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Tuesday, 14 May 2013

From Pete's World: Firefly and Serenity

Hey y'all. This is Ley, not Pete. There is no Pete here. It's a reference to the Doctor's name for the Alternate Universe the TARDIS falls into in "Rise of the Cybermen".
So, this is the first in what may be an ongoing column about other sci-fi shows/movies. First up: series Firefly and the film sequel to that series, Serenity. Both are from the mind of Joss Whedon (Buffy, Angel, "Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog").

Firefly was a 2002 sci-fi TV series that ran for one season. It follows the crew or the starship Serenity, a Firefly class "transport" ship, and by transport I mean smuggling. The premise is that 500 years in the future, the resources on this earth have been used up and the population too large to fit our numbers. They terraformed planets and moons to make space for the human race, and a group called the Alliance tried to force all the planets into their rule, like an evil version of the United Nations. Of course, people fought a war against the Alliance to prevent the union, but they lost and the central planets are firm under the Alliance's control and lush with 26th century technology. The outer planets resemble the 1800s after an alien visitation. (Speaking of aliens, I know that can be a big magnet in the sci-fi culture, and I will tell you now that there are no aliens. Unless you include an upside-down mutated cow fetus.) The crew of Serenity is made up of Captain Malcom Reynolds (Nathan Fillion, "Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog), First Mate Zoë Washburne (Gina Torres), Pilot Hoban "Wash" Washburne, (Alan Tudyk), Mechanic Kaylee Frye (Jewel Staite), Mercinary Jayne Cobb (Adam Baldwin), and Registered Companion (kinda like an refined, respectable prostitute) Inara Serra (Morrena Baccarin). In the very first episode, they pick up four additional passengers, only three of whom they are aware of and three of whom who stay. They are joined by Shepherd (equivalent to a pastor) Derrial Book (Ron Glass), Dr. Simon Tamm (Sean Maher) and his sister, River (Summer Glau). Generally speaking, each of the episodes involves the rag-tag band accomplishing different jobs to earn money, and avoid the Alliance because there are fugitives hiding upon good ship Serenity. The ending on the Firefly series is very easy to add to; the entire main cast is alive and there are more unanswered questions than answered ones.

The feature-length follow-up movie, Serenity, came out in 2005 and followed the same premise. Serenity gives closure to the plot of Firefly, mostly dealing with the curious case of the Tamms. The Alliance is hot on the tails of these fugitives, and we learn more about River and what happened to her in the Alliance Labs (I'd elaborate, but spoilers) and why she is so wanted back by the Alliance. The ending of the movie gives restitution to the story line and leaves a smile on your face.

Especially in the first episode of the series and in the movie, there are long periods of shooting and other violence, which left me bored. Once you make it past the first scene of the first episode, there is not that much shooting (but there is violence) until the movie, when it is not anywhere near as boring. Overall, the series is not overly gory, but it does feature much mature content. They are rated TV-14 and PG-13 respectively, but they do come very close to some topics that may be very disturbing even to adults.

Although the series attracts the same crowd as Doctor Who, it does not share much in common. It is much darker and less fanciful, as well as, like I said, being very much for an older audience.

The first episode of Firefly, "Serenity", is 1hr 30mins. All the other episodes are about 45 minutes long.
The movie is just under two hours.

Take my love.
Take my land.
Take me where I cannot stand.
I don't care, I'm still free.
You can't take the sky from me.

Take me out to the black.
Tell em I ain't comin' back.
Burn the land and boil the sea.
You can't take the sky from me.

There's no place I can be
Since I found Serenity.
But you can't take the sky from me.