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- The Complete Series
tracks for episodes: 'Serenity' 1 & 2, 'The Train Job', 'Shindig',
'Out of Gas', 'War Stories', 'Objects in Space', and 'The Message.
||'Here's How it Was',
'Making of Serenity', 'The Tenth Character', Joss Whedon's Tour
of the set.
Alan Tudyk's audition, Joss Whedon sings the Firefly theme,
Adam Baldwin sings 'Hero of Canton'
Gina Torres, Alan Tudyk, Morena Baccarin, Jewel Staite, Adam
Baldwin, Sean Maher, Summer Glau, Ron Glass
Everyone has a story about a show
(or four) which piqued their interest, only to be cancelled
after a very brief run. This season alone, at least four legitimate
possibles were pulled after five or less episodes aired. But
even among those of us who have become accustomed to this
sort of thing, 'Firefly' is a bizarre case. Joss Whedon's
resume lists him as creator of 'Buffy' (a show at least popular
enough that you can get away with referring to it as only
'Buffy') and its spin-off 'Angel'. These are shows whose popularity,
frankly, knows no bounds, and more importantly they are both
shows that started off with pretty shallow ratings. Even in
a world that has become dependant on instant rating spikes,
it seems a decidedly odd move to cancel a Whedon show after
eleven episodes (only to replace it with yet another reality
show). If there is even a possibility that you might cancel
a Whedon show without letting it run at least two full seasons,
why bother with it at all? His shows historically start off
slow, but boom into absolute whirlwinds of popularity. Well,
go figure. ***
It becomes a bigger mystery when
you take a look at the show. First off, the cast seems like
an absolute lock for success. Nathan Fillion stars as the
captain of a spaceship 500 years in the future. This is a
'cowboy' space adventure, something along the lines of Sean
Connery's 'Outland' (which of course, is 'High Noon' in space),
with a generous wash of what you'd expect from the creator
of 'Buffy'. Fillion was coming off a recurring guest role
on 'Buffy', and a major role on 'Two Guys, a Girl, and a Pizza
Place'. Gina Torres also stars, and she's practically a staple
of this type of fare, having roles in 'Hercules', and 'Alias',
not to mention the final two 'Matrix' movies. Alan Tudyk is
rather a newcomer, but he's recognizable to the proper crowd,
having played minor roles in 'A Knight's Tale', 'Wonder Boys',
and '28 Days'. The gorgeous Jewel Staite can't seem to catch
a break (and now she can't even catch one from Whedon). Jewel's
resume includes more failed series than any other four people
put together. 'Higher Ground', 'Flash Forward', and 'Just
Deal', just to name a few. And, the list goes on. Everyone
on the show was practically custom-made to be involved in
just such a project. ***
The plot revolves around the crew
of a ship who are doing whatever they can to scratch together
a living, keep their ship running, and avoid certain powers
that be. There are hints of a thousand sci-fi trappings here,
to one degree or another, and it's all put together with the
same sort of style that has made shows like 'Buffy' and 'Alias'
such hits... only better. It has a bit of both those shows,
but it's also mixed together with the better bits of various
'Star Trek' shows, and other cult sci-fi shows such as 'Farscape'.
Even despite the fact that the show
was cancelled, it managed to gain the support of a pretty
staggering number of fans, and with the DVD release vast numbers
of new watchers can find themselves stymied by a show that
was huge on potential, delivered engaging storylines, but
was never allowed to wrap up the loose ends of even one seasonal
arc. On the other hand, the DVD does have three episodes that
were never even aired. ***
This is the sort of show where
comparisons are as difficult to avoid as they are ill-equipped
to truly deliver a feel for the show, but just take every
western show you've ever seen and stir them up with every
sci-fi show, mark it with a big 'Guaranteed to attract a huge
audience from among the 16-30 age group' stamp of approval,
and you'd have thrown your money away on this show too. The
story is that Whedon has the cast committed to a film version,
so I suppose we'll see.
Whedon was really taken with his
idea here (not letting it die by putting a movie into production
being a clue), and he didn't cut corners on anything. This
is a very solid-looking release with picture quality comparable
to even the better film releases. Everything is very crisp
and clear, and indeed, it looks like a movie. Colors are very
sharp, and there are very few flaws to be found. Skin tones
have occasional problems, and contrasts are off here and there,
but that is by way of being extremely picky. Overall, this
is one of the best television releases you'll find. ***
The sound quality is equally solid.
Sound design was obviously a priority, and it makes sense.
Effects and dialogue are very clear, with a lot of fine use
of surrounds. -
||The DVD set
has a plethora of special features for a show that went nowhere.
Three featurettes give straight-forward 'Behind the Scenes'
accounts of the show, including one that focuses on the final
show (that aired). There's a gag reel, 5 deleted scenes which
are far more meaningful than most deleted scenes you get from
a television show release, Whedon gives a tour of the set, Whedon
and Adam Baldwin can both be seen singing (for whatever that
might be worth).
||In a very
impressive move that is almost as confusing as the show's cancellation,
there are commentary tracks by various cast and crew on eight
out of the fourteen episodes. I suppose there is only so much
natural attraction the DVD, and the idea is that you'd better
pull out all the stops if you're going to bother at all. Just
my point about the show in first place actually. Several of
the commentaries include Whedon, with a nice mix of actors,
writers, and directors filling the other spots.
This is a tough call really. This
is a pretty nice show, and the DVD release certainly doesn't
leave much room to feel like anything's missing. On the other
hand, it's hard to recommend purchasing what amounts to half
a season of a show where this is all your ever going to get.
What makes it even worse is that the series had progressive
sub-plots which were obviously leading to some season-ending
revelations which will frustrate anyone who watches it. But,
if you saw the show, even if you only caught it once or twice,
and you liked it even slightly, you will probably find this
worth the price.