“Firefly” T.V. Show Review

What did I do? I watched Firefly. And if a show is able to make me content being that slothful and doing nothing else for an entire week, it was worth doing a post. This space western drama by nerd icon Joss Whedon originally aired for a brief 3-month stint on Fox before getting canceled; for all intents and purposes, it was dead upon arrival. I’ll dive further into detail about that, but let’s dissect the series as it was. Set 500 years in the future, the Solar System we currently live in has been used up, and all of the human population has migrated to a new one. Dozens of new planets and moons were terraformed to match the likeness of Earth. The “core” planets are very lush in technology, while the “outer” planets are quite forbidding and desolate- the primary setting of the series. Shortly after colonization, the United States and China formed a supergovernment known as the Alliance and began a war against outer planet colonies for total dominance. The rebels, widely called Browncoats, got stomped in the war, thus the Alliance now maintains control over the vast system. Six years later, the main character Malcolm Reynolds, who fought on the losing side, embarks on a series of quests onboard his Firefly-class smuggling ship, Serenity. He goes on adventures alongside one of the greatest ensemble casts in the history of television. The very first thing to address is that Firefly is more like a Western than it is a sci-fi. There are no alien species, most people in the galaxy use powder weapons rather than lasers, and most of the outer planets feel like deserts for people to run around on horseback. In that sense, it’s arguable that Firefly is the grounded and plausible depiction of the far future yet, no disrespect to Star Trek. Now let’s break down each crew member aboard Serenity. First of all, Malcolm Reynolds is one of the greatest characters Joss Whedon has ever written. He’s such a bitter, cynical space pirate after losing the Unification War. You really get the implication that not only did he lose the war, he lost his faith entirely. Actor Nathan Fillion was able to bring a likability and a sense of humor that made Mal feel like a complete person. He does put up a lot of walls on himself, but that’s because he absolutely has a heart of gold underneath. It just got ripped out a stomped. His second-in-command is Zoe Washbourne, a war buddy who is incredibly efficient with firefights. What makes both her and Mal complete badasses is that Greedo would never stand a chance; they shoot first. Her husband, Wash, is more or less the comic relief of the show. He never fought in a war, he never lost anything, so he’s not bitter. He pilots Serenity and manages to get the crew out of tricky scenarios. Then, there’s Derrial Book, a Shepherd or priest. Mal is initially reluctant about letting a preacher on board, but they mutually respect one another. Book is the voice of reason among a ship full of criminals and wackjobs. It’s implied that he has some high priority status with The Alliance in the past, but since the show was canceled, we’ll never know. (Unless you read a graphic novel) Jayne is the mercenary aboard the ship, meaning he will do anything you tell him as long as he’s paid. His personal love is Vera, a custom firearm of great power. Next, is Inara, the credible person aboard. She’s a Companion, which is more or less the Buddhist version of a prostitute. That’s right, prostitution has been made legal in the future, thus they are seen with high members of society. Another strong woman is Kaylee, the engineer that helps run the ship and figure out the kinks. Though a Firefly is  not prestigious, Kaylee is still highly optimistic and the only genuinely sweet crew member. Now fo the Tams. Simon is an extremely intelligent doctor from the Alliance, who brings a mysterious crate on board. You find out it’s his sister, River. He gave up his entire fortune to find her and get her to safety. River was experimented on and is quite confused throughout the show. Even with such a big ensemble, everyone on the show feels relevant at all times. Projected by the fact that everyone on the show loved each other as a family in real life. So why did Fox break up a family? Because they didn’t like it. They chose to air all of the episodes out of order, and ultimately cancel a show that was before its time. It’s almost a slap in the face. It’s an example of a drama that can still be funny due to good comedic timing. However, when the show wants to be creepy and uncomfortable, it’s definitely that. A few times, Serenity runs into the Reavers, a sub-populace of cannibalistic humans that will rape you to death and sew your skin onto their clothes. Scares me every time I see a ship of theirs. Despite the short run, Firefly still has relatable characters, a fantastic musical score, a unique style, and realistic dialogue. After finishing, you’ll be watching the movie Serenity. Joss Whedon did get a chance from Universal Pictures to wrap up his story in cinematic form. But that’s another review for another day soon.

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