My first introduction into Joss Whedon anything was Serenity. Not Firefly, but Serenity. In hindsight, I wish I would have seen Firefly first. I knew Buffy and Angel existed, but appearing to be on the surface female centric shows, my teenage brain wouldn’t allow me to watch, let alone enjoy them. Until Serenity, I never even heard of Joss Whedon. After that movie, I was all in.
After the success of Buffy and Angel on WB/CW/UPN (they were all over the place), Whedon and co-creator Tim Minear took their new show, Firefly, to Fox. The concept was simple, yet brilliant. Space western. The setting is outer space, across various planets and solar systems. Much like westerns of old, space was treated like a pioneering frontier. Planets were terraformed, and settlers lived on the fringes across the galaxy. The crew of the Serenity, a firefly class ship, makse a living as smugglers, robbers, and traders on the edge of society. Most of the crew fought on the losing end of a civil war, while others have their own reasons for being there. Some questionable, some not.
Malcolm Reynolds (Nathan Fillion) captains the ship, with Zoe (Gina Torres) second in command, and her husband Wash (Alan Tudyk) piloting. Kaylee (Jewel Staite) is the genius mechanic who keeps the rickety ship flying, while Jayne (Adam Baldwin) is a hired gun, and Inara (Morena Baccarin) is a companion (equivalent of courtesan) renting out one of the shuttles. In short order, Sheppard Book (Ron Glass – a priest) joined the crew, as does Dr. Simon Tam (Sean Maher) and his sister River (Summer Glau).
The wonderful theme song was written by Joss Whedon, and is even performed by him on the DVD (though the main version was performed by Sunny Rhodes). The show maintains a rustic, dingy feeling that echoes of pioneer settlements with most of the future tech barely functioning. English and Mandarin Chinese are the prevalent languages, with many advertisements and cursing in the latter dialect. Firefly created and displayed its own personality.
As many people know, the show was completely mishandled by Fox. The two hour introduction to the series didn’t impress executives. They wanted something more action oriented. In one weekend Whedon and Minear knocked out a script for “The Train Job”, which ended up leading off the series in September 2002. The actual first episode, “Serenity”, didn’t air until December 2002. By then, the show had been cancelled. Only 11 episodes aired, with 3 eventually making it to television the following summer. Considering how mismanaged the show was, it wasn’t surprising that it failed to gain any traction.
Somehow the stars align (space pun), and an executive jumped on the movie pitch after watching the episodes on DVD. A theatrical release based on the show, entitled Serenity, was released in 2005. As an introduction to the series (like it was for), it was easy to follow. It wrapped up many of the loose ends on the show, but still leaving the door open for more adventures, which there sadly were none.
Sales DVD’s were high for years, along with views on Netflix streaming. Firefly has one of the most rabid fanbases I’ve seen. With many shows rising from the grave recently, like Arrested Development, many have been hoping for a return of some sorts. With the cast and crew completely scattered to the winds (Fillion’s hit show Castle, Whedon’s working on some movie or something), it’s logistically impossible. Technically, Firefly was the first show to see a resurrection beyond it’s initial run with Serenity. Wanting more than that is understandable, but a little greedy. Could the show have gone on for 10 years? Most likely. It didn’t, but at least it existed.
I’ve watched the entire series a few times, and my ferver for the show hasn’t diminished. Firefly led me to other amazingness in the Whedon-verse (I was all over Captain Horrible), and for that I’m thankful. If you have a weekend to kill, stream Firefly, you won’t be disappointed.
“…you can’t take the sky from me.”