bimo: (Jayne_hat)
Almost a week after my actual birthday, I finally found the time to play with the brandnew Firefly DVDs I had gotten as a gift from [livejournal.com profile] cavendish. (Cavendish, you just rock and you know it ;-))

Watching the additional bonus featurettes on disc four, I was somewhat puzzled by actor Ron Glass' comment about his character, Sheperd Book, serving as a moral conscience for Serenity's crew.

From his very first appearance in the show's pilot episode onwards, I always perceived Book as a character not so much representing a distinct and well reflected moral point of view, but rather as embodying the desperate search for such a kind of guideline.

Unlike the fugitives River and Simon, Book enters the ship as a stranger on walkabout, the very image of a person in search of his self. Although the Sheperd's past can only be object of speculation based on the various clues given throughout the existing episodes, his behaviour clearly is that of a man in transition, trying to shake off one former (most probably "non-ethical") identity for the sake of another, "ethical" one; namely an identity determined by the principles of his Christian faith.

The closer one examines Book's actions, however, as well as the religious positions he advocates, the more obvious it becomes in my opinion, that the core of his spiritual belief is a fragile one at best.

Especially during the early episodes, Book often appears like somebody trying to act like he assumes a true Sheperd should be acting if he were in that particular situation; completely regardless whether this kind of behaviour is in fact appropriate or not. Two very good examples for this are his initial disapproval of Inara (solely based on Inara's profession)and the wonderful "Special Hell" speech he gives Mal in Our Mrs Reynolds. One should think that by that point of the series, Book has been on board Serenity long enough to realise that Mal, though having turned his back on God, surely lives by his own, rather strict moral codex and also feels a strong need for protecting the innocent (just think of Mal's behaviour towards Kaylee). Therefore, at least in these scenes, Book's "moral highground" attitude seems shallow and rather superfluous.

Whereas, in War Stories, the Sheperd's readiness to take another human's life might also be interpreted as an act of biblical(?) self-justice combined with the wish to spare others, especially Simon, the experience of killing and guilt, Out of Gas reveals the full scope of Book's spiritual doubts. When the crew is confronted with the life-threatening situation on board Serenity, it is he who, unable to find any solace in the Scriptures, of all characters clearly shows the most apparent fear of dying.

Regardless how much Book is presented as a person wanting to embrace religious faith as guideline for his change into a man different from the man he used to be, in the end he still appears as drifting as everybody else on board Serenity.

Probably even more.




Thoughts, anyone?
bimo: (DRD_beware)
Today's definition of the term "luck": Spilling the entire content of your XL-sized coffee mug over your writing desk without one single drop of liquid hitting your keyboard (it's the fourth, btw.; keyboards fear me, I'm their doom *g*)

But back to the bundle of disconnected notes that I came here for...


***

[livejournal.com profile] cavendish's entry about Re-Unification Day, incorrigible teenage idealism and the importance of hopeful Utopias not only re-awakened my love for the groundbreaking qualities of Star Trek: Classic , it also caused me to wonder about the representation of humanist values in current Sci-Fi/Genre TV.

The most obvious finding: We clearly live in a "Post X-Files" age now. Where Roddenberry's Federation of Planets postulated the benefits of scientific advance, peaceful exploration and tolerance, the Federation officers of Joss Whedon's Firefly have turned human future into a paranoiac's nightmare. And while faith in political bodies or larger collectives as such appears to have been irreversably shattered, the remaining fragments have been rearrangend to form something else. Something that in the end might easily prove to be the more powerful optimist vision: humanism displayed not under ideal circumstances but in the face of terror and, also, the firm belief in the individual's capability to change.

So, here is my reply to anybody accusing shows like Farscape, Babylon 5, DS9 or the later seasons of Buffy of too much bleakness: don't look at the amount of despair and gloom. Look into the hearts of the characters. And you will find hope for mankind. More than enough.

***

I finally saw the season premiere of Angel. After last years' fantasy-heavy and apocalypse-loaden story arcs, the episode itself felt rather refreshing and ironically also much closer to the earlier, more reality-based plolines of seasons 1 and 2 than anything that has happened to Angel and crew after Pylea. Go A-Team. Go!

***

Some TV shows are like your favourite sweater. Though worn-out, baggy and bleached, you will unconditionally love them till the very end. I missed you, ER. Great to have you back!

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