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From Wm.edu


The Flat Hat alerts its readers to Serenity

By Tristan Lejeune

Sunday 11 September 2005, by Webmaster

‘Buffy’ buff revels in unique, other-worldly glow of fan fave ‘Firefly’

There’s this t-shirt cycling around comic-cons and D&D sessions and closets that contain more than one cape. It looks “Star Wars” in font and character, but it’s not. It even quotes “Star Wars,” but trust me, it isn’t “Star Wars.” Its back reads “There is another ...” i.e. hope, i.e. life after Lucas, and, like myself, that geeky garment is here to tell you about a cult artist whose mainstream breakthrough is as inevitable as Anakin’s turn to the dark side. The front of the shirt reads “Joss Whedon is My Master Now.” Shiny.

Among the more brilliant auteurs whose capricious muses draw them to television (David Chase, J.J. Abrams), Whedon is alone in two very important respects: he’s a comic book nerd, and he’s got a big screen adaptation coming out this month. But pardon me, where are my manners? Introductions first. For a writer/director whose credits include “Rosanne,” “Toy Story” and “Alien Resurrection,” Whedon is remarkably one-note in the public eye. You know, he’s that “Buffy” guy.

“Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” she of the horrible title, ridiculous concept and simply stunning execution, gets only a couple of reactions from people; either they adore it or they’ve seen less than three episodes. In its seven seasons one finds Whedon’s major leitmotifs introduced and realized: highly-evolved feminism, iron-solid group dynamics and an ironic sense of humor I am simply at a loss to describe. Now take those three, project them 500 years into the future, trade up for a male protagonist who flies around with a renegade crew and you’ve got an insta-canceled TV show, classification “Firefly,” way better than most of the shit still on the air.

The Western and Sci-Fi genres have never really been strange bedfellows, from the frontier style “Star Trek” to all the “Searcher” found in “A New Hope,” but it took a keen pop-culture archer’s eye to finally Cupid them into consummating the union. “Firefly” is the lovechild. The characters carry six-shooters at their hips, medicine and food are fought-after commodities and there ain’t hardly no law in these parts. Also, they travel at intergalactic speeds, forever on the run from the evil, oppressive Alliance. The credit sequence features a spaceship scaring a herd of horses — it all makes sense really. And that, gentle readers, is the most basic of basic descriptions, more of a launching pad, really. Whedon’s unique skill is in creating a self-contained world (a Jossverse they call it) with its own customs, slang and standards. Scratching the surface for just a couple examples, people refer to seeing each other “in the world” or “getting out of the world” in indication of a particular planet or moon. Oh, and prostitutes, called Companions, are among the most honored figures in society with their own academy, even a guild.

So why am I telling you about a show that didn’t even get all of its 14 episodes aired? Well for one thing, there’s DVD. But far more significantly, “Serenity,” the big-screen adaptation, truly a miracle of second chances (and lo, there were studio execs with taste) comes out Sept. 30.

Following that date you’ll find my review of “Serenity” in The Flat Hat but, to get melodramatic for a moment, by then it may be too late. The future of Captain Malcolm Reynolds (Nathan Fillion), who is like Kirk with charm ... and wit ... and an unrequited love interest ... actually, he’s nothing like Kirk. In any event, his future hangs in the balance, people. The film is designed both to please rabid fans and introduce those as require a good introduction, and its success guarantees the story’s continuance. You know the rules: big gross, big sequel. What do you think, one archetype-rich Sci-Fi classic concludes and another begins in the same year? Almost too good to resist. This galaxy isn’t far, far away; it’s right here and you’d love it.

One day soon, mark my words, everyone will know the name of Joss Whedon. He’s slated to do the freakin’ “Wonder Woman” movie for chrissake. I’m not worried about Joss; Joss will be fine. But this is make-it-or-break-it for the “Firefly” gang. Nothing changes, days go by, but me, I need “Serenity.” Captain Whedon? No power in the ‘verse can stop him.