I can’t count how many times I’ve been told that Firefly was one of the best sci-fi shows on TV. Joss Whedon has garnered a huge following, all of whom adore him for his fantastic vision and superior writing.
The SciFi Channel began running Firefly from the beginning last Friday night. I set TiVo to get it, since as a sci-fi fan I’ve been somewhat interested since I first heard about the show. That said, I had never seen an episode until this weekend.
I watched part one of the Pilot, “Serenity”, on Saturday night. It was completely underwhelming. For some reason, many folks mentioned to me that Firefly was “like a western set in space”. I thought they meant it has western-like thematic elements; things such as a ‘frontier’ attitude, man vs. nature as mankind expands, conflict over territory, small towns with a single lawman, etc. What I didn’t expect was western costuming, western weapons (including a cut down Winchester rifle with enlarged lever loop, a la “The Rifleman”), a western theme song, and horses (?!?) in the opening credits. Frankly, I was really put off by this.
Genre is important to a story, but at the same time, an action story set in Wyoming in 1870 is going to have certain things in common with an action story set on Ganymede in 2287. That said, I’m not sure that the hero on Ganymede in 2287 is going to be wearing the same trousers, boots, duster and pistol belt as the 19th century hero from Wyoming. It’s a matter of taste, and I’m not enthused about it right now. They also failed miserably on the consistency of their costuming/prop choices. In the opening battle scene, Mal is fighting with a prop rifle that was clearly based on a real-world G-36 assault rifle. Later on, after his fall from grace, he is wielding a custom made prop pistol very obviously styled after the black-powder Colt 1865 Army / Remington Army pistols of the mid to late 19th century. His crew also appeared to carry several ‘western’ looking weapons, complete with Hollywood style pistol rigs and tie-downs, while the thugs he faced were armed with an M-203 assault weapon, and a stainless steel Colt 1911. Why aren’t the weapons the same across the board? Or at least from the same era/design theme? That really annoys me.
All that aside, the Pilot still suffered from some slow plotting, dialogue that was hard to hear – thank you TiVo – and wooden characters. I know that it’s still very early in the run of the series, but the show has a long way to go before I can rank it where many of its diehard fans already do. We’ll see how it plays out.