Explain Firefly

I just finished reading the “Explain Buffy” thread, which contained a semi-discussion of the efficacy of purchasing television show DVDs. I didn’t want to hijack the thread any further by turning the discussion to Firefly.

I haven’t seen it and I can’t really tell from the few articles I’ve read what it’s about. I’m a huge Buffy/Angel fan, but I don’t tend to gravitate toward science fiction Star-Trek type shows. Is that what this is? Or what? Will a non sci-fi lover dig Firefly?

Just like Buffy isn’t really about a teenagers fighting vampires, Firefly isn’t really a sci-fi western show. And this is definately not a Star Trek kinda show. None of the plots, that I can think of, turn on technology much. (But unlike Star Trek, they actualy get right that there’s no freaking sound in space. ) It’s about characters.

Just watch the first episode - “Serenity,” that is, not the one that the stupid stupid Fox network showed first.

I don’t want to spoil some of the surprises by telling you too much.

Not sure - do you like Westerns? :slight_smile:

It’s dark - darker than most serial Sci-Fi, with morally grey hero/heroine figures and a rich setting with many layers to it. The focus is largely on characters rather than technology, and there’s a stong “caper” element to a lot of the action.
It’s like the best bits of Babylon 5. So no, not at all like technofetishistic Trek (DS9 excepted).

In flavour, I think there’s less of the teen angst of Buffy, more of the (darker) flavour of Angel, FWIW.

And some truly hot men and women thrown in. I’d swing for Capt. Reynolds, myself!
But only if I could drag myself away from the fiiiine wimmuns.

Firefly takes place in a low-tech setting, so there’s little in the way of geeky sci-fi nomenclature to drag things down. It’s more of a Jesse James type Western than sci-fi show. It bears very little resemblance to Star Trek.

The power of the show is in its characters. Captain Mal and his sidekick Zoe are veterans of a war, and their side lost. Bad. Now they make their living as space smugglers, and took aboard more not-so-savory types as their crew. You’ve got Jayne, the big guy who’s mean as a snake and will turn on you if the money’s right. You’ve got Wash, the ship’s pilot and Zoe’s husband, who occasionally gets jealous of Zoe’s and Mal’s relationship. You’ve got Kaylee, the most darling engineer ever. There’s also Inara, a high-class call girl who despite making tons of money and providing contacts for future crew endeavors, gets constant heat from Mal. Then there’s passengers Simon and River, brother and sister on the run from Alliance secret societies, and Book, a travelling minister with a sinister past. The bulk of their shows are about deals gone bad, or brushes with the law.

What’s so cool about the show is the way they blow away any sort of cliche. If Captain Mal walks into a hostage situation, he goes right ahead and shoots the guy than taking a second to listen to his demands.

I’m kind of “eh” about Buffy/Angel, but Firefly is simply outstanding. Non sci-fi fans definitely dig it. It’s honest, moving, and just plain plain hilarious. FOX really dropped the ball on this.

Hopefully this won’t be too spoilerish.

  1. Rent the collected DVDS and watch it. It’s a great series.

  2. The tech level is similar to something we saw in some of Heinlein’s novels (Time Enough for Love) in which, in a marginal space travel setting, only those things which absolutely have to be high-tech are high-tech, and everything else is whatever they can get their hands on. So, they have spaceships and hyposprays, but since projectile weapons work just as well as lasers (and don’t need anywhere as near as much technology to repair, restock or replace), they use bullets. The tech in the series is way understated. I’m not sure how they got the cowboy lingo back into the world, but go with it. It works.

  3. Howdy, Opal!

Firefly subverts the genre the way Buffy did. Izzy, do you remember the scene in the very first episode of Buffy, where the two teenagers are wandering through the empty school late at night? You know that they are going to get attacked…it’s expected. How does Joss twist it? The girl is the vampire. That is the kind of twist that he throws into Firefly everywhere. Character-driven, but the characters are never exactly what you expect. They have layers.

It’s worth the money. Go buy the DVD’s already! :smiley:

This is the story of a misfit crew in a cargo ship, I believe about 500 years in the future. There are no aliens, and much of the technology is what they can cobble together (a similar situation to the rebel forces in Star Wars). It is very much a character driven show. Think of Han Solo in an alien free world starting out as a smuggler and surrounded by a group of interesting people from varied backgrounds. That is the best comparison I can make. The characters make mistakes and they pay for them, just like in all of Whedon’s shows. I really liked the show and found it to be much better done than the last two seasons of Buffy. The episode about the Mudders and Jayne had me laughing the whole time. I definitely recommend that you check it out.

Wow, I spawned a thread!

For the record, I love Firefly. Knowed Out had a really good explanation of the show. Like all of Joss Whedon’s endeavors, it’s the characters as much as the setting that makes the show.

mbacko1, if you like that episode, make sure you check out the Easter egg on the last disc. If you haven’t, the way to it is to select one of the little scroll things on the menu screen.

Obviously, I like *Firefly * too. One great thing is that it has a lot going on, and is eminently rewatchable. I popped in “Serenity” for my inlaws, thinking I would go do something or other while they watched it, but I found myself glued to the couch, spotting Blue Sun ads, noting clues about the Sino-American Alliance, and just loving the wonderful characters, dialog, and cinematography.

I definitely recommend watching a second time with the commentaries. I’m not one to notice film-making stuff, but once things were pointed out to me, I did start to appreciate things like the dramatic use of silence in space, deliberately allowing lens flares, the almost exclusive use of practical lighting, and so on.

Just weighing in on the characters-vs.-plot aspect. Firefly is, indeed, a completely character driven show. There are no good guys, because Our Heroes are technically the bad guys. Like Buffy and Angel, it’s a fantastic exploration of the gray areas in between. Actually, given the western look and feeling of the whole show, maybe they’re light-tan-to-dark-brown areas, now that I think about it.

My all-time favorite example of this comes from “The Train Job” (which is the second episode on the DVDs, gods only know what order Fox showed them in): Captain Mal tries to reason with a big tough guy and his minions. Tough Guy more or less spits in his face. What to do? Well, if you’re Mal, you kick him into the engine’s intake (which makes a really satisfying sound) and move to the next guy in line, maybe he’ll cooperate.

As with all Whedon creations, the dialogue is fast and witty, but don’t be surprised when characters break into Chinese on occasion. I must have backed up the DVD five times to figure out what got said before it occured to me to use the subtitles :smack: , which merely said something to the effect of “[Speaking Chinese]”.

When explaining it to my best friend, I said something to the effect of “It’s a space western. Kinda like the Millennium Falcon hooked up with the A-Team. Just trust me.”

One of the most interesting things about Firefly in my view is the fact that, while it has a lot of lead characters, I don’t find that any of them are particularly under-used.

Also, it has the best moment ever, which I will put in a spoiler box.

[SPOILER] Mal has told Simon, a doctor, that if Kayleigh dies from a gunshot wound she received because of Simon’s presence on the ship, that Mal will basically toss Simon and his sister out an airlock.

During a short conversation with Simon, Mal informs him that Kayleigh’s died, sending Simon sprinting for the medical bay - only to find that Kayleigh’s quite alive and well. The scene cuts to the bridge, where Mal has just told Wash, Zoe, and Jayne what he just did to Simon, and they’re laughing hilariously.

“Oh, I’m a bad, bad man.” - Mal. [/SPOILER]

CandidGamera, this is totally off-topic, but I’ve been meaning to tell you I think your signature is really shiny. I smile everytime I read it.

Why, thank you. I’ve kept it longer than any of my short-lived previous sigs because I’ve received no less than 5 compliments on it. So I’m pleased with it.

Off-off-topic, has anyone else besides me, and apparently Jenny here, started using ‘shiny’ in everyday conversation as a result of Firefly?

No, but I have been heard to say, “I’ll be in ma bunk…”

I’ve used shiny a bit. I’ve also used gorramn (gorram?).

Shiny occasionally. Gorram a lot. ‘I’ll be in my bunk’ on those rare occasions I have an opportunity.

I’m still waiting for a chance to use ‘The special hell’.

I’m a huge Buffy/Angel fan, and not at all a Star Trek fan.

I rented disc 1 on Netflix, and after watching the first, 2-part episode, I promptly returned the DVD, without watching the other 2 eps…and ran out and bought the whole series.

I NEVER got hooked on a show faster than I did with Firefly. It’s not about technology, it’s about the characters (even the ship is more like a character than it is a techno-thing). Joss Whedon and Tim Minear really did a wonderful job making likeable characters. I think this was a wonderful show, and COULD have been truly special, if given the chance.

PS: I hate Fox.

PPS: and the WB.

Just to chime in, once I got hooked and bought the DVDs, I lent them to my sister. That was about six months ago, and I haven’t seen my DVDs since. She passed them around to all her friends, and now I think my mom has them at the moment. These are very emphatically NOT sci-fi people. I doubt they’ve seen three episodes of any Star Trek between them. Every single one of them has fallen in love with the show, and they’re all planning on being there opening day next year to watch the Firefly movie, Serenity.

If you pay even a little attention, incidentally, you’ll see that the show was deliberately set up as the anti-Star Trek. The real bad guys in the show are the “Alliance” (NOT the Federation, nuh uh, nope, totally different), whose ship interiors are oddly reminiscent of your average Star Trek set. There are no aliens. Money is still all-important. And as for the chain of command? Well, “the chain of command is the chain I go get and beat you with until you figure out who’s in ruttin’ command around here!”

Scott Kurtz’s online-comic strip PVP did a series about Firefly. It sums up what happened to my wife and me perfectly. Funny stuff.


Smeghead , I heard rumors of a movie, is it true!?!?!?

It’s true! They got the whole cast, too!

What are the odds of the movie respawning the series, assuming it does well at the theater? That would be cool…