Firefly (TV series)

Firefly (TV series)

Infobox Television
show_name = Firefly


caption =
show_name_2 =
genre = Drama
Space Western
creator = Joss Whedon
director =
creative_director =
developer =
presenter =
starring = "see below"
voices =
theme_music_composer = Joss Whedon
opentheme = "The Ballad of Serenity"
endtheme =
composer = Greg Edmonson Joss Whedon
country = United States
language = English, Mandarin
num_seasons = 1
num_episodes = 14
list_episodes = List of Firefly episodes
executive_producer = Joss Whedon Tim Minear
producer = Ben Edlund
supervising_producer =
asst_producer =
co-producer =
editor = Lisa Lassek
story_editor =
location =
cinematography =
camera = Single-camera
runtime = approx. 42 min.
network = FOX
picture_format = NTSC 480i
16:9 HDTV 1080i
audio_format = 5.1 Surround Sound
first_run =
first_aired = September 20, 2002
last_aired = August 19, 2003
preceded_by =
followed_by = "Serenity" comic miniseries
related =
website = http://www.foxhome.com/firefly/
imdb_id = 0303461
tv_com_id = 7097

"Firefly" is an American science fiction television series created by writer/director Joss Whedon, creator of "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" and "Angel", under his Mutant Enemy Productions. Its naturalistic future setting, modeled after traditional Western movie motifs, presents an atypical backdrop for the science fiction narrative. Whedon served as executive producer, along with Tim Minear.

"Firefly" premiered in the United States and Canada on the FOX network on September 20, 2002. It was canceled after only eleven of the fourteen produced episodes were aired. Despite the series' relatively short life span, it received strong sales when it was released on DVD, and has impressive fan support campaigns. [Whedon: "This movie should not exist," he continues. "Failed TV shows don't get made into major motion pictures—unless the creator, the cast, and the fans believe beyond reason. ... It is, in an unprecedented sense, your movie."cite web
url=http://www.weeklystandard.com/Content/Public/Articles/000/000/005/757fhfxg.asp
title=The Browncoats Rise Again
last=Russell
first=M.E.
date=June 24, 2006
publisher=The Daily Standard
accessdate=2006-07-16
] cite web
url=http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2005/06/08/DDGQJD4D2O1.DTL&hw=firefly&sn=001&sc=1000
title=When Fox canceled 'Firefly,' it ignited an Internet fan base whose burning desire for more led to 'Serenity'
last=Chonin
first=Neva
publisher=San Francisco Chronicle
date=2005-06-08
accessdate=2006-11-09
] It won an Emmy in 2003 for "Outstanding Special Visual Effects for a Series". The post-airing success of the show led Whedon and Universal Pictures to produce a film based on the series, titled "Serenity" after the fictional spaceship featured in the show.cite web
url=http://www.weeklystandard.com/Content/Public/Articles/000/000/005/757fhfxg.asp
title=The Browncoats Rise Again
last=Russell
first=M.E.
date=June 24, 2006
publisher=The Daily Standard
accessdate=2006-07-16
]

The series is set in the year 2517, after humans have arrived at a new star system, and follows the adventures of the renegade crew of "Serenity", a "Firefly-class" spaceship. The ensemble cast portrays the nine characters who live on "Serenity". Whedon pitched the show as "nine people looking into the blackness of space and seeing nine different things".cite web
url=http://jam.canoe.ca/Television/TV_Shows/F/Firefly/2002/07/22/734323.html
title=Firefly series ready for liftoff
last=Brioux
first=Bill
publisher=jam.canoe.ca
accessdate=2006-12-10
]

The show explores the lives of people who fought on the losing side of a civil war and now make a living on the outskirts of the society, as well as the pioneer culture that exists on the fringes of their star system. In addition, it is a future where the only two surviving superpowers, the United States and China, fused to form the central federal government, called the Alliance, resulting in the fusion of the two cultures as well. According to Whedon's vision, "nothing will change in the future: technology will advance, but we will still have the same political, moral, and ethical problems as today." [Whedon, "Serenity: Relighting the Firefly", DVD extra]

Production

Genesis

Whedon developed the concept for the show after reading "The Killer Angels", a novel chronicling the Battle of Gettysburg during the American Civil War. He wished to follow people who had fought on the losing side of a war and their experiences afterwards as pioneers and immigrants on the outskirts of civilization, much like the post-American Civil War era of Reconstruction and the American Old West culture.Whedon, "Serenity: The Official Visual Companion", p. 8] He intended the show to be "a "Stagecoach" kind of drama with a lot of people trying to figure out their lives in a bleak and pioneer environment." [Whedon, "Firefly Companion, Vol 1", 6] Whedon wanted to develop a show about the tactile nature of life, a show where existence was more physical and more difficult. After reading "The Killer Angels", Whedon read a book about Jewish partisan fighters in World War II that also influenced him. Whedon wished to create something for television that was more character-driven and gritty than most modern science fiction. Television science fiction, he felt, had become too pristine and rarefied. [Whedon, "Interview with Joss Whedon", "Done the Impossible"]

Whedon wished to give the show a name that indicated movement and power, and felt that "Firefly" had both. This powerful word's relatively insignificant meaning, Whedon felt, added to its allure. He eventually wound up creating the ship in the image of a firefly.

Format

During filming of the pilot episode, Whedon was still arguing with FOX that the show should be displayed in widescreen format. Consequently, he purposely filmed scenes with actors on the extreme edge of both sides so that they would have no choice.Whedon, "Firefly: the complete series: "Serenity" commentary"] However, the pilot was rejected by the FOX executives, who felt that it lacked action and that the captain was too "dour".Whedon, "Firefly: the complete series: "Train Job" commentary", track 1] They also disliked a scene in which the crew backed down to a crime boss, since the scene implied the crew was "being nothing". Thus, FOX told Whedon on a Friday afternoon that he had to submit a new pilot script on Monday morning or the show would not be picked up. Whedon and Tim Minear closeted themselves for the weekend to write what became the new pilot, "The Train Job". In this new pilot, the captain was more "jolly" and, at the direction of FOX, they added "larger than life" characters.Whedon, "Firefly: the complete series: "Train Job" commentary", track 7] These characters manifested themselves in the henchman "Crow", and the "hands of blue" men, which also introduced an "X-Files"-type ending.

For the new pilot, FOX made it clear that they would not air the episodes in the widescreen format. Whedon and company felt they had to "serve two masters" by filming widescreen for eventual DVD release, but keeping objects in frame so it could still work when aired in pan and scan full frame.Whedon, "Firefly: the complete series: "Train Job" commentary", track 6] To give the audience an immersive and immediate feeling, the episodes were filmed in a documentary style with hand-held cameras, giving them the look of "found footage", with deliberately misframed or out-of-focus subjects.Whedon, "Firefly: the complete series: "Train Job" commentary", track 3] As Whedon related: "...don't be arch, don't be sweeping—be found, be rough and tumble and docu [mentary] and you-are-there."Whedon, "Firefly Companion, Vol 1", 12] Computer-generated scenes mimicked the motion of a hand-held camera. This style was not used, however, when shooting scenes that involved the central government, the Alliance. Tracking and steady cameras were used to show the sterility of this aspect of the "Firefly" universe. Another style employed was lens flares, harkening to 1970s television. This style was so desired that the director of photography, David Boyd, sent back the state-of-the-art lenses, which reduced lens flare, for cheaper ones.

Exterior shots of action occurring in outer space realistically lack sound effects - in the vacuum of space, there is no matter to transmit sound waves. This approach stood in contrast to many science fiction films and television series. This style of special effects was developed by Zoic Studios.

et design

Production designer Carey Meyer built the ship "Serenity" in two parts (one for each level) as a complete set with ceilings and practical lighting installed as part of the set that the cameras could use along with moveable parts.Whedon, "Firefly Companion, Vol 1", 11] The two-part set also allowed the second unit to shoot in one section while the actors and first unit worked undisturbed in the other. As Whedon recalled: "...you could pull it away or move something huge, so that you could get in and around everything. That meant the environment worked for us and there weren't a lot of adjustments that needed to be made." There were other benefits to this set design. One was that it allowed the viewers to feel they were really in a ship. For Whedon, the design of the ship was crucial in defining the known space for the viewer, and that there were not "fourteen hundred decks and a holodeck and an all-you-can-eat buffet in the back."Whedon, "Firefly Companion, Vol 1", 10] He wanted to convey that it was utilitarian and that it was "beat-up but lived-in and ultimately, it was home." [Whedon, "Firefly Companion, Vol 1", 10–11] In addition, each room represented a feeling or character, usually conveyed by the paint color. Joss Whedon discusses this in the DVD commentary. He explains that as you move from the back of the ship in the engine room, toward the front of the ship to the bridge, the colors and mood progress from extremely warm to cooler. In addition to giving a mood evoking setting tied to each character that spends most of their time in these areas, it is also explained by the heat generated by the tail of the ship. Whedon was also keen on utilizing vertical space; thus, having the crew's quarters accessible by ladder was important. Another benefit of the set design was that it also allowed the actors to stay in the moment and interact, without having to stop after each shot and reset up for the next. This helped contribute to the documentary style Whedon strove for.

The set had several influences, including the sliding doors and tiny cubicles reminiscent of Japanese hotels. Artist Larry Dixon has noted that the cargo bay walls are "reminiscent of interlaced, overlapping Asian designs, cleverly reminding us of the American-Chinese Alliance setting while artistically forming a patterned plane for background scale reference."Dixon, "The Reward, the Details, the Devils, the Due", "Finding Serenity", 8] Dixon has also remarked on how the set design contributed to the storytelling through the use of color, depth and composition, lighting, as well as its use of diagonals and patterned shadows.

Their small budget was another reason to use the ship for much of the storytelling. When the characters did go off the ship, the worlds all had Earth atmosphere and coloring because they could not afford to design alien worlds. "I didn't want to go to Yucca Flats every other episode and transform it into Bizarro World by making the sky orange", recalled Whedon. As Meyer recalled: "I think in the end the feel was that we wound up using a lot of places or exteriors that just felt too Western and we didn't necessarily want to go that way; but at some point, it just became the lesser of two evils—what could we actually create in three days?"Whedon, "Firefly Companion, Vol 1", 130]

Music

Infobox Album |
Name = Firefly
Type = soundtrack
Artist = Greg Edmonson, Joss Whedon


Released = November 8, 2005
Recorded =
Genre = Classical, Country
Length = 60:15
Label = Varèse Sarabande
Producer =
Reviews =
* Allmusic Rating|4|5/Rating|2.5|5 [http://www.allmusic.com/cg/amg.dll?p=amg&sql=43:132571~T0 link]
* SoundtrackNet Rating|3.5|5 [http://www.soundtrack.net/soundtracks/database/?id=4137 link] , [http://www.soundtrack.net/albums/database/?id=3862 link]

Greg Edmonson composed the musical score for the series. He stated that he wrote for the emotion of the moment. However, one reviewer averred that he also wrote for the characters, stating: "... Edmonson has developed a specialized collection of musical symbolism for the series ..."Goltz, "Listening to "Firefly", "Finding Serenity", 209–215] To help illustrate the collection, the reviewer gave key "signatures" various names, noting that "Serenity" recalls the theme of the show and is used when they return to the ship, or when they were meeting clandestinely; it was "the sound of their home." The slide guitar and fiddle used in this piece are portable instruments which fit the lifestyle of the crew: "... the music they make calls up tunes played out in the open, by people who were hundreds of miles away yesterday. 'Serenity' conjures the nomadic lifestyle the crew leads and underlines the western aspect of the show." Another emotional signature was "Sad Violin". It was used at the end of the Battle of Serenity Valley, but also helped set up the joke for when Mal tells Simon that Kaylee is dead in the episode "Serenity". The most memorable use of "Sad Violin", however, is at the end of "The Message", when the crew mourned the death of Tracey. This was also the last scene of the last episode the actors shot, and so this was seen by them, and Edmonson, as "Firefly"'s farewell. To denote impending danger, "Peril" was used, which is "a low pulse, like a heartbeat, with deep chimes and low strings." The reviewer also noted character signatures. The criminal Niska has his own signature: Eastern European or Middle Eastern melodies over a low drone. Simon and River's signature was a piano played sparsely with a violin in the background. This is in contrast to the portable instruments of "Serenity": the piano is an instrument that cannot be easily moved and evokes the image of "the distant house and family they both long for." The various signatures were mostly established in the first pilot, "Serenity", and helped enhance the narrative. "In every episode, the musical score intensified my experience of this intelligent, remarkable show. Using and combining all these signatures, Greg Edmonson brought out aspects of "Firefly"'s story and characters that were never explicitly revealed in the other elements of the series."

The musical score expressed the cultural fusion depicted in the show. Cowboy guitar blended with Asian influence produced the atmospheric background for the series. As one reviewer stated:

quote|Old music from the future — the music of roaring campfires and racoussic cowboys mixed with the warm, pensive sounds of Asian culture and, occasionally, a cold imperial trumpet, heralding the ominous structural presence of a domineering government. Completely thrilling.|Steve Townsley| cite web
last = Steve
first = Townsley
title = Music in the 'Verse: Firefly and Serenity
publisher = tracksounds.com
url = http://www.tracksounds.com/reviews/firefly_serenity.htm
accessdate = 2006-07-01
]

The theme song, "The Ballad of Serenity", was written by Joss Whedon and performed by Sonny Rhodes. Whedon wrote the song before the series was greenlit and a preliminary recording performed by Whedon can be found on the DVD release. The soundtrack to the series was released on CD on November 8, 2005 by Varèse Sarabande, although a 40 minute soundtrack was released by Fox Music in September 2005 as a digital EP.cite web
last = Jarry
first = Jonathan
title = SoundtrackNet: Firefly Soundtrack
date = 2005-10-01
publisher = SoundtrackNet
url = http://www.soundtrack.net/albums/database/?id=3862
accessdate = 2008-02-22
]

tracklist
collapsed = yes
headline = Track listingcite web
last = Henry
first = Susan
title = "Track and Cue List for Published Version of Firefly Soundtrack"
url = http://www.itasca.net/~sgh/fireflystk.html
accessdate = 2008-03-02
] nobold|(tracks 1–17 appear in both the digital and CD releases)
title1 = Firefly - Main Title
length1 = 0:52
title2 = Big Bar Fight
note2 = from "The Train Job"
length2 = 1:56
title3 = Heart of Gold Montage
note3 = from "Heart of Gold"
length3 = 2:10
title4 = Whitefall/Book
note4 = from "Serenity", "The Message"
length4 = 2:20
title5 = Early Takes Serenity
note5 = from "Objects in Space"
length5 = 2:36
title6 = The Funeral
note6 = from "The Message"
length6 = 2:36
title7 = River's Perception/Saffron
note7 = from "Objects in Space", "Our Mrs. Reynolds"
length7 = 2:14
title8 = Mal Fights Niska/Back Home
note8 = from "War Stories", "Shindig"
length8 = 1:54
title9 = River Tricks Early
note9 = from "Objects in Space"
length9 = 3:30
title10 = River Understands Simon
note10 = from "Safe"
length10 = 2:04
title11 = Leaving/Caper/Spaceball
note11 = from "Trash", "Objects in Space", "Bushwhacked"
length11 = 2:39
title12 = River's Afraid/Niska/Torture
note12 = from "Ariel", "The Train Job", "War Stories"
length12 = 3:21
title13 = In My Bunk/Jayne's Statue/Boom
note13 = from "War Stories", "Jaynestown", "Bushwhacked"
length13 = 2:28
title14 = Inara's Suite
note14 = from "The Train Job", "Serenity", "War Stories"
length14 = 3:29
title15 = Out of Gas/Empty Derelict
note15 = from "Out of Gas", "Bushwhacked"
length15 = 1:50
title16 = Book's Hair/Ready for Battle
note16 = from "Jaynestown", "Heart of Gold"
length16 = 1:59
title17 = Tears/River's Eyes
note17 = from "Serenity", "Objects in Space"
length17 = 1:59
title18 = Cows/New Dress/My Crew
note18 = from "Safe", "Shindig", "Safe"
length18 = 2:11
title19 = Boarding the Serenity/Derelict
note19 = from "War Stories", "Bushwhacked"
length19 = 2:02
title20 = Burgess Kills/Captain & Ship
note20 = from "Heart of Gold", "Out of Gas"
length20 = 3:26
title21 = Saved/Isn't Home?/Reavers
note21 = from "Out of Gas", "Train Job", "Serenity"
length21 = 2:55
title22 = Reavers Chase Serenity
note22 = from "Serenity"
length22 = 3:22
title23 = River's Dance
note23 = from "Safe"
length23 = 1:50
title24 = Inside the Tam House
note24 = from "Safe"
length24 = 2:22
title25 = Dying Ship/Naked Mal
note25 = from "Out of Gas", "Trash"
length25 = 2:10

Casting

In casting his nine-member crew, Whedon looked first at the actor and their chemistry with others. Cast member Sean Maher recalls, "So then he just sort of put us all together, and I think it was very quick, like right out of the gate, we all instantly bonded."Whedon, "Firefly Companion, Vol 1", 132] All nine cast members were chosen before filming began. However, while filming the original pilot "Serenity", Whedon realized that Rebecca Gayheart was unsuitable for the role of Inara Serra, and shot her scenes in singles so that it would be easier to replace her. [Whedon, "Firefly: the complete series: "Serenity" commentary"] Morena Baccarin auditioned for the role and two days later was on the set in her first television show. "Joss brought me down from the testing room like a proud dad, holding my hand and introducing me," [Whedon, "Firefly Companion, Vol 1", 68] Baccarin recalled.

Whedon approached Nathan Fillion to play the lead role of Malcolm Reynolds; after explaining the premise and showing Fillion the treatment for the pilot, Fillion was eager for the role. [cite web
url=http://www.whedon.info/article.php3?id_article=1531&

title=Interview with Nathan Fillion - Dreamwatch Magazine 107
publisher=whedon.info
year=2003-09-09
accessdate=2006-07-11
] Fillion was called back several times to read for the part before he was cast. He noted that "it was really thrilling. It was my first lead and I was pretty nervous, but I really wanted that part and I wanted to tell those stories."Whedon, "Firefly Companion, Vol 1", 26] Fillion later said he was "heartbroken" when he learned the series had been cancelled.

Alan Tudyk auditioned through a casting office and several months later was called in for a test audition, where he met with Whedon. He was then told to come back in to test with the possible Zoes (his character's wife) and that it was down to him and one other candidate. The Zoes did not work out (Gina Torres eventually received the role) and Tudyk was sent home, but received a call informing him he had the part anyway. [Whedon, "Firefly Companion, Vol 1", 60] His audition tape is included in the special features of the series' DVD release.

Gina Torres, a veteran of several science fiction/fantasy works ("Cleopatra 2525", "The Matrix Reloaded", "Alias", ""), was at first uninterested in doing another science fiction show, but "was won over by the quality of the source material."Whedon, "Firefly Companion, Vol 1", 40] As she recalled, "So you had these challenged characters inhabiting a challenging world and that makes for great storytelling. And no aliens!"

For Adam Baldwin, who grew up watching westerns, the character of Jayne Cobb was a particularly resonant role. [Whedon, "Firefly Companion, Vol 1", 94]

Canadian actress Jewel Staite videotaped her audition from Vancouver and was asked to come to Los Angeles to meet Whedon, at which point she was cast for the role of Kaylee Frye, the ship's engineer. [Whedon, "Firefly Companion, Vol 1", 114]

Sean Maher recalls reading for the part and liking the character of Simon Tam, but that it was Whedon's personality and vision that "sealed the deal" for him. For the role of Simon's sister, River Tam, Whedon called in Summer Glau for an audition and test the same day. Glau had first worked for Whedon in the "Angel" episode "Waiting in the Wings". Two weeks later, Whedon called her to tell her she had the part. [Whedon, "Firefly Companion, Vol 1", 142]

Veteran television actor Ron Glass ("Barney Miller", "All in the Family"), has said that until "Firefly", he had not experienced or sought a science-fiction western role but he fell in love with the pilot script and the character of Shepherd Book. [Whedon, "Firefly Companion, Vol 1", 166]

Staff and crew

Tim Minear was selected by Whedon to be the show runner, who serves as the head writer and production leader. According to Whedon " [Minear] understood the show as well as any human being, and just brought so much to it that I think of it as though he were always a part of it." [Whedon, "Firefly Companion, Vol 1", 6, 8] Many of the other production staff were selected from people Whedon had worked with in the past, with the exception of the director of photography David Boyd, who was the "big find" and who was "full of joy and energy."Whedon, "Firefly Companion, Vol 1", 8]

The writers were selected after interviews and script samplings. Among the writers were José Molina, Ben Edlund, Cheryl Cain, Brett Matthews, Drew Greenberg and Jane Espenson. Espenson wrote an essay on the writing process with Mutant Enemy.

"A meeting is held and an idea is floated, generally by Whedon, and the writers brainstorm to develop the central theme of the episode and the character development. Next, the staff meets in the anteroom to Whedon's office to begin "breaking" the story into acts and scenes. The only one absent is the writer working on the previous week's episode. For the team, one of the key components to devising acts is deciding where to break for commercial and ensuring the viewer returns. "Finding these moments in the story help give it shape: think of them as tentpoles that support the structure," wrote Espenson.cite web
url=http://www.fireflyfans.net/firefly/espenson.htm
last=Espenson
first=Jane
title=The Writing Process
publisher=FOX Broadcasting Company
accessdate=2006-11-05
] For instance, in "Shindig", the break for commercial occurs when Malcolm Reynolds is gravely injured and losing the duel. As Espenson elaborates: "It does not end when Mal turns the fight around, when he stands victorious over his opponent. They're both big moments, but one of them leaves you curious and the other doesn't."
"Next, the writers develop the scenes onto a marker-filled whiteboard, featuring a "brief ordered description of each scene." A writer is selected to create an outline of the episode's concept — occasionally with some dialogue and jokes — in one day. The outline is given to showrunner Tim Minear, who revises it within a day. The writer uses the revised outline to write the first draft of the script while the other writers work on developing the next. This first draft is usually submitted for revision within three to fourteen days; afterward, a second and sometimes third draft is written. After all revisions are made, the final draft would be produced as the 'shooting draft'."

Costume

Jill Ohanneson, "Firefly"'s original costume designer, brought on Shawna Trpcic as her assistant for the pilot. When the show was picked up, Ohanneson was involved in another job and declined "Firefly", suggesting Trpcic for the job.

The costumes were chiefly influenced by World War II, the American Civil War, the American Old West, and 1861 samurai Japan. Trpcic used deep reds and oranges for the main cast, to express a feeling of "home", and contrasted that with grays and cool blues for the Alliance. [Whedon, "Firefly Companion, Vol 1", 150] Since the characters were often getting shot, Trpcic would make up to six versions of the same costume for multiple takes. [Whedon, "Firefly Companion, Vol 1", 154]

* For River, Trpcic used mostly jewel tones to set her apart from the rest of the "Serenity" crew. She also had River wear boots, to contrast with the soft fabrics of her clothes, "because that's who she is — she's this soft, beautiful, sensitive girl, but with this hardcore inner character," recalled Trpcic. [Whedon, "Firefly Companion, Vol 1", 128]
* Trpcic also wanted to contrast Simon, River's brother, with the rest of the crew. Whereas they were dressed in cotton, Simon wore wool, stiff fabrics, satins and silk. He was the "dandy", but as the show progressed, he loosened up slightly. [Whedon, "Firefly Companion, Vol 1", 127]
* For Kaylee, Trpcic studied up on Japanese and Chinese youth, as originally the character was Asian. Other inspirations for Kaylee's costumes were Rosie the Riveter and Chinese Communist posters. [Whedon, "Firefly Companion, Vol 1", 24]
* Inara's costumes reflect her high status, and are very feminine and attractive.

* Trpcic designed and created the clothes for the minor character of Badger with Joss Whedon in mind, since he was slated to play that part. When Mark Sheppard played the role instead, he was able to fit into the clothes made for Whedon. [Whedon, "Firefly Companion, Vol 1", 120]
* For the Alliance, besides the grays and cool blues, Trpcic had in mind Nazi Germany, but mixed it with different wars, as the first sketches were "too Nazi". [Whedon, "Firefly Companion, Vol 1", 66] The uniforms of the Alliance soldiers are surplus armor from the 1997 film "Starship Troopers".Fact|date=June 2008

Plot

Back story

The series takes place in the year 2517, on several planets and moons. The TV series does not reveal whether these celestial bodies are within one star system, only saying that "Serenity"'s mode of propulsion is a "gravity-drive". The film "Serenity" makes clear that all the planets and moons are in one large system, and production documents related to the film indicate that there is no faster-than-light travel in this universe. The characters occasionally refer to "Earth-that-was" and in the film, it is established that long before the events in the series a large population had emigrated from Earth to a new star system in multi-generational spaceships : "Earth-that-was could no longer sustain our numbers, we were so many." The emigrants established themselves in this new star system, with "dozens of planets and hundreds of moons." Many of these were terraformed, a process in which a planet or moon is altered to resemble Earth. The terraforming process was only the first step in making a planet habitable, however, and the outlying settlements often did not receive any further support in the construction of their civilizations. This resulted in many of the border planets and moons having forbidding, dry environments, well suited to the Western genre.

Synopsis

The show takes its name from the "Firefly-class" spaceship "Serenity" that the central characters call home. It resembles a firefly in general arrangement, and the tail section, analogous to a bioluminescent insectoid abdomen, lights up during acceleration.

Throughout the series, the Alliance is shown to govern the star system through an organization of "core" planets, following its success in forcibly unifying all of the colonies under a single government. DVD commentary suggests that two primary "core" planets comprise the Alliance, one predominantly Western in culture, the other pan-Asian, justifying the series' mixed linguistic and visual themes. The central planets are firmly under Alliance control, but the outlying planets and moons resemble the 19th century American West, with little governmental authority. Settlers and refugees on the outlying worlds ("out in the black" or "heading for the black") have relative freedom from the central government, but lack the amenities of the high-tech civilization that exist on the inner worlds. In addition, the outlying areas of space are inhabited by the Reavers, a cannibalistic group of nomadic humans that have become savage and animalistic.

Into this mix are thrown the protagonists of the show. The captain of the crew of "Serenity" is Malcolm "Mal" Reynolds (Nathan Fillion) and the episode "Serenity" establishes that the captain and his first mate Zoe Washburne (Gina Torres) are veteran "Browncoats" of the Unification War, a failed attempt by the outlying worlds to resist the Alliance's assertion of control. A later episode, titled "Out of Gas", reveals that Mal bought the spaceship "Serenity" in order to continue living beyond Alliance control. Much of the crew's work consists of cargo runs or smuggling. One of the main story arcs is that of River Tam (Summer Glau) and her brother Simon (Sean Maher). River was a child prodigy, whose brain was subjected to experiments. As a result, she displays schizophrenia and often hears voices. It is later revealed that she is a "reader", one who possesses psychic abilities. Simon gave up a highly successful career as a trauma surgeon to rescue her from the Alliance and as a result of this rescue they are both wanted fugitives. In the original pilot "Serenity", Simon joins the crew as a paying passenger with River smuggled on board as cargo. As Whedon states in an episodic DVD commentary, every show he does is about creating family. By the last episode, "Objects in Space", the fractured character of River has finally become whole, partly because the others decided to accept her into their "family" on the ship.

Signature show elements

The show blended elements from the space opera and Western genres, depicting humanity's future in a different manner than most contemporary science fiction programs in that there are no alien creatures or space battles. "Firefly" takes place in a multi-cultural future, primarily a fusion of Occidental and Chinese cultures, where there is a significant division between the rich and poor. As a result of the Sino-American Alliance, Mandarin Chinese is a common second language; it is used in advertisements, and characters in the show frequently use Chinese words and curses. According to the DVD commentary on the episode "Serenity", this was explained as being the result of China and the United States being the two superpowers that expanded into space. [This Sino-American heritage is illustrated by labels on crates in the episode "The Train Job", consisting of a Chinese flag superimposed over a United States flag.]

The show also features slang not used in contemporary culture, such as adaptations of modern words, or new words altogether (e.g. "shiny" as a synonym of "cool"). Written and spoken Chinese as well as Old West dialect are also employed. As one reviewer noted: "The dialogue tended to be a bizarre purée of wisecracks, old-timey Western-paperback patois, and snatches of Chinese."

Tim Minear and Joss Whedon have pointed to several scenes that they believed articulated the mood of the show exceptionally clearly. One scene is in the original pilot "Serenity", when Mal is eating with chopsticks and a Western tin cup is by his plate; the other is in the "The Train Job" pilot, when Mal is thrown out of a holographic bar window. The DVD set's 'making-of' documentary explains the series' distinctive frontispiece (wherein "Serenity" soars over a herd of unshod horses) as Whedon's attempt to capture "everything you need to understand about the series in five seconds."

One of the struggles that Whedon had with FOX was the tone of the show, especially with the main character Malcolm Reynolds. FOX pressured Whedon to make his character more "jolly", as they feared he was too dark in the original pilot. In addition, FOX was not happy that the show involved the "nobodies" who "get squished by policy" instead of the actual policy makers.

The show also featured space scenes that did not feature any sound, implicitly observing the lack of sound transmission in the vacuum of space. This was unlike most other science fiction shows which add sound traveling through the vacuum of space for dramatic effect or to enhance the action. [cite web|title=www.tvsquad.com|url=http://www.tvsquad.com/2006/09/08/firefly-objects-in-space-series-finale/|accessdate=2007-12-11]

Cast

Main characters

"Firefly" maintained an ensemble cast that portrayed the nine crew members of the ship, "Serenity". These characters fight criminals and schemers, Alliance security forces, the utterly psychotic and brutal Reavers, and the mysterious men with "hands of blue" — who are apparently operatives of a secret agency which is part of the mega-corporation referred to in the DVD commentary only as The Blue Sun Corporation. The crew is driven by the need to secure enough income to keep their ship operational, set against their need to keep a low profile to avoid their adversaries. Their situation is greatly complicated by the divergent motivations of the individuals on board "Serenity", but complex characterization was hampered by the show's brief run.

*Malcolm "Mal" Reynolds, played by Nathan Fillion, is the owner of "Serenity" and former Independent sergeant in the pivotal Battle of Serenity Valley. Very little is known about the enigmatic Captain; the little he reveals about his past life betrays nothing of his character (a mystery of its own). Malcolm reveals that he grew up on a ranch, and was raised by his mother and the ranchhands. The only other scenes of his past life we see or discover are about the Unification war, in which he and Zoe fought for the independents, or "browncoats". He is an efficient leader and is skilled with guns, and in hand to hand combat. Mal's character is full of contradictions. He is constantly fighting his demons, and his true self remains something of a mystery.

*Zoe Alleyne Washburne, played by Gina Torres, is second-in-command onboard "Serenity", loyal wartime friend of Captain Reynolds, and wife of Wash. Described by her husband as a "warrior woman", she has great knowledge of combat. Her past is a mystery; the only thing we know is that she was born and raised on a ship [Shooting script for "Heart of Gold", in "Firefly: The Official Companion, Volume 2", p 169.] and served under Mal during the war as a corporal. [cite web|url=http://www.ugo.com/tv/joss-whedon-spotlight/?cur=zoe-washburn|title=www.ugo.com/tv/joss-whedon-spotlight/?cur=zoe-washburn ] She demonstrates an almost unconditional loyalty to Mal, the only exception noted being her marriage to Wash, which the captain claims to have tried to prevent.

*Hoban "Wash" Washburne, played by Alan Tudyk, is "Serenity"'s pilot and Zoe's husband. Wash expresses jealousy over his wife's "war buddy" relationship and unconditional support of their captain, most particularly in the episode "War Stories", in which he confronts Mal regarding their relationship. While more of Wash's past is disclosed than most other characters, his background is still sparse: He joined pilot training just to see the stars, which were invisible from the surface of his polluted homeworld, and he joined "Serenity" despite being highly sought after by other ships. He is very light-hearted and tends to make amusing comments, despite the severity of any situation.

*Inara Serra, played by Morena Baccarin, is a Companion, which is the 26th century equivalent of a courtesan or oiran. Like her Renaissance counterparts, Inara enjoys high social standing. Her presence confers a degree of legitimacy and social acceptance the crew of "Serenity" would not enjoy without her on board. She and Mal have a strained relationship, with unspoken romantic tension playing a significant part in several episodes, as well as in the movie. Inara arguably represents Mal's heart, and Mal is a noticeably darker character when Inara is absent (as during the first half of "Serenity"). She rents one of the ship's small shuttles.

*Jayne Cobb, played by Adam Baldwin, is hired muscle. He and Mal met on opposite sides of a rivalry; Mal, while held at gunpoint, offered Jayne his own bunk and a higher cut than his current employer, so he turned coat and shot his then-partners. In one episode, he admits freely to Mal that he would have sold Mal out to an Alliance agent if the money was good enough. He is someone who can be depended on in a fight. [Whedon, "Firefly: the complete series: "Train Job" commentary", track 10] He tends to act like a "lummox" who thinks he is the smartest guy in space, but occasional hints of intelligence peek through this façade, giving the impression that he acts dumber than he is. As Whedon states several times, Jayne is the man who will ask the questions that no one else wants to. [Whedon, "Serenity: Director's Commentary", track 7 "Mr. Universe"] Even though he is a macho character, he has shown a particularly intense fear of Reavers, more so than the rest of the crew. Despite his amoral mercenary persona, he sends a significant portion of his income to his mother.

*Kaywinnit Lee "Kaylee" Frye,cite book
last=Staite
first=Jewel
editor=Jane Espenson, Glenn Yeffeth
title=Finding Serenity, anti-heroes, lost shepherds and space hookers in Joss Whedon's Firefly
year=2004
publisher=BenBella books
location=Dallas
isbn=1-932100-43-1
id=PN1992.77.F54F56 2005
pages=p. 227
chapter=Kaylee speaks: Jewel Staite on Firefly
quote=Aside from playing Kaywinnit Lee "Kaylee" Frye in Firefly and Serenity
] cite book
coauthors=Jane Espenson, Abbie Bernstein, Bryan Cairns, Karl Derrick, Tara DiLullo
title=Firefly: the official companion, volume one
url=http://www.titanbooks.com/products/uk/9724-firefly_the_official_companion_volume_one/
edition=Paperback
year=2006
month=07
publisher=Titan books
location=London
isbn=9781845763145
pages=pp. 112
chapter=Shindig
quote=Miss Kaywinnit Lee Frye and escort [...] Mal and Kaylee make their way into the party.
] played by Jewel Staite, is the ship's mechanic. In the episode "Out of Gas", it is established that she has no formal training, but keeps "Serenity" running with an intuitive gift for the workings of mechanical equipment. Jewel Staite explains Kaylee's character as being wholesome, sweet, and "completely genuine in that sweetness", adding "She loves being on that ship. She loves all of those people. And she's the only one who loves all of them incredibly genuinely." [cite web
last=Lee
first=Michael J.
date=2005-09-15
title=Interview with Jewel Staite
publisher=Radio Free Entertainment
url=http://www.radiofree.com/profiles/jewel_staite/interview02.shtml
accessdate=2007-07-13
] She has a crush on Dr. Simon Tam. Kaylee's character is the soul of the ship: according to creator Joss Whedon, if Kaylee believes something, it is true.

*Dr. Simon Tam, played by Sean Maher, is a medical researcher and trauma surgeon of the first caliber (top 3% in his class at a top core planet institution), who is on the run after breaking his sister River out of a government research facility. His bumbling attempts at a relationship with Kaylee are a recurring subplot throughout the series, and at every turn he seems to find a way to unwittingly foil his own romantic desires. His life is defined by caring for his sister.

*River Tam, played by Summer Glau, was smuggled onto the ship by her brother. River was a child prodigy of unparalleled genius, but she was experimented upon at the hands of Alliance doctors, leaving her delusional, erratic, and at times violent. Her personal journey of self-discovery is a running theme throughout the series and the movie. River is constantly at war with her own demons. She sees and hears things that others do not, and experiences waking dreams of her memories of the Alliance "academy" experiments. Opinions of her vary among the crew: some value her, Jayne fears her, and the rest just want her to stay out of trouble.

*Derrial Book, played by Ron Glass, is a Shepherd (equivalent to a priest, minister, or pastor). Although presented as a devout Christian man, ["Firefly: the official companion, volume one", p. 166] Book demonstrates a depth of knowledge about the activities of criminals (in "Our Mrs. Reynolds") and corrupt police (in "The Message"), is proficent in hand-to-hand combat and the use of firearms (when questioned on his non-Biblical intentions during the rescue in "War Stories", Book replies somewhat ironically that while the Bible is quite specific about killing, it's "somewhat fuzzier on the subject of kneecaps"), and was shown in "Safe" to have sufficient status in the Alliance to receive medical treatment from the military without questions asked. Book represents Mal's guide, conscience, and lost spirituality, while his hidden backstory was to have been gradually revealed, had the series continued.

Except for Book being absent from "Ariel", with the explanation that he was meditating at an abbey, the nine regular characters appear in every episode.

Three members of the "Firefly" cast appeared on Joss Whedon's other TV series as villains. Fillion was cast as Caleb in the final season of "Buffy the Vampire Slayer", while Torres and Baldwin took on recurring roles on "Angel" in its fourth and fifth seasons respectively (characters Jasmine and Marcus Hamilton). Baccarin was originally intended to portray Eve in "Angel"'s final season, but in the end was unable to commit to the role. Summer Glau had appeared in the third-season "Angel" episode "Waiting in the Wings" before she was cast in "Firefly". In addition, Jewel Staite appeared in several episodes of the Tim Minear-produced "Wonderfalls".

Recurring characters

Despite the short run of the series, some recurring characters emerged from the inhabitants of the "Firefly" universe:
* Badger, played by Mark Sheppard, is an established smuggling middleman on the planet Persephone. He provided jobs for "Serenity" on at least two occasions. In the DVD commentary for the episode "Serenity", it was revealed that this part was originally written with the intention of Whedon himself playing the part. Badger appeared in the original pilot "Serenity" and in "Shindig", with a return in the comic book series "".
* Adelei Niska, played by Michael Fairman, is a criminal who has a reputation for violent reprisals, including severe, prolonged torture, against those who fail him or even irritate him. He appeared in "The Train Job" and "War Stories".
* "Saffron", played by Christina Hendricks, is a con artist whose real name is unknown. In the series she also used the aliases "Bridget" and "Yolanda", leading Mal to jokingly address her with the blended term "YoSaffBridge" in the episode "Trash". She has a habit of marrying her marks in the course of her scams. She first appeared in the episode "Our Mrs. Reynolds" as Mal's involuntarily-acquired wife.
* "The Hands of Blue": Two anonymous men wearing suits and blue gloves who pursue River, apparently to return her to the institute she escaped from, as shown in "The Train Job", "Ariel", and the "Serenity: Those Left Behind" comic. They kill anyone, including Alliance personnel, who had contact with her, using a mysterious hand-held device that causes fatal bleeding to anyone in its proximity, except them.

Reception

Critical review

On the day it premiered, the "Boston Globe" ran a positive review, stating that "Firefly" "...is a mess—a wonderful, imaginative mess brimming with possibility. About a dysfunctional family of space cowboys, the sci-fi series arrives not fully formed, like an elaborate photo that's still clarifying in developing fluid. While many shows burst onto the scene with slick pilots and quickly deteriorate into mediocrity, I'm thinking "Firefly" is on the opposite creative journey."cite web
url=http://search.boston.com/simplesearch/SimpleSearchAction.do?s.si(simplesearchinput).dateRange=&s.sm.query=firefly
title=Far-out "Firefly" May Take Wing
date=September 20, 2002
publisher=The Boston Globe
accessdate=2006-11-09
Dead link|url=http://search.boston.com/simplesearch/SimpleSearchAction.do?s.si(simplesearchinput).dateRange=&s.sm.query=firefly|date=January 2008] However, Tim Goodman with the "San Francisco Chronicle" panned it. He felt that the melding of the western and science fiction genres was a "forced hodgepodge of two alarmingly opposite genres just for the sake of being different."cite web
url=http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2002/09/20/DD141692.DTL&hw=firefly&sn=003&sc=537
title=Sci-fi 'Firefly' is a bonanza of miscues from 'Buffy' creator
date=September 20, 2002
publisher=The San Francisco Chronicle
accessdate=2006-11-09
] He summed up his scathing review with this statement: "To call "Firefly" a vast disappointment is an understatement. Whedon has proven he's capable of brilliance, but this is mere folly." Other critics appeared to dismiss the show after the first two episodes, "The Train Job" and "Bushwhacked". In its October 3, 2002, review, Salon.com stated:

quote|...Whedon's new relativist characters seem a little lost. Admittedly, this is the point, but the show lacks the kind of psychological tension that makes "Buffy" snap. As much as the space and western genres have in common, "Firefly" could have probably done without the western soundtrack and the vague "Bonanza" look too. It's not just that the "space as Wild West" metaphor is somewhat redundant, but that neither genre binds the series to the present.|Carina Chocano|cite web
url=http://archive.salon.com/ent/tv/diary/2002/10/03/firefly/
title=Giddyup, spaceman
last=Chocano
first=Carina
date=October 3, 2002
publisher=Salon.com
accessdate=2006-07-15
]

The reviewer conceded, however, that with only two episodes, it was worth giving Whedon the benefit of the doubt and that the inability to resonate with its viewers could be the fault of FOX for not airing the original pilot. By the time the show was cancelled, however, subsequent episodes had drawn more favorable reviews:

quote|"Firefly" is an absolutely brilliant show, perhaps the best sci-fi show on television today — and certainly the one with the most potential for future brilliance. In the weeks since its weak opening episodes, the series has run off a string of seven strong shows that would be the envy of any other TV show on the air today.|Jason Snell| [cite web
url=http://www.teevee.org/archive/2002/12/13/index.html
archiveurl=http://web.archive.org/web/20060814235449/http://www.teevee.org/archive/2002/12/13/index.html
archivedate=2006-08-14
title="Firefly" vs. the Firing Squad
last=Snell
first=Jason
date=December 12, 2002
publisher=teevee
accessdate=2006-07-15
]

When the DVD was released in time for Christmas the following year, The "New York Times" had this to say:

quote|The show featured an oddball genre mix that might have doomed it from the beginning: it was a character-rich sci-fi western comedy-drama with existential underpinnings, a hard sell during a season dominated by "Joe Millionaire".|Emily Nussbaum| [cite web
url=http://www.nytimes.com/2003/12/21/arts/television/21NUSS.html?ei=5007&en=c508df9532d71a84&ex=1387342800&adxnnl=1&partner=USERLAND&adxnnlx=1152994428-SRzXGWQ2CEWBejqgzRixZQ
title=A DVD Face-Off Between the Official and the Homemade
publisher=New York Times
last=Nussbaum
first=Emily
date=December 21, 2003
accessdate=2006-07-15
]

Another reviewer commented:

quote|Despite its brief run, Whedon-aholics embraced it and fought to keep it on the air. After watching the DVD box set, it's easy to see why. All of Whedon's fingerprints are there: The witty dialogue, the quirky premises and dark exploration of human fallacy that made "Buffy" brilliant found their way to this space drama.| [cite web
url=http://tv.msn.com/tv/article.aspx?news=150653&mpc=2
title=Canceled TV Shows
publisher=MSN.com
accessdate=2006-07-15
]

Cult status

In 2005, "New Scientist" magazine's website held an internet poll to find "The World's Best Space Sci-Fi Ever". "Firefly" came in first place, with its cinematic follow-up "Serenity" in second. [cite web
url=http://space.newscientist.com/article/dn8211
title=The World's Best Space Sci-Fi Ever: Your verdict
date=October 26, 2005
publisher=NewScientistSpace.com
accessdate=2006-08-06
] Also, as of May 2007, it was the most popular science fiction show amongst users of tv.com. [cite web
url=http://www.tv.com/science-fiction/genre/10/topshows.html?g=10&era=&l=&pop=&tag=gen_subtabs;genre;7
title=Top Science-Fiction Top Shows
publisher=tv.com
accessdate=2007-05-23
]

On May 9, 2006, the "Firefly" episodes were added to the iTunes Music Store for download as part of FOX Television Classics along with "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" and "Lost in Space". The episodes were initially listed in the order FOX originally aired them, but due to comments from fans in the Store, the episodes were listed in the order in which Whedon originally intended. As of March 12, 2008, all fourteen episodes are available on-demand through the Hulu.com service launched by FOX's parent News Corp. and NBC Universal. [cite web
url=http://www.hulu.com/firefly
title=hulu:Firefly
accessdate=2008-03-14
]

Brad Wright, co-creator of "Stargate SG-1" has said that "200", the 200th episode of SG-1, is "A little kiss to "Serenity" and "Firefly", which was possibly one of the best cancelled series in history." In the episode, "Martin Lloyd has come to the S.G.C. [Stargate Command] because even though "Wormhole X-Treme!" was canceled after three episodes, it did so well on DVD they're making a feature [film] ." [cite web
url=http://www.gateworld.net/interviews/wright_on_target.shtml
title=Wright on Target
date=July 14, 2006
publisher=GateWorld.net
accessdate=2006-07-17
]

The follow-up film, "Serenity", was voted the best science fiction movie of all time in an "SFX" magazine poll of 3,000 fans. [cite web
url=http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/entertainment/6517155.stm
title=Serenity named top sci-fi movie
publisher=BBC Online
accessdate=2007-03-02
]

"Firefly" was later named as number 25 on "TV Guide"'s list of "The 30 Top Cult Shows Ever".cite web|url=http://www.tvguide.com/news/top-cult-shows/070629-01|title=TV Guide Names the Top Cult Shows Ever|work=TVGuide|accessdate=2007-06-29]

Fandom

The show generated a following during its short lifetime. The original fans, self-styled Browncoats, first organized to try to save the series from being cancelled by FOX. Their efforts included raising money for an ad in "Variety" magazine and a postcard writing campaign to UPN. While unsuccessful in finding a host network, support for the show led to a release of the series on DVD in December 2003. Eventually, enough interest was shown to convince Universal Studios to produce a feature film, "Serenity". Numerous early screenings were held for existing fans in an attempt to create a buzz and increase ticket sales when it was released widely.

On June 23, 2006 fans organized the first worldwide charity screenings of "Serenity" in 47 cities, dubbed as Can’t Stop the Serenity or CSTS, an homage to the movie’s tagline, "Can’t stop the signal." [ [http://www.cantstoptheserenity.com/ Can’t Stop the Serenity] ] The event raised over $65,000 [ [http://www.cantstoptheserenity.com/2006/ Can'tStopTheSerenity.com | The Global Event ] ] for Whedon's favorite charity, Equality Now. In 2007, $106,000 was raised, [ [http://www.cantstoptheserenity.com/2007/ CantStopTheSerenity.com ›› The Global Charity Event ] ] with a goal of $150,000 in 2008.

Another campaign on June 23, 2006 referred to the date as "Serenity" Day, [ [http://www.fireflyday.com/ "Serenity" Day] Dead link|url=http://www.fireflyday.com/|date=January 2008|date=June 2008] on which fans bought—and got others to buy—copies of the "Serenity" and "Firefly" DVDs in hopes of convincing Universal that creating a sequel was a good business decision. On this day, "Serenity" and "Firefly" were ranked second and third, respectively, on the DVD Best Sellers list. The date for both campaigns were chosen because it is series creator Joss Whedon’s birthday.

In July 2006, a fan-made documentary was released, titled, "Done the Impossible", and is commercially available. The documentary relates the story of the fans and how the show has affected them, and also features interviews with Whedon and various cast members. A percentage of the DVD proceeds are donated to Equality Now.

NASA Browncoat Astronaut Steven Swanson [ [http://www.breakingatmo.com/status/2007/06/meet-your-browncoat-astronaut Meet Your Browncoat Astronaut] ] took the "Firefly" and "Serenity" DVDs with him on Space Shuttle Atlantis' STS-117 mission, which lifted off on Friday June 8, 2007. The DVDs will permanently reside on the International Space Station as a form of entertainment for the station's crews. [ [http://www.livescience.com/blogs/2007/06/07/board-game-sci-fi-to-ride-shuttle-atlantis-to-iss Board Game, Sci-Fi to Ride Shuttle Atlantis to ISS] ]

The song "A Man Named Jayne", by Luke Ski, is a parody of Johnny Cash's "A Boy Named Sue" written from Wash's perspective. It describes "Serenity"'s crew being captured by what they believe to be the Alliance. Their captors are revealed to be FOX Network executives, canceling the show. The crew escapes, only to join forces with the characters from "Futurama", another FOX series which suffered the same fate.

Awards

"Firefly" won the following awards:
* Emmy Award: "Outstanding Special Visual Effects for a Series", 2003
* Visual Effects Society: "Best visual effects in a television series", 2003 (episode "Serenity")
* Saturn Award: "Cinescape Genre Face of the Future Award, Male", 2003 (Nathan Fillion)
* Saturn Award: "Saturn Award for Best DVD Release (television)", 2004
* SyFy Genre Awards: "Best Actor/Television" Nathan Fillion, 2006 [cite web
url=http://syfyportal.com/news.php?id=2895
archiveurl=http://web.archive.org/web/20061126081755/http://www.syfyportal.com/news.php?id=2895
archivedate=2006-11-26
title=SyfyPortal Awards
accessdate=2006-10-08
]
* SyFy Genre Awards: "Best Supporting Actor/Television" Adam Baldwin, 2006
* SyFy Genre Awards: "Best Special Guest/Television" Christina Hendricks for "Trash", 2006
* SyFy Genre Awards: "Best Episode/Television" "Trash", 2006
* SyFy Genre Awards: "Best Series/Television", 2006

The series was also nominated for the following awards:
* Visual Effects Society: "Best compositing in a televised program, music video, or commercial", 2003
* Motion Picture Sound Editors, USA, "Golden Reel Award": "Best sound editing in television long form: sound effects/foley", 2003
* Hugo Award: "Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form", 2003 (episode "Serenity")
* Hugo Award: "Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form", 2004 (episodes "Heart of Gold" and "The Message", which at that time had not been shown on television in the USA)
* Golden Satellite Award: "Best DVD Extras", 2004

Broadcast history

"Firefly" consists of one two-hour pilot and thirteen one-hour episodes. The show originally aired in the United States in 2002 on FOX, although FOX aired the episodes out of the intended order and did not air three of the fourteen episodes. These first appeared with the rest of the series during repeat broadcasts on the Sci Fi Channel.Fact|date=July 2008

Although Whedon had designed the show to run for seven years, [Cite web
date=2004-11-08
url=http://movies.ign.com/articles/564/564677p1.html
title=Serenity Set Visit: IGN visits the set of the Firefly movie.
publisher=IGN
accessdate=2007-08-02
] and the show had a loyal following during its original broadcast, [Cite web
date=October 7, 2002
url=http://www.tvguide.com/News-Views/Columnists/Todays-News-Our-Take/default.aspx?posting={D109A6F9-CE33-43B3-93A8-9E4BDD81D619}
title=Entertainment News
publisher=TV Guide
accessdate=2006-11-09
] low ratings resulted in cancellation by FOX in December 2002 after only eleven episodes had aired in the United States and Canada.cite web
last=Snyder
first=Gabriel
date = March 21, 2004
url=http://www.variety.com/article/VR1117901954.html?categoryid=13&cs=1
title='Firefly' feature alights
publisher=Variety
accessdate=2006-06-24
] Prior to cancellation, some fans, worried about low ratings, formed the "Firefly" Immediate Assistance campaign whose goal was to support the production of the show by sending in postcards to FOX. After it was cancelled, the campaign worked on getting another network such as UPN to pick up the series. The campaign was unsuccessful in securing the show's continuation. [cite web
url=http://www.browncoats.com/index.php?ContentID=42e95a1f27c00
title=The Fan Campaign: A Timeline of Fan Efforts to Keep Firefly on the Air
publisher=Browncoats.com
accessdate=2006-07-01
]

The "Onion A.V. Club" cited several actions by the FOX network that contributed to the show's failure, most notably airing the episodes out of sequence, making the plot more difficult to follow. [cite web
date=January 12, 2004
url=http://www.avclub.com/content/node/7615
title=Firefly: The Complete Series - Review
publisher=The A. V. Club
accessdate=2007-02-05
] For instance, the double episode "Serenity" was intended as the premiere, and therefore contained most of the character introductions and back-story. However, FOX decided that "Serenity" was unsuitable to open the series, and "The Train Job" was specifically created to act as a new pilot. In addition, "Firefly" was promoted as an action-comedy rather than the more serious character study it was intended to be, and "Variety" magazine highlighted Fox's decision to occasionally preempt the show for sporting events.

A box set containing the fourteen completed episodes (including those which had not yet aired in the United States) was released on region 1 DVD on December 9, 2003, region 2 on April 19, 2004, and region 4 on August 2, 2004. The box features the episodes in the original order in which the show's producers had intended them to be broadcast, as well as seven episode commentaries, outtakes and other features. The DVDs feature the episodes as they were shot in 16:9 widescreen, with anamorphic transfers and Dolby Surround audio. By September 2005, its DVD release had sold approximately 500,000 [cite web
last=Breznican
first=Anthony
date=September 21, 2005
url=http://www.usatoday.com/life/movies/news/2005-09-21-serenity_x.htm
title='Firefly' alights on big screen as 'Serenity'
publisher=USA Today
accessdate=2006-06-04
] copies and was one of the top movers at Amazon.com for months. At Amazon.com the DVDs had average daily rankings of between 1st and 75th in 2003, 22nd and 397th in 2004, 2nd and 232nd in 2005, and 2nd and 31st in 2006 as of June 27, 2006. [cite web
date=June 27, 2006
url=http://fireflyfans.net/amazon.asp
title=Real time Firefly DVD pricing and ranking from Amazon.com
publisher=FireflyFans.net
accessdate=2006-06-27
]

FOX remastered the complete series in 1080i Hi-Definition for broadcast on Universal HD, which began in April 2008. [Cite web
date=August 3, 2006 |url=http://www.tvweek.com/?pageId=212
title='Firefly' Gets Hi-Def Makeover|publisher=TVWeek.com
accessdate=2006-08-04
] In April 2008, Jewel Staite stated at a convention that she had provided commentary for a new release of "Firefly"; when queried, Fox Home Entertainment announced that the series would be re-released on Blu-ray Disc. [cite news |first=David |last=Lambert |title=Firefly - Fox Home Entertainment speaks to us about the new "Firefly" release |url=http://www.tvshowsondvd.com/news/Firefly-Blu-ray-Release/9350 |publisher=TVshowsonDVD.com |date=2008-04-08 |accessdate=2008-04-11] The Blu-ray disc set will be released on November 11, comprising three discs; exclusive extras to the Blu-ray release include extra audio commentary from Joss Whedon, Nathan Fillion, Alan Tudyk and Ron Glass for the episode "Our Mrs. Reynolds", as well as an additional featurette, "Firefly" Reunion: Lunch with Joss, Nathan, Alan and Ron". [cite web|url=http://www.highdefdigest.com/news/show/Fox/TV_on_High-Def/Disc_Announcements/Fox_Announces_Firefly_Blu-ray,_Specs/2010|title=Fox Announces Firefly Blu-ray, Specs|date=2008-08-19|accessdate=2008-08-19|publisher=High-Def Digest]

Spin-offs

Several spin-offs from the television series have been released in the years following its cancellation, spanning various media.

Feature films

"Serenity"

When attempts to have another network pick up the show failed, creator Joss Whedon decided to try to sell his concept as a film. Through a connection, he was introduced to Mary Parent with Universal Pictures, who immediately signed on after watching the episodes on DVD.Whedon, "Serenity: The Official Visual Companion", p.17] By June 2003, actors Nathan Fillion and Adam Baldwin confirmed this on the official "Firefly" forum, as did Whedon in several interviews. [cite web | date=2003-06-13
url=http://login.prospero.com/dir-login/index.asp?webtag=foxfirefly&lgnDST=http%3A%2F%2Fforums%2Eprospero%2Ecom%2Ffoxfirefly%2Fmessages%3Fmsg%3D8664%2E1%26liaagc%3Dy
title= Captain on Deck! hello to all
publisher=Official Firefly Forum
accessdate=2006-07-06
] [cite web | date=2003-06-06
url=http://login.prospero.com/dir-login/index.asp?webtag=foxfirefly&lgnDST=http%3A%2F%2Fforums%2Eprospero%2Ecom%2Ffoxfirefly%2Fmessages%3Fmsg%3D4235%2E193900%26liaagc%3Dy
title= "Serenity Saloon" is open fer bidness
publisher=Official Firefly Forum
accessdate=2006-07-06
] [cite web | date=2003-06-06
url=http://login.prospero.com/dir-login/index.asp?webtag=foxfirefly&lgnDST=http%3A%2F%2Fforums%2Eprospero%2Ecom%2Ffoxfirefly%2Fmessages%3Fmsg%3D4235%2E194037%26liaagc%3Dy
title= "Serenity Saloon" is open fer bidness
publisher=Official Firefly Forum
accessdate=2006-07-06
] "Serenity" was released in Australia on September 29, 2005, the United States and Canada on September 30, 2005, and the United Kingdom and Ireland weeks later. It received generally positive reviews [cite web | url=http://www.metacritic.com/video/titles/serenity
title=Serenity (2005): Reviews
publisher=Metacritic
accessdate=2008-07-06
] and opened at number two, taking in $10.1 million its first weekend, spending two weeks in the top ten, and totaling a US box office gross of $25.5 million and a box office gross of $13.3 million elsewhere.cite web
url=http://www.boxofficemojo.com/movies/?page=daily&id=serenity.htm
title=Serenity (2005) - Daily Box Office
publisher=Box Office Mojo
accessdate=2006-08-27
] "Serenity" won film of the year awards from Film 2005cite web
url=http://www.bbc.co.uk/films/film2005/filmofyear_2005.shtml
archiveurl=http://web.archive.org/web/20070311093829/http://www.bbc.co.uk/films/film2005/filmofyear_2005.shtml
archivedate=2007-03-11
title=Films Of The Year
publisher=BBC
accessdate=2006-08-27
] and FilmFocus.cite web
url=http://www.filmfocus.co.uk/specials/review2005-1.asp
title=Serenity
publisher=FilmFocus
accessdate=2006-08-27
] It also won IGN Film's Best Sci-Fi, Best Story and Best Trailer awards and was runner up for the Overall Best Movie.cite web
url=http://bestof.ign.com/2005/movies/
title=The Best of 2005
publisher=IGN Film
accessdate=2006-08-27
] It also won the Nebula Award for Best Script for 2005, the 7th annual 'User Tomato Awards' for best Sci-Fi movie of 2005 at Rotten Tomatoes, the 2006 viewers choice Spacey Award for favorite movie, the 2006 Hugo Award for Best Dramatic Presentation, Long Formcite web
url = http://www.locusmag.com/2006/News/08_HugoCampbellWinners.html
title = Hugo and Campbell Awards Winners
work = Locus Online
accessdate = 2006-08-27
date = 2006-08-26
] and the 2006 Prometheus Special Award.

As a form of viral marketing for the film, Whedon released the R. Tam sessions, which are set before the television series. They were released unofficially by Whedon via the internet from August 16, 2005 to September 5, 2005.

At a preview screening for the film, Whedon indicated that he would consider reviving the series if a network purchased the broadcast rights from FOX Television as he will not work with FOX again. [cite web|year=2005-07-25|url=http://www.aintitcool.com/display.cgi?id=20781
title=Completely completed SERENITY screens at Comic-Con! And...
publisher=Ain't It Cool News
accessdate=2006-06-24
] Whedon's latest project "Dollhouse" is co-produced by FOX Television for screening on the FOX Network in early 2009.

The film takes place around two months after the events of the final episode and focuses on the character arcs of River and her involvement with the Alliance, and Mal. As Whedon stated, the film is "Mal's story as told by River." [Whedon, "Serenity: Director's Commentary", track 1 "Living Weapon"]

"Serenity" sequel

On October 4, 2007, Alan Tudyk said that sales of the newly-released "Serenity: Special Edition" DVD had led to "talk [of] doing another movie". [cite web | date=2007-10-04
url=http://www.moviehole.net/news/20071004_serenity_2_a_new_hope.html
title= Serenity 2 A New Hope?
publisher=Moviehole.net
accessdate=2007-10-04
] Joss Whedon has since discounted that statement as being "wishful thinking." [cite web | date=2007-11-04
url=http://tv.msn.com/new-on-dvd/feature-article/default.aspx?news=281562
title=What's in Your DVD Player, Joss Whedon?
publisher=msn.com
accessdate=2007-11-06
]

Comics

Several comics have been set in the "Firefly" fictional universe. All of the miniseries so far been written by Joss Whedon and Brett Matthews, while a one-shot comic was written by Jim Krueger. All of the comics, released under the "Serenity" title have been illustrated by Will Conrad and published by Dark Horse Comics.

The first three-issue miniseries was released in July through September 2005, titled "", and was intended to bridge the events of the series and the film: depicting Inara's departure and Book's announcement of departure, introducing several of the new characters from the film, and concluding some unfinished storylines from the series. Each issue was released with three different covers, each by a different artist and depicting one of the main characters. "Those Left Behind" was significantly more popular than expected, with the first two issues requiring a second printing during the initial release. Issue #1 was Dark Horse's highest selling comic until the release of "Buffy Season 8" in 2007,cite web |url=http://www.publishersweekly.com/article/CA6493467.html?nid=2789 |title=Buffy Season 8 - the Shape of Things to Come? |accessdate=2008-04-18 |last=Moss |first=Wil |date=2007-10-23 |publisher=Publishers Weekly] and the trade paperbacks for the miniseries are amongst the most highly sold Dark Horse products. [cite journal |year=2007 |month=February |title=Graphic Novels |journal=Library Journal |volume=132 |issue=2 |pages=110 |id=ISSN|03630277 |accessdate=2008-06-02] cite web |url=http://www.newsarama.com/marketreport/2007_year_end.html |title=Diamond' 2007 year end sales charts and market share report |accessdate=2008-04-18 |publisher=Newsarama.com]

A second three-issue series, titled "", was released in March, April, and May 2008. The series is set before the events of "Those Left Behind", in order to use all nine characters and keep the "heart and status quo" of the series intact.cite web |url=http://www.comicbookresources.com/?page=article&id=12825 |title=Old Friends: Matthews talks "Serenity: Better Days" |accessdate=2008-04-18 |last=Furey |first=Emmett |date=2008-03-07 |publisher=Comic Book Resources ] The story is based on a heist going better than expected, and the crew having to deal with newfound wealth and the related complications.

During the 2007 Browncoat Cruise, a "Firefly" convention held aboard a cruise ship, Ron Glass announced (with Whedon's permission) several pieces of Shepherd Derrial Book's backstory, as well as that Book was to be the focus of the third miniseries: "A Shepherd's Tale".cite web |url=http://www.serenitystuff.com/2007/12/12/ron-glass-announces-a-shepherds-tale-comic/ |title=Ron Glass announces “A Shepherd’s Tale” comic, reveals (some) secrets |accessdate=2008-04-13 |date=2007-12-12 |work=Serenitystuff.org - News blog] The comic was later confirmed by Scott Allie, senior editor at Dark Horse Comics, who stated in the letters section of "Serenity: Better Days #1" that a comic based on Book's past was slated for a late 2008 release. [Allie, Scott (March 2008). "Transmissions from the Cortex". In Whedon, Joss & Matthews, Brett, " #1". Milwaukie: Dark Horse Comics.]

The August 2008 edition of "MySpace Dark Horse Presents" contains an eight-page one-shot comic entitled "The Other Half".cite news |last=McMillan |first=Graeme |title=Serenity continues its voyage online |url=http://io9.com/5034875/serenity-continues-its-voyage-online |work=io9 |date=2008-08-09 |accessdate=2008-08-12] Unlike the other comics, "The Other Half" is written by Jim Krueger, with Whedon credited as executive producer.

Roleplaying game

A role-playing game entitled "Serenity", published by Margaret Weis Productions, Ltd, was released in 2005. The first adventure, "Out in the Black" by Laura and Tracy Hickman, was released on March 15, 2006. [Citation | last = Hickman | first = Tracy | author-link = Tracy Hickman | last2 = Hickman | first2 = Laura | author2-link = Laura Hickman | year = 2006 | date= 2006-03-15 | title = Out of the Black | place = Lake Geneva, WI | publisher = Margaret Weis Productions, Ltd. | isbn = 1931567522]

Books

Two non-fiction books about the series, and "Serenity Found: More Unauthorized Essays on Joss Whedon's "Firefly" Universe" were edited by Jane Espenson, with Glenn Yeffeth and Leah Wilson respectively. The collections of essays analyze the various themes and ideas of "Firefly". [cite web
url=http://www.benbellabooks.com/joss/titles.htm
title=Whedon Inspired Readin'
accessdate=2008-02-09
publisher=BenBella Books
] Joss Whedon, along with most of the cast and many of the crew, were interviewed for Titan Books' two-volume "Firefly: The Official Companion". The books contain previously unpublished photographs, along with the shooting scripts for all the episodes. [cite web
url=http://www.titanbooks.com/products/au/9724-firefly_the_official_companion_volume_one/
title=Firefly: The Official Companion (vol. 1)
accessdate=2008-02-09
publisher=Titan Books
] [cite web
url=http://www.titanbooks.com/products/au/9821-firefly/
title=Firefly: The Official Companion (vol. 2)
accessdate=2008-02-09
publisher=Titan Books
] Other non-fiction works dealing in part or in full with the series include "The "Firefly" Episode Guide: An Unofficial Independent Guide with Critiques" by Mimi Noyes (Seattle: Lightning Rod Publishers, 2005); "The Existential Joss Whedon: Evil and Human Freedom in "Buffy the Vampire Slayer", "Angel", "Firefly" and "Serenity"," by J. Michael Richardson and J. Douglas Rabb (Jefferson, N.C.: McFarland, 2007); and "The Psychology of Joss Whedon: An Unauthorized Exploration of "Buffy", "Angel", and "Firefly, by Joy Davidson and Leah Wilson (Dallas: BenBella Books, 2007).

In 2005, it was proposed that a series of novels tying into "Firefly" be published. Fantasy and science fiction author Steven Brust was asked to write the first book planned for the series, titled "My Own Kind of Freedom", but the project was cancelled because of "various economic realities" before he could complete the novel. [ [http://papercuts.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/02/21/back-from-the-dead/?hp Itkoff, Dave. "Back From the Dead," in "New York Times" "Paper Cuts: A Blog About Books"] ] Brust released the finished novel on his website in February 2008. [ [http://dreamcafe.com/firefly.html Brust, Steven. "My Own Kind of Freedom"] (released under the Creative Commons license).]

Computer game

On December 8, 2006, The Multiverse Network announced that it had obtained the rights from Twentieth Century Fox to develop a massively multiplayer online game (MMOG) based on the series. [cite web
url=http://www.multiverse.net/press/pr20061207.jsp?cid=6&scid=9 |title=Multiverse and Fox Licensing & Merchandising to build online game based on popular Firefly television series |publisher=The Multiverse Network |date=December 8, 2006 |accessdate=2006-12-07
] On 3 September, as part of a press release announcing the development of an MMOG based on the "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" television series, Multiverse stated that work on the "Firefly" MMOG had been delayed as there were "some issues that need to be worked through", [cite interview |last=Bridges |first=Corey |interviewer=Michael Zenke |title=Massively interview: Multiverse explains the Buffy MMO, Firefly's delay |url=http://www.massively.com/2008/09/04/massively-interview-multiverse-explains-the-buffy-mmo-firefly/ |date=September 4, 2008 |accessdate=2008-10-07] [cite web |url=http://www.multiverse.net/press/pr20080902buffy.jsp?cid=6&scid=9 |title=Twentieth Century Fox Licensing & Merchandising and Multiverse announce "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" virtual world |date=September 3, 2008 |publisher=The Multiverse Network |accessdate=2008-10-07] although some gaming news sites have expressed doubts that, based on the lack of progress with the "Firefly" MMOG, neither would be completed. [cite web|url=http://fireflymmo.com/2008/09/04/firefly-mmo-delayed/|title=Firefly MMO delayed|date=September 4, 2008|publisher=Firefly MMO News|accessdate=2008-10-07] [cite web |url=http://www.joystiq.com/2008/09/03/multiverse-to-reveal-and-probably-never-release-buffy-mmo/ |title=Multiverse to reveal (and probably never release) Buffy MMO |last=McElroy |first=Justin |date=September 3, 2008 |publisher=Joystiq |accessdate=2008-10-07]

Notes

References

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External links

*imdb title|id=0303461|title=Firefly
*dmoz|Arts/Television/Programs/Science_Fiction_and_Fantasy/F/Firefly|Firefly
* [http://fireflychinese.kevinsullivansite.net/ Firefly-Serenity Chinese Pinyinary] - English translations of the Chinese words and phrases used in "Firefly" and "Serenity"
* [http://thewb.com/shows/firefly/ "Firefly" Streaming episodes on theWB]


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