Stephen Speicher

Firefly (2002)

Rate this TV show   68 votes

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77 posts in this topic

One of the best SF show I've ever seen. I gave it a 9. Good plot, great characters, great character development. I can't wait for the feature movie!

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I'm pretty much a big fan of all of Joss Whedon's shows, but I think Firefly was probably the best of them. And to be that good during it's first (and only) season! :)

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Firefly is a gem of a show. It's one show we can watch together with our teenage son and suffer no generational gap. The episode where Zoe has to choose whether to save her husband or the captain made me think of Rand's "Red Pawn."

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I'm glad this show was included in this list.

I've been watching the DVD box set over and over, studying it like a monk poring over the Dead Sea Scrolls. Brilliant writing, pitch perfect ensemble cast, a fascinating universe in total. There were no bad episodes, ever. Of course, only 12 episodes were ever produced.

The movie's coming out on Sept. 30th, anyone in the Southern California area want to have a Firefly viewing party?

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The movie's coming out on Sept. 30th, anyone in the Southern California area want to have a Firefly viewing party?

Count me in! :)

(Do you know why it was pushed from a Spring release?)

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Some Objectivist friends of mine in Atlanta hosted a Firefly viewing party last year, and it was a blast. I gave it a '9.' Great show!

--Dan Edge

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Count me in!  :P

(Do you know why it was pushed from a Spring release?)

According to the filmmakers, Universal determined that the spring release scheduled was too crowded with movies that catered to the same audience. They moved it to September in order to have that audience to themselves. Also, they wanted to have the whole summer to market the movie, attaching their trailer to other blockbusters, build up the name recognition, and that sort of thing. Supposedly, the studio believes in the movie and this shouldn't be taken as a sign of anything negative.

It makes sense, because Universal doesn't seem to have much coming out this year.

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I would rate this one among my all time favorite television shows ever based on the existing twelve episodes. It's shiny!

The writing, characters, snappy dialogue, plotting, visuals, acting -- all brilliant. It doesn't hurt that Mal is the rugged space cowboy hero of my teenage fantasies :P .

However, I am a sucker for mystery. Not crime drama whodunnit style mystery, but the 'nothing is quite what it seems' type mystery that isn't solved at the end of the episode (I am a huge Harry Potter fan for similar reasons). I love obsessing over the tiny little clues sprinkled everywhere, from Book's past to Inara's past to the Hands of Blue. I am glad I didn't watch Firefly until after it was cancelled, because the heartbreak was bad enough when I realized I had watched every single existing episode and there would be no more. I am very much looking forward to the movie in September.

The trailer is coming out on Tuesday on Apple.com and will be in theatres on Friday with <i>The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy</i>. So excited!

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The trailer is coming out on Tuesday on Apple.com and will be in theatres on Friday with <i>The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy</i>.  So excited!

Thanks for telling us that. I'm looking forward to it.

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I don't mean to spam, and I would just edit my last post if I could figure out how.

I just wanted to update and say that I am fortunate to have friends who are better connected than I. As a result, I got to see a test screening of Serenity last night in Thousand Oaks. I was quite impressed overall. The movie is much more overtly about ideas than any of the episodes in the series. That is all I can say as I don't want to spoil it for anyone here. I sat in the very same row as Joss Whedon, but was too shy to approach him. If I had it to do over, I would shake his hand and give him a very enthusiastic thank you.

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Wow, I didn't know they were done with post-production. In the Lord Of The Ring extra DVDs, they were doing post-prod till the last few days...

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Wow, I didn't know they were done with post-production.  In the Lord Of The Ring extra DVDs, they were doing post-prod till the last few days...

Well, the film was originally supposed to debut this weekend, IIRC. There are still a few unfinished effects shots, but not many (and by unfinished, I mean a little rough, not missing). They started doing test screenings back in November, I believe. The film wasn't 'finished' in the sense that it still may be tweaked (and it has already, as I know people who had seen it previously who attested to scenes being gone or changed and new scenes added on subsequent viewings). It wouldn't surprise me if they were working on it until the last minute, but that's pretty typical in Hollywood.

There is some concern about fan vs. non-fan reaction (hence many, many test screenings). If you live in an area where test screenings are done, you might be able to catch the movie (definately worth it in case it later gets watered down due to studio pressure). If you ever go to the theatre and see people standing around passing out flyers for 'free sneak previews', grill them about the screenings. They aren't supposed to tell you the name of the film (though often will if you press them), but they will tell you what the movie is basically about and Serenity has a unique enough premise. If you live in the LA area, you probably know exactly what I am talking about and get regularly accosted by the promoters when you go to the movies, but there are test screenings in larger cities all over the US. Keep your eyes open.

POTENTIAL SPOILERS BELOW

I had heard there had been rumblings in test screenings from non-fans who were very much taken aback by Mal's ruthless selfishness and stealing from the government (you know, his more endearing qualities). One scene for sure was altered because it made people uncomfortable in the extreme (the idea is still there, however). I hope they keep this particular scene in there as it not only illustrates Mal's ethics, but it also illustrates the sheer evil of the baddies.

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Mal doesn't only steal from the government - he also steals from private citizens, which isn't as defensible.

One of the premice of the TV series I think is a moral journey from a disillusioned, eat-or-be-eaten Mal to one more benevolent and conscious of when it's OK or not to break the laws.

In any case, I'm really looking forward to it. I was watching the preview on Apple.com yesterday, and I was surprised to see that the music from the TV show isn't played...

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It looks like they dropped the Shepherd character. Maybe he's meant to appear later?

15 days to go... :)

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The whole crew of Serenity is in the film; Book was not dropped.

Hm... He doesn't appear in the trailers, which mentions "six rebels"...

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Hm...  He doesn't appear in the trailers, which mentions "six rebels"...

I read somewhere that Shepherd Book left the ship over ethical qualms. But they may still interact with him in the movie. Perhaps he's back in his monastery. With his scary hair.

When Mal steals from private citizens who support the Alliance, I see it as stealing from enemy citizens, like the British taking Spanish ships at sea when they were at war with Spain.

The one thing that bothers me about the show's premise is the makeup of the Alliance. It is evidently supposed to be controlled by evil corporations, the Blue Sun corporation, or whatever it is called. This reminds me of the typical leftist view of corporations like Haliburton. But who knows if that is how it is meant.

Whedon said somewhere that he had got the idea for the show after reading a book (or was it watching a movie?) about the American Civil War. He wanted to do a series about the losing side, from their perspective. So there are elements of Southerners for whom the war never ended, in the characters of Firefly. Only I am sure Whedon posited better justifications for the "brown jacket" revolt, than the Southerners had.

I am eager to see the movie.

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I read somewhere that Shepherd Book left the ship over ethical qualms.  But they may still interact with him in the movie.  Perhaps he's back in his monastery.  With his scary hair.

I believe something akin to this is likely the truth. Like many here, I too noticed the absence of Book in the official trailers. However, I caught an extended selection from the movie on one of the Sci-fi Channel promos for the movie. And in it, there seemed to be some sort of refugee camp the like at which the Book character seemed to be tending to people. So it appears Book is indeed in the film.

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The Sci Fi Channel is having a Firefly marathon today (Tuesday, September 27th), from noon until 10 PM. Then at 10 PM, they are having a half hour show on the movie Serenity.

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One of the things I like best about Firefly is that all the characters are human. No silly looking "aliens." I always cringe when science fiction movies or television shows stick a pair of gills on a man and call him an alien.

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The Frenzied Fans of Serenity

Asked for a one sentence description of his feature film debut, which hits theaters in just ten days, Joss Whedon, the creator of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, described Serenity as either “a sci-fi action drama about the price of freedom” or “Citizen Kane with spaceships.” “I could go either way,” he said. The Weekly Standard, meanwhile, describes Firefly, the quickly cancelled television series on which Serenity is based, as “Star Wars, if Han Solo were the main character, and he still shot Greedo first.”

Why did a series which, according to Whedon, “was instantly hailed by critics as one of the most canceled shows of the year” give rise to a forty million dollar motion picture? In 2002, fourteen episodes of Firefly were made; eleven of them aired. Now, three years later, there is a good chance that Serenity will be the first movie in a trilogy. “They tried to kill us...they did kill us...and here we are. We have done the impossible, and that makes us mighty,” Whedon said to his fans in a taped message before the pre-screenings of the film.

And the fans of Firefly are many. In May and June, Universal arranged a total of seventy pre-screenings of a nearly finished version of the film; almost all of them sold out within hours or even minutes of going on sale. (I am happy to have attended a screening in Miami.) Many of the screenings sold out before anyone even announced that they would take place, meaning that fans did detective work in order to get the opportunity to see an early cut. What is it about this show and this film that makes people so fanatical?

Firefly tells the story of a small crew on a spaceship captained by Malcolm Reynolds (Nathan Fillion). He used to be a sergeant in the war against the Alliance, a fascist government which was expanding from world to world. The Alliance won the war, and Mal bought an old, rickety spaceship so that, however far the Alliance may spread out, he could fly a little bit farther. “You can’t take the sky from me,” we hear in the show’s theme song. To keep fuel in the tank and food on the table, he robs from the Alliance and other groups who obtain their wealth by force. In this twist to the Robin Hood tale, the crew robs from the unjustly rich and sells to the unjustly poor, though it sometimes takes other sorts of jobs, such as transporting cargo or ferrying passengers. Two such passengers turn out to be fugitives on the run from the Alliance. The film Serenity continues where the series leaves off, but familiarity with Firefly is unnecessary for following the story, which is artfully self-contained.

In stark contrast to many other science fiction worlds, that of Firefly is realistic. While I can enjoy good fiction that happens to include inexplicable faster-than-light speed travel (satirized in Spaceballs by the experimental “ludicrous speed”) or endless numbers of aliens with bumpy heads, I especially enjoy the reality of the Firefly universe. Here there are no aliens whatsoever and nobody travels at light speed. Instead, all of the action takes place within one solar system, which contains many inhabited worlds only because most of the planets and moons have been terraformed to make their conditions more earthlike. The stories in Firefly and Serenity are stories about real people in a realistic world, not about bumpy-headed-emotionless-people or about humans who have the resources that only a fictional character could have. I can suspend my disbelief as well anyone; but as someone who lives in this non-fictional world, I find that Firefly means much more to me than Star Trek or Star Wars.

A lot of writers out there purport to write realistic fiction; by this label, they more often than not mean any fiction which copies its characters and situations from the real world with the minimum of authorial manipulation or selectivity. To the extent that these authors find some selectivity necessary, they choose to write about that which is common. Are most people lazy? Then one’s characters ought to be lazy. Aren’t there very few real-life heroes? Then heroes have no place in fiction.

Firefly’s realism is of a completely different kind. Of the nine regular characters in the show, in fact, at least seven are heroes. What does Mal do when someone tries to shoot at him from behind a horse? He shoots the horse. What does he do when an assassin says that he is unarmed and just wants to talk civilly? He immediately draws his gun and fires. What does Book, a missionary who came aboard the ship as a passenger, do when his friends are in danger? He points out that the Bible does not prohibit shooting at people’s kneecaps, and he joins a firefight.

Firefly’s heroes are ideals that we can look up to. But unlike the quixotic heroes presented in such films as The Passion of the Christ or Spiderman, these people actually belong here beside us. They can and do exist—and succeed. This is the reason that people love them. This is the reason that Firefly can turn you into a fan overnight.

Do not be surprised, on September 30, to find yourself laughing at a movie screen—not because Serenity is full of jokes (although, in fact, it is). You will laugh out of sheer joy; you will laugh out of love. Because the world of Serenity’s heroes is our world—as it ought to be.

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In my first paragraph, change "in just ten days" to "this Friday." This article was originally published elsewhere.

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POTENTIAL SPOILERS BELOW

I had heard there had been rumblings in test screenings from non-fans who were very much taken aback by Mal's ruthless selfishness and stealing from the government (you know, his more endearing qualities). One scene for sure was altered because it made people uncomfortable in the extreme (the idea is still there, however). I hope they keep this particular scene in there as it not only illustrates Mal's ethics, but it also illustrates the sheer evil of the baddies.

Could you tell us now what scene you were referring to? My guess was the scene where Mal shoved the guy off the Mule-mobile when they were running from the Reavers, and then shot him---to spare him from being tortured to death.

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