So I saw Serenity a few years back in my college theater, and found it decent, though I had a hard time relating to the characters.
Now I'm finally giving Firefly a try. After a rough first half-hour (I was starting to contemplate giving up), the pilot suddenly got good, what with the appearance of River and the shoot-out. I was stoked.
I think you may have an issue with the show that is more fundamental than waiting for it to get good, if I may be blunt. If you don't like the characters, you probably won't like the show - it's premise is
the characters, essentially. And unlike the movie, that's all
the characters, not just Mal and River. River is a 'slow brewing' mystery, a background interest to keep an arc going, she's not the focus of the series, despite being the focus of the movie. Her development is therefore slow, although Ariel
and War Stories
march things on a bit.
Basically, the River and Simon arc was set in motion as if Joss had all the time in the world, but concluded in a mad rush because he only had one movie.
The pilot episode is rather different to the rest of the show - if you'd just watched that, I'd say keep going, it changes - but if you watch past Our Mrs Reynolds
and don't like it, it probably isn't for you.
Oh, wait - River can speak a mean Irish accent. Er, right.
That's a Cockney accent.
There's also been basically zero movement on the River plot. Lots of people thought HBO's Carnivāle moved too slowly, and there are certain stylistic parallels between it and Firefly, but even Carnivāle's slowest and worst episodes gave us some movement, either from the Brother Justin storyline, the Carnivāle/Ben storyline, or both. I don't think you can skip a single one and not notice something missing.
So, my question is... when, if ever, do Firefly's episodes start mattering to their immediate successors? Because this whole train robbery/Alliance capture/duel stuff just feels like filler.
Well if you're expecting a heavily arc driven serial, you'll be disappointed. It's an ensemble, episodic show. A dysfunctional TNG
if you like. There are
story arcs - River, Book, Jayne's past, Mal and Zoe's war history, the Alliance themselves, etc, but primarily, the show is episodic. It is most similar, I would say, to early Buffy
in Joss' history - episodes that tie together but are still standalone, plot-wise. Compared to say, late season 7 Buffy
where the episode breaks were more just places to put credits than actual story breaks.