Movies for Gamers #3: Firefly

This is part of a series of reviews of movies particularly interesting or inspiring for role playing. Because of their setting, style, characters, editing or story. Read the introduction here or here if you are new to this series.

Actually Firefly is a science fiction series, and not a movie. But it's worth watching it like one. The series follows a group of mercenary heroes, who fly from one almost legal job to another to pay for fueal and food, and stay ahead of real trouble. Their ship is a Firefly class freighter, falling apart all the time in true Han Solo fashion. Firefly was created by Joss Whedon, who also did the tremendously succesful Buffy the Vampire Slayer series. So, quality guaranteed, you'd say. Indeed so.

But after airing the episodes out of sequence, the network decided to pull the plug before half a season had passed. Why? Officially the series didn't do well enough. Yet a growing fanbase contradicts this argument. Then what?

Personally I suspect the series was politically problematic. The series does play in a future far away, but it also is a kind of wild west series. A wild west series where the heroes are former officers of a Confederate Army. Like the Confederate Army that lost the American Civil War. Like the Confederate Army that couldn't be right even a hundred and fifty years later, because their enemies won, and were supposed to be morally right, because they were against slavery. It's still a moot point, no matter that blacks still have to fight for true equal rights and chances.

Slavery is no issue in the Firefly series (yet). But as one of the lead characters is a stunning dark skinned woman who can also fight very well... I guess there's no problem. The other characters, including captain Mal are also very likeable. I'm not sure which one is my favorite, as they are all well fleshed out and all have their own mysteries, nightmares and secrets.

Well, maybe it's Jayne, the tall no nonsense, slightly dumb looking, always in for more weapons and violence guy. Every episode you'll have to guess iff he's going to backstab the captain or stay on his side after all. Or maybe it's the Ninja like shepherd Book, who with his soft appearance resembles my brother. Or maybe its the psychic girl River, who can do dance martial arts with improbable grace. All are good enough to be full fledged player characters.

Firefly was never continued. But Whedon made a film, Serenity, with the same cast. It shows how the series might have developed, stuffed into a few hours. Make sure you see it after the series, if you still can. It makes it a much better show.

No matter what, Firefly is immensily inspirational for science fiction role playing. Once I have a go at a Sci-Fi campaign again, this will be it's starting point. Gritty, scary, unexpected, but sweet and likeable too. And there's (the start of) a wiki.

1 comment:

  1. I loved Serenity but indeed, it only makes sense if you've already seen (and loved) Firefly.
    A nitpick about Serenity is that even Joss Whedon's genius can't tie up enough of the dangling Firefly plot threads to the fans' satisfaction.

    As for SF gaming: I can only say "Browncoats Never Die!"