Five hundred years in the future, a renegade crew aboard a small spacecraft tries to survive as they travel the unknown parts of the galaxy and evade warring factions as well as authority agents out to get them.
Serenity encounters a ruthlessly professional bounty hunter, Jubal Early, who will stop at nothing to retrieve River. But River, feeling unwelcome on the ship, takes a novel approach to escaping from...
Captain Malcolm 'Mal' Reynolds is a former galactic war veteran who is the captain of the transport ship "Serenity". Mal and his crew, ensign Zoe Alleyne Washburne; Zoe's husband, pilot Hoban 'Wash' Washburne; muscular mercenary Jayne Cobb; young mechanic Kaylee Frye; former Alliance medical officer Simon Tam; his disturbed teenage sister River (both on the run from the interplanetary government "The Alliance"); the beautiful courtesan Inara Serra; and preacher Shepherd Book do any jobs, legal or illegal, they can find as the Serenity crew travels across the outskirts of outer space.Written by
The MMORPG Guild Wars, in the Factions chapter, pays homage to Firefly with a boss enemy named Jayne Forestlight, who drops a unique weapon called "Vera." In addition, her elite skill, "Air of Enchantment", was initially named "Serenity." See more »
I swear by my pretty floral bonnet, I will end you
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The DVD episodes end with Joss Whedon and Tim Minear's Executive Producer credit washing across the screen, left to right. On the television episodes, instead of their names, a wireframe model of Serenity fades up. See more »
Another series canceled for lack of simple-minded stupidity
Series creator Joss Whedon took a somewhat familiar concept (science fiction as the new "wild west frontier") and freshened it up with a lively, chemistry-rich cast of characters, a richly detailed, plausible and interesting social setting, a dash of excitement, classic science fiction "find the better part of humanity" ideals, a goal to avoid or make light of most of the tired and worn-out genre cliches and a fantastic production team. The resulting product? An excellent piece of original artful entertainment that was a breath of fresh air in the stagnating science fiction scene on television (or anywhere else).
Today, where is Firefly? Canceled after airing about 11 episodes, out of order, of the mere 13 episodes contracted. Why? Fox executives considered the ratings to be "abysmal." Were they? This may be subjective. At the time, Fox was (and still is) pushing almost costless, content-free exploitative "reality television" (such as Joe Millionaire) and formula-reuse "genre simulation" eye candy (such as "John Doe"). In comparison, Firefly, with film quality special effects, a full cast, directors, writers, editors and so forth likely looked to be a much smaller payout. After all, television in the USA is not about art or entertainment; it is about making as much money from sponsors as possible.
Fox didn't think that the Firefly pilot was "exciting" enough. Joss Whedon made some changes to address their concerns. Then Fox didn't even bother to SHOW the pilot until the very last airdate of Firefly, prior to cancellation ("tonight's special: two hour celebration of the cancellation of Firefly!"). Promotion of Firefly was half-hearted at best. On a channel that tells its viewers "Hey, who needs drama?" is there any chance that the marketing people even know HOW to promote something other than sitcoms and exploitative reality shows? Fox is basically telling its own audience that it doesn't like its own programming, so why should people watch it??
As we face the homogenization of television content, Firefly was a brilliant spark of newness and excitement for those of us (the few) in the television audience that desire thought-provoking story-telling and entertainment that actually requires a viewer's mind to be active instead of blank. To some of us, the outcome was never really in question; how could something this good survive on networks (and with advertisers) that believe the lowest-common-denominator is their ideal target?
Knowing the likely outcome, the failure of Firefly hurts all the more because of just how good it actually was in such a short amount of time.
It wasn't about the space ships; it was about the life lived in and around them. It wasn't about the aliens (there weren't any); it was about the people. It wasn't about the struggle between the evil bad-guys and the super heros; it was about the daily struggle to BE a "good-guy" in a world filled with people who often didn't try very hard and the fact that sometimes the heros are just regular people afterall. It wasn't about the sex; it was about the attitudes people have about sex. It wasn't about the profits; it was about selling a good product and deserving the profits.
It is quite telling to see what kind of programming thrives in this economy and what kind of programming gets a sharp stick in the eye. If we are to believe the executives of Fox and other networks, the viewers of television in the USA are unintelligent, selfish and naive automatons that are only capable of being entertained by programs that exploit the failures, ignorance and stupidity of others.
What if they're right?
Luckily, we have the "hard-core" groups of fans to remind us that there are indeed a few active brains seeking stimulation out there. Not to say that all science fiction fans are the best of humanity, it is easy to see that they spend a little more time considering narrative and consequences of actions.
The fans of Firefly funded, organized and accomplished an advertisement in Variety magazine to support Firefly. Yes, that's right. The fans bought advertising for their favorite show.
Though it warmed the hearts of the Firefly production team, Fox wasn't impressed. Such groups of fandom are considered fringe and insignificant when compared to the mighty marketing numbers. Still, you have to admit, there must be something good about a show when the fans purchase advertising in major publications to support it.
The fans still hope that Joss Whedon gets another open-minded network to see that Firefly has great potential as a successful, revenue-generating series. Whedon's previous exploits, the highly successful "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" series and its spin-offs, started with a similar "abysmal outlook" but another network had the foresight to give it a healthy chance when Fox was too eager to give up after not seeing instant success and profit after a handful of out-of-order showings. They didn't even bother to show all 13 episodes completed. Maybe someone at Fox's accounting departments ought to make note that it's a waste of resources to pay for episodes and then do nothing with them.
The chance of recovery isn't good. People move on in search of more employment when the project they were on has been killed. The landscape of television business today has a tendency to portray intelligent programming as "unsuccessful" and "profit-less." Joss Whedon's past successes seem not to matter much to networks hell-bent on making huge profits on zero-product (much like the dot com explosion that ended spectacularly badly years back).
Networks say they are giving the audiences what they want. It may be more accurate to suggest that networks are limiting the audience's ability to choose anything other than what they're given. It's not likely that everyone will simply turn off the TV and go read a book in protest, is it?
Back to Firefly: If you like smart science fiction (or just smart fiction in general), well drawn characters and worlds, Firefly would have been a great show to escape into every Friday night as you relax from the daily rituals of work and responsibility. Too bad it never got much of a chance to entertain us.
With the failure of Firefly at the hands of businessmen and executives who do not even like to watch their own programming, it is clear that the "future Joss Whedons" of television will have a harder time selling their projects to the networks. The result? There's plenty more where "Joe Millionaire" came from; there are countless other profit-seeking formulas that are taking the place of intelligent programming everywhere, calling themselves "Entertainment."
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