Marika Malaea

faithful marauder + fake royal

Alien-Free TV

with 4 comments

So I drank the Kool-Aid, so what. Those opposed to Firefly: I understand, and see your point. Those who would join me in its highest praise, the uber-est of the uberfans: this is a Browncoats rabble-rousing; this is a plea to the ‘Verse; this is a gorram love letter, to my newest favorite [canceled] FOX television show.

The first one, of course, was Arrested Development. People who hate that show can just hurry up and die already. (That might be a slight exaggeration). It was one of the best shows ever written, in my honest opinion. I actually remember the first person who said they just didn’t “get it,” and I was so disappointed in 1) him, for clearly not trying hard enough, and 2) me, for not convincing him otherwise. I should have tied him to a chair and made him watch all three seasons, A Clockwork Orange-style. Now he walks our streets and breathes our air with little more than the clothes on his back and a hole in his heart…. a hole that can only be filled with the witty pink meat of Arrested Development. Believe me, that is a science-like fact.

Do you know how much I love this show? I am dangerously close to writing Firefly fan-fiction, that’s how much. I’m not a Joss Whedon zombiefan who lives and dies for his projects, but I’d be willing to live more and kill someone else to get that show back on the air. And yes, I know I’m late to the party since it aired in 2002 – but better late than never-got-the-chance-to-see-Malcolm-Reynolds-naked, or however the saying goes.

Joss Whedon gets respek for casting Christina Hendricks in the role of space sex kitten, seven years before her notoriety as TV’s ultimate sex kitten: Joan Holloway of Mad Men. You are now forgiven, Sir Joss, for your many transgressions – Angel and Dollhouse among them.

Cast overview:

Kaylee: Space Mechanic – girly, but not. The kind of sweet that makes you go, ‘No way are people this nice in real life, except for maybe Canadians.’ A lethal combination of capable, vulnerable, and overly cheerful.

Inara: Space Whore – too beautiful, therefore totally non-threatening. Decadent colors and textures, always in soft lighting; cool and aloof with occasional fire, generally brought out by the captain. Emotionally intelligent and wiley, though very junior high in her relationship with Mal. Too much satin, lace, over-accessorizing, and make-up for my taste, but it suits her.

Shepherd Book: Space Minister – or so he would lead you to believe. Likable, balanced, and a little mysterious; big baritone voice, crazy hair. Clearly against killin’, but suspiciously good with a gun and thinks like a criminal. I like to think he was the conscience of Serenity and its passengers.

Wash: Space Pilot – the show’s official ‘Ba-dum ching!’ character. Twitchy, cheesy, and prone to one-liners. A soft-hearted, semi-gingery, major freaking dork with muscles that came out of nowhere. Brings out the human female side of his wife, Zoe. “Curse your sudden but inevitable betrayal!” makes me laugh every time he says it in Episode 1.

Zoe: Space Warrior – the captain’s First Mate and Wash’s beard/wife. Fearless in battle, packs heat and serious booty. Good comedic timing; understated. The type who saves the day silently. Knows the captain better than anyone, without having been romantically involved, but also the only one to address him as ‘Sir.’ Sets the tone for the crew in how to follow, interpret, ignore, and respect the captain’s orders.

Simon: Space Doctor – official punching bag that’s always one step behind, and yet he’s some kind of genius. He’s also kind of a yahoo, kind of a sweetheart, and terrible with women – namely Kaylee. Weird mouth. He’s very protective while also being clueless. You just want him to relax and grow a pair.

River: Space Nutjob – Simon’s sister and ward. The most annoying character, in my opinion – her storyline didn’t take off until the movie, which was a completely different animal from the TV series. I kept waiting for her to get interesting and brush that stringy hair. She could also read minds, which made her crazy and dangerous and painfully vulnerable. I wanted to make her eat 10 sandwiches.

Jayne: Space Thug – he could also be described as Space Doofus. In the words of Adam Baldwin, the actor who portrayed him: “Sex. Muscles. Humor. Thuggery. Jayne.” For me, he went from least-liked to as-liked-as-Mal, thanks to his orange-knit hat, a gun named Vera, and the rousing crowd-pleaser, The Ballad of Jayne Cobb. He also had great lines: “Time for some thrilling heroics” and “That’s why I never kiss ’em on the mouth” both come to mind.

Mal: Space Captain/Space Cowboy – also known as Hottie McHotterson, Douchey McDoucherton, and My Future Husband. Official puncher of bags who loves poorly-planned heroics. When he’s not getting in trouble, he’s in trouble for saving the unworthy hide of someone else. A loyal hothead and unbalanced funnyman; classic rogue, cast-iron teddy bear. The type who wears actual breeches and saves the day loudly. The only man I’ve ever wanted to bed.

Serenity: Space Ship – much like in football with The 12th Fan, or in music with the 5th Beatle, this is the alleged 10th character. The ship looks pieced together like a junkyard clunker – with old parts, luck, and the love of Kaylee – but you realize it has no limitations and is all but infallible by around the third episode. Outruns the Alliance and Reavers equally, which makes no sense – but you don’t care, you just want them to git.

For those who haven’t seen it, Firefly is a space Western set in 2517, where everyone speaks a mix of English and Mandarin Chinese. The Esq said he enjoyed the idea of an all-human outer space; we both liked that prostitutes were at the top of the social food chain. I enjoyed what everyone hated about it, primarily the cheese and predictability. There was a precarious balance between the ridiculous and the possible: had the show taken itself more seriously – less mirth, more technology – it would have died in obscurity as a Star Trek rip-off. But had it swung the other way, towards the ridiculous and impossible – like if Walker, Texas Ranger and Matlock had a Stargate baby – it would have been a big hit on USA for your retired military granddad during his afternoon nap.

Cheesy: sure. Formulaic: yeah. Predictable: I guess – there are good guys, bad guys, and those in-between, in addition to trouble and hijinks that lead to a happy or bittersweet ending. You know there will be trouble, you know they’ll tough it out. X-Files was the same, and that show was crazy loved until the last few seasons, though the ones without Mulder weren’t totally legit – but that’s a completely different opinion for a completely different show. (Hello! My name is Supernerd!) While I’m confessing, I also liked Stargate SG-1, my favorite Star Trek episodes were “The Trouble with Tribbles” and “The City On the Edge of Forever,” and Star Wars bedsheets were central to a hilarious but personal coming-of-age story that will never be told on this blog.

As a writer, I was impressed with the potential for Firefly, Seasons 2-12. Enough storyline seeds were planted so sprouts of future brilliance could be seen and felt in episodes that didn’t exist yet.  When the show ended in Season 1 – prematurely, ridiculously, inconceivably – I was left with so many questions. What was whore school like, and why was Inara slumming with Firefly? More importantly, when would she hook up with Mal? The spare, emotional strains of piano that played over their every scene was so One Life To Live; regarding their relationship, I swung between two opposite camps of “Rip ‘er effing clothes off!” and “Slap him already!”

Would Jayne ever admit that he had a thing for Kaylee? (Remember his concern when she was in surgery and how  much he hated Simon?) Who was he supporting back home, and what was his deal with Reavers? What planets did everyone come from, and what were their families like? And who was Shepherd Book, really? I knew that would be a good storyline, because he started out so pure. Then he morphed into a Space Badass, pumping iron and handling weapons with professionalism and aplomb.  I’m talking ’bout Space Shaft, can you dig it?

Zoe didn’t like Wash from the very beginning, and yet they ended up married how?  What happens with Badger, Patience, Monty, Saffron, and all of the creepy Blue Sun people? All of these smaller parts could have/would have/should have been bigger, somewhere down the road. I’ve thought about the celebrity guest stars they might have had on the show – as bad guys, family members, love interests, the Alliance, old friends, fellow scavengers, allies  – and those who would have played them. Maybe Inara has a younger sister with the hots for Mal, or Kaylee’s cousin stows away on the ship. What if Zoe never told her parents that she’d married, or Wash had a twin sister? How about the first boy River has a crush on, an old flame of Shepherd Book’s, a child of Jayne’s? Who would you have given those roles to? It’s fun to think about, and also maddening because it’s never going to happen.

More to love in the Verse: I appreciated how intensely creepy the Reavers were, without actually having to see them; I liked the different planets and moons, imagining the travel possibilities; and the balance of Western and Chinese culture grew on me, which was Whedon’s (totally conceivable) vision of the future.

The writing was a cross between Days of Our Lives, Buffy, and Battlestar Galactica; it had widespread appeal, solid joke-writing, machismo, and cheese. Oh, but the cheese… the cheese was engineered for you, dear humans, to swim, bathe, and delight in. I was intrigued by how female-empowered the show seemed, while also having grand moments of blatant misogyny; ever the feminist conundrum, it was.

The song, that gorram song! It’s terrible and awesome, simple and pretty – it was a little bit country, a little bit China-meets-Star-Wars-and-Clint-Eastwood. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve said, “You can’t take the sky from me!”  just randomly, and to no one in particular. It’s one of those songs that sounds like someone in high school wrote it, but then those twangy violins and – god, is that a banjo? – and the rest of the band/string ensemble/Chinese orchestra/country singer/whatever else come in and it’s not that bad. Then you find yourself singing it while doing the dishes or getting the mail, which swings between ‘tres amusing’ and ‘utterly annoying.’

There’s so much more, there is just so much. When I tap into my obsessive Firefly nature, I think of Jeffrey Marvin Foxworthy, writer of “If your family tree don’t fork, you might be a redneck!” and other priceless literary gems. If you know what G-23 paxilon hydrochlorate is, you might be a Firefly fanatic. If you know what gun hoe-tze bee dio-se means, you might be a Firefly fanatic. And if you write a Firefly blogpost that goes over 2,000 words, you might not have any friends left, so I gotta wrap this up.

Take a weekend, watch a few. Accept the cheese with a glass of wine. Pretend you’re a cowboy, soaring through space with your family and friends, on a ship named for something that rarely happens on the show: Serenity. Start your crush on Captain Mal, raise a glass to the hero of Canton, get shot at and be a part of the crew. This show is/was fun.

Oh my god, with a blog post like this, fan-fiction can’t be far behind. (Word count: 1951. So close.)

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Written by sn0tteh

March 16, 2010 at 12:14 PM

Posted in Uncategorized

Tagged with ,

4 Responses

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  1. You’re scaring me.

    Libby

    March 17, 2010 at 6:40 AM

  2. I know, right?

    sn0tteh

    March 17, 2010 at 9:51 AM

  3. i love you now, more than ever.

    kyle

    March 30, 2010 at 8:06 PM

  4. Oh good! Another crazy person. 🙂

    sn0tteh

    April 9, 2010 at 9:11 AM


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