Is Firefly Extremely Overrated?

Anytime I start to question how great the show Firefly really is, I meet immediate opposition.  I’ve told five people about this post and been offered rebuttals twice.  I want to start by saying that while I do like some sci-fi shows, I don’t know exactly how much of a fan I really am.  I’m talking about hardcore space sci-fi shows.  You’re Star Treks, Battlestars, Babylons, and Stargates.  They all live in the same strange neighborhood that I avoid driving through when possible.  I grew up watching Star Trek in the 90’s because I shared a room and TV with my brother.  But I can’t say I was ever a fan.  This is my long-winded way of saying that while spacey-type sci-fi shows are okay and I understand them, I can’t say that I really go out of my way to see them.  That brings us to Firefly.  This show has a huge cult following and its own nerd messiah in Joss Whedon.

Where's your God now Moses?

Ask almost any sci-fi fan if they like Firefly.  Go ahead and go ask.  I’ll wait.  You back?  I bet you got a 10 minute lecture on how Nielsen ratings systems are flawed and that there are rumors that Nathan Fillion says the words “fire” and “fly” in the same episode of Castle next week.  That obviously means the show’s coming back.  I usually say to Firefly fans exactly what I say to Cubs fans. That shit just ain’t goin’ happen.

I heard this helped get Firefly cancelled. Also, no one watched.

My first experience with Firefly was seeing the movie Serenity in a movie theater.  I thought it was an okay action flick then and I feel the same way now.  I hadn’t seen the series at the time and had no idea there was such a maniacal following for the show.  I finally forced myself to finish up the series with the magic of Netflix a couple of months ago. Then I thought to myself, “Josh, does this show really deserve the fanatical devotion that it seems to have in the sci-fi world?” We are gathered here today to find that out.

First, I want to take a look at the current reigning Nerd God Joss Whedon and the universe he created.  He took the title of Nerd God after he smote Leonard Nemoy in 1v1 combat.  Or so the legend goes.  He’s so hot right now.  Joss certainly seems to be the voice of his nerd people.

Whedon enjoyed a brief but successful acting career

In Firefly, Whedon created a kind of Post-Civil War Reconstruction type of universe that turned the show into a space western.  Nice.  We’re steering clear of Babylon road.  You can tell he lovingly crafted a believable, if inaccurate (watch Idiocracy), future for mankind.  The idea of a space western has shown up in anime, but I’ve never seen it done live action.  I applaud Joss Whedon’s attempt at breathing new life into TV with original programming.  However, like most original programming, it failed miserably in the ratings department and was cancelled.

Verdict: Joss Whedon is not overrated.  He just likes making things that won’t necessarily have mass appeal.  Unless it’s about teenage vampire hunters cause people love that shit.

Now we come to the acting.  This is the part where I make my Ron
Swanson “meh” face, as demonstrated by the cat below.  It’s not the greatest.  I’m looking in your direction anyone not named Nathan Fillion or Alan Tudyk.  It’s not that the acting is terrible, it’s just meh.

wutthefuckisthis?

I know that I’m super spoiled by the acting on shows like The Wire or Breaking Bad.  But if this show is supposed to make me join the Church of Whedon, I want legendary acting to be the reason I abandoned the Lord.  Plus I wish someone would give Tudyk a major role that isn’t the goofy sidekick.

He'll die for our sins. And meth.

Much of the other cast just seemed wooden and I couldn’t find a way to care about them.  That probably stemmed from not knowing a thing about any of them beyond a basic outline.  This guy is the dumb brute.  This guy is the priest with a past.  This is the hooker with a heart of gold.  Maybe they were waiting for episode 15 to get to character exploration.  And yes, I know each character was supposed to represent a part of Mal’s personality.  Still not the best part of the show.  It’s easy to gloss over the acting part because of Whedon’s attention to detail and fanfuckingtastic production value.  Firefly won an Emmy, but it certainly wasn’t for Best Actor.

Verdict:  Because of just okay acting from most of the cast, I gotta nudge this thing back to the overrated side.

Not for Best Television Show

Finally, the thing that most makes Firefly fall in the overrated category was its early cancellation.  Anything seems better when it’s suddenly taken away from you.  You can’t tell me that Firefly isn’t overrated because of the internet outrage that popped up when it was cancelled and because some petitions got signed.  I could go spend an hour and round up 100 signatures to get McRib brought back.  Nostalgia has a way of playing hell with our memories.  I dare you to go back and watch old Saturday morning cartoons.  Actually, don’t do that.  It wrecks your childhood.

Didn't hold up over the years. Dammit

I don’t think Firefly could have continued on as a series had it been given more of a chance.  It just didn’t seem to have too much staying power.  Had it gone over three seasons, people would have Simpson’d all over it and demanded it be cancelled because its legacy was being ruined.  If Courtney Love hadn’t shot Kurt Cobain in the face, we would be slamming his last Christmas album because nobody wants to hear Smells Like Holiday Spirit and we wish he was still in Nirvana and hadn’t gone solo after Courtney Yoko’d the band.

Verdict:  Since almost anything seems great when it hasn’t had time to suck, Firefly moves firmly into the overrated category.

"Here's one from Kurt sings Sinatra's classics."

Does Firelfly deserve the kind of manic worship fans reserve for the greatest shows of all time?  Of course not.  Was Firefly a fun show that got cancelled before it’s time?  Of course.  But the same holds true Undeclared, Keen Eddie, Terriers, Freaks and Geeks, Arrested Development, and Better Off Ted.  At least Firefly fans got a hugely successful movie that gave hope for the future of the series.  Wait…that flopped too?  Never mind, it’s dead…and overrated.  Besides, I’m still holding out hope for the return of the greatest sci-fi western of all time.  The Adventure of Brisco County Jr.

The one true God

– Josh

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Top 10 TV Related Merchandise Items Part 2: TV Harder

Welcome back to Part 2 of the most essential list ever created in the history of ever.  Quit stalling, read it ALREADY COME ON!

 5.  “Game of Thrones” Sword

 

Sure, there’s incest, torture, the most hated character in the HISTORY of EVER.  (I’m looking at you, Joffrey).  But there is also wolves, nudity, dragons, “WINTER IS COMING” and SWORDS.  Oh my God, so many swords.  So many to choose from.  I went with Jon Snow’s sword mainly because it popped up first in Google.  THAT’S HOW EASY IT IS PEOPLE.

 http://www.amazon.com/Longclaw-Licensed-George-Martins-Thrones/dp/tags-on-product/B001KMBQX2

4.  “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” Chardee McDennis

 

If you’ve seen this episode, you already know.  It’s not a game, it’s a war.  If you haven’t seen it, may the God of TV have mercy on your soul…

 http://shop.fxnetworks.com/always-sunny-chardee-macdennis-wood-game-board-10×24/detail.php?p=361793

 3.  “Battlestar Galactica” LED Toaster

 

My girlfriend wants this really bad.  I will pay top dollar and do unspeakable things to get this item.  Like horrible, horrible things.  I can’t even post a link because they only sold 2,000 of these, like 75 years ago.  E-Mail us if you know who I need to rob.

 2.  “The Walking Dead” Shoes

 Admittedly, this wasn’t the greatest season of The Walking Dead.  Definitely a few turd episodes thrown in the mix (SOPHIA!!!!).  But this is more a reference of a recent trend to immortalize our favorite shows in new ways (And seriously, ZOMBIE SHOES).  Tauntr.com offers shoes for not only The Walking Dead fan, but also Breaking Bad, Dexter, and Parks and Recreation fans.  Etsy offers shoes for the Battlestar Galactica loving woman in your life.  It’s a natural evolution.  A t-shirt can only be worn once a week in public (unless you just REALLY don’t want to get laid), but shoes can be worn every day.  Personally, I like to mix and match, with one Walter White and one Zombie shoe.  But sometimes I lay awake at night, wondering how far we as a society are going to take things.  Will it one day be acceptable to have a GAME OF THRONES FACE TATTOO?  I have a dream…

 http://tauntr.myshopify.com/collections/all

 And finally, at #1 with a bullet…

 1.  “The Wire” Monopoly Game

 

OK, so this game doesn’t technically exist.  It’s the creation of some uber-fan in England.  If you do enough searching, you may find someone who will construct some facsimile of said game, or you could get ripped off, because people are just horrible these days (Have you even WATCHED THE WIRE!). But as of today, it’s my mission to get this game into full-time production.  Because I don’t want my children to live in a world where you can’t pretend to be fictional crack dealers in Baltimore, damn it.  For the love of God THINK OF THE KIDS!

 So there you go.  A full list of the most awesome TV-related items any psychotically-obsessed TV fan could ever want… AKA my Christmas list to Santa.  Fun things to play and wear that allow us to escape the humdrum world for a little while as we play with nun-chucks or fight off Cylons.  I’m a size 11 by the way.  You know, just in case…

Top 10 TV Related Merchandise Items Part 1: The Reckoning

So, you’re a TV fan.  You’ve purchased all of the True Blood DVD’s, regular and collector’s edition, you’ve got a Buffy poster framed in the bedroom, and you hold a viewing party every week for the new episode of Bones.  OK, so maybe not the last one, because who watches Bones, seriously?  I mean, I guess somebody’s watching that shit but I don’t know a single person who watches it, so like, how the hell is that show still on the air it JUST DOESN’T MAKE SENSE-

Sorry about that.  Point is, you’re a fanatic.  But you’re also creative and different, and want to express that in some unique and interesting way.  So, I did a little digging, and I found some things that every true TV fan would give their stepchild for.  Most are items you can actually purchase, some are just fantastic ideas that someone out there will have the moxie to make and ship to my home address.  Enjoy, and go buy them, and be different and special just like everybody else!!

10.  “Arrested Development” Clue Board Game

If you don’t like Clue, then I have some unfortunate news for you.  You’re stupid.  I don’t mean “You don’t like the Dallas Cowboys” fan boy stupid, I mean like “You can’t do simple math” stupid, or “You tried to eat cereal from a plate…with a spatula” stupid.  How are you even READING this right now?  Good for you!  But I digress…

Some beautifully brilliant person out there (Marry Me!) had the ingenious idea of combining the greatest board game ever with the greatest family ever:  The Bluths.   The best part is the Weapons list.  (It’s always the Cornballer)

http://pleated-jeans.com/2011/01/31/arrested-development-clue-board-game/

9.  “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” Beer Pong TableYes, Beer Pong is the game of choice for the future douche bags of America.  But if frat boys only ate cheeseburgers, would you stop eating cheeseburgers?  Of course not, you’re an American, damn it.  Forget the stigma, Beer Pong is fun.  And It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia is fun.  fun + fun =  FUN.  It’s math, you can’t argue with that.

http://shop.fxnetworks.com/paddys-irish-pub-beer-pong-party-table/detail.php?p=110898

8.  “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” Arcade Game

If I would have saved all the quarters I spent on this game at the local arcade, and put it in an IRA or one of those fancy savings account thingies, I would have had a shitty childhood.  But I could have this in my arms RIGHT NOW.  Ah, such is life.  But I created a Kickstarter page so people can give me money to buy one.  It’s TOTALLY WORTH IT, you guys.  You can come play with me anytime you want!

http://compare.ebay.com/like/120894186632?var=lv&ltyp=AllFixedPriceItemTypes&var=sbar&_lwgsi=y&cbt=y

7.  “Star Trek” Bathrobe

So you met a cute girl at the local ComiCon convention.  Things are going well, and she invites you up to her place for some XBOX 360 action.  One thing leads to another, and you guys totally do sex stuff.  The next morning, you walk into the kitchen, and she’s cooking you breakfast wearing a Star Trek bathrobe.  That, my friends, is a keeper…

http://www.thinkgeek.com/tshirts-apparel/miscellaneous/e73b/?cpg=froogle

6.  “He-Man:  Masters of the Universe” Lunchbox

*Clears throat* Fuck you guys.  Moving on…

http://compare.ebay.com/like/220524168403?var=lv&ltyp=AllFixedPriceItemTypes&var=sbar&_lwgsi=y&cbt=y

Coming Wednesday, Part 2 of the list of essential items for you to continue living in this Godforsaken world…

– Stephen

My Two Black TV Dads Part 2: How Carl Winslow and Uncle Phil Saved America

Welcome back to my riveting analysis on how Uncle Phil and Officer Carl Winslow saved America.  I would have finished all of it in one post but baseball started.  Then I fell behind on Games of Thrones.  Then Betty Draper got fuckin huge!  That third one really threw me off my game.  But we’ll deal with that in another post.  We have more important things to discuss right now.  But seriously, she got faaaaaaaat.

MOUR PLZ

The next key to creating a white-folk-friendly TV dad is by making sure he isn’t at all unpredictable.  Enter the straight man.

Not so straight man?

 Normally the straight man in any show is there to act as the foil for the wacky main character.  You know he’s not going to do anything unexpected.  Less unexpected = Less scary.  But here’s the rub. The straight man isn’t always the most level headed guy.  He can take only so much wackiness before he gets pissed and needs to choke that annoying little bastard out.  We could be teetering on the White Fear Line. That’s going to be a problem.  The last thing we need is a scary minority committing an act of violence on our wholesome family show.  You can save that shit for The Wire.

Brother Mouzone: Positive Role Model / Executioner

We need a way to keep our guy in check.  Solution: Let’s give him a heart condition.   Those test really well apparently.  Google it. Our husky friends Carl and Phil would be dead inside of thirty seconds if they decided to get too angry.  Kinda like a reverse Hulk.  Threat neutralizedAmerica.  But curbing violence isn’t always enough. We also need to make sure our strong role models are sufficiently emasculated in their own homes.  For that we need the sassy wife.  Her snappy one-liners are just the thing to keep our dad in check. Everybody knows who really wears the pants in this family.  (insert studio audience WOOOO!)  Fresh Prince went through a couple of wives before reaching the optimal level of sassification.

Bonus points if you remember this sketch

Now our boys are non-threatening physically and sexually.  We’re almost ready for pilot season folks.  But despite all of this working against them, I remember Carl and Uncle Phil being really strong characters.  And even though I’m taking shots at them, they helped mold me into the underachieving slacker I am today. These guys were the glue holding their  families together. Well played show writers.  Keep that up and one day you may write for Full House.

 We’re just one step away from going on the air with our wholesome, non-scary Dads. Now it’s time to choose our actors.  They wouldn’t have to look too far to find their Carl Winslow. Casting session #2 for Family Matters:

Guy #1:  Look, we’ve been in here for an hour and it’s been twenty minutes since my last bump.  Just pick somebody.

Guy #2:  We can’t just pick randomly! We gotta get this right or they might fire us.

Guy#1:  Well how about this guy, he was in Die Hard and he played a cop!  He has range!

Guy#2:  You’re on fire today!  Snort that shit right now!

When I was a kid, I honestly thought that Carl Winslow starred in Die Hard.  I was a little slow.  Sidebar: Am I the only one that never saw Moonlighting?  I always hear that Bruce Willis was supposed to be good in that.  I feel like I missed out there.  Before my time maybe.  Either way, Reginald VelJohnson is our first post-Cosby role model.  He also played a cop in Ghostbusters.  Sonofbitch!  He was a cop in Turner and Hooch too.  Like I said, the man has range.  Casting Uncle Phil may have proved a tougher nut to crack.  But I don’t want to type out another conversation because I just had lunch and I’m very sleepy.  I’m sure it would have involved him being the voice of Shredder on Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles the cartoon.  That’s right.  Shredder was black.  And that’s rad.  I found that little tidbit out about a year ago and it completely destroyed my reality.

Uncle Phil before law school

So there you have it.  That’s exactly how TV layed the groundwork for the Dads that fixed racism in Murica.  Now go live in harmony.  I feel a nap coming on.

mershun accomplished. Don’t mers with texas

– Josh

My Two Black Dads: How Carl Winslow and Uncle Phil Saved America

There has always been a need for a strong black father figure in every kid’s life. Never has that idea held more true than on early-to-mid nineties weeknight primetime television. Black dads had to be very careful to walk a narrow line on 90’s network TV. I will henceforth refer to said line as the White Fear Line. The typical weeknight night ABC and NBC audiences were white because it was ABC and NBC and those are white people safehouses. 

CBS Studios - Artist Rendering

 

The last thing a network needed was people freaking out because the urban man on TV was messing up their white kids. For God’s sake, N.W.A. and the rest of the rap community made White America pee its pants just around the same time. They destroyed all of the goodwill that Cosby took years to build. Maybe it was time for a change. MaybeAmerica had grown too comfortable with race relations. 

Too soon

 Either way, putting a powerful, in-your-face black guy on TV now was a risky proposition at best. Now was a time for healing. It was time for true artists like Carl Winslow and “Uncle” Phil Banks to mend this country and restore the trust. And mend they did. But exactly how did these sitcom titans walk the White Fear Line so masterfully when others would surely fail? As an impartial brown observer, I believe that it’s my place to make this analysis.

 First let’s look at the physical characteristics. What does everyone find not intimidating and scary at all? Really fat people. Fat guys generally have a reputation for jolliness that stems from their love of food and cholesterol. That’s just science.

Not scary. Still a bitch though.

 

This is how I imagine the casting meeting for Family Matters went:

Guy #1: “Okay, now we need to cast Carl Winslow. He’s a cop so the audience won’t be too afraid of him.”

Guy #2: “Are you kidding me? Black cops are super scary! Didn’t you see Boyz N The Hood? That black cop that pulled the gun on them was the scariest character in the movie!” (author’s note: That guy scared the shit outta me)

Guy #1: “Well the props department already has the uniform soooo…what if we make him a fat guy?”

 Guy #2: “Perfect.”

Guy#1: “Wanna do some blow to celebrate?”

Guy#2: “You have to ask?”

And scene. And even though Family Matters aired two years before that movie came out, that’s exactly how the conversation went. Just trust me on this one. So now we have our fat dads in Carl and later Uncle Phil. Both fat. Both not too scary for Whitey. Next we have to make sure these guys aren’t corrupting our their kids because we all know our moron kids will do exactly what the moron kids on TV do.

I did that

 For that the networks needed positive role models to guide our young minds on the path of righteousness. And since Jesus wasn’t black (maybe?), and more importantly didn’t have his own sitcom, we needed to look elsewhere for guidance.  The simplest way to make sure these dads aren’t lawbreakers is by making Carl and Uncle Phil anti-lawbreakers. Family Matters jumped out to an early lead by making Carl a cop. He’s going to take down criminals and keep your dumbass kids on the straight and narrow. And then we come to Phillip Banks. A self made man who put himself through school and became a super successful lawyer. Obviously we can’t be afraid of him. He’s got gumption and a shit ton of money. Nothing to fear here ‘Merica, this calls for a celebration dance.  

The only chicken dance I'll ever do

 

Now we have our not scary cause he’s fat cop, and a not scary cause he’s richer than you lawyer. And that’s how we got Law and Order. You’re welcome America. Again, trust that this has all been fact checked. Great job casting people, time for some more blow.

Now, since this article is running much longer than anticipated (I smell thesis), I’ll have to revisit this topic in another post. Next up on My Two Black Dads: Part 2: Finding the Actors and Un-scary Behavior.

Too hot for TV?

– Josh

Letter from the Co-Editor

 I’ve always been a fan of television, because it’s continual and evolving.  Sure, one show may end or get cancelled, but the next week, something is there, in its place, waiting for you… like comfort food for your eyes and empty calories for your brains. 

RuPaul's Drag Race Marathon? YOU KNOW IT

But I think my obsession with TV is getting out of control.  If I were an episode of Intervention, I’d be Allison, and TV would be my computer duster.  I can’t get enough.  Game of Thrones, Eastbound and Down, Breaking Bad, JustifieDOHMYGOD

*INHALES DEEPLY*  IT’S LIKE I’M WALKING ON SUNSHINE…

Are we in the golden age of television, where there is literally too much quality stuff to watch?  It’s like this little snowball formed somewhere in the early 2000’s, caught me in its downward trajectory and is slowly trampling me to death.  I can’t say when exactly this deluge of time wasting television began for the rest you shut-ins, but for me, it was somewhere between the end of Arrested Development and Veronica Mars, and the beginning of The Office and Deadwood. 

Never sneak up on a man who's been in a chemical fire, Rod.

Now, I’m going out less and less.  I feel like I’m an illegal immigrant, because the only words that come out of my mouth are Troy and Abed quotes, or lines from Don Draper.    And people just stare at me in confusion.  Shit, these are an actual pair of shoes I own: 

I’m telling you all of these things because I want you to read the wonderful things my friends and I will be writing about, and maybe we can share a comment or two?  You know, when it feels right.  Some of you may be wondering, “How do I know if this website is for me?  There are SO MANY tv blogs to choose from?”  To which I would reply, “Please refer to the Venn Diagram below”:

We will accept two out of three

 So as we continue to write and talk about the IMPORTANT things happening in the world, i.e How Josh is basically Archer and Bev loves her some Property Virgins, just remember.  We do this because we love you.  No, no… not you.  YOU.  Did you do something with your hair?  It looks fantastic!

-Stephen