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I felt I had to comment on this show because of another persons negative opinion on it(target audience of 8 or 9 years). I find this show addicting and the characters far more interesting than many sci-fi shows that have gained far more publicity because of their special effects. Each character is very well developed and entices the audience to want to find out more about them. As a personal response as to why weapons haven't developed beyond the space western....several of the episodes show scenes of past and current technology far more advanced than the weapons used in the show on a regular basis.laser guns,magnetic grapplers,floating cities,multiple brain surgeries involving nerve manipulation,killer sonic tech,and much more. The show is set on the frontier of known space with characters that are not rich. A regular western gun is all that can be safely used on a spaceship. Another gun, whether laser or high caliber projectile weapon will pierce the hull and cause major problems for the crew..if not kill them outright.
The social intricacies of the companions and the "Houses" they come from, the military training of the "shepherd" preacher, the developing psionic powers of "the crazy sister-river" and all the others leads me to believe that Whedon put a lot of planning and thought into each character and the personal world they live in. They all seem to have a substantial, believable past. They all seem to have personal goals that are not necessarily tied to the show...as if they could leave at any time if their lives and beliefs take them that way. This comes across as very believable.
While others are entitled to their own opinion, all of this, in my opinion, makes me think this show is worth every penny spent to produce it. I also own it.