Friday, August 27, 2010

Continued Discussion on Firefly (Part II)

Welcome back to our round table discussion on Joss Whedon's Firefly. Please see August 26th post if you are visiting for the first time.

Welcome back Stanalei, Doree, and Megan to Mysteries and Margarita’s. Everyone grab a cuppa coffee, beverage of your choice or a glass of your favorite wine and relax. I’ve got the cheese and crackers out, help yourself.

If you were with us yesterday you know this is a little different than usual, I’m not doing a one-on-one interview. I’m sure you’ve guessed by my guest list. Picture us gathered around a table or in someone’s living room having a discussion and the topic is Joss Whedon’s Firefly.

Mary: Romance Writers of America has workshops on Joss Whedon—OCC/RWA, LRWA, CRW, KOD not to mention the conferences that have workshops on the subject of: The Lessons of Firefly: What do you think is the allure?

Stanalei: I’ve taken Jacqui Jacoby’s on-line workshop The Lessons of Firefly. I believe the allure is the series and having the chance to discuss a shared passion about the series, the characters and the stories.

Doree: The fantasy element. His imagination and how he brings his story around.

Megan: Firefly isn't about cowboys in space. It’s about these people and their relationships with each other, and their loyalty to one another. The heart of any Joss Whedon show is the dialogue. I don't know anything about writing books, but I have written scripts, and the hardest thing when you are writing dialogue is making it connect to your audience. Joss Whedon has a huge connection with his viewers. One of my favorite things that he has said is "I would rather make a show that 100 people Love to watch than a show that everyone likes to watch."

Stanalei:  Megan, I get that very same feeling while watching anything he’s done. You are so right.

Mary: Megan I agree about what Whedon said. Stanalei even though I’m new to Joss Whedon’s work I get the same feeling and now I need to rush out to rent everything else all of you have recommended.

Megan: Yes you need too! It’s worth the time and Money! (or if you have Netflix most of it is on there)

Mary: Is Firefly what you would call Steam Punk? If that’s your opinion, why?

Stanalei:  I’m still unclear of the whole definition of Steam Punk, but I think Firefly may the grandfather of the new genre.

Doree: I’m sorry, I’m opinionless at this time. Still a babe and only just learning. But, to me it is a world of shoot-em up fantasy. Not so unlike Stargate or Battlestar Galactica.

Megan: Yes and No... yes, because to the random viewer flipping channels are going to see this spaceship flying around and make assumptions. Those that watch the show know that it’s a resounding 'no'

Mary: I’ve heard a lot of about ‘emotion’ linked with Joss and his work. What are your thoughts on the emotion he uses? Can you give us an example?

Stanalei: Spoiler alert on the answer to this question. As I watched the series, it was easy for me to relate the characters. The futuristic setting, even the fight for survival, isn’t something I have to deal with myself, but I could relate to how the characters bickered with each other, teased each, defended each other. Progressing through the episodes and knowing that I was watching fiction, set up a certain expectation regarding how each character would grow and evolve. When the series wrapped up with the movie, Serenity, I was heart-sick at the loss of two of my favorite characters.  By then, I felt the pain and loss as if they were as much my “family” as they were the Serenity family.  But the amazing thing Mr. Whedon did was not giving into the norm of keeping the character alive for the sake of saving the character for later. By doing this, he stayed true to the story. The line at the end of Serenity when Zoe tells Mal that “the ship” is ready to go really hits home for me in it’s double meaning.  Mal asks, “Do you think she’ll hold?” Zoe replies, “She’s broke up some, but she’ll fly true.”  

In my mind, it’s not just the ship, but Zoe and her well-being Mal is really asking about. And true to the characters, they don’t wear their hearts on their sleeves… so their dialog is almost like a code between best of friends-comrades who have shared it all together. I just love that scene.

Doree:  I’m going to agree with Stanalei on this one, as well. When I’ve watched Star Trek, it was always obvious who was going to die. New guy – there to die! They never killed off their “main characters”. Joss does. And yes, Sheppard and Wash were like losing a member of you family. Also, everything doesn’t revolve around Malcom every time. If the show didn’t revolve around Kirk or his close cronies, it didn’t happen. Joss gives everyone of his characters their spotlight. It’s refreshing and that’s why we know his character’s so well. We’ve met them all, the good and the bad.

Megan: My sisters and I have come to expect shock in a Joss Whedon show. The writing makes you relate to the characters so much that they become people that you care about rather than actors on a show. The element of disbelief goes so far beyond what is the standard that when something 'bad' happens to a character that we love we have an emotional reaction. For example, on the pilot episode where Mal says... "Kaylee's dead" I just remember being so sad and so upset that I didn't see it coming. Cause one thing that Joss loves to do is kill a main character that you think is safe, and then when Kaylee was fine and then the scene cuts to part of the crew laughing it just takes you there and makes you a part of that crew.

Mary: I love Kaylee, and it has nothing to do with the fact my granddaughter’s name is Kaylee. LOL. Doree, could you pass me the cheese and crackers? The rest of have some more wine or whatever. This has been fun and interesting. Is there anything else you can think of that makes Firefly so unforgettable? Let’s not forget Serenity.

Stanalei: Great cheese, Mary. Goes well with this wine. The most unforgettable aspect of the series and the movie for me is the characters. I was into watching about four episodes before I realized that main cast consisted of nine actors. That’s a large ensemble of actors. Nothing about the story lines ever made the scenes feel overcrowded or like Mr. Whedon was trying to give each actor enough stage time with extraneous dialog. Everyone and every line had a purpose. Nothing was wasted.

Doree: Spoiler -Great movie. I know that someone has to die, but come on. Wash? The Sheppard? Not fair.

Megan: I was talking to my friends just the other day about how the reason we love Firefly so much is because it was taken before its time. People are still mad that it’s not on the air and still expecting it to come back, even though it’s been five years or more. Serenity lets people have a little of that closure but personally I think it was more of a tease from Joss saying, "See this is what I wanted to do in three seasons." But it shows some of the best work that Joss has in him. Having seen what Joss did with Buffy and especially with Angel, I could see how he was going to let those scary reevers torment you the entire series, or at least for a long time. Finding out what the Reevers really were just solidified the brilliance that is Joss Whedon’s writing. By the way you will probably have to move these wheat thins away from me cause I will eat them ALL!

Mary: Oh Megan, you’re going to have to fight me over the wheat thins!

Moving on, above I asked what else Joss has done. Let’s discuss some of those movies or series. What do they have in common, if anything, to Serenity and Firefly?

Stanalei: For me and what I’ve watched it’s how Mr. Whedon uses the dialog to bring the character to life. As I said a moment ago. Nothing is wasted. I love how he does that.

Doree: Fantasy Fiction. Buffy the Vampire slayer – yeah. Great imagination.

Megan: I think that Buffy the Vampire Slayer is like Firefly in the way that on first impressions people misunderstand it. Firefly is not about adventures in space just like Buffy is not about Vampires at all. It’s about life experiences, you know with the occasional apocalypse and impending doom. Another thing that I love about Joss is that even in the most terrifying moments for our characters he will have a moment to let the audience laugh. For example in Serenity at the last stand, Kaylee is really scared and thinks she is going to die and Simon has been shot, and then they have that moment of revealing their feelings and the best line comes out Kaylee:“You mean to say … sex?” Simon: “I mean to say…” Kaylee: “To hell with this I’m gonna live.” That little scene in Buffy the Vampire Slayer where everyone is preparing for battle and then most of the characters are playing Dungeons and Dragons! His Comedic timing is perfect.

Mary: Is there anything else about Joss and his work that any of you think is important to mention?

Stanalei:  Mr. Whedon has a gift of entertainment. When I see his work, I never feel like it’s about him or any “message” he is trying to convey. It’s all about the audience and giving them the best ride. A good lesson for me to remember when I’m working on my own creations. Thanks for the fun and enlightening gathering, Mary, Doree and Meagan. We should do this again sometime.

Doree: Firefly should have never been removed so early in its work. A few more seasons would have been lucrative. But, I guess some ‘suit’ just didn’t get it.

Megan: Joss is one of the strongest activists for women. He writes strong women, that kick ass, and it shows his respect that he has for the female population.

Megan, I love that you said ‘kick ass’, still chuckling! But I really do agree. Thank all of you for joining me today I’ve enjoyed our chat.


Kari Lee Townsend said...

Again, great conversation ladies!

Thanks Mary :-)

Carole said...

Drat, I was going to clean house today and now I'm going to watch Serenity. Nostalgia plus.

Mary Martinez said...

Sorry Carole! I know how you feel. I will be watching also!

Again my question today is. Give us your favorite line, scene and character?

stanalei said...

Shiny interview, Mary. Thanks for having us all over to discuss one of my favorite topics and all time favorite shows.
The series is "just too pretty to die..."

Mal: "Well, my days of taking you seriously are certainly coming to a middle."