Last night, in celebration of the 10-year anniversary of Joss Whedon’s seminal sci-fi series ‘Firefly’, the Science Channel aired an all-day marathon of the show culminating in the premiere of ‘Firefly: Browncoats Unite’, a brand new special looking back on the impact of the show with interviews from the people who brought it to life. Mostly filmed in July 2012 before the ‘Firefly’ reunion at SDCC, the panel discussion included Sean Maher, Adam Baldwin, Alan Tudyk, Tim Minear, Summer Glau, Jose Molina, and the captain, Nathan Fillion. Gina Torres, Morena Baccarin, and Jewel Staite appeared in taped interviews and Joss Whedon appeared in footage from the actual panel at the convention.
The general tone of the show was a fond look back, but the moderator kept dwelling on the show’s cancellation. There was a good amount of talk about what Fox didn’t like about the show, the feeling around set when they got word, and how being on the chopping block from the get go created a camaraderie among the cast and crew. It was a bit of a downer, but an integral part of the legacy of the series.
Some of the other topics explored were Nathan’s audition and his role both onscreen and off as the captain, Adam Baldwin finding the character of Jayne, Jayne & Kaylee being like a brother & sister, and so much more.
One of the most interesting things to me that came up was when Nathan was describing why each member of the crew is important to Mal. He said, “They’re all an aspect of himself that he’s lost.” I’ve never even thought of that before, so when I watched the episode that aired after the special, ‘The Message’ (which is one of my absolute favorites and the last episode that was shot for the series), I looked at the crew in that manner and was given a whole new outlook on the show.
Another great part of the special was when executive producer Tim Minear and writer Jose Molina talked about some storylines that they didn’t get to explore, particularly involving Inara. Morena had mentioned in her interview that Joss told her a secret about her character and we saw shades of it here and there, but she wouldn’t reveal what the secret was. Then, Tim mentioned that Inara’s secret was that she was dying and he went into detail about an episode that they were working on before cancellation about Mal saving Inara from Reavers. It was a really, really dark story, but it would have been an awesome one to see. Nathan, Adam, and Alan then went on to share other episode ideas that were previously thrown around set to lighten the mood, but I just became sadder since it’s unlikely that we’d see these stories ever told.
Overall, it was a great look back on one of the greatest television shows ever made. However, I was a little disappointed that the entire cast couldn’t make their schedules work to all appear at the shooting of this special. It was nice that Morena, Jewel, and Gina made appearances in interviews, but the good Shepherd, Ron Glass was unfortunately absent for the whole thing aside from clips from the show. Having the entire crew and Whedon in the same room for this retrospective would’ve made it especially special, but it was still a very enjoyable and heart-warming look back at this staple of the sci-fi genre.
In the end, before agreeing to meet back up in 10 more years to celebrate the 20th anniversary at Comic Con, the moderator asked Tim if there was any chance at all for a return in some form for a show. He said, “Never say never.” Nathan Fillion mentioned an animated series at NYCC, so I definitely won’t say never and will hope that one day we’ll see the crew of Serenity again. And even if we don’t, I fully agree with the Captain when he said at the Comic Con panel: “That it died is okay. The worst thing that could have happened is if it stayed dead.” With fans keeping the story alive, and networks like Science Channel and Netflix airing reruns, ‘Firefly’ will never die.