Oh Firefly, your loss still stings after all these years. Of course, the silver lining in Firefly’s abrupt and controversial cancellation is that, at only fourteen episodes, there isn’t a bad episode amongst it. It is very nearly the dictionary definition of a perfect television show.
Yes, there is probably one episode there that isn’t as good as all the rest, but it never has anything resembling a “worst episode ever”, but of course the price to be paid was its sacrifice by the purple hands of the Fox Network.
What can be said about Firefly that hasn’t already been said? Created by Joss Whedon, starring Nathan Fillion, Alan Tudyk, Gina Torres, Jewel Staite, one of the best tv shows ever, can’t take the sky from me, etc, etc.
At only fourteen episodes, Firefly is the most easily bingeable television show and you get to finish it with a two-hour feature film at the end of it. Best of all, despite the abrupt cancellation, the television show itself feels brilliantly complete, whilst the movie is a joyous continuation that resolves a lot and sees the show and Joss having fun with its world on an even bigger canvas.
In fact, I really shouldn’t even be writing about the show anymore. Just go off, watch it and fall in love because in reality, Firefly is the most easiest show in the world to fall in love with and, unlike Joss’ other shows, you know the ones, they have a vampire slayer and a vampire detective in them, Firefly arrives perfectly formed. Where Buffy and Angel took a good half a season to find their feet, right from its opening sequence Firefly knows what it is and never drops the ball for a minute.
The world building that Joss accomplishes in the shape of the Pilot is incredible and he crafts his characters that he has occupying his world tremendously. It is without a doubt one of the best Pilots in the history of television, justifying its ninety minute run time and says everything it has to do so well.
Naturally Fox didn’t like and made it so that the show’s second episode was the one that it began with.
I could talk about a lot of the injustices that went on with Firefly and its troubled history with Fox, but I’d be here all day and what I really want to do is tell you why it’s so good to watch and the reason is that it’s so damn brilliant, but when you think about it, it’s commercial failing, or at the very least Fox’s inability to get is not that surprising.
A complicated world built around characters who are very three-dimensional with occasional use of Mandarin Chinese dialogue which is never subtitled, mainly because they could squeeze in swear words frowned upon by US television networks. It could only be Joss.
Make no mistake it is so easy to fall in love with Firefly. Halfway through the Pilot you’ll fall in love with everything about it and never want it to end, or at least that was how I felt when I first watched it. Funny, dramatic, dark when it needs to be and with a central character who is never the black and white hero you expect, it may only be fourteen episodes long, but Firefly is damn well as perfect a television show as you’re going to get.
In fact if every other episode was bad and it only had Out of Gas in it then Firefly would still be highly recommended, its perfect blend of flashbacks, emotion, angst and humour is one of the most perfectly constructed hours of television ever produced. Thankfully nearly every episode is damn well perfect and is well worth watching over and over and over again.
AIRDATE: September 2002-December 2002
NUMBER OF SEASONS-One (unfortunately)
NOTABLE WRITERS: Joss Whedon of course, but his second in command on the show was Tim Minear, one of this reviewer’s favourite television writers, he also directed several episodes and was responsible for Out of Gas. The series also features regular Whedon collaborators Jane Espenson and Ben Edlund, both of whom were responsible for some great episodes here but also some of the best hours of Buffy and Angel.
NOTABLE DIRECTORS: Once again we have Joss Whedon and Tim Minear, but there are also frequent Mutant Enemy directors in the shape of James Contner, Marita Grabiak and David Solomon. Vondie Curtis-Hall who starred in Daredevil also directed an episode, the wonderful Our Mrs Reynolds, but as it’s a Joss show, the best visuals, scenes and performances are elicited from Joss’ work.
NOTABLE ACTORS/ACTRESSES-With a cast like this, everyone is notable and it goes without saying Firefly has probably the greatest ensemble regular cast of any show in television. The use of guest stars is also superlative, with Christina Hendricks (pre-Mad Men no less), Mark Sheppherd and Michael Fairman all being massive stand outs.
BEST SEASON: Do I really have to go there?
WORST SEASON: Once again, do I really have to go there?
BEST EPISODE: Yeah, it’s Out of Gas, one of the most perfect episodes of television ever. Honourable mention to every other episode too, including the Pilot where the series genuinely sells its world as having existed before you even see the first scene of the episode.