‘Firefly’ still bright, but a reunion special dims

By Rich Heldenfels
Beacon Journal popular culture writer

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(L-R): Adam Baldwin as Jayne, Alan Tudyk as Wash, Nathan Fillion as Captain Malcolm "Mal" Reynolds, and Gina Torres as Zoe in FIREFLY.

In September 2002, Fox premiered the series Firefly, a western-in-space show from Joss Whedon, the man behind the hits Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel. By late December, the show was off the air.

But not, it turned out, done. Fans of the series snapped up the complete-series DVD, the Blu-ray, companion books and other merchandise. In 2005, three years after the series had been canceled, the cast reunited for a big-screen continuation. New fans keep discovering the series, and relishing it. Science Channel, which airs repeats of the series, will present a 10th-anniversary special, Firefly: Browncoats Unite, at 10 p.m. Sunday, following a day-long Firefly marathon beginning at 7 a.m.

To be sure, the fan base for all these efforts was passionate but not huge. Serenity was a box-office disappointment. The participants have gone on to other things; for example, Nathan Fillion now stars in Castle and Whedon directed Marvel’s The Avengers — although Summer Glau parlayed Firefly and other roles into godly status among fantasy/scifi fans. But there are those who will follow the show and its stars just about anywhere, including to Science, a boutique channel on Time Warner Cable’s Channels 132 and (for HD viewers) 1132.

But what will they find in Browncoats Unite? Science proclaims that the special “reunites Joss Whedon, Nathan Fillion and the entire renegade crew of the Serenity for the first time ever.” But the actual presentation is more of a patchwork than a complete reunion. Parts of its discussion come from a panel at the 2012 Comic-Con, where Whedon was joined by Fillion, co-stars Sean Maher, Glau, Adam Baldwin and Alan Tudyk, and executive producer Tim Minear and executive story editor Jose Molina. All except Whedon joined Entertainment Weekly senior writer Jeff Jensen for a more informal chat that forms the centerpiece of the hour-long special. Those segments are then edited together with separate comments by other co-stars: Morena Baccarin, Jewel Staite and Gina Torres.

While there is a lot of familiar ground covered, some intriguing tidbits are available, notably mentions of ideas for episodes that have not been made — but might be really cool if they were. Whedon still talks as if he would like to revisit the concept. And that might be really special.

Rich Heldenfels writes about popular culture for the Beacon Journal and Ohio.com, including in the HeldenFiles Online blog, www.ohio.com/blogs/heldenfiles. He is also on Facebook and Twitter. You can reach him at 330-996-3582 or rheldenfels@thebeaconjournal.com.

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