Close to a month ago, I decided to listen to my many anglophilic friend and take on the new generation of Doctor Who, starting with the Christopher Eccleston series. Without seeing any of the 20th century episodes, I fell in love with the show almost instantly, devouring most of the show within about a week and a half.
Right after I finished the David Tennant era, I went on a surprise trip out of the country for almost two weeks. As I rode to the airport, I started thinking about River Song, who I had just been introduced to in the 3rd series. My mind started to roam to the one other character named River in scifi-dom… River Tam of Firefly. I don’t know how it happened, but the next moment an awesome idea crashed into my brain — River Tam and River Song as police detectives in a futuristic/steampunk version of a ’70s police procedural. When Firefly week was officially scheduled a few days later, I knew I had to bring my vision to the world. Once I got home, I frantically caught up with the last season and a half and started brainstorming.
Note: please realize that I’m writing this a few days after the Doctor Who mid-season hiatus … when we only just found out who River is and still have so much to learn about her. I’m also a human being who is mashing together two sci-fi universes. So, if you get mad because I get some of the details from Doctor Who or Firefly wrong, I’d like to point you to the Mystery Science Theater 3000 mantra: Just repeat to yourself, “It’s just a show, I should really just relax.” Thank you.
Here’s a taste with the first scene: it starts with a shot of the alien planet and it’s main city, which is reminiscent of 1970s New York. Two lower-level mafia thugs are hauling the newest shipments of narcotics on their hovertruck. One of them goes to start the engine when the second thug hears the clicking of a gun behind him.
“Hands up, sweetie.” River Song is standing in front of him in a brown leather trench coast, flared khakis and leather boots. “I ain’t your sweetie, lady,” the thug replies. Song smiles. “Oh I know. If you were, you’d be dressed with a little more flair. He also likes to wear silly hats. Now slowly put your gun on the ground and turn around.” As the thug puts his weapon down, we see the other thug sneak behind Song and aim his gun. The thug smiles. “You think you’ve beaten me? This is a two-man job, and my partner is right behind you.”
Song doesn’t turn around, but simply smiles back. “Funnily enough, arresting you and the other idiot is a two-woman job, and my partner is going to take care of your partner right about …” We hear a grunt and see a flash of brown hair behind Song. “… now.”
Despite being much shorter than him, River Tam has her katana poised at the thug’s throat. The thug struggles and says, “Let me go, you stupid bitch.” Song smiles, still looking forward and still aiming her gun at the first thug. “You OK back there, Tammy?” River only replies, “It’s impossible to sneeze with your eyes open.”
It’s now that the second thug pushes his way out of Tam’s arms. Song spins and shoots him in the chest, but makes herself vulnerable to the first thug. We see hand grab his weapon and a shot rings out. Song turns in time to see blood drip from the thug’s belly … River Tam’s katana has completely gored him and his shot missed. Tam’s response: “I’ve sneezed with my eyes open.” Cue CSI: Miami-esque opening titles.
Besides kick-ass scenes like this, the River/River pairing works on a lot of other levels. Both women were taken from their family when they were young by sinister organizations for their powers beyond the ordinary human beings. They are both deadly and wanted by the government. They both have a doctor in their lives. And despite being a little rough around the edges, River Song is actually a very warm person who is fiercely loyal to the people she cares about. River Tam needs that kind of personality to keep her sane. I’m also imagining a grizzly older black police chief that occasionally tells the Rivers that they’re out of control and/or to hand in their badges. Oh, and lots of car chases ending in explosions.
And there’s so much more we can bring from Firefly and Doctor Who. Mark Sheppard can play dual roles as Badger and Canton Delaware III. Firefly‘s sinister crime lord Adelei Niska could make a major adversary for the two Rivers. Madame Vastra and Jenny — already fan favorites from the most recent episode of Doctor Who — could be another set of partners on the force. Of course, what I would really look forward to is season 2 premiere featuring what we all know we want to see. That’s right … Captain Mal Reynolds meeting the Doctor! Two of the coolest heroes in sci-fi television — one from the longest running sci-fi show and one from one of the shortest sci-fi shows, no less — coming together to help the Rivers. Can you imagine the dialogue between them? Can you possibly comprehend the joy from nerds everywhere at this meeting?
FOX executives, I know it’s a long shot but if you really want to make amends for cancelling Firefly far before its time, you’ll listen to me right now. Get on the phone with BBC and make this happen. For the good of nerds everywhere.