Earlier in December, I read an interesting article on Cinemablend discussing the theoretical potential for Netflix to be the missing link in what could be the resuscitation of long-dead space opera Firefly. The article summarizes Marc Bernardin’s blog post in which he lays the mental groundwork for why Netflix has the fiscal potential to make deals with their long-time collaborator Fox in order to get the show up and running again. Bernardin has a habit of thinking up great ideas to get the internet buzzing, having previously had a large hand in the “Donald Glover for Spider-Man” movement during summer of 2010.

Cinemablend also caught wind of a tweet from one Malcom Reynolds — A.K.A. Nathan Fillion– linking the blog article with an ominous, “Hmm. Hmmmmm. HMMMMMM.” Fillion has made it very clear that he has a deep love for the Firefly universe and would throw on his Brown coat at a moment’s notice. Obviously Bernardin’s post has gotten some important people thinking. With Netflix’s cash and their status as a growing powerhouse in the film industry, it seems like with enough above-the-line support our favorite band of space pirates could very well be on their way back to the small screen. My only problem is that no one is thinking about the real question at hand: Why should it?

firefly-mal
Hmm?

I want to make this clear. I love Firefly. I own it. I watch it semiannually. There is not an episode I hate. There is not a character on the show that I find boring. I recommend it highly to everyone I meet. There is no taste requirement for the show. You don’t have to like sci-fi or westerns or any other specific genre to enjoy it. It is a genre and an entity all on its own. It is simply likable.

All of that being said, they should never make another episode of Firefly. Ever.

I can think of two reasons why I hold to this argument. The first is simple enough. What is done is done. I believe that the reason Firefly is so special is because its lifespan was cut short. Essentially, they didn’t have the time needed to screw it up.

There was no jumping of sharks. In fourteen episodes Mr. Whedon said as much as he could. The film’s ending put us in a place of contention, yet it was still very open. The lives these characters lead were so limited that in the end it left them limitless.

Obviously, they left things open-ended most likely so they could come back if the money showed up, but I think it left the series in a place of bitter sweetness that few shows are allowed to have. In a production world where no horse is left unbeaten, Firefly got out with its purity intact.

I would like to think that Mr. Whedon had years worth of ideas for the show, that his characters have well-written histories and futures that will now only exist in his mind. I wish that if the show is somehow brought back to the screen that every grip, costumer and set dresser will excitedly return to their jobs with the same enthusiasm as during those first fourteen episodes. I want it to return as if there was never a hiatus.

The only problem is, I don’t think it would. The cast and crew is off on one hundred different projects all at once and with its previous track record I’m sure there would be heavy influence from any number of producers hoping to ensure their investment doesn’t take a similar road as the first season. It would all lead to a different product being released. I can only imagine the disappointed fan base wishing for something that has been gone for almost ten years.

Beyond negative predictions of the future of this show, I have one other reason why I don’t think Firefly should come back. Frankly, we all need to learn a lesson. If you like a television show and you want it to continue past the first season, sit down every week and watch it. Tell your friends about it. Have them tell their friends to do the same.

The tragedy that befell Firefly and Arrested Development (and is currently haunting my beloved Community) is that nobody watched the damn show when they were on! They had mild-at-best followings during their run-times. I know what you’ll say. You’re going to go on about how you didn’t even hear about the show until it had already gotten the axe. I call bull shit. You know as well as I do that some time during the history of its airing someone you know mentioned this “really great show you should watch” and all you did was condescendingly nod and go about your day.

firefly-serenity-crew2

We live in a world of brats. That is undeniable. What the resuscitation of these dead shows is teaching the fans is that you don’t have to watch a television show to keep it on the air. All you have to do is make enough of a fuss after the fact.

For example, you like Community. You normally have to work during its air time so you illegally downloaded every episode. Now you hear that it’s possibly going to get cancelled and you are outraged. You don’t have that privilege. You never watched the episodes online, nor did you buy the DVD seasons. The network has no idea you exist. Your love of the show is not part of their calculations. If you want their product, you need to pay for it. It’s as simple as that.

There is a lot wrong with the way television shows are currently being produced and rated. In honesty, I could write an entirely different article about the television industry’s delusional desire to clutch to their antique business strategies, and perhaps some day I will. Until we somehow drastically alter (read: overthrow) the way our television programming is chosen for us, we have no choice other than comply to their archaic system. The get-out-of-jail-free card being teased for Firefly is not sending the correct message.

I do enjoy the idea of fighting for something you love. By taking an active part in a campaign to bring these shows back, the fans are becoming part of the show. I think that’s great. My true problem with this logic of “do little until you’re in trouble” attitude is that it will not work every time. Every funny niche show that does not succeed is one less niche show television executives will be willing to green light the following year. And currently, as far as bringing back dead fan favorites, the odds are stacked somewhere along the lines of one Arrested Development to basically every other TV show that has been given such a fan campaign.

Am I going to be excited if these Netflix dreams hold weight and I am allowed to bask in additional episodes of my favorite space opera? Absolutely. Am I holding my breath in anticipation for the announcement of its triumphant return. No, not really. But if it does come back, I only hope that you and I can take an active part in keeping it alive, instead of just whining about it after it’s dead.

Amazon has a good deal going for Firefly: The Complete Series right now; check it out and save 66% off the original price.

About The Author

Brendan Harvey

Brendan is an aspiring screenwriter and an avid drinker. He finds writing in the third person to be awkward and self indulgent. He enjoys cats and polite fisticuffs. You two would probably get along really well. I’ll introduce you.

  • Zarathustra

    This is a really great article. I’ve always supported a Firefly reboot, and this really made me think if that’s such a good idea. While I agree the show might go in a too-polished/too-Hollywood direction (one of my major complaints with Serenity) I can’t say it would be definitely bad. Even Serenity, bogged down by a need to wrap up the story, overly-clean look, lack of ‘adventure’ feeling, and obvious Hollywood/producer(s) interference had some great moments where the Firefly/Joss Whedon really showed through. 

  • Leslie

    First I would like to thank you for speaking against piracy.  It’s a fact most people love to overlook when their arguing against big entertainment protecting their financial interests.  That being said, I definitely take issue with a few of your points:

    “You’re going to go on about how you didn’t even hear about the show until it had already gotten the axe. I call bull shit. You know as well as I do that some time during the history of it’s airing someone you know mentioned this “really great show you should watch” and all you did was condescendingly nod and go about your day.”
    Nope.  

    I saw the show when it first aired.  I watched a few episodes and gave up.  Know why?  It’s because the Fox producers were disliked the pilot for being to dour (as well as disliking that the crew backed down to Badger).  Because of this they aired the show out of order, which really destroyed a lot of the backstory you got from the pilot which made the show compelling. Since the show didn’t make any sense, people stopped watching, and it was cancelled before it could even air all the way.  Anyone who has read the Format section of the Wiki knows this.   This is what killed the show.  Not the complacency of viewers.  

    “The cast and crew is off on one hundred different projects all at once and with its previous track record I’m sure there would be heavy influence from any number of producers hoping to ensure their investment doesn’t take a similar road as the first season.”

    You may or may not be right about the producers influence, but as someone who works in television professionally on the art department side, it doesn’t matter if the crew is different.  I’ve worked many shows who’s pilots were shot in different cities with different production designers and DPs.  You use their work as a template and go from there.  Happens all the time.  It would be especially easy with a show like Firefly that likely still has a lot of stuff in storage and has a large disc set to reference.  The actors would come or they wouldn’t, and their availability would either mean the show gets made or it doesn’t.  Based on interviews though, I’d say a lot of them would be down.  

    I don’t actually take issue with your argument that Firefly shouldn’t be resurrected (although it is a huge dream of mine).  I just don’t like the way you blame the viewers for the cancellation of the show when it was obvious that the release and marketing strategies killed it before it could even get off the ground.

    • http://www.facebook.com/nosocialize David Brooke

      Interesting point.

  • http://www.facebook.com/nosocialize David Brooke

    I love the anger this article holds. The rage. It’s a nice touch.

  • http://twitter.com/Joshb81959 Josh Beswick

    I agree completely that Firefly is whole as a series with only 14 episodes and a movie.  There are shows on SyFy that have had 3 or 4 seasons and I’m still not interested in the characters.. but Firefly got me interested in less than 5 episodes.. and then broke my heart with the movie. lol

    You do need to support the show.. but how do you support a show with our current system? lol  Telling your friend to sit down and watch a show isn’t going to help if he doesn’t have a nielsen box.. right?   Have they moved on from THAT yet?
    We need better options.  I can’t stand watching things on television anymore.  Netflix with television shows uploaded to it as they are released would be a pleasant change.. and my view would get counted.. and i wouldn’t end up downloading the show because NBC decided to air local christmas performances in it’s place with no reruns in sight.  People wouldn’t need to download just for missing the first 10 minutes.

    I completely agree that maybe Firefly would be a disappointment after so long.. but maybe I could deal with ignoring that if there was a chance of proving the internet was more capable of handling a ‘television’ series than these cable/satellite companies currently are.

  • Anonymous

    Whereas I can agree with the whole aspect of anti-piracy, I will counter your bull shit.

    I honestly had not heard of Firefly until WELL after it’s run. From 2000-2004 I was unable to watch any tv. None of my friends watched tv either. It’s called strict, private college and no tv in the dorms. So none of my friends came up to me to talk to me about some “really great show I should watch” – nope. That came in 2006. So, I counter your bull shit, sir. There are some of us who really DID NOT hear of it until after the fact.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_HGRWH77QM6H72AY5U5BPNPSJNA James Cole

    Who cares…shut up….bring it back.

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  • Motoringmojo

    I don’t watch tv, and it was only through visiting a friend that I saw Firefly.

    Secondly, in the last ten years a school generation has come into being that have been learning about the program, and falling in love with it.  They are a huge new body to be tapped.

    Bring it back and see what happens.  The classics will always be waiting, and if they make new classics what a pleasant surprise. 

     

  • http://www.facebook.com/AlessandraBell Alessandra Paula Bell Abejon

    Though you make an interesting and very valid point, you’ll have to excuse me saying I strongly disagree.
    I have just only recently watched Firefly and am distraught to find out my only escape route is Serenity.
    I have never been a big sci-fi fan, but Firefly entails more than just aliens, modern technology and traveling through space. It is an exceptional mix between everything we love about “nerdy” shows, comedy and westerns. A mix that networks nowadays can only dream of making work.
    It not only has precise little details that make it brilliant, like the silence of space and chinese based swear words, but also has shoot-outs and heroes fighting for lost causes. Apart from that, the mystery behind River, the tension between Mel and Inara and all the other sub-stories, make Firefly and epic and unique show that I feel should be revived.

  • Christian Hagen

    I had no chance to watch the show as it aired, as it was never shown in Norway on TV. USA is not the world. I didn’t learn about the Verse until about six months prior to the movie.

  • Baccus

    You talk too much and say nothing worth listening to. The curse of the internet. Every jerkoff who can, does.

  • Dave

    I found this to be a pretty good article, despite the “in-your-face” aspects of it. I too am a huge fan of Firefly. I too did not even hear about the show until after its run. I too was disappointed by the movie Serenity, though I think the shortfalls of that movie were due in large part to the perceived need to tailor the movie to those folks who had never even seen an episode of Firefly. But hey, the first Star Trek movie was awful and still spawned a hugely successful franchise…

    As far as whether or not Firefly should be “rebooted”, well I would really like to see that happen. Yes, I would be holding my breath and hoping that it doesn’t completely SUCK, but I would still want it to happen. As far as the involvement of Netflix, from what I have seen of their original series I am extremely impressed. If you have yet to watch the Netflix original series “House of Cards” or “Orange is the New Black” I highly suggest that you do.

    I say: “Give it a shot!”

    We seldom regret the things that we do, only those that we do not.