the-tragedy
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TAKE ME WHERE I CANNOT STAND

19 January 2005

Last Christmas one of the prized things I got as a present was the whole series of Firefly on DVD. For those of you unacquainted with it, let me give you a historic brief on, or a brief history of, the show.

Firefly is a recent science-fiction/western series made by Joss Whedon, the man who also brought you Buffy the Vampire Slayer and a handful of spin-offs. Firefly is his latest sleight of hand, and quite a parlour trick it is! Crossbreeding the spaghettiwestern with the rough 'n tough science fiction in equal portions, the show can lay claim to a rather unique setting (though not so unique that it wasn't already touched upon by the Blizzard computergame Starcraft). Now Firefly is good. Very good, even. How could you assert this without having seen it? Very simple: on the very fact that it was cancelled by the Fox network after only 14 episodes. Following the very reasonable logic that if a show gets axed by Fox, it must be incredible (after all, they also canned Futurama and Farscape, amongst others), one can make up ones own maths.

Last week I held a laid-back marathon (meaning we watched a bundle of episodes every day but not attempted watching the whole thing at once) with two of my friends. I had coerced them to watch the show and they agreed to do so solely on my own conviction. Therefore my trustworthiness and taste were at stake. To be honest, there were a few moments before the marathon where I was fearful that the show might not be as good as I remembered when I first saw it a year ago. I prepped myself for uninterested friends at worst.

Fortunately, Whedon struck back with a vengeance. His show stands like a house, a powerhouse no less. Firefly is filled to brim with style and well-crafted dialogue (always a trademark of Whedon's); with superb acting and a splendid balance between familiar scifi/western-themes (laserguns vs. shotguns, hospitalraids vs. trainheists) and surprising takes on both. The overall theme of the show is the longing to be free: the poetic ideal of space similar to the craving old Romantic painters had for the ocean. It even managed to sway one particular buddy, who was a purported Whedon-hater. His name is Tom Jilesen. If you want his phonenumber you can email me.

Seriously though; Firefly stands as a supremely recommended show. It's a very intelligent series and befits the line of quality television that is made these days. Firefly dares to be all-out fantasy and lovingly dabbles in and plays with its own idiosyncrasies. It's brilliant. And the best thing is, there's going to be a movie this year to end the show with a blast. I don't know if it'll reach theatres here in the Netherlands, but anyone with a heart for sciencefiction might consider supporting this promising piece. It is called Serenity, and I'm betting it'll knock your socks off.

Roderick.