If you hadn’t ever seen Firefly, you probably knew somebody who had. That person would have raved about the show, lamented its premature cancellation and purchased the DVD box set, insisting that you should one day sit down and watch all 13 episodes so that you, too, could understand its greatness. And if you had seen Firefly, then you probably loved it.
This was a show that had hit the ground running. From the very first episode the writing was tight, the characters well-formed, the plot gripping and the universe entirely believable. Created by Joss Whedon, it was swiftly driven into the ground by an uncaring network that didn’t bother airing the pilot, broadcast episodes in the wrong order and never gave it a chance.
But, as has happened recently with Family Guy and Futurama, strong DVD sales and a vocal fanbase revealed that there was a market for this, and so now we have Serenity, effectively a conclusion to the series rather than a rebirth of the franchise.
And it’s good; it’s good like the series was good. I loved it — the writing is of just the same quality, the action is just as impressive, the characters gell just as well as they always have and I’d happily watch it again, and again, and again. Is it a good film? Well, I’m not sure. It’s certainly a good episode, and as a feature-length series finale it’s excellent, but I’m not convinced that’s quite enough for people who haven’t watched the series.
Will people who haven’t watched the series care about the faltering relationship between Malcolm and Inara? Will they understand about the Reavers, or why people suddenly lapse from their archaic frontier dialect into Chinese during moments of stress, or be as shocked when that happens to that character (those who’ve seen the film should know what I’m referring to there)? I think…probably not. While there’s an admirable attempt to create a standalone film, there’s a lot of history here and I can’t imagine how it would be to watch the film not knowing that history.
I’ve seen people wonder if Serenity will act as a launch-pad for a new series of the show but I don’t think this will happen; the film feels very much like an ending, not a beginning, and even if it does return to television it will never — can never — be the same Firefly we all fell for originally.
But as I said, I loved it. As a Firefly fan, the whole thing made perfect sense to me, and only serves to indicate just how great the series could have been had it been allowed to flourish. It’s dark, it’s funny, it’s tragic and exhilarating, and when it’s over, you’ll wish there was more.