Starring: Nathan Fillion, Gina Torres, Alan Tudyk, Adam Baldwin, Summer Glau, Jewel Staite, Sean Maher, Ron Glass, Morena Baccarin,

Episodes: 14

Genre: Space Opera

Broadcaster: Fox

First Aired: 2002-2003

Verdict: 5/5

A long time ago, there was a little show that couldn’t. Though beloved by fans, a falling out between producers and broadcasters led to its cancellation during the filming of the first season. Despite this, it remains one of the most-loved and revered shows in the history of science fiction television. The question, for someone who has never seen it, does it still hold up nearly two decades later?

The short answer is yes. This show is absolutely brilliant and deserves all the praise it gets. The long answer is as follows:

Firefly has a reputation as the original space western. Now, I’d always thought that was thematic. A group of smugglers and shady individuals roaming around the wilderness taking on odd jobs? Sure, i can see how that’s a western. This assumption lasted about five minutes into watching the show. Because it’s not thematic. It’s literal. This is a universe where bandits on horseback exist alongside planetary bombardments. Where spaceships swoop out of the sun and stage train robberies. Where every other planet is a dust bowl with saloons and brothels, while others are urbanised metropolises, and capital ships the size of cities fly through the dark of space. No real explanation is given for the difference in technology from one scene to the next, though it’s likely the Alliance restricts technology and others cannot afford the investment. But then there’s an episode where River is nearly burned at the stake as a witch. It really shouldn’t work, but somehow it does.

Firefly wears its heart on its dirty sleeves, and it has one of the best casts in the genre. There are a lot of people crowded onto the good ship Serenity, and it’s a testament to the writers that not one of them feels underused. I could happily sit through an hour focused on any one of them. This being only a first season, there’s little development in the characters, but they all feel like real, well-rounded individuals. Even if I don’t understand how Jayne still has a job after everything he does. Nevertheless, there are plenty of hints at secrets being held by the members of the crew, and it’s a crying shame that few of these hints ever amounted to anything in the show’s short run. Had it run for longer, I’m sure it would have been even more well-regarded.

For all the minor niggles and inconsistencies in the world-building, the ‘Verse feels lived in. From the shiny chrome of the Alliance, to the bloodstained decking of the Reavers, it all feels tangible. Grounded. But above all else, this series is fun. There are dark moments, for sure, but it’s always tempered by a joke The witticisms for which Joss Whedon is famous are in full force here. You’ll never laugh more at someone being kicked into an engine. Yet this isn’t a comedy. It’s just people using humour to get by in a brutal world, the way we all do.

Firefly‘s legacy is undeniable. Without it I doubt there would be much of what we see in the genre today. Dark MatterKilljoysThe Expanse, none of it would have become as popular without Firefly to blaze a trail. And even if those shows have taken the space western formula and improved on it, the progenitor is still worth a look. Firefly changed science fiction televiosn for the better, forever, and for that we owe everyone involved a huge thank you.


10 responses to “TV REVIEW: Firefly”

  1. FILM REVIEW: Serenity – At Boundary's Edge Avatar

    […] When Firefly was cancelled, it left a lot of stories unexplored. Even though there was no overarching storyline left unresolved, as happens with so many axed series, there were still a lot of questions left unanswered. Given a chance to provide some closure, serenity tackles two of these questions. 1) Why is the Alliance so determined to capture/kill River Tam. 2) What exactly are the Reavers? […]

    Like

  2. Crystena's Books Avatar
    Crystena’s Books

    One of my favorite series!

    Like

  3. BOOK REVIEW: Ballistic, by Marko Kloos – At Boundary's Edge Avatar

    […] that binds the others together. Aden is growing comfortable in his new life as a smuggler, in the Firefly sense of the word. His sister Solveig continues to run the family business. While her storyline […]

    Like

  4. TV REVIEW: Blake’s 7 – At Boundary's Edge Avatar

    […] his fight against the tyrannical Federation. These aren’t the lovable low-lifes you find in Firefly or Dark Matter, however. Blake is a manipulator, Jenna is a drug smuggler, Villa is a coward who […]

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  5. BOOK REVIEW: Dark Run, by Mike Brooks – At Boundary's Edge Avatar

    […] hurtling around space running dubious cargo for even more dubious employers, Keiko wears its Firefly inspiration on its sleeve. But while that cult classic paid lip service to a solar system colonised […]

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  6. TV REVIEW: Vagrant Queen – At Boundary's Edge Avatar

    […] that premise. The scoundrels on a spaceship story has been done dozens of time, from TV shows like Firefly, Dark Matter and Killjoys, to books like Dark Run and Embers of War. Vagrant Queen slots neatly […]

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  7. BOOK REVIEW: Precipice, by David Mack – At Boundary's Edge Avatar

    […] that TOS sense of action and adventure. It has a space western feel about it that would please any Firefly fan. There are action scenes between Klingon soldiers and pre-warp natives that could easily be […]

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  8. TBR & BEYOND: July 2021 – At Boundary's Edge Avatar

    […] Holborn’s Ten Low. I don’t know much about it, but a book marketed as a cross between Firefly and Dune was always going to get my attention. It looks fairly short, so I’m sure I can find […]

    Like

  9. BOOK REVIEW: Ten Low, by Stark Holborn – At Boundary's Edge Avatar

    […] I’m not entirely sure what to make of this book. It’s a work that merrily mashes genres together like there’s no tomorrow, taking its influences from so many places it creates something wholly new. There’s a feeling of a larger space opera beyond the narrow vision we get in this one book, while much of the plot has all the trappings of military SF. Ultimately though, Ten Low is as worthy a bearer of the Space Western label as anything this side of Firefly. […]

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  10. TV REVIEW: Space: Above and Beyond – At Boundary's Edge Avatar

    […] likely to get into the topic of cancelled TV shows. Obviously the most commonly mentioned name is Firefly, but that got a film to finish its story. Others were less fortunate. Dark Matter‘s third […]

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