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"Done The Impossible" Firefly fans documentary - Scifi.com Review

Cristopher DeRose

Saturday 10 February 2007, by Webmaster

Done the Impossible: The Fans’ Tale of Firefly & Serenity

A fan-driven labor of love documents the rise and fall and rise again of Joss Whedon’s star-crossed space-opera western Done the Impossible: The Fans’ Tale of Firefly & Serenity Hosted by Adam Baldwin
Appearances by Jewel Staite, Alan Tudyk, Joss Whedon, Mary Parent, Morena Baccarin, Nathan Fillion, Orson Scott Card, Ron Glass and more

79 mins.
Creative Commons, 2006
MSRP: $23.95

On Sept. 20, 2002, the Joss Whedon western-in-space, Firefly, debuted on Fox. Its death Dec. 12 of that same year was messy and rather undignified. And while there was a burial, this was not the end. This DVD is very much for fans by fans ...

Firefly suffered from changing timeslots by Fox, a network that was clearly at sea with a western/science-fiction show populated with heroes that leapt across gray areas of ethics (up to, but certainly not limited to, the captain of Serenity, Malcolm Reynolds, played by Nathan Fillion, kicking a villain’s henchman into a moving engine); had Chinese liberally sprinkled throughout the dialogue; and was not content to resolve itself every episode. It was canceled in a flurry of episodes aired out of sequence.

Despite the fact that the lid had been put on the show, and that not all of the episodes had actually been aired, let alone seen in their proper order, the fans would not stay quiet-and creator Joss Whedon credits them for resurrecting the show that nobody wanted.

And that is primarily what this documentary is about, the fans in all their various forms-creators of the role-playing game, writers of fan fiction and tribute bands. But it is also about how those behind the show appreciate them back. Done the Impossible documents how the group referred to as Browncoats are as rabid a fanbase as those of any other franchise.

Firsthand accounts of cancellation come not only from the cast and crew, but from the fans as well. The Browncoat Campaign, a case of guerilla marketing that many might learn from, was launched after Fox’s own attempt at promotion, which was nothing more than an online banner ad contest. The campaign included fans buying multiple Firefly DVD sets and putting them into the hands of unsuspecting soon-to-be fans. Even SF novelist Orson Scott Card received a set from his son, and declares Firefly "the greatest science-fiction television series ever created" during his interview. Another nice touch is the documentary’s attention to Universal vice chairman Mary Parent’s instrumental role in making the film Serenity a reality, proving that the good guys can indeed be on the other side of the board meeting, as well.

You can’t take the sky from them Browncoats may be seen as taking things too seriously, and their numbers are relatively small, but this documentary shows that when unified, those who believe can help make the dead rise.

Much like the work that inspired it, Done the Impossible is a labor of love. "Passion is what makes life worth living," says member Emerald Rose. Passion does what it will, including drawing others into it. This DVD is very much for fans by fans, which is to say that there are more interviews with fans than there are with the cast, crew and creator.

Whedon is shown not only as someone who cares about others (touching on his charity work for such groups as equalitynow.org), but as someone who allows his fans their own corner of his playground-as convention and interview footage reveals enough fan-produced merchandise to make George Lucas froth at the mouth and collapse in convulsions.

There is a ton of music here, some of it nice, some distracting, especially when joined with lyrics and shown in what appears to be its entirety, which can be a little long if one isn’t in the mood to hear such tunes as "The Ballad of Joss." Just isn’t my cup of tea. Then again, neither are Ren Faires, which seem to have their fair share of Browncoats represented here.

In fact, there is very little wrong at all with this little gem. The most serious drawback is in the menu screens for things like the interactive timeline and trivia section. The text is just too small to be practical for viewing across the room.

The bonus material and DVD-ROM features sport such wonderful things as a fully interactive viewing experience from the computer monitor and include a plethora of factoids, running dialogue captions and uncut interviews with all the participants. This feature looks and runs beautifully, and the features for the DVD-ROM alone have a running time of more than six hours.

The attention to detail in the timeline and the ’Verse Dictionary may seem over the top for a show that barely lasted a season, but most Browncoats will find many a kindred spirit here. They’ll also get to play a Firefly trivia game, written from the point of view of hardcore Browncoats, that comes in no less than three difficulty settings and proves to be quite challenging without bugging the hell out of you.