On September 20, 2002, I watched the first episode of a brand new fox television series made by Buffy Creator Joss Whedon. It was billed as a space western and so, naturally I was interested. After the first episode, although slightly confused (as the first episode was not the pilot), I was hooked. I liked all of the characters and the setting was too cool, a ‘reconstruction era western’ set in space after a galactic civil war. What a brilliant premise! Then, after a few episodes (and many nights preempted with sports) it was gone. The finale was an airing of the actual Pilot (which was billed as a ‘see how it all started’ episode) and then….nothing. I took to the web to find out what happened to this jewel, this rare find that could be the next Star Trek in my mind. Sadly, it was soon confirmed. Firefly had been cancelled.
I, like so many others, was devastated. Surely a series as well produced and with such a powerful fan base could make it on television. It was not to be and so we fans (now known as Browncoats) began our mission to bring back Firefly. Websites were setup, groups were formed, petitions created. When the dvd set was released it had three unaired episodes that made us want even more. Ultimately, much to our delight, a movie was made. Serenity would certainly be the thing that brought back this beloved series of 14 episodes. Sadly, it still wasn’t meant to be.
It has been nearly sixteen years since the series’ first aired and at every gathering of geeks, at every convention the question is brought up, ‘When will they bring back Firefly?’ It has become a mantra of sorts, but we need to face the facts. It is never coming back and nor should it.
WHAT?! After that love letter to one the greatest science fiction show of all time you don’t want it back?! Of course I do, but hear me out. If it were to come back in any live action form, it would not live up to anyone’s expectations. We have, as a collective consciousness, created a legend around the little show that could. This is a series that never got a chance to be bad because in never got a chance at all. Had the series continued, it would have likely fallen into the obscurity of other sci-fi series like Andromeda and Alien Nation. At best it would have had the following that Babylon 5 has gained, at worst it would have the disdain most people have for Star Trek Enterprise.
This is where, as fans, we need to learn to temper our expectations and just learn to let our darlings die. The franchise will live on, through board games, cosplay and even comics, but to bring it back in a television form is no longer the way. If you were old enough to remember 1999 and the hype around the first new Star Wars movie in 16 years, then you know what I am talking about. Millions flocked to the theaters to be devastated by the atrocities set forth with a film that dared to bring us back to the Star Wars Saga. Instead of a space opera we handed political ramblings and trade embargos. Sure, there was some fun Jedi action but we also had a talking cartoon frog and the ‘child who would be Vader’. It was terrible and, sadly, even if a good Firefly series came about, our expectations would be too high to appreciate the attempt.
These days’ series and franchises are making a return to the screen, causing more and more people to get their hopes up for a Firefly reunion. Even the Disney acquisition of Fox brought back the twinge of hope. Twin Peaks returned to great praise, the X-Files is back with not one but two new well received seasons. Older shows like Rosanne and Full House have even made comebacks to varying responses. The difference here is that they each had a chance to tell their stories in full BEFORE coming back. While there are still expectations for these series, their existence will not hurt what has come before and can only add to the already large history that preceded them. Firefly never had that opportunity, having only 11 aired episodes, and we are blessed that we got the movie, Serenity, that allowed the characters some measure of closure.
On the flip side the recent well-made sequel to the cult classic film ‘Blade Runner’ was released to little box office return. This was a film that had become a mainstay for all sci-fi fans and is likely in the library of ever self-respecting geek in the nation but its sequel ended up losing money. Other attempts to bring back popular franchises have failed as well, with movies like Ghostbusters, Robocop and more. For television this is even harder to do as the commitment can be much larger in many cases. With these, there is something to be said for leaving nostalgia where it is…In the past.
Please don’t think I am just picking on Firefly, this line of though applies to many other shows that were canceled ‘before their time’ but was it really before their time if they have become legendary in their status like Firefly has? I would love to have more from series like Kindred the Embraced, Brisco County Junior, Sarah Connor Chronicles, Wonderfalls, Farscape, Better Off Ted and Dead Like Me. I would even love more from lost series like the Kolchak revival Night Stalker, Earth 2, Otherworld and even Dark Skies but I know that what we would get would pale in comparison to the original run.
So, if you are holding onto the hope that Firefly, or a series like it gets a chance to come back, step back from your fandom a moment and ask yourself if having more would improve or lessen what you already have. Sure, it is easy to say that all the series would be amazing based on all of the stories you have in your head but in reality, you don’t know. For all you know, Firefly could have ended up a complete bomb by the end of the series and, only having such a short time may have been the best thing for the series and geekdom as a whole. Screenrant has a great list of things that happened because of its cancellation that really makes you think.
I will miss Firefly, just as I miss Earth 2, Better Off Ted, Brisco County Junior and many many more great series that were ended abruptly and, in some ways, prematurely. This, however, doesn’t change the fact that those episodes still exist and we can watch them any time we want. We can create own stories and talk with one another about what could have been. Maybe one day a new series based in the Firefly universe will emerge, but if it does, remember to temper your expectations. It will never compare to the Firefly you had, nor should it.
Thanks for reading, I would love to hear your thoughts below and please share your experiences with Firefly or any other abruptly cancelled series you loved. If you just happened by, tell me what you think! Don’t Forget To Follow me if you like the blog!
Late To The Game 1/30/2018