10 Years of Browncoats

This year marks the 10th anniversary of Firefly. 10 years. A little show that was cancelled, recipe continues to have a huge impact on geeks and non-geeks alike.

Some of the cast and crew were at the San Diego Comic Con this week, generic and participated in a panel discussion. What struck me is how much this show has affected the cast and crew. It’s not just the fans who were and are changed because of Captain Tightpants and his ragtag crew. The actors were changed, sales and are forever indebted to the magic of the show.

It’s no secret that the whedonisms or distinct language of all things Joss Whedon has entered the lexicon in our house, and Firefly is a big part of it. Shiny. Shey-shey. Goram. It’s not uncommon for one of us to quote lines from Firefly for no reason other than to make the other person smile.

Watch the panel. And then, come back and answer this question in the comments: How has Firefly changed your life?

See also: Firefly and the Psychology of Religion.

Let’s Talk About BSG

I have a confession to make: My geek creds were/are slightly lacking. Up until last week, cialis I had never seen the new Battlestar Galactica. I know, you’re shocked right?

So I’m trying to right the wrong. But as Chuck and I finished watching season one last night, I’m not sure I like the show. (bad geek! bad, bad geek!)

I really liked the intro mini-series, but once we got into the actual episodes it felt “off”. Some examples:

1. There seems to be issues of continuity. In one episode it only takes five minutes for Gaius to test Boomer’s blood to see if she’s a cylon. In the next episode it takes 11 hours per sample, and they can only be done one at a time! What the heck?

2. Speaking of continuity, when the heck did Starbuck decide to sleep with Gaius?! That came from left field and the explanation was so weak that it felt like the writers did it for the sole purpose of causing conflict between Starbuck and Lee.

3. I get that we’re not supposed to like Gaius. But, I don’t not like him because he’s a creep, I don’t like him because I don’t get his motivation or his purpose (and I get the feeling that the writers don’t either?) He’s not coming off so much as “bad guy”, instead he’s coming off as “annoying and irritating.”

4. The cylon who keeps appearing to Gaius as a hallucination is also annoying. Blah, blah, blah, God and destiny, blah, blah. I’ve actually started to tune out when she waxes on and on.

5. If the goal of the cylons is to mate with humans to start a new species (which seems to be the point of the vision Gaius has of a cradle on Kobol), why did the cylons have to obliterate all of the humans? Why not just infiltrate human colonies, get pregnant and leave? Or in classic sci-fi, why not just abduct humans and conduct experiments on them to harvest their reproductive stuff?

Overall, I think it just feels inconsistent. And I’m not sure if that is the point of the first season, or do the writers not have a clue what they’re doing? Have I been too spoiled by writers like Whedon and Straczynski, who plan out arcs and backstories and are deliberate with their storytelling?

Should I continue watching BSG? Did you like the show? Does it get better?

Whedon, Whedon, All Things Whedon

Well, pills The Avengers is about to open and it looks like Joss Whedon has a huge hit on his hands! Between Cabin in the Woods and The Avengers, Whedonites everywhere are having a very good spring.  And of course, we’re all on tenderhooks for Whedon’s adaptation of Much Ado About Nothing.

In light of this, I thought it would be wise to recap the Whedon-verse posts that have been written here at Cheese-Wearing Theology over the last two years.

Restore Joss Whedon
High School is Hell: Parallels to Life in the Church
From Dr. Frankenstein to Topher Brink
The Soul is What Matters: Body and Soul in the Buffy-verse
Too Much Religion in Science Fiction?
Vampires, Werewolves and Christians, Oh My!

Firefly and the Psychology of Religion Series by Charles Hackney:
Malcolm Reynolds’ Loss of Faith Part One — Firefly and the Psychology of Religion
Malcolm Reynolds’ Loss of Faith Part Two — Our Father Who Ain’t Good For Much, Fei Hua Be They Name

Malcolm Reynolds’ Loss of Faith Part Three — We Are Just Too Pretty for God to Let Us Die
Malcolm Reynolds’ Loss of Faith Part Four — God Ain’t Welcome
Malcolm Reynold’s Loss of Faith Part Five — Where Do We Go From Here?

And don’t forget the Whedony articles I wrote over at Political Jesus:
Captain America Ain’t No Buffy Summers
Preparing to Enter the Dollhouse
Dollhouse: Everyone is Broken
Dollhouse: It’s Simply a Matter of Hardware and Software
Dollhouse: When is a Persons Human?

Game of Thrones Season Two

So here we are, order two episodes into season two of Game of Thrones. I reviewed season one last year (here and here), and in many ways the issues that occurred in the first season are again occurring in the second.

The Issue of Sex:
“I couldn’t believe it,” I thought as I watched the first episode of season two. “We’ve made it nearly to the end without gratuitous sex.” Oh wait, until the last five minutes that is. Game of Thrones suffers from the HBO effect, throwing in needless nudity and shocking sexual scenes not for the purpose of advancing the story, but to cater to a largely male audience. Indeed, there was even more sex and nudity in episode two.

Now, I must back up and flesh this out a little bit (no pun intended). There is sex in the books. In the world of Westeros, sex is not so much about intimacy as it is about physicality. It is rarely tender, and often people (particularly women) are used as objects for sexual release. But how it is written, it is not pornographic or titillating. Often times, the act of sex isn’t actually described in detail so much as just plainly stated that it had happened.

In cases like Theon Greyjoy, sex demonstrates a part of his character, namely that he uses women and has no real regard from them (which we saw in episode two). The problem is translating it to the screen. On the screen, it becomes offensive and vulgar. Theon, tired of hearing his mistress on the ship babbling on about wanting to be his salt-wife, turns her away from him so he can continue using her but not have her jabbering at him. It becomes so crass to look at on the screen that it actually distracts from the story telling. Likewise, the scene at the end of episode one: we didn’t need to see prostitutes graphically learning how to “fake it” to know that it was a brothel.

Not only is it needless, the addition of sex scenes actually take away some of the mystery of the story. Episode two ends with The Red Priestess Melisandre seducing Stannis and promising him a son. In the books, twice Meslisandre gives birth to a shadow demon thing that kills on command. The mystery is how and why. It adds to the “this woman is freaky and scary and messing with powers that shouldn’t exist in this world”. No one knows for sure how she does it, but it is suggested that she takes a piece of Stannis to birth the shadow killers. Part of this is because Martin never writes from the King’s perspective. Not from Stannis’, Joffrey’s, Robert or Renly. All we know about them comes from the perspective of other people. In the show, however, they have chosen to not go this route, and have led the viewer into Stannis’ bedroom. (Not to mention the fact that in the books, at the beginning, Stannis is actually not really interested in Melisandre’s religion, she is there at the bequest of Stannis’ wife who is the true worshipper. In my opinion, it’s not until Melisandre unleashes the shadow on Renly that Stannis truly gets on board with the Religion of Light and Fire).

If there was a way that HBO could re-cut the show for DVD release that eliminated or softened the grating and gratuitous sex, I really think the show would gain a larger following. Men are not the only audience to win over, there are women who loved the books and would love to follow the show. While the adage ‘Sex sells’ may be true, in this cases the opposite is true: sex restricts, turns off, and marginalizes potential viewers.

The Flattening of Story:
In some ways this is inevitable. Massive books translated into 10 episodes a season means that some of the plot and character development are going to be truncated. But the way that the show is doing it, half the time I’m not sure which character is which. It took me halfway through the scene to realize that Tyrion was firing Janos Slynt! The introduction of Salladhor Saan was good, but there hasn’t been a good development and introduction of Davos Seaworth who is the one who goes to Saan to petition him to join Stannis’ cause.

The Good Stuff:

I love Sam Tarly and his friendship with Jon Snow. The show has done a good job of capturing the essence of that relationship.
The tearing down of Theon Greyjoy in episode two was fantastic. Here is a boy who has always thought that he was heir to a great land, he returns home to find his father considers him to be an outsider and has placed all of his hopes on his daughter instead, who has spent years proving that she is a strong warrior (in the books her name is Asha, in the show they renamed her Yara because there is already an character named Osha which could cause confusion).
And of course, Tyrion. Peter Dinklage continues to impress and outshine everyone else on the show. He is the reason to watch. (I’m also hoping that when they intro Brienne of Tarth that she too will be one of the main reasons to watch).

Star Trek and Vampires

It’s cold, unhealthy it’s snowy, and we’re not going anywhere today. Yesterday I came across the greatest two questions ever, and so in honour of this very quiet, lazy day, I thought they would be great questions for the Cheese-Wearing community.

Here they are:

Could the Enterprise beam a vampire into a house she didn’t have permission to enter?

Could the Borg assimilate a vampire into the collective?

What do you think?