The Firefly-Serenity Phenomenon


FireflyopeninglogoNetflix is featuring a series entitled Firefly, which did not last the full first season, pulled from the Fox network in the 11th episode, despite 14 episodes being filmed. Netflix has all 14 episodes and the follow-up film entitled Serenity, the name of the Firefly space ship in the year 2517.

Firefly_wallpaper-01The series premiered on Fox network TV on September 20th, 2002 and by the middle of December had averaged about 4.7 million viewers per episode. According to the Nielsen ratings it ranked 98th. However, when it ended the DVD of the series boosted in sales, mostly from word-of-mouth from fans and people who discovered the series. Fans were outraged that Fox had pulled the plug on the growing popularity of the show so early, not even waiting until the season finished. The producer/director and writers were prepared to have the series run up to seven years.

220px-Joss_Whedon_by_Gage_Skidmore_4Joss Whedon, under the Mutant Enemy Productions label wrote and directed the show. To show the huge error by the powers of Fox network (relying on an unreliable Nielsen Rating), the series, despite ending before the first season, won the Primetime Emmy Award the following year (2003) for Outstanding Special Visual Effects for a Series.

Under the direction of Joss Whedon, the show explored the lives of a group of people who fought on the losing side of a civil war and other characters living on the outskirts of a pioneer society that developed when humans ventured out into the universe to terraform worlds so they could be inhabited, a goal that NASA has been aiming at using Mars as an experimental model. What is science fiction today becomes reality tomorrow.

The series displays the only surviving superpowers as the United States and China who form a central government on Earth called the Alliance. What makes the series so interesting and special is its actors who play the crew of Serenity; each having different personalities. As Whedon stated:

The show reveals nine people looking into the blackness of space and seeing nine different things.

Whedon also stated on a documentary DVD:

nothing will change in the future: technology will advance, but we will still have the same political, moral, and ethical problems as today.

In the TV Guide ranking, it is #5 on the 2013 list of 60 shows that were “Canceled Too Soon”.

Firefly expanded into a film that takes up where the series left off, designed to have sequels which still have not been produced. Universal Pictures picked up the push by Whedon and its actors in the fight for the return of the series by producing the film aforementioned. The franchise expanded into comics and a role-playing game. The cast helped greatly in the success of return of Firefly in the Universal Pictures film, Serenity, who were:

  • cast_malNathan Fillion as Malcolm “Mal” Reynolds, owner and captain of Serenity, formerly a platoon sergeant in the 57th Overlanders known as the Browncoats. Nathan is best known for his role as Richard Castle in the ABC series Castle. He also appears in the internet-distributed film entitled Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog available at Netflix. His voice is used in the Halo video game series. [Halo 3 and Halo: Reach] He is looking forward to making a sequel film if the original actors can and will return.
  • cast_zoeGina Torres as Zoe Alleyne Washburne, second-in-command of the Serenity, a loyal wartime friend of Captain Reynolds and wife of the pilot, Wash. She served in Reynolds’ platoon as a corporal and became lieutenant aboard the Serenity. Gina is a talented actress who has appeared in several television series that include Hercules, Xena, and the short-lived series Cleopatra 2025. She also starred in films like The Matrix sequels and The Shield. Not many people seem to know that she is a mezzo-soprano, singing at an early age, with a beautiful voice. Her recent role is portraying Jessica Pearson on the USA Network series Suits.
  • cast_washAlan Tudyk as Hoban “Wash” Washburne is the Serenity pilot and Zoe’s husband. Alan portrayed Wat in A Knight’s Tale and currently co-stars in the sitcom Suburgatory. He also had a starring role in the film 42 as Ben Chapman. Surprisingly and unfortunately, Wash, the pilot is killed in the final scenes of Serenity, the film sequel to the series.
  • cast_inaraMorena Baccarin as Inara Serra, is a Companion, a 26th Century Geisha, mistress, or courtesan. She rents one of two of Serenity‘s shuttles. She is highly educated and is the Hooker with a heart of gold. Morena is a beautiful Brazilian American actress who appeared as Adria in the Stargate SG-1 series and the follow-up film entitled Stargate: The Ark of Truth. She also portrayed Jessica Brody in the Showtime series Homeland and received an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series in 2013. She is married to American film producer and director, Austin Chick [2011] and has a son, Julius, born October 22nd, 2013.
  • cast_jayneAdam Baldwin [not related to the Hollywood Baldwin brothers] acts as Jayne Cobb, the mercenary. He and Captain Mal are constantly at odds with each other. Despite his façade of an unintelligent muscle man who asks questions others care not to. He is outspoken and his only intense fear is that of the Reavers. Despite his tendency to not be honorable, he sends part of his income to his mother and soon the viewer sees there is more to this macho dude than is on the surface. Adam was Animal Mother in Stanley Kubrick’s Full Metal Jacket, and acted in My Bodyguard, Knowle Rohrer in The X-Files, in Angel and in Day Break. More recently he starred as a Colonel on Chuck. In 2006 he won the SyFy Genre Award for Best Supporting Actor/Television for his role in Firefly. Some other films he starred in: Predator 2, Radio Flyer, Digital Man, Wyatt Earp, How to Make an American Quilt, Independence Day as Major Mitchell, Starquest II, The Patriot as Captain Wilkins; Gargantua, The Right Temptation, Evil Eyes, and Gospel Hill. Adam is an avid supporter of Ride 2 Recovery, a rehabilitation program for wounded veterans. He has contributed the blogs The Huffington Post and Big Hollywood. Among the Firefly fan organization he is the most dedicated. He portrayed the voice of Kal’Reegar, the Quarian marine squad leader in the role-playing game entitled Mass Effect 2. He considers himself a small government conservative libertarian who was once registered as a Democrat, but change his views after reading Radical Son by David Horowitz.
  • cast_kayleeJewel Staite plays as Kaywinnet Lee “Kaylee” Frye, the ship’s mechanic. She is an intuitive, natural-born mechanic with no formal training and she keeps Serenity in top shape; well as best can be done when spare parts are not around. She has a bubbly personality and tries to see the goodness in people and genuinely loves all of Serenity‘s crew. Jewel is from Canada and has acted in Space Cases and Stargate Atlantis. Most recently she starred as Raquel Westbrook in the Canadian drama The L.A. Complex. Youngest of seven children, she modeled as a child and began acting at age six. She is British, Irish, French Canadian and Iroquois ancestry – a good Canadian mix. She played Heidi Gotts in the television series Wonderfalls and appeared in a Season Three episode of The X-Files. She also appeared in the Sc-Fi film, Mothman. Mothman was directed by Sheldon Wilson.
  • cast_simonSean Maher as Dr. Simon Tam, a medical researcher and trauma surgeon whose brilliant career is cut short after breaking his sister [River] out of a government research facility using her as a human guinea pig. Kaylee has a crush on him, but his bumbling attempts to romance her fail. Sean is an American actor best known for his role in Firefly and the follow-up film, Serenity. He has a degree in drama [1997] and has acted on stage in several productions including Yerma and Into the Woods. He has appeared on CSI: Miami and the Wedding Wars in 2006. He took a break from acting to be a stay-at-home dad when his daughter Liam Xavier was born, adopted by him and his life-partner Paul, and returned to TV in 2009 as a guest star in Drop Dead Diva as well as guest appearances in The Mentalist in 2010. He as in the first season of Human Target and the second season of Warehouse 13. In 2011 he got a role in the series The Playboy Club, portraying a closeted gay man. He portrayed the villainous Don John in Joss Whedon’s 2012 adaptation of Much Ado About Nothing. Sean publicly announced being gay in 2011 after he accepted the role as a gay man on The Playboy Club set. He has two adopted girls.
  • cast_riverSummer Glau as River Tam – smuggled aboard the Serenity by her brother, she is a genius who is compassionate and has abilities of premonition thanks to the experimental brain surgery at an Alliance secret lab facility. Her flashbacks become unsettling to crew members, especially to Jayne. Summer Glau is an American actress who is the youngest of the Firefly crew family, which the series was her second television credit – her first as a ballerina in 2002 episode of Waiting in the Wings. She caught the eye of director/producer Joss Whedon, who cast her to play the part of River Tam. She appeared in the film Sleepover, the second season of The Unit; and in 2006 she was cast as a paranoid schizophrenic in The 4400. The episode was “Wake-Up Call”. In 2010 she got a leading role in Joss Whedon’s Dollhouse for at two episodes. She debuted in the Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles in 2008. She was also the voice of Kara Zor-El in the animated movie: Superman/Batman: Apocalypse. She is involved in a number of charities, like B.C. Women’s Hospital & Health Centre and is an animal lover who supports the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. She had become a vegetarian in 1995, but in 2005, by the end of shooting Serenity, I was eating steaks. Her extraordinary fight scenes in Firefly and the film Serenity are real looking because she is trained in multiple forms of martial arts that include king fu and kickboxing.
  • cast_bookRon Glass as Derrial Book, a Shepherd [pastor], apparently devoted to Christianity, but mysteriously has extensive knowledge of criminal activities and the law enforcement community. He is depicted as a person who is more than he appears to be. He objects to violence but he joins the fight when companions are in danger, stating that the Bible is not specific about killing in self-defense. Ron is an American actor, the oldest of the Firefly crew and is best known for his witty portrayal of Detective Ron Harris in Barney Miller. [1975-1982] Before working in Hollywood he appeared on stage. His earliest appearance was on television in episodes of Sanford and Son in 1972. He also appeared in an episode of All in the Family (1973), The Bob Newhart Show, and Good Times (1974). In 1975, he landed the role in Barney Miller until 1982 and the following season he starred in the remake of The Odd Couple called The New Odd Couple, which didn’t last long. He has appeared as a guest star in dozens of television series. Glass is a member of the Soka Gakkai International and a Buddhist. If there are any future film projects for the Firefly crew, Ron will not be in it because he dies at the end of the film Serenity. I was upset when his character died, especially since nothing was revealed about his mysterious life before becoming a Shepherd. Maybe the writers in any future endeavors will resurrect him or at least reveal his character’s history. There isn’t much about his personal life available.

There are also recurring characters in several episodes.

One of the best things about the series and the film was how the crew became like family, Serenity becoming their flying home. Their closeness is not just acting, they had become like family on the set and apparently still stay in contact.

I do hope that Joss Whedon intends to and succeeds in making a sequel to the film Serenity and that the actors whose character was not killed return for further adventures that would please the Browncoats fan genre. Firefly still lives in the hearts and minds of its millions of Browncoats and the series as well as the film is available at Amazon in DVD and BlueDisc. Nathan Fillion seems skeptical in getting the old crew back to make a sequel, but stated he would jump at the chance. It seems that Whedon is on board with that idea as well. Like other series, it became more popular after it ended; however, it never really got the chance by Fox network bosses. Netflix has made it boom in popularity once again.

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FURTHER READING:

Orbiting Lights

Firefly Fans Site

The Cortex

11th Hour

Is Serenity Getting a Sequel?

Huffington Post

http://www.fireflyfans.net/