s Thoughts from the Physics Chick: She should have died hereafter

Thursday, December 29, 2005

She should have died hereafter

So I have finally gotten around to watching Firefly (but not Serenity, yet, so no spoilers!) and I have to agree with so many of my friends that it is a wonderful show. And I’m also very sad that it had such a short life.

Which sort of got me to thinking about my feelings on TV shows vs. movies (or books) generally. TV shows have the advantage of letting you revisit favorite characters and places repeatedly; their episodic nature gives you a chance to form lasting "relationships" with them. Movies are more about a certain monumental event in the lives of the characters. TV shows are just about living from week to week.

I rarely watch TV anymore. I don’t own one, and I don’t bother to watch the public ones in my building. And I have to say that I don’t really miss it. I had been slowly weaning myself off it during my last few years of college, anyway. Oddly enough, my cutting back was more because I found myself too involved in the shows I watched rather than out of some anti-bourgeois entertainment sentiment. I would be heartbroken for days if a character got killed off, let alone if the entire show was cancelled. I had to be very careful about the shows I chose to watch, trying to find ones that would that would be robust enough to last a while.

This is one advantage to movies and books: they don’t get cut short. They don’t have characters replaced or change writers mid-storyline. When you pick one up, you can be pretty sure that it ends the way the author wanted it to, without outside pressures from directors, producers, networks or stars.

On the other hand, I think it’s almost worse to have a show drag on past its prime. A show that is prematurely cancelled is like the untimely death of a teenager. A show that goes downhill is like a good friend with dementia: their very familiarity of form makes it even more painful that they are now behaving in such odd and unpredictable ways.

So maybe it’s better that the show ended before I ever heard of it. Instead of lasting long enough to molder into a shadow of itself, we are left with fourteen perfect episodes, like pearls on a string.

Requiescat in pace, sweet Firefly.


At December 30, 2005 12:04 AM, Blogger Saule Cogneur said...

Meh. I would prefer to be the judge of a show's point of creative exhaustion. I am still upset that Arrested Development ended when it did. I can always stop watching the thing when it goes bad.

That said, there is a difference between nearing the threshold and passing it several times over. In such a case, I support the former.

Think Jim Davis vs Bill Waterson.

At December 30, 2005 6:45 PM, Blogger Thirdmango said...

If you want some good tv shows that have an actual ending because they decided to end it and not because of cancelation or pressure to do so, here's my list. Don't worry there isn't much.

The Office (The Bristish Version) - 14 episodes. (BBC wanted them to do more, but they said no because they had reached the end of the story. That's the major reason why one was created in America.)

Cowboy Bebop - 26 episodes. (The writer of Firefly said this show was his major inspiration for making Firefly.)

If you were still going to be in town I could let you borrow them. Maybe if you come back for summer.

At December 31, 2005 1:04 AM, Blogger Melyngoch said...

Did I mention that Mal spontaneously combusts and burns to death in the movie?

I agree it would have been tragic to see the brilliance of the one season tarnished by a decline such as that of, say, The X-Files, the very best episodes of which I can't watch so seriously since the last three seasons ruined everything.

(Oh, and Kaylee gets eaten by an alligator and Wash loses both his legs trying to save her.)

On the other hand, most shows don't peak in their first year, and it breaks my heart to imagine what the second or third season might have brought.

(Jayne turns out to be a woman.)

Two more seasons and then three movies. That's all I ask. Why do the cosmos never give me what I want?

(River drinks the water coming out of a nuclear test site and turns into Batman, which was also upsetting to me; I wanted her to be an X-Man.)

(X-Woman. Whatevs.)


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