Sunday, September 25, 2005
A word from our sponsor...
Joss Whedon, the Oscar® - and Emmy - nominated writer/director responsible for the worldwide television phenomena of BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER, ANGEL and FIREFLY, now applies his trademark compassion and wit to a small band of galactic outcasts 500 years in the future in his feature film directorial debut, Serenity. The film centers around Captain Malcolm Reynolds, a hardened veteran (on the losing side) of a galactic civil war, who now ekes out a living pulling off small crimes and transport-for-hire aboard his ship, Serenity. He leads a small, eclectic crew who are the closest thing he has left to family -– squabbling, insubordinate and undyingly loyal.
... Ok, maybe that was a bit more than one word but it's over now and we can return to our regular, irregular blogging.
Joss Whedon's first film as a director comes out next Friday and you should plan to see it. Whedon is best known as the creator of the television shows Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and Angel. He also created the television show Firefly, which struggled to grow its audience and was cancelled after one season which was unfortunate because Firefly was one of the best written and most interesting Science Fiction television shows ever.
Whedon has a real talent for dialog and character development, and a proven track record of creating believable, endearing characters in television shows with appallingly silly premises. His first big success, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, was a television spin-off of an amusing but lightweight movie about a high school girl who, in addition to school and homework, must save the world from an outbreak of vampires. Given that unprepossessing premise, there is no particular reason why Buffy should have been one of the best written, and most enjoyable shows on television -- but it was.
Firefly's premise was a bit less problematic; it was set in a future world that had a number of parallels to the western United States just after the Civil War. The show's protagonist had fought on the losing side of a war of succession. He seeks out-of-the-way places where he, his spaceship, and his crew can make a living and try not to attract attention. That last part -- not attracting attention -- turns out to be difficult and provides most of the basis for the plot.
Firefly was very well written and vastly entertaining. The characters were very engaging and the plot had a strong arc to hold the individual episodes together. This is something that Whedon struggles with sometimes -- losing track of where he is going with a series. But if Whedon seemed lost sometimes in Buffy and Angel -- not really knowing where he was going with the story from episode to episode -- he seemed to have the problem under control with Firefly. It was Whedon's best, most mature and most satisfying work to date.
But it had a fatal flaw. If you've been reading closely you might have caught it. Firefly was a Western -- a Space Western -- and for some reason Western's just don't work right now, especially on television. When you bear in mind that it was a Western, you see that it was gutsy of Fox to have backed Firefly at all and small wonder that they pulled the plug.
Once the series was neatly and finally cancelled it could be released as a box set on DVD. The Firefly box set sold quite well and its success doubtless played a role in Whedon's ability to get backing to make a movie based on the series. Serenity opens Friday. I am quite hopeful about it.
If you are a blogger and you are interested in attending a preview showing before the actual release of Serenity you can agree to write about it in your blog and attend a special showing for bloggers. More information is available in this posting on TownHall.com. Maybe I'll see you there.
Update: 9/25 6:30pm
Apparently all the spaces available for bloggers in the preview showing have been spoken for. If you aren't already on the list you will have to wait the extra four days.