OpinionTelevision & Film

Can the Signal be Re-Started? Ever?

I know it seems desperate, and I know I’m not the only one to say this, but these things need to be said.  On the heels of Joss Whedon’s statement at SXSW about his willingness to revisit the ‘verse, it just makes me need to say these words.  Simply put: bring back Firefly.

Fox said it wasn’t profitable, Netflix said it wasn’t interested in original content (what a load of it, by the way), and the general consensus is that it can’t be done.  The armies of Browncoats all have the same question on their lips: “why not?”

Firefly started as a pet project of that maniacal genius ginger and ran on Fox originally as a part of their Fall lineup in 2002 (in the so-called death-slot at 8pm EST).  The series was inspired by Joss Whedon’s thought process after reading The Killer Angels and is usually described as a “Sci-Fi Western.”  The show’s original viewing audience averaged at about 4.7 million viewers per episode (which meant it ranked 98th in the Nielsen ratings).  Those who would try to tune in often found baseball games in place of their new show (and baseball isn’t exactly outer space and psychics), and the shows were even played out of order (genius move, let me tell you).  It was not a big surprise to the cast or crew when their Christmas party was also the wrap party that year.  If it was anything else, anything less visionary, that might be the end of our story.  It’s a sad one, but it happens all the time.  But, this was not a normal TV show.  This was Firefly.

Most everyone realizes what has happened since that fateful cancellation, the fans united and not only got various networks (including SyFy) to air the shows as well as the four that never aired on Fox, they got themselves a movie (Serenity for the uninitiated).  It has to be said, though, it’s still not enough.  The fans (myself included) still want more.  Despite their nay-saying, I firmly believe that Fox is in the wrong.  I believe that revisiting the ‘verse could be a highly profitable move and I can support my argument.

Exhibit A: The Original Viewers

It’s happened with Star Trek, you see the fanaticism with Trek, Star Wars, and video gamers.  These people fell in love with the cast back in 2002 and has never given them up.  These are the people that got the show to air on TV again (even if on  cable), these are the people that showed up to see the cast again during Serenity promos…heck, these are the people that got Serenity to even exist!  Isn’t it time to reward these wonderful people who have preached the word of the ‘verse?

Exhibit B: The Serenity Fans

The movie came out in 2005 and it was the first time that Joss Whedon’s name showed up in the director credit on the big screen.  The movie brought a whole new group of people into the fandom.  I was in high school when the movie came out and several of my friends were first introduced to the series in this way and have since spent paycheck after paycheck on Malcolm Reynolds-style dusters, replica Serenity ornaments, and goofy Jayne T-shirts.

Exhibit C: Joss Whedon

The man is Hollywood gold now.  He writes, directs, produces and even composes for his masterpieces.  He was even trusted with The Avengers.  Following the inevitable fallout of awesome from the upcoming release, now is an even better time than previously to capitalize his star power.  After all, they’re still letting Michael Bay make movies…and he’s not half as talented (he only directs and produces, we’re not even talking levels of talent because that’s a whole different rant).

Exhibit D: Merchandise!!!

I’m sure a lot of you have already seen the gorgeous new Malcolm Reynolds pistol replica that’s (now available), but that’s just the tip of the iceberg.  It’s common knowledge: us SciFi geeks love our merchandise.  Whether it’s T-shirts bearing logos and great lines (I’ve got a Blue Sun tee as well as one with Jayne) or action figures, we eat that stuff up!  For example, the most awesome birthday present I ever gave my brother-in-law was a pack of Buffy: The Vampire Slayer trading cards.  I’d personally be more than happy to throw my money at Vera replicas, Lego Serenitys, and River Tam action figures.

Exhibit E: The New Generation

Geeks have been passing on their geekdom.  Many of the fans mentioned in Exhibits A and B are now having kids and, as such, there’s a new generation for the fandom.  I remember watching Star Wars with my dad at a young age and, even though I wasn’t old enough to understand everything fully it had an effect on me.  To this day I have a little Yoda sitting on my desk and a Han Solo in Carbonite ice cube tray in my freezer.  On top of it, who better to beg the parents to buy the merchandise as referenced in Exhibit D?  I can only imagine seeing a little girl running around in Kaylee overalls and it completely melts my heart (yeah, that’s so going to be my kid someday, I know).

Rebuttal One: “It’s Been too Long”

It’s been 9 1/2 years since the original series aired.  It’s been 6 1/2 years since Serenity graced movie theatres.  (Actors are now such and such old)

But here’s the kicker…how many of them really look that different? Sure, Summer Glau is a little more grown up, but if that’s really it .

Besides, if you REALLY needed to, I’m sure Joss Whedon can come up with any sort of plausible excuse as to why the actors have aged.

Rebuttal Two: “It’ll Cost too Much”

Let me introduce you to a simple formula: JW+f=A (wherein JW=Joss Whedon, f=funding, A=Awesome).  Let me also throw some numbers down:

$600,000 = the estimate amount raised by Can’t Stop the Serenity since 2006 (and this is only updated annually)

$1,288,185 =the total sales of Firefly- The Complete Series on DVD as of September 9, 2007 (yup, that’s 4 1/2 years ago)

85,000 = the number of copies sold of Those Left Behind (one of the comics in the Serenity series) as of October 2008 (even though it was over three years ago, that still put it as the #3 graphic novel Dark Horse has ever published)

112,785= the number of ‘likes’ on “Help Nathan Buy Firefly” on Facebook (as of publishing)

457,786= the number of combined ‘likes’ on the top two results for the show on Facebook (as of publishing)

I think there’s plenty of numbers to support my argument.

Rebuttal Three: “There’s No Viewing Audience”

Do I really need to even say anything besides “are you really that ignorant?”

Rebuttal Four: “We’re Not Interested in Producing New Content”

I’m looking at you, Netflix.  You said you weren’t interested in producing new content and that’s why you didn’t want to pick up the rights to Firefly.  Now Lilyhammer, which was partially funded by the company, has its entire first season available for streaming.  They’ve also got the rights to House of Cards (with Kevin Spacey) and are working on a new season of  Arrested Development (yet another TV show that Fox pulled the plug on despite fan protest).  It’s as simple as JW+f=A!

Rebuttal Five: “But Characters Have Already Been Killed Off!”

Simple – Joss Whedon’s word is THE word.  If Serenity is an alternate version of the TV series, okay, we’ll bite, just give us more!  We’re okay with changes like that (at least I am…I want back Wash!!).  Besides, he’s an amazing enough of a writer, he can surely figure out any problem as simple as a couple of character deaths (after all, that never stopped the comic book industry!).

So, let’s just end it simply: bring back Firefly (after all, you can’t stop the signal)!

3 thoughts on “Can the Signal be Re-Started? Ever?

  • Similar to your article, what I’m about say, needs not be said. However I’ll still say it!
    I whole heartedly support this!! I want more FIREFLY! Everyone wants more FIREFLY.

    The movement this show/movie has garnered is unparalleled, and has only been experienced before with Trek and other stories, which are now Sci Fi legends.

    Someone listen… and pay attention, and most importantly… make it happen!!

  • I was a big fan of Buffy back in the day, but could never really get into Whedon’s other shows. And Buffy lingered several seasons too long, IMHO anyway. That said, I have friends who are HUGE Firefly fans, and for their sake and yours I hope you get your wish and it returns in some fashion. But honestly, I just don’t see that happening. It all comes down to money: how much it costs to make and how much profit is generated from it. And besides, I think Whedon has far bigger fish to fry these days.

  • Another movie should do the trick. As for the time between, the X-files made two different movies: Fight the Future in 1998, and I Want to Believe in 2008. They had ten years between, and Serenity was so much better. I’m sure Mr. Whedon could cook something up, provided the studio is game. I think it’ll happen, but it has to come from Joss. We all know what happens when he gets passionate about something.


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