Mansfield Fox

Law student. Yankees fan. Massive fraggle. Just living the American dream.

Friday, August 26, 2005

High-Tech Hermitage, Day 2


I'm now a practicing member of the Netflix cult. I received my first three DVDs last night - episodes one through eleven of "Firefly", just to see what all the fuss is about. I watched the first disc last night, and sent it off first thing in the morning (the better to get disc 4!) and spent the first part of today enjoying discs two and three. A good time was had by all.

Netflix, to put it succinctly, kicks ass. I'm not sure whether I prefer the broad selection (as opposed to the neighborhood Blockbuster, which has two dozen copies of "Guess Who?" but no "Kelly's Heroes") or the lack of marginal costs to renting more discs (versus dropping $30 on Blockbuster DVDs in one week). What I love most, though, is the fact that I don't have to leave the home to procure entertainment. Between my high-speed internet connection, my cable TV, Netflix, and the Elm City's many fine pizzerias and Chinese restaurants, I no longer have any need to actually leave my apartment. You know what? The life of a shut-in isn't so bad.

As for "Firefly", I'm enjoying it a good deal, but I think I can understand why it was a flop (beyond the "Fox screwed up" theory). The show is legitimately weird. The aesthetic is a bizarre combination of the Wild West and Imperial China, with heavy Arabic and Japanese influences. The characters swear in Mandarin. One of the main characters is a courtesan. The plots are all standard Western tropes (the train heist, grifting the grifters, settlers massacred by savages) but set... in spaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaace.... The show (deliberately, I assume) doesn't include many standard sci-fi elements, like aliens, warp drives and epic space battles. There isn't even much in the way of laser guns; most people use standard firearms. Now, these are all things I find entertaining, and I suspect the same is true of the "Browncoats" (the show's die-hard fans). (That, and the bevy of hot space-babes.) But for your ordinary Joe Primetime, who likes his comedy situational, his drama police-procedural, and his reality televised, that kind of stuff is confusing and off-putting. There's a kind of elegant mathematical simplicity to it. Hip, genre-bending show + snappy, ironic dialog + cleavage a-go-go = cult hit. And no matter how well Fox had promoted it, it was very unlikely to be anything but. Still, I enjoy it. Bring on the movie!