Monday, September 30, 2002

Firefly is one of the new sci-fi series that is in the Fall lineup. It’s peculiar in that it tries to treat the distant future straight, with regard to space travel. This is no Star Trek. No phasers or teleportation. No aliens. Just colonized worlds. No alabaster cities, there, either. This is a slightly dark future where these colonies resemble the Wild West, right down to the oxen used to haul goods and farmers just trying to scratch out a living. Any scifi context comes through the space travel between these planets, which is where ‘Firefly’ comes in. Firefly is a class of starship dedicated to ferry goods and occasionally people from planet to planet.

The series centers around one ship, Serenity, which is a Firefly-class ship. In the scheme of things in this future, Serenity is a small ship, with no apparent weapons. Serenity’s crew is headed up by Captain Malcolm “Mal” Reynolds (Nathan Fillion). While he’s not exactly a white knight, there s a lot of good in him and he keeps the rest of the crew together. There is a rather varied cast here, but all that needs to be said is that each of them has an extremely peculiar personality, especially the enigmatic River, a young girl who is apparently far more than she appears.

The collision of Wild West and space colonization is an interesting concept. I’m intrigued by the prevalence of both American and Chinese cultures on the show (one scene features a bar, with signs written out in English and Chinese). Even the costumes are faithful to the western 1800’s theme, with outfits reflecting that genre, as well as pistols.

I do have a few problems with the series. Since everything happens away from Earth, that aspect is explained by the narrator at the beginning of every show: "…in the future when the Earth was all used up...." that’s the best premise we can come up with? It just shows a woeful ignorance of basic economics.

Some moral aspects of the show also bother me. Mal lost his faith in God from when he joined the Browncoats against the established Alliance. The Browncoats lost, and he has questioned Him ever since. Also, one of the passengers on Serenity is a beautiful "Companion" which is more-or-less a high-priced, well, you know. Hopefully I’ll get over these qualms.

I think the ships and the effects are pretty cool, and the storyline looks a bit intriguing. I can live with the shortcomings for now.