Firefly Overview

Created by Joss Whedon

1. Introduction

Welcome to my extremely belated review of Firefly, the Sci-fi/western TV series created by general top bod, Joss Whedon. Now, as everyone surely knows, Firefly has long been cancelled. Whether it was because of showing episodes out of order, poor marketing or simply that there wasn’t an audience out there for it, low viewing figures caused the show to go on hiatus. This meant that over here in the UK, none of the main channels picked it up. Finally, Sci-fi started showing it a couple of weeks ago. Curiously, they’re showing them in the order they were intended to be seen. That means the 2 parter, Serenity, was shown first, then The Train Job and so on. Also, as far as I can tell, the last 3 episodes were made but never shown in the States, so we’ll get to see them here first! Unfortunately, my cables being cancelled next week so I still won’t get to see them until (if?) they come out on DVD. So, what follows are short reviews of the first 3 episodes followed by a character analysis, then a conclusion of what might have been. Hope you enjoy.

2. Serenity I & II

There are some very nice things in these episodes and I can see why so many fans were confused after not seeing this. It must be frustrating watching a show from the very start and still feeling that you’ve wandered in halfway through a story.

The first episode lags in parts and I presume this is what the network were concerned about. But they should have stuck with this. Viewers would have kept with it if only for the Whedon brand name and it definitely picks up later on. In fact the first episode ends on a perfectly good cliffhanger that would have seen me tuning in next week to see what happens.

The 2nd episode piles on the special effects more and to my mind seems very action packed. Lots of shooting and huge ships chasing each other. It also introduces a really good potential enemy in the form of the Reavers. Imagine Klingons turned up to 11 with a slice of David Cronenberg. That’s the image I took away from them after seeing their huge shark like ship cruising dangerously close to the Serenity. Of course you never get to see them and I suspect if you ever did the threat element would drop considerably. But definitely a good idea.

Over all I’m still very surprised these 2 episodes didn’t get shown first and we can only speculate how many viewers that decision cost.

3. The Train Job

Good episode this, though it unfortunately has to repeat a lot of information I already know because this was the American TV pilot if you like. Updating an age old western story, the train heist, works well and obviously keeps in with the western theme of the programme. The only real downside is the men in black ending. What the hell are they blue gloves about? After the Reavers, cannibalistic sadists according to their reputation, these 2 jokers seemed rather low key. But still a good episode.

4. Characters

Captain Malcolm "Mal" Reynolds - I wasn’t sure about this guy at first but I’ve been won over. He is currently strutting his stuff as evil Caleb in Buffy, but here he has a quiet menace that can arise unexpectedly. Not sure about the borderline Hercules hair cut though. Closest match in the Buffyverse – A mix of Riley and Angel, with a hint of Oz.

Zoe – There’s not really a lot to say about her. 2nd in command, sensible and grounded, happily married to the pilot. She currently stars in Angel and is very impressive so her low key performance is seemingly intentional. Maybe she would have developed as the show went on. Closest match in the Buffyverse – A bit like Giles, though in all honesty she’s more like one of the vulcans from Star Trek.

Wash – Same as above. Nice guy who is married. Never really got to know him, though he had a cool scene with the Reavers in Serenity part 2. Closest match in the Buffyverse – Gotta be Oz.

Kaylee – Yeah, I really liked her! Always smiling, and it’s easy to see how she came through casting. You can tell the captain is protective towards her and her uncommon wardrobe makes a change from the usual drab clothes you’d find on engineers. – Closest match in the Buffyverse – Definitely Willow.

Inara – Didn’t really have hundreds to do. Obviously very attractive and easy on the eye, but she came across well in The Train Job and there’s definite sexual tension between her and Mal. Terrible decorations in her room though. Made it look like a genie's lamp. Closest match in the Buffyverse – Some Cordelia, but I’d also say a big chunk of Xander as well.

Dr. Simon Tam – Thought he was evil at first, but obviously a good guy in the end. Seems a little too into protecting his sister and he’s not quite a part of the crew. I still get the feeling he’d sell them out if it were between them and his sis. Closest match in the Buffyverse – I’m not really sure who he reminds me off. Maybe even Buffy? Strangely enough, I’m getting a Jonathon Harker vibe of him…yeah, I don’t know either.

River – Didn’t have anything to do apart from say cryptic comments and have strange dreams. I found her vaguely irritating, but her character would probably have developed given time. Closest match in the Buffyverse - A bit like a really depressed Fred.

Jayne – Tough guy with a grudge against the captain. Definitely got the most laughs from me, though I can’t seem to buy into the tension between them. Seems too manufactured. Closest match in the Buffyverse - Spike and Gunn I think.

Book – Old boy delivering advice. Not much to say about him really. The character I related to least (well, maybe River). I don’t know if I would have been interested in his arc all that much. Closest match in the Buffyverse – dunno, Clem maybe?

Serenity – The space ship is as much a character as anyone else. I like the design of it, the front reminding me of a horse slightly (no, really). The only problem was it looked very synthetic at times, a problem that’s blighted all but the most expensive CGI. To be honest, the Andromeda probably looks cooler, but it’s a good ship. Closest match in the Buffyverse – hmm, I’m getting a school library feel here.


So, could it have flied? Given the right set of circumstances and more faith from the network, would it have lasted? I think it would. The western setting does make you blink twice but you adjust and it becomes natural. The production values look quite low. It’s the age old thing of spending a lot of money on a sci-fi show and it still looks cheap. But having been brought up on BBC sci-fi dramas it really doesn’t matter. If Joss Whedon's name hadn’t been attached to this, I doubt I would have watched it. There are plenty of other sci-fi shows out there that have had good write-ups yet I don’t watch them. Still, I really could have seen this show going places in its 2nd or 3rd year. If I had to pick one cast member who I’d like to see in the Buffyverse spin off, it’s got to be Kaylee. She’s too good to waste and I hope Joss uses her again.

Could it have flied? Al the way baby, all the way…

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