Tag Archives: Firefly

Christina Hendricks and Broken Bells

I’ve been a huge fan of Christina Hendricks ever since she appeared in Joss Whedon’s Firefly. I loved her character in the show, and had Firefly been allowed to continue past one season, it would have been interesting to see how Joss & Co. would have developed Saffron — because I’m certain that “Trash” would not have been the last time we would have seen her.

Now I’d never heard of Broken Bells before, but the story of how they joined forces with Hendricks for this video is pretty cool — and I have to admit that it’s nice to see Hendricks doing something sci-fi again. I’m fascinated with the story in this video, and I can’t help but wonder what drives this android to so resolutely pursue her objective. The story is dark and bleak and fascinating.

Fanboyishness

I’m a Joss Whedon fanboy. Perhaps I’m not as rapidly fanboyish as some – I don’t subscribe to every Joss-related forum, website and newsletter – but whenever I hear about a new project from Mr. Whedon, I automatically start to salivate. I’ve been looping Acts I and II of his smash-hit web serial “Dr. Horrible”:http://drhorrible.com all day today. I simply can’t get enough of this show, its clever and witty lines, and contagious music.

Joss also has a new project called _Dollhouse_ scheduled to debut for the 2009 spring season on Fox. The fears from a lot of Joss’s fans is that Fox will do to _Dollhouse_ what they did to _Firefly_ – cancel it before it can really get going. According to an interview with Joss, however, there’s a good chance that _Dollhouse_ will get a fair shake this time around:

Joss Whedon, creator of Fox's upcoming midseason SF series Dollhouse, told SCI FI Wire that he's OK returning to the TV network that canceled his beloved Firefly after mishandling it.

"These are different people," Whedon said in an interview in Santa Monica, Calif., on July 14, part of the Television Critics Association summer press tour. "They didn't do to me what was done to Firefly."

Source

Joss has this uncanny knack for finding some of the best people to work with and to work for him, and I’m excited to see both the conclusion of _Dr. Horrible_ and the debut of _Dollhouse_.

The Genius of Joss Whedon

Earlier this week, my wife and I were finally able to get through the last few episodes of the final season of _Angel_. I’ve been a big fan of _Buffy, the Vampire Slayer_ for years now and have been systematically collecting each season on DVD. I was never able to catch the shows on their original air dates, so I forbade anyone from spoiling any details of seasons I hadn’t seen yet. Fortunately, I was able to get my wife hooked on the shows, as well, so together we’ve gone through all seven seasons of _Buffy_ and all five seasons of _Angel_.

I’ve always loved Joss’s conceptions of the Buffyverse. The shows were dark and forbidding, but Joss could always take you from this end-of-the-world moment of doom and gloom and slip something funny in that would take viewers completely by surprise. It was interesting to me the way he built the world of vampires and demons, of witches, warlocks, and metaphysical beings. He had with him an incredible staff of writers, all with a great sense of wit and humor. It was a lot of fun to watch through the shows and see what would happen next to these characters that viewers have so come to love.

I was incredibly happy with the way _Buffy_ ended. It couldn’t have been a more poetic ending that opened up a world of possibilities to her. I knew _Angel_ would have a less than satisfactory ending. After all, the show _did_ get canceled before Joss was ready for it to do so. I can respect Joss’s choice of endings, though – I might have done much the same, leaving things open-ended in the event that a return could be made to this universe.

One thing about _Angel_ that I found interesting, though, was the philosophy behind it. In the end, the team of Angel Investigations determined that evil would never be vanquished, that it would always be around, even long after humanity ceased to exist on the earth. The conclusion, then, was that the only thing to do was to continue to fight the good fight, because even if it only caused evil a minute pause in their wicked plans, then it was surely worth it. A very bleak and depressing outcome, if you ask me, and had it been one that I had come to, I’m not sure that it would ever have been enough to keep me going. In the end, there must be the promise that good _will_ triumph, that all the pain and suffering now will ultimately come to a good end. But I suppose that the philosophy in this show is at least somewhat representative of the world, because I see that same philosophy mirrored in the worldview of many of the people around me.

I’m not quite a Joss Whedon fanboy, but any projects that he has his hands in have my immediate attention. I’m a huge fan of _Firefly_ and _Serenity_ and am mildly bitter with Fox for canceling that show after such a short run. They obviously didn’t know what they had when they had it. I doubt we’ll ever see that universe expanded by Joss himself; I heard rumor that he’s sworn never to work with Fox again. But I _will_ continue to enjoy his work and hope that he will be able to land another TV series soon. There is a wealth of creativity and inspiration trapped in that mind of his, and I look forward to seeing what else he can produce.

Give Me Simplicity

There are many times during the course of my immersion into the realms of science fiction and fantasy, whether it be reading books, watching shows or movies, etc., when I wish that I could experience aspects of those cultures first-hand. For instance, in the short-lived show _Firefly_, two cultures merged into one when humanity abandoned Earth. The predominant world superpowers at that time were the United States and China. So, when new worlds were terraformed and then populated by Earth’s refugees, it wasn’t long before most inhabitants of this new solar system were bi-lingual, speaking English primarily but switching over to Mandarin in moments of high emotion.

In Stephen Lawhead’s Pendragon cycle, the culture of Britain in the early days after Jesu left his mark on the world was rich with history, symbolism, and faith. The mere image of the cross was enough to spark strong emotional and behavioral reactions in the followers of the Great Light, of the one True God. You can believe that nothing in their faith was taken for granted.

What it comes down to is this – I see in many Americans a shallowness that borders on being depressing. I don’t believe it always used to be this way. Early on in our nation’s history, national pride was treasured, cherished. It was important to be known as an American, important enough to die for, as many did. Today it seems that so many of our citizens are almost ashamed to be called Americans, thinking that to claim such is to be pretentious and arrogant in the eyes of the world. We are becoming American in name only, with so many having no concept of the pride that goes with being called such.

So, too, in our churches and in our faith. We are becoming Christian in name only, and that often only barely. Cultural shallowness has begun to penetrate our minds, our hearts, our churches so that our ministries become less effective, less robust. As both Americans and as Christians, we are losing our culture, those elements that root us in what we are and in what we believe. The cross of Christ has become less of an integral, necessary part of our belief system and more of a digitized placeholder of faith whereupon we look and remark in a distracted manner about how important it is to our faith.

A recent email conversation among some friends has addressed this topic from the perspective of the church’s affluence. The problem posed at the outset of the discussion is that of the presence of “fancy buildings… sound systems, and the musical instruments, and the hundreds of different colors of papers, and the power point programs, and twenty children’s programs and all associated materials.” These are all things that most of our churches today seem to think they require in order to function and minister effectively. We seem to require that our auditoriums be air conditioned and that crying children be removed from the service, that the drums not be played too loudly (or at all) and that the pastor have the appropriate level of pious humility if we are to be expected to worship at all. ((Email correspondence))

There are several things that I believe have contributed to the current state of affairs in our churches. The first is that the increased development of technology has pushed the pace of culture into hypersonic speeds. Information and data travel at a breakneck rate nowadays, and most of us have noticed that life has moved into not just the fast lane but into the ultra-fast lane. We have less time now than we ever did, and what free time we have we fill with activities that are, essentially, needless. We are constantly inundated with more and more information that we must sort through and process, and as a result we have become detached from those things that are truly important, things like God, faith, and family. This is contributor number one to the shallowness of culture.

The second contributor is the shift toward post-modern philosophy. Truth is no longer what it once was. It has become an ethereal entity that cannot be grasped. Indeed, truth has become little more than a vapor, a thing that is seen – and then only just barely – before it is caught up by the wind and blown away. We try to clasp it in our hands so that we may know it, yet it slips through our fingers and goes on its merry way, leaving us wondering if it was ever real to begin with. This is the way popular culture sees truth today, as an insubstantial, ever-changing entity that is unique to each individual. Truth has many faces, so that it may look different to each individual who views it, even changing in form to a single person depending on the circumstances surrounding its pursuit. We are continually losing the notion that truth is, in fact, static and stable, never-changing, steady throughout the ages. The Enemy attacks the idea of absolute truth because those who do not believe in it are merely sheep to be led to the slaughter. The disappearance of absolute truth has contributed to the shallowness of culture and the loss of those things which are most important. Now what is most important is determined by each person privately and may look vastly different from what is most important to the next person.

The third contributor has already been mentioned – the affluence of culture. As another contributor to the conversation stated, it seems that “the more STUFF we have around us, the more FAITH we need.” I do not believe that this is just limited to material possessions, either. I have watched as men fill their heads with more and more knowledge and ‘facts’, information that they learn and catalogue. In so doing they see less and less of God’s presence in the world and in creation and less need for something outside of themselves to provide truth and to make sense of those things that happen that we simply cannot explain. We are an affluent culture, both in the things we _own_ and in the things we _know_. The more things we have, the more we become distracted by them and the less we see a need for God. It is the _things_ that then become important because we must maintain them, maintain a certain way of life, maintain traditions that we have become comfortable with and that continue to make us comfortable. The things take a place of higher precedence, usurping God and pushing faith into the background. We continue to believe that we have faith, but all we are really left with is a dependency upon things that, when taken from us, cause us to come crashing down because, in pushing faith aside, we have struck our own foundation out from under ourselves. The acquisition and collection of things contributes to a shallow culture and a faith that is sorely taken for granted. Things are temporal; faith is not, yet we seem to have gotten the two in reverse.

I find myself yearning after some of the things I read in my fiction, not as a substitute for my faith but as a return to a simpler way of doing things, a way that eliminates so many of our distractions and restores a richness to culture and to faith that has been lost in today’s hustle and bustle of activity. I think perhaps what most appeals to me about Chinese culture, in some ways, is the richness of it, the legacy of history that inspires millions to both national pride and devotion (though even that is being lost as Western culture invades the Chinese borders). There is a power within a national legacy that the cultures of both America and American Christianity seem to lack. We have become shallow people, abhoring and rejecting that which is most important in favor of pursuing those things that are most important to _us_, our selfish and narcissistic ideals. That is what our culture has told us is important, to what and to seek out that which _we_ want, rather than what our Creator God deems important.

A return to simplicity is needed, I think, in order to return us to our roots, so that we may find again the awe of our faith and the power of God in our lives. I believe that the icons of our faith can once again become powerful, no longer taken for granted as just another pretty picture on a wall or a decorative item to be viewed and then dismissed. I also think that simplicity can be communicable, a contagion that can spread through the Church and returning it to a place where the important things are remembered and the unimportant set aside and forgotten.

Yet, I think in order for that to happen, simplicity must first take place within each one of us separately, as we extract those things in our lives that prevent us making the most of the time we have here in this life – the possessions that demand our interest, the activities that require our time, the pursuit of more knowledge and facts that only serve to distract from serving our Lord. It is in the doing and living that makes the most impact on others, that demonstrates that we do not, in actuality, require most of the things we cling to with such ferocity, that we can really be happy and content with less. It is not, and will not, be an easy process, no. But I think more and more that it is a necessary one if we as a Church in America wish to again be salt and light in our culture. We do not yet see that we need less because we are blinded by our own affluence, but there are Christians in many other countries who pray that Christians in America will face the persecution that strips away all the unnecessary things so that we will once again remember Who it is we serve and remember again what business it is we are to be about.

Less is more. Jesus knew this. It is why he taught time and again that for any man to follow Him, he must first give up all he had and then follow Him. Would that we should remember that.