Friday, June 17, 2005

Firefly: I've been reading Firefly hype everywhere, so I've been anxious to give the show a shot. Last night, I watched the pilot episode, "Serenity." I must say I was enjoying it--until they stumbled upon my pet peeve in all of television, and committed the nearly unforgivable sin.

Needless to say, "Serenity" spoilers follow.

The absolute, positively worst thing a filmmaker can do--especially in sci-fi--is mock the viewer for believing. The second you do that, you absolutely destroy the willing suspension of disbelief, and you drive the viewer right out of your story. Trust is destroyed--at that point, if their heart was ever in it, it has stopped being in it, and you will have to work even harder to get them back.

As you've probably guessed, "Serenity" has one of these moments. There's a character who is shot, and though she spends most of the episode trying to recover, there's a moment when "the hand falls." Now, if at that point she'd have turned out to be alive, I'd have been okay with that. But then, the guy who dropped her hand actually tells someone she's dead.

Now I knew the character wasn't dead. She's on the IMDB cast lists, and she's in the opening credits montage. So when I see the religious character headed towards the girl, I think, "Ah. There's going to be a fantasy element here, where they bring her back from the dead."

But it's nothing so profound as that. See, it was a joke.

The character was joking when he told the other character the girl was dead, and, apparently, joking when he let her hand fall. He and the other characters get a good laugh out of this.

Except the real joke isn't on any of the characters--it's on the viewer. And when you mock your viewer for believing you, you lose them.

I'm not saying I'm not going to continue watching the show, nor that the show has no redeeming qualities. I will and it does.

That was like something out of a student script, though. I hope the rest of the games they play aren't as amateur.

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