or “ How I learned to stop smothering and love things as they are”
I’d like to preface this piece with a couple of statements:
- I love Firefly
- Joss Whedon is the best thing since sliced bread
- Spoilers Follow, if you have not seen Firefly or Serenity, beware
- Please don’t throw anything at me
Now that’s out of the way, we can begin.
Firefly is regarded as one of the best tv shows to come out in the last 15 years. By nerds, anyway. For those of you who don’t know (and I would question why you’d be reading this but come in, sit down, have a drink) Firefly is a sci-fi western; it concerns a mismatched crew of a Firefly-class spaceship from various corners of the Black (that’s space to you and I). It’s cherished and beloved by the geek community for its character performances, its devilishly smart dialogue and its general love letter approach to the Western as a genre; written by Joss Whedon- who in the eyes of geeks the world over can do no wrong- the show ran for one series before it was given the axe by the Big Bad TV networks and ever since a very die-hard group of duster coat wearing fans have been clamouring, petitioning and frothing at the collective mouth in an attempt to get the show back on the air.
Keep my beginning statements in mind, gentle viewer, when I say that I really hope that they don’t bring Firefly back.
Before you reach for your six-shooters and hoglegs, let me explain my ‘heretical’ view. The phrase “too much of a good thing” comes to mind to me. Firefly is great, really- Joss Whedon is one of my favourite writers and directors; a kind of man whom I think really understands what it is he does and has a very unique way of doing it- in Firefly he created something very unique- characters that felt living, transient and fleshed-out with moral quandaries, loyalties and flaws but the other thing he did was he also finished his story.
You see, after the end of the series, the aforementioned clamouring and frothing eventually brought about the follow-up film Serenity which was supposed to be a semi-swan song to the crew of Serenity. Depending on who you ask it’s either a fitting end to the show or it’s an unsatisfying and untidy attempt to tie up loose ends.
Now this isn’t a review of Firefly or Serenity, as I’ve said I think they’re great but I stand by the statement that Serenity finishes the story, or at least puts the status quo somewhere where I don’t think it would be worth carrying on.
Over the course of the film, Whedon brings to completion the character arcs of several characters; even at the beginning, two members of the crew have left and gone their own way, giving the movie a ‘getting the band back together’ feel from the get go. A few loose ends from the series are tied up over the course of the film and in typical Whedon fashion we lose a couple principle members of the cast who are integral, I argue, to the ‘soul’ of Firefly. In order to continue, I feel it would be difficult to establish a new repartee between the crew after being depleted in the movie—in addition, the story arc of River Tam, one of the most standout characters, was brought to something of an end by the time the credits role in Serenity– when you think that River’s character, her story really motivated a large portion of the plot for the tv show, Whedon (or whomever would helm a theoretical follow up) would need to establish some huge new elements and an altered direction for the series in order continue, again, without the presence of several key characters.
Realistically, it’s a dangerous game to play to try and continue something as beloved as Firefly- especially with the changes resulting from the film in mind.
This is a trend I’ve noticed in the fan communities of several series recently- people become so enamoured with a film, television series or any other series, they can’t cope with a conclusion. For example, I love Buffy the Vampire Slayer (another Whedon classic) more than anyone should have any reason to, but I’m glad it finished when it did—to take a leaf from the Nolan book “you either die a hero or live long enough to see yourself become the villain” or. . .something. I may be paraphrasing (Simpsons, Family Guy and Heroes season 3 – 4 take note).
Firefly is wonderful as it is—a loving genre mash-up with quirky characters, a unique setting and a twist of nostalgia. It astounds me that people are still trying in fervour to have it continued, rebooted, re-vamped or followed-up because to me it’s the equivalent of pulling down your favourite family photo from your holiday in Corfu, gathering up everyone including Great Aunt Jemima and forcing them all back over to the Mediterranean and saying “what’s next?”
With so many reboots, sequels, prequels and spin-offs being tossed out left, right and centre these days, I think we should keep some things as they are- we’ll always have Firefly and Serenity and really, that’s all we need—like Mal himself, we need to stop fighting the war long after it’s over and look to The Black for newer, shinier things.