It was 2003 and there I was, a United States Marine station in Djibouti, Africa. Oh, you never heard of Djibouti (pronounced, Ja Booty), don’t worry, most people haven’t but I guarantee you that it is a very real place. If my memory serves me well, the average temp was in the high 120s and we once peeked at a high of 150, though some argue that it was actually 151. In 2003, the base we were using was still being established. We had inherited it from the French Foreign Legion so it was still being rebuilt and updated when I arrived with my squadron. After several months of being on base with nothing more to do than work, sleep and eat, they finally opened a PX (a military version of a Quickie Mart.) Among the sodas, cookies and chewing tobacco were some DVDs. My “office” (a glorified tent) happened to have a TV with a DVD player in it, so I figured I would pick something up to watch. The only thing they really had was Season One of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. I thought to myself “An action TV show with an attractive female lead…that will do.”
When I returned to my “office” I suggested to my fellow Marines that we make a standing Buffy night. One night a week we would order in the take-out “Chinese” from in town and watch one episode. In a day before DVRs and streaming video, this was the only way we knew how to watch TV. So the tradition began and as the weeks dragged on, we continued our weekly viewing of Buffy and the Scooby Gang. It just seemed to happen that each time we would run through a season, the PX would get in the next season. We came home from our deployment but only had a few months before we were out in the desert again. We continued the tradition and I think we made it into season three or four by the end of our 2004 deployment. Many of the guys admitted to watching the series on TV at home, much to the bewilderment of their wives.
I eventually watched the rest of the show on DVD and they still sit in my basement and will most likely never be purged from the house. They are not only a great T.V. show but represent a pivotal time in my life. Those weekly viewings were the only “family time” we had and it was a nice change of pace from the daily grind of military life.
Years later, I saw this thing on line. It was Doctor Horrible’s Sing-A-Long Blog. I think I was initially drawn to it because of Neil Patrick Harris. I never really made the connection between Joss and these two shows. But when Dollhouse was announced as Joss’ next big project, I jumped right on board. My wife and I watched the first season but then fell off the train and didn’t pick it back up in Season Two. I was a big fan of Joss’ at that point but nothing near a fanboy. Then came Firefly. I had heard so much about it and how great it was and how it was the iconic show that the TV executives couldn’t understand. So when I finally found it on Netflix, I gave it a try. Pilot episode. I lasted all of 8 minutes. The whole battle scene in the beginning made me roll my eyes. “A T.V. show that is like Starship Troopers, okay, but not my cup of tea.” But I heard such great things. I talked to some friends and they kept encouraging me to try it again. So I did. Every few months I would give it a shot and every time I would give up around the same point when the big flying gun ships would come in to wipe out those guys who were obviously “rebels.” Then finally, one day I promised myself I would watch the whole thing. And I did. Once they got into “current time” I was hooked. Big time hooked. Since then, I have been a fanboy for Joss. In hindsight, it took a poorly stocked PX in the African Desert to get me started and the persistent of friends to help me get hooked, but I found my way and for that I am very thankful.