Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Thoughts After seeing Serenity

Bill and I saw Serenity this weekend and blogged a little about it before we saw it. I’m not going to review Serenity and I’m not going to compare it to "Firefly." Suffice it to say that both are separate creations even though Serenity stemmed from "Firefly."

What I will do is lament what might have been. Joss Whedon is known for creating story arcs and complicated characters. His TV show, "Buffy the Vampire Slayer," had seven (actually six and a half) glorious seasons.

I enjoyed "Buffy." It was smart, funny, tender, and other good things. Most of all, its characters developed over time. Buffy started out as a teenage girl worried about little more than making a cheerleader squad.

By the end of the series, she had the world on her shoulders. You saw exactly what that meant, as she grew older. You saw the toll slaying vampires and demons took on her and those around her. But, she and her cohorts accepted their responsibilities and became better persons for them. Despite its otherworldly premise, you knew that the vampires and demons were metaphors, but Whedon never hit you over the head with allegory.

"Firefly" was supposed to be another "Buffy." It had a story arc and great characters. Fox Network never understood Whedon’s genius. They shuffled episode order making it impossible to follow the story arc. They insisted on character changes. They changed its time slots and pre-empted it for sports. They finally killed it after showing only 11 of the fourteen episodes Whedon made.

If Fox had trusted Whedon’s creation (and if fans had followed it) we would now have about 70 episodes of "Firefly." We would have seen characters change and grow. We would have seen loyalties rewarded and treachery punished. Now we have 14 episodes and Serenity, a two-hour movie. It feels like starting a long, rewarding novel and realizing that its last 50 chapters are missing.

Whedon didn’t give up on his show and fans bought "Firefly" DVDs—enough so that Universal decided to release Serenity. The movie has done okay in the box office, but not as well as one might expect with a built-in fan base. It could mean there will be no more "Firefly" or no movie sequels. Such a shame.

Where else will we see freedom-loving characters who think government only gets in the way? Where else will we see a mare’s leg Winchester used with Zoe’s grace? Where else will we see a crew of cranky libertarians on a creaky ship sticking their fingers in the government’s eye?

I’d like to see more of these characters. I told Bill I’d like to see the movie again and I might even buy an extra seat. Maybe you should too.

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