‘Firefly’ Blu-ray Review
There are visionaries in Hollywood that can take complex concepts creating world’s that only our imagination could dream of. There are two men that come to mind, with one having spent time with feature films and the other mainly on television series. Guillermo del Toro has taken fantasy to a whole new level with the elaborate set pieces and costumes in his films. Joss Whedon has taken sci-fi on television to places it was never even thought of with television shows like ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer’, ‘Angel’, and the beloved ‘Firefly’.
‘Firefly’ was a television show that aired on FOX in 2002 for a mere 14 episodes before being canceled. The problem wasn’t with the direction, writing, or cast of the show. There were issues at FOX with the way the show was handled for television. The worst issue had to go with the episodes being shown on network television completely out of order. There was no sequence of order on how the episodes were aired which caused confusion to viewers trying to enjoy the show. Another problem centered on the timeslot of the show. It was bounced around through several different timeslots, before meeting the Deadly Friday timeslot where you are doomed to fail. Thirdly the advertising on television was horrible, yet the blame can go to the time slot changes and ordering of the episodes. I wonder how marketing was able to keep up with managements continual changes of the show.
This was a rather huge travesty and deadly blow to fans of the series. It got to a point where there were many fans of the show putting together online petitions to resurrect the show. Fans also wrote into FOX studios to see if they could do something to bring the show back on to television. FOX would not budge and stuck to their decision. The fans showed FOX how wrong they were with their wallets when ‘Firefly’ released on DVD. DVD sales were so strong that Joss Whedon was able to convince Universal Pictures on a feature length film titled ‘Serenity’. While ‘Serenity’ was not a huge box office smash, it was still able to garner some attention and have a worldwide box office gross of $38 million dollars with being $1 million dollars short of the production budget. That is not bad considering that the film itself did really well with release on DVD.
‘Firefly’ is a unique television show which has elements of both the sci-fi and western genres mixed together. These are two genres that I never thought would work together so well, but Joss Whedon was able to pull it off. The series takes place 500 years into the future in the year 2517. ‘Firefly’ follows the adventures of the crew of Serenity as they look for all kinds of different work across the various planets. The crew is lead by Malcolm Reynolds (Nathan Fillion) who is a fearless leader that is well respected by the crew. His crew consists of Zoe (Gina Torres) with her husband Wash (Alan Tudyk) who is the pilot of Serenity. There is Kaylee (Jewel Staite) the mechanic of Serenity. Inara (Morena Baccarin) whom is a prostitute on the ship. We have the muscles of the crew, Jayne (Adam Baldwin). The crew also has a doctor, Simon (Sean Maher) with his sister River (Summer Glau) which has a mysterious past. Then there is also Shepherd Book (Ron Glass) that is a minister.
The crew of Serenity is a fun bunch to watch as their personalities unfold over the 14 episodes. What made this series so great was Whedon’s writing of the characters and their interaction with each other. There is much more dialogue than action sequences; which may disappoint some, yet the dialogue is brilliant. Things work so well with this cast from the first episode, it is rather scary that their footing was planted right off the bat. I think that a lot of that has to do with actors Fillion and Torres bringing television and feature film experience to the set. Their characters are put through a lot of different situations during the course of the series. It is amazing as to how they handle each situation thrown their way.
Whedon has respect for his actors that he has show loyalty. Once the show was canceled, Whedon took most of the stars and injected them into both ‘Buffy’ and ‘Angel’ as different characters. It is a real shame that that the series had to be abandoned so quickly by FOX not giving it time to thrive.
The Blu-Ray release of “Firefly” includes all 14 episodes produced for the series, three of which never aired. The episodes include:
- Serenity Parts 1 and 2
- The Train Job
- Our Mrs. Reynolds
- Out of Gas
- War Stories
- The Message
- Heart of Gold
- Objects in Space
The print is presented in 1080p/AVC with a 1.78:1 aspect ratio. I found the transfer to be better than the DVD version, but there are areas where the print could have received more effort. Colors are vibrant throughout the entire series. Blacks are deep which result in some very good details. There is a problem at times where some scenes look like they are out of focus. I noticed this anytime the camera panned back. There is also a hint of grain/noise throughout the series but is never intrusive. CGI effects are in a lower resolution which is very apparent with the overly soft image. I was hoping that the effects would have been cleaned up or even had brand new ones in place for the Blu-ray release.
Audio is presented in DTS-HD MA lossless 5.1 mix. The DTS-HD lossless mix is a nice upgrade over the DVD’s Dolby 2.0 Surround mix. Audio is much more immersive that the DTS-HD mix was added with the surrounds getting more usage anytime there are effects. You are able to hear Serenity wiz by during any scenes where the ship is shown flying in space. Dialogue is well placed and balanced through the center channel sounding very clean.
All the features available are in standard definition, except for Firefly Reunion on disc 2 which is in high definition.
- Commentary Tracks for “Serenity,” “The Train Job,” and “Shindig.”
- “Here’s How It Was: The Making of Firefly”
- Commentary tracks for episodes “Our Mrs. Reynolds” and “Out of Gas.”
- Firefly Reunion: Lunch with Joss, Nathan, Alan and Ron
- Commentary tracks for episodes “War Stories,” “The Message,” and “Objects in Space.”
- Deleted Scenes
- “Serenity: The 10th Character”
- Alan Tudyk’s Audition
- “Joss Sings the Firefly Theme”
- “Joss Tours the Set”
- Gag Reel
‘Firefly’ is not a television series for everyone. If you like sci-fi with a twist, I highly recommend purchasing the Blu-ray. It is a real shame that FOX canceled the show prematurely before. This is an improved package over the DVD set, so those looking to upgrade, don’t walk run to the store.