Serenity Now

August 24, 2005

A science fiction television series develops a cult following, is cancelled, despite strong fan support, and later goes on to become a major motion picture. No, not Star Trek, Firefly.

Earlier tonight, I managed to catch an advance screening of Serenity, which is a sequel to the series Firefly, written and directed by Joss Whedon (best known as the creator of Buffy the Vampire Slayer).

Although there are 13 hours of back story, the first few scenes of the film provide the basic exposition necessary introduce the universe, characters and situation very clearly. Even though it is a lot of exposition to bring most of the audience to speed with the fans, it doesn't feel forced. Whedon's script manages to introduce eight characters and as much of the universe as is necessary very quickly.

The film moves along at a brisk pace and takes advantage of a larger effects budget, but still manages to play small, remebering that it is a story about 7 people on a small spaceship. With 9 characters from the series, plus a villain, there just isn't a lot of time to focus on each character. In a 22 episode season (or even in a 13 episode season), there is a lot more space to explore the characters. If Whedon wrote this originally as a film, rather than adapted tv series, he probably would have cut a few characters. Even for TV, 9 core characters is unusual, but not completely unmanageable. Lost has an even larger core cast and has managed to be moderately successful. Of course, Lost also occupies a good timeslot and all of the episodes were shown in the correct serial order.

Serenity doesn't feel like a long episode of a television series on a bigger screen. It is paced like a film with as much plot as a half-season of a television series, but much less character development.

Serenity Trailer

Entertainment Weekly: Serenity Now

Wired: Serenity Now!

Seinfeld: The Serenity Now

Here are some positive reviews from a London screening: Londonist (contains a potential quasi-spoiler) and Tom Coates.

Posted by Andrew Raff at August 24, 2005 11:47 PM
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