“Firefly” (2002-03, Fox), episodes 1-11 – As Joss Whedon slumped a bit with “Buffy” and “Angel,” he launched a show that quickly became his best. He created a charming space Western with nine colorful — and expertly cast — characters aboard a smuggling ship. Aside from the immortal “Star Trek” franchise, small screen space dramas appear to be dead.
When faced with a totalitarian government, institutionalized corruption or a plain ol’ supervillain, pop culture’s superheroes and revolutionaries are almost always reluctant, and it’s getting to be a rather predictable trope, even within the context of otherwise enjoyable franchises. I got to thinking about this odd trend when watching “The Hunger Games” movies on Showtime.
This question has been creeping into the back of my mind throughout the “Buffy” franchise’s three seasons of official continuations from Dark Horse Comics, but it’s especially evident now, early in Season 10 of “Buffy” and “Angel & Faith”: Are these titles running out of good ideas?
Interviews with “Firefly” staffers often include the question of “What story ideas were never produced?” As such, we know they were kicking around episodes about Kaylee having to go undercover as a Companion, and the Alliance accidentally producing a herd of mutant zombie cattle (yes, for real), but we’ll probably never see those stories.
Like a lot of “Firefly” fans, I have mixed feelings about “Serenity,” the 2005 movie that continued the saga. It’s a solid movie by every important metric (the 7.9 IMDB rating, compared to 9.2 for “Firefly,” seems about right). But by 2005, we had finally gotten to appreciate the 14 episodes in chronological order on DVD, and along came this film where — as with the original haphazard airing of the series — we felt like we were missing something.
Even in comparison to “Buffy” and “Angel” — which had already built up complex mythologies by the fall of 2002 — “Firefly” arrived as Joss Whedon’s most completely detailed and believable fictional universe. He imagined a 26th century where corporations and government are one and the same, American-looking people swear in Chinese (and have Asian-sounding last names, in the case of the Tam siblings, or dress in Asian fashions, as with Inara), and where prostitution is legal and respected — so long as the government can regulate it, of course.
With the awesome news earlier this week that AMC changed its mind about “The Killing,” which it canceled a few months ago but has now resurrected for a third season (to air later this year), I thought I’d take a look at a few notable resurrected (or un-canceled, if you prefer) series through the years.
Next, here are my top 10 … OK, 20 … movies of the Aughts.
1. “Garden State” (2004) — I’m not going to lie: This is just a romantic fairy tale — average Joe finds true love with Natalie Portman (Portman’s character doesn’t seem to realize she looks like Natalie Portman, and she’s all the more lovable for it) — that I find very appealing. Great scene: The trio climbs atop a bus in a rainy ravine and lets out a big ol’ yell, and somewhere “Only Living Boy in New York” is playing.