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TV Shows that Deserved Better: Firefly

firefly-television-show-logoI have a confession to make. I contributed to the downfall and cancellation of this TV Program. I, like many people, didn’t watch Firefly when it originally aired on the Fox Broadcasting Company a few years ago. It wasn’t my fault though. Fox dumped Firefly (a new show) on a Friday night time slot, so I automatically thought the show was lousy. In addition, the commercials for the show were nothing special. Then I saw the trailer for the film Serenity and I became interested in the television show that it was based on. I thought: there’s a television show about this before realizing what that show actually was. So I sat down and watched the first episode of Firefly and was amazed at the writing, the characters and the western-techno future Joss Whedon had created. After that first two hour episode was finished, I was hooked. I watched the Firefly DVD box set numerous times, including the extras. Normally I might have skipped the extras but I just wanted more after I finished watching Objects in Space. It also didn’t hurt that the extras are insightful and goram hilarious.

There is so much to say about Firefly and being a Browncoat, I really shouldn’t leave any notable stones unturned. All of the characters of Firefly have their own quirks, flaws and something indefinable that makes them real and engaging. For this post on Firefly, I will be talking about River Tam (Summer Glau), Captain Reynolds (Nathan Fillion), Shepherd Book (Ron Glass), Jubal Early (Richard Brooks) and Jayne (Adam Baldwin). River Tam is one of the most interesting, strange, memorable, well-written characters I have seen on a TV program that I can remember (besides MacGyver) and is well acted by Summer Glau. In a way, River is like Kramer from the TV program Seinfeld. You are constantly watching her when she is onscreen just to see or hear what she’ll do or say next.

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Captain Reynolds is William Riker, Han Solo and Snake Plissken all rolled into one. He is disillusioned, heroic and is only out for himself and his crew, whom function as his friendship-base and extended family. Jayne, for about sixty percent of the time, acts like a back-birth and is Firefly’s comedy relief. The other forty percent of the time, Jayne is the muscle of the crew. Shepherd Book is the Garak (Deep Space Nine) of the show. He has a shadowy past, something he never speaks of but that is hinted at, a bit here, a piece there, during certain episodes. I was constantly intrigued when Shepherd spoke and made comments that suggested a military past.

Let’s not forget Jubal Early. I know I am skipping other Firefly mainstays but Jubal, at least to me, made a greater impression then they did. He’s past is twisted, he’s sociopathic, reflective, funny, has extensive combat skills, etc. All of this depth in a character that is introduced in the last episode of the series (Ep.14, Objects in Space). Jubal was presumably only meant to appear in one episode anyway but he was good enough, like Ro Laren (Star Trek: The Next Generation) or Lt. Butts (Space: Above and Beyond), to appear in multiple episodes. Jubal single-handedly made Objects in Space one of favorite Firefly episodes plus the writing is great: “Well, here I am” and River is her crazy, funny self: “Don’t make faces.”

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It is extremely easy to say that Fox had a great show on its hands, something very, very special that they mishandled from day one. Firefly never had a chance; it was ham-strung by Fox executives out of the gate. They only realized their extreme error because of the extraordinary sales of the Firefly DVD box set. This is one of the major factors why the feature film, Serenity, was green-lit. The only Sci-Fi television series I’ve seen as original as Firefly were Farscape and Babylon 5 but unlike Firefly, these shows were given time to develop their story lines and characters.

Other posts in the TV Shows that Deserved Better series: Space: Above and BeyondMy So-Called Life, and Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles.

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About the author

Rollo Tomasi

A Political Science and MBA grad who started FilmBook during an eCommerce B-School course in 2008. Cinema and TV addict. Former writer at Empire Movies, Blogcritics, and Alternative Film Guide. In addition to writing for FilmBook, he also edits the copy published on the website, manages its writing staff, manages the back-end operations, site finances, its social network accounts, and works with publicists, actors, and companies on press coverage and promotions. He has also created ProMovieBlogger.com and Trending Awards.com.

  • Harosa

    Awesome show and the movie provides a nice cap to the show it never got on tv.

  • Harosa

    Awesome show and the movie provides a nice cap to the show it never got on tv.

  • The revelations in the show felt rushed to me. A slow reveal over two or more seasons would have been a lot better.

  • The revelations in the show felt rushed to me. A slow reveal over two or more seasons would have been a lot better.

  • Harosa

    Of course everything wasnt revelead that you would like to, but the movie let the series have some kind of closure that it didn’t get when it was dumped form primetime with episodes still left unaired.

  • Harosa

    Of course everything wasnt revelead that you would like to, but the movie let the series have some kind of closure that it didn’t get when it was dumped form primetime with episodes still left unaired.

  • I know , I know. I still like the series more than the film though. There are certain episodes I would actually pick over the film.

  • I know , I know. I still like the series more than the film though. There are certain episodes I would actually pick over the film.

  • Lew1

    Ok my turn. 1st off the series rocked and then too follow it up with a film was even better at least it took the bitter tast away of ditching the series. Ok I think we can all agree that fox killed that show. Like you I watched it on DVD first and fell in love with it. The writing was amazing and so were the characters. That show had so much more to offer and yes i know they made a film for us Browncoats but there is still a hole that needs to be filled.

  • Lewis

    Ok my turn. 1st off the series rocked and then too follow it up with a film was even better at least it took the bitter tast away of ditching the series. Ok I think we can all agree that fox killed that show. Like you I watched it on DVD first and fell in love with it. The writing was amazing and so were the characters. That show had so much more to offer and yes i know they made a film for us Browncoats but there is still a hole that needs to be filled.

  • Lew1

    I Heard on the internet a while ago that someone was going to pick up the 2nd season. Some invester that wanted to take it up, but Joss did not know who he was and so on really. They were also looking at other ways to sell it like through itunes or straight to DVD. There must be so much money to be made for who ever takes the second season up. The cult following is huge if it was not for us fans there would not have been a film so it shows the power the fans have. The problem is though fox own the rights and will not let anyone have them so that tell me they know that if a company made a second season they know it will be big. So why the hell will they not do it and fox is now under new management so it should all be water under the bridge. The reason I rant on is because when you love a show so much and know that they are not going to make another season it sucks. This show certainly deserved better and when I see some of the rubbish that is on know days it makes me sick. Aleast FireFly had great Characters and Writing.

  • Lewis

    I Heard on the internet a while ago that someone was going to pick up the 2nd season. Some invester that wanted to take it up, but Joss did not know who he was and so on really. They were also looking at other ways to sell it like through itunes or straight to DVD. There must be so much money to be made for who ever takes the second season up. The cult following is huge if it was not for us fans there would not have been a film so it shows the power the fans have. The problem is though fox own the rights and will not let anyone have them so that tell me they know that if a company made a second season they know it will be big. So why the hell will they not do it and fox is now under new management so it should all be water under the bridge. The reason I rant on is because when you love a show so much and know that they are not going to make another season it sucks. This show certainly deserved better and when I see some of the rubbish that is on know days it makes me sick. Aleast FireFly had great Characters and Writing.

  • Lew1

    so I have just been on holiday on a 15h hour flight so I thought I know I will download firefly and serenity on my iPod and watch them again. It still amazes me that know matter how many times I watch them it never get bored there great. Then it made me think that surely someone would want to make a second season there must be someone out there that knows there is money too be made off this. See I have said it before but when I watch some of these TV shows and they have like 3 or 4 seasons and their crap but firefly has such a huge fan base that you know that if someone was to create a second season they could be in the money. I know that it was all politics when this show was axed but man if a second season was to be made with the original cast could you imagine the buzz

  • Ur right. There is still a big hole, one that will never be filled. Have you you read the comic between the series and the film?

  • And the original people that played the characters would probably all come back to take up their characters again.

    The networks are hoping for hits not slow burners which is why shows get canceled all the time. FIrefly was a victim of this.

    I only watch certain shows on tv now. I don't even bother with the rest.

  • If it came back it would be something special in television history. I would be there for every episode the same way I was for Blade: The Series.

  • Ur right. There is still a big hole, one that will never be filled. Have you you read the comic between the series and the film?

  • And the original people that played the characters would probably all come back to take up their characters again.

    The networks are hoping for hits not slow burners which is why shows get canceled all the time. FIrefly was a victim of this.

    I only watch certain shows on tv now. I don't even bother with the rest.

  • If it came back it would be something special in television history. I would be there for every episode the same way I was for Blade: The Series.

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