Tuesday, May 28, 2013

What's Next On My List? Firefly + Serenity

The glorious time has come, six days prior to my first exam, to watch for the first time a series that has been recommended to me far too many times for me to count.

The first thing that popped into my mind was: Cowboy Bebop. That is an anime set in the future where two friends, Spike and Jet become bounty hunters after leaving behind a past that we discover over the run of 26 episodes.
They are joined by a dog, Ein; a woman, Fay Valentine; and a real genius on the territory of modern technology, a little girl by the name of Ed. With the difference being that the anime characters are actually on the right side of the law - everything from music, to the conflicts among characters, to the mystery behind every person and just generally the awesomeness that comes with a science fiction story that doesn't have aliens, but just humans - the two series are really similar. So, if I loved Cowboy Bebop, I was bound to love Firefly too.

I didn't. OK, I'm just kidding with you, I did like it very much!
There was something to it that I couldn't quite put my hands on in the beginning. Then my sister said something and it was then that I finally got it - it is real. This view of the future is dead on in my opinion. If I think about how gun control sucks in the US, and how famine and unemployment have reached numbers that are not even comprehensible anymore! Also, prostitution becoming a tasteful employment is also very likely to happen in my opinion... Let us not forget also the fluctuations in the weather - surely in a couple of centuries we will either die out or be smart enough to leave this planet.
So what got me hooked? People's problems aren't going to change anytime soon. Trust issues, marriage, love, secrets, all of it will very much stay alive and the series doesn't try to rewrite basic human nature. It isn't trying to send that one precise message that I HATE in every single movie that is set in the future - that men's end will come at the hand of men. (Think of In Time, read my review here! And all of these environmental bullshits and so on.) That is another reason why I love both Star Wars and Star Trek: The future doesn't have to be dark and gloomy and depressed! Yes, undoubtedly, when our sun stops to shine, we will have a few issues - but light is a basic source for humans - that will be surely the first thing we will try and repair.

More into detail on the show. Captain Malcolm Reynolds is an ex-sergeant who survived in the war between the Alliance (who now govern most of their galaxy) and the Rebellion - fighting on the side of the latter. His right hand Zoë survives with him and together they start their own little company. Captain buys a kind of ship that resembles fireflies and he names it Serenity. Together with a pilot, Wash (who is Zoë's husband), Cap's left hand Jayne Cobb and a mechanic Kaylee, they travel around the galaxy and do jobs for people that are illegal - just to piss off the Alliance. They of course make sure to partake in legal activities as well, to maintain their cover, one of these being transport. The last addition to the crew is Inara Serra, a registered companion who rents one of the shuttles on the ship - she is also called 'Ambassador', because when they face legal troubles, she usually helps them out.
One day, a young doctor, Simon Tam and a Shepherd by the name of Book choose their vessel for their travels. We find out that Simon has a frozen girl with her, who turns out to be his sister River. We don't know why, but she seems altered. She had attended a school for gifted, sponsored by the Alliance, and then something changed in her. Simon rescued her before she was lost forever - however, the Alliance is after them, because it seems that River knows too much, even though we don't know what. Against his better judgement, Captain Malcolm decides to let them stay, seeing that they do need a doctor and River doesn't seem to be a danger to anyone - in the beginning...

The series got cancelled unfortunately, which I am pretty sure you all knew already. I think that one of the reasons for that could've been that THEY DIDN'T AIR THE EPISODES IN ORDER! THEY AIRED THE PILOT AFTER 10 EPISODES! WHAT KIND OF A F*CKED UP IDIOT DOES THAT?! NO WONDER NOBODY GOT INVESTED, YOU LOSERS! And it also ended without shining any light on what actually happened to River. Thankfully we have the movie for that, but I'll dissect that later on. Either way, I really liked this series, beside the reasons mentioned above, for the small story-lines in each episode. They were all different, and they continued! Everything done in the previous episode would be referred to in the next - even if just with a sentence. And that doesn't happen often in series, while here it helped me be more up to date with the characters and care for their troubles.
I did have problems, particularly with the last episode - beside that one thing bothered me and that was Zoë and Wash - I LOVED THEM! I wanted much-much more of them. Yes, I understand that the series got cancelled and we should be thankful for getting even as much as we did. I am also certain that there was actually plenty of space to show more of them!
Anyway, I want to dissect that last episode, as in number 14 "Objects is space". Our crew is followed by a bounty hunter who, let me tell you was the most ridiculous character I have ever seen on tape. That Michael Jackson Thriller outfit didn't do much justice to this hunter who we were supposed to fear - although the setup was great, you do shit your pants by the idea of someone unknown following you to where you thought you were alone. But then he starts talking and -- you totally lost me. That was a horrible casting choice! Just awful! And that isn't my problem either with the episode! We begin with pretty clear signs of River being psychic, but then she hallucinates and believes to have picked up a branch, which was actually a gun. I am not even going to question what the hell was that gun doing on the floor in the middle of the cargo bay - I am more curious to find out how she became completely lucid.
She hears them talk about her and the next time we hear about her she talks clearly, doesn't mumble, doesn't worry - she laughs around, she has fun, and I mean seriously what the hell? Our crew goes to sleep, undecided on whether or not they should dump Simon and River, and just when this problem comes up, she immediately is healed - OK not healed, but you get what my problem is! Perhaps if we had a couple more scenes during the episodes previously were she talks a lot more clearly, instead of just a couple of clear words, then I wouldn't be bothered so much. Otherwise, I feel like something was missing there.

That said, watch the series, NOW! You have nothing to lose and only plenty to gain! These are lovable, down to earth characters, great stories and if you love sci-fi then you won't be disappointed.

That being said, let us talk about the much needed ending to the series. Three years later, based on the fan base and the DVD sells, creators realized that the reason why this series got cancelled wasn't because people didn't like it - actually, it was because the executives at FOX are major dickheads. So the idea of a movie came about, and after all the actors were on board, we received:

Oh, boy. I hated it. Do forgive me if I offend you or your opinion. I can clearly see why people love it and it was a great ending - I am not going to argue with that. Also, the fans deserved this movie very-very much so I am glad it got made, but for me, it just totally missed the target - OK, not completely, but the two things that just pissed me off ruined the whole movie for me. I actually didn't do much research into this entry, so I am sure that I will be tackling a couple of things that others have already discussed. Not to mention that the movie came out 8 years ago - there isn't much new I can say. Still, I want to say it.
First off - the title? Second, there was a total amount of ONE single question I wanted an answer to and that wasn't really answered.
The story is changed a bit - which of course is understandable - we have to take into consideration that there is a whole new audience and a 90 minute mark. Here, Simon rescues River during an experiment, so he knows that she has been trained to become an assassin by the Alliance. Also, Captain hasn't warmed up to them like he did in the series, so instead of thinking of them as part of the crew, he has apparently no problem with kicking them out. River is at one point triggered by a subliminal message 'Miranda' and she starts to fight a whole bar - and kicking everyone's ass.
In the meanwhile a killer, the Operative, is sent after them. He stops at nothing - he sets a trap using Inara, he almost kills Captain with two hands and even follows them to the end of the galaxy, meanwhile killing every last friend that the crew has made in the galaxy - leaving them no place to hide. It is at that point, that River shows the crew what Miranda is - a planet that has been deemed inhabitable by the Alliance, and what is beyond a territory where Reavers park (men who have gone crazy, eat human flesh and rape people). But the idea of the Alliance wanting to hide this planet so bad makes Captain even more curious and they find a way there. It turns out, that the Alliance was testing a gas on the people in the planet, which at first slowed them down and then killed them. However, 20% had a different reaction - these are now known as Reavers.
Understanding that this was what the Alliance feared River knew, they go out of their way to transmit video footage of this to the public - giving them once again courage to rebel.

"Two by two, hands are blue." This was a sentence River uttered, and we found out that agents who wore blue gloves were after her. Now, who the hell were they? Yes, they were sent by the Alliance, but they were far more creepy than the Operative ever was! The fact that these men had ultra-sound gadgets that could blow up your brain, were a lot cooler then the samurai sword that dude was fidgeting with. Really, the only thing I wanted to know was how they came about, what division they were from and so on. But nope.
Instead we got a character who was just as annoying as the bounty hunter - yippy-di-do! Because I totally wanted more of him! My sister put it perfectly, we hate the kind of characters who don't ask questions. He says he does this because it is his job, end of story. HUMAN BEINGS DON'T WORK LIKE THAT! He calls himself a monster and then he tries to argue with Captain, saying he is weak because he has feelings - so his weapon against him is using his humanity - so he knows about it and understands it. Yet, he not once thought about stopping to ask - Erm sorry, why do we need to kill her again? That is why I liked the blue hand guys! They clearly looked like doctors/agents who have worked with River. Another thing that proved he is very smart was the fact that Cap didn't kill him. He knew that once he saw what secret the Alliance held, he would stop - and he did! How could this clever guy not slow down once? Who knows what secrets she holds and who knows what kind of a threat she is! Adding this new character was somewhat pointless. (In case you are wondering about the pattern - I am not racist. I like Chiwetel Ejiofor very much! My problem is with the script, not the actors!)

The other thing, and really, that was what completely blew my mind and I wanted to start to scream was when Wash died. WHAT WAS THE POINT OF THAT?! In that moment a sentence came to my mind that my brother said when we watched the Avengers (click here to read my review) "Oh, I forgot that Whedon has to kill somebody." after the death of Agent Coulson. And you know what a death like this is? F*CKING POINTLESS!!! Look how much good killing Coulson did to you, you idiot, you had to revive him after less than a year! I ask again, WHAT WAS THE F*CKING POINT? Being a starter script writer I know that when I kill somebody, it is purely out of laziness. I don't know how to end the story, I have a surplus, I am in lack of ideas and that is the same thing I felt here. I didn't feel that he died a hero, I didn't feel that his death was in ANY way justified! What I felt is that you have a character like Zoë, who has (barely) survived a war and God knows how many adventures and just when she will finally get peace both in her heart and mind you took away the ONLY thing stable she had in her life - making her unhappy for unknown days to come. Screw you Whedon!

Watch the movie? Yes. Yes, because it did have the ending that the series would've and it was great to see it. Watch it also because I am 100% sure that if this series would've come out just 10 years later, then it would've run for at least three seasons, if not more. I also blame FOX for - literally everything. This didn't deserve to be cancelled, and even after ten years it is still as awesome and creative and fun and enthralling as it was the first time it came out.

Until the next item on my list!
_ _ _ _ _ _ _

Captain Malcolm 'Mal' Reynolds - Nathan Fillion
Zoë Washburne - Gina Torres
Hoban 'Wash' Washburne - Alan Tudyk
Inara Serra - Morena Baccarin
Jayne Cobb - Adam Baldwin
Kaylee Frye - Jewel Staite
Dr. Simon Tam - Sean Maher
River Tam - Summer Glau
Shepherd Book - Ron Glass
The Operative - Chiwetel Ejiofor
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ 

Me, my sister and my brother have a sort of quarrel over which television creator/writer/director revolutionized television series. My sister, lover of Alias always goes with JJ Abrams. My brother strongly believes that it was Joss Whedon without a doubt. I personally think that is was the brains of Robert Cochran and Joel Surnow, creators of 24 who finally gave us something outstanding. Then again, these three series came out the same year - so I think we are all right in the matter. However, I am pretty sure that for FOX 24 was a stronger contender to beat ABC's Alias, instead of Firefly. In the end, they got the short end of the stick in every matter!

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