Written by / 2/17/2016 / No comments / , , , ,

THRUSTING INTO FIREFLY

Review/Writeup of the first episode of the Joss Whedon cult adored science-fiction television series FIREFLY
By now everyone in the know has seen FIREFLY and this post is just to center on the pilot episode, watched for the first time by a Cult Film Freak, who was drinking and smoking while watching Orson Welles in TOUCH OF EVIL, a killer shark in JAWS, Dustin Hoffman in STRAW DOGS and perpetually high as a kite (stuck in a tree), and thus, with only a DVD player and no cable, and worst yet, no website, had not only not been there and done that in 2002 when FIREFLY was flying high, but is now ready to watch twelve more episodes on Netflix, and a movie, to boot... But let's start out by simply, starting out already...

Picture of FIREFLY
While the special effects i.e. the spaceship Serenity and other vessels cruising space look like something from the early 1990's, it is in fact a relatively early cable series and around 2002 the budgets weren't that huge. After all, before LOST broke ground leading to high-end, cinematic-style and financially-backed BREAKING BAD, MAD MEN, AMERICAN HORROR STORY and countless others, future THE AVENGERS director Joss Whedon created an unintentional one-season science-fiction ensemble cult show that, like STAR WARS but even more literally and aesthetically a Western in outer-space, centering on a group of renegades led by CASTLE star Nathan Fillion before gaining his Marlon Brando/Russell Crowe "it doesn't matter because he's a leading man either way" weight (as he's now a household name), and his tough guy sidekick in Adam Baldwin's bodyguard/killer Jayne Cobb is a perfect fit; the latter as resilient and reliable as he is unpredictable and, basically, the type of criminal that, unlike Fillion's Captain Malcolm 'Mal' Reynolds, is not that altogether trustworthy and can be bought for the right (or rather, wrong) price...

Adam Baldwin
And you can say that Baldwin's character wouldn't have a prayer keeping in line, or remaining alive in general, if it weren't for the strong, stalwart and logical lead of Reynolds, who, as the show begins, is either already in charge of or just meeting-up with the crew and passengers (mixing a group of travelers along with stolen items), his band of eclectic renegades, from a royal slut to a strange young doctor, seeming like a futuristic Norman Bates whose ALIEN universe-type sister seems worth protecting for harboring mysterious powers, thus putting the ship and crew in more jeopardy than they're in already; the vessel perpetually dogged by agents (the same bastards who left the, at that time, literal soldier Fillion for dead in the wartime prologue?) and, at this point, also on their tail is an unseen-interior spaceship full of man-eating nightmarishly formidable creatures of some kind, described by pilot Alan Tudyk as Hoban 'Wash' Washburne in a gloriously terrifying fashion by the actor who can successfully play serious and comedy in the same breath, and, years earlier, as an intrepid geek who found an ancient hammer in a cavern, made the Bill Bixby/Lou Ferrigno INCREDIBLE HULK television movie introducing Thor seem miraculously genuine, and downright entertaining: not an easy feat.

Space Cowboys
And so, beside the spaceships seeming like they're existing in a universe had XENA or HERCULES crossed far, far away into an interstellar future-world; the sweetest, arguably cutest and youngest girl on the ships creepy crush on preacher Shepard Book, played by ancient BARNEY MILLER uptight token-black Ron Glass; the music sounds a bit too much like Stephen King's mini-series THE STAND, not a bad thing but... it just really does; most of the crew resembling a collage of supermodels and a few more very minor flaws, the pilot episode is one of the most creative, best written pulpy star-thriller/chillers ever... on the small or big screen as, while using expository dialogue that, while it could have been extremely convoluted, stretches along with the entire plot so that, by the end, you'll feel these people are your old friends, traveling the stars for pirate-action fast-cash: from a villainous Mos Eisley type scum-town to an actual planet that resembles the Wild West; the latter where our characters fit like a dusty glove. Meanwhile, the episode's bad guy is a monotone agent who, when "taken out forever" by the intrepid yet ambiguous Fillion, shows us our man in charge not only knows everything going on around him, but, unlike rather cautious leading men on other cable serials, before or after, doesn't mess around and will kill when, not if, he has to.

RATING: ****
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