Saturday, January 01, 2011

old TV

I've been watching a lot of old TV on Netflix lately and thought I'd post some reviews. If Marcel can review old movies, I can review old TV.

Firefly is a series from 2002. I never saw it when new but I had heard a lot about it from other SF fans and now I know why --it was a tremendous series. If there were any justice in the universe, this show would still be running. The casting was perfect, the acting was excellent, the stories were great and it was hilarious as well as dramatic. The plots were credible, tight and fairly original. The motivations of the characters were plausible for the given characters and villains were interesting and entertaining.

The science was a little strained and implausible. Supposedly all of humanity migrated to another solar system and terraformed a bunch of planets and moons. Terraforming was so easy that they overdid it and ended up with a bunch of sparsely-inhabited planets. Yet with the tremendous levels of technology that required, many of the planets can't afford even 20th-century technology and they are riding around on horses. Then there is the problem that the "outer" planets aren't any colder than the "inner planets" and that whenever they want to go to another planet it is only a few hours away. It all adds up to the need for a competent technical consultant.

But overall, this is one of my favorite TV series ever. If you get Netflix, I'd recommend adding the two seasons of Firefly to your "instant queue" first thing.

Babylon 5 is an SF series from 1993. You can really see the age of the film in the way that they handle technology. For example, station personnel have small personal communicators, but most people --even VIPs-- do not have anything like a mobile phone. The plots are pretty good except that there is a tendency for supposedly smart and experienced military people to make ridiculous security mistakes. At least these mistakes are only used to heighten the suspense and not to create artificial plot points. In other words, they do stupid things, but usually nothing bad happens because of it.

My biggest complaint is that all of the main characters come off as self-indulgent drama queens. For example, a group of people who are supposed to be experienced leaders and military people are on a very time-critical mission to save the galaxy from being destroyed. One of them disappears from the ship. They have no idea how to get him back or even if it is possible to get him back, but there is still a huge amount of drama over whether they can bear to complete the mission after the loss or will abandon the universe to total annihilation while they stop and grieve. When they decide to go on with the mission it is played up like a great act of courage, sacrifice and dedication that they aren't going to let everything they have ever known be destroyed by sentimentality.

Despite the hyperdrama, the show is still entertaining and I'd recommend adding it to your instant queue, but not among the first selections.

2 comments:

Foxfier, formerly Sailorette said...

there is a tendency for supposedly smart and experienced military people to make ridiculous security mistakes

...

isn't this just about EVERY movie and show? SG:1 mostly avoided it...but the spinoffs didn't....

Marcel said...

Firefly was great. I never realized it was taking place in one solar system; never really thought about it, which is a mark in favor of Whedon and the writing I guess, or evidence of limited attention to detail on my part.

Watching tv series on dvd is more enjoyable than 'live,' for me. Some informative reviews would be helpful. I missed Babylon 5 when it was new, and haven't got to grips with it yet on dvd.