Tuesday, December 28, 2010

I don't like stuff that sucks: Firefly

New feature here at Josh's blog!

I hate Firefly. Google that phrase and you get some hits, but they're mostly variations on the theme of "I hate Firefly because it's so sublimely brilliant that it ruined science fiction for me forever, as nothing else can approach its transcendent genius. Watching Firefly was like experiencing the birth of my first child and eating a hot fudge sundae and having an orgasm all at the same time!"


This is something of a minority opinion, because among the geek community, saying you like Firefly is like saying you hate Jar Jar Binks or enjoy breathing air. I first heard about it when I was working at a mall book store. I met my friend Jen and her vervoid-loving husband Tom there, and I also met another friend named Kate. Kate was a huge fan of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. HUGE. The way she talked about made me want to see it, despite how stupid the premise sounded. So I had a couple bucks to burn after my birthday one year and the Buffy Season 1 DVD was on sale, so I picked it up and we LOVED it.
 
Then Kate started telling me how Firefly was even better than Buffy. We had Netflix, so I moved the whole series to the front of my queue and eagerly waited for it to arrive. It came, (not soon enough) and I threw it into the DVD player and watched the first episode, and thought, "That was meh, but they were simply introducing the cast. ( If you've somehow avoided being exposed to Firefly, there are nine main characters: a priest with mysterious past, a dinosaur loving pilot who wears garish Hawaiian shirts, his tough ex-soldier wife, a space pirate who is Han Solo without everything that made Han appealing, a space hooker, a young doctor, his idiot-savant sister, a cutie pie mechanic and a retarded mercenary), Mal Reyolds is a Browncoat from the Space Confederacy. They lost the Space Civil War after they tried to secede, presumably because the Space Union told them they couldn't keep Space slaves on their Space plantations. Or some such shit.  It's a ridiculously literal space western. They have a fucking cattle drive. More on that when we get to the appropriate episode, but it was absurd.

So we wrapped up the pilot and started up the next episode. 

"It'll take off from here!" I thought.

It didn't.

I'm not saying it's all terrible. Some episodes were downright tolerable (Though Shindig was just about the worst piece of shit I've ever seen) It was...okay.I watched it at first, didn't see the point and was largely indifferent to it and only slowly grew to dislike it every time somebody mentioned it as a heartbreaking work of staggering genius. It was a space western. (or Western in Space, if you're my friend Eric).  It was a middle of the road sci-fi show, but its pedigree and the circumstances of its cancellation have elevated it to the status of sacred martyr and the wailing and gnashing of teeth that began when it was yanked eight years ago have not even begun to subside. 

People at the Eden Studio's (publisher of the Buffy RPG) boards have mentioned that Joss Whedon's dislike of large organizations tends to show itself in his work.  I think this is true, but seeing it stated so starkly like this made me think of  the scene from Alien: Resurrection (which he wrote) where the people on board the research facility are scanning the visiting space pirates for weapons with a handheld metal detector. They get to the pirate in a wheelchair, and he has some kind of sassy comment, like "Are you gonna scan me?" and they let him through, and later on, he assembles a wide variety of weapons for his fellow pirates, based on stuff that had been hidden in the chair. I imagined Joss Whedon pumping his fist in the air after writing that, "Yeah! Stickin' it to the Man!" 

To digress for a moment, my friend Karen loves giraffes.

Actually, she doesn't. But I tell everyone she does. I forget why I thought it would be funny, but I started telling everyone that she loves giraffes, so now people send her links to giraffe-themed gifts and I send her giraffe cards on her birthday and hide stuffed giraffes in her apartment whenever we come over to visit. Karen has accepted this mostly with good grace saying, "I am neither a giraffe lover or hater but I think I will end up hating them if this keeps up!"

That's how I feel about Firefly. It's mediocre. I could forget about it entirely if people would stop telling me how brilliant it is. I get random fans cruising by this blog to tell me how great it is and how much I suck because I don't appreciate it.

It wasn't terrible. It plays like the account of a Traveler campaign run by an indulgent high school freshman. The plans the crew of the Serenity come up with are something you might expect from a smart sixth-grader,
not totally idiotic, but not really brilliant either, though presented in-universe as incredibly clever.
 

Rodney Dangerfield tells us "If you want to look thin, hang around with fat people". And likewise, the only way Mal can appear clever is if Joss dumbs down the rest of the 'verse.It's not that they're smart; it's that their opponents are idiots. It's the Constantine problem. John Constantine is the lead character in the Vertigo series "Hellblazer". He's a more or less normal guy from Liverpool with some magical powers, but he manages to triumph against more powerful foes because he's smart and ruthless. In the "Dangerous Habits" storyline, he learns he has lung cancer, so he sells his soul to three demon lords, and if they go to war over his soul, they'll tear the universe apart. He does it because he knows that none of them will back down, so they're forced to cure his cancer to save face. And it's kind of a clever plan, but it's not so clever that supernatural beings that having been buying and selling souls for literally millions of years should be surprised by it. Nobody's ever tried this before? Really?

So I don't hate Firefly. It's an entirely unremarkable sci-fi show. It's just overrated, and I just don't care. 

In fact, I care so little that I'm going to be writing about how much I hate each and every episode.

34 comments:

  1. i find your 'about me' section very insightful. however, could you please move it to the top of the page to alert others? thanks.

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  2. I would say this show was the equivalent of trying to make a serious sci-fi show about Lonestar from spaceballs.

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    1. As I mentioned in the post, I was originally going to make this a series covering the movie and each of the episodes, because I decided not to, for two reasons. One is that my friends like it, and I don't see the need to piss all over something they like.

      The other is that I don't hate the series itself so much as I do its more vocal fans. They just never shut up about it.

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  3. Firefly is the worst thing on television. I tried to give it a chance for Joss Whedon but it is dreadful. All of the characters obviously hate each other yet they insist on communicating. I hate it all so much!

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  4. Why is this 2011 article almost exactly like this article...?
    http://trebobslab.blogspot.com/2011/08/why-i-hate-firefly.html

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  5. So, when I first saw that comment, I had dismissed it as spam, because spam tends to take that format around here, a claim that gets you interested followed by a link to a site.

    However, it turns out that it's legit. I don't think the person copied me, though. The opening lines are very similar and he raises a lot of the same points, but I get the impression that he arrived at them independently.

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  6. Oh sorry, I didn't even think about that. I thought it was really uncannily similar.
    "The story follows their adventures after the "captain" and the first officer lost the space civil war after they tried to secede, presumably because the Space Union told them they couldn't keep space slaves on their space plantations. Or some shit like that. It literally is a space western. For fraks sake there's a cattle drive in the opening credits." - that article

    "They lost the Space Civil War after they tried to secede, presumably because the Space Union told them they couldn't keep Space slaves on their Space plantations. Or some such shit. It's a ridiculously literal space western. They have a fucking cattle drive." - your article

    It even followed the same general chronology of points. But I just thought I'd point it out, just in case you minded.

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    1. You know, I think you're right. I would check the blog again, but it seems that permissions have been changed since last night and it's no longer open to the public. I'm not sure how I feel about this.

      Delete
  7. Fanboys (and girls) ruin everything.

    My sentiments pretty much echo yours. Firefly was mediocre, but not particularly offensive...until Whedon's fandom started proclaiming it the best anything of ever.

    I can't take people seriously whose only frame of reference is the Whedonverse. There's so much good, varied SF out there. Feed your picayune brains, children.

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  8. "They lost the Space Civil War after they tried to secede, presumably because the Space Union told them they couldn't keep Space slaves on their Space plantations. Or some such shit."

    I am awed by your concise description of the overall plot, amazed by its thoroughness, and accuracy, and I particulary enjoy your usage of the word shit at the end, doubling a powerful punctuation mark and a statement of great force demonstrating your deep understanding of the series to anyone who might not know about it.

    Your opinion is personal and you are entitled to it, in the same way some people are entitled to think people don't deserve to live for having different beliefs to theirs.

    They still remain douches.

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    1. Damn, dude. I’m not plotting genocide here. I’m just saying I don’t like things that suck.

      By “plot”, I think you must mean background, but, allowing for the hyperbolic tone of the post, I do think that is largely factual summary. Is the Unification War not an extremely thinly veiled Civil War allegory? Was Mal lying in “Our Mrs. Reynolds” when he talked about growing up on a space plantation?

      Not everyone is going to like Firefly. It’s been ten years. You just need to let it go, Brownshirt.

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    2. Do allow me to correct a minor detail, it's browncoat, not brownsh...

      oooh...

      I see what you did there.

      <Comic Sans MS>How very witty.</comic-sans>

      As a side note, a thought for the day, when a great many people, love something, and say so, and a minority (and it has been previously stated by many others that in respect to firefly it is indeed a minority) say it's not that great or even that it is outiright bad. Does that mean the opinion of the majority should be automatically invalidated? Perhaps we could argue that they've all been duped, that it is a case of everyone following the herd? Should we automatically discard the fact that very many found the work enoyable and that it resonated with them as humbug and consider the minority who stands against it as the only ones with any discerning taste and ability to provide a correct judgement?

      TL;DR: Can a few negative opinions actually detract to the overall merit of a work that many, many more consider good?

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    3. Anon: Do allow me to correct a minor detail, it's browncoat, not brownsh...

      oooh...

      I see what you did there.

      How very witty.

      Heh heh heh.

      Anon: Should we automatically discard the fact that very many found the work enoyable and that it resonated with them as humbug and consider the minority who stands against it as the only ones with any discerning taste and ability to provide a correct judgement?

      Of course not, and that's not what I'm trying to say. As you've said, Firefly has an extremely vocal fanbase. I'm saying, A.) I think it's a property with some flaws/elements I don't like, B.) I personally don't enjoy it because of those elements, C.) I wish people would stop telling me how much they love Firefly.

      However, if you're judging a property based on its popularity, A.) It's not surprising that a large number of Firefly fans love Firefly and B.) I would be very surprised if Twilight had a smaller fanbase than Firefly, and popularity and merit are two very different things.

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  9. I've tried, on three occasions, to get in to Firefly. Everyone (and I do mean everyone) I know raves about this show like it reinvented television as we know it. Now like you, I loved Buffy. The Avengers? Awesome! Angel? Pretty damn good! But I just can't bring myself past episode 2. I love Nathan Fillion, I think he's great, but his character in the first two episodes was such a self-centered arsehole I couldn't be bothered to stick with it in the hopes he would improve.

    Best of it is, if it was still on TV on series 8 or 9 or whatever, people would've slated it by now. It's only because it was cancelled early that people are still milking it like they do. Plus some people just love a good old fashioned bandwagon hop.

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  10. Frankie Turner: Best of it is, if it was still on TV on series 8 or 9 or whatever, people would've slated it by now. It's only because it was cancelled early that people are still milking it like they do.

    I think that's a huge part of its enduring popularity, to be honest. When I say something like "Gee, the Anglo-Sino Alliance doesn't have a lot of Asian people in it, does it?", I get a reply like, "Joss would have fixed that that if the series hadn't been cruelly cut down like a sacred martyr!" and this allows everyone to have their idealized version of Firefly.

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  11. The ruthless and nasty responses i have read to this particular article prove the authors point for him. It seems every time im hanging around my friends, the subject of this show keeps coming up and they get all teary eyed and sad about it. Even now all of these years later and that isn't what bothers me, it's the fact they do it on a regular basis. Seriously? There are people i have seen that mourn for dead family members shorter than i hear fans crying about this even after all this time. I also don't hat the show, i sat down and watched every single episode and while it wasn't bad, i just don't see why people are so obsessed over it. not to metion this show is a huge rip off of Star Wars. Let's take a close look:

    1. Big scary powerful conglomerate that runs around outer space in big scary ships while wearing intimidating grey uniforms.

    2. The Rough Smuggler Captain with a heart of Gold.

    3. The Rogue Smugllgers Captain's beat up space ship that is "Faster than it looks."

    4. The mysterious youth with a strange power that they do not understand or can fully control.

    5. The mysterious old wise man that is running from his past.

    6. The slightly snooty but beautiful woman that is secretly in love with the Rougish Captain.

    I mean seriously,it's fine that he blatantly copied these charachters. But for fans to yell, scream and cry about how "Original" and "Groundbreaking" this show was is downright silly. It wasn't a great show, but it wasn't a terrible one either. but either way, it's gone and over with. The set was taken down, and the actors moved on. The fans need to do the same, or at the very least stop getting so nasty with the people that didn't live for it. Just.. please move on with your lives.

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  12. Anonymous: "There are people i have seen that mourn for dead family members shorter than i hear fans crying about this even after all this time."

    I'm going to steal that line next time I talk about the show.

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    1. Feel free by all means, i'm just happy someone else feels the same about this long dead pile of mediocrity. Good riddance.

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  13. It can simply be accepted that you sir, are a retard. So few shows put enough emphasis on its characters but that's something joss whedon does brilliantly. People who compare mal and Han solo clearly just lack even average intelligence 'cause if you look deeper than the surface you'd see they're extremely different characters. So yeah, methinks somebody just doesn't like it because they wanna be different to everyone else. D'aww, innit cute!

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    1. Please, by all means tell me how different they are. Because i can guarantee you can't. I don't dis like or like this show because of anyone elses opinion and i have zero issues with conformity. If something is generally good, people will watch it. If something is mediocre or bad, people won't. I could name plenty of examples of other sci fi shows that were better and managed to stay on the air. BSG? Babylon 5? Numerous Star Trek shows. X files? These are all shows that had more than one season for a lot of reasons. the biggest reason was because they didn't suck.

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  14. If you don't like the show shut the hell up and get over yourselves nearly the entire population doesn't give a. Damn

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  15. The characters were ok. I liked the ship and even the low tech planets reminded me of the RPG traveller where that was a common occurence (and the players would man a tramp merchanter trying to make a buck just like the serenity). I thought the enemy guys were too one dimensional. I thought the reavers made no sense whatsoever (if they were so batshit insane how did they maintain their ships?). I thought the planetary system was way too large to be anywhere near stable and was a cheap way to limit the scope of the universe. In short If i remade or continued the show Id make it more like the traveller universe of the imperium, the vargr, the aslan, the k'kree etc. Whedon has admitted he based part of it on an rpg space game he ran in college (im almost certain it had to be traveller based on when he went to school).

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  16. ThankyouthankyouthankyouthankyouTHANKYOU. I feel SO LONELY sometimes for not loving this show, and your post was a breath of fresh air.

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  17. The characters were the strength of the show. The story could be a bit hokey at times, but it was definitely about the characters. If you don't like the characters, the show isn't going to do much for you.

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  18. STOP LIKING THINGS I DON'T LIKE!!!!

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    1. You are, of course, free to like whatever you want. I tend to be bothered by moronic drive by comments like this, but I take solace in the fact that your shitty show was canceled twelve years ago, and isn't coming back.

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  19. I liked FireFly and I wish it could have continued. That's not why I'm posting a reply. I just want to say that I nearly choked when I read your line " It plays like the account of a Traveler campaign run by an indulgent high school freshman."

    That stirred some long ago and (until now) happily supressed memories.

    Thanks.

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  20. Wow! I once said 'the problem with Firefly/Serenity is that if it was a Traveller campaign people would mock it'.

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    1. Sir best comment ever. See my problem growing up my mum raised me Deadwood and Carnivale when they first came out. Then got I bloody spoil by literature and Breaking Bad.
      I mean I love corny shit I am huge fan Evil Dead and Lexx but embrace what they are and better because of it!

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    2. Sir best comment ever. See my problem growing up my mum raised me Deadwood and Carnivale when they first came out. Then got I bloody spoil by literature and Breaking Bad.
      I mean I love corny shit I am huge fan Evil Dead and Lexx but embrace what they are and better because of it!

      Delete
  21. Yep, agreed. I've watched 3 episodes and drawn the following conclusions: This is a show about a sociopath who spends his days bullying his employees, dismissing the political and religious opinions of others, and picking fights with people; preferably when they're unable to defend themselves. The characters are one dimensional, the cast appear to be reading their lines from cards held off screen, and the theme song was discarded by Weird Al Yankovich.

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  22. Yep, agreed. I've watched 3 episodes and drawn the following conclusions: This is a show about a sociopath who spends his days bullying his employees, dismissing the political and religious opinions of others, and picking fights with people; preferably when they're unable to defend themselves. The characters are one dimensional, the cast appear to be reading their lines from cards held off screen, and the theme song was discarded by Weird Al Yankovich.

    ReplyDelete