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Only ten years behind everyone else
Wednesday, 20 August 2008 at 10:22 am
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This relationship has brought a whole bunch of new experiences. One of them has been watching a TV show for more or less the first time since I left home in 1997. Lovely cartesiandaemon sat me down and showed me episodes of Firefly, and I am completely bowled over by it. Now I finally understand why people want to form communities around squeeing and analysing and creating fanworks and being outraged when the show is cancelled prematurely.

darcydodo has been trying to get me to watch Whedon's stuff for ages, but someone who is actually in the same room saying, why don't we watch some DVDs now is more persuasive than someone on the other side of the world suggesting I find time to sit down and consume stuff on my own. In some ways I wish I'd been on the bandwagon earlier, because it's probably a meme that's had its day by now, but hey. The only show I've watched that has a fandom is Star Trek (original and TNG), but the medium has moved on in so many ways since then. Even as a kid I liked Star Trek in a mostly ironic, so-bad-it's-good kind of way. Firefly is still a melodrama, but it has continuity allowing the development of a complex, ongoing plot, and actually good visuals and special effects, and actors who can act, and believable, three-dimensional characters. I don't absorb complicated ideas very well from live action, there is too much to look at and not enough words, so I'm sure I'm missing subtleties, but it's rather lovely to watch something where there are subtleties to be missed.

I, um, appear to be nursing crushes on the entire cast (well, not River; I am adamantly not interested in kids, sorry Harry Potter fans). The one time I tried to watch Buffy, I was annoyed because everyone in it is Hollywood-perfect, and I formed the mistaken impression that it was just an updated version of Beverly Hills 90210, with impossibly beautiful highschoolers having too much money and going through bloodless relationship dramas. Everybody in Firefly is unreasonably good-looking too, but I didn't mind that because there is a range of different types, muscular and nerdy, older as well as nubile youths, various ethnic backgrounds.

At first I was particularly drawn to Mal, because I have a thing for snarky, slightly arrogant men, and it's probably better if I indulge that by daydreaming about fictional ones than risking getting involved with real people who don't treat others with respect. But Mal put me off a bit by being gratuitously nasty; snark isn't funny any more if it shades into cruelty. I think my favourite is Zoe at the moment; she is so beautiful but so different from the usual interchangeable breakable busty blonde media standard, and her snark is always tinged with affection, and her voice makes me swoony (actually, more so than Inara's calculatedly sexy voice).

To emerge from the haze of lust for a moment, I am really enjoying the story arc. I watched the pilot and six single episodes over the course of the week I spent in Cambridge, and I got a lot out of each individual episode as well as the way they fit together to make a larger story. Each episode seems to fit in a lot more than an hour's worth of story; I think this may be because I'm used to feature length films where an hour can easily be taken up establishing the setup. I do like the mix of scary and dramatic with personal and emotional, and the humour really works well for me. My favourite episode so far is Our Mrs Reynolds, but I love every single one for different reasons. Speaking critically, I don't think the whole Companion thing really hangs together, and I sometimes get annoyed by the way that Mal seems to buy trouble, sometimes taking really irritatingly stupid risks just so that there can be a plot. But generally I am completely caught up in the story, and I can't wait to see the rest. (But I am going to, because I want to watch them in company.)

I find that I don't really know how to look for fannish content on the internet. I think a lot of it is deliberately set up to be relatively hard to find with a casual Google search, but gets passed around within fannish communities. It may also be that it's too late, a show that was cancelled in 2002 is not the thing that fans are talking about right now. And of course I have no idea how to identify stuff that's actually worth reading, even if I manage to find material in the first place. I really do want to read analysis and fanfic though, (and maybe even create some of my own, though that's probably a bad idea). I think the most appealing ship is Inara / Kaylee; I can find plenty of justifications for it if I look at the series through slashy spectacles, but it is definitely subtextual. But I could buy almost any m/m pair, (because it would be hot even if it didn't make total sense), and I'm not against seeing more of the off-screen detail of what goes on in the canon pairs such as Zoe / Wash, Kaylee / Simon or Mal / Inara.

I also have a theory that the most amusing slash would be between Magistrate Higgins (the father of Inara's client Fess in Jaynestown), and Simon's father Gabriel Tam. Obviously those are completely obscure minor characters, but I can't even figure out how to discover if anyone other than me has thought of this ridiculous theory before now. I'm sure someone has, because of rule 34 and all that, but I don't know where to look (and the names are too common to be easily googlable).

And icons. I decided to break a long habit and actually acquire a fannish icon, but couldn't find anything decent when I went looking. What I have in mind is something with Zoe, preferably happy and confident rather than angsty and scared, so that I can use her for posts where I'm being fannish about stuff that is "shiny" (I picked that up from general geek culture before realizing that it came from Firefly). But most of the icons I came across were so overdone with showing off Photoshop technique that they just look a mess (I had a similar problem last time I went looking for a fannish icon, wanting a picture of Amélie).

Also, I'm slightly appalled how often Zoe seems to get bleached; I am not interested in her specifically because she's Black, but I do want an icon that actually looks like her, and I would hate to think of a fan of color who was actively looking for non-white SF characters doing the same searches I did. I am not saying all the icon makers are deliberately racist; it might well be that the standard range of photomanipulation techniques just tend to work better for white people, making their skin bright to draw attention to the face. I ended up making my own from an image grabbed off Google, but I'm not very good at making icons. Does anyone have an idea where I might find an icon of Zoe that doesn't drain all the colour from her face, nor have five dozen silly Photoshop layers so you can't really see what's going on?

Anyway, I've only watched as far as Jaynestown (watching in story order, not broadcast order), so please don't spoil me for any episodes after that.

Whereaboooots: Serenity
Moooood: enthralledenthralled
Tuuuuune: Yasmin Levy: Si veriash
Discussion: 7 contributions | Contribute something
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glamwhorebunni: default
Date:August 20th, 2008 09:57 am (UTC)
17 minutes after journal entry, 09:57 am (glamwhorebunni's time)
Firefly is excellent. It's only a pity that Serenity didn't quite live up to the promise...
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cartesiandaemon: default
Date:August 20th, 2008 11:21 am (UTC)
1 hours after journal entry, 11:21 am (cartesiandaemon's time)
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doseybat: bat
Date:August 20th, 2008 12:28 pm (UTC)
2 hours after journal entry, 03:28 pm (doseybat's time)
Yeah, I am having a similar revelation experience with Babylon5!
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Date:August 20th, 2008 12:47 pm (UTC)
3 hours after journal entry
Firefly is fantastic. I was some years late to the party, too, so this post resonates with me!

There's a tremendous amount of good Firefly fanfiction out there. (Also a tremendous amount of dreck, naturally; this is the internet, after all. *g*) I can point you to some good stuff, though it's not generally labeled for spoilers, so I can wait until you've watched the whole season if you want. I can also point you to some stunning Firefly vids, if vids are your cup of tea. (Though, again, they tend to draw on the whole series, so it might be worth waiting if you want to remain completely unspoiled for what's to come.)

I'm so glad you're enjoying it!
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simont: default
Date:August 20th, 2008 12:50 pm (UTC)
3 hours after journal entry
cartesiandaemon, coincidentally, was also responsible for me getting round to watching Firefly a year or so ago (though in a less proactive way – I spotted it on his shelf off my own bat and all he did was agree to lend it to me).

I think the two episodes that stand out for me as my favourites are two which you have yet to come to, so as far as I'm concerned you still have plenty to look forward to :-)
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lisekit: Error
Date:August 20th, 2008 11:13 pm (UTC)
13 hours after journal entry
I formed the mistaken impression that [Buffy] was just an updated version of Beverly Hills 90210, with impossibly beautiful highschoolers

Seth Green? Rilly?
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leora: ouroboros
Date:August 27th, 2008 12:09 am (UTC)
6 days after journal entry, August 26th, 2008 04:09 pm (leora's time)
What about spoilers for things that never, ever happened and cannot happen? I'm going to consider those non-spoilers, but you can stop reading if you want.

From commentary Joss Whedon has made, apparently for Firefly he wanted Mal to not be a clear good guy. He was supposed to be bitter, cynical, and burned out. Slowly over the course of the series you would learn what made him into that sort of person and he would slowly get better from there. But the character was too unlikeable and the network canceled the show, so the whole thing got toned down and sped up and partially dropped.

But I think that it comes across a bit differently if you know the creator intended the character to have issues and to sometimes do things that aren't acceptable or sensible.

I have trouble remembering which characters I had visual problems with. But I think I saw Firefly for the first time when I was far blinder. That Zoe is black mixed race, more likely) was not necessarily visually obvious to me. I have had that problem with many characters on television/movies who do not have very dark skin. I totally missed a racial point in a movie by not realizing one character was black. So, it could be that in a lot of shots, in a lot of lighting, she doesn't really look that dark. I would hope it's simply something as innocent as that.

I think the companion thing could have worked better.

Anyhow, enjoy the show. :)
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