Still more lazy thoughts from this one…

TMT: Learning to Love a Reaver

This is the next entry in a Theatre… a Movie… and a Time, a series that was begun here. The time has come to set the record straight for a film based on a certain short-lived TV series. Timely, too, with regard to the genre upcoming in my AFI Top Ten series and what’s in store with the next episode in the Castle television show.

“At last, we can retire and give up this life of crime.”


Theatre

Galleria at South Bay 16


Movie

Time

September 30, 2005: I confess here and now that I did not watch, hardly at all, the too brief but extraordinary sci-fi television series, Firefly, during its initial run on the Fox network. Even though I espouse and champion its virtues wholeheartedly these last 6-7 years, it’s all because I went to the movies with my long-time golf partner on this particular Friday night.

For exactly 20 years, my friend worked at the same institution as did I. As opposed to me, he left. He found work doing IT security with business establishments in other parts of town. During this mid-00s stretch, the South Bay area of Los Angeles he could get to fairly regularly. Naturally, going for after-work movie viewing was always in play — and since it was not too far from where I live, I was all for it. We made plans to meet up at the food court before heading over to the 7:30 PM show that evening.

The mall theaters of the Galleria at South Bay 16 only made sense because there were plenty of screens to catch popular first-run films. That’s it. Nothing special except for the commodity that is today’s consumer cinema. I chose Joss Whedon’s Serenity purely for its trailer out that summer, and the hazy memory of once seeing its cast on some TV series I channel-surfed passed. I truly had no idea what I was in for. When the movie was over, I was hooked — and simultaneously kicking myself for feeling like I read the last chapter of a great novel before even starting the book.

I picked up the series DVD soon thereafter, and subsequently spent a whole weekend watching every episode that I had missed. Then, I went back and saw the movie again with new eyes. Silly rabbit.


The entire TMT series can be found here. If you’re interested how it’s put together, click here.

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30 Responses to “TMT: Learning to Love a Reaver”

    • le0pard13

      I’m beginning to feel that many got started with Firefly by way of this film. I’m in good company :-). Thanks, Fogs.

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  1. The Sci-Fi Fanatic

    Tricks are for kids indeed. Wasn’t Firefly and Serenity simply wonderful.

    Like you, I didn’t get around to seeing it until much later. I actually have guilt about not supporting it. I was one of those soon-to-be Browncoats that failed the series. BIG DAMN HEROES. I love that cast!

    It was great to see the focus of your series on Serenity here. What a terrific film. I wonder if The Avengers will ever be that good. I mean Serenity was fantastic science fiction fantasy.

    It would have been great to see the series run longer and witness a little more about the Reavers, the bad guys, the blue men and all of these characters.

    What a loss.

    I too, have a fellow geek friend who enjoys taking in the occassional movie with me. Super nice guy too. Our next big one out will be Prometheus.

    If anyone out there is collecting brainwaves — PLEASE BRING BACK FIREFLY FTLOG!

    nice entry M!
    sff

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    • le0pard13

      Oh, Hell yes. The ‘Serenity’ film is a remarkable segment in the splendid overall story begun with the TV series. It was an extraordinary cast, some known and others unknown to that time. It had a world and universe I’d have loved to seen more of. One of the reasons I’m very hyped about ‘The Avengers’ is because Whedon is helming that film. Thanks very much, SFF :-).

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  2. Jamie Helton

    I missed the series in its original run as well, but later bought the DVD box set after hearing such wonderful things about it (it helps that the set was on sale). I was blown away by “Firefly” and immediately watched “Serenity” to complete the story. Of course, it wouldn’t have mattered much even if I had attempted to watch it while it was being broadcast, because Fox showed the episodes in random order, often moving it around the schedule. It would have been impossible to fully enjoy or even understand everything in the on-going plot the way that the network completely destroyed any attempt at building an audience.

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    • le0pard13

      Yes, looking back on what Fox network did to Whedon’s series is just criminal, and inept. They sabotaged themselves to another possible stellar series (X-Files, anyone?). Sheesh! Great to hear we had similar experiences, Jamie. Many thanks.

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  3. John DuMond

    Like you, I missed FIREFLY when it first aired. In fact, I don’t recall even being aware of the series until SERENITY was released in theaters. I watched the entire series on DVD for the first time last fall. I was instantly hooked. I followed it up with the movie, which I thought lived up to the series quite well. I wish Whedon could manage to get a sequel greenlit, but I doubt that will ever happen.

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    • le0pard13

      As great as the ‘Serenity’ movie was, I was shocked it didn’t do better at the box office. Our showing that night was packed, but it didn’t translate to numbers that would have greenlit a sequel for the studio (though Universal is not one I’d see as being savvy to understand what they had). After getting hooked on this, and the series, I so wanted another film with this cast of characters. Thanks, John.

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  4. Eric

    You know, I’m not a big sci-fi guy but I’m curious to check out Serenity since it was selected as part of the AV Club’s New Cult Canon. Maybe it will do the same thing for me as it did for you, and I’ll become a fan of Firefly as a result. 🙂

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    • Jamie Helton

      Eric, you should watch “Firefly” first. The series is a continuing story with each episode building onto each other. “Serenity” is essentially the final 2-hour episode that resolves all the plot points. You can still enjoy it if you haven’t seen the TV show, but it won’t be as satisfying. Plus, the outcome of the storyline of the show will be ruined if you start with the movie, espeically in regards to the fate of the characters.

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      • Eric

        Hmm… that’s tempting, but I have a hard time committing to TV shows like that, especially sci-fi (a blind spot of mine). My girlfriend has been trying to get me to watch Farscape for years now, but I haven’t budged. 😀 Maybe I’ll just go ahead and give Firefly a try since it’s a much quicker watch.

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        • Jamie Helton

          The thing about “Firefly” is that it’s essentially a western in a science fiction setting. Also, the characters are just so much fun to watch as they are very cleverly written. You never truly know where they stand or what they are likely to do, which is highly unusual for a TV show, which usually has extremely predictable characters and situations.

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        • le0pard13

          I have friend pushing ‘Farscape’ my way, too. I really do need to get that started ;-). But, Firefly is a shorter commitment since it’s only a single season.

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      • le0pard13

        If I had to do it over again, this would be the route I’d chose. The result would have been more satisfying. Thanks for chiming in, Jamie.

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    • le0pard13

      I think it continues to have the potential to turn any viewer into a fan of the series and/or Joss Whedon, Eric. Let me know what you think afterwards. Thanks, my friend.

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  5. rtm

    I saw the movie first before the show, and it was just a few episodes. But yeah, it’s a great concept for a movie/series and backed up by fun writing and great performances. I just love Fillion as Mal and I think he’ll always be most known for his role here. Great post, Michael!

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    • le0pard13

      Yes, Nathan Fillion will always be Mal to me, too. Another one of those captains on a spaceship from a future time that have stayed with this sci-fi fan. Thank you very much, Ruth.

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  6. J.D.

    Add me to the list of people who got into the film first and then the series. I remember when the show debuted and being a big fan of both BUFFY and ANGEL but for some reason the show just didn’t click with me then. It only took a few years and that amazing film SERENITY to totally turn me around and I immediately went out and got the DVDs of FIREFLY after seeing the film. I even have that fan-made documentary on the show/film and its dedicated fanbase. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve watched the film (or show the for that matter) and have owned various incarnations of it on DVD and now finally Blu-Ray. Like yourself, I saw SERENITY in a non-descript theater – one those concrete bunker multiplexes but the experience of watching the film with a roomful of like-minded fans was amazing.

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    • le0pard13

      I think there’s a sizable contingent out there who done exactly this and are now Browncoats for life, I see. I suspect 20th Century Fox saw quite the sales spike post-Serenity for their complete series DVD package. I now own both that and the newer Blu-ray Discs (it was a sale, I told my wife). Which reminds me to pick up that doc, too ;-). I’ve turned my wife into a fan (she’s very into Nathan’s Mal).

      Like yourself, I saw SERENITY in a non-descript theater – one those concrete bunker multiplexes but the experience of watching the film with a roomful of like-minded fans was amazing.

      So very true. Thanks, J.D.

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  7. mummbles

    I also did not (and still have not) watched Firefly but I still really love this movie for being just a fun sci-fi action movie that does its job, and does it well. So entertaining on all levels. Thanks for the write up!

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    • le0pard13

      Yes, this one stands up well by itself. Still, think about giving the series a try. I have a post coming up on the series and maybe that’ll convince you. Thanks, Mumbles.

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  8. jackdeth72

    Hi, Michael:

    Great choice!

    I caught ‘Firefly’ when it was FOX. Have the series’ DVDs and ‘Serenity’… Yeah, I’m a Browncoat!

    I enjoyed the film and felt it a worthy addition to Mal, his crew and the ‘Firefly’ mythos. All and sundry have their moments to shine with Whedon’s writing and direction.

    Though Summer Glau’s River steals most of the scenes she’s in. Especially with her final fight against the Reavers. As the battle ends and the wall comes down. River is magnificently back lit. Axe and sword in hand. Completing a paused, near motionless scene that even Frank Frazetta would be envious of!

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    • le0pard13

      Great to hear your thoughts on this, Kevin. We’re Browncoats for life, alright. You’re so right about Summer Glau and that stunning imagery used in ‘Serenity’. Thank you very much for adding to this one, my friend.

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