Red Right Hand: 我的媽和她的瘋狂的外甥都, IF IT HAPPENS AGAIN...
*He is not a secret agent. Not at all.

 

我的媽和她的瘋狂的外甥都, IF IT HAPPENS AGAIN...

It should come as no surprise to anyone that I regard Firefly as some of the shiniest 天曉得 there is.

It's failure to find a sustainable audience was not surprising. It's ability to get a big damn movie was.

But I've got a little problem with some Firefly/Whedon fans. It's a rant of mine that I think bears a little ear-blistering before Dollhouse comes on as I expect it to encounter some mainstream resistance, some questionable marketing and difficulty in grabbing life-giving ratings. I'm not the only one either, as seen in this Matt Roush column. It doesn't have as much going against it (at least at first glance) as Firefly, but it could share some of the difficulties.

Just not the sci-fi/western hybrid genre. Seems like people have the hardest time getting over that hump.

First off, and this one amazes me the most, is how many people I know, near and far, who are rabid about loving the Whedon. They love him and everything he does. They watched every episode of Buffy and Angel when it was on the air.

A lot of them of didn't see Firefly until it hit DVD. A year after it was cancelled.

Whiskey Tango Foxtrot!

If you're a Whedon fan, especially a metered one, you better be there on premiere night, watching it live, not on TiVo (you're not there to watch the show, you're there to watch the commercials), and doing so every subsequent night. "Waiting for the DVD" translates as "killing the show" Especially since Fox can be itchy with the trigger finger, especially when Minear is nearby. Wonderfalls? Three eps. The Inside? Seven eps in six weeks. Drive? Four.

Another staggeringly huge amount of Whedon fans proved to be uncurious motherfuckers and we're too confused or something by the first aired episode, "The Train Job." And never watched another one until, again, the DVDs. Frakking collaborators! There's something very specific I want to address with this episode and it's effect on viewers and the problems of the airing order.

The pilot sets up the series. The pilot was not aired first. The pilot was essentially burned off at the end. I'll not get into the stupidity of all that.

Whedon and Minear knew that the pilot was not going to air first and they had the opportunity to write a new series opener and that was "The Train Job." See, it wasn't just some random episode shoved in the lead-off spot. It was written to function in the lead off spot. The bar fight teaser lays out the basics of the future in a not overly-expo way. It tells you there was the Alliance and the Independents, and that the Independent Browncoats lost. It also tells you theres animosity about that and it introduces us to Mal and we see that he was on the losing side and is not at all cool about that. We get most of the mains and we get the ship before the teaser's done.

The rest of the episode shows us through a basic heist story what our guys are about and what these Outer Worlds are like. It even goes so far as to set up a recurring bad guy. It's basically a pilot episode.

There's two kinds of pilots. Premise pilots show us the beginning of the show's concept. Lost, for instance is a premise pilot: plane crashes on the island, everything starts there. More recently, Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles is a premise pilot. They get their girl Terminator protector, and move to L.A. in 2007/8. And we go from that new status quo. Random other recent examples: Eli Stone, Pushing Daisies

The West Wing is a non-premise pilot. Everything is already in place. Everyone in their jobs and the administration's been in office for a year and a half. Your average cop show has a non-premise pilot. Here's some cops doing their job, like they've always done and always will do. Other random examples: Canterbury's Law, House

"The Train Job" functions in that way. In doing so, we have a little mystery, because now we haven't seen Simon and River arrive and don't have the details of why they are wanted by the Alliance and what the deal is with that strange girl.

All that is explained in the pilot. It is also gradually explained in all the following episodes, piece by piece. In watching it air, that was one of the cool things that kept me coming back, unraveling the River enigma. It's the whole basis behind the entire Lost series.

For some reason, some people could not wrap their heads around not getting all the info all at once in the beginning. They feel they were dropped into the series in the middle of things and had to play catch up, which they totally didn't have to do.

Even if they did, does this mean they have never sampled a new series at any point other than the pilot. Most series writing staffs take great care to make each episode accessible. Not as much with highly serialized shows like 24. If you don't start 24 in the first couple or four hours, just don't bother.

Firefly was not highly serialized. Each ep had a contained reasonably A plot. I think that if I show someone (who's open to the sci-fi/western thing to start) any episode as an intro, even "Trash," in which we come upon a guest character with a history in a different episode, there should be little to no difficulty in assimilating into the world and following the story.

I don't know how many times I heard that this didn't happen. They couldn't follow the series that I had no trouble watching out of order. It was only at the end of the run, once the writing was already on the wall, where things got a little hinky, as they skipped the episode where Inara said she was leaving, but even then, it didn't stick out like a 流口水的婊子和猴子的笨儿子.

How does all this relate to Dollhouse?

Simple, Whedon fans. Watch it. No matter what happens, just watch it. And pay attention. Even if it's shown out of order, switched nights and (gawds forbid) you don't even like it at first, just keep watching it. Haven't you learned to have faith in the Whedon by now. Its broadcasty goodness will shine through.

Hell, I didn't much care for the first season of Buffy a'tall.
©2016 Michael Patrick Sullivan