My own little hunk of Cyberspace

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Space Cowboys - Victims of Reality

Would anyone believe that a T.V. show about the adventures of a seedy gang of wranglers, petty outlaws, loose women and mercenaries moving from town to town, pulling illegal jobs, smuggling, and staying just out of reach of the long arm of the law, could not be successful? Oh yeah - did I mention it takes place 500 years in the future, and those towns exist on planets on the frontier of an interplanetary empire that was formed when the two most powerful earth governments - the United States and China - merged into a interplanetary power house? Such are the perils of the show Firefly, a Joss Whedon classic, oddly enough inspired by the book "The Killer Angels". The plots are extremely well written, with a mysterious main storyline, and plenty of interesting sub plots to surround it, much like a Chris Carter classic. The special effects are absolutely beautiful and very realistic. The characters are extremely well developed and interesting, and both compliment and play off each other to create very interesting situational drama. What really carries the show is the witty dialog. It has all the elements of a smash hit show - including a huge fan base and tons of critical success. It only has one problem.... it was cancelled.

That's right folks, our friends at Fox, who have brought us some of the best of network TV, including 24, the X-Files, the Simpsons - just to name a few - let this one die after airing only 12 of the 14 filmed episodes.

So what went wrong? Well - first, there was the demand that Whedon go right into the storyline without airing the two hour pilot. Then - a Friday night timeslot was chosen, which has historically been reserved for some form of absolutely mindless entertainment. But finally, it was the holy dollar that doomed Firefly. Fox determined that the production costs could not be sustained, despite the fact that it had all the makings of a huge successful run.

How can this be? Well, in my opinion, Firefly fell victim to reality. Reality TV, that is. Mindless entertainment that only needs a reasonably bizarre situational plot and a lot of camera operators. No witty writing, no big name stars, no actual acting (although this point can be debated), and above all - little production costs. After some research of the Nielsen Media research site, only Survivor consistently makes the top ten list of shows, so why is it that every night I wade through idiotic reality shows on almost every channel?

It's like the networks get a freebee.

They don't need a huge audience or high rating to make a profit on these shows. And there seems to be an endless list of them, waiting to take the place of the latest one that flops. And they seem to be getting more and more ridiculous. Pretty soon - there will be "I married a midget!"... Oh wait... Wasn't that an actual show?

So back to Firefly - there is some good news - Fox released the entire 14 episode series on DVD (which is how I was introduced to the show) and sales are astronomical. This has caught the eye of Universal Studios, which has lobbied successfully (along with the fans of the show) for the rights to make a feature film starring the entire cast - called Serenity. So - get out there - find your copy of Firefly if you can - and have a serious frontier sci-fi marathon before this weekend, capped off with a trip to your local MultiPlex. I promise you - you won't be sorry.

Monday, September 19, 2005


This is a test post from flickr, a fancy photo sharing thing.

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Life without Technology

I am absolutely addicted to Technology. Which, I guess, by definition - makes me a geek. I love to automate things. It's what I do all day at work. There are even cases around the house when I've applied automation when it probably really doesn't need to be automated. I tend to get carried away. Case in point - I installed RF cameras all around the house and even had the one above the front door on a motion sensor, which kicked on a VCR to record the movement. I even had it publish stills from the video on a 15 second interval to my webserver. The purpose? So I could see when the UPS man dropped off a package I was expecting from work. Really.

When I'm driving, my PDA tells me where to go in a pleasent, helpful voice. My MP3 player talks to me, telling me which song is playing and speaks the various navigation menus. And my handheld GPSr has become an integral part of life, providing direction and sport in the way of Geocaching. My cell phone doubles as a cellular modem, so I can connect to the internet even while I'm in transit. I am absorbed by a world of instanteous gratification when it comes to information. I can't imagine life without these things.

It didn't used to be this way. In fact - I was almost a minimalist for a while - my life was consumed with outdoor activities, and I worried about taking with me only those things I absolutely had to have. I even drilled holes in a toothbrush once to cut down on weight. If I were to go on a long term hike tomorrow - what would I really need? Probably, I could just get by with my pack, clothes, tent, food and my GPSr. Oh - and my cell phone. Oh what the hell - my PDA isn't that heavy. On those tall peaks - I'd probably get decent reception, and I could connect to the internet and get weather reports, check email and such......

See what I mean?