Firefly

Space cowboys, space hookers and no ugly people. That's the future of the human race.

Looks gay but has space hookers

Just The Facts

  1. Firefly is a sci-fi series set 500 years in the future, in another galaxy, and still no God damn hoverboards.
  2. Though critically acclaimed at its time of broadcast and now considered a TV classic, ratings were miniscule.
  3. In a 2007 poll, readers of SFX Magazine voted 'Serenity' the best sci-fi movie of all time that they had seen within the last few months and could vaguely remember enjoying.

The TV Series

 

Joss Whedon, creator of Buffy the Vampire Slayer had a vision. A vision of cowboys in space, almost like a 'Wagon Train to the stars'. When he realised that Star Trek had already done that forty years previously,  he did what any TV genius would - added some space hookers and a few cannibals. 'Firefly' was set a thousand years into the future, when Earth's reseources had been used up and its inhabitants journeyed across the galaxy looking for new planets to colonise. We were shown a brave new world where girls could be mechanics, men could be called Jayne, and medical professionals kept their naked, teenaged sisters in crates.
 

 

Firefly's chief protagonist was anti-hero Captain Mal Reynolds, veteran of a bloody civil war between the unionist Alliance government and the seperatist border planets which preferred autonomy. Mal was a Browncoat, a member of the losing seperatist side who then decided to operate as far from Alliance control as possible, as a smuggler and petty thief. Alongside him was war buddy Zoe and her husband, the affable pilot Wash. Along the way they picked up Kaylee Frye, a terminally cheerful mechanic, Jayne Cobb, a mercenary hired for his muscle, and Inara Serra, a registered 'Companion'. (Yes, she's the space hooker.)
 
Whilst picking up passengers to make some easy money Mal and his crew come across Shepherd Book, a missionary and Simon Tam, a doctor. Taking them on board in good faith they soon find out that Simon's luggage contains contraband in the shape of his mentally disturbed 17 year old sister River, whom he has liberated from a secret government testing facility. The Tams are wanted criminals but they're both attractive and nubile, so they join the crew and give Mal yet another reason to stay at arm's length of the Alliance.
 
Also, sometimes some terrifying space cannibals show up and try to rape them to death and wear their skins.
 
Beginning with the feature-length pilot 'Serenity', the show introduced us to its main cast, the people they dealt with and their general 'issues' with the government. Then it introduced them again in 'The Train Job', and again in 'Bushwacked' until the series finally started to hit its stride with episode four, 'War Stories'. The problem was, Fox didn't air the episodes in the order they were meant to be, and shuffled them around the schedule in an hilarious game of 'spot the show you're trying to get into'. Sometimes they would just pull it altogether and put baseball on, knowing how sci-fi fans love them some team sports.

Death and Re-Birth

Firefly lasted for 14 episodes before Fox cancelled it citing low viewing figures, distinct lack of potential for a reality show spin-off and not enough gun-toting space hookers. They aired 12 episodes, cutting the show loose before the airing of 'Heart of Gold', which ironically was 40 odd minutes of space hookers shooting at things. The two unaired episodes wound up on the DVD, which went on to sell more copies than The Bible and the Koran combined as every Firefly fan bought at least six copies to aggressively loan to their unenlightened friends. The success of the DVD vindicated the decision of Universal pictures to greenlight a movie which would tie up all the loose ends of the series. Of course the Firefly fans who had boosted the DVD sales then assumed it was them who had gotten the movie made and became largely insufferable, strutting round Comic-Con in their Captain Mal get up nodding "You're welcome" to Universal Execs and proffering their wisdom to every poor schmo whose show had just been cancelled.

'Serenity'

Picking up roughly six months after the events of the series, the movie Serenity tied up many of the loose ends that Firefly had left dangling. We find out happened to River Tam when she was abducted by the government, and meet The Operative, assigned to capture her so that the wacky secrets in her head don't come spilling out and bring down the Alliance. We also see the making of the Reavers - a troupe of cannibals who look like escaped mental patients at a Predator lookalike contest. There's some other stuff about the nature of freedom, more eye-fucking that is strictly necessary and a hell of a lot of fight scenes, this being a Whedon product. Also, as you might imagine, Joss Whedon uses the last twenty minutes to turn every fan of the series into a weeping, foetal ball and you start to wonder whether any of the characters are going to live through the movie.

Serenity didn't perform badly at the box office, again the ticket sales were bolstered by fans seeing the movie five billion times each and making papier mache effigies of Fox Executives out of their ticket stubs which they then burned and danced around. Probably. Rumours of another movie were quickly squashed and the Firefly fans went about their lives, never dwelling on what could have been. Oh no, wait...

The Browncoats

Having tasted victory once, the Browncoats (Firefly fans ironically named after the resistance soldiers who never could quite let anything go) persisted in keeping their show alive. Because the series had been of little commercial interest to Fox after the cancellation, a kind of unofficial amnesty had been called over the likes of image rights and trademarks. Thus a booming trade started in Firefly related t-shirts and other merchandise, until Universal stepped in and tried to claw back some of the money from what was now their property. The fans revolted and sent Universal scurrying with a website called Browncoatinvoice.com (now redirects to an unofficial site for Mutant Enemy Productions, Whedon's company) which detailed the cash value of all the free advertising and promotional work the fans had done for the movie. Charity screenings of Serenity continue to this day to raise money for Joss Whedon's favourite charity Equality Now and there remains a stronghold of Firefly fans who are still merchandising, promoting and flogging that horse corpse.

'Cultural' Impact

Remember when your boyfriend dumped you and you spent countless hours hugging that old sweatshirt he left at your place, sobbing and re-reading his text messages for any secret code which might say "It was all a prank! Meet me at midnight on the common and bring your box of tissues that I used." Remember that? No? Okay fine, whatever. (David, if you're reading this, it means you still love me.) Anyway, the fans of Firefly raped the text for anything they could cling to as a reminder of better times. People knitted 'Jayne hats', a woolly hat worn by one character once in one episode for about three scenes, and juggled stuffed geese in reference to a throwaway line in the episode 'Our Mrs Reynolds'.

In the series the two surviving super powers are the USA and China, so aside from the show's own dialect terms ('Shiny' meaning 'good' and 'verse' meaning the universe) the script was peppered with Chinese sayings. Any assembly of Browncoats (or 'shindig') will look like a cross between the OK Corral and downtown Shanghai.