The other day, I got into a conversation about Firefly, how fans loved the series, why it will probably never come back. And I take a stab at how Firefly could possibly be rebooted without worrying about the semantics of getting the cast all back together for a full-time production.
The other day my film club has decided that this month will be a Firefly themed set of viewings. This generated some conversation about the show, and since I was part of that conversation, I thought I’d share our chat!
In case you didn’t know:
Firefly was a 2002 television series that was created by Joss Whedon and took place 500 years in the future (2517), and has been called a space western drama.
We followed the crew and passengers of a Firefly-class ship named Serenity, some of whom were in a civil war and others who made their living on the fringes of society, the fringe of the known star system.
Whedon called it “nine people looking into the blackness of space and seeing nine different things.”
The series cast included Nathan Fillion, Gina Torres, Alan Tudyk, Morena Baccarin, Adam Baldwin, Jewel Staite, Sean Maher, Summer Glau & Ron Glass.
As you see, the cast moved on to successful careers (more or less) after the series was cancelled. And the cancellation of the series belied an odd situation, because if you’ve ever seen the season of the show, you know something went terribly afoul, because the show was a pretty decent series.
Fox picked up the series, but as one fan put it to me, Fox was out to screw over the show and could not understand why they even picked it up.
And how Fox handled the series, forever marred the reputation of the studio with many. (They Foxed it up.) The network marketed the show incorrectly, preempted it often and aired the series episodes completely out of the intended order, IE: The show premiered in September, the episode (original pilot) intended to introduce the characters aired in December.
Even though it was cancelled, the fans wanted more and Whedon was given the green light to make a movie to close things out. That movie was called Serenity. I loved the series, especially when watched in the right order. I liked Serenity even more.
< Serenity on Amazon (Check out the trailer at the bottom of this article) >
Serenity (well, the entire Firefly series) showed how Whedon could make an incredibly coherent story based on an emsemble cast, and not leave anyone out of the telling. But then again, unless you live in a monastary on the top of a mountain, you might have noticed how good Joss Whedon is with ensembles in some oddball, billion dollar movie from 2012.
My film club coordinator, Sybil Vasche, who is the primary contributor to the classic reflections series here on Brusimm, wrote this to the film club:
Last week we decided to make this a month of Firefly. We never seem to get tired of that show. It’s the only show that makes my heart ache when I think about it. Ache with longing of what could’ve been if only it was allowed to keep running.
Do you realize it’s been 10 years since it was first on? (Actually the 10 years was last September.)
I was hoping that Joss would go back and revisit the possibilities of making it again now that he has some clout from his blockbuster Avengers movie but I’ve not kept up with gossip. Does anyone know of any?
It would be perfectly fine for the actors to come back, they could start the show “10 years later. . .” and even introduce new characters. Everyone has to have their dreams.
Tomorrow we’ll be watching the first episode that ran on TV, the ‘pilot’ that the network asked Joss Whedon to write when they didn’t approve of the real pilot, the 2 hour one that explains who everyone is, etc. That’s the network execs for you: dumb as a box of rocks. The episode we’ll be watching is called “The Train Job” and was written in one weekend by Joss and Tim Minear.
I replied with the following regarding the idea of pulling together a new effort at Firefly:
It’s a logistical thing Sybil.
Nathan Fillion, aside from the side projects he does with Whedon (Dr. Horrible, Much Ado About Nothing), is tied up with ABC’s Castle. (He’s also been busy doing voice work for DC animated comic projects like Justice League: Doom, Green Lantern: Emerald Knights and more.)
[Psst: If you watch Nathan Fillion's hit ABC series, you might notice props from the Firefly series around his home.]
Gina Torres is on the hit series, Suits and does voice work for Transformers Prime. She also voiced a character for the animated movie, Justice League: Crisis of Two Earths.
Alan Tudyk is another unrecognized incredible talent, like Whedon’s film-making was underrated by the general public until The Avengers.
But his character from the series got smite in Serenity. But he’s swarmed busy with voice work in movies like Wreck-it-Ralph, Ice Age, and the animated series, Young Justice. He’s also in the show Suburgatory.
Tudyk can take whatever character he’s been given and create a completely unique mental architecture of the person and he can lose himself so far into the character, that each one is incredibly unique and completely believable.
I’ve been patiently waiting for him to break out and become hugely popular.
Morena Baccarin had a part in Homeland, and The Good Wife and has two movies coming up soon. The Unholy and Old Days.
Adam Baldwin has done a lot of one-up guests spots and has a crap agent I think. Look for him in an upcoming TV movie, The Last Ship. If you hit up fan conventions, he’s at all of them. That sort of says he needs the bucks.
But who here thinks he needs a spinoff of his character Jayne*? That would be, or could be a fun project. And a maybe, a sneaky way to create a new Firefly series.
Jewel Staite was in Stargate Atlantis and later in The LA Complex and some Syfy channel movies and guest spots.
She too needs a better agent.
Sean Maher has had roles in dismal shows,but he keeps landing roles. Right now, he’s probably hungry enough.
He landed recurring roles in The Playboy Club and Make it or Break It. He’s had a few movies over the last couple of years and has one coming out called BFFs.
Summer Glau has a complex marketing problem. She’s landed lots of roles, but her acting seems to have landed her in some realm of dark, non-appreciation, outside of Whedonverse circles.
She’s landed recurring roles in The 4400, The Sarah Connor Chronicles, Dollhouse, The Cape & Alphas.
Though she played a crazy psychic wonderfully on Firefly she was an integral part of the Serenity story.
Ron Glass’s character was also smite in Serenity but he’s free. His latest recurring role as the 2004-08 series, All Grown Up.
Can Firefly Be Rebooted or Continued?
There are multiple aspects to consider when pulling together a new effort to produce a new Firefly, and that’s of actor availability and market draw of each person. I know we like these people, but most of these names aren’t at the top of any regular marketing draw lists with studios and that’s something to consider, at least from the aspect of the studio.
On the other hand, we can all hope/pray/drool that maybe Whedon gives a new Firefly stint the “Dr Horrible” treatment and spend a few days making something. I bet the cast would be up for a quickie one-off. And now that the entire world outside the Whedonverse knows how good Whedon is, well, there’s going to be less resistance.
But I have to wonder if the rights owner would allow it.
This new movie coming out from Whedon, Much Ado About Nothing, was something he pulled together in a few weeks in his back yard. And he now has another movie coming soon, In Your Eyes.
But creatively, I’ve noticed that when Whedon has the opportunity, he moves forward with new ideas and projects rather than backward. It’s the smart, career move to make. But fans can hope, can’t they?
That’s what I’m seeing out there. Lots of noise, lots of sound-bites supporting the premise of a Firefly redo, (it keeps the fan-natives happy) but there’s no real effort by anyone. Anyone except some fan projects that were given Whedon’s blessing to move forward with their own stories under the franchise umbrella.
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For one thing, though it irks me and many fans, Fox still owns the rights to Firefly/Serenity. They’re not stupid and they’re not letting go of the franchise rights. They know what they’ve got on their hands.
There have been a few fan campaigns to try and help someone buy back the rights from Fox but as professional insiders have made note,
“(They) couldn’t think of a case where 20th Century Fox outright selling the rights to a property”
It’s actually an ugly, two-sided coin.
On one side, the Firefly property rights is a long-term investment for Fox. It will continue to make money for them for a very long time.
On the other hand, if a fan-driven campaign shows up with millions of dollars to buy out the rights to the show, that would seem to make their point on the value of the franchise. Then why would they sell?
We could have a reboot, but like I noted, Joss Whedon is more about moving forward. It’s like if you were to take an old job you had 10 years ago. As it stands, he’s done very well with movies and web series like Dr. Horrible, The Avengers, and his own creations, like Much Ado About Nothing and the upcoming In Your Eyes.
No matter how much we want back that magic that was Firefly, I would be seriously surprised if it happened. Practical business practices don’t seem to back this idea of something that happens.
OK, I’m taking a swing at
An Idea for Rebooting Firefly:
The following premise allows for a few things to happen:
- - Using the old cast, but allowing for those with full-time schedules to pursue what they’re doing while contributing to the franchise when they can
- - Continue the story of the Browncoats, the Alliance and such
- - Maintain the mythology of the ship, Serenity, and to continue to use her
- - Gets new, fresh cast member in the franchise that can help further it along for years to come (Not that the old cast can’t)
- - And, most importantly, allow for those who have met their ends in Serenity, continue contributing to the story
*Firefly fans will think this is evil, and yet, ingenious if there was a spinoff series with Glau and Baldwin’s characters. Wouldn’t that be the most perfect pairing up of two characters with a huge amount of tension between them. Jayne never trusted River. River… did she even know he existed?
Firefly Outline Suggestion:
Imagine, if you would, that somewhere down the road in a time that takes place long after the events of the movie Serenity, someone finds her, the Serenity, either floating in a junkyard or abandoned at some colony camp, collecting dirt clods. They’re desperate, probably smugglers. And with just a little work, they could get the Serenity back in the air. But why, in near perfect condition, was the ship left there?
Eh, it’s a salvage in working condition. And as it so seems, after a bit of time, they recognize the Serenity for what it is,the old ship of the famous Captain Malcolm Reynolds. But What could have happened after the events at Miranda? Why abandoned, or maybe, hidden?
The show could build its own story over time, but as that new story develops, the present crew find things. Either weapons or components that remind them of some valiant deed done by the past-gone crew, or even journal entries from the old crew and passengers that show this new crew what made this ship the symbol that it is today. They learn and get inspired by the lifeblood of the ship if you will, of the Serenity and all that it stands for from its much heralded piece of history.
Past adventures of “Mal” and the crew, or more importantly, new adventures we’ve never seen, can be discovered by this new crew.
The new crew feels inspired to keep the reputation of the Serenity going, follows as best they can, in their own adventures. Fighting for the oppressed… who ever they might be in this new era.
Again, this premise allows for fresh acting blood, frees up the need for trying to gather up the old cast and still allows us some new stories with old characters. Even the dead ones.
But that’s just me thinking out-loud, as I wrapped up writing about the Firefly franchise. Thoughts? I invite all to chime in.
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Serenity Movie Trailer: