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Firefly (television series)
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Firefly (television series)

Firefly is a science fiction television series, which was first aired in the United States and Canada on September 20, 2002. It was created by Joss Whedon, the creator of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel. Whedon and Tim Minear were the executive producers.

Warning: Plot details follow.

Table of contents
1 Setting
2 Cast
3 Airing and cancellation
4 Episodes
5 Nominations and awards
6 Movie
7 See also
8 External links


The show is set in the year 2517 CE, following the depletion of Earth's resources and an expansion of the human race into the frontier of outer space. The show takes its name from the "Firefly-class" spaceship operated by the central characters; the ship's class name is itself a reference to the appearance of the ship, whose tail section lights up during acceleration. Captain Malcolm "Mal" Reynolds is the veteran of a war of resistance against the Anglo-Sino Alliance — an organization that attempted to achieve the unification of all of the colonized planets under a single imperial government. A central "core" of planets is under Alliance control, while settlers and refugees in the farther reaches enjoy relative freedom from the long arm of the government but lack many of the amenities of a high-tech civilization. Mal now owns Serenity, making cargo runs and performing various other tasks — legal or otherwise — to scrape together a living for himself and his crew.

Featuring a blend of elements from the space opera and western genres, the show depicts mankind's future in a way that is uncharacteristic of many contemporary science fiction programs. Unlike most traditional space operas, there are no alien creatures or space battles. The dialogue and interplay between characters is central to the plot of the program, resulting in a story that is alternately serious and humorous. The show's visual and audio style also differs from contemporary shows: camerawork, including CGI shots, is often handheld, with the use of zooms, misframed shots, and less-than-instant focus another characteristic giving a 'you are here' feel. Notable, also, is the lack of sound effects for actions taking place in airless space.

Several points of controversy regarding the show's setting have yet to be cleared up, such as whether it takes place in a single solar sytem or many, and whether faster-than-light travel is used.

Some have noted that Reynolds' story appears to be modelled on the life of Jesse James; this may explain the unusual western theming for a science-fiction show.


The show's plot pits these characters against various criminals and schemers, Alliance security forces, the violently insane Reavers, and the mysterious men with "hands of blue" who are apparently operatives of a secret agency within the Alliance (or possibly part of the 'Blue Sun Corporation'). The crew is driven by the need to secure enough income to keep their ship operational, set against the need to keep a low profile to avoid their adversaries. Their situation is greatly complicated by the very divergent motivations of the individuals on board Serenity. The show's brief run did not allow full elucidation of all the complex interrelationships of the cast and their external contacts.

Airing and cancellation

Though the show had a loyal following during its original broadcast, it was cancelled by the Fox in December 2002 after only 11 episodes shown in the USA and Canada. Low ratings were blamed for the cancellation; it was also suggested that Whedon's additional responsibilities on Angel after co-creator David Greenwalt's departure from that show was a contributing factor. In the hopes of getting another network such as UPN to pick up the cancelled show, fans formed the 'Firefly Immediate Assistance' campaign, but were unsuccessful in promoting the show's continuance. Fillion later appeared in the final season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, while Torres and Baldwin took on recurring roles in Angel.

Fans attributed the low ratings in part to some actions of the Fox Network. Firefly was promoted as an action-comedy rather than the more serious character study it was intended to be; episodes were occasionally preempted for sporting events, and the episodes were not aired in the order that the creators had intended. Most notably, the two-hour episode Serenity was intended to be the pilot episode, as it contains most of the character introductions and back-story. However, FOX decided that Serenity was not a suitable pilot, and so the second episode, The Train Job, was rushed into production to become the pilot episode.

The sequence of episodes aired varied by locality:


First season
D Code Name Writers Director Premiere Channel
1 1AGE79 "Serenity" (2 hours) Joss Whedon Joss Whedon December 20, 2002 Fox
2 1AGE01 "The Train Job" Joss Whedon,
Tim Minear
Joss Whedon September 20, 2002 Fox
3 1AGE02 "Bushwhacked" Tim Minear Tim Minear September 27, 2002 Fox
4 1AGE03 "Shindig" Jane Espenson Vern Gillum November 1, 2002 Fox
5 1AGE04 "Safe" Drew Z. Greenberg Michael Grossman November 8, 2002 Fox
6 1AGE05 "Our Mrs. Reynolds" Joss Whedon Vondie Curtis Hall October 4, 2002 Fox
7 1AGE06 "Jaynestown" Ben Edlund Marita Grabiak October 18, 2002 Fox
8 1AGE07 "Out of Gas" Tim Minear David Solomon October 25, 2002 Fox
9 1AGE08 "Ariel" Jose Molina Allan Kroeker November 15, 2002 Fox
10 1AGE09 "War Stories" Cheryl Cain Jim Contner December 6, 2002 Fox
11 1AGE12 "Trash" Ben Edlund,
Jose Molina
Vern Gillum 2003-06-28 MundoFOX
12 1AGE13 "The Message" Joss Whedon,
Tim Minear
Tim Minear 2003-07-15 SABC3
13 1AGE10 "Heart of Gold" Brett Matthews Tom Wright 2003-07-19 MundoFOX
14 1AGE11 "Objects in Space" Joss Whedon Joss Whedon December 13, 2002 Fox

A box set of the first season's episodes, including those unaired in the USA, were released on region 1 DVD on December 9, 2003; and on region 2 DVD on 2004-04-19.

Nominations and awards

Firefly won the Emmy for Outstanding special visual effects for a series.

The pilot episode, "Serenity", won the Visual Effects Society's Best visual effects in a television series award, and was nominated for Best compositing in a televised program, music video, or commercial. It came second in the 2002 Hugo Best dramatic presentation, short form category; and was nominated for a Golden reel award by the Motion Picture Sound Editors, USA in the Best sound editing in television long form: sound effects/foley category.

Nathan Fillion won the Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Films, USA;'s Cinescape genre face of the future award, male for his portrayal as Mal.

The DVD won the Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Films;' 2004 Saturn award for Best DVD television release; and was nominated for a Golden satellite award in the Best DVD extras category.

In 2003 the episodes "The Message" and "Heart of Gold" were nominated for Hugoss in the Best dramatic presentation, short form category, despite not being shown on television in the USA.


Whedon said in an April 2003 USA Today interview that he hadn't given up on the show, and hoped to continue it in any format. For information on the movie based on the series, see Serenity.

See also

External links