My office is decorated with Star Wars memorabilia. In college, I never missed an episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation. These are both great but let me tell you why Firefly is the greatest scifi show ever!
Firefly is Realistic
I’ve always found it ironic that my mom introduced me to science fiction. She loves the genre. This is funny to me because you’d think it would be my dad. He was an electrical engineer in the same generation that send us to the moon. He can’t stand sci fi.
Why? Because it is often unrealistic.
Not Firefly, though. In the first episode you see some important pieces of realism. For instance, there is no sound in the vacuum of space. Secondly, the space between planets is empty, lonely and dangerous. It also takes a long time.
The best piece of realism, in my opinion, is the language. Firefly exists in a universe where humans have had to leave earth behind and terraform an entire different solar system. This means they have some of the customs and cultural residue of “Earth-that-was”, including their language. This includes little idioms like “verse” as a shortened version of “universe” (hence the title to this article) and other little details that make the show great. In a larger scale, however, the two dominant cultures are Western-English-speaking and Chinese. This typically means people are bilingual. In function this results in people speaking English for every-day use and people cussing in Chinese.
Firefly is driven by characters not special effects
Although I like Star Wars and some Star Trek, I’m not a die-hard fan of the sci fi genre. I have some friends (and my mom, too) who watch anything they can that remotely can call itself science fiction. This is not me. To me, most sci fi shows a just about special effects. Boring.
Not Firefly. This show is all about the stories behind the characters.
The captain of Firefly is a veteran on the losing side of a rebellion- although he still doesn’t think it was the wrong side. He is in self-imposed exile as a result. He is a smuggler and crook with integrity. In other words he’s what Han Solo should have been (if he shot first) and didn’t have good luck (which Star Wars fans are supposed to realize is The Force).
The first mate is a war buddy of the captain. She (yes! The show has lots of strong, positive females) is the wife of the ship’s pilot. This leads to an interesting relationship between the three of them (get your mind out of the gutter, it’s a family show- despite all the cussing in Chinese).
There’s also a brilliant ship’s engineer who is cute-as-a-button and the brawn-but-no-brains hired gun who is there for comedic effect and keen fashion sense.
Speaking of fashion, they also have a Companion on board. She is a sort or legalized and certified prostiture, similar to a Geisha. She is much more useful to the crew than Counselor Troi ever hoped. Her relationship with the captain provides great romantic tension that Han and Lea only fantasized about.
Without spoiling anything, in the Pilot episode they pick up some passengers who are even more deep and interesting. The only problem- goram Fox cancelled the show before they got to each of their back stories. The good news: people originally started with the second episode, but you get the background first.
You gotta meet these characters. (And I didn’t even mention the minor characters like Christina Hendrick’s plays.)
Firefly has great writing
Or of the other reasons I tend to not like everything sci fi is because sometimes they use technology or special effects to overcome bad stories. This is one of the things I like least about Star Trek. Some of the episodes do a great job drawing me in and creating a tension that sincerely makes me think, “oh, the Enterprise is screwed now!” only to find out that it was all just a hallucination or a time-space distortion. Come on! It like the writers just gave up on the story.
Firefly never disappoints like this. Sure, the characters get into pickles each week where you start to think, “they’ve finally had it now” but (no spoilers)…
There are no whiny brats or unbelievable romances as someone might find in a certain set of Prequels. There’s a wonderful lack of midacloreans and walking dialog as well, in Firefly.
And I haven’t even mentioned all the shiny one-liners you can incorporate into your everyday speech, once you start watching the show.
Firefly has great fans
Everyone knows of the crazy Trekkies, who get into wars over tiny details in the show-all from their room in their mom’s basement. Star Wars, not to be outdone, has the 501st and it’s strict costuming requirements for membership. These large groups dominate by their spending power, making it a no brainier for the movie industry to keep cranking out movies, reboots, TV shows and all sorts of other products to keep the cash flowing in from the Nerds.
In contrast, Firefly fans (aka Browncoats, after the pejorative name for the losing side of the rebellion for which the captain fought) are small in number. That makes them mighty. They were able to produce enough interest in the series, despite it being cancelled after only a few episodes, to have a movie made- Serenity- to tie up most of the loose ends from an incomplete show.
So, what are you waiting for? Go watch the show right now!