Joss Whedon’s Firefly was probably the best sci-fi television show ever. To be cancelled after half a season. By Fox (those bastards). It might have proved to be the best sci-fi show ever, period, if it’d been picked up by another network but it wasn’t. All we got was 14 episodes and a movie (Serenity). Fans of the show were heartbroken.
I wasn’t one of the heartbroken. I was part of the problem. I never watched Firefly when it was on the air because it was a huge nerd hurdle for me. Not because it was sci-fi but because I had no idea it was sci-fi. I heard the words “Joss Whedon” and “Firefly” and assumed it was another Buffy spin-off like Angel, but maybe about Willow or some other wiccan lesbians. Though I loved Buffy, I didn’t care for Angel, so I never checked out Firefly. And not many other people did either.
Then, after it was cancelled, I heard it was really good. One of the best TV shows ever. My ears pricked up. Then I heard it was “space cowboys” and my ears pricked back down. Cowboys are a huge hurdle for me. I like the odd western (usually starting a young Clint Eastwood) but generally I don’t care for the genre. It’s why it took me so long to watch the excellent Deadwood. Perhaps it’s because I don’t like modern-day cowboy culture and thereby associate “westerns” with redneck douchebags. And I don’t care for the music. Such as the Firefly theme:
Then it was explained to me that the show isn’t so much about space cowboys as space outlaws and once again my ears were pricked. So a couple of years ago, several years after it was cancelled, I finally sat down to tackle Firefly.
I wasn’t disappointed. True, I wasn’t hooked from the first episode, but by the third I couldn’t stop watching if I tried. The show’s strength is that it’s blessed with probably the best ensemble cast ever assembled. Where other classic ensembles (TNG, Buffy) took a good three or four seasons to hit their stride, the cast of Firefly hit the ground running. The chemistry couldn’t have been improved in a laboratory. Check out the gag reel at the bottom of this post. It’s hard to believe these people were practically strangers.
Though there is certainly an outlaw/western feel to the show, it’s all the aspects of westerns I enjoy. They’re more dust-bowl pirates than cowboys. In a way it’s like Pirates of the Caribbean set on the Millenium Falcon instead of the Black Pearl. If it’d been sold to me that way, I’d have been watching from day one.
Instead the show was pitched as “nine people looking into the blackness of space and seeing nine different things.” Um. Okay. That’s cool and all, but it’s sounds like Waiting for Godot staged on Discovery One. This show isn’t that at all. Perhaps the exact opposite. It’s an adventure-comedy of the highest grade. And well worth the hurdle.