Firefly Review – The Complete Series

Take my love. Take my land. Take me where I cannot
stand. Don’t forget, I’m still free. You can’t take
the sky from me.

Cast

Nathan
Fillion

as Malcolm Reynolds

Gina
Torres
as Zoe

Alan
Tudyk
as Wash

Morena
Baccarin
as Inara

Jewel
Staite
as Kaylee

Adam
Baldwin
as Jayne

Sean
Maher
as
Dr. Simon Tam

Summer
Glau
as
River Tam

Ron
Glass
as Book

Crew

Created by Joss
Whedon
.

The complete IMDB listings can be found here.

The official website can be found here.

Buy the series. You can buy it from this
Amazon.com
link
if you feel like supporting this site, or
you can buy it
somewhere else. Not buying it just isn’t an option.
(Unless, of
course, you’ve bought it already.)

Original Airdate


Firefly
originally aired in the fall of 2002.

Premise

People who fought on the losing side of a war put
together a ship and
crew to perform various illegal smuggling operations.
Apart from the
two vets, there’s a nutty pilot, a strong but simple
workhorse, a
mighty cute mechanic, a professional companion, a man
who booked
passage using Shepherd credentials, a doctor, and a
victim of
experimentation by the winning side of the war.

15 broadcast hours were produced. It appears that
Fox network
executives then decided to throw them all into a
giant hat, reach in
while blindfolded, pull out twelve entirely at
random, and broadcast
them in the order they were pulled. The DVD release
fixes this, by
putting all of the episodes in their proper order.
In addition, it
has extras that include a gag reel, deleted scenes, a
tour of the set,
Joss Whedon singing the theme song, a “Making of”
special, Alan
Tudyk’s Audition, a segment on the ship itself, and
commentaries on
Serenity (by Joss Whedon and Nathan
Fillion), The Train
Job
(by Joss Whedon and Tim Minear),
Shindig (by Jane
Espenson, Morena Baccarin, and Shawna Trpcic),
Out of Gas (by
Tim Minear and David Solomon), War Stories
(by Nathan Fillion
and Alan Tudyk), The Message (by Alan Tudyk
and Jewel
Staite), and Objects in Space (by Joss
Whedon).

High Point

Trash is an excellent episode. Of course,
Fox never aired
it, possibly because it was a highly entertaining and
action-filled
hour with violence and nudity that included elements
to reward
long-time viewers and draw them deeper into the
series.

Low Point

This is the complete series. Fifteen broadcast
hours, twelve of which
were actually broadcast on the home network. This DVD
set I have
should have two more disks, and it should be marked
“The Complete
First Season.”

The Review

This is the most mainstream use of the western/sci-fi
hybrid structure
I’m aware of. It’s funny, it’s got strong character
and story driven
portions, it has a complex but believable world, and
it’s extremely
well made. Past events often impact the behaviour of
characters in
any subsequent episode. There were some elements of
the show that
have been used elsewhere, but it never once felt like
a rehash. I
give it 6 out of 6 for originality.

The effects were very well done. Physical
effects are
frequently used instead of CGI, and I think that’s
the way it should
be until CGI artists figure out the laws of physics
and find surface
textures that don’t make everything look shiny. I
give it 6 out of 6.

The story being told was an excellent
set-up. However, when
reviewing this as an entire series, I just can’t
justify giving it
full marks. The writers did a fantastic job, but the
network cut them
off too early. Watching this as a complete series is
like reading the
first fifty pages of compelling thousand page novel
and then
stopping. I can only justify giving it 5 out of 6.

The acting has no learning curve. There are
nine central
characters, all of whom seem to have been completely
defined by their
actors before the cameras began to roll. Any change
in the behaviour
of the actors in the course of the series is a result
of character
growth and development. Sean Maher as Simon Tam never
seems to belong.
Summer Glau as River Tam exudes Cassandra Syndrome.
Nathan Fillion as
Malcolm Reynolds is always competant and guarded,
falling only for
situations that demand sympathy of others. Adam
Baldwin’s Jayne Cobb
is generally pretty stupid, crude, and violent, but
even he has his
moments of clarity (such as when he was the only
crewmember to
recognize the name “Lasseter,” or the first
crewmember to pick up on
inconsistencies in Shepherd Book’s cover story.)
Every actor had his
or her role laid out and performed from the start. I
give it 6 out of
6.

The emotional response this produced was
excellent. It sucks
the viewer in, and plays us all. My father has
fallen asleep in every
show I’ve seen him watch for the last two years,
except this one. He
gets tired of any show if he sees more than two or
three episodes in a
week, except this one. We watched the first 6
broadcast hours with
my mother in a 24 hour span. Neither of them has
watched any single
show that much before, but for this show, they’ll do
it and love it.
Keep in mind that these are two people who don’t
watch sci-fi. In
fact, this is the only science fiction they’ve ever
expressed interest
in. Their general distaste for the genre is overcome
by everything
else about it, particularly the style of humour. I
have to give it 6
out of 6.

The production is by Mutant Enemy. If they
had budget
limitations, they masked them well. We’ve got more
than just a well
made show, here. We’ve got a show that combines
action blockbuster
styles with French New Wave surrealism and Soviet
montage elements
seamlessly, still somehow producing a coherent,
individual style.
This may, in fact, be the best produced television
series I’ve ever
seen. I give it 6 out of 6.

Overall, this is a fantastic show. In my
opinion, it’s the
second greatest television series of all time (behind
American
Gothic
), and it deserved far, far better
treatment than it was
given. Find it. Buy it. Watch it. I give it 6 out
of 6.

In total, Firefly: The Complete Series
receives 41 out of 42.

Forthcoming Reviews

Potential forthcoming
reviews are listed here.
If you have any preferences, let me know. The
Babylon 5 reviews of seasons three and four will
likely wait until April, as I won’t have time to watch a
full season of TV in a short enough span to review it
until then. The good news is, seasons three, four and
five should be reviewed by the end of May. In the
meantime, there should be enough books and movies on that
list to keep things interesting.

21 replies on “Firefly Review – The Complete Series”

  1. rickyjames says:

    You Can’t Take The Sky From Me, Either
    I will be both delighted for what was and haunted for what could have been in this series as fiction, as comedy, as art, as psychodrama, as myth for as long as I live.

    There are lost Greek plays that we know existed because we have writings that speak of them, but we do not have copies of the scripts themselves. To the names of Chionides, Magnes, Ecphantides, Cratinus, Crates, and Eupolis and of course Aristophanes, we must forever add Joss Whedon and Firefly. I do not find that statement pretentious in the least and you shouldn’t either if you’ve watched this DVD set. The 5th B.C. writers of Greek Old Comedy, if they could somehow see Firefly, would understand completely. And welcome Joss into their fold.

    FOX just wasn’t ready for an American writer of Greek tragedies that combined Civil War Reconstruction with science fiction. Fortunately, some of us were. Maybe there’s hope for humanity yet.

    And I just can’t help but hope that there’s yet more Firefly somewhere in our future…

  2. reptile says:

    Got It
    Got this (by request) from my sister for Christmas. Here’s hoping that Fox sees the sales figures for the DVD release and realizes their mistake.

    • johnboy says:

      Re: Got It

      Ditto – Quality TV just seems to end this way. You would hope that a network would one day pick this series up and continue the story-line… I hope the movie Serenity is a big success and Fox realizes it let go of a GEM. This was a great, high quality seris, smart entertainment, someone really made a mistake to let this slip by….

  3. majick says:

    I couldn’t agree more.
    My brother got it for me for my birthday (the day it came out) and I’ve watched it 3 times so far. I just do not get tired of it. Every viewing reveals a little more that I missed previously.

    My wife, who normally is completely bored by most tv (but especially shows I like), was drawn in immediately. She wanted something to watch while doing the last of her christmas wrapping and spent more time watching than wrapping.

    In order to give her a full appreciation for the show I’ve come to enjoy so much I started her at the beginning with Serenity. We watched six consecutive episodes by the time she finished with the gifts and one more afterwards.

    She’s new to Joss style humor… She’s only really watched a few episodes of Buffy, and those were from season 5 or 6, which, as I recall, were a little dark (and not most peoples favorites)… so needless to say, she did not have high expectations going in.

    I’ve converted her… well, the show did that I confess. There’s very little I needed to do except to put the disc in for her.

    Joss created a universe so complete and convincing that doesn’t forget itself in too much. He (probably) purposely glosses over the higher technology that tends to mire most scifi shows in (often incorrect or blatantly false) technical explanations aimed at the viewer, so he doesn’t give us ammunition by which to hang him or the show.

    The cast did an incredible job with their characters. The character interactions, both written and performed, are among the best I’ve seen in any genre let alone scifi. The amount of information conveyed in a glance, a subtle gesture, the shifting of body weight… if you haven’t noticed that, I suggest watching again. The actions and reactions of the characters in various circumstances never leaves you thinking that a comment or behaviour is out of character. They are so well, and thoroughly, defined that you believe them from the outset and the more you watch them the more you feel for them.

    Without giving away too much, one of my favorite lines is near the end of Shindig when Malcolm holds a sword over a fallen opponent and is informed that by the rules of the fight he must “finish” him because it would be humiliating to live defeated. Mal responds by saying “Mercy is the mark of great man… <stabs the bad guy> I guess I’m just a good man… <stabs him again> Well, I’m all right.” Priceless.

  4. rickyjames says:

    Initial Billboard Mag Firefly DVD Sales Statistics

    Billboard magazine is of course the Bible for media sales data including DVDs as well as music CDs etc. Next week’s issue (cover date Jan 3 2004) will be the first issue that has Firefly DVD sales data in it. That data is already up on their premium content website.

    And unfortunately, for Firefly it is disappointing. The sales data for DVDs with initial release the same week as Firefly:

    In chart position #01 for the week: Bad Boys II Special Edition
    In chart position #10 for the week: Dirty Dancing Ultimate Edition
    In chart position #15 for the week: Buffy Season 5
    In chart position #21 for the week: How To Deal
    In chart position #30 for the week: MASH Season 5

    The Billboard DVD weekly sales chart has 40 slots. Firefly isn’t on it. The fact that Buffy Season 5 is, at Slot 15, shows we’re looking at the right chart and the right week. Buffy Season 5 and Firefly were both released for sale on the same day.

    Bringing up the bottom of the chart in weekly sales for the week of Firefly’s release is Daddy Day Care, LOTR:Two Towers Widescreen and LOTR: Pan and Scan. This means people bought more copies of Daddy Day Care, which had already been out for 10 weeks, than copies of Firefly during its first week out on the market.

    One possible silver lining: Maybe Fox printed so few copies of Firefly that it never had a chance to sell enough to get on this sales chart, and sold out anyway. Whether this is true or not is totally unknown.

  5. mbourgon says:

    Amazon
    Amazon.com Sales Rank (DVD): 14

  6. TwistyHat says:

    Ah yes
    Yeah great set, gave one to myself as a present :o)

    Though i do think the menus suck a bit.

    Anyway, don’t know how well they are doing, but on Barnes & Nobles bestseller list, Firefly is currently number 5 :
    here

    And if you’ve got some fight left in you, remember: http://www.fireflymovie.com/

  7. is says:

    so…
    you’d recommend this for someone who’s never seen a single episode?

    frankly, at ~$40… it looks very tempting.

    • fiziko says:

      Re: so…

      you’d recommend this for someone who’s never seen a single
      episode?

      frankly, at ~$40… it looks very tempting.

      I’d recommend this to people who don’t have TVs yet. It’s
      worth buying a TV and DVD player to watch this show.

      • rickyjames says:

        Re: so…

        you’d recommend this for someone who’s never seen a single
        episode?

        The Firefly DVDs need to be seen MOST OF ALL by people that have never seen a single episode….as well as by people that saw only a few of the FOX scambled ones and gave up because they couldn’t follow what was going on. If only current fans watch the DVD, then Firefly viewership is static. If more and more new people watch it, the fan base grows, a movie is more likely, and so is a much deserved series revival. Not only do I recommend it to you, I want you to recommend it to others after you’ve seen it!!!

        And yep, it’s worth also buying the DVD player and even the TV if you have to. This is the kind of TV programming that makes TV at last worth watching.

        • is says:

          Re: so…

          you’d recommend this for someone who’s never seen a single
          episode?

          The Firefly DVDs need to be seen MOST OF ALL by people that have never seen a single episode….as well as by people that saw only a few of the FOX scambled ones and gave up because they couldn’t follow what was going on. If only current fans watch the DVD, then Firefly viewership is static. If more and more new people watch it, the fan base grows, a movie is more likely, and so is a much deserved series revival. Not only do I recommend it to you, I want you to recommend it to others after you’ve seen it!!!

          And yep, it’s worth also buying the DVD player and even the TV if you have to. This is the kind of TV programming that makes TV at last worth watching.

          Alright… I’ll stop by Best Buy on the way home and pick it up if they have it.

          • kcbaltz says:

            Re: so…
            [sorry this isn’t in reply to the above message]
            ***
            ***
            ***

            WARNING:… Spoilers follow in one of the messages below. If you haven’t seen the 3 unaired eps, don’t read “New Episodes” by NSA.

            ***
            ***
            ***

  8. NSA says:

    New episodes
    This is the complete series. Fifteen broadcast hours, twelve of which were actually broadcast on the home network. This DVD set I have should have two more disks, and it should be marked “The Complete First Season.”

    Heh. Yeah, you’re damn right.

    I too thought “Trash” was a good episode (having read the script beforehand I had the eerie feeling I’d seen it, but not). “Heart of Gold” was pretty good too, and not just because there were sexy hoors in it. Its villain was almost as creepy/scary as Early or Niskaa, in my opinion. Misogynists are not my favorite people. The other “new” episode “The Message” was not terribly compelling to me, partly because Mal And Zoe’s old buddy was really really dumb (yeah, SURE the organ smugglers will give you back your own insides after you make the run…) and partly because I thought the crew made a *serious* (considering their experience) error in not killing the three renegade Alliance guys the minute they turned to walk out the door. After all, they had missiles on their ship, and a desire to leave no witnesses. Why wouldn’t they just take off and blow Serenity to smithereens?

    • fiziko says:

      Re: New episodes

      The other “new” episode “The Message” was not terribly
      compelling to me, partly because Mal And Zoe’s old buddy
      was really really dumb (yeah, SURE the organ smugglers
      will give you back your own insides after you make the
      run…) and partly because I thought the crew made a
      *serious* (considering their experience) error in not
      killing the three renegade Alliance guys the minute they
      turned to walk out the door.

      Those were problems, but not my biggest problem with the
      episode. If there’s such a problem transporting organs,
      how does the smuggler get his originals back? If they’re
      waiting on the other side, how did they get there? It’s
      probably the worst episode of the series. The fact that
      it’s still pretty good actually says a lot. There are
      some excellent moments in it, particularly in the teaser.
      (“My food is problematic.”)

      • rickyjames says:

        The Message
        I agree, The Message is a lot weaker than the other two unaired eps. I thought Heart of Gold was perfecto; Trash was a fun romp, but they shoulda/coulda come up with a better angle on the way the laser gun husband felt about Saffron – as it was, not quite believable but OK.

        The main problem with Message is that friends turn on each other over a contrived missunderstanding. Book and Mal know that the other is talking about a double-cross with the crooked Feds in the conversation that Tracy overhears, which Book ultimately implements; why didn’t they just say so in plain English to dumb ole Tracy to get him to put the gun down? Cuz then you got no story. Not even one with dumb bad guys that fail to blow up Serenity as soon as they get back to their jet.

        Alan T had interesting insights on the commentary track of Message, saying they found out they were canceled in the middle of this ep and as a result, were doing a lot of crazy things they wouldn’t have otherwise. Case in point, in other eps Wash is cool under pressure while flying, and this was an agreed-upon trait. In Message, he’s a flying maniac.

        Still, even with these flaws, a great ep and better than the best you’ll see on a lot of other shows.

  9. rickyjames says:

    Wash / Kaylee Subplot Initiated in Heart of Gold?
    Just finished watching Heart of Gold and found myself wondering about where the storyline threads would have gone if future eps had been made. Obviously HoG initiated one new twist, that Inara had decided to leave. This new wrinkle was even referenced at the beginning of the following ep Objects in Space as a continuing issue that wasn’t going to get resolved in that ep, which focused on River.

    I’m wondering, however, if HoG initiated another subplot just as profound as Inara leaving: a possible growing relationship (perhaps sexual?) between Kaylee and Wash. Look carefully: Kaylee’s rejected by the doc for the upteenth time and seeks consolation from Wash, who says he’d “take her in a manly fashion were he not wed”. Later there’s tension injected into Wash and Zoe’s marriage by talk of a baby that she wants and he doesn’t. Wash does his typical lost-boy-among-warriors routine (which he’s great at, I’m not being critical) then heads across the plains alone to Serenity with fellow geek Kaylee. Who saves his life. And ends up on top of him in the process. And where does Wash end up for the rest of the ep? Kaylee’s lair, with the words “Nobody’s going anywhere”, which he realizes includes himself. Maybe it wasn’t just his isolation from the bridge that was being hinted at here?

    All I’m saying is that Firefly scripts were written in SUCH a tight and focussed manner that they’re brilliant for all the layers on layers that are within them. I just don’t believe that all the Wash / Kaylee stuff in HoG was an accident. By the end of HoG (where remember, Jayne FINDS his version of bliss), could it be that not only is Mal threatened with the loss of the one he loves…but Zoe as well?

    Also, coincidence that Mutant Enemy let Alan and Jewel do the commentary together for Message?

  10. is says:

    something needed
    Does anyone have the episode listed as they are intended to be viewed?

    I’ve not seen a single ep. and would like to see them in the right order.

    [email protected] or post it here…

    • rickyjames says:

      Re: something needed
      Just follow the order in the DVD box. There’s four disks and each disk has three or four episodes listed on the back of the disk slipcover. Just go from disk 1 to disk 4 and from top to bottom on each slipcover list.

      • is says:

        Re: something needed

        Just follow the order in the DVD box. There’s four disks and each disk has three or four episodes listed on the back of the disk slipcover. Just go from disk 1 to disk 4 and from top to bottom on each slipcover list.

        So I bought it friday… and I’ve now seen all but 6 episodes… I really love this show. It’s quality is a lot better than Enterprise… Fox must be governed by fools to have let this one go. Even my mother and wife are hooked on Firefly. If this show had been let flourish it would be a real winner I think. But Fox as usual, as gone and shot itself in the foot.

        • rickyjames says:

          Re: something needed

          So I bought it friday… and I’ve now seen all but 6 episodes… I really love this show. It’s quality is a lot better than Enterprise…

          Told you so. Welcome into the fold. Check out this and especially this. Now you gotta tell somebody else to pre-sell the Universal Studios movie that’s gonna bring this series Back To Life. I for one am not just gonna sit around and watch it die. I hope you won’t either.

          Oh, and if you’ve got 6 more eps to go – well, you haven’t even gotten to the good ones yet.

          • mpbrooklaw says:

            Re: something needed
            Another convert to the fold – seen every episode twice, gave to the troops, sent the DVD to my brother and told all of my friends to buy, two more down!

            What else to do – have bugged universal, sent money to the troops….long live Serenity

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