Of course, the other reason I’ve been quiet is that my humungoparcel arrived from Amazon. As a result, I’ve finally watched a TV show I never got the chance to see, because its idiot US network cancelled it mid-season – Joss Wheden’s Firefly. Now, while I thought Buffy the Vampire Slayer was one of the finest broad-appeal ‘teen’ series ever made (notwithstanding the fact that I simply can’t stand Sarah Michelle Gellar), I rarely actually watched it, and I was never taken with Angel. I know, I know, fans tell me it’s the better series, but… sorry, I couldn’t be bothered. So I was never exactly a Whedon fan.

Why, then, the interest in Firefly? Confession time: I rather like Westerns. The show turns out to be fairly completely brilliant, with some of the finest ensemble performances I can recall. Nathan Fillion and Adam Baldwin stand out, but that’s somewhat unfair on the remainder of the cast – in particular Jewel Staite, whose character Kaylee appears to have been directly lifted from my friend Briony. Music, costume design, set and lighting – all are top-notch too, the whole delivered with an easy humour and style that’s tremendously infectious.

But it’s easy to see why the series failed to find its audience. Notwithstanding what appears to have been idiotic scheduling by the network, the character development and show pacing appear to be deliberately slow. This fits the old-fashioned feel well, and personally I found it a welcome relief from the often over-worked feel of recent series (Doctor Who suffered a little this way, don’t you think?). But it’s not an easy series to jump into.

Reading between the lines of the ‘making of’ featurettes, it sounds like the network execs were worried about just this point. To be honest, I’m not sure they were wrong. On the other hand, the series has spawned a theatrical movie, Serenity, coming this autumn. There’s even talk that a big enough box-office success might spawn a spin-off TV series. Now, wouldn’t that be a thing?

Available from Amazon, anyway, and worth seeking out. Excellent series overview at the Firefly Wiki.

2 thoughts on “Firefly”

  1. Kevin and I saw Firefly preview a few weeks ago, and it is/was fantastic. Its appeal will be greater to those who know the characters and plotlines begun in the series, but I’m hopeful that it is still accessible enough to the newbie to be complete. (We went with a couple of newbies who came out of the theater quite enthusiastic, although they were both Joss fans.) The movie does manage to tie up a few ends left dangling by the abbreviated series.
    I think a spin-off series is unlikely, but I have heard rumors about a 3 movie deal, contingent on the success of Serenity. Here’s hoping!

  2. Buffy was definitely a series that rewarded continuous viewing – it was very much bound by it’s own continuity and not in a bad way – much as Firefly would have been had it continued I suspect. I still feel that seasons 2 & 3 of Buffy were the strongest – the later seasons spent too much time wallowing in the misery of it’s characters with too little respite – and I’d rate them above anything in Angel.
    It’s worth noting that Buffy and Angel were the product of many talented writers beyond Joss Whedon, though like Whedon few seem to have any immediate success post Buffy and Angel. Tim Minear produced a fascinating series called Wonderfalls that was as shortlived as Firefly. Like Firefly it was always going to have an uphill struggle to establish itself but the result is worth a look if you stumble across it (region 1 only I’m afraid).

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