My Firefly story

[This appeared in my livejournal on October 21, 2008. I deemed it good enough for a reprint.]

I finished my third run through Firefly and Serenity on Sunday. It was actually the third time seeing the episodes but the fourth time seeing the movie; my extra viewing of the movie came just about one year ago, or maybe less than a year, in the State Theatre in downtown Ann Arbor. The theater was playing a special, one-time showing of it. Why? Because it’s fuckin’ awesome, that’s why. So I went with a lot of my friends and my girlfriend. It was sold out very early. Browncoats are everywhere.

The State Theatre is an old-fashioned movie theater that plays some new movies but mostly independent films and classic films. It only has two theaters in it. It’s the type of place that plays the Rocky Horror Picture Show around Halloween, to give you an idea of what the theater is like. I saw Rocky Horror last Halloween. Quite an experience. Not bizarre or surreal or anything, but certainly pretty weird. I’m not sure if it would have been more or less weird if I could understand more than 10% of what the characters were saying/singing…

Anyway, the first time I watched Firefly was between the end of fall semester my second year of grad school and when I actually went home for Christmas break. (Here in grad school, you don’t just go home after your last day of finals; you gotta work in lab almost until Christmas like a member of the real world. Not that everyone headed straight for home after finishing their last exam of the semester during college.) That was December 2006. I only had one final because I only took one class, Biochemistry. It was an 8:00 a.m. class, Monday-Wednesday-Friday. So the previous summer I gradually entrained myself to wake up earlier and earlier, so that I could get up at 6:00 or 6:30, to catch the bus at 7:25, to get to class before 8:00. It was tough, but I didn’t miss the bus a single time and wasn’t late to class a single time all semester. I was very accustomed to going to sleep before 11:00 and waking up at 6:00. I kind of liked it because, well, I’ve always liked being up and active earlier than most of the world; I just don’t like the waking up part. Still, towards the end of the semester, when I knew my days of 8 a.m. classes were drawing to an end, and furthermore that a long vacation would follow, I wondered to myself whether I would maintain the habit of being an early-bird, or if I’d slip back into my natural tendencies of staying up late and rolling out of bed at 7 or 8:00, and, if so, how long that would take.

That question was answered very quickly, after my Biochem final. The final was from 7-9:00 at night on either the last Wednesday of the semester or the first Wednesday of finals. Our mid-term exam was also at 7-9:00 at night on a Wednesday. That’s how hardcore we are here in the biomedical-research sciences. We don’t even pay attention to the official university final exam schedule.

As you can imagine, after a stressful 2-hour biochem test and a long semester, and not getting home from the test until almost 9:30 at night, I figured I’d want to go to bed and get a good night’s sleep, especially since I was so used to waking up at 6:00 or 6:30. Yeah, well, instead, I decided to start watching my new Firefly discs after I got home, and stayed up until about 1:00 or 1:30 watching the first two or three episodes. I was so addicted after about half of the pilot episode, “Serenity.”

I finished the entire 14-episode series in 4 days.

When I went back home for Christmas break, I hung out with Mike and Kelly in Athens, and Kelly rented the Firefly movie, also named Serenity, so that I could see it, and we watched it on his laptop in his studio apartment. Mike even watched it with us despite never having heard of Firefly.

I had heard from Kelly and thousands of geeks on teh internets that Firefly was awesome and it was such a shame that it got canceled, and I do remember seeing the commercials for it back in college and thinking it looked like a show I would like, but I just didn’t place a high priority on it and was probably busy studying, so I didn’t watch it when it was on Fox. I don’t like talking or thinking about the fact that it was so tragically short-lived, because it makes me very sad and anxious and angry, because of how glorious it could have been if it had run for Joss Whedon’s originally envisioned 7 seasons…but it’s hard to talk or think about Firefly without going down that road. (It would still be on, this season! This would be its last season! There would be a brand-new episode this week! Gaaaaahhhhhhh!!!!!!)

After that Christmas break, I started going out with Kathy, and in the summer I finally decided I needed another injection of Firefly, and that it was about time to see if Kathy really had what it took to be my girlfriend, so I got her to watch the series with me. She isn’t real accustomed to watching science-fiction shows or movies and figuring out what’s going on and adjusting to the future history the story is trying to present, so she was a little confused and skeptical at first, but before long the glorious awesomeness of Firefly overwhelmed her and she loved it. I still didn’t own Serenity, so I had to go to two video rental stores to rent it one night. (Blockbuster didn’t even have it! Boo! Hollywood Video did, luckily.)

That was July of 2007, and then a few months later (it was cold, is all I remember, so it could have been fall or winter…now I’m leaning towards January of 2008, for some reason), the State Theatre showed Serenity in that one-time special showing, and Kathy and I and several friends met at Buffalo Wild Wings for a beer or two before walking down to the theater and basking in the brilliant, heavenly light that is Serenity. It was so much better watching it in a crowd of Browncoats. I now wished I had watched Firefly in its original run on Fox, and then bought the DVD box set immediately, and seen Serenity in a theater full of fellow Firefly fans on opening night. That would have been glorious.

I was planning on watching Firefly again last summer along with Battlestar Galactica (for the first time) at my friend’s house, over the course of the summer. She was going to host us every Sunday evening/night and we’d watch a couple episodes of BSG and a couple of Firefly, until we got done with the first season of each. However, we only watched BSG because we’d all seen Firefly before, more than once. And BSG is fucking awesome. And also she didn’t host us very regularly, more like once or twice a month, and then only once in August and never again after that, so we didn’t want to spend our precious time on anything other than BSG, and we only have the season finale of BSG to go and I really want to finish it sometime! Also, probably most important, our prime Browncoat-conversion target couldn’t ever make it, so there was really no inertia or motivation to watch it on those Sundays. And did I stress that BSG is also totally awesome and we didn’t want to take a break from it for anything?

Well, since neither Kathy nor I have easy access to the BSG first season discs to finally watch the 2-part season finale, we started watching Firefly again two Saturdays ago, on October 11. (I could borrow the BSG discs from our friend, but that would be kind of rude, like saying, “Yeah, you’re not fast enough for us and we don’t want to watch it with you anyway, so we’re taking the discs and watching this show on our own.” True, she deserves it because she hasn’t even mentioned hosting us since she last did in early August, but I’m just a passive person, so sue me.)

Kathy and I only had time for the pilot episode on the 11th. But starting Firefly and not speeding through it is like giving only a bit of steak to a starving man; it’s worse than not starting at all! So either that night or the next night, I stayed up really late, sacrificing sleep but gaining so much more, watching the rest of disc 1 on my laptop, in bed. I went through all but the last two episodes during the next 5 days. Typically they induced me to stay up way past my bedtime because they’re too good to stop at one or two! I didn’t tell Kathy. Shhh!… We continued with several more together last Friday and Saturday, so I thought maybe I was satiated and could wait until this coming Thursday or Friday to re-watch another disc with her, and then eventually see the last two episodes and the movie together, without me skipping ahead.

Perhaps you can guess how that worked out. After she left for home for her fall break on Sunday morning, I did some errands and finally was honest with myself, said “fuck it”, put in the last disc of Firefly, watched “Heart of Gold” and “Objects in Space,” watched some of the special features, and continued to be honest with myself, said “fuck it” again, and watched the damn movie. And the special features to it. All on Sunday afternoon! It was awesome.

This was my own personal copy of Serenity, that Kathy got me for my birthday this year. I had never watched my own copy before. It is actually two discs, with both discs containing bonus features. It is this version. (In case you’re wondering, yes, they both still die. :( River still kicks some Reaver ass, though!)

Really, the whole point of this narrative is to either celebrate or lament (or both) this fact: Despite having watched the series three and a half times now, and the movie four times, and presumably having had my annual Firefly apotheosis very recently, I still look forward to watching the next seven episodes and the movie with Kathy, in the next two weeks. I’m not tired of them. I’m not thinking, “Yeah, let’s watch Firefly…oh, meh, I don’t really feel like it because I just watched them.” Nope, I still really want to watch them with her again. That’s how awesome that show is. That’s how addicted I am to it. I am really a Firefly junkie.

I’m getting tired of dutifully putting the italics tags around “Firefly” so I’m going to end this prolix tale here.

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