Firefly is one of those shows that everyone assumes that you, dear reader, as a sci-fi fan, have watched. After all, it’s only one short season and a movie. And it was written by Joss Whedon, god of screenwriting. (See: the awesomeness of The Avengers and Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog, for just a few examples.)
But full disclosure: I didn’t watch Firefly until about a month ago. So let me tell you what it’s all about, and what’s good and bad about it.
First of all, the story: Firefly is the tale of a ragtag crew on the Firefly Class spaceship Serenity. They do odd jobs—shipping, passenger transport, etc.—to make money, and they’re unconcerned about the legality of said work. They take on a brother and sister as passengers who are, unbeknownst to them, on the run from the law, and the adventures proceed from there. As a friend and I painstakingly explained to another friend who didn’t understand the concept of a space opera, Firefly is basically a western but with spaceships instead of horse-drawn carriages.
So what’s so great about this show? The short answer is the characters and the dialogue. The characters are each unique and nuanced in their own wonderful ways: soldier-turned-smuggler with a heart of gold Captain Malcolm Reynolds, brilliant mechanic Kaylee, violence-loving soldier of fortune Jayne, wisecracking pilot Wash,
whore companion with a heart of gold Inara, etc. etc. As is expected from Joss Whedon, the female characters shine in this show, each avoiding trite stereotypes. The dialogue is snappy and clever, including such gems (that you’ve probably heard but didn’t know were from Firefly) as:
“Curse your sudden but inevitable betrayal!”
“I swear by my pretty floral bonnet I will end you.”
(upon seeing something sexy) “I’ll be in my bunk.”
A warning about the plot of Firefly, though: it doesn’t have much of one. The government’s pursuit of River and Simon, the brother and sister duo, follows the crew of Serenity throughout the fourteen episodes of the first season, but all in all it’s very episodic. Certainly not the most compelling or best show I’ve ever watched, but still very good, and a short time commitment compared to other epic sci-fi shows spanning several seasons.
That, of course, is part of the hype of Firefly: nerds everywhere lament that Fox canceled the show before it could get more than one season on air, and fans banding together got enough of a complaint out there that they got the cast reunited for the movie, Serenity.
I can see both sides of this: what the nerds saw that made them want to have more, and why the studios didn’t care to renew it. But I’d definitely recommend that you add this to your sci-fi repertoire if you haven’t seen it yet—it’s pretty shiny. (That’s cool in Firefly-slang. ;D)