Communion Of Dreams

Dimly, I begin to understand…

I watch almost no TV these days. Frankly, I’ve watched very little TV in the last decade. Yes, I know that this is the ‘new golden age’ of TV, with the many diverse and creative outlets, brilliant writers, et cetera. Sorry – it doesn’t fit in with my lifestyle. Now, don’t misunderstand me – I do sit in front of the TV set almost every evening these days. It’s one way we can help to make sure that my mother-in-law has companionship and gets through her dinner OK (she, like many people with Alzheimer’s, has a tendency to ‘sundown’ and lose what little mental acuity she has in the evening. So she needs more help.) But we watch something we have on DVD (or get from NetFlix).

So, it is usually only after a show has gotten established and I hear enough good things about it from friends that I am willing to put it in my queue to watch. And that’s how it has come to pass that I haven’t seen any of Firefly or Buffy, the Vampire Slayer. Yes, I know that I am an uncultured lout. Sue me.

Anyway, because of the love that a number of my friends have for Joss Whedon’s work, I did get the DVD of Serenity a few weeks back. Watched it, thought “Well, it’s OK.” But didn’t really see what the big deal was – decent SF, but nothing to go crazy over. Maybe it was my mood.

My friends said that I should give it another chance, dig around in some of the bonus material on the DVD. Last night I did that. And I think what made a difference for me was watching the stuff with Whedon himself, talking about what he went through in having the series cancelled and then setting out to make the movie. It all gelled when he said “I am a fan” – meaning that he is a fan of the genre in general, and wanted to produce something that other fans would recognize and appreciate.

I watched the movie again after that. Huh. OK, this time I picked up on a lot of the stuff he did which was an homage to other works which had come before. The nitty-gritty setting of the ship echoing Alien. The rain, soundtrack and violence of Blade Runner. I could go on. Stuff that I at first attributed to just some film-maker lifting without respect from earlier movies.

And dimly, I started to understand why his work is so popular. Every artist steals from others. There are few truly original ideas out there. But to choose your source material wisely, and integrate it to say something new and interesting – that takes talent. To have that talent, to exercise it, and to do so out of a love of the craft and the history of your art is rare.

I think it is time for me to put Firefly in my queue. Then maybe even Buffy.

Jim Downey

A graphic novel version?
March 17, 2007, 9:04 am
Filed under: Buffy, Comics, Feedback, Science Fiction, Writing stuff

Someone early on here suggested that I should podcast chapters of the book, which is a rather interesting idea but outside the scope of my time and tech right now. However, how about a graphic novel adaptation of Communion? I’d have to get someone else to do it, since my artistic skills don’t run that direction, but there are plenty of talented folks out there, in a wide range of styles – from Buck Godot to Buffy. Nominations?

Jim Downey