TV: Recommendation – Firefly

By James

On day 1 of this blog, I thought it was only fitting to recommend to the world one of the main reasons I got into this ‘Shindig’ … Get it? No? Well, watch it and you will... Whilst the programme has a massive cult following, a lot of people have never seen it when they need to, so I thought I would take it upon myself to share the love.

I refer to, of course, the greatest production to ever grace the verse; Firefly. I like to think this programme is Joss Whedon’s magnum opus, his piece de resistance and I’ll tell you for why.

The production is far from pretentious and expertly put together, an example of which is the single camera method of shooting, implemented to emulate a ‘handheld’ style, which creates a very intimate atmosphere; only strengthening your ability, as an audience, to connect with the characters. This space-western underdog comes through as rich and vivid but inherently grounded; it’s easy to become entirely captivated by the refreshing ingenuity brought to the genre. When combined with Greg Edmonson’s cordial and somewhat profound opening song, you’re drawn into a feeling of warmth and sentiment; with country, blues and Japanese ‘flavours’ artfully blended into a single piece, admirably reflecting the spirit of the show.

The setting and amount of detail required to present a realistic sci-fi universe is no small feat. There are often, in science fiction films and television, small subtleties that are left out or simply washed under the giant, metaphorical carpet of CGI and big budgets, but Firefly had, pretty much, neither. This colourful yet humble portrayal of mankind’s future takes place in an alternate galaxy called 34 Tauri or as it's better known, ‘The Verse’. It is bigger than our solar system and home to a great deal more habitable planets, albeit after some vigorous terraforming. Despite the grandeur and vastness of this expansive galaxy, it very much focuses on individual people and, specifically, how one group of travellers deal with each passing day: be it a run-in with the all-powerful Alliance; dealings with psychopathic king-pins; or running from groups of drug-fuelled, orc resembling crazies. The bordering worlds feel like vibrant petri-dishes of culture and class, whilst on the other hand, the central worlds successfully encapsulate the totalitarian dystopia of an Orwellian government.

The series follows a ragtag crew of nine, all aboard the firefly class vessel, elegantly named, Serenity. This serves as the ‘hub’ of all activity, the home of the crew; all as unique and individual as the planets they travel between. From the beautiful Morena Baccarin to the quick-witted Alan Tudyk, each actor and their respective characters have rich personalities and an abundance of charm, the lives and whims of which are explored throughout each episode; their interactions, personal goals and disagreements are the focal points of the entire show – it is very hard not to admire them for their wins and suffer through their losses with them. There is an over-arching plot but Fox put an end to that, for good… Likely forever… Bloody Fox, we all wanted to know how Shepherd became a ninja priest, without reading the comics!

Ron Glass, rest in peace.

The ship itself is iconic; designed to resemble an actual firefly (even its giant, abdomen-like back end emits a warming display of greens, yellows and oranges). After investing some time into the series, or even after the first episode you’ll find yourself feeling safe inside its rusty, metal walls; possibly more so than the Millenium Falcon…

What? Did he just say that? Yeh, yeh he did.

Moving on, we come to the script. In short, it’s genius. As humanity used the earth up and expanded beyond control, two superpowers emerged; the almighty USA and the technologically minded Eastern-Asia. The culture blend is seamlessly woven into the script with curse words, largely, in a foreign language, probably to keep the rating family friendly but also adding a unique authenticity. The American dominant culture is split into two; a more southern dialect is employed for those portrayed as ‘lesser’ and a better-spoken accent is used by those in power. Twists on existing words like ‘Gorram’ (God Damn) and ‘Shiney’ (Cool) add to these little intricacies, again, further embellishing the already broad pallet of the show.

Finally, we move onto the crowning jewel of this already phenomenal show. Nathan Fillion. I may be slightly biased in my opinion as I probably have some form of man-crush on him but his character, Malcolm Reynolds, is widely regarded as one of greatest and most loved sci-fi characters of all time. He’ll protect his crew at any cost, he’s smart, strategic and above all hilarious. When Nathan’s talent is merged with his character’s, masterfully crafted script, the show is worth watching just to experience his performance (even when he’s wearing a bonnet... Or naked).

So, binge this program. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry and have an altogether best day ever! And remember, no power in the verse can stop you.

Except for Netflix. They stopped showing it… Bloody Netflix.

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