Now that I’ve had some time away from the Nanowrimo insanity, I’ve been re-visiting one of my favorite TV shows. I’m a big fan of the “short-lived but well-loved” show “Firefly” by Joss Whedon. I’m sure plenty of you are, too. Am I right? I’ll give you a few minutes to recall your favorite quotes. Post them in the comments, if you like.
And then, there’s the film “Serenity” which we all know and love. Although, I would think that a majority of you would agree that it falls short in comparison to the television show. But why? They had a larger budget, superior special effects, more locations, and fancier settings than the television show ever did. With all that glitz and glamour, why does it fall short of its more subdued counterpart? For a moment, let’s leave off fan disappointment of the killing of a major character, please. (For the sake of people who have not seen it, I will refrain from saying who.)
This brings us to the question, why do we enjoy one more than the other? What makes the television show more compelling than the film in this case? Well, I believe the answer is that, on the television version, we are allowed to spend more time with the characters. In between the gunfights, the narrow escapes, and the big damn acts of heroism, we get to spend time with the characters.
We see them eating, playing, resting, and interacting. In fact, the strength of the characters and their interactions with each other are things that make the show memorable. Joss Whedon’s punchy and quotable dialogue doesn’t hurt either. However, this entry is not about how much I enjoy the show. It’s about what makes the show good, and that, my friends, is the fact that we get to see strong characters in their daily lives interacting with the other strong characters. The pacing in the film is much faster, telling a story that probably would have unfolded over the course of multiple seasons as the show went on. What suffered from this was we no longer got to spend time with the characters.
Even the character death from the movie would have been tolerable to me, had we gotten to spend time with the characters and seen them grieve and respond to the tragedy.
What can we learn from this? It’s ok to just let your characters simply interact sometimes. Let them spend time with each other, and let your reader spend time with them.