I realise two things. One, reviewing a TV show that came out in 2002 definitely puts me a decade and a half out of the loop. Two, give reverence for this show is on a monumental level for many sci-fi fans, I’m about to make some enemies here.
I finally watched the first episode of “Firefly” a few days ago, the pilot episode I’m assuming it was, called “Serenity” (which is slightly confusing in that there was a 2005 movie made with this title and the same characters and concept). First off: are all “Firefly” episodes this ass-bustingly long? This thing was feature length, and anything that is that long will cause you to compare what you’ve just seen to a real movie. If it had been even an hour in length, it would have made the whole viewing experience less painful. And man, it wouldn’t have been hard to trim the fat off that episode, let me tell you.
Here are my basic thoughts on “Firefly” in no particular order, other than the programme length which I’ve just covered:
1. Adam Baldwin’s character. It is the basic typecast dude he’s been playing for his whole career: a sort of “aw shucks” masculinity crossed with a “don’t fuck with me, I’m craaazzeee!” edge. Fine. But what’s with the accent? It’s really silly and brings down every scene he’s in.
2. Of course, the reason he’s got this accent is that the idea of the show is outer space 500 years from now done as the wild west. Cool, not a bad idea – if humanity were in some sort of expansion phase to new planets having discovered a way to traverse long distances in reasonable time frames, the galaxy would be a little wild west like. But did “Firefly” have to take this concept and bang us over the head with it using a mallet? There’s the corny western, twangy soundtrack, the fact that all of the weapons in the 2500s resemble 19th century American ones; people riding horses as a legitimate way to travel from one place to another? Really? No one does that now – you’re saying humankind has figured out how to get from one star system to another in a few days time, i.e. travel at speeds faster than light, but people are taking colts to work?
3. The episode – and I’m assuming the series – features the least convincing brother/sister combo ever. And on that note: why didn’t the surgeon (the brother in question) spend any time in the sick bay where he had one wounded patient and a sister he supposedly hadn’t seen in years? Those seem compelling reasons for a doctor to stay in the medical bay. I hope this is a plot point later down the road (which I’ll never find out as, you may be shocked to learn, I will never watch another episode of “Firefly”).
4. I close on the worst thing about the show, in my opinion: I’ve never seen a sci-fi programme with such little sense of wonder and novelty. The whole outer space element was weirdly underdone and half-baked – all the planets looked strangely like southern California, and the sense of the ship in space was nil. They may as well have been maniacs thinking they were living 500 years in the future while inhabiting a fake spaceship set. Like I say, I’ve never come across this before. Even the “Star Wars” prequels had this in spades compared to “Firefly”.
Maybe the whole thing gets a lot better as it goes; I suppose pilots can be a little poor at times. I can only hope for all those fans out there that it got a lot better, and fast.