Last night a friend of mine invited me over to finally watch Firefly. I've been meaning to do it; it's been in my Netflix queue forever. It sort of had become that thing you have every intention of doing (like a bikini wax) but the commitment is just too much.
And, like many things in life, watching a new TV series (or reading a new book, or watching a play) is sort of like dating: awkward at first and then, hopefully, wonderful. There are the bad dates too: the series you have high hopes for but lets you down (Earth 2). And there are the good dates, the dates all others are measured against: Battlestar Gallactica, and in ages past, X-Files. Was I ready to commit to a new relationship with a television show? Does my philosophising here smack of pathetic?
Yes. And Yes.
Here's the thing about sci-fi, the genius of it if you will. (My friend and I discussed this heatedly and agreed. Of course, we're both geeks, but that's an aside.) Science Fiction isn't science fiction at all; it's simply a setting that enables characters to live to their fullest. It's a setting that allows writers to break the rules of our everyday world and stretch characters to their utmost. Much like war dramas show man v. man, and romances show women v. their own hearts.
Mythology does this too...putting characters in ridiculous situations. Consider poor Atlas carrying the weight of the world on his shoulders. But what does carrying the world on your shoulders MEAN? I have met Atlas before, the broken man, the broken woman, the life that goes on but with unendurable suffering. The truth of what it means is too painful, but metaphor, oh, we get metaphor.
Sci-fi---when it is good, it is very very good. It's poetic. Grand. Funny. Heartbreaking. And when it is bad, there are furry puffballs multiplying like psychotic rabbits. But even that, really, is good in its own way.