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"Firefly" Tv Series - Complete DVD Box - Popmatters.com Review

Monday 15 October 2007, by Webmaster

Firefly (2002-2003)

Few shows are more difficult to quickly summarize than Firefly. It was a science-fiction western action comedy with a cast of nine unique characters, an undercurrent of existential despair, and a futuristic culture that blended Wild West and Chinese aesthetics. A show this idiosyncratic would have been a tough sell on any network, much less FOX. Their executives were baffled by the series that creator Joss Whedon had given them and cancelled it halfway through the first season.

While the show thankfully found its audience on DVD (it even sold well enough to inspire the cinematic continuation Serenity), it’s still frustrating to think of the episodes that we’ll never get a chance to see. Whedon’s gift as a storyteller has always been his ability to slowly draw us into the lives of his characters, earning our sympathy with their humor and routine adventures, before turning our empathy against us and making us feel the emotional gut punch of sudden tragedy. Firefly never got to pay off its various plot threads or the tension between its characters, and so while many of the episodes are excellent on their own, there’s a lingering sense of loss that they never get to build to anything greater.

Still, maybe that’s an appropriate fate given the show’s themes of loneliness and continuing on in the wake of defeat. Even though Firefly and its crew went up against a monolithic authority (the Alliance, the FOX network) and lost, they’re both still flying for anyone who wants to catch a ride.

The DVD collection combines the 12 episodes that FOX actually aired, along with three episodes that were never broadcast, and puts them all back into their correct order. FOX has the unfortunate habit of randomly reshuffling the episodes of their shows, usually at the expense of continuity. Perhaps the best of the special features are the seven audio commentaries, which benefit from the fact that the cast of Firefly -– unusually for actors -– are articulate and interesting. Nathan Fillion in particular is hilarious, which makes his commentary with Whedon on the pilot the most entertaining of the bunch). Also, included are the standard behind-the-scenes documentary, a truncated gag reel (look online for the full version if you can, which is much funnier), and a tour by Whedon of the ship’s set, which was build as a continuous space rather than a series of disconnected rooms.

—Jack Rodgers