Westerns - sci fi... and firefly etc

UPDATED: Sunday, February 10, 2008 23:33
VIEWED: 1034
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Wednesday, January 30, 2008 1:34 AM


Here is a list of my five fave Westerns:

1)The Searchers*
3)Winchester 73
4)Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid
5)A Fist Full of Dynamite.

(note: these films are far from flawless – the Western Film is as fascinating and frustrating as Sci-fi Movies in that regard!)

It’s always been interesting to me that this site – as every other FF fan port - whilst including sections on ‘other sci-fi shows etc’ for the fans to discuss… doesn’t have the same for Westerns – when Firefly is as much a Western as it is a Space Opera.

At the risk of sounding Slackerdemic, I don’t agree with many of the articles I’ve read stating that the Western is anathema to audiences and in fact curled up and blew away like cactus grass oh – some years ago now as they tell.
Seems to me that the Western with its attendant Myths, Iconography and generic familiarity can be found in a large amount of popular visual sci-fi. Star Trek “Space The Final Frontier”, Planet of The Apes on TV (essentially the Man on The Run formula in a western setting), BattleStar Galactica – the Original Show (Lorne Greene!), Star Wars (from the Cantina to Han Solo), Battle Beyond The Stars (The Magnificent 7 in Space), Outland was a High Noon remake, – and so it goes.

Chrisisall has (somewhat controversially) mapped the highs and lows of the Sci-Fi movie (quantity and quality) – and it seems to me that the Western Genre too has hit peaks and troughs – remember when Silverado came out and critics hailed ‘the return of the western’? They weren’t exactly wrong – Eastwood returned to the saddle at about the same time, for example.

I would guess that the lowest ebb for the western would be after the pair of box office duds that Nicholson starred in the mid-70s and the disaster of Heaven’s Gate (a much better film than people allow).

But even then the iconography and geography of the Western never completely vanished. Ironically Sci-fi films such as Westworld used it wholesale as did The Martian Chronicles.

Some Western films have proved very popular – Unforgiven again – but also Dances with Wolves, Brokeback Mountain and others. Although there have been less in recent times -Television has had successful shows over the years, from Champion the Wonder Horse, to Rawhide, Bonanza, Maverick, Dr Quinn and many others. Steve McQueen, Clint Eastwood and James Garner all got their first break there. Hell, even the Waltons was really a Western – and a case could probably be made for Dallas too!
And does anyone remember Centennial? (I loved that series at the time – no idea now if it was actually any good!)

Get to the point mein herr! – ok, so apart from asking people to list their personal faves, I’d be interested to know – What do Firefly fans thinks of the Western?
Do they agree that it is a problem for a mass audience – is it a problem for you??? -and is there a gap too between the space western fusion we see on screen and the science fiction we read?
There is a great article on this in one of the Finding Serenity/Serenity Found Books – but persooanlly I think the argument falls apart away from the pages of ( adopts Hard Days Night, Ringo-voice ) “a book a bloomin’ book”.
Yep even one a the Beatles go named after a Western – it’s a wide and wacky ‘verse…

*I have played in my head (many, many times) the Firefly Remake of The Searchers with River being abducted by Reavers, Simon in the Jeffrey Hunter Role trying to save his sister and Mal as the obsessive Wayne character.


Wednesday, January 30, 2008 2:07 AM


tv westerns!!

Wanted Dead or Alive
The Rebel

so many more I cant even remember

Also, I can kill you with my brain.


Wednesday, January 30, 2008 4:10 AM


This is an interesting subject, and I've posted here numerous times about all the TV Westerns that dominated 1960's television.

I don't think the Western will ever be dead, but whatever ones they may choose to make in the future will certainly fall prey to political correctness. You could not air on TV today most of the greatest westerns from the 60's....too much violence & stereotyping of minorities. In those days, good & bad were very black & white.
Nowadays, almost everything is complexly grey, and there are few ethical & social issues that all Americans agree on anymore.

There was a "Western-themed" episode in Season 3 of Enterprise called North Star. If you haven't seen it, I think you'd enjoy it very much as I do.


Saturday, February 9, 2008 7:52 AM


So write the fic already...

Actually, it might be more interesting if Simon got abducted. 'The Ballad of River Tam...'

You want to go find the C.L Moore 'Northwest Smith' books. Serious sci-fi, with a certain something about them that has a frontier feel. (Later in life, the author wrote scripts for 'Maverick'...)

Ultimate sci-fi/western crossover has to be 2000AD Judge Dredd 'Walk of the Dead Man.' Pure Eastwood.

Most of our 'classic' sci-fi has to be rooted in what we know, and what pulls on the imagination. So you have frontiers, unknown and possibly hostile beings, and people being...people. Herbert's 'Dune' owes a lot to pre-Industrial Medieval Europe (Hanseatic League) PK Dick took waaay too many drugs in a very politically paranoid time. Gibson gave us the vision of the Web before it happened. Asimov created a non-existant science that has become accepted fact. John Wyndham gave us powerful warnings about climate and bio-engineering.

But I'm meandering off track. Me, I love a good western. And that usually means Eastwood. (Though I also love the Mel Gibson 'Maverick') I like the idea of open space and a big sky. Horses, well, I'd rather eat one than ride one, but meh...

Jongstraw - 'Enterprise' is a horribly wrong thing and must not be put anywhere near 'Firefly'. The only thing worth crossing over from that dimension would be tribbles.


Sunday, February 10, 2008 9:29 PM


I like:
The Big Valley. - a fave ep is with Russell Johnson and Charles Grodin as evil villians who are brothers.
Joe Kidd.
Once Upon a Time in the West.
The Magnificent Seven.
Big Jake.
Sons of Katie Elder.
Hang 'Em High.

At the end of the 60's, TV networks (particulalry CBS) made a conscious decision to stop making so many successful shows, which had audience demographics weighted towards older people, who spent less and thus were less desirable among advertisers. Beverly Hillbilies was a huge hit, but was cancelled, as well as most westerns.

In June 1985 Pale Rider was released. Being a Clint Eastwood film, it was universally panned by major critics, as were all Eastwood films. In July 1985 Silverado was released and suddenly all the critics who ignored the return of the western in Pale Rider woke up and proclaimed Silverado as the return of the western. Doh!

In the golden age of Hollywood, many historical periods of American history were too painful or recent to be used as setting and period for a story, which often needed some conflict as background. Civil War? WWII? WWI? Atomic Bomb? Too painful and controversial. Expansion of America into the West? Safe. With fewer American citizens having any knowledge of American History, now other periods and eras are available for fictional settings.


Sunday, February 10, 2008 11:33 PM


Thanks for the thread this is a good one. My third time around watching Firefly I said self why do I like this show bang its a western. When Star Wars hit then BSGos came on tv it knock off the westerns. With PC its gone for good. ALot of real heroes are made to be bad guys now. Kit Carson, Billy the Kid, and the US Calvary. Well I am not a Eastwood or Redford fan they made some good ones. I am into single action arms so I enjoy watching what guns they use and proper time frame for the weapon in the story. The tooling is used up now so the guns you buy are either stamped parts not forged or low quality machined parts. Even in the tv shows the tooling was still good so the guns are close to the old west. This is my desert island must have with cocanut oil.

1 True Grit
2 Alias Smith and Jones = Firefly
3 Will Penny
4 Cimarron
5 Mountain Men
6 Dances with Wolves
7 Jeremiah Johnson
8 Man Who Shot Liberty Valance
9 Shane
10Sons of Katie Elder
Silverado, Hondo, Branded, Rio Lobo, and Ft Apache. Damn

"Battle of Serenity, Mal. Besides Zoe here, how many-" "I'm talkin at you! How many men in your platoon came out of their alive".






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