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From Blogcritics.com


Is Firefly the New Trek ?

By Joe

Saturday 30 July 2005, by Webmaster

Firefly - The Complete Series

DVD from Twentieth Century Fox Home Video

Release date: 09 December, 2003

When you’re an executive producer and creator of a science-fiction television series, usually you pack up your desk and move on to your next endeavor if you hear the fateful words that you’ve been cancelled. That is, of course, unless your name is Joss Whedon.

After thrilling and entertaining television audiences for years with programs like Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel, Joss Whedon — writer/director/producer extraordinaire — turned to his trusty team during the 2002 pilot season and decided he was going to do it all over again with Firefly. Set five hundred years in the future and featuring a cast of nine interesting and beloved characters (each played brilliantly by Nathan Fillion, Gina Torres, Alan Tudyk, Adam Baldwin, Morena Baccarin, Jewel Staite, Sean Maher, Ron Glass, and Summer Glau) aboard a small space freighter, there ware willing to do whatever they could to keep their ship running, no matter how illegal the jobs may be. Described by critics as a "space western," Whedon once again created a fictional universe in which fans could break away from their own mundane routines and live in a world where action and adventure easily meshed with the emotional and comedic - a trademark mix that can be found in practically anything Whedon touches.

FOX produced thirteen episodes of this amazing series, but only eleven were aired. Not only did the entire series not finish on air, but the episodes that did make the cut were aired out of sequence and stuffed onto Friday night — a night well-known for being low-rated in the television world. Averaging only a mediocre-sized audience of dedicated viewers, FOX pulled the plug at mid-season, causing loyal fans to start fierce campaigns in order to save the show. Whedon, who previously had luck in getting UPN to rescue Buffy from untimely cancellation by The WB, was also disappointed and informed the Firefly crew that he would not rest until he found a new home for them as well.

Then when the other networks passed over the opportunity to air something so brilliant, Whedon decided to go another route. He approached Universal Studios with the idea of Serenity, a full-length motion picture based on the series and named after the Firefly-class vessel the crew maintains. The studio loved it, the entire cast returned, and the film got underway. It hits theaters nationwide on September 30th, 2005. But it doesn’t stop there.

In an effort to get the dedicated fans in on the promotional process, Whedon and Universal have been showing rough-cut screenings of the film in 35 different cities around the country, including one recently at the Comic-Con International convention in San Diego, California. Fans are snatching up tickets left and right, causing most of these advance screenings to completely sell out before the film even opens. And what’s better is that the film is earning rave reviews even before the film is polished up and fully ready for a nationwide release. Also, presumably to add to the already mounting anticipation, the cable network Sci-Fi Channel (which is owned by NBC Universal, a distant sibling of Universal Studios) has also recently picked up syndication rights to air all thirteen original episodes of Firefly in the weeks leading up to the film’s release.

All of the above has also caused speculation that if the film does well in theaters, film sequels or even a resurrection of the original series may soon follow. If that progression sounds familiar, it’s because the same order of events took place back in the late ’60s when a little science-fiction series known as Star Trek was canned by NBC and then shortly resurrected where it exploded into a huge movie franchise. A whopping total of four spinoff series (The Next Generation, Deep Space Nine, Voyager and Enterprise) also eventually made it to the air, the last of which, Enterprise finally ended its run this past May.

Could the Firefly franchise expand so extensively that it will continue entertaining audiences well into the year 2045? The storytelling behind it could certainly propel it to do so, and I couldn’t imagine no better man than Joss Whedon at the helm of such a phenomenon. But of course, only time will tell.

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