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November 25, 2014

Jane After Dark: Firefly

by Jane Boursaw, posted May 24th 2009 7:10PM
FireflyI'm almost to the end of Firefly, my Jane After Dark readers' choice for this week. I really love this series, from the quirky characters to the general theme of a band of renegades burgling their way through the universe.

But even though it's set 500 years in the future, Firefly isn't your typical sci-fi space series that includes all manner of aliens and weird creatures. They're on a spaceship, and yet they rob trains. How cool is that?! It's like Alias Smith and Jones meets Babylon 5.

As with the other Whedon shows I've watched – Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel – the stories are fun and deep and fanciful (yes, I said fanciful), but it's the characters and their interactions that make the shows.

Everyone is really well-defined:

  • Malcolm Reynolds, the tough and scrappy but trustworthy captain (I'm a big Nathan Fillion girl, dating back to when he played Joey Buchanan on One Life to Live in the 1990s);
  • Zoe Washburne, the kick-ass second in command;
  • Hoban Washburne, Zoe's hubby who drives the spaceship;
  • Inara Serra, the calm and dignified "companion," even when Mal calls her a whore;
  • Jayne Cobb, the professional thief who's willing to turn his crewmates in for the reward money;
  • Kaylee Frye, the joyful engineer who knows every piece of Serenity in staggering detail;
  • Simon Tam, the doctor who looks after his sister with gentle kindness;
  • River Tam, the wide-eyed, psychic savant with some brain issues;
  • Shepherd Book, the preacher who's hiding a few secrets. And how fun to see Ron Glass. I know he's done a lot since Barney Miller, but I'll always think of him as the wise-cracking Det. Harris.

I love that none of the crew members ever seem particularly shocked at their situation, especially Mal. Naked in the desert? No problem. Alone and nursing a bullet wound on a dying ship? All in a day's work. Chance meeting with the woman who tried to kill you? Such is life.

I'm also delighted to see actors I never expected to see, like Christina Hendricks as Saffron. She seems so tiny in Firefly, and yet so larger-than-life as buxom head secretary Joan Holloway on Mad Men.

In "Bushwacked," how weird to see Doug Savant as Commander Harken. Quite the change from his role as hen-pecked Tom Scavo on Desperate Housewives. And in the episode with flashbacks to Simon and River's childhood, I marveled at how they were able to cast a boy who looked just like Simon, only younger. Imagine my surprise to read the end credits and learn that it was Zac Efron.

Favorite scenes, in no particular order:

"Serenity" – When Kaylee eats the strawberry. You can practically taste its fruity goodness when she bites into it.

"Trash" – When Mal ends up in the desert naked (possibly my favorite scene of the series), after his ex-wife Saffron double-crosses him. Again. But Mal and Inara have a plan of their own.

"Safe" – When River instantly picks up the villagers' dance moves and begins dancing with them, while nearby the crew is in hand-to-hand combat with other renegades.

"War Stories" – When River picks up the gun and blind-shoots with extreme accuracy while Kaylee's pinned down.

"Out of Gas" – There just did NOT seem to be any happy ending when we see Mal bleeding and near death in the opening scene. The story of how he got there, interwoven with how the crew originally came together, is probably my favorite episode.

"Our Mrs. Reynolds" – When Inara kisses Mal after finding him on the floor, laid flat by the chemical on Saffron's lips when she kissed him. When Inara succumbs, too, she comes up with a story (lame, I might add) about falling and passing out. Mal always knows more than he's saying, though.

"War Stories" – Inara's wealthy client is a woman! Kind of continues Whedon's lesbian theme (Buffy's Tara and Willow, to name two). I guess it comes with the territory for Inara.

Other thoughts:

The Music. I knew from watching Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog recently that Whedon is also a darn good songwriter. The haunting and folksy theme song, "The Ballad of Serenity," hooks you right at the opening credits, and weaves beautifully in and out through the episodes.

The Whedon Stable. I love how the same actors keep showing up in all of his shows. It seems that getting in good with Whedon is like a gift from God, because you'll always have a job of some sort. I know I'll miss some here, but Nathan Fillion, Adam Baldwin, Gina Torres, Alan Tudyk, Summer Glau, and Mark Sheppard have all appeared in other Whedon shows.

The Movie. I actually watched (and loved) Serenity when it came out in theaters. One of my favorite lines was during a scene where River was doing some kick-ass fighting, and someone asked Mal if he knew who she was. He looked thoughtfully at her and said, "I really don't." That makes a lot more sense now that I've seen the series, as does the rest of the movie. I'll definitely watch it again, after I finish Firefly. Still a couple of eps to go.

I look forward to hearing your thoughts on Firefly.

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31 Comments

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chet

i loved the series
sad when it was canceled.
liked the movie
though wasnt happy about losing wash and booke
it was touching

May 29 2009 at 9:12 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
sue

there are two comic book arcs available at amazon that you might want to get your hands on.

they are nice and the story telling is super good.

Serenity, Vol. 1: Those Left Behind

Serenity, Vol. 2: Better Days

May 28 2009 at 7:02 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Greg

Firefly was such a great show. I watched it on Fox, then on Sci-Fi when they aired all the episodes, bought the DVD's, then blu-ray. I was hoping that Serenity would've been a big hit and we would see another movie and/or another chance for the TV show.

I hope Joss one day will revisit the show with either a comic book series like Buffy or graphic novels/regular novels.

May 27 2009 at 7:10 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
jboursaw

So I watched the last 2 eps last night. Great stuff. Even though I knew the end was near, I was sad when it ended, and with all of these untold stories, too. In the special features, Ron Glass said he'd just like to get to the point where he could talk about the series without weeping. If it's bad for us, it must have been awful for the cast when it ended.

In "Objects in Space" - the scene with River in Early's ship, and then Mal launching him off into space and catching River back on the top of Firefly - awesome scenes.

And oh! The love scene between Mal and Nandi in "Heart of Gold" - hot. I don't know how Whedon does it, but the love scenes in his shows are always ultra-hot.

I saw Serenity when it first came out, but have to go back and watch it again. I was talking to a friend today who said he didn't like Serenity because it veered from the storylines told in the TV series. Did you guys feel that way?

Someone mentioned the weirdness of the episode orders when they aired on TV. That must have been really weird.

And when I finished the last episode, I immediately wanted to go back and watch the entire series again to catch all the stuff I missed!

May 26 2009 at 11:13 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Alicia R.

Firefly... I ODed on it on Hulu... and now I will pick up the DVDs. So many great lines... so much fun. *sigh*

At least you found it now.

May 26 2009 at 1:24 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
gonnabechef

Peter: Everybody I've got bad news. We've been cancelled.

Lois: Oh no Peter! How could they do that?

Peter: Well unfortuantely Lois, there's just no more room on the schedule. We just gotta accept the fact that FOX has to make room for terrific shows like Dark Angel, Titus, Undeclared, Action, That 80's Show, Wonder Falls, Fast Lane, Andy Richter Controls The Universe, Skin, Girl's Club, Cracking Up, The Pitts, Firefly, Get Real, Freaky Links, Wanda At Large, Costello, The Lone Gunman, A Minute with Stan Hooper, Normal Ohio, Pasadena, Harsh Realm, Keen Eddy, The Street, American Embassy, Cedric The Entertainer, The Tick, Louie, And Greg The Bunny....

Lois: Is there no hope?

Peter: Well I suppose if ALL those shows go down the tubes we might have a shot.

May 25 2009 at 1:55 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Evocatus

You should do articles for shows that are still on instead of canceled already so u can build up interest, especially for the ones as good as firefly.

May 25 2009 at 6:52 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Evocatus's comment
Leroy

Let's get real. Even if a show as good as Firefly should turn up, no matter how much fans praise it, it will be cancelled, particularly if it's on Fox. There are only a handful of us in this country capable of recognizing and appreciating quality and none of them are TV executives.

Fox alone has cancelled more good shows in the last 10 years than they have renewed for a second season in their entire history. The very fact that Till Death survived to a second episode, much less a third season, is proof that Fox is run by idiots.

May 25 2009 at 11:50 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Marcus Gorman

One of the greats.

BTW, Christina Hendricks looks more buxom on MAD MEN because she's padded. She is still, in real life, quite a full-figured woman, but the costume department helps a bit turning her into Joan.

May 25 2009 at 2:19 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
YouFaceTheTick

Fantastic show.

May 25 2009 at 1:25 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Ed Huang

My suggestion if you are still looking for a cancelled series that was pretty brilliant and cancelled in Fox's friday death slot is Wonderfalls. It has a connection to Firefly because Jewel Strait was on the final episodes.

May 25 2009 at 1:14 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to Ed Huang's comment
Jeff

same producer too.

May 25 2009 at 2:25 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Gordon Werner

Wonderfalls was awesome ... let me add Dead Like Me as another cancelled too soon series (although not by FOX)

May 25 2009 at 3:27 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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