Malcolm And His Amazing Monocolor Browncoat

Last night I tuned into the Firefly 10th anniversary marathon on the Science Channel somewhere around hour 3. I didn’t get up from the spot I was in for the next 12 hours. I really hadn’t watched the entire series since the DVD’s came out. I was gifted the Blu Rays for my birthday by a generous Fancy Bastard, but I had yet to break them out and it seemed like 10 years was far too long to have waited. It also seemed like an impossible amount of time to have passed since they did, in fact, take the sky from me.

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One thing that always catches me off guard about Firefly is that all the tropes and memes and catch phrases are things that were used, shown or said just once in the series. Everything the nerds glommed onto, from Jayne hats, to strawberries, to tight pants, to problematic food were just one off gags in single episodes. I think this is a testament to two things: A) the show was so well crafted that everything about it felt pre-established upon the first viewing. The world, the ‘Verse Firefly presented us with was already fully realized, even as it was unfolding before us bit by bit. To the audience it really felt like peeking in to something very old (in terms of development) and very real. And B) With only 15 hours of tv content and a eventually an added 2 hours of movie to obsessively analyze, nerds did what they do best and… obsessively analyzed the limited resources at their disposal.

After the marathon Science showed a partial cast reunion roundtable that took place just before the big Firefly panel at Comicon this year. Interviews with the missing cast members (excluding Ron Glass if I remember correctly) were spliced in. It was touching to hear how the palpable sense of demise pushed them to make the show even better, rather than causing them to sleepwalk through the episodes with a sense of gloom and defeat. Joss’s tear jerking speech to the San Diego crowd at the end was just that. An eye misting declaration of gratitude if their ever was one.

A couple of things I wasn’t expecting were the final revelation of why Inara had to leave Serenity and why she refused to allow herself to love Mal, and a deeper explanation of what Inara’s “magic” syringe was intended for. I know they explained it in the DVD commentary, but after hearing Tim Minear layout what the episode would have really entailed, I can’t think of anything darker that has ever appeared on a tv drama. Not even Breaking Bad could have touched that plot line.

As I write this post, I am listening to “King Animal,” the first new Soundgarden album in 13 years. Firefly and Soundgarden – early 20’s me is in full effect right now. This far removed from the cancellation, the outrage the fruitless online petitions and the shocking lack of fairness of it all, I think I would really appreciate an animated series right about now. So… let’s go ahead and make that a real thing.

I have a guest comic up at Wasted Talent concerning TRUE CANADIAN ADVENTURES!!!

Wasted Talent Guest Comic by Joel Watson of HijinKS ENSUE

COMMENTERS: Did you watch the Firefly marathon? Is there anything that you’ve caught 10 years later that you missed during the initial viewing? Or did you discover Firefly long after it was axed?

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47 Comments

  1. I'm still trying to figure out the logic of sitting through the marathon when the series is owned on some form of recorded media in the first place. o.O

    • Finished it last night with a cup of hot chocolate. I knew about the dying part. I didn't know about what the syringe was. I always thought it was a suicide thing. That would have been seriously dark!

  2. I didn't get into Firefly when it was on, because I watched the first episode Fox showed, which was the wrong way to do it. Don't show me people using a spaceship to hijack a steam train with their six-shooters until you've shown me *why* someone is using spaceships in the same context as steam trains and six-shooters!

    I also wanted them to get away from the conceit that all these worlds were in one system, because that was kind of straining my suspenders of disbelief. Joss could have borrowed the Alderson drive from Jerry Pournelle (I'm sure he wouldn't have minded), and then had the tramline that could possibly lead back to Earth-that-was disrupted by a supernova or a new stellar collapse or something…

    (For those not versed in the CoDominium, the Alderson drive operates along "lines of thermonuclear flux" between stars. It works only at a specific point in space, not too close to the star at this end, and transits to another specific point, not too close to the target star. Each tramline operates only between two specific points; one character notes that it's occasionally been faster to go from one Alderson point, jump to another system, cross to its next Alderson point, jump systems again, and so on, than to just fly through normal space across the first system. The distance between Alderson points would have preserved the prolonged interplanetary flying sequences necessary to some of the plots, while still allowing realistic planetary systems. Maybe I'm just too much of an astrpphysics geek, though…)

    • I don't think it's all that unrealistic to find a system with a bunch of planets, a bunch of moons, and heavily terraform them all. I mean, Jupiter has at least 63 moons. Let's say we make the ones with enough gravity habitable–I'm not sure how we make them warm enough, but SCI-FI. That's already more worlds than we see in the series + movie.

      • Also remember that "terraforming" is the scifi version of "A wizard did it":
        "We need more planets so we can fly around and stuff!"
        "But we don't have money for crazy-different sets!"
        "It's ok! Terraforming! Then they can all look similar!"
        *furious mutual masturbation*

  3. I think I finally have this quote correct after many watchings, but really paying attention during the marathon: “There is too much snow piled up, the roof will cave in, his brains are in danger.” – River when Book’s hair freaked her out.

    To Michael C: it’s ok if you don’t feel the shared experience of all the Browncoats gathered on their sofas at the same time, laughing and crying together as one. 😉

    • I think it's "his brains are in terrible danger"–at least, that's how I remember it, but you've watched it more recently than me. That line always makes me laugh.

    • I have 2 DVD drives in my computer, one set region 1, the other to region 2. That way I can watch any damn format disc I can buy.

      • Oops! Sorry, for some reason I read your comment as saying you couldn't get the proper format disc rather than they didn't show the marathon, and I can't seem to find a delete or edit thingy on the reply. I need coffee.

  4. I had friends giving me fits that I wasn't watching it (originally). When we had the *second* Austin, TX, sneak of the movie, in 4 days, I borrowed someone's set of DVDs and had a 3-day marathon (after work) including all extras. I was in love, and ready for Serenity! The second viewing of Firefly, was again, in it's entirety at The Alamo Drafthouse marathon. My third viewing of anything Firefly, was another marathon when I had the flu. The forth time was across 3 weekends at a friend's house. I still have not watched a *single* episode, by itself.

  5. I never watched it when it was on – not sure why, since mid-20's me was getting into this kind of thing. Then late-20's me saw a marathon on DVD and was hooked.

    Thank Cthulhu for Netflix Streaming – I don't know what I'd do without you (well, now; you 2 years ago was pretty bad.) $8 a month is so much cheaper and more space efficient than getting the shows I want all at once. When I have the money, I'll get the DVD.

    • I know I didn't watch when it was on because Fox did the most horrible job of marketing it. They made it out to be "See, it's a Western! It's a Western Drama! Oh, and we threw space ships into the mix!" I don't like Westerns, so since Fox said it's a Western, I didn't bother to watch because I wouldn't like it.

  6. sadly i can't say that i have any of the dvd or blu ray collections, so finding out that inara is terminal was actually a huge shock to me, and hearing about the episode for it was horribly sad, also the idea of the ship having kids and jayne being the sort of daycare daddy sounds so freaking adorably awesome

  7. I posted on the Fancy Facebook Page that I had finally seen it after hearing so many people talk about it. I thought I'd watch an episode a night, but I plowed through the series in a few days, much like Leshka, on Netflix.
    It was a great show, and the SE stand up to this day, but really, they only added to the great writing of the show; the SE wasn't what made the show.
    I had seen the movie when it came out in theaters before ever seeing the series, so I didn't quite get it at the time. After my marathon last month, I rewatched the movie and it all made wonderful, glorious sense.
    I can't believe it's been over 10 years since the show was on. It looks like something that would be on today. Did I say would? I meant SHOULD be on today. Not some of the crap that's currently calling itself television…
    Ok enough ranting. 🙂

  8. I gave up on Fox before even then, but some years later, I received the box set of the whole series as a gift. I took to it, but it is not as enjoyable to me knowing there will never be new episodes. I did record Browncoats Unite, but I haven't had the opportunity to watch it yet.

    • Oh, and there's also Doctor Who. I liked it way back, but picked it up when the series resumed on US television. I eventually concluded that I could not properly enjoy it until I rewatch the very first seasons.

      I'm patient when it comes to awesome. I'll wait until I can get my hands on them.

  9. I barely watch TV anymore, so I wasn't even aware of a marathon. It would've been nice to see the reunion, though…

  10. I was in middle school when Firefly came out which is sad because I think everyone represses those years…still, Firefly will always hold a special place in my heart. Now as I'm graduating college that show has become everything from comfort TV to an illustration in class to the inspiration to keep hoping that one day space cowboys will be real (or at least on TV again). I wish I had caught the reunion airing, but I'm sure that reliving it repeatedly on Youtube will be equally happy-sad.

  11. If anything still angers me 10 years later, it's that no one in TV network world really learned ANY lessons from Firefly. And I see many networks "appear to" make the same mistakes with newer shows that Fox originally made with Firefly.
    That mistake: running commercials for a MONTH that say "plus… a girl in a box!" And then NOT starting the show with the GIRL IN THE BOX EPISODE.
    Don't advertise shit you're not airing! Seriously, how hard is that?

    Ever since Firefly, I'm very tuned in to whether the shows I watch seem to be airing in the correct order. I''m tuned in to the "passage of time" in the sequential shows.

    • In a similar vein, a recent episode of CSI had nobody say anything for the first half.

      I found it quite interesting, and was impressed with how much was conveyed with zero dialogue.

      My brother found it an annoying gimmick.

      Main difference? I hadn't seen any of the ads where they kept plugging "the next episode will leave you speechless!" and such. I didn't know the gimmick was being highlighted in previews, and so came upon it untainted by the advertising.

  12. I have much the same feeling about Cabin In The Woods. Here's this whole universe that's so full of possibility it could kill you to consider it all. But we'll probably never see it again. All of my dammit.

  13. You can’t call the strawberries a single episode thing: Kaylee eats Book’s one very sensually in the pilot, and in the episode where she’s wearing the shiny gown, she’s going right to the buffet with the strawberries and carries it even arround. So it’s clearly a two episode thing 😉

    Keep on flying!

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