Film & TV

Browncoats Unite For Serenity

The broadcast of Firefly is considered one of FOX network’s greatest programming mishaps and one of the greatest tragedies suffered in nerd-history. From the pilot, it was never given the care and attention a new show requires. Shoved into the graveyard slot, episodes aired in the wrong order and a failure to even broadcast the final episodes pretty much shot the series in the face. If FOX represented the impaling spike, then Firefly was Wash in his final Serenity moments.

Like all of Joss Whedon’s works, it’s a franchise filled with beautifully flawed characters, meaty back stories and blistering one-liners. Any Whedonite having watched this year’s Avengers Assemble will have has seen his penmanship running through Marvel’s beloved characters and, as the box office and the reviews proved, all for the better. Every character in Firefly feels as if they have truly lived; personalities clashing and binding in Mal’s battered ship like a true band of misfits. Every setting, from the “civilised” Alliance cityscapes to the beaten-up, old prairie landscapes of the outer planets feel real. Universal’s enthusiasm for these characters and this world was what made Serenity a reality, after the fans (the self-titled Browncoats) had campaigned for years to get some sort of closure for the series.

Yet still, ten years later, and with no renewed hope of a television comeback, the Firefly franchise still fills seats at Comic-Con; something which only really occurs for huge, ongoing cult programmes like Star Trek and Doctor Who. For the rest of us unable to make it to San Diego however, a showing of the silver screen farewell, Serenity, was recently filling seats at Nottingham’s own Broadway cinema.

It’s unlikely the Impact Film team could have out-nerded themselves anymore for a first unofficial social, sat at the front like giddy school children as we realised that nearly all of our group would have been too young to watch Serenity at the cinema during its original release. A man celebrating his 30th birthday, who kindly offered us a better row of seats, had definitely been a fan for the full decade as he excitedly recalled the first time he saw it, his friend meanwhile bellowing out the hymn to Jayne Cobb from the episode, Jaynestown. The boys sat around me apologised in advance for their ensuing nerdgasms as I made no promises that I wouldn’t squee like a hysterical fangirl; let’s not beat around the bush here, Nathan Fillion is the geek culmination of the phrase, “men want to be him, women want to be with him”.

Between the whole team and indeed the majority of the room, it became apparent that we’d all seen the film hundreds of times. Watching the film on DVD is always such a bittersweet experience, as there are still so many questions that may not ever be answered, although the comics have shed some light on characters such as Shepherd Book. Seeing it on the big screen though was an entirely surreal but spectacular experience; the buzz was so palpable being surrounded by other fans that it felt fresh all over again. The further questioning of River’s persecution by the Alliance and the mystery surrounding the Reavers were the two big threads left at the end of the series, and the two tied up by the end of the film. The sounds coming from the seats were not human most of the time; a symphony of squeaks and woops as I tried to divert from my normal M.O. by not sobbing into my sleeve during the last five minutes. The claps and satisfied sighs as the credits rolled to David Newman’s sweeping score made me appreciate the gift this film was when FOX had all but killed the creator himself.

Although Firefly still lives on in the comics, Whedon is a busy man now with people clamouring for his pen and his eye at the lens, so it seems unlikely that these characters will be returning to the screen anytime soon. He’s never said never though and I think with the love the cast and crew hold for the franchise, they’ll never say never either.

Isabel Davies

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Film & TV
7 Comments on this post.
  • Helva
    25 September 2012 at 00:28
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    Serenity is from UNIVERSAL, not Paramount.

  • Isabel
    25 September 2012 at 14:37
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    Sorry that was poorly worded on my part- I meant to say the enthusiasm came from Paramount to create a feature film when the rights of Firefly were transferred to it. But yes, Universal were behind Serenity in the end.

  • Rachel
    25 September 2012 at 15:53
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    Not quite true – think I’m possibly the only person in the room who hadn’t seen the film at all before! I’d only watched Firefly for the first time a few weeks ago.

  • Josh Franks
    25 September 2012 at 19:27
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    @Rachel That must have been amazing to see it for the first time on the big screen, then. I’m actually kind of jealous! Are you a converted Browncoat now? 😛

  • Peter Klein
    26 September 2012 at 13:40
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    I watched the film before the series and was pretty gutted The Shepherd didn’t get any coverage in it. Amazon-ing the comics now…

  • Rachel
    26 September 2012 at 21:54
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    @Josh, I really enjoyed it :o) My other half is a dedicated Browncoat, I think I have to be one! :o)

  • Daniel “Smudger” Smith
    23 October 2012 at 22:17
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    Hey there Isabel! Thank you so much for writing this article.
    I’m the guy who was celebrating my 30th at Broadway that day and I was more than happy to see so many Browncoats turn up. Indeed it warmed my heart so much to see that the Firefly fans can still muster for a damn good shindig.
    I must confess to being a little disappointed that others didn’t join me and my friend singing the Hero of Canton but… hey… can’t win them all. (to be fair I would have sung the whole song if needed).
    Anyway… Just wanted to say thanks muchly for coming along and sharing the experience with me.
    Incidentally re the comics… Forbidden Planet has them all. 🙂
    Glad you all enjoyed it and if any of you are interested I’ve set up a Nottinghamshire Browncoats on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/groups/202154166486183/.

    Take care and stay shiny people.

    Dan

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