Ten Things: Firefly | Redbrick | University of Birmingham

Ten Things: Firefly

Simon Fairbanks takes us on meandering journey through the Firefly universe

1. Short but Sweet

Firefly was a short-lived space western television show brought to us by Joss Whedon, creator of Buffy The Vampire Slayer. Despite being incredibly popular, it was cancelled after just eleven of its fourteen episodes had been aired in 2002.

2. Born to Run

Firefly tells the story of Captain Malcolm Reynolds who fought on the losing side of a Civil War with galactic confederate, The Alliance. He now lives aboard his spaceship, Serenity, with eight others and they travel the outskirts of space, scratching a living as renegades. The plots typically revolve around archetypal Western motifs, such as a bank heist, train robbery and transporting cattle.

3. The Losers

Whedon created the show after reading The Killer Angels, a novel chronicling The Battle of Gettysburg during the American Civil War. He wanted to follow the people who were on the losing side of the War and their experiences cast out from civilisation.

4. Pilot vs. Pilot

Two pilots were filmed for Firefly. Fox deemed the first pilot to lack action and found Captain Reynolds too dour. Whedon therefore locked himself away for the weekend and wrote The Train Job, now regarded as the second episode. At the instruction of Fox, he had to include more action and larger than life characters.

5. Rough and Tumble

Whedon wanted a gritty feel for the Firefly universe and filmed them in a documentary style with hand-held cameras. Even the Emmy award-winning computer-generated scenes mimicked the hand-held format. By contrast, any scenes featuring the Alliance used traditional tracking shots to show the sterility of this world.

6. Theme song

The show's theme song is entitled The Ballad of Serenity, and was written by Joss Whedon himself. It's performed by Sonny Rhodes.

7. The Browncoats

The show has garnered a loyal base of fans who call themselves the Browncoats, named after Captain Reynold’s losing side of the Civil War. They regularly lobby Fox to bring Firefly back on air and are currently in post-production of a spin-off DVD called Browncoats: Redemption which will be sold at Dragon Con 2010.

8. East meets West

Firefly takes place in a multicultural future, as America and China were supposedly the two superpowers that expanded into space. As such, the characters frequently use Chinese words and curses, whilst often eating with chopsticks. Their clothing is similarly a mix of World War II, the American Old West and 1861 samurai Japan.

9. Serenity

Due to popular demand, Joss managed to obtain funding from Universal Pictures to direct a spin-off movie in 2005. This was titled Serenity because Fox still owned the rights to the name Firefly. It resolved many of the story arcs established during the series and provided closure for the fans. A sequel was originally planned to resolve Shepherd Book’s back-story but poor box office takings prevented this from happening.

10. The fire has died

Unfortunately, Firefly is unlikely to return on television or as a movie. The loyal fans tried to ignite interest in a television movie sequel to Serenity on June 23rd 2006, Joss Whedon’s birthday, by simultaneously purchasing a copy of the Serenity DVD. This campaign saw the Serenity DVD rise to No.2 in the Amazon charts. Nevertheless, Joss is now busy directing comic-book super-franchise The Avengers and the show is left to reside in fan-fiction.


12th June 2010 at 6:05 am

Last Updated

10th June 2010 at 2:12 pm