Of course, the other reason I’ve been quiet is that my humungoparcel arrived from Amazon. As a result, I’ve finally watched a TV show I never got the chance to see, because its idiot US network cancelled it mid-season – Joss Wheden’s Firefly. Now, while I thought Buffy the Vampire Slayer was one of the finest broad-appeal ‘teen’ series ever made (notwithstanding the fact that I simply can’t stand Sarah Michelle Gellar), I rarely actually watched it, and I was never taken with Angel. I know, I know, fans tell me it’s the better series, but… sorry, I couldn’t be bothered. So I was never exactly a Whedon fan.
Why, then, the interest in Firefly? Confession time: I rather like Westerns. The show turns out to be fairly completely brilliant, with some of the finest ensemble performances I can recall. Nathan Fillion and Adam Baldwin stand out, but that’s somewhat unfair on the remainder of the cast – in particular Jewel Staite, whose character Kaylee appears to have been directly lifted from my friend Briony. Music, costume design, set and lighting – all are top-notch too, the whole delivered with an easy humour and style that’s tremendously infectious.
But it’s easy to see why the series failed to find its audience. Notwithstanding what appears to have been idiotic scheduling by the network, the character development and show pacing appear to be deliberately slow. This fits the old-fashioned feel well, and personally I found it a welcome relief from the often over-worked feel of recent series (Doctor Who suffered a little this way, don’t you think?). But it’s not an easy series to jump into.
Reading between the lines of the ‘making of’ featurettes, it sounds like the network execs were worried about just this point. To be honest, I’m not sure they were wrong. On the other hand, the series has spawned a theatrical movie, Serenity, coming this autumn. There’s even talk that a big enough box-office success might spawn a spin-off TV series. Now, wouldn’t that be a thing?