Sayin’ ain’t doin’, motherfucker!
It’s a damn fact that starin’ into the inky, pitchy blackness of space can make you a bit addle-pated, to the point that you might start talkin’ like a damn English major. So don’t do it, champ! It’s a cold, cold ‘verse out there, and a man that don’t keep his mind on the job is liable to come up a day late and a droin short. Can your yappin’, and stop your nappin’! You’ve got a day’s work to do and two hours to do it. Quit your lollygaggin’! Poetry, and ideals, and pretty thoughts never put beans on a man’s plate, and that’s for damn sure.
Words to live by, but damned if the crew of the good boat Serenity can fly a straight course. Try as they might to live a life devoted to petty crime and cheap whiskey, they keep gettin’ sucked in by air-headed, do-gooder psychics and sissy-boys, and end up riskin’ their firm, well-muscled asses to save the ‘verse time and time again, not that anybody back on the fancy planets could give a good goddamn.
So Joss Whedon tells it in his new film Serenity, the big-screen spinoff of his small-screen cult failure Firefly.1 Serenity 2 is a ramshackle tramp steamer space scow, prowling the outer edges of the galaxy in search of hot cargoes and quick profits, no questions asked and no quarter given. Captain of the good ship is “Mal” (Nathan Fillion). It’s his ship and his rules, and if you don’t like it you can end your days sucking canned oxygen on Asteroid AY-99397. Mal’s rough enough,3 all right, and he’s got a rough crew — Wash (Alan Tudyk), the easy-going pilot, and Zoe (Gina Torres), a beautiful, intelligent black woman.4 If serious butt-kicking is required, there’s Jayne (Adam Baldwin), even rougher and dumber than Mal5 Then there’s Kaylee (Jewel Staite), a damn woman and a bit of a softy, but she can adumbrate the reflux prevaricator on a K-38 turbo booster faster than any mechanic in the galaxy. Yeah, and there’s the “inhumanly lovely” Inara (Morena Baccarin),6 a high-end courtesan who fortunately wears her high-end courtesan outfits into the very jaws of death. Together, they drop their “g’s”, fuck up their tenses, and wave around antique weapons like a passel of Civil War re-enactors out on a spree.
If you grew up on Marvel comics, there won’t be any surprises in Serenity. In fact, if you grew up on Archie comics, there won’t be any surprises. Because Serenity isn’t about outer space, it’s about high school, having crushes, feeling lonely, and wishing you could fit in. Joss Whedon’s real claim to fame is Buffy, the Vampire Slayer, and it shows.7
There are, apparently, more continuing characters to the show than the ones I listed, but it’s almost time for dinner and I’m getting tired.
- Why Firefly? Damfino. I never saw the show (now available on DVD), and the movie didn’t make me want to. [↩]
- I’m guessing the name is ironic, but if so it’s over my head. Way over. [↩]
- Mel acts tough, but clean off the grease and you’re looking at James T. Kirk. Old clichés never die. [↩]
- Apparently, Wash and Zoe are supposed to be married. I thought they were gay. [↩]
- Why “Jayne”? I’m guessing, more irony. [↩]
- Quoting David Edelstein in Slate. Do they pay this guy to write this shit? [↩]
- I confess I never got into the Buffinator, though I kind of liked the original movie. Another nice touch: I once saw Sarah Michelle Geller on a talk show, remarking that one of her favorite activities was downloading fake porno of herself off the Internet — a pleasure, surely, given to few. [↩]