Firefly Watch: Episode 1 – Serenity

Joss Whedon is one of the biggest names in nerd culture.  He’s known for creating a number of shows including Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Dollhouse, and Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog.  All of his projects are very highly thought of, and tend to go on to cult status after their run on TV.

I’ve known about Whedon for quite a while, but I’d never watched any of his stuff until recently.  The first show of his that I watched was Dr. Horrible, and I love it.  It’s original, funny, and a lot of the songs are very good.  All in all I’ve probably watched Dr. Horrible about 20 times in the past month and a half, as well as listening to some of the individual songs a lot more.  I’d highly suggest watching it, you can find it on Netflix as well as on here on YouTube.


Anyway, after watching Dr. Horrible I decided that I needed to go through and watch more of Whedon’s shows.  It helps that a lot of them are on Netflix instant.  So a couple of days ago I started to watch Firefly and decided it would be fun to go through and talk about each episode and post it here.  Firefly is short (only 14 episodes) so it won’t take me too long get through.  After I finish each episode I stop and write my thoughts about it, so much like my book reviews my comments will be my immediate reaction to finishing the episode.

As of now I’m planning on putting up posts about the show on Mondays and Thursdays, and I’ll generally talk about 1 or 2 episodes in each post.  Also, there will be some spoilers for each episode as I discuss the plot, so you’ve been warned.  Links to each of my posts about Firefly can be found here.

So we start with Episode 1 – Serenity

Ok, my first thought as I started watching this was “wow, learning curve.”  You’re thrown into the action in the middle of a war, and the first thing you see is that Mal is willing to take charge of a situation and do whatever he thinks is needed.  The opening war scene also shows that Zoe is very loyal to Mal and has a long past of working with him.  The very end of this scene also hints at Mal being abandoned by the military group that he was a member of.  All told, this fairly short scene does an awful lot of work in the overall story of the first episode.

Fast forward to six years later when the story actually takes place, you see that Mal is still working with Zoe, but has also picked up some very interesting travel companions.  After one episode, I got a really good feeling about who each of the characters are and how they fit into the ship.  I loved the banter between all of the characters and as the show went on I was amazed at how well they all meshed.  Typically, early in a TV show the actors are still kind of feeling the characters out.  I didn’t get any of that from the cast.  All of the characters are wonderful, although I think that Shepherd Book probably has the most potential to go through an interesting arc in the story.  Kaylee was also a lot of fun, and I think she’ll do a lot to bring levity to a show that already showed some potentially dark moments in the first episode.

I loved the fact that they used a lot of humor throughout the episode, there were quite a few moments that were laugh out loud funny, and they were often interwoven with very tense moments.  It’s not always easy for a show to go from funny to serious at the drop of a hat, but because all of the jokes come from the characters rather than the situations, they all work beautifully.

Now we move onto the plot.  I’ve heard a lot about this show in the past, and I knew going in that it was essentially cowboys in space.  I’m not a fan of westerns, but I really enjoyed the first episode.  In many ways it’s a testament to the strength of the characters that I can clearly tell it’s a western – complete with the showdown towards the end – but I’m still really interesting in watching more of it.  There was a lot of tension in the episode, from wondering whether Kaylee would be ok, to the possibility of Jayne turning on Mal, to the threat of the Reavers.  Zoe’s explanation of the Reavers is quite possibly one of the best ways to introduce a threat that I’ve ever seen.

All said, I have a couple of minor complaints.  First off, I’m not really a big fan of the theme song.  I’m sure it’ll grow on me as I watch more of the show, but at first listen it’s kind of a rough introduction to the show.  So that’s one thing that will hopefully be remedied as I simply watch the show more.  The other problem that I had may or may not go away.  There were quite a few times when the camera seemed really shaky.  It’s done often enough that I can almost guarantee it was intentional, but I don’t think it’s very effective.  It’s very minor, but it’s one of the things that tend to be very annoying once you notice them.

So all in all, I really enjoyed the first episode, and I’m kind of mad at myself that I never watched the show before, it really is as good as I’ve heard from everyone all this time.  I’m eagerly looking forward to watching the rest of the series and then ultimately the movie.