Putting down the stick on Firefly

Update: here’s more on the bottom.

There’s been a slight buzz going around the Internet stemming from something Nathan Fillion said. In particular, he said, “If I got $300 million from the California Lottery, the first thing I would do is buy the rights to ‘Firefly,’ make it on my own, and distribute it on the Internet.” Naturally, the fans jumped on this and have created a site titled Help Nathan Buy Firefly, with the purpose of doing exactly that.

My first problem with this is that it’s an entirely unrealistic goal. There is no way a bunch of people on the Internet are going to raise enough cash for something like that. Prior to the Stewart/Colbert rally in October 2010, there was a movement on Reddit to raise a bunch of money in Colbert’s name. It took them quite a few months, but they successfully raised $500,000, and Colbert did an AMA on Reddit. Now on the Help Nathan site, someone estimated that it would take $40 million to get the rights. That’s eighty times as much money as the Redditors gathered – and there are not nearly as many Firefly fans as one thinks. Aside from taking a ridiculously long time, it’s likely that they wouldn’t even be able to gather that much money.

But let’s suppose somehow the money was raised – either by fans, or by Nathan Fillion saving up enough of the $100,000 he makes for each episode of Castle – and Fillion was able to secure the rights to the Firefly franchise. Would it even really be a good idea to make more episodes?

Before I go on, I should state this up front: I consider myself to be a Firefly fan. I’ve got issues with its use of Chinese and some of the logistics (a bunch of people colonize a planet using interplanetary ships, and then use horses and trains on the planet itself?) but the show as a whole was extremely interesting and engaging. The show clearly had enough of an impact on people such that it’s still being referenced years after it was released.

However, I’m of the opinion that it’s time to let it go. It’s been nearly nine years since the show aired, and digging it up to have another go would just not be the same. Look at what happened to Futurama. It was given a future after its initial run, and quite honestly, it’s just not as good as it was. The initial momentum was lost, and I think that new episodes of Firefly would suffer the same hit in quality.

Even beyond that, the story has been told. Let’s not forget how the film ended (with several fewer characters), so where’s to pick up from there? Who would want to see the show without the whole cast? I suppose you could tell more stories between the end of the show and the movie, but that seems to be cheating a bit. And how would you explain that all of the characters somehow look at least nine years older than they did before?

b!X, a guy who posts on Whedonesque, wrote a post about this as well. In particular he wrote that the fans are “dangerously close here to fetishizing both the show and the medium of television”. I think that’s an extremely accurate statement, and one that points out the utter folly of this latest movement. It is most certainly not the case that any episodes of Firefly would be better than no episodes altogether, and holding the show as the apex of all television ever is really shortsighted.

He also implies in the post that smaller forms of storytelling would be a better way to continue the universe. In particular he suggests a radio play, but we’ve already seen a bunch of Firefly comic books. And this isn’t the only Whedon universe to be continued in comics; hell, Buffy had a whole eighth season in comic form. So why not write more comic books? Why not do some little one-off shorts online? The Internet opens up all sorts of possibilities here – in particular, ones that don’t require $40,000,000.

Anyway, I really do think it’s time for people to stop throwing themselves at every new sliver of a chance to bring back Firefly. Remember the show for what it was, but don’t tarnish its legacy by trying to bring it back and potentially damage the franchise – or, as one poster on Whedonesque said, “dig it up and put a pretty hat on its rotted corpse.”

Update: Nathan Fillion wrote on his Twitter, “It’s beautiful to dream of more Firefly, but PLEASE DON’T SEND ANY MONEY. Just keep being great Browncoats, which you are!” I think that says all that needs to be said.

Thursday, February 24th, 2011 4:37 pm - tv

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