Buffy The Vampire Slayer. Angel. Two very famous series developed by Joss Whedon, who single-handedly revolutionized the way television viewed vampires and their enemies. Currently known for his comic book work and his entry into the motion picture arena, Joss Whedon is also the proud parent of another lesser-known child in the television field.
Firefly ran briefly on television and was unceremoniously dropped from the schedule without much fanfare; network executives deciding that a cowboy epic set in space wasn’t drawing in the viewers that they wanted and decided to send it off to an early grave. Funny thing was that the fans didn’t agree with the executives and began to gather both in cyberspace and in person to demand that if the series wouldn’t be renewed, that they consider a full-length movie.
There have been plenty of popular shows that have been cancelled in theory before hitting their stride, and many fans who have called and petitioned and canvassed for their show to be returned to the airwaves. Family Guy, for one recent example, was dumped from Fox only to be resurrected in the 2005 Spring television viewing season.
Firefly fans went one step further. When the DVD’s were released, including previously unseen and unaired episodes, the sales shocked the television executives who expected lackluster sales due to the show not lasting a single season. Instead the boxed set flew up the charts, validating Whedon’s belief in his show and that of the fans.
But the surprises didn’t stop there. Serenity, a full-length commercial movie in the Firefly universe, is set to hit movie screens in the fall and is already generating a great buzz both inside the fan community and the general public. But what’s all the fuss about and is this a movie you might want to stand in line for? Let’s take a look at the DVD set and see if you might just become the newest Firefly fan!
The premise of Firefly is taken from the simple and common concept of a civil war. Years after humanity has colonized planets and moons far away from Earth a movement is afoot to break away from the Alliance and declare their independence. Civil war erupts on many fronts as the Alliance tries to put down this rebellion and maintain their stranglehold over the planets within their sphere of influence.
And they win.
Malcolm Reynolds (Nathan Fillion) is the captain of a Firefly-class spaceship titled Serenity, running goods and passengers from planet to planet to make a living. After being on the wrong side of the civil war he wants nothing more than to keep as far away from the Alliance as possible. He does this by running along the fringes of civilized space and avoiding the Reavers, space pirates that prey on anyone and anything they can get their hands on. His crew is made up of an unlikely sort.
Jayce is a paid mercenary who supplies the muscle for the crew. Wash is a pilot with an unstable mind at the best of times. Zoe’s a soldier who served with Mal and who is married to Wash. Kaylee, a female mechanic who keeps the ship going despite constantly being low on tools and equipment.
Book’s a Shepherd who hopped on board and intends to be responsible for the mental and spiritual wellbeing of the crew and passengers. Which is good, because their sole paying passenger is Inara who has the title of Ambassador but serves more in the role of a geisha with a willing client list.
You’d think that Mal would have his hands full with just this set of characters, but when one of their mission runs involved taking a crate from one Alliance base to another and it breaks open to reveal a captive woman he just can’t deliver her back into the hands of the Alliance. River is a woman with a tortured past, at times incoherent and delusional and at other times possessed of a knowledge far beyond her years.
Her brother Simon has managed to make his way on board to offer his services as a crew doctor while trying to find out what the Alliance did to his sister and if it can be reversed. Now Mal’s on the run from the Alliance while trying to figure out what’s going on with River and keeping his crew safe from the lawless frontier – and he couldn’t be happier.
The four volume boxed set of Firefly include the three episodes that were never aired on television, along with audio commentaries on selected episodes and a gag reel (or outtakes). Behind-the-scene featurettes will give you a detailed history of this fascinating new universe Whedon created, along with special deleted scenes that can only whet your appetite for the big-screen release of Serenity this fall in your local movie theater.
Since this series was originally run on television there is a certain level of violence that has to be taken into consideration for the younger viewer. At the same time, it tends to remind one of the old cowboy shows where plenty of bullets would fly and men would collapse and fall but with very little blood and gore.
However, when the Reavers appear on the scene there is an intense series of scenes that may prove disturbing for younger viewers and would be better either unviewed or with parental discussion before and afterwards. But the majority of the episodes are a grand tribute to the old spaghetti Westerns that you still see on television and will remind many of us of the Saturday afternoon matinee movies when you could get in for a dime.
There have only been a handful of television series that have garnered so much fan attention that the television industry has reconsidered their untimely death. Family Guy is one of them, returning to television with a fanfare and flourishing in the syndication market as well as with first-run episodes on Fox.
Star Trek met an early death but was later revived into a series of movies and television franchises due to the unceasing efforts of their fans demanding more. Now with the release of the Firefly DVD boxed set and the anticipated release of Serenity into major movie theaters this fall, Firefly will take its place alongside these shows that have been resurrected by their fans.