TV: Boxing Clever – Firefly

Only chumps watch TV on an actual television anymore, and why should you? In a brand new feature, Jon Hozier-Byrne looks at the juiciest DVD boxsets you simply must own.

Firstly, I must admit a touch of impartiality – I love Firefly. I love everything about it. I love the characters, I love the concept, I love the witty, quotable dialogue. I love Westerns almost as much as I love science-fiction. I love the fact it was cancelled after only eleven aired episodes, only to be resurrected by fanatical fan support. But most of all, I love Joss Whedon.

Firefly isn’t just a fantastic DVD box set, it’s the boxset that changed how movies are made. Due to the show’s massive post-cancellation DVD sales, the franchise was given a breath of fresh air with Universal’s big screen adaptation, Serenity. June 23rd was even marked as ‘Serenity Day’, when an army of fans would purchase the DVD en masse in an attempt to make lightning strike twice.

It’s little wonder then, that a show with such a fervent following would be pretty good. Firefly is quite simply one of the most enthralling programs you will ever watch, with characters you really begin to care about, and a universe you truly get the urge to explore. Set in the year 2517, mankind has left Earth and settled on a new solar system.

While the central planets are bastions of progress and wealth, the outer planets are uncivilized and dangerous, and with more than a slight feel of the Old West. Into this ‘verse is cast Mal Reynolds (Nathan Fillion), captain of a small ‘Firefly-class’ spaceship, and a crew of misfits and miscreants. Over the course of the series the crew try to avoid the long arm of the tyrannical Alliance, the dark barbarism of the Reavers, all the while protecting two wanted fugitives that stowed aboard the ship.

It’s difficult to pin down what exactly makes Firefly so enthralling. It’s got all the mystery of Lost, all the beleaguered hopelessness of Battlestar Galactica, and all the prostitutes of The Wire. What really makes Firefly special, though, is the characters. There are very few shows that make you feel quite so invested in the characters, and this due a large part to Joss Whedon’s unique and witty dialogue. You truly want to learn more and more about the entire ensemble with each passing episode.

The episodes do pass, though, and all too quickly. With only fourteen episodes ever made, it’s easy to feel a little cheated when you get to the final episode, aware all the while that even after Serenity, there are some mysteries that will never be resolved.

Still, saying you want more of something is hardly an argument against it, and the franchise’s fanatical following is a testament to the quality of what little of Whedon’s vision actually saw the light of day. Even if you’re not a fan of science-fiction (or Westerns), this is still a brilliantly crafted show about people surviving on the very fringe of civilisation, and the relationships they forge. This is not just another low-budget sci-fi show – it’s a vast space-opera performed by a bluegrass band.