Growing up, Star Wars was my pinnacle of sci-fi storytelling. Movie after book after video game, I couldn’t get enough of it.
Then George Lucas lost his mind and tarnished my beloved galaxy far far away. My love of space-based sci-fi was no more. The spark was gone; blown out by a whirlwind of three movies that might as well have just been fully animated. After-all, they were more machine than man.
Then one night in my junior year of college my roommates were watching TV. As I walked through the living room and into the kitchen to get a drink of water, I was completely taken by the characters on our tiny television screen. Suddenly my 30 second break from study turned into a five hour sci-fi marathon. The show – Firefly.
Firefly was a short-lived, futuristic sci-fi TV series created by Joss Whedon.
The story takes place mostly aboard a rickety Firefly class spaceship named Serenity. Serenity is captained by an exceptionally honorable thief who has no problems dealing out death to those who cross his path. He and his eclectic crew of thieves travel the Universe committing all manner of crime (which never goes according to plan).
What I find so striking about this show is that it is told from the fringe. Usually sci-fi epics give you a glimpse of the best that the future has to offer. Firefly follows the losers of a rebellion, who became thieves, and are just trying to evade the control of what they feel is an unjust and tyrannical government. Most of the show takes place on their beat up ship or on impoverished backwater planets. The people feel real and relatable. Their problems are the same problems that we face today. This makes the characters feel very relatable and down to Earth (or whatever planet they are on).
The only person on Serenity who isn’t a criminal is a prostitute (“companion”). This kind of setting is ripe for brilliant expeditions into the core of morality, religion, government, and law. As I watch I can’t help but root for the crew of Serenity, even though they are “evil” by most standards. However, I don’t root for them in the same way I root for Darth Vader. It’s not because they are cool or badass (some of them are)… it’s because they are so damn likable and compelling (except for Jayne… he’s an ass, but he is so good at being an ass that it’s ok). As this universe unfolds before you, it becomes very clear that morality and legality are two very different issues.
Post cancellation DVD sales were so strong and the cult following that the show had cultivated brought about a movie followup called Serenity (available here).
These works are clearly a labor of love by Joss. Each installment is filled with morally gray plot lines, and brilliantly witty dialog. I just wish there were more installments.
I strongly recommend that you give it a shot.