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What is Firefly


"A lot of people are asking me, you know,
what exactly is Firefly?
It's a tv show you morons!"
- Joss Whedon



What is Firefly?

"Firefly is gonna be totally unlike anything
you've seen before in the spaceship genre.
Very western, as I'm sure you've heard,
but with Whedon-esque trademark character and dialogue.
And something about a crew made up entirely of pigs." - Drew Z. Greenberg

To call Firefly a space-western is an oversimplification that touches upon the set-dressing in which a tale of intimate and epic proportions unfolds itself.  Thematically, it is about family, freedom, free will, and identity.  It's about a person's purpose in life, a person's place in the universe.  It's about survival, faith, and civilization.  

2517 A.D.

Firefly follows the lives of nine people caught in-between: people who have found that they can no longer live in the ultra-civilized and structured society of the Alliance, yet don't belong with the lawless savages who haunt the edges of civilized space--nor do they quite belong with the average, common criminals infesting the underbelly of society.   The crew and passengers of Serenity walk the Rim where technology is at it's most basic and the governments influence is least felt.  They live in a time that straddles the two worlds of a high-tech future and a throwback to the old frontier.

"I wanted to play with that classic notion of the frontier: not the people who made history, but the people history stepped on --the people for whom every act is the creation of civilization.  Then again, there's also gunfights and action." - Joss Whedon

 They walk that fine line in the middle, forging their own path while caught between absolute chaos and absolute law.  

But they are not your average criminals, abiding not by the fast and loose rules of the seedy underbelly of the criminal world, but by the law of Captain Malcolm Reynolds, who, even in his defiance of man's laws, has his own moral compass which guides his every action.  On Serenity Mal's word rules, even while living the contradiction of being a rule-breaker by trade, and considered lawless by society's standards. 

"How do you create a civilization? It's a personal process. Your ethics and moral structure are going to be tested.
It's about life when it's hard, about how we live when we're on the edge." - Joss Whedon

Our story begins when Mal's world is turned upside down by the arrival of three passegers and a mysterious piece of cargo, and it is at this point that the landscape changes, and his once simple life of living job to job gets complicated beyond his imaginings.  Circumstances pit him against the Alliance in a way he never anticipated, which sends him and his ship and crew hurtling down an exciting path of danger and it is this pivotal event that starts off the series.

"When I pitched the show, I said it was about nine people living in the blackness of space and seeing nine different things.
That's what I'm fascinated by, how they all react."  -Joss Whedon

It is this uniqueness of perspective amongst the characters that allows for an intriguing and intricately rich source of stories.  

"They must make decisions that are horrific to people who aren't fighting for their lives every day.  It's about a group of people who are living hand-to-mouth, and are heroes, day-to-day."

Two introductions for the episodes, which you will not find on the DVDs, were spoken by the characters Shepherd Book and Malcolm Reynolds respectively,

Two introductions for the episodes, which you will not find on the DVDs, were spoken by the characters Shepherd Book and Malcolm Reynolds respectively,

Two introductions for the episodes, which you will not find on the DVDs, were spoken by the characters Shepherd Book and Malcolm Reynolds respectively,


"After the earth was used up
we found a new solar system
and hundreds of earths were terraformed and colonized. 
The central planets formed the Alliance and decided
all the planets had to join in under their rule. 
There was . . . some disagreement on that point. 
After the war, many of the Independents who had fought and lost
drifted to the edges of the system, far from Alliance control. 
Out here people struggle to get by with the most basic technologies. 
A ship would bring you work, a gun would help you keep it. 
A captain's goal was simple:
find a crew,
find a job,
keep flying."

"Here's how it is: 
The Earth got used up, so we moved out and terraformed a whole new galaxy of
earths. Some, rich and flush with the new technologies. Some... not so much.
The Central Planets, them as formed the Alliance, waged war to bring everyone under their rule.
Few idiots tried to fight it, among them -- myself.  I'm Malcolm Reynolds, Captain of Serenity.
She's a transport ship, Firefly class. Got a good crew: fighters, pilot, mechanic.
We even picked up a preacher, for some reason, and a bona fide Companion.
There's a doctor, too. Took his genius sister out of some Alliance camp,
so they're keeping a low profile. You understand.
You got a
job, we can do it.
Don't much care what it is."

"What makes [Firefly] work is Whedon's delightfully well-chosen cast and their nine subtly-developed characters (a typically Whedon-esque extended family), each providing a unique perspective on their adventures aboard Serenity, the junky but beloved "Firefly-class" starship they call home. As a veteran of the disadvantaged Independent faction's war against the all-powerful planetary Alliance (think of it as Underdogs vs. Overlords), Serenity captain Malcolm Reynolds (Nathan Fillion) leads his compact crew on a quest for survival. They're renegades with an amoral agenda, taking any job that pays well, but Firefly's complex tapestry of right and wrong (and peace vs. violence) is richer and deeper than it first appears. By the time we've gathered tantalizing clues about Blue Sun (an insidious mega-corporation with an as-yet mysterious agenda), its ties to the Alliance, and the traumatizing use of Serenity's resident stowaway as a guinea pig in the development of advanced warfare, it's painfully clear that Firefly was heading for exciting revelations that never came to pass. Fortunately, Whedon was developing a Firefly movie as this DVD set was being released in January 2004, so the ultimate fate of Serenity's crew remains to be seen...." --Jeff Shannon, Amazon.com editorial review

"Five hundred years in the future, there is a whole new frontier, and the crew of the Firefly-class spaceship Serenity is eager to stake a claim on the action. They'll take any job, legal or illegal, to keep fuel in the tanks and food on the table. But things get a bit more complicated after they take on a passenger wanted by the new totalitarian Alliance regime. Now they find themselves on the run, desperate to steer clear of Alliance ships and the flesh-eating Reavers who live on the fringes of space." --From the Back Cover of the DVD set



"When I pitched the show, I said it was about nine people
living in the blackness of space and seeing nine different things.
That's what I'm fascinated by
how they all react."

"For me it was great to see a show about people my own age
who were struggling to make a life for themselves, like I am."  -lsstrout

"Whatever the intention, it was just a damn good story.
That's about it. I can relate to most of the characters Joss creates in some way,
but maybe that's why I like his stories so much.
There is no defined good/evil in the day to day workings.
Life is work, sometimes it sucks and sometimes you get a little burst of happy thrown at ya."  -TexJunkie   

"Honestly, I think what distinguishes this show
is *NOT* so much that it's a combination of future/past and eastern/western,
but what really distinguishes Firefly is the combination of excellent,
convention-defying writing, a great cast with amazing chemistry from the first scene,
and seamless transitions between entertaining action, riveting drama,
and ROTFLMAO humor/comedy all within one 45 minute episode."  -ShinyMonk

"Firefly speaks to me of freedom.
Taking what comes a body's way without worrying about what others think.
Not answering to anyone but one's own conscience on what's right and wrong."  -BrendaC20

"Well, I think it's about old fashion values that we have largely forgotten.
Like real freedom, making it when the odds are against you.
It's about taking care of your own no matter what the cost;
keeping watch over someone's back as they watch over yours.
It's about friends and enemies, beliefs and lies.
Doing your part, making your stand or running when you have to.
Yep. Good old fashion values."  -Uchmoishe

"I just love the mix of drama, action, and comedy. It's smart.
The special effects are great. And we need more Sci Fi."  -SiFlyman

"Firefly, to me, is what realistic Sci-fi should be.
The Utopian crap of any given Star Trek is simply not reasonable.
Regardless of the setting, each individual is going to find their own
state of equilibribium between freedom and security.
Here, Firefly connected to me as a traditional Federalist."  -whenwhere

"Firefly is about making decisions and living with the results of those decisions.
It's about personal responsibility, freedom, family, pain, and struggle. I
t's about how to keep on going when you think you can't.
It's a reminder that you can find humor in the dark places
and that no matter how bad it gets, there is always something to live for."  -hlgem

"Firefly is a story about common folk.
I think the second deleted scene from Serenity sums it up.
It's not about people who led armies or changed history
but about the soldier who believed in something
and had that belief smashed into a billion pieces,
a man who still needs to believe in something lest he go mad or suicidal
and has latched onto this ship and this crew as his life line."  -Lillius


More comments from the people behind the scenes . . .

"Firefly is clearly a rip off of Andromeda, Farscape, Babylon Five,
Dr Who, Quartermass, Imitation of Life (the one with Sandra Dee
and Susan Kohner, not the black-and-White one) the
Time-to-make-the-donuts ad campaign and of course,
Star Trek (the board game, not the show.)" --Joss Whedon speaking to AICN

"Darkly funny, scary in parts, honest, and original" - Jewel Staite

"The idea that they may have invented cool lasers but not everybody can afford them is
sort of the premise on which we work. Lasers take you to a science-fiction place
that I feel has been covered too much." - Joss Whedon

"I poured my heart and soul into that show.
I believed in it with every fibre of my being." - Joss Whedon on Firefly  

"I wanted to do a show about people who are not 'super,'
just working-class people..." - Joss Whedon on Firefly

"It works on you. It gets under your skin. At least, it did to me.
It unfolds. Reveals itself to you." - Tim Minear on the Firefly pilot 

"I'm very much of the 'make it dark, make it grim,
make it tough,' but then, for the love of God, tell a joke." - Joss Whedon

"I believe we are the only sentient beings in the universe,
and I believe that 500 years from now,
we will still be the only sentient beings around." - Joss Whedon  

"I'm not an adult!
I don't want to create responsible shows with lawyers in them.
I want to invade people's dreams." - Joss Whedon


Section Editor: Michelle   -   Email Michelle   -   Michelle's Bio   -   Last Edited on: March 22, 2010

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