly documented. First there was Buffy. I admit, I only watched up until season six because I fell in love with Angel and then started doing weird things like watching an episode of Buffy and then an episode of Angel (because Joss Whedon is fantastic and made the shows exist separately, but connected them with episodes, and crossover episodes where the characters would visit each other).
Then came Dollhouse which blew my mind. The concept was thought-provoking and everyone was brilliant…except for the main character Echo played by Eliza Dushku. She may have had too many personas to act from because one moment it was kind of believable and most of the time her acting wasn’t.
I knew I had it bad when I watched The Cabin in the Woods and I am not a horror fan. I tried to join the club once–one of my exes thought it was a fantastic idea for date night was to see 2009 version of The Last House on the Left, which has a super graphic (and long) rape scene–and was done after that.
However, after my jaunt with horror came my extreme love for The Avengers, which would take a whole post. And for now, I’m just going to pretend that Agents of Shield does not exist.
Considering my love affair with most things Joss Whedon, it’s surprising that it took me so long to watch Firefly. At first, the description threw me off. Being described as a “space western” can either be the coolest thing in the universe or a bona-fide disaster. Also, I watched Serenity and hated it. When I heard Firefly came first, I wasn’t sure about the concept, but I started watching.
And. got. sucked. in.
Whedon writes people really well and inverts social structures and systems. With Buffy, it was “the blonde damsel in distress of horror movies fights back.” With Firefly, it’s prostitutes are revered, licensed by the government, and have the power of choice over their clients.
In other words, prostitutes are uber geishas.
Also, smugglers have an almost Robin Hood complex in the sense that they have a sense of honor, meaning the main smugglers featured in the show because they are led by an army captain and abide by his personal code.
The Western theme just made it FUN. Gun-toting, bar fights, horse riding below space ships? Come on, that’s just pure playfulness. The juxtaposition of the inner planets where everything was futuristic, new, and exciting to the back-country outer planets of the Wild Wild West was fascinating.
The dialogue was even more fun. Since the show is a mix of Western and Oriental cultures, the dialogue is a mash-up of weird slang, Mandarin Chinese, and western wisecracks. I cracked up so many times when the characters would get upset and go on a long swearing rant in Chinese.
Summer Glau’s acting as River was freakishly good. Sometimes I wanted her to go somewhere so that Simon could have a life. It did was also questionable that she went from genius to seriously mentally disabled to having super genius powers. If the show had more than one season, she probably would have been much more developed.
Another aspect of the show that I appreciate, is the notion of angst or over-the-top themes that Whedon puts into his work. He really writes angst for adults. There were a few will-they-or-won’t-they moments of romantic tension between Captain Mal Reynolds and Inara “the Companion” that remain left to the imagination and I was content to leave because we almost get a substitute in Simon and Kaylee.
To be honest, most of the time I was just there for the guns and the west, and Whedon exceeds my expectations for both.