In its original run, FOX even showed it out of order…which made it somewhat awkward being thrown into the middle of a story with new characters in a universe we did not yet understand. The show, however, took off when it was released on DVD and gave rise to the feature film, Serenity.
I’m a little gun-shy. If I got $300 million from the California Lottery, the first thing I would do is buy the rights to Firefly, make it own my own, and distribute it on the Internet.
– Nathon Fillian (aka Captain Malcolm Reynolds) in an interview with EW
The biggest problem this show had was the same as everything else Joss Whedon does. It required too much thought for the average viewer and, thus, the ratings were hard to come by early on. Like, say, The X-Files or Star Trek: TNG, had FOX stayed with Firefly…those ratings would have come.
Firefly and Serenity were the story of Captain Malcolm Reynolds (Nathon Fillian) and his Firefly-class cargo vessel named Serenity. The ship name came from the “Battle of Serenity” which was the final battle of a war fought in the ‘verse where Reynolds was amongst the “Browncoats” that lost. His comrade in arms becomes, in essence, his first mate on Serenity…Zoe Washburn (Gina Tores). The rest of the crew includes Zoe’s husband, the vessel’s pilot, Wash (Alan Tudyk)…Kaylee (Jewel Staite), the ship’s mechanic…and Jayne Cobb (Adam Baldwin, now on Chuck), the hired muscle. The remainder of the cast is filled out by Shepherd Book (Ron Glass, of Barney Miller fame), Inara (Marena Baccairn, now on V), Simon (Sean Maher) and his sister River (Summer Glau).
As the story opens, in the actual first episode as opposed to the one FOX opened with, we find that the crew is currently being bad guys and unloading cargo off another ship adrift in space.
The passengers are each introduced…first, Inara, who is a “companion” (think legalized escort) who rents a shuttle from Serenity and travels with them regularly…then Shepherd Book and Simon Tam book passage. Due to complications, we also meet Simon’s younger sister, River. Simon becomes the ship’s medic.
The way this show was presented was part of its appeal and part of its downfall. Star Trek, years ago, was criticized for being a “wagon train to the stars”…but that was mostly due to choice of actors early on.
Firefly, however, takes this concept to a new level as, though set in space, the dress and language are very much a more Western style. This gave the show a character that few would enjoy, but that many viewers could not work with.
Those that did, however, were rewarded with a brilliantly written and presented television program and a feature film that, for a one off, is stunning.
There was so much going on with this show that when FOX changed the order of episodes, it was doomed from the beginning.
So many questions left unanswered…
- Would Jayne ever get a better offer?
- Would Kaylee and Simon ever have smart gorgeous babies?
- How did Wash end up with the Amazon that was Zoe?
…just for a few.
Firefly’s cancellation put me completely off network television for a number of years…think that says something about how much I enjoyed the short series more than anything else.
Interesting twist recently, however, in that FOX has sold the rights to Firefly. Though all of the actors have moved on to other things, it seems there are rumours of potentially new episodes nearly a decade after it first aired…there’s no power in the ‘verse that can stop Firefly fans.