Fire Fly

What It Is

Firefly is Joss Whedon's attempt at a TV SF series. It follows the adventures of the smuggler ship Serenity and her crew, but was unfortunately cancelled half-way through the first season.

Notable Features

Based on the pilot episode and comments made by Joss Whedon in interviews, several things about the show are of note:

Fire Fly focuses on the reconstruction of identity following a crisis: the main characters were on the losing side in a civil war, and are trying to work out where or if they fit in to the new regime. Read this New York Times interview with Joss Whedon: (Like many such sites, u/p cyberpunks/cyberpunks appears to work here,if you don't want to give up your personal details (or waste time filling in their form) - DS)

A cynic might interpret this as meaning that Fire Fly is not really SF, but merely uses SF tropes to tell a straightforward story. Those with a more generous interpretation of SF would reply that using SF tropes to explore and expand a given story is one of the most important aspects of the genre.

This may be a consequence of the emphasis on metaphor and allegory. If you have a point to make, lumpy foreheads and decyon beams tend to get in the way.


There is a case to be made that, like Joss Whedon's other shows, Firefly is highly stylised. For example, the clothing, plots and music all evoke Westerns.

Space battles, spacewalks and just external shots of Serenity are entirely silent; no explosions or roar of engines. It is not clear whether there will be any use of background music. On the one hand, this is strikingly different to most SF on TV, where space is noisy. On the other hand, in space, there really isn't any sound, so this is simply accurate. There is debate over whether this is a stylised aspect; perhaps this debate is really debate over the meaning of 'stylised'; the pro camp claims that it is sufficient to be stylistically different to be stylised, whereas the con camp would rather that stylisation is a significant and deliberature departure from mimesis.


Whether Firefly will actually be any good or not is unclear.

The pilot ('Serenity') has a lot of nice things about it, but has some pacing problems.

A note on series production: Joss Whedon was originally commissioned by Fox to produce a two-hour pilot, titled 'Serenity'. On watching the pilot, Fox decided that a series premiere needed more bangs and action, and less character introspection, and requested a second pilot, this time one hour long. Joss Whedon and Tim Minear wrote the second pilot, titled 'The Train Job' in a weekend; 'Serenity' will now air later in the season as an origin piece. It is poor-quality copies of 'Serenity' that are currently floating round the net.

People who think Fire Fly will be good tend to be Joss Whedon fans. People who think Firefly will not be good tend to be those with no faith in TV to produce valid SF (or even Sci Fi). People who think that everyone should think that Fire Fly will be good tend to be prone to wildly inaccurate generalisations.

Still, it'll be an interesting contrast to Star Trek Enterprise and Far Scape .

Seeing It

It premieres in the States on Friday the 20th September, 2002; however, low-quality copies of the original pilot episode are floating around the internet.

Category TVSF

Sun, 30 Nov 2003 00:34:45 GMT Front Page Recent Changes Message Of The Day