Over the weekend, I had a lot of things I had to do.
Instead, I treated myself to a video marathon — all 14 episodes of Firefly, followed up by Serenity. Joss Whedon may not be a god, but he’s certainly close to the pantheon of demigods.
But while watching this gem of a show, something occurred to me. The performance of Summer Glau as the girl genius River Tam, abused and tortured into insanity by the government, was truly compelling. And it put me in mind of Juliet Landau’s portrayal of the insane vampire Drusilla on Buffy The Vampire Slayer and Angel, as well as all of Glory’s brain-fried victims (especially Tara Maclay) from Buffy’s fifth season.
Is there anyone out there who writes crazy people as well as Joss Whedon?
(My favorite example is quoted in the extended section.)
From Buffy The Vampire Slayer’s “Innocence:”
Drusilla is conversing with Spike, her then lover:
Cut to Spike’s warehouse. Drusilla is laid out on her back on the big table. Spike wheels himself around to her. She looks up at the ceiling blissfully.
Spike: (smiles) Are we feeling better, then? (leans on the table)
Drusilla: (sighs) I’m naming all the stars.
Spike: You can’t see the stars, love. That’s the ceiling. Also, it’s day.
Drusilla: I can see them. But I’ve named them all the same name. (tilts her head to him) And there’s terrible confusion.
Did I read correctly that fox aired the episodes out of the intended order, including airing the pilot (i.e.: the first show) last?!
And it was cancelled? Huh. You’d think the American public would be sheepish enough to follow along regardless of the total lack of continuity or plot development, etc.
Oh, by the way, I’ve never seen any of the shows you mentioned, other than the occassion commercial. Glad you (and the “critical and cult hit”-makers) enjoyed them.
“Did I read correctly that fox aired the episodes out of the intended order, including airing the pilot (i.e.: the first show) last?!”
Yep. First aired episode was “The Train Job.” The execs apparently wanted to get The Cool Action Episode out first to catch people’s attention, instead of the episode that set the stage for, well, the entire rest of the series.
Big Firefly/Serenity fan here as well. Like most never saw it on TV and only heard about through word of mouth. One of the best series on TV in ages and leave it up to the TV execs to completly screw it up.
I did that over the holiday as well, watched all Firefly eps then Serenity.
I wish I hadn’t. Seeing the genius of the show ruined that weak movie, and my wife came out of it realizing that Serenity was nothing more than a re-hashed Resident Evil: Apocalypse with a little Hackers at the end. A few days later we watched RE:A and it was DEAD-on a match for Serenity, thematically and structurally. Even the look was the same through much of the two movies.
Joss should NEVER have let someone take control of his baby away. He let someone else have creative control and final cut. What that ended up meaning was that Serenity was passable science fiction: Firefly was something truly special.
I might not have noticed as much had I not JUST watched the show…
I just have to opine here, as someone who has to share a TV with a few others, I’ve seen most of the Whedon TV product. And for the life of me, I have no idea why seemingly sane and intelligent people fall all over themselves praising that crap….
I’m not sure why they thought they could get a hit movie based on a television show that couldn’t garner enough support to last more than one season.
And I don’t know what’s worse, that you’re making literary comparison’s based on Buffy and Angel, or that I know exactly what you’re talking about. Could there really be another dork as big as me? Call me crazy.
You’re right, Sean. Something like that is absolutely unheard of. I don’t know what anyone was thinking.
LOL. When you started quoting dialogue I knew the next line. Dru is one of my favorites, too.
There is a whisper of a rumor that Whedon may make a straight-to-DVD movie or two highlighting a couple of the Buffy/Angel characters. I think he had a three movie deal of which Serenity was the first so the Buffy/Angel thing may be more wish than fact, but stranger things have happened.
Spot on with Summer Glau. One thing that I liked about her casting was that she is no way clasically “beautiful” but her atheltic ability and her wrapped-way-too-tight performance mkae River Tam extremely compelling.
And Joss Whedon just writes crackling dialog. That alone makes “Serenity” worth watching. Next time: Whedon writes, Lucas produces. The movie-going public wins.
Actually, Joss had full creative control on Serenity – he wrote and directed the thing afterall. And the biggest difference between Serenity and RE:A is that Serenity had good dialogue, interesting characters, and a plot. The two really aren’t much alike.
It’s too bad Serenity didn’t do better – it was by far the best SF movie of the year, and one of the best SF movies everywhere. Firefly was one of the most brilliant series ever created, and of course, Fox was too dumb to let it get a following.
“Actually, Joss had full creative control on Serenity – he wrote and directed the thing afterall.”
Joss did not have creative control. Listen to the commentary on the DVD. He was forced to take huge turns away from the original screenplay to satisfy teh studio, and ultimately someone else made him make edits to his film after he was finished.
Creative contriol is having final cut.
“And the biggest difference between Serenity and RE:A is that Serenity had good dialogue, interesting characters, and a plot. The two really aren’t much alike.”
Clearly you haven’t seen RE:A lately. They are almost identical in basic plot. If you were doing a one-page treatemnt for both movies, you’d have to be a complete idiot to not describe them in almost the same way with only MINOR differences.
Serenity wasn’t even close to one of the best SF movies ever. It was generic looking, it had a generic plot and the only reason it didn’t suck for browncoats was that we loved the characters…and even they weren’t quite right.
IMHO, David Lynch has writen the most unique crazy characters, with great dialogue.
“My dog barks some.”
The ultimate movie would be a screenplay by QT based on characters created by Davd Lynch and Scorcese would direct.
Set design and cinematography by Tim Burton.
I thought it was hilarious that you’d think it was dorky to make literary comparisons based on Buffy and Angel…’cuz I too know exactly what you’re talking about!
RE: Serenity –well, I loved the movie. I’m out of literary critic and into fangirl territory at that point, and it made me go back and watch Firefly. And of course River is my favorite character.
RE: Joss writing crazy people–absolutely. I think his brilliance comes from the way he does it with such deep compassion. Dru was EVIL, for goodness’ sake, and yet you can’t help but feel sorry for her as she croons over the birdcage. In some ways, the whole point of Serenity is that River is a real human being–and one of the glorious moments at the end is the way she seems to be coming out enough to know that she is okay.
Flaws, successes, retries, and all–I think one of these days, Joss is going to be known to be the fabulous writer that he is.