UPN Passes on Firefly As Midseason Pickup

rickyjames writes, As reported on Sci-Fi Today, UPN has decided to pass on picking up Firefly for continued episode production. Fans are reorganizing to continue their quest to find Serinity and crew a new home. Three final episodes of Firefly are completed but have not been aired; no word on when, or even if, they will be broadcast. This was my favourite show this season. Not just my favourite new show, but my favourite show. It needs to find a home on a network with viewers that like to think so it can thrive.

19 replies on “UPN Passes on Firefly As Midseason Pickup”

  1. UncleJam says:

    Eh…
    To be completely honest, I was severely underwhelmed by this show. While I am always sorry to see another genre show bite the dust (especially with the demise of Farscape and Odyssey 5), I can’t say I’ll lose any sleep over this one.

    My top 5 complaints/headscratchers about Firefly:

    • 90% of the dialogue was atrocious, especially given that it’s a freakin’ Joss Whedon show
    • what was with the Chinese cursing? that just seemed stupid
    • the whole “space western” thing was hit a little too hard
    • Mal was just about the most colorless person I’ve ever seen on screen. I thought so when Nathan Fillion was on 2 Guys and a Girl and I haven’t changed my mind
    • space hooker. ‘Nuff said.

    What did I like?

    • Kaylee – I’m a sucker for Jewel Staite
    • Jayne – the only truly interesting character
    • Zoe – I like Gina Torres
    • UncleJam says:

      Re: Eh…
      Oh yeah, I forgot:

      At the beginning of the season, I told everyone who would listen to me that neither Firefly nor Birds of Prey would last the year.

      Looks like I was right.

      (I’m much sorrier to see BoP go, since I thought that it had scads more potential than Firefly, but of course that just means that it squandered its potential much more than Joss’ show.)

      • y42 says:

        Re: Eh…

        (I’m much sorrier to see BoP go, since I thought that it had scads more potential than Firefly, but of course that just means that it squandered its potential much more than Joss’ show.)

        What
        the
        hell?!

        Ok, I know, you are a reever…that’s it…

        • UncleJam says:

          Re: Eh…
          Hey, don’t get me wrong…BoP sucked royally too. Knew it would from the moment I heard what they had done to the source material. But I felt that with some good scripts and decent acting, it had potential. And Smallville sucked when it premiered too but has become quite a respectable show over the last year and a half.

          Firefly, on the other hand, had an iffy premise and then to pile terrible execution on top of that just made it worse. I never got the same sense of potential from it. In fact, I almost didn’t even watch it because I had a feeling it would be bad. It surprised me with the first few episodes, but quickly became “that show I watch because there’s nothing else good on Friday at 8pm.”

          Ok, I know, you are a reever…that’s it…

          Oh good god, don’t remind me. Space cannibals?!? For the love of pete, I expect better than this from Joss.

    • GrimSean says:

      Re: Eh…
      Ummm…. were we watching the same show?

      Sure, it didn’t hit its stride right away, but that was because Fox aired the episodes out of order – the writing itself was great, and I thought the show was very quotable (“No power in the ‘verse can stop me” and “Keep walkin’ Preacher” spring to mind). As to your other negative points:

      The Chinese cursing was brilliant. China makes up 1/6 of the world’s population, and knowing Cantonese or Mandarin is probably going to be a huge asset in the future. English regularly steals words from other languages, and it’s only a matter of time before we see something like this (“Mayday” from the french “M’aidez”, meaning “Help Me” and about a million more are examples of that theft).

      Space Western is cool – please see the example of “Cowboy Bebop” for help here.

      Mal was wicked – He KICKED A GUY INTO AN ENGINE!!!! AN ENGINE for crying out loud! What more do you want? Cat eyes with weird sound effects to denote use of mutant powers?

      What the heck are you complaining about with “Space Hooker”? She’s a HOOKER in SPACE, and in my book, that’s… umm…

      I’m going to my Bunk.

      • UncleJam says:

        Re: Eh…
        While I think Chinese being so important in the future is debatable, you do have a point.

        However, my biggest complaint was that, rather than a cool detail of a well-thoughtout future milieu, the Chinese cursing had all the subtlety of a hammer to the noggin. It was as if TPTB said “Hey, we’re on network TV, not cable, so we can’t really curse. Hey, I know! Let’s curse in Chinese! Aren’t we clever how we sneak this past the censors?”

        Space Western may indeed by cool in anime, that doesn’t make it cool in live action, prime time television. In fact, the space western stuff would be much more acceptable if it wasn’t so in your face, “look at us, we’re a western in space!” That was one of the biggest problems with this show, but perhaps one that could have been overcome in time. Everything lacked subtlety.

        Okay, I concede that Mal was very cool when he kicked that guy into the engine. I actually yelled out “– the hell!?!” and had to watch that clip several times before I could stop laughing. So, what happened to that guy? They should have killed him off and made Jayne captain. Now, that would have been a show I could get behind!

        • GrimSean says:

          Re: Eh…

          While I think Chinese being so important in the future is debatable, you do have a point.

          However, my biggest complaint was that, rather than a cool detail of a well-thoughtout future milieu, the Chinese cursing had all the subtlety of a hammer to the noggin. It was as if TPTB said “Hey, we’re on network TV, not cable, so we can’t really curse. Hey, I know! Let’s curse in Chinese! Aren’t we clever how we sneak this past the censors?”

          I kind of agree that the chinese swearing was not subtle, I forgave that because of the fact that it was a well thoughtout detail. Seriously, has any other Sci-Fi show ever used the evolution of language before? Star Trek’s English was explained away by the Universal Translator, and I think Babylon 5 had them learn languages (but I’m not sure)

          Space Western may indeed by cool in anime, that doesn’t make it cool in live action, prime time television. In fact, the space western stuff would be much more acceptable if it wasn’t so in your face, “look at us, we’re a western in space!” That was one of the biggest problems with this show, but perhaps one that could have been overcome in time. Everything lacked subtlety.

          Um, Westerns aren’t supposed to be subtle, they’re in your face action. Star Trek was a western in space – Roddenberry said so on many occasions, the only difference was Spaceships instead of Horses, Phasers instead of Guns, and Vulcans instead of Natives. I think with Firefly, Whedon wanted to combine the two, and frankly, where you see lack of subtlety, I saw brilliance. Let’s face it – when you look at the power needed for a vehicle versus a horse, the horse wins in the long run, plus it can reproduce itself.

          Besides, if it’s cool in anime, it’s cool anywhere.

          Okay, I concede that Mal was very cool when he kicked that guy into the engine. I actually yelled out “– the hell!?!” and had to watch that clip several times before I could stop laughing. So, what happened to that guy? They should have killed him off and made Jayne captain. Now, that would have been a show I could get behind!

          You want to know what happened to Mal? He got tortured! And he stood up to it! Quite honestly, he reminded me of Captain Kirk, without the long winded speaches, and with more ass-kicking action.

          Frankly, Jayne would not have made a good captain, but he was a hell of a gunslinger.

          Wait… You like Jayne, but you don’t like the Guns-in-Space. I’m confused.

        • y42 says:

          Re: Eh…

          Space Western may indeed by cool in anime, that doesn’t make it cool in live action, prime time television.

          The reaver has a point.
          Firefly wasn’t fit for prime time…torture, prostitution, horse-killing, that’s not prime-time material. Firefly should be on at 10 on a weeknight, that way the kids and the old folks don’t watch it accidentally.

          Fox scheduled it wrong…and hyped it wrong (they promise us a girl in a box and don’t deliver!).

    • frunk says:

      Re: Eh…

      There was some awkward dialogue. A good portion of it was due to the butchering that had to be done to explain the show without the pilot. Taken as a whole, there was nowhere near as much awkward dialogue as Enterprise, BoP or John Doe.

      It was Chinese, so what? I thought it added some class, but I guess I could see the turnoff.

      Space Western, just about every popular Sci-Fi show/movie had precedents in westerns whether they acknowledged it or not. I thought it was fun how extreme Firefly took that reference.

      Mal has to be colorless at first appearance, it’s the character he plays. He’s the captain, the law of the ship. Somehow he binds this crew together without blustering or showiness. Yet once you get to know him he’s absolutely deadly, as tough as nails, and has a great sense of humor (particularly when picking on doctors or companions).

      What is the problem with a space hooker, who isn’t really a hooker in the way we think about it? A closer parallel would probably be geisha or courtesan..

    • y42 says:

      Re: Eh…

      My top 5 complaints/headscratchers about Firefly:

      1. 90% of the dialogue was atrocious, especially given that it’s a freakin’ Joss Whedon show
      2. what was with the Chinese cursing? that just seemed stupid
      3. the whole “space western” thing was hit a little too hard
      4. Mal was just about the most colorless person I’ve ever seen on screen. I thought so when Nathan Fillion was on 2 Guys and a Girl and I haven’t changed my mind
      5. space hooker. ‘Nuff said.

      You know, I think that your points numbered 1, 3, and 5 can be summed up in one: You don’t like the idea of cowboys in space.
      Space Cowboys, or space western, of cowboys in the future…whatever, I call them space cowboys, I think it sums it all up. I’ve allways liked space cowboys stories…I liked Star Trek (TOS), wich had the word “frontier” at the beguinning of everyshow, and in some episodes, actual space cowboys (although I think most of the time they were created by some advance being/civilisation). There are a few animated space cowboy shows from japan, like Cowboy Bebop, or Trigun…its a sub-genre of sci-fi that’s been around for a while. Fox was hyping it as something new, but Fox is evil and stupid.

      I think its a good one, personally. And I like that they have actual horses on alien planets instead of robot horse, like some ofter “cowboys of the future” stories had (in the 80’s, the fantastic four (with she-hulk in place of the Thing) traveled in the future and were attacked by cowboys riding flying metal horse-shaped machines. They had futuristic guns that shot a whole lot of rounds really fast, heat seaking rounds too). I like the Whedon version better : )

      What did I like?

      • Kaylee – I’m a sucker for Jewel Staite
      • Jayne – the only truly interesting character
      • Zoe – I like Gina Torres

      How do you know all these people? Aside from the ubiquitous Baldwin, I had never seen any of those people (that I remember)…but I like all the characters they played though.

      • UncleJam says:

        Re: Eh…

        Fox is evil and stupid.

        Heh heh, no argument there.

        I don’t have a problem with space westerns, per se, but I don’t like it being so blatant. Maybe that’s just a matter of taste.

        How do you know all these people? Aside from the ubiquitous Baldwin, I had never seen any of those people (that I remember)…but I like all the characters they played though.

        Well, Jewel Staite I remember from a show on Nickelodeon several years ago called Space Cases. Although it was meant for kids and could be pretty goofy sometimes, I found it, and her, charming in a kind of dorky way.

        Gina Torres played Nebula on the Kevin Sorbo Hercules series. She was also on the show Cleopatra 2525, but the less said about that, the better.

        This was actually my first time to see Adam Baldwin in anything, I think. Although, after looking at his IMDB entry, I have apparently seen several things with him in it, I just never realized it.

      • GrimSean says:

        Re: Eh…

        What did I like?

        • Kaylee – I’m a sucker for Jewel Staite
        • Jayne – the only truly interesting character
        • Zoe – I like Gina Torres

        How do you know all these people? Aside from the ubiquitous Baldwin, I had never seen any of those people (that I remember)…but I like all the characters they played though.

        The first time I saw Jewel Staite was on a little know kids Sci-Fi show called “Space Cases” back in the mid-90’s (and being about the same age as her I can say that she was as cute back then as now without sounding creepy). It was aired on Family Channel up here in Canada, and it was created/executive produced by Bill Mumy (yes, THAT Bill Mumy, aka little Billy Mummy on Lost in Space)

        As for Gina Torres, I think she was on Hercules a few times in the mid-90’s (I think she married Iolas – the sidekick guy – right before the show went down the crapper), and she was on that horrible Cleopatra 2025 that was around a few years ago.

      • Fez says:

        Re: Eh…

        What did I like?

        • Zoe – I like Gina Torres

        How do you know all these people? Aside from the ubiquitous Baldwin, I had never seen any of those people (that I remember)…but I like all the characters they played though.

        She was also on Alias as the K Directorate agent Anna Espinosa last season, which she did quite well.

  2. Trekkie says:

    Figures
    Heaven forbid there be a better sci-fi show on UPN other than a Trek one.

    • UncleJam says:

      Re: Figures
      Y’know, I’m really kind of surprised that UPN didn’t snatch Firefly up. I mean, snagging Buffy from the WB and then Firefly from Fox would be an excellent way to earn the good will of Joss&Co and perhaps gain them some good shows in the future. Lord knows they need ’em.

      • mbourgon says:

        Re: Figures

        Y’know, I’m really kind of surprised that UPN didn’t snatch Firefly up.

        Yes and No. UPN has good reasons both ways.
        * Buffy is going away. It may become a different show without Sarah, but I doubt it’ll be the hit Buffy was. And without SMG, they won’t get the cover stories, the extra publicity, etc. And they need another hit, otherwise they’re back to a couple teen angst shows, with the rest being African-American-oriented sitcoms. (Yeah, I can see it now: Homeboys From Outer Space:TNG).
        * Another Joss show might draw his fanbase.
        * Get ink and publicity. Sci-fi Western? Are they crazy? UPN is doing this?
        * Build fanbase. Comeon, this is UPN, the Unsold Pilot Network. The network that brought you Homeboys From Outer Space (I wish I was making that up). They occasionally try to expand their audience base, and so sometimes will take chances. Sometimes not. A big cult hit gets them lots of copy, more advertising for the network. It might not help their ratings much, but it’ll build brand awareness which will be useful down the line.

        But…of my three friends who watch Buffy regularly, only one watches Firefly (or has given it a chance). So it could be a flop, and on a network like UPN, with a tiny budget, that could be disastrous. (Of my friends, I just got one hooked on Firefly due to the pilot, one who hates Buffy but really likes Firefly, another friend who loves both, and two Buffy fans who’ll never touch Firefly because it’s not Buffy)

        (aside: I personally think the only reason UPN is still around is because of the Star Trek franchise, which keeps getting weaker and weaker. Ya know, we might long for the rich acting and dialogue of Voyager, after another couple of series.)

        So, why did Firefly die?
        * Space Western. Say it with me now. Genre-bender. Not Sci-Fi, not Western. Your parents probably wouldn’t give it a shot, even if they loved it. Western fans wouldn’t get it. Your Sci-Fi watching friends would claim it wasn’t hard-core enough, or that Hercules wasn’t in it, etc, etc. That really limits your audience to people willing to give something different a chance. I probably would have given it a shot, Joss or no Joss, but the trailers pulled me in – I wasn’t sure… space western? Yeah, whatever…

        *Expensive. Goes with being Sci-Fi. Much cheaper to do a crappy Survivor/Millionaire knockoff. The Firefly pilot cost $10 Million. Ten Million Dollars. Thats something like 7 Episodes of Buffy. Or a low-budget movie. Damn. That being said, the Pilot and the First Episode both made good intros, though some stuff was over-recycled.

        * Niche Show. Fox can’t afford niche shows. Anymore. Fox is not one of the small guys – it’s one of the “Big 4” networks, has higher salaries and expectations, and needs higher ratings. Ever look at the ratings of Buffy? Buffy at its best would get cancelled on Fox. (So, everyone, be damn thankful that Fox didn’t go after it when WB dropped it). Hell, I think it was a sign of Joss’s potential pull that 12 episodes were shown – one of the new shows by the guy who wrote Practice got canned after 3! Chris Carter’s Next Big Thing, “Harsh Realm”, got canned after 3, despite having something like 10 eps shot (later shown on FX). I really was impressed they showed 12 – I think Fox was hoping word of mouth would grow the audience quickly, which appears not to have happened. I remember someone saying that today’s Fox would cancel X-Files, if it were a new show – it took something like 3 years for it to become big, and they can’t afford that to happen.

        So, a Space Western on one of the Big 4 Networks was doomed. Too small a niche, amazing writing or not.

        Hopefully, Fox or FX will show the last 3, or they’ll get leaked. Sci-Fi channel won’t touch it – besides, they’ve got their budget sunk in shit like Stargate, the new “Chariots of the Gods” series (I wish I was making that one up), and their Quarterly Event. Hell, I think I saw an ad for what looks to be Adrian Paul’s worst show yet (and that is indeed saying something). Earth to Sci-Fi channel: Bite Me. You’ve killed off every show I really enjoyed there – G vs. E, I-Man. Etc.

        As to Firefly itself? I loved it. Nice tweaking of the genre. Bad guys getting kicked into engines (right as I said to myself “ah, the series villain… why don’t you just kill him… *spew* What?!?!!”). Good guys in it for the cash. Preachers who kneecap. Psychopathic “good” guys. etc etc. He had fun with the genre, that’s for sure. I liked the fact that they occasionally argued/cursed in Mandarin, though it could get a little long-winded at times. And, the writing was strong. The dialogue, while definitely Joss’ (for better or worse – some people can’t stand it), was well done. The acting worked out well, and you could see the Western influence – you had the Doctor, the Ingenue, the Mercenary, the Cynic, the Hooker, etc, etc. The pacing was also well done – every episode had a little build for the arc, as well as a solid standalone episode. I think switching the placement of the 2-parters was a mistake, just because it confused people trying to get into the show. Come on, they already have to deal with a Space Western and foreign languages without subtitles- give them a break.

        Anyhow, Joss – good luck. Please keep making TV. If nothing else, it’ll be an interesting thing to watch, while it lasts.

  3. wordman says:

    [sigh]
    I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that this show may never see the light of day again. Once execs get wind that something might fail, with or without Whedon, they tend to back off and play it safe. I would have loved for UPN to have save the show, but . . .

    UncleJ, I too don’t understand your complaints against the show. And maybe you’re right in it being a matter of taste — or of what you’re used to. In high school I watched The Galaxy Rangers and loved the ‘toon. (I am now aware that it was a ripoff of anime, and not nearly as well done, but when I was young, I couldn’t get enough of the show.) To see Firefly was to be transported back in time.

    And speaking of The Galaxy Rangers, I remember that the ‘toon used robotic horses. I would agree with the earlier post that real horses are much more realisitic. Even given 500 years of R&D, I can’t see us actually developing a robot to specifically replace the horse.

    In short, the mix of sci-fi and old Western appealed to me. But not only that, it appealed to my wife, and to get my wife to sit and watch a sci-fi show is worse than pulling teeth. I think it’s a credit to the show’s writers that they got both me and my wife watching it — and enjoying it.

    While it lasted, at least.

    • y42 says:

      Re: [sigh]

      And speaking of The Galaxy Rangers, I remember that the ‘toon used robotic horses. I would agree with the earlier post that real horses are much more realisitic. Even given 500 years of R&D, I can’t see us actually developing a robot to specifically replace the horse.

      The Galaxy rangers! : ) I remember that…
      Another space cowboy I saw recently was in the comic Tom Strong, the Weird Rider was his name, his horse was an intelligent mini space bike thingy…about the size of a car, but capable of interstellar flight.

      And remember kids, don’t feed the trolls…or the reavers! : )

  4. tubby17 says:

    firefly
    I only watch 4 shows a week – buffy, angel, firefly, monday night football.. now I’m down to 4. that sucks. I know I’m late for the petition but put my name on regardless. any news on the 3 un-aired episodes? I would really like to know how it ends. T

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