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06/01/2004 Archived Entry: "My movie friend discovers Firefly"

I HAVE A FRIEND WITH WHOM I SWAP MOVIE REVIEWS. We don't always share the same tastes. I sometimes roll my eyes at the romantic comedies he favors. He pokes fun at me for getting too enthusiastic about "subtitled musical anime."

But we've also led each other to interesting films we wouldn't have found without our regular review exchanges. In addition to a couple of good romantic comedies, Oliver opened my eyes to gritty films like Fight Club and Dirty Pretty Things. And he in turn rented Life is Beautiful and rated that fantastical exultant Italian film a solid 10. I even got him to watch -- and like! -- the subtitled, four-hour-long Bollywood musical about a cricket match, Lagaan. (No doubt it helped that Lagaan is also about a tax revolt and a romance.)

So our review exchanges have led to great discoveries. Plus we agree enthusiastically on fun fare like the Back to the Future series or School of Rock and on great, weird comedies like Being John Malkovich. But it's always a little unpredictable whether we'll agree or shake our heads at each other's choices.

So I felt unsure when I first recommended the series Firefly, and then downright embarrassed when I babbled and raved about it to him for three weeks in a row.

Firefly is magical, though. Here's what Oliver had to say:


Disc two was just as good as the first. I'm really looking forward to the final two, but also dreading it because I know when they're done I'll want more. Is it possible this show tanked in the ratings? It's just so good, I'd have thought Fox would nurse it and let it build and audience. ...

[After finishing the final episode] Claire, I may never forgive you for getting me to watch this series. There is no disc 5 or 6 or 66 and I want more. As I'm sitting here typing this about five minutes after watching the last episode, I actually feel a sense of loss. I really want to know what happens to these characters. Does the Doc ever kiss Kaylee, do Mal and Inara ever admit

their feelings for each other, does River ever really learn to comprehend, and who is the Preacher really? I think I've told you that I like to immerse myself in a character when I watch a movie. With this series, I found myself bouncing all over the place because all the characters were so damn interesting. I can only hope that Firefly will someday (soon) become a movie, then another, and another. I have to admit I thought it strange when you said you were watching the series again so quickly. I take back those thoughts. I believe Santa will be bringing me the series this Christmas. Maybe sooner. ...

I've all but given up on network television as a source for entertainment. Firefly is yet another example of why. Every time I find a show with some intelligence, some wit, some unique properties that make it worth the time to watch, it vanishes due to low ratings. I suppose that ultimately we can thank the uneducation system for pouring out millions of citizens whose greatest intellectual challenge was defined by egalitarianism and the lowest common denominator.

Firefly should have been shopped to HBO or Showtime, where they actually seek out quality programming instead of shunning it. Had it been, we'd only have been treated to thirteen episodes per year, but it would undoubtedly have endured for many years. What we really need is a new network or cable channel. We can call it SmartNet and you'd need an IQ of at least 120 in order to subscribe. All the quirky, intelligent, and challenging shows could reside there. It would free the commercial networks to provide 24/7 of unreality shows like "I Married My Cousin," "Survivor - In the Ghetto," and "Gross & Disgusting Stunts By Morons Willing To Humiliate Themselves In Public For Money To Entertain The Brain-Dead." Okay, maybe that last title needs to be shortened a bit. But enough of this dreaming.


Amen. (Well, I don't know about the 120 IQ thing. What if I was having a bad brain day and they wouldn't let me in?) But that sense of loss Oliver describes and that amazement that anything so extraordinary should have been casually laid across the network chopping block ... that, I think is part of the experience of discovering Firefly. The joy of the series is so intense that having it ripped away before it barely began is poignant and mournful.

Posted by Claire @ 10:47 AM CST

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