Spotlight: Firefly and Serenity (Review)

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Whatever happened to Zorro? I think I may have seen him on a spaceship, a Firefly-class cargo vessel called Serenity. And there was even an episode with a swordfight!

Serenity: The Official Visual Companion

Large-format, full-color. Intro by Joss Whedon. In-depth interview. Full shooting script. Production memos. “A Brief History of the Universe, circa 2507AD.” Stunning movie stills, storyboards, production art.

Zorro was not just a guy with a cape and a mask. Zorro was the great righter of wrongs, the prototypical American hero, he who fights for the poor and downtrodden, those too weak to fight for themselves, against those who have power and aren’t afraid to abuse it.

Firefly is both a space opera and a western, and it has a spiritual side, too. And it includes the essences of our favorite heroes, from the A-Team to Zorro and everyone inbetween. Originally marketed as a sci-fi comedy, Firefly does have some funny moments, but really it is a serial drama in the spirit of Babylon 5, with a deep, engaging, complex storyline and a whole heck of a lot of character.

It tells the story of nine people trying to live their lives, just trying to make ends meet, trying to do the right thing and stay out of trouble in the process. This is one of those few series in which it is difficult to pick the best episodes, because every one is a classic.

To get the most from the story, watch the episodes in the correct story order, which unfortunately was not the order in which the episodes were originally aired. (Also note that the Firefly DVD set includes all 14 episodes, not just the 12 that made it to TV.)

Despite its short run and premature cancellation, Joss Whedon created in Firefly the very definition of enthralling and engrossing. Firefly was one of the most innovative series of 2002, for its writing, its cinematography, its soundtrack, even its vibrant and diverse setting that crosses cultural boundaries.

A major story throughout Firefly is that of River, a 17-year-old girl involunarily subjected to invasive brain surgery by an autocratic government, leaving her emotionally disturbed yet with mental powers unknown to Serenity’s crew. The 2005 movie Serenity, recently released on DVD, continues her story.

In Serenity, River faces her new powers and seeks the cause of her dimentia. In the process, the Serenity crew must face the most horrifying supervillian yet.

Serenity does not capture all the charm of the original series. It’s primarily a scifi-action thriller, with so much ongoing intensity, there’s not enough time to take a breath and appreciate the character interactions. But there is enough depth there to make rewatching Serenity worthwhile, especially in the light of the Firefly episodes.

At a few points, the plot did become a wee bit James Bond. I mean if you actually intended to kill the villian, you should’ve blown his head off. If you didn’t blow his head off, you should not be surprised that as soon as you turn your back, he’s on you like a reaver.

It’s also a little unclear who the real hero of Serenity is, but I guess the story is strong enough to support two heroes.

Already cult classics, Firefly and Serenity have enough in them to appeal to a diverse audience.

A comic book called Serenity, currently in print, bridges the gap in story from Firefly (the series) to Serenity (the movie).

The Sci-Fi Channel will be running an all-day marathon of the first 12 Firefly episodes in the correct story order. It’s on Friday, January 6, 2006, at 8 A.M. See http://www.scifi.com/firefly/ for more information.

BTW, Here’s the Serenity trailer:

About J. Timothy King
J. Timothy King

I'm the eldest of three siblings, a stay-at-home father of two daughters, the husband of a wonderful wife, and an indie author of life-expanding character fiction. When not writing, I read, watch old TV and movies, play bass guitar, and tend to my family in our Boston-area apartment.

Catch me on:  my web site Facebook Twitter 

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