There were four new shows premiering tonight, and at the moment I’m
only going to review two of them. The third is waiting for me on
tape, and if I hadn’t hit the record button twice, the fourth
would be waiting for me as well. As it is, you’ll have to way
until tomorrow for me to review What I Like About You,
and barring the unforeseen, next week should bring a review of the
second episode of Greetings From Tuscon.
FIREFLY is the premiere that I’ve been most looking forward
to. Creator Joss Whedon brought us something unexpectedly great with
Buffy, and while I’ve never quite warmed to the spin-off Angel,
Joss is still very much in the positive column with me. Besides, any
show created by one comics creator (Joss created the series Fray)
and produced by another (Ben Edlund, madman behind The Tick) gets
extra points from this comic creator.
The lead character is a space pilot with a heart of gold. His
crew and passengers include a hooker with a heart of gold, a mechanic
with a heart of gold, a preacher with a heart of gold, and one
other fellow made mostly of flesh. And these gold-hearted folks
fly around space and steal things. That’s right, they’re thieves.
But they give the things back if they think that it’s wrong to
steal what they discover their stealing, so it’s okay.
The planets they go between have been united for several
years now. Apparently, this is a bad thing, presumably because
the new federal forces have mean-looking outfits. But we have
to accept that they’re bad, because the lead character doesn’t
like the “Unification”, and after all he’s got a heart of
gold (although it may be stolen.)
If it wasn’t Joss Whedon creating this, then the cynical
sound of the preceding paragraphs would he heartfelt. It’s not.
Not because this introductory episode was great, but because
I know it was just set-up, and what will generate the interest
is when the characters start really interacting, and the bigger
plots emerge. After seeing choices made on Buffy that
worried me, only to have them lead to inspired material, I
adopted a motto: “Trust in Joss.”
So I can’t really recommend this series based on the first
episode, which wasn’t bad but was a bit trite. Yet I still have
high expectations for episodes to come.
To me, the new series JOHN DOE evokes the
watchable high-concept series Early Edition, the one
where God was apparently delivering tomorrow’s newspaper to
a guy who would then try to prevent the tragedies that the
The title character (or, more correctly, the character who
assumes that name) is an amnesiac who can instantly answer any
question for which there is recorded data, can quickly turn
knowledge into talent (such as flying a helicopter), and yet
cannot answer anything about who he is and where he came from.
He is color blind, except apparently when he sees someone who
needs help, who shows up in color in his vision, as if god is
pointing out to him what needs doing.
At least, that seems like what’s going on. However,
if it is, then God stumbles badly in the first episode. Our
hero saves a girl who didn’t really need saving, and
because of his involvement a cop gets injured, and someone
else dies who might not have died if it wasn’t for John
It’s a cute concept, but if they don’t do something
interesting soon, it will get tired fast. There are
subplots focusing on the characters search to find out
what’s going on, but those are the sort of subplots that
rarely go anywhere productive, because him discovering his
background would put a big crimp in the concept.
All in all, it’s rather disposable.
I’ve gotten multiple inquiries about why I’m not
reviewing PAX shows. Quite simple: in the early days of the
network, they put out a press release criticizing the
“alternative language and lifestyles” that other channels
were putting on the airwaves, suggesting that they would be
doing that differently. Frankly, a station telling me that
they’re avoiding putting “alternative lifestyles” on the air
suits me about as well as if they were avoiding showing
blacks and Jews. I have no desire to honor them with my