I’ve been told for years and years that Joss Whedon got shafted by Fox when they cancelled Firefly before the season finished airing. Everyone I know who’s seen the show is completely obsessed. It’s been quoted and meme’d throughout the internet so much that I spent each episode anticipating the moment when Wash says ‘Were I unwed, I would take you in a manly fashion.’ It didn’t happen when I expected, in case you were wondering.
Nerds rejoice, for I have finally watched Firefly and Serenity.
I know I broke one of my own rules by watching a TV show, but it’s only fourteen episodes, so it’s practically a miniseries.
Firefly is a true space western. Humanity has colonized a new galaxy. The core planets are the pinnacle of futuristic civilization. Being an escort makes you exalted. The planets farthest removed from civilization bear an eerie resemblance to the wild west. Cattle, horses, saloons, six-shooters, train heists…the list goes on.
The crew of the starship Serenity takes any job they can get, be it a smuggling job or a simple protection job. Put two grizzled war veterans, an ace pilot, the cutest goddamn mechanic ever, a companion (escort), a trigger-happy brute, a preacher, a doctor, and a disturbed genius on a starship, and you get Firefly.
Besides the fact that Whedon crafted deep, rounded characters that everyone can relate to, the show is progressive in its own right. The mechanic is a bit of a girly-girl, but still a badass. Two of the crew members are happily married, which was rarely seen in television then. Everyone gets equal screen time throughout the episode, yet you never feel lost as you watch it, unlike other shows with a larger ensemble cast.
The other thing about this show that shines through everything is the witty dialogue. I mean, every character has a brilliant zinger and the perfect response. The dialogue is practically flawless. If you’ve seen The Avengers, you’ll know what I mean. Endless quips. I usually hate that about writing, but in this case, it works astoundingly well.
Even though the show was canceled before the first season finished, Whedon ended up (somewhat) resolving the story in a feature-length film, Serenity. The first thing you notice is the production value increased dramatically. The CGI wasn’t bad in Firefly, but in Serenity it looks outstanding. The ship moves more dynamically during landing or in combat. The sets look better, in general. The camerawork is smoother. The script is absolutely outstanding. It’s everything great about Firefly done better.
On its own, Serenity is a damn good movie. It’s exciting and a whole lot of fun. What makes it truly fantastic is that the characters and the story have already been set up. You can watch Serenity on its own, but it’s definitely more fulfilling if you watch it after watching Firefly. I can honestly say I haven’t enjoyed a movie this much since Deadpool. A weird comparison, but both movies have a certain authenticity that left me completely satisfied, yet wanting more.
Do I think the series was canceled early? Yes, yes I do. However, what we do have is nearly perfect. It’s rare for a show to knock it out of the park the way Firefly did, and I’m glad we have what we have of this outstanding universe.
If you’ve seen Firefly or Serenity, let me know what your thoughts are.
I’m always looking for new stories, no matter the medium. If you know of any great books, movies, or video games that you absolutely love, let me know in the comments and, if I haven’t checked it out, I’ll add it to the list!