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Wednesday, January 25th, 2006

Serenity, Now!

I was a big fan of Buffy and think Astonishing X-Men is one of the very best mainstream comics out there right now, so I think I can say that I’m well-acquainted with the appeal of Joss Whedon and his works (but not Angel. Boo). So I’m not speaking as an outsider when I say I never understood the devout following Firefly garnered during its brief life. I saw a couple episodes and while I found it reasonably enjoyable, it didn’t rope me into making an effort to catch or tape it and before I knew it, poof. Gone. I didn’t think too much of its departure till I saw the unprecedented grassroots movement that led to the film Serenity last Fall and the raves the show (and film) got from folks whose opinion I generally trusted – maybe I had missed out? Well, I got the Firefly DVD set for Christmas and after getting through that I rented Serenity this weekend. And y’know what? I still don’t get it. Let me expound.

I enjoyed Firefly and I enjoyed Serenity and after getting through the series, I was certainly glad the film existed if for nothing else than to tie up some loose plot threads, but based on the fifteen episodes of the show (only a dozen of which actually aired), I’m surprised that the show managed to garner the fanbase it did. I liked the premise, the execution, the characters, the writing, all of it – but none of the ongoing plotlines really caught my interest. The secret history of Shepherd Book would have been interesting, and the whole Mal-Inara/Sam-Diane thing appeals to the sap in me, but they didn’t get played out much. The one major story with the mysterious River Tam totally did not strike a chord, maybe I’m just burned out on crazy-talking prophet girls, so when the show was over, I didn’t have any overwhelming outrage at remaining dangling story threads. But apparently others did, and so we got a film. Which, naturally, focuses on crazy girl River.

Usually when a TV show makes the jump to the big screen, it’s an opportunity to let the characters cuss – and the language is a little bluer – but since most swearing is conducted in Chinese, they didn’t really need to ramp up the language. Being moderately comprehensive in Mandarin, it was amusing to me to actually understand the swears they used in the show, but wonder what it’s like for the non-Chinese-speaking audience. Anyway, the film was quite satisfying whether I was hungry for what it was offering or not – it wraps things up in a pretty satisfactory manner, though, taking care to off a couple cast members for good measure. The secret origin of the Reavers was pretty cool, and the requisite big space shoot-em-up also offered some visceral thrills and I’m sure overall it was a treat for hardcore fans. Me, I liked it but the primary feeling that stuck with me was that there was a lot of unrealized potential in the show, and that’s a shame. Now Whedon is working on the film adaptation of Wonder Woman, and some have speculated that he’d be casting Summer Glau, who played River Tam, as Diana of the Amazons. I dunno, besides the fact that she looks MAYBE 15 years old (okay, probably more like 18 now), she’s kinda short.

Harp has posted their new issue online, and the cover story belongs to one Cat Power, who released her latest and Greatest yesterday.

Billboard gets the lowdown on the upcoming year in Feist, starting with more American touring, recording in Europe and culminating in the release of her follow-up to Let It Die before the year’s end.

There’s now an official MP3 from the new Neko Case album to preview – check it out and get excited for Fox Confessor Brings The Flood, out March 7.

MP3: Neko Case – “Star Witness”

Buddyhead offers up their unique look at the best and worst albums of 2005. And Harp has a list too, but not nearly as snotty.

We established yesterday that I’m a fan of physical music packaging, but why oh why do digipacks always break JUST enough spindles to not hold onto the freaking CD? Does anyone have a decent way of replacing digipack trays? I have glue. I just need the plastic bits. The CD in question is Belle & Sebastian’s Funny Little Frog single, which arrived from the UK yesterday a little worse for wear. Alas. Oh, speaking of B&S – the Put The Book Back On The Shelf release party that was scheduled for February 8 at Andy Poolhall in Toronto has been postponed on account of the comic not actually being released till the end of the month. The Beguiling are hoping to reschedule, though, so I’ll keep you posted.

And if you liked yesterday’s post (which many of you seemed to, thanks, and to which I will carry on the very interesting discussion in the comments when I have a chance to form some coherent thoughts), check out the follow-up from Zolius, who picks up the baton and carries it from my community cable access show into highbrow PBS territory.

Joe Sacco, the cartoonist who made his name reporting (via comics) on his experiences in Bosnia and Palestine has put together a new 8-page strip (PDF) The Guardian about his interviews with a pair of former Iraqi prisoners who are accusing Rumsfeld and the US military of torture. This is a follow-up to a piece he did last year (PDF) when he was actually in Iraq, embedded with some US troops. I recommend a) reading these because Sacco’s war commentary is always excellent and thought-provoking but b) downloading them first, because the files are big and could well crash your browser. Via The Great Curve.

np – The Mountain Goats / The Coroner’s Gambit

By : Frank Yang at 8:52 am
Category: Uncategorized
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  1. Gary Campbell says:

    That Funny Little Frog single is fun — ours arrived yesterday as well. Did your DVD play OK? I couldn’t get it working in my regular DVD player, but it played fine on my laptop. Still, it looks like they’re totally phoning in that live performance of Lazy Line Painter Jane.

  2. Sean says:

    I do think Firefly was a little overhyped by the Whedon fanboys but I think the thing about the series that I liked the most was the interaction between the characters. The stories themselves were pretty disposable, but I enjoyed the personalities and the different relationships, as well as the bad ass western vibe.

    As for Serenity, I wasn’t very happy with it because I don’t think it got all the characters and their relationships right… which to be fair, is pretty hard to do in a two hour movie. Fun to see the Reavers, yes… but overall I found it a bit disappointing.

  3. solace says:

    oh my that new Neko song is FANtastic.

  4. Toothy says:

    When your boyfriends are calexico and the sadies, you are the coolest girl at the prom. Thanks for the link.

  5. Jesus Christ says:

    you know who else didnt like firefly? jerks. hey chrome, watch it. putting down whedon is like putting down moses.

  6. Lab_Frog says:

    Fireflys taste good.

  7. Someone says:

    Summer Glau is 24. Just for the record!

  8. Someone says:

    And Summer’s not short, either. She’s 5’8".