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FireflyFirefly - "Serenity" Movie - After Buffy & Angel, Michael Hinman Has Found Serenity
By Michael Hinman
Monday 22 August 2005, by Webmaster
I Found Serenity
I could never figure out why I am not on Joss Whedon’s Christmas card list. But I guess it was because I never wanted to admit to myself that it’s because I’m a schmuck.
For some reason, I never seem to give Joss a chance. And why is that? I’m sure he could care less whether I give him a chance or not, but I have to live with myself and it’s hard to do that when I’m always late joining the party.
I didn’t watch "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" until it’s last season, which by then I was forced to spend two hours every day watching every episode in order on F/X. I still have never had a chance to watch "Angel" all the way through, even though many of my Joss Whedon-fan friends say it far exceeds the high quality of "Buffy."
And when "Firefly" graced a handful of television screens in 2003, my screen wasn’t one of them. It wasn’t because I forgot who Joss Whedon was. I guess I just sometimes get caught up on things that I don’t like to admit to. I think I get stubborn in my traditionalism, and when Joss Whedon said he was going to do a science-fiction series without aliens, I’m like, "What the hell?"
Of course, my stubbornness is more convenient than anything. Around the same time, Edward James Olmos said that if there were bumpy-head Star Trek aliens on "Battlestar Galactica," he’d quit on the spot. But that didn’t stop me from not only watching that production, but championing it with every fiber in my being.
But for whatever reasons, I seem to place mental blocks on myself whenever Joss’ name comes up. And that, coupled with the fact that I really don’t think Fox knows what they’re doing sometimes when it comes to programming, I simply didn’t make the time to watch the show.
But people stayed on me about "Firefly," especially after Universal announced they were going to make a movie version of the series called "Serenity," which is coming out before any of us know it.
However, it took SciFi Channel announcing that they were going to air the series in order, including episodes that never aired on Fox, for me to finally take the time to watch it. It didn’t hurt that it was conveniently placed right before all my regular SciFi Friday shows, so I was there.
Before long, I ran into a different problem. I couldn’t wait any longer to see what happened to Capt. Mal Reynolds and his crew. So I did something evil ... I borrowed a friend’s "Firefly" DVD set. I am not sure he knows it yet, so if you see him on the street, mum’s the word.
After getting through all 14 episodes, I was amazed by my first impression. Which was that it wasn’t until there was nothing more to watch that I realized I was completely entertained by a science-fiction series without there being a single alien in it. Although Ron Glass’ hair when it’s not back brings him awfully close.
Science-fiction meets the Western? That’s not a new concept. Gene Roddenberry, in the early days of trying to pitch Star Trek, knew how popular the Western genre was, and would try to describe the work as a "Wagon Train to the stars." And while there might have been some slight hints of westerns in the series, with the cowboy attitude of Capt. Kirk, Roddenberry never really made it as obvious as Whedon did with "Firefly."
And Kirk also had a much better looking ship. I mean, come on, the Serenity? I took one look at it, and thought it was one of the ugliest things that I’ve ever seen. But when Reynolds looked at the ship for the first time halfway through the series’ run in a flashback scene, I have to admit, I had the same look of love in my eyes. It’s not outer beauty that counts ... it’s what’s inside. And what’s inside is amazing.
You have Capt. Mal Reynolds, played by Nathan Fillion, who is quiet, disturbed, almost commands respect and obedience whether he deserves it or not. He’s the kind of leader that if someone went down, he wouldn’t know the first thing to do any of their jobs. But that’s OK. He took lessons from Dubya and surrounded himself with people who do know how to do it, and in the end, they all make him look good.
Then you have Zoe, the strong yet beautiful soldier played by Gina Torres. Like one of my other favorite actors, Edward James Olmos, she speaks more in her looks than in her words, and to me, that’s an amazing trait to have as an actor. Even though it’s the 21st century, it’s still hard for a lot of people to see women in front-line combat roles. But you don’t even dare want to question whether or not Zoe belongs there. She’ll kick your ass if you do.
Then there’s her husband, the sort of comic-relief, always underfoot pilot, Wash, played by Alan Tudyk. He was the voice of "Sonny" in "I, Robot," but brings a sort of Magnum P.I. feel in the show with his fancy driving and outmoded Hawaiian shirts. But his character also allows a lot of the Whedon humor to come through, especially in the final episode that aired on Fox, "The Message."
When he walks into a circus exhibit of a mutated cow fetus floating on display in front of him, he says, "Oh my God, it’s grotesque! And look, there’s something in a jar." Quick, subtle humor, but the kind of humor we like to see coming from Whedon.
Of course, Wash isn’t the only one exhibiting the Whedon charm. Mal has his own share of Whedonisms that come through, as do the other different people on board. And I could go indepth into all of them ... they are all unique, and integral. No doubt, a true ensemble. But then, with nine total main cast members, that would make this already too long column even longer.
I miss "Firefly," and it’s already been gone for a long time. For me, I only have to wait a few more weeks before I get to see the story continue on the silver screen. I actually feel bad for those fans who discovered the show far earlier than me, who literally had to wait years.
I guess there are benefits to joining the party late. I’ll see you at the theater.