Firefly is an American space western drama television series created by writer and director Joss Whedon, under his Mutant Enemy Productions label. Whedon served as an executive producer, along with Tim Minear. The series is set in the year 2517, after the arrival of humans in a new star system, and follows the adventures of the renegade crew of Serenity, a “Firefly-class” spaceship. The ensemble cast portrays the nine characters who live on Serenity. Whedon pitched the show as “nine people looking into the blackness of space and seeing nine different things”.
- Nathan Fillion plays Malcolm Reynolds, Serenity’s captain.
- Gina Torres plays Zoe Alleyne Washburne, crew member and wartime friend of Reynolds.
- Alan Tudyk plays Hoban Washburne, the pilot of Serenity and Zoë’s husband.
- Morena Baccarin plays Inara Serra, a Companion (an honored profession in this society, with much in common with a renaissance courtesan or Japanese geisha curiously combined with traditionally male roles of the medieval knight or the Japanese samurai) with special status on the ship and a mutual unspoken crush and love-hate relationship with Mal.
- Jewel Staite plays Kaywinnit Lee “Kaylee” Frye, ship’s mechanic. With no formal training, she keeps the ship, Serenity, running with an intuitive knowledge of mechanical things.
- Adam Baldwin plays Jayne Cobb, crew member. A straight-forward (some might mistakenly say dull-witted), violent, and treacherous bandit that Mal bought off while in the very process of being robbed by him.
- Sean Maher plays Simon Tam, a surgeon and physician of the first caliber, on the run after breaking his sister River out of a research facility.
- Summer Glau plays River Tam, originally a stowaway on the ship. Previously suffered exploitation in medical experiments for unspecified reasons (but with strong hints of brain tampering to bring out a natural psychic ability), presumably by the agency whose operatives include the “Hands Of Blue“.
- Ron Glass plays Shepherd Derrial Book, a preacher, holy man, or Shepherd, though there are hints that he has a mysteriously dark past.
The show explores the lives of a group of people who fought on the losing side of a civil war and others who now make a living on the outskirts of society, as part of the pioneer culture that exists on the fringes of their star system. In this future, the only two surviving superpowers, the United States and China, fused to form the central federal government, called the Alliance, resulting in the fusion of the two cultures. According to Whedon’s vision, “nothing will change in the future: technology will advance, but we will still have the same political, moral, and ethical problems as today”.
Firefly premiered in the U.S. on the Fox network on September 20, 2002. By mid-December, Firefly had averaged 4.7 million viewers per episode and was 98th in Nielsen ratings. It was canceled after eleven of the fourteen produced episodes were aired. Despite the series’ relatively short life span, it received strong sales when it was released on DVD and has large fan support campaigns. It won a Primetime Emmy Award in 2003 for Outstanding Special Visual Effects for a Series. The post-airing success of the show led Whedon and Universal Pictures to produce Serenity, a film based on the series. TV Guide ranked it #5 on their 2013 list of 60 shows that were “Cancelled Too Soon”.
MORE FIREFLY CANON BEYOND THE SERIES …
- The “R. Tam Sessions,” a sequence of video clips released online (and included in the Serenity: Collector’s Edition DVD) which depict scenes from River Tam’s time at an Alliance-sponsored academy.
- “Those Left Behind,” a Serenity tie-in comic book story written by Joss Whedon and Brett Matthews.
- “Better Days,” a Serenity tie-in comic book story also written by Joss Whedon and Brett Matthews.
- “Float Out,” a Serenity tie-in comic book story written by Patton Oswalt.
- “The Shepherd’s Tale,” a Serenity tie-in comic book story written by Joss Whedon and Zack Whedon.
- “The Other Half,” a Serenity tie-in comic book story written by Jim Krueger.
- “Downtime,” a Serenity tie-in comic book story written by Zack Whedon.
- Deleted scenes and other features included in the video release of the series (both on DVD and Blu-Ray).
- Deleted scenes and other features included in the video release of the feature film (on DVD, HD-DVD, and Blu-Ray).
- Serenity: The Official Visual Companion, particularly the shooting script for the film and “A Brief History of the Universe, circa 2507 A.D.,” a pre-production memo by Joss Whedon.
- Firefly: The Official Companion (Volume One and Volume Two), particularly the original shooting scripts for the series.
- Firefly: Still Flying, particularly the short stories “Crystal” by Brett Matthews, “Fun with Dick and Jayne” by Ben Edlund, “Take the Sky” by Jose Molina, and “What Holds Us Down” by Jane Espenson.
- The novelisation of Serenity, written by Keith R.A. DeCandido.
- The Official Firefly Website (now defunct), including video interviews and script fragments which were available on that site.
- Serenity: The Official Movie Website, including exclusive content available on that site.
The Firefly primary canon consists of all Firefly-related works that are created with direct input from Joss Whedon. Also included are the three official companion books written by Whedon, and any comments from Whedon himself pertaining to the story or history of the show.