Friday, May 15, 2015

Why We Should Shut Up and Be Glad That Firefly Got Cancelled

They aim to misbehave

Originally, I was going to write this article about a week or two ago but then the whole Joss Whedon twitter fiasco happened and I didn't want to seem like I was harping on the guy when he was down. So, onto the topic of today's article then: Firefly. 

For those of you who haven't been around nerddom recently - first of all: well done - Firefly was a 2002/2003 scifi show with western elements, or more commonly called a space western. Kinda like Cowboy Bebop but not as good. Still, it had interesting, fun characters and a cool world to explore and to this day it remains my favorite Joss Whedon show. Now the show has been cancelled for twelve or so years, a movie was made a few years after the fact, that didn't make back it's money but at least gave the fans a satisfying conclusion to the story. Or rather what little story was told in 14 episodes. 

Characters and stuff

Now, even twelve years later, fans still want a continuation of the show, there was talks about crowd funding, and recently we got an official comic book continuation written by the Whedon clan. Okay, all fine and good. But I don't read those. And that's because I think that maybe it was a good thing that Firefly was cancelled. 

I have a certain appreciation for the works of Joss Whedon, but having seen all his shows and even bought all his box sets - waste of a good hundred bucks right there, but thank god for eBay - I can definitely see a pattern there. Buffy started out good, started to meander after season three, had a decent sendoff in season five, and really started to rod from there on until it was finally mercy killed. Angel I never really liked all that much, but same thing there, got kinda bad after season three. Dollhouse was a mixed bag anyway from the start and let's not talk about Agents of SHIELD because that's way too heavily mandated from up high to really count. 

Not the Bebop
My point is that Joss Whedon has a great talent for creating interesting characters, sometimes relateable, sometimes worthy of getting punched in the nose, but his shows usually make for good television. At least until the seasonal rot sets in because he overdid it. And one thing he always overdoes? Drama. Drama, baby, drama. Having the characters suffer more than is necessary or repeatedly until it gets boring. Angsting until watching becomes a chore. But mostly he just gets bored and the episodes start to suffer from a pure script perspective.

From the audio commentaries on the Firefly episodes, what happened in the movie, the comics, and all the little auxiliary material I found out that Firefly was going exactly in that direction. Killing characters that didn't deserve it, Inara - aka the space hooker - contracting a fatal disease.


I think what I am trying to say with my verbal diatribe is that creating a good show is easy - or not, looking at the overall quality of TV - , having it stay good, now that is hard. Whedon knows how to create a world and characters, he has yet to learn when to stop. His shows are good in small doses I think. Watch a few episodes, get the feel for it, that kinda thing. Don't try to binge, they are often too repetitive and monster of the week based, a flaw that crops up in a lot of 90s shows that aren't B5 or DS9. We only have 14 episodes of Firefly, maybe that's a good dose, maybe it's good that we only have the good, that we didn't have to endure a second or third season with all the ideas run dry, the characters being killed off or punished until you stop caring or start getting annoyed... sometimes being short lived is a blessing in disguise. Short and sweet. I'm running out of similies so: The End. 

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