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Friday, January 20, 2017

Escape with "Firefly"


If you are in serious need of some diversions from the fiasco known as Trump World, here's an escapist suggestion for what you might consider watching.

I like sci fi and westerns, even when you combine them. But as I mentioned in an earlier post, the latest TV combination of sci fi and western-themed series, WestWorld, is too vile and inhuman to be an appealing diversion.  Much like real-life Trump World.

If you are looking for sci-fi with a western feel a better choice than WestWorld is the 2002 TV series Firefly. Or the subsequent movie, Serenity, that wrapped up loose ends left by Firefly’s cancellation.

 If you haven’t seen either series or movie, in a nutshell, five hundred years in the future, the Captain, Mal, (Nathan Fillion) of the Firefly spaceship is sort of Hans Solo-ish before he met Luke Skywalker or Princess Leia. And he has never heard of The Force.


Firefly also is absent most of the high-techy stuff and CGI so at times when the crew lands on a backwards planet, the show has the feel of an old western series. 

In concept, though, this is a space ship of the future. The usual assumptions on people's professions and status are sometimes turned on their heads from what we expect in current times. The first mate is a Black woman warrior, the only other survivor of the Captain's command from the Battle of Serenity. Her husband is a funny guy who cherishes his strong wife, plays with action figures and quite capably pilots the ship. 

A slightly built woman is the skilled mechanic. She harbors a crush on the ship's doctor, a formerly wealthy and well-connected member of the elite. He joined the ship as a passenger under false pretenses because he is on the run. He rescued, and then smuggled onto Firefly, his younger sister, a savant who was kidnapped and experimented upon by the government. 

The highest-status person on Firefly is a prostitute. In the future times of Firefly, high-tone prostitutes are known as Registered Companions and are reminiscent of geisha in that they are trained in certain fine arts. 

These Companions are like ambassadors who can go wherever they wish, choose whom they wish to see and provide respectability, cover, and entrĂ©e for the ship and its crew. 

Nonetheless, Captain Mal, either from jealousy or some vestigial sense of a centuries-old morality, is galled by the professional activities of Morena Baccarin's Companion Inara. The viewer is left wondering if the beautiful Companion Inara will ever leave her profession and she and Mal will end up a futuristic "item". 

 Many episodes involve horses, trains, miners covered in mud; under-handed bad guys often engage in bar brawls with the diverse and engaging crew. as double-crosses, hijinks and encounters or escapes from the Reavers, space-bogeymen who are cannibals and responsible for all manner of not-quite-human cruelty.  

Unfortunately, Firefly lasted less than one season. But fortunately, it’s available on DVD, Amazon Video or Netflix.


Mal, the Captain, who claims to now be apolitical, fought unsuccessfully against the Alliance but named his ship, Serenity, after the bloodiest and last battle of the lost war. The overriding theme of both Firefly and Serenity is that Mal, though a thief and crook at times, in the end demonstrates leadership and a strong sense of loyalty to his crew as well as basic humanity and an overriding concern for those who are suffering. 

If only that were the reality of our leadership in 2017 Trump World. 


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