Two of the presents I got this past Christmas were Firefly related. A Brown Coat cap and a little key-chain replica of the spaceship Serenity, Firefly class.
In 2002, a brilliant TV show made a brief appearance. I caught it a few times, only a few, because I could never remember what channel it was on. And by the time I was remembering, it had been canceled.
If you’ve never seen Firefly, get the DVDs. If you tend to dislike scifi because it’s obscure, technical, or slim in characterization, you’ve been watching the wrong stuff. This incredible show—some sources say it lasted 14 episodes, some say 15. I’m not sure at this point because we haven’t seen them all. Those episodes plus the movie, made after the show’s demise, called Serenity.
Consider a universe made up of an Alliance that rules many planets, and a lot of un-ruled frontier planets wandering around out there. An entire breed of homicidal maniacs zipping through space murdering, raping, and eating people. And other more pirate-like criminals, and Alliance soldiers trying to control everything and an odd collection of renegades who fought a civil war against the Alliance and lost. The brown shirts. One of whom is the captain of Serenity, a funny-looking spaceship whose crew of nine keeps the ship flying by taking all kinds of odd jobs. Carrying freight. Ferrying people. Some of the crew are fugitives, as are some of their passengers. A spectacular cast of characters and a stellar crew of actors. Nathan Fillion as the captain. Ron Glass as the shepherd, a kind of pastor. Summer Glau as an Alliance-created psychotic. I won’t mention them all. You’ve seen most of them before on other shows.
Firefly has two characteristics that I think made it vulnerable in a high-concept market. It’s funny in a wonderfully smart way. What, funny scifi? I’ll bet there were purists who hated that. And the characters and the frontier planets and the attitudes are wild west. So it’s a funny, smart, cowboy scifi. With great writing and great acting. What’s not to hate? The show has a cult following—thus the key chain and cap—and Glau even appeared in an episode of The Big Bang Theory because of course those guys are fans. Another brilliant show’s homage.
So the next time you hear that a book manuscript couldn’t find an agent or a publisher because they didn’t know how to categorize it, and thus how to market it, pop in a disk of Firefly and enjoy.
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