Firefly (the show): what do people see in it?

So many of my fellow geeks, including many I consider friends and many whose opinions I otherwise respect, love-love-love the short-lived SF show "Firefly", created by Joss Whedon.

My question is, why? The characters are largely unlikeable, except for Jayne, who (as the only not-metro male) has to be Whedon's whipping boy. The dialogue is pointlessly chirpy and the Chinese is not only pronounced wrong, it's nonsensical—Chinese has its own profanity, Joss, you don't get to make up swearing for them just because they're not white. Also, the big bad "Alliance" dystopia-state? Yeah, they're idiots, their assassins are not only incompetent, they're about as covert as a comic book convention. And who'd test a gas with unknown properties on a civilian population? Who'd give their brainwashed telepaths super-soldier training? I mean me, if I'm training someone I might have to send on a suicide mission, I don't want them to be able to read my mind and know that!

And, Lord love a duck, the science. Multiple planets with earth-standard gravity and sunlight, terraforming in a few centuries, couples making out under starship engines and not dying. They seem to think messing with your engine's radiation shielding is a matter of "you'll get sick breathing it in"; it isn't. It's a matter of "your silhouette will be burned into the walls". Decent rockets are basically, bare minimum, nuclear submarines—one major design, the Orion rocket, is essentially a series of hydrogen bombs detonated under an armor plate.

Finally, the Reavers shouldn't be able to cooperate long enough to crew a ship.

So what was I missing? What, exactly, do people like about this show? There's gotta be a few people on here who can explain it.

Beats me. ;)

I tried it once, hated it. Never tried it again. Like you said, the characters are annoying, lacking in empathy and genuine goodness.

I thought the storylines were interesting, the charcters fun to watch, and the overall premise of the show enjoyable. I didn't pay attention to the science of space at all, which may have made the program more enjoyable for me as I wasn't thrown out of fantasy land into reality every time they did something that wasn't scientifically possible. I can definitely see how if you get that stuff it'd be hard to overlook to enjoy the show.

[quote="takers, post:3, topic:226543"]
I thought the storylines were interesting, the charcters fun to watch, and the overall premise of the show enjoyable. I didn't pay attention to the science of space at all, which may have made the program more enjoyable for me as I wasn't thrown out of fantasy land into reality every time they did something that wasn't scientifically possible. I can definitely see how if you get that stuff it'd be hard to overlook to enjoy the show.

[/quote]

See, I can sorta see that, though the storylines weren't to my taste. But a bunch of people seem to think it's really realistic, just because the spaceships move right and there's no sound in the space shots. But to me, isn't that just credit to the special effects people, not the writers?

I definitely enjoyed it, but not as much as a lot of people. The series was simply too short for me to compare it with other sci fi style shows. For me, it's good, but nowhere near as good as shows like Babylon 5 and Battlestar Galactica.

[quote="Bataar, post:5, topic:226543"]
I definitely enjoyed it, but not as much as a lot of people. The series was simply too short for me to compare it with other sci fi style shows. For me, it's good, but nowhere near as good as shows like Babylon 5 and Battlestar Galactica.

[/quote]

I don't like BSG either, but I understand what people were getting out of it. It's just the train-wreck spectacle of all the political intrigue, the thing that keeps shows like Rome, the Tudors, and even the Sopranos going. Nobody's really coming for stories focused on space, futuristic militaries, or artificial intelligence—except for me, which is why I didn't like it.

Babylon 5, though, was everything TV SF could be, or very close to it. Maybe it was just that Straczynski is a Jungian, and Jungian archetypes are like paint-by-numbers for engaging stories. Oddly enough it had Harlan Ellison as a story consultant, and yet it was very different from the kind of story he usually likes to write.

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nathan_Fillion

He’s on Castle now.

It’s a SciFi Western with a touch of Star Wars in it!

That show had a great cast of actors and the characters they played were personable and believable.

I like Firefly. But I am not really the traditional SF fan. I did watch the entire Star Trek Voyager series and loved it, but have not seen more than a few episodes of the other star treks and have never seen BSG or Babylon 5.

I enjoyed the characters. Jayne was fun though not my favorite, Wash is the comedian, Zoe is just awesome, Mal is a mystery/cowboy, Inara is sophisticated but on that ****** ship, and Kylee always sees the upside. I guess I really liked the ensemble nature and how they interacted.

I thought most of the dialogue was witty/sarcastic with a dry sense of humor that I enjoy.

Also, I liked the premise of a space western, kind of like the anime Cowboy Bebop.

[quote="jilly4ski, post:8, topic:226543"]
Also, I liked the premise of a space western, kind of like the anime Cowboy Bebop.

[/quote]

Bebop, if you've seen the whole thing, is actually a yakuza movie. But I agree on the similarity; that was actually something I said to Firefly fans of my acquaintance: "I liked this thing better when it was called Cowboy Bebop."

Maybe a part of why I don't like Firefly is, I actually live in the West and know its history, and Whedon could've done a little more work on that aspect of it. Actually, a lot more work.

[quote="Hastrman, post:9, topic:226543"]
Bebop, if you've seen the whole thing, is actually a yakuza movie. But I agree on the similarity; that was actually something I said to Firefly fans of my acquaintance: "I liked this thing better when it was called Cowboy Bebop."

[/quote]

:rotfl:

I don't think I ever saw all of cowboy bebop, or maybe not in order, so I didn't get a lot of it. :p

I liked it; it was a western in space, and lighthearted adventure, like Hercules and Xena, Warrior Princess. Or that Legend of the Seeker show.

A bit too much sexiness, for my tastes. Guess that's what happens when you have a whore as a main character.

Still,

"Psychic? That sounds like something out of science fiction!"
"You live on a space ship, dear..."
"So?"

I can't imagine Mal with Spike's hairdo. They may both have a dystopian space-western setting, but there's no parallel beyond that at all. I mean, where's Ein? Ok, Jayne sounds similar, and they're both hairy, but that's about it.

It's fiction. Star trek has teleporters and phase shifting, and tribbles. Battlestar Galactica has walking chrome toasters among ships that still have wired telephones. Babylon 5 had like two aliens that weren't bipedal. The computer on Alien looked like it operated on vacuum tubes and was outdated when the Apple II came out. And you're worried about people making out under spaceship engine and not frying? C'mon. It's not like they're making any theoretical science hypotheses on that show. Nobody believes The Godfather is how the mafia really operates either, any more than Ally McBeal is what the world of law practice is like.

It's probably not even correct to classify Firefly as "science fiction" because it doesn't even have the science aspect of it. It would probably be be more apt to classify it as a space opera, or just a drama that happens to be in space, or something.

As for why people like it, Joss Whedon's writing is generally pretty good. He's snarky, he's amusing, he creates characters with multiple layers, throws them in situations that challenge them not only physically, but emotionally, mentally, and ethically. And victory in the Whedon-verse is not always what one expects, nor is victory even apparent.

People like it because it's fun. It throws a lot of familiar elements together in a way that is fresh and amusing and involving, and most viewers feel like they have something invested in it, like they have a stake in what the characters get out of each episode.

I found most the characters to be very endearing, and Joss Whedon is a fantastic writer, as for the science you're complaining about....

"Repeat to yourself 'It's just a show, I should really just relax'" :cool:

As for the Cowboy Bebop comparison.... Yes, they're both western/asian hyrbrid futures with bounty hunters.. That's about it.
I quite enjoy both, and wouldn't say anything was "ripped off'

I generally have a pretty high tolerance before my "suspension of disbelief" would be suspended too far. I don't expect TV shows, especially science fiction shows, to conform that closely with reality. Sometimes they have to suspend a few natural laws to move the plot in the right direction. That's just how fiction works. :)

I agree with Dtmccameron about the "sexiness" factor being a little too much for my tastes, but otherwise I enjoyed the show. I think it wasn't until 5 or so episodes in that I actually started getting into it, and then there were only a few more left. It was an interesting concept to me: a show set entirely in space and on other planets with no aliens.

I think the point about the characters being "unlikeable" has some truth to it. I think that was almost the point. The characters did have rough edges to them. I guess I found many of them to be more sympathetic than I otherwise would have because I only watched the show after first seeing Nathan Fillion in Castle, Adam Baldwin in Chuck, Gina Torres in Alias, and Alan Tudyk in A Knight's Tale. :p It helps to connect with the characters when you're already familiar with the actors, I guess.

Does anyone here watch Castle? Last season for the Halloween episode, Nathan Fillion came out dressed in his Firefly costume. His daughter asked what he was supposed to be and he said "Space cowboy." To which she replied: "Didn't you already wear that like 5 years ago? It's time to move on, Dad." :D

And for anyone who is interested in Firefly and hard rock/heavy metal music, the band Star One did a song about Firefly on their most recent album: Earth That Was. It is my favorite song on the album. :)

First, it is not sci-fi, so any points about hyper-drive realities or whatnot are irrelevant. :D Second, I like Jayne too. :) Third, it seems to be for people who like a reasonably sized cast that is put in various amusing situations for the purpose of generating opportunities for light, zinger, bantering dialogue. No character has real issues, just fake ones for tension, etc. It is not a drama. It is supposed to be a fun show. Someone compared it to Zena, and I agree on that.

The alliance pukes exist to offer "dangerous" situations for the characters to be brave in and have more bantering dialogue, nothing more. Oh, I suppose also they make the main characters more appealing by comparison.

I am not a fan, but my spouse loves it. I have watched *every *episode, therefore.:p The sex irritated me, but it was still within watchable (ignorable) levels for me, but I am a creature of my culture.

I have to agree its a space western.

Star Trek, the original series was a kiddie cowboy serial set in Space, Battlestar Galactica (original) was considered Wagon Train in space by Lorne Green (Col. Adama). Space Above and Beyond another great show cut short after 2 seasons by FOX was a war movie set in space. And likewise Firefly was pretty much a spaghetti western set in space, a Magnificent Seven or Good, Bad and Ugly like alliance of unlikely heroes.

I was personally convinced the Captain/Mal character in Firely so much resembled the personality of Capt. Han Solo I viewed each episode of Firefly almost as if watching the continuing Adventures of Han Solo without Chewbacca.:D

[quote="Hastrman, post:6, topic:226543"]
I don't like BSG either, but I understand what people were getting out of it. It's just the train-wreck spectacle of all the political intrigue, the thing that keeps shows like Rome, the Tudors, and even the Sopranos going. Nobody's really coming for stories focused on space, futuristic militaries, or artificial intelligence—except for me, which is why I didn't like it.

Babylon 5, though, was everything TV SF could be, or very close to it. Maybe it was just that Straczynski is a Jungian, and Jungian archetypes are like paint-by-numbers for engaging stories. Oddly enough it had Harlan Ellison as a story consultant, and yet it was very different from the kind of story he usually likes to write.

[/quote]

Firefly was OK for TV sci fi. The series was too short to tell if it would develop. Sadly a lot of shows aren't given enough time to get polished.

I didn't like the new BSG, way too complicated for me. I don't have time to be glued to the TV so any show where I miss and episode or two and can't figure out what is going on loses me. I also didn't like them taking an established male character and casting the role as female.

I loved Babylon 5 because although it did have a lot of plots you could still jump back in. Harlan Ellison at least knows how to tell a story. Story telling has fallen by the wayside in so many ways, but has really disappeared in sci fi when they put all the $$ in the special effects. That's what happened to Avatar. Gorgeous to look at but no story to even remember.

Not my favorite show, but I enjoyed the episodes I managed to see. I liked it's grittyness, the honest rawness of the characters and their conflicts and moral dilemmas.

I really enjoyed Firefly. Unfortunately, I saw the movie before seeing the series, but either way I thought they were both excellent. The cast was great, and each of the characters was memorable if not always loveable. Their interactions provided a lot of great comedy and that to me really made the series stand out. Looking at Firefly from a strictly scientific point of view strikes me as kind of silly as pretty much any scifi series is going to fail to meet that standard. I have to say, though, I really don't get the comparison to Bebop. My memory may be failing me here since it's been a few years since I saw Cowboy Bebop, but I never really liked it all that much (apart from the music, that is. Fantastic music in that series.).

-CK

Firefly was a Western with a sci-fi backdrop. What's not to get about cowboys in space? It worked for Star Trek 40 years ago, after all. In particular it explores concepts of frontier and freedom. It has the interesting perspective of the captain and first-mate being on the losing end of a Union / Confederacy fight, only this time the "Confederates" didn't practice slavery and the higher-ups in the "Union" do. The whole thing reeks of Star Trek, Bonanza, and Mark Twain.

On a side note: I never found Firefly to have anything substantially in common with Cowboy Bebop other than the fact that they used science-fiction backdrops. Bebop always struck me as a production based around Jazz themes and variants of Film Nior. While it has some wild west trappings it really never seemed to dip a toe into that genre except for where they both borrow from Samurai tragedies.

  • Marty Lund
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