Friday, September 05, 2008

"My food is problematic"

I thought I’d round up this ‘Week of Geek’ by talking about ‘Firefly’.

First, let me just say that if you haven’t seen Firefly, the DVDs of both the TV series and movie are on sale right now so go out and buy it. (In fact, the movie ‘Serenity’ is on HBO On Demand right now, so check it out).

Quite frankly, Firefly is one of the greatest TV shows of all time.

I knew Firefly was ‘special’ when I first tried to explain the concept to someone. Normally, this is easy, you pick another show it’s similar to and say “It’s like that.” When I tried to do that with Firefly, I found myself stumped. In the end, I think what I finally came up with was:

“Ok, it’s kinda like a Sci-Fi Western. Think spaceships, but with horses and lever-action rifles. It’s really funny, but it’s also serious at the same time…Think of it as a sci-fi western comedy action drama. It’s a bit like Star wars, but not really…and a bit like Red Dwarf…but not really. What the hell, just watch it and you’ll like it.”

The simplest way I can put it is that it’s new. It’s fresh. While it’s certainly a mix of different styles and there are echoes of other TV shows in it…It’s a mixture that to my knowledge hasn’t been done before.

The first time I watched the whole series, I found myself asking the question that every other person who’s watching it asked:

“Why the fuck was this cancelled???”

I mean, it honestly pisses me off that while every single one of the TV networks are cramming their timetables with bullshit reality shows, spin-offs and shows that are nothing but rehashed other shows…Fox chooses to cancel one of the only truly original and truly good shows that’s turned up in years.

Well, when I got the DVD, I watched the special features… and it didn’t take much deduction to work out exactly why they cancelled it.

They cancelled it for the same reason they cancelled Futurama. They had a genius creator, asked him for a new series… and then got really pissed off when the creator didn’t hand them a carbon copy of their old show.

From Matt Groening, the wanted another ‘Simpsons’, despite the fact there was already a ‘Simpsons’. From Joss Whedon, they wanted another ‘Buffy’ or ‘Angel’.

I think it’s really, really sad that the absolute last thing the networks want their creators to do is be creative. Why risk making something truly great when you can rehash the same old shit that’s been clogging the airwaves for decades?

The other thing that made my blood boil watching the behind the scenes stuff on the DVD is just how much Fox interfered with the show. They had Joss Whedon, someone with a proven track record, and then interfered with pretty much every creative decision he made.

They didn’t like the pilot because here wasn’t enough action. Character development was happening too slowly. The women were too strong and the men were too weak. They even showed some of the episodes out of order, because who wants to sit through an hour of amazing storytelling that sets up the whole series when you can skip right to the shooting?

So, what they really wanted was lots of explosions, zero character development and turn all the characters into ‘big strong hero’ and ‘damsel in distress’ clichés. In other words, the things they wanted gone were all the things that made this show different and interesting.

This interference makes zero sense to me. That’s like me hiring a world renowned architect to build me a house, and then when he hands over the blueprints for this exquisite building, I go nuts on it with a pack of crayons and then fire him for not following the terrible changes I’d made.

If the executives at Fox know what makes a good TV show more than people like Joss Whedon…why hire them in the first place?

Anyway, now I’m done bitching, let me just reiterate what I said at the start. Firefly is awesome. It’s one of the best things to show up on TV in the past two decades. Give it a try, I promise you won’t be disappointed.

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