Richard’s Year of Movies — Serenity
May 27, 2010 1 Comment
I don’t have anything against Joss Whedon. It’s his fans that drive me up the wall.
Buffy and Angel never really grabbed me, but I could appreciate why they worked for other people. The problem was when some of those other people elevated them to such insane levels of worship, and Whedon by association, that it turned me off the guy. The “Joss Whedon is my master now” t-shirts certainly didn’t help matters any. There was this palpable sense that if you didn’t bow before the altar of Joss, you were an unwashed heathen who deserved every ounce of hurt the prequels gave you, and nothing rankles me like being told I need to like something. So I carried a bit of a grudge.
And yes, I indulged in some schadenfreude when Serenity came out and bombed, simply because Firefly fans had become so damned insufferable about it. They should have been grateful a feature film based on a canceled TV show that barely made it to 13 episodes got made at all, but no, there they were screaming about how we had to make it a hit. Like I had some personal responsibility to put money into Joss Whedon’s pocket. And the grudge deepened.
So when SciFi ran a Firefly marathon a few years ago, and I had nothing better to do that day, I figured I’d watch it and see just how flimsy this altar was on which the Browncoats worshipped.
And the damn thing won me over.
One of my biggest complaints about Whedon is that his dialog is sometimes a bit too perfect. Everyone manages to say the most wittily appropriate things at the most delightfully appropriate times. But while that bugged me in the more reality-based settings of Buffy and Angel (yeah, I know vampires aren’t real, but that aside, that was our world on screen in those shows), it worked for me in a larger-than-life setting filled with spaceships and cowboys. I liked the universe he’d created. I liked the interplay of the cast. I just plain liked the show. Enough to buy the DVD set a few weeks later (and a steep discount price didn’t really hurt in that decision).
Flash-forward to last week, when I decided to re-watch the series and, to my surprise and delight, my wife got into it. She’s a pretty finicky TV watcher. She loves Alias and Family Guy and West Wing, but she’s not a genre freak like I am. So to have her actually ask me, “Hey, can we watch more Firefly tonight?” was a real kick. We polished off the series on Monday, and I told her, “Now we get to watch the movie!”
I’d seen it before, and for me, it’s a perfect distillation of the series, and would work even if you’d never seen the show. But if you have, then it works like gangbusters. It’s got a great sense of closure while not tying everything up in a nice tidy bow, there’s some great special effects, especially the final space battle, and it’s got a story that actually feels worthy of a feature film, unlike so many TV-to-movie leaps (Star Trek: The Next Generation, have a seat over there). And my wife liked it. She laughed in the right places, got sad in the right places, and had a great time.
Now if I can only get her to sit through all five seasons of Babylon 5.