Posted on May 3, 2012
As I’m in a slump, I will be bringing you some posts on subjects that inspire me. This one is brought to you by the firefly that kept blinking on my window at the Outer Banks during my vacation.
Back at the end of 2011, there was speculation that Netflix could possibly buy the rights to Joss Whedon’s Firefly franchise. It even got a nod from star Nathan Fillion on Twitter. Marc Bernardin wrote his impassioned opinion on his blog entitled “Could Netflix Bring Firefly Back From the Dead?” asking what they were waiting for.
We’re getting into the middle of 2012, and there’s been no movement towards a new Firefly. Even though Netflix is bringing back Arrested Development, it doesn’t seem like there will be a crew to fly Serenity anytime soon. Rebooting Firefly comes with a number of problems that may be insurmountable. While the online streaming channels such as Netflix, Hulu, and Crackle are breaking ground with original shows, backing sci-fi shows will be an expensive investment. Look at the failed attempt to save Fox’s Terra Nova with Netflix. Special effects cost money, and since streaming channels are still not mainstream, they may not be able to pony up the needed cash to create quality shows that maintain their audiences.
As a fellow Browncoat, I have often had a personal Firefly marathon only to come to the inevitable fist shaking “curse you Fox” conclusion, and wishing that someone would find a way to bring back my favorite crew. The show’s cult status spawned its own movie much to the delight of Whedon and the cast. But time has passed, and it may be too late to bring back what already was besides the fact that Joss effectively “Whedoned” two of them off in a most “they’re-definitely-not-coming-back” way.
Most of the cast has moved on to other projects with the most notable being Fillion’s title role as Rick Castle on ABC. His enthusiasm for Firefly manifested itself in references both direct and indirect in Castle, most obviously in his space cowboy Halloween outfit. His twittered love for the show and a quick comment from an interview created a fan-based movement for fans to help fund the purchase of the show rights. Although it got shut down by Whedon’s camp, it shows the undying love and support of fans.
However, I think the biggest problem to rebooting Firefly actually lies with its huge fan base. Would we be able to accept a Firefly without its original crew? I think we all asked ourselves that after Wash and Shepherd Book were taken away from us. But can you get behind a Serenity piloted by someone other than Fillion’s Captain Tight Pants – er, Mal Reynolds? Or what if someone else other than Kaylee helped keep her flying? There is no way the entire crew could return, and if they could would the magic that existed before still shine?
The Firefly ‘verse still exists in fan forms such as the Browncoats: Redemption project. But if we truly got a reboot from Netflix, would we fans accept a whole different crew that exists in that ‘verse? Or would we mercilessly tear apart a beloved franchise because it wouldn’t be the same? Perhaps this is why Whedon has stayed away from bringing Firefly back beyond the fact that he’s now at the helm of another blockbuster franchise.
Here are my thoughts on how Netflix could possibly be successful in bringing back Firefly. With Whedon most likely not able to come back as the man in charge, the show would need to have someone from the Whedon family to take the lead. I propose that the show would need Tim Minear as the main director to keep some of the same flavor of the original. Bringing in Jed Whedon and his wife Maurissa Tancharoen as showrunners and chief writers would not only truly keep it in the family but also pump in some new blood. Their experience with Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog and Dollhouse gives them Whedon credit beyond the family name, and their work on Starz’s Spartacus series is enough to convince me that they can do it.
In terms of casting, here’s where I get a bit controversial. I think there has to be a mix of old crew and new crew to bring in both the faithful Browncoats as well as create new ones with the younger generation. Keeping too much of the old crew would be detrimental because you can’t recapture old magic, especially with two members gone. My must-have character is Zoe. I think if we put her in charge as captain, you might be able to keep Serenity flying. She’s an original independent browncoat, she’s bitter after Wash’s death, she has nothing to lose, and she’s kickass. Gina Torres could definitely bring back Zoe as captain of Serenity, and we could relegate Fillion as a guest star who comes back once in a while as captain of another firefly class ship.
Then there’s the voting of who else you would bring back. I think that you could bring back only two more original characters, which leaves Adam Baldwin as Jayne Cobb, Morena Baccarin as Inara Serra, Jewel Staite as Kaylee Frye, Sean Maher as Dr. Simon Tam, and Summer Glau as River Tam. After picking a couple from the old crew, you’d have to cast newer parts. Thinking about who could make up a crew of old and new can be your puzzler for the day.
In my perfect world, someone from Netflix will read this post, think I’m insightful, and give me the chance to help reboot the show. Then I could get a job as a writer, and finally contribute to a sci-fi show in a manner that would keep it from being canceled (like so many have in recent times). Until that shiny day when I also get my wish to save Torchwood and bring back Star Trek to television, I will be happy knowing that Netflix or any other streaming channel hasn’t said no yet. For all of us Browncoats, the possibility of bringing Firefly back may be enough to keep us “still flyin’.”