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The sci-fi television series Firefly, favorably reviewed elsewhere on this site, is in my opinion the best TV series to come along in a while and a great example of romanticized storytelling. It's a shame that it was cancelled, but fantastic that the DVDs are selling well and a full length film is now being made. There's so many good things about it - I particularly like its anti-authoritarian government, and the writers' deft ability to borrow elements from classics like Star Trek, Star Wars, and Dune, while retaining an original, modern plot. The acting is great too! So has anyone else experienced this sci-fi series and have any comments on it?

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I watched the first disc of the four disc set of the complete Firefly series. One thing I noticed during the first scene is that Mal (Malcolm, the eventual Captain of the Serenity ship) is shown about to go out into the line of fire in a battle, and he pulls out a cross on a chain around his neck and kisses it. A sign of his faith, presumably. His side lost the battle. In the next two episodes he is Captain of the Serenity with a sort of motley crew. One of his passengers is a "Shepherd," basically a missionary. Malcolm now seems completely un-religious, even anti-religious. The Shepherd asked if anyone minded if he said Grace before they ate dinner, and Malcolm said he didn't mind---as long as he didn't say it out loud. He also said later something like "There's no place for God on this ship."

So was he a religious believer himself, and then abandoned it completely because his side lost the battle against the Alliance forces? Or is he just pouting for a while, but really a good religious "God fearing man" underneath?

There are some attempts at humor that are questionable, at best, such as when the Captain tells the ship's doctor (Simon Tan?) that one of his patients has died---when in fact she had not died. This was his idea of a practical joke. Not funny.

One other element I didn't like: Inara, the "Companion" (a prostitute) praises the ship's doctor (who is also a fugitive from the Alliance) for his "selflessness," in risking his life to protect his sister.

However, overall, I like what I've seen of the series. The Captain seems to have an implacable sense of justice, as several evil characters have learned to their detriment.

It would be nice if they gave some summary of the difference between the Independents and the Alliance. It is not really clear how the Independents are a better society than the Alliance. I presume the Independents are better, but right now it is simply giving them the benefit of the doubt, since their superiority hasn't been explained. The Alliance has been shown to be evil in one instance: performing some involuntary medical experiments on a young girl-genius, for purposes as yet unexplained.

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Kitty Hawk - Inara may use the term "selflessness," but Simon risked his life to save River because of his love for her and her value to him. In Objectivist terms, that is a selfish and noble act.

Mal's religion isn't really dwelled upon often, but I think it's clear he's realized believing in God won't help him anymore - it didn't alter the reality of the battle he lost, and he's learned to make his own way instead of putting his faith in "unseen forces" and the like. It's been years since the battle, so I don't think he's just "pouting for a while." However, that is my interpretation and I cannot speak for the writers. It would be annoying if, in the upcoming feature film, Mal "regains his faith," but I don't think it would alter the rugged individualism, bravery, humor and sense of justice that make his character kick so much tail.

I'd like to add a little side comment on this issue - My personal opinion is one shouldn't let ideological disagreements ruin one's enjoyment of an otherwise great story (unless of course those disagreements are so great that they eclipse the story's worth; this, however, is not the case with Mal's religion). There are questionable ideas in other great adventures, like Lord of the Rings and Star Wars, but that doesn't change the fact that they're both incredible experiences and fantastic stories filled with noble, memorable characters.

Oh, also, the Independents aren't really a "society" - they were a coalition of individuals from several worlds, fighting to maintain their own freedom and autonomy in the face of totalitarian Alliance hegemony. If you watch more of the series, especially the episode "Ariel", you'll see just how evil the Alliance can be.

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Kitty Hawk - Inara may use the term "selflessness," but Simon risked his life to save River because of his love for her and her value to him. In Objectivist terms, that is a selfish and noble act.
I agree with that. It was just annoying to hear it described as selflessness.

It would be annoying if, in the upcoming feature film, Mal "regains his faith," but I don't think it would alter the rugged individualism, bravery, humor and sense of justice that make his character kick so much tail.

Speaking of his sense of humor. I think his sometimes "psychotic" jokes (that's how both Simon and Zoe described it) are a deliberate attempt by the writers to "humanize" an otherwise heroic character. Show he isn't perfect, or anything. I know I'm nitpicking, but that kind of stuff bothers me too.

I'd like to add a little side comment on this issue - My personal opinion is one shouldn't let ideological disagreements ruin one's enjoyment of an otherwise great story (unless of course those disagreements are so great that they eclipse the story's worth; this, however, is not the case with Mal's religion). There are questionable ideas in other great adventures, like Lord of the Rings and Star Wars, but that doesn't change the fact that they're both incredible experiences and fantastic stories filled with noble, memorable characters.
Again I agree. Otherwise I wouldn't be such a big fan of Victor Hugo.

Oh, also, the Independents aren't really a "society" - they were a coalition of individuals from several worlds, fighting to maintain their own freedom and autonomy in the face of totalitarian Alliance hegemony. If you watch more of the series, especially the episode "Ariel", you'll see just how evil the Alliance can be.

I've watched the first seven episodes so far. The one about "Jaynestown" was quite humorous. One incident that puzzled me from another episode: when the Shepherd was injured and they had to go to an Alliance ship for medical attention, Shepherd had some sort of identity card that made the Alliance officers treat him like a VIP. You would think Mal would not want him back on his ship after finding that out, but he took him back anyway. It seems like he could be an Alliance spy, or something like that. Does that issue get resolved by the end of the series---the Shepherd's relationship with the Alliance?

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A few more comments on having watched the entire 14 episodes of Firefly. One of the things I like best about this science fiction series is the total lack of aliens. Mankind has gone forth and multiplied on hundreds of planets. No weird creatures with gills or three eyes. Just humans with their aspirations, conflicts and achievements.

Captain Malcolm Reynolds and the crew of Serenity seem to be hanging on as best they can under the tyrannical Alliance, hoping, presumably, to someday help defeat them or escape from their sphere of influence. However, Malcolm is disillusioned about the Independent forces, which had abandoned him and his men to their fate after the last battle. That battle also disillusioned him about God and religion.

Captain Reynolds is purposeful, just, and resolute, making him an excellent leader. His cargo is mainly stolen from the Alliance, and sold on the black market. His crew are all outstanding at what they do, and fiercely loyal to the Captain and Serenity.

There is an evil interplanetary mega-corporation, called Blue Sun Corporation, that seems to be an extension of the Alliance government. It is Blue Sun that lured River Tam, a young girl-genius, to a special school for the gifted, and then performed involuntary medical experiments on her brain. And when her brother Simon rescued her, it is two Blue Sun employees ("two by two, hands of blue," as River often repeats in terror) who are tracking her down across space. The Alliance is also after her in its official capacity, with its military, but it is the Blue Sun men River fears the most. Malcolm gives River and her brother Simon refuge on Serenity. Simon becomes the ship's doctor.

The DVD package of Firefly contains an interview with Joss Whedon, plus an optional running commentary over many of the episodes by some of the actors and writers, including Whedon. I've listened to some, but not all, of the commentary. All of the actors sound like they loved the series, as did Whedon. It was disappointing to hear Whedon say the two books that most influenced his thinking were Jean Paul Sartre's Nausea, and Albert Camus' The Myth of Sisyphus. He definitely seems influenced by Existentialsim, although he said he doesn't advocate any specific philosophy. Not that I was expecting him to be an Objectivist.

It will be interesting to see the motion picture based on Firefly that Whedon is supposed to be working on, and perhaps some station will pick it up as a series again.

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  • 2 years later...
Again I agree. Otherwise I wouldn't be such a big fan of Victor Hugo.

I've watched the first seven episodes so far. The one about "Jaynestown" was quite humorous. One incident that puzzled me from another episode: when the Shepherd was injured and they had to go to an Alliance ship for medical attention, Shepherd had some sort of identity card that made the Alliance officers treat him like a VIP. You would think Mal would not want him back on his ship after finding that out, but he took him back anyway. It seems like he could be an Alliance spy, or something like that. Does that issue get resolved by the end of the series---the Shepherd's relationship with the Alliance?

No, it does not get resolved. (Darn!). It may be that Shepherd Book was at one time an "operative" for the Alliance and has forsworn that life and taken up a religious vocation. There is more to Shepherd Book than meets the eye. While he will no longer shed blood, he turns out to be a nimble fighter (see the episode -Heart of Gold-). Book can do more with a fire hose than most people can do with a gun.

Bob Kolker

The sci-fi television series Firefly, favorably reviewed elsewhere on this site, is in my opinion the best TV series to come along in a while and a great example of romanticized storytelling. It's a shame that it was cancelled, but fantastic that the DVDs are selling well and a full length film is now being made. There's so many good things about it - I particularly like its anti-authoritarian government, and the writers' deft ability to borrow elements from classics like Star Trek, Star Wars, and Dune, while retaining an original, modern plot. The acting is great too! So has anyone else experienced this sci-fi series and have any comments on it?

In some respects -Firefly- is like an earlier British SciFi series -Blake's Seven-. Blake is a freedom fighter who has put together a rather eclectic crew to share his fight and his adventure. Like Reynolds in -Firefly- he ends up on the side that loses (Darn!).

Bob Kolker

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  • 1 year later...
Not much of a review...

Oh I don't know. It was honest. Most critics have an opinion and spend the entire article trying to justify it. At least GC just said, "I saw it, its great". Honest reporting of emotional response...can't fault that. B)

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  • 8 months later...

I've found that the most gratifying way of watching Firefly is to do so while substituting the word "reaver" with "socialist".

Example from the episode "Bushwhacked":

JAYNE

Couldn't be Socialists . Wasn't Socialists . Socialists

don't leave no survivors.

MAL

Strictly speaking -- wouldn't say they did.

BOOK

What are you suggesting?

MAL

Don't matter we took him off that boat, Shepherd.

It's the place he's gonna live from now on.

BOOK

I don't accept that. Whatever horror he witnessed,

whatever acts of barbarism, it was done by men.

Nothing more.

JAYNE

Socialists ain't men.

BOOK

Of course they are. Too long removed from

civilization, perhaps -- but men. And I believe

there's a power greater than men. A power

that heals.

MAL

Socialists might take issue with that philosophy.

If they had a philosophy. And if they weren't

too busy gnawing on your insides.

Jayne's right. Socialists ain't men. Or they

forgot how to be. Now they're just... nothing.

Edited by JMartins
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  • 10 months later...
Guest Erik Martinsen

As it turns out, Adam Baldwin (who plays "Jayne" on Firefly) is a right-wing activist. I discovered his new account on Twitter after Nathan Fillion linked to it, and he's writing some great things there, such as " I find 'special rights" ascribed to any group disdainful. America is founded on Individual rights, *NOT* group-rights." He also linked to a great documentary on the evils of political correctness and cultural Marxism. In addition, he's writing political articles on Andrew Breitbart's right-wing"Big Hollywood" news site.

I was very pleasantly surprised.

Edited by Erik Martinsen
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