Recently I revisited the lone season of the Joss Whedon created space western drama, Firefly. The series aired on Fox in 2002 and 2003, lasting only 14 episodes.
I discovered Firefly via the 2005 movie Serenity, which I saw many years after release thanks to the Filmspotting podcast. Nathan Fillion’s captain Malcolm “Mal” Reynolds was the closest anyone had come to capturing the spirit of Han Solo from Star Wars, and since I pretty much grew up watching Star Wars on repeat for several years of my childhood, anything drawing on that for inspiration was worth checking out.
It took a few years, but I finally got around to Firefly, and I’m glad that I did. Is the “space western” a bit hard to swallow? Sure, but in the context of the show, where young “terraformed” planets resemble the Wild West both in a physical and cultural sense, it’s logical. What really makes Firefly works is Whedon’s snappy dialog and interaction between the characters.
At times, the show walked the line between fun and camp, especially in some of the action sequences which didn’t seem particularly well done, though that may have been due to the tv-sized budget, a problem that did not impact Serenity. Overall, the series and Whedon made me want to revisit this show, and I was disappointed I only had the 14 episodes to check out.
If Netflix can bring back Arrested Development, maybe they can do the same for Firefly. Dare to dream…
Party Down lasted two seasons on the Starz network in 2009 and 2010, although there are rumors of a movie in the future. The cast was a who’s who of comedy talent: Adam Scott (currently of Parks and Recreation), Jane Lynch (of Glee and movies like Role Models and The 40 Year-Old Virgin), Lizzy Caplan, Ken Marino (of The State), Martin Starr and more, including some excellent guest stars like Steve Guttenberg and June Diane Rafael.
The show specialized in the sort of awkward, real life comedy that traces back to shows like The Office (moreso the earlier seasons), Curb Your Enthusiam and The Larry Sanders Show, in this instance focusing on a group of caterers in the Los Angeles area who all happen to have some connection to Hollywood (the failed actor, the wannabe sci-fi writer, the up-and-coming commedianne, etc.).
Even though each episode is self-contained, based on around a different catering job each week, the show is able to build the characters and relationships enough each week to make each episode strong as both a stand alone half-hour and a continuing narative. The fact that Adam Scott, playing former beer pitchman Henry who’s career has tanked, is so effective at playing broken and sarcastic without being abbrasive provides the emotional core of the show, and a perfect counter-balance to Ken Marino’s overly positive but fragile team leader Ron.
Rumor is a Party Down movie is happening sometime in the future. I’m not sure an hour and half to two hours is the right format for this humor, it works well in short, self-contained bursts, but I trust the talent involved to make it work.