This show is just pure Traveller.
And I don’t mean that it’s like the relatively obscure pulp sci-fi inspirations of the old game. No, this doesn’t feel like a battered old Dumarest of Terra paperback– there are no knife fights, no human cattle in low berth, no cybernetic commie infiltrators, no pacifistic space church. It’s also not like the later tabletop game products with their endless gadget catalogs, their ponderous world generation schemes, the elaborate starship designs that will never see actual play under any circumstances, and their unending census data for countless worlds.
No, when I say this is pure Traveller… I mean it is well in line with the sort of campaigns that people might really have played during the early eighties. Granted, Crusher Joe and his crew aren’t much like the characters that are produced by the Traveller character generation system. They’re professional adventurers with whatever skills they need to do whatever needs doing. They’re more like a party of GURPS characters in that respect. Firefly is far more “Travellerish” in this aspect with its ex-Army characters, ex-Merchant, ex-Operative, an Other, and a range of “Citizens of the Imperium” types.
It’s the situations that come off like they are drawn from a range of classic Traveller adventures that really makes it feel like the old game. “The Final Weapon: Ash” is like a mashup of Kinunir, the Chamax Horde, and Mission on Mithril. This is the sort of universe where an Imperial Warrant could turn into a major plot point. This is a space setting where there seems to be a sprawling interstellar Imperium… but individual worlds are still able to go to war with each other if it suits them. There are even “red zone” style interdicted worlds!
The fact that the ATVs, fighters, and starships all look slick enough to form the basis of an entire line of model kits is the icing on the cake. And Crusher Joe himself…? Well, he’s something else. When the mouthy Imperial agent complains about being tossed over the shoulder of the big cyborg while they make their getaway, Joe nods to his mate to set her down. It’s like he’s about let her have her way and all, but then… he casually socks her in the jaw, knocking her out so that they can get on with the business of saving her sorry butt.
They don’t make ’em like that anymore! It’s hilarious. Considering that the Robotech series of about the same period featured both a now-classical Strong Female Character™ protagonist and even a sketchy androgynous pop star type, Crusher Joe is refreshingly behind the times even in its own time!!
I have no idea how to track this series down, but it’s definitely worth the effort. This is better than anything on Netflix.