Thursday, 20 February 2014

Firefly gets cancelled every time I watch it

Rewatching Firefly has reminded me why it was so good in the first place. Where other television sci-fi fills its episodes with cosmic sorrow or grumpy aliens, this is about family. A bunch of characters on an old ship, floating around in space. It's just them. There's no vast fleet to think about. Only nine characters, and you care about them all. That's why it's so hard to see it end every time. The mythology of the expanded world is nice, and the space cowboy thing is so good it's seamless, but it's the characters that make it. It's hard to think of any other cast that fit together so well. When Mal says 'You're on my crew' to Simon, you really believe he means it. I'd choose this over Galactica's army any day. On one of Adama's moody days, there isn't much fun to be had with the thousands of people in the fleet. On the other hand, I'd watch a whole episode of the Serenity crew just having dinner. They wouldn't even have to nearly die or anything, they could just sit at the dinner table eating noodles and having a chat. I'll never get to see that episode because inevitably, every time, every single time I watch it, it gets cancelled. I pretend it won't. On episode six I think it'll go on forever. On episode twelve I start to get worried. Then I'll watch Serenity and pretend that nothing bad is going to happen.

At the same time, I wonder how its shortness changes our perception of it. These characters are preserved in one short season. It's easy to think they'll never change. That they'll go on like this forever, and we just won't see it. But they would have changed, obviously. By season three the crew might have looked completely different. The family would have been lost, people would have been replaced. There are unfortunate events in Serenity that prove that. Except, in my imagination, it would have always been the same nine. And there also isn't room for it to be bad. In every long series, there are times when the quality dips. The 'boring middle part of Firefly Season Four' can never happen, even though that sounds quite good. It might have been saved from all the criticism that happens to normal, not-cancelled shows. It sits above all that as something perfect and shiny, with an imagined legacy that isn't ruined by being real. It's easy to forget that this all happened ten years ago. It's still being talked about because it was ripped away from us, it's only half there, maybe inspiring more love than a proper run would have. When somebody awful decided to cancel it, to dismantle this whole world, they probably didn't know what they were starting.