Firefly reconsidered

It took a while, but I finally finished watching Firefly today. I watched the first disc at a friend’s place late last year, then watched the second disc two or three months ago, and I wasn’t as impressed as I might have wanted to be, partly for the reasons I got into here. But a few days ago I finally got the third and fourth discs from the library, and whaddayaknow, the show has grown on me.

This is partly thanks to the flashback episode which shows how everyone joined the ship in the first place; I like those kinds of stories. I also love the very naturalistic, almost documentary feel of the cinematography, particularly where the special effects are concerned; for example, I like the use of zoom lenses and the way shots occasionally go out of focus; in a way, it reminds me of the pseudo-realism of Walking with Dinosaurs. Greg Edmonson’s music is also pretty cool; a somewhat mournful scene with snow, I think, makes me think of James Newton Howard’s excellent score for Snow Falling on Cedars, which has long been a favorite soundtrack of mine. And even the characters have grown on me; I liked Alan Tudyk, in particular, when I saw him play the “pirate” in Dodgeball, but now I think he’s moved to the front ranks of actors who can get me to see a film simply by being in it somewhere.

One thing that intrigues me is the way the occasional episode will begin somewhere near the middle or end of that episode’s story, and then jump back to the beginning. The wife and I are still going through Babylon 5 (which I continue to prefer to Firefly; and I suspect Joss Whedon had that show in mind when he said he didn’t want Firefly to be all about “aliens and ambassadors”), and it’s pretty simple to watch batches of episodes from that show, because they all flow more or less chronologically. But Firefly has a more complicated — one might say sophisticated — structure; watching a batch of episodes together, you feel like, every now and then, you’re lurching forward and then backwards again.

I wonder how the first two discs would look if I saw them again. Since the big-screen follow-up Serenity won’t be out for another three and a half months, I guess I may have time to find out.

About Peter T. Chattaway

Peter T. Chattaway was the regular film critic for BC Christian News from 1992 to 2011. In addition to his award-winning film column for that paper, his news and opinion pieces have appeared in such publications as Books & Culture, Christianity Today, Bible Review and the Vancouver Sun. He has also contributed essays to the books Re-Viewing The Passion: Mel Gibson’s Film and Its Critics (Palgrave Macmillan, 2004), Scandalizing Jesus?: Kazantzakis’s The Last Temptation of Christ Fifty Years on (Continuum, 2005) and The Bible in Motion: A Handbook of the Bible and Its Reception in Film (De Gruyter, 2016).