Monday, 2 July 2012

TV Review: Firefly Season 1 Episode 1 "Serenity"

‘Firefly’ is the very definition of a “cult favourite”, the series was cancelled prematurely by FOX in 2002 after airing only 14 episodes. Since that time its quality has been lauded by critics and has developed a dedicated and loyal fanbase. Critics and fans alike all agree upon the mistake FOX made in the cancellation. This has led to a great many fan campaigns in order to get the show back on the air, even the show’s cast and crew such as lead actor Nathan Fillion and creator Joss Whedon have spoken of their wish to continue the show if possible.

In the series’ first episode the audience is introduced to the dynamic crew of the Firefly-class spaceship “Serenity” and their adventures in the “Wild West” landscape of space in the year 2517.

The episode begins by showing the end of the Unification War during which Sgt. Malcolm “Mal” Reynolds and Cpl. Zoe Alleyne fight on the side of the Browncoats, trapped without air support they quickly lose the fight against the Alliance in the battle of ‘Serenity Valley’. Six years later Mal is the captain of a Firefly-class ship named Serenity, his crew, which includes his former comrade Zoe, her husband Wash, engineer Kaylee and merc for hire Jayne Cobb, take any odd jobs no matter the legal status and transport passengers in order to scrape by, but when a passenger they are transporting has a secret that could put the entire ship at risk, Mal must make some difficult choices and do his best to command his ship under tough conditions.

With a stunning cast it isn’t hard to see why Firefly is as good as it is. Nathan Fillion is phenomenal as Malcolm Reynolds and brings a fresh take to the badass captain role, his humour and easygoing acting style make him an instantly likable and respectable character, and a perfect person to lead the crew of the Serenity. The remainder of the characters in the show become more unique as the series goes on since this episode focuses primarily on establishing the characters, story and universe rather than deeply developing upon its characters.

Just 3 of firefly's great cast.

What has always been my favourite aspect of Firefly is Joss Whedon. His writing is just superb, he truly understands his characters and gives them such flair and wit without it seeming unrealistic or too “written”, for other examples of his fine work in television have a look at ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer’ and its spinoff ‘Angel’, for a more recent and theatrical example I point to the excellent blockbuster of Marvel’s ‘The Avengers’ which Whedon both wrote and directed.

The universe of the series has clearly expanded from our own and the characters sometimes throw in some Chinese into their speech, this is to show the effect of a joined empire of China and the USA and how it would impact those who live under it. A pretty cool idea, which shows the audience some of the background of the show and demonstrates how the characters live. I, however have never been a big fan of this addition to the series at all, whilst I definitely see its point and importance I still always found it kind of stupid and forced, I never really took it seriously and viewed it as something that could have been left out and would have benefited the show from doing so.

Cobb (played by Adam Baldwin) covers Mal and Zoe.

Firefly has been crafted by Whedon to be as unique as it is, it’s no mistake that the tones of Wild West conflict are present in this space-raiders drama, the very design of the world from its realistic portrayal of scientific advances combined with natural evolutions of current technology and in some cases the use of older items (such as Mal’s handgun) are used to show the influences of the past and romanticisms of the Wild West making the series reminiscent of that era including its many cases of “searching for treasure in a desolate landscape” story arcs.

The promise of more ends this premiere of the series. The promise that the crew will go on more adventures, that the audience will learn more about the world of the show and that more laughs and excitement may be had by the viewer.

1 comment:

  1. Great review, I always wondered why they threw in a bit of Mandarin. Unfortunately, it's too soon for me to watch Firefly and Serenity back to back.