Monday, March 13, 2006

Battlestar Galactica: The New Firefly?

Apparently, the pilot episode of Battlestar Galactica featured a firefly-class ship in the background at some point, as a tribute to the Firefly series. And I thought nothing of it. I was unimpressed by the fact that there were science fiction TV show makers out there that would think highly of what I thought was a groundbreakingly good series. And I didn't think much of Battlestar Galactica either - I thought its shooting style was slow and annoying, just as I thought about the Firefly pilot itself.

But now I'm truly a convert. My friend Ted ("Have you met Ted?" - that's a How I Met Your Mother reference for you TV series and Whedon allumni illiterates) who runs the greek USTV website and "knows his poo" on the subject, urged me to watch two episodes of it a short while ago in a brilliantly suggestive manner (expressed as "sit your ass down and watch it"), and I did, and I was illuminated by a flaring torchlight in the middle of my soul.

We're talking about a science fiction series that uses its genre as a metaphor to portray every interesting philosophy, politics, sociology and ethics subject in the book, and about a story that Saint Isaac Asimov - the guy whose photo I keep hanging above my desk so I can see it every day, a Doctor in Biochemical subjects, a Mensa "intellectually combative" member, a patron of scientific accuracy in science fiction writing and president of the American Humanist Organisation until the day he died - would be proud of.

And it makes me think. Here we are, complaining about television studios and film audiences for not acknowledging and supporting Firefly and Serenity and not realising what they were. While Joss Whedon himself is not failing us, he's just riding the tide for the time being, having thousands of fans worshiping the air he breaths and being financially able to pay people to grow beards for him (that's a Warren Ellis blog reference, I don't know how much more obscure I can get with these). And while there's talk of Firefly being reenstated as a TV series at some point in the near future, and the comics are soon to come, there's nothing to scare us Browncoats in that front. The man single-handedly changed the conventions of TV serial storytelling, and now, apparently, he's starting to change people's attitude towards science fiction.

The effects are showing, and I'm not talking SFX here. People expect to see a science fiction series that's full of technobabble and meaningless twists, a series whose plot is all about itself, not about the world we live in. But not anymore. People watched Firefly, and they got the message: it's not supposed to be about stories that could or would never happen. It's supposed to be about humanity and its strengths and weaknesses, about what the real world could or would be like "if" or "when" - to make us see, through the eyes of wiser people, where we go wrong, by putting the same things we love or fear about our lives, our selves and our actualities in a different setting and highlight them.

And if this has indeed started to happen, then my seriously bipolar faith in mankind has just been restored, with that thought alone.


Chip Chief said...

i hope this isnt the new firefly, because i really dont want it to be cancelled while still in its prime.

Bunny Dee said...

Hmmm... I'm not sure what you mean.

Firefly has already been cancelled, years ago. Serenity was also out and barely made the meagre box office money it was expected to by the studio. Don't be affected by us fans' enthusiasm, in the world of TV and cinema studios it is still considered quite low in audience appeal.

And as I said, there is talk about reuptaking the series in television soon (possibly just after Goners, the series Joss Whedon is currently working on, starts) but it is not confirmed yet. And I was mainly referring to the fact that, like Buffy in the past, Firefly's effect, "what made it good", extends to more than the actual fans of the series, and can be seen in other people's TV series as well, and in other aspects of popular culture.

Just like people can say "So-and-so is the new Stephen King" for example, without Stephen King being dead or replaced, the same can be said about Firefly while there's still hope against all odds that it's not over yet.

Bunny Dee said...

OOOOOH... you meant you don't want BATTLESTAR GALACTICA to be cancelled while still in its prime... like FIREFLY was... well, excuse the above comment, I got you completely wrong there for a minute ;)

Glad you're a fan then :)

Dark Tyler said...

Excellent take on BSG and the way it followed Firefly. As I like to put it, if Firefly was the introduction to a New Sci Fi, then Galactica IS that New Sci Fi.

No fear though, it's not getting cancelled anytime soon. It has built an audience big enough for Sci Fi Channel to be happy with its performance, plus it is one of the most critically acclaimed dramas on television. Which, you know, never happens with shows featuring spaceships. Well, almost never.

PS. Bunny, 'Goners' is Joss' next movie project over at Universal and is expected to start shooting sometime early next season.

Bunny Dee said...

:D Well stated, I'll quote you on that "new sci fi" thing - but I'm sure you knew that already.

And I *always* make the same mistake with Goners for some reason - you yourself have corrected me once before I believe, and Than has reminded me the same thing about 3 times, but I keep having Goners as a series in my head, strangely enough... Maybe because of the Buffy comparisons when I first heard about it.

Chip Chief said...

its nice that people can like BOTH BSG and firfly. some people want it to be a BSG vs firefly thing, but i think both are superb.

Bunny Dee said...

Heh... We're the kind of people that "like good series", so it's never a matter of "opposing fandom"... I think fans are sometimes deterred by the whole "Star Wars Vs Star Trek" - "DC Vs Marvel" - etcetc outlook and can't really be true to what they like and don't like, just what they like and what they're "supposed to" not like because of it, mainly to belong to a "social group" of fans. It's understandable but it's still a shame when it happens.

There's a lot out there that is really good, regardless of categories or "it not having this element of show X that I really appreciate". I mean, Star Wars fans would like nothing that doesn't have lightsabers in it if that were the case :P

There's things I like in both shows, which one doesn't have and the other does and vice versa, or that each one has in a different way. But I found a similarity in their attitude towards science fiction, the "new sci fi" as Tyler said, where the one seemed to draw from the other, and thought I'd point it out.

It was strange how I'd been going through a phase of "hey, no matter how good what you do is, it won't matter to the world, people love to be idiots" phase for a few days (which is probably the reason why I didn't write any new blogposts in fact, I try to have a positive outlook about things here and I just couldn't find it in my heart for a while), and this simple realisation instantly changed my point of view on the subject - "Battlestar Galactica CURED ME!" :P

Chip Chief said...

we are getting dr who here this week. i hope its as good as what everyone is saying now that there is a big gap in my sci-fi friday schedule.

Dark Tyler said...

Yeah, and with Galactica returning in October, that gap is not about to be filled anytime soon... :(

kolk said...

yet u cannot forget that 'firefly' was released in certain european countries straight in dvd (greece for example) so I dont really 'get'how it will change the medium's approach towards sf. The main difference of 'Firefly' with other similar programs was that there were no aliens in it which was quite clever from Whedon's behalf.

The majority of sf covers issues such as humanity, philosophy, etc except those occasions where cyberpunk becomes mubble bubble but then again u can say it's about humanity perverted or except to put it more straight is about overillustrated comercial shit.
It will always end up to be part of the popular culture, the moment it gets taught in universities.

Havent seen BSG yet! Planning to do so this weekend...