Yes, I know this boxset has been out there for ages. Yes, I know it? been sitting there on my shelf unloved and unwatched for far too many months. But, as you know, the feature film spin-off of this criminally-cancelled SF adventure by the ridiculously-talented Joss Whedon, is out now so I thought I? do two things: one, watch FIREFLY in its entirety and two, tell you how good it was and recommend you rush out and purchase a boxset (now generally available at a reduced price), devour the lot in hours the way I did, and then scamper to the cinema and revel in what is likely to be the best SF/fantasy movie of the year.
Curse me for a fool for not giving FIREFLY a chance. I? a bit liken the idiots of Warners in that respect – they allowed their Golden Boy Joss Whedon to create a space western series and then axed it when they didn? get it. I dipped into the series when it reached the Sci-Fi Channel in the UK, got bored by the first episode and skipped the rest. Then I bought the DVD boxset, ready to give it another shot, and gave up halfway through the first episode. This time I persevered, presumably in a better frame of imagination, and I was blown away. As you may know, I? a bit of a fan of Joss an his extraordinary BUFFY and ANGEL series but I rashly – and stupidly – decided that an SF series with no monsters wasn? the right move for him. As I said, curse me for a fool.
Joss has often said that FIREFLY arrived on TV fully-fledged, pretty much as he? envisaged it. He felt they? got it right from the outset. I scoffed at this before realising that it was only in season two that BUFFY started to develop the emotional sensibilities it became acclaimed for and only during the latter half of season one that ANGEL realised it didn? need to be a monster-of-the-week show. FIREFLY hits the ground running from its first episode, it arrives with its style and its mission statement intact. This is science-fiction with a difference, this is how you do a ?paceship?sci-fi shows without being as boring as any STAR TREK you may care to mention. This is wonderful.
FIREFLY is set some 500 years into the future, in the aftermath of a terrible apocalypse and in the shadow of a long space war. Captain Mal Reynolds (Fillian) and his ragtag team of mercenaries, engineers and ne’er-do-wells are eking out a living travelling through space in a battered Firefly-class space vessel named Serenity. They earn a living as best they can, always with the best of intentions and sometimes on the right side of the law. To earn an extra crust they take on some extra passengers – Shepherd Book the Holy Man (Glass) who himself seems to be more than just another Bible basher and the sprightly young medic Simon Tam (Maher) and his off-centre sister River (Glau). River, it transpires, has been a prisoner of the Alliance, the ruling elite and experiments on her have left her seriously disturbed – and also seriously powerful. River holds the secrets of the Alliance – and they’ll stop at nothing to get her back. Add to the mix the cannibalistic Reavers, ghastly space foragers who haunt the spacelanes and a curious mixture of Chinese culture and Wild West affectations, and you’ve got the headiest TV SF brew in hours. Shot through with Whedon’s trademark snappy wit and with a healthy dose of genuine spectacle, FIREFLY is a breath of fresh air after the stygian years of the STAR TREK franchise and the never-ending STARGATE saga. FIREFLY is fast and furious, tense and engrossing and blessed with a gift of a cast, all of whom, clearly embrace their roles and love every minute of what they’re doing. Nathan Fillian is a delight as Reynolds, part anti-hero, part clown and the ever-superb Gina Torres is awesome as his right-hand woman Zoe. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with FIREFLY, which makes its cancellation halfway through its debut season as baffling as it’s scandalous. Right on the money from the outset, this is the story Joss Whedon always wanted to tell and he tells it with wit and elan in a series of stories which add new sparkle to the lacklustre SF genre. Go and buy this boxset right now, then rush to your nearest multiplex and give the SERENITY movie your full support. The film promises to tie up the loose ends from the series, but io hope the adventures of Mal reynolds and his motley crew are far from over…
THE DISCS: Great picture, decent sound quality. Good extras too, inccluding a handful of commentaries, a making-of feature which shows just how much the cast and crew were in love with their show, a quick tour of the set and other bits and bobs. ]]>