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Whedonesque - a community weblog about Joss Whedon
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March 18 2011

Interesting take on the Firefly cancellation. With a few good points. Still not sure I agree.

It's a little like Star Trek: The Next Generation's "Tapestry" at least how I choose to view it. The cancellation was unquestionably a horrible thing, but it has made Firefly, Joss, and our community what they are today.
I'd still rather be watching Firefly Season 7
I dunno. Probably. Reluctant to give up 'T:TSCC', 'Dollhouse' and 'Serenity' but another 6.5 seasons of 'Firefly' is a helluva weight to balance those scales.

Bit like 'Tapestry' (good episode BTW) or "It's a Wonderful Life". Big clouds condense around small particles and all that. For want of a nail the kingdom went in an entirely different direction that didn't include various serfs making 'Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles'.

Also, if there were more episodes, there'd be more 'ships (or more animosity between 'shippers at least), more schisms over the "bad" seasons etc. 'Firefly' fans would be more fragmented.

Few things are as sad as dry clay.

Nice. Nicking that ;).

(slight nitpick, Eliza didn't pitch 'Dollhouse', she had a holding deal and Joss came up with the idea at the infamous lunch. The point stands though, when he came up with the idea and she said "We should do that" he may well not have been as receptive if he was still running 'Firefly')
There are two kinds of television shows:
ones who have a rocky weak start and then become really brilliant (potentially rolling downhill after hitting a peak) -- think Friends, Buffy, Angel, you get the picture), or shows that are really amazing from the getgo (think Firefly, Battlestar Galactica, Lost, etc).

You either burn long and slow, with some bright flickers, or you have the ones that are full burn from day one.

The problem with being part of the second group is you usually only have about 2-3 really amazing years, and it becomes unwatchable.

I'd rather the show had a great year and die than have it go on for 7 years and have it go downhill and be horrible.

I miss Firefly, I love it. But if I'm grateful for anything, I'm grateful that the show never had a chance to be horrible. Eventually, it would have run out of steam. Better to go quick and remain perfect. Die young and stay beautiful forever. :)
Yeah, I'm still torn on this one. I too am glad that it never had a chance to be horrible and had Dollhouse gone on to have 4 or five seasons I don't think I'd be willing to trade more Firefly for that. The prospect of Dr. Horrible not existing is pretty horrible as well. As much as I love Firefly I think I'm leaning towards "things worked out for the best." But deep down I wish it was still on now.....
I think if it had gone on, it would have went the same way as Buffy and Angel did. As seasons progressed, the fandom would have been more and more divided over the choices that Joss made.
Point 1: I'm pretty sure this article was at least a little tongue-in-cheek and not to be taken too seriously -- the last sentence in the paragraph about Nathan being the giveaway.

Point 2: I like the comics and I love Serenity, but in both cases the story felt rushed. If, however, those stories had been the second half of season 1 and the main storyline of season 2? Brilliance. Astonishing brilliance.

Point 3: I bet Simon's right, the choices would have been more and more divisive, but somehow Firefly seemed to start off with so few rough edges, I imagine it would have held up a lot better than other shows might have. And somehow I also feel like Joss would have ended it a bit sooner, maybe. Five years, perhaps.
A few points of the article are pretty dumb, for example that Joss would not be able to do The Avengers...uhm why? Who says that if the show had not been canned that it would still be on the air these days?

I really would have loved to see more Firefly. I loved all of Buffy's and Angel's seasons and even though I have my opinions about them, I still love them, even though I don't like some of the choices that Joss has made. I really would have loved to see how Firefly would have turned out in the long run? How would the story have unfolded? Who would have joined the show? Would Saffron maybe have become a regular? And I'd die to know where Joss would have taken the show. Also, more of Greg Edmonson's beautiful score would have been pretty neat.
Sorry - Every one of these points pales in comparison to the prospect of more Firefly - even crappy Firefly.
Sorry - Every one of these points pales in comparison to the prospect of more Firefly - even crappy Firefly.

I agree.
I dunno, I'd rather my favourite shows go out on top rather than descend into mediocrity. Given the choice of bad Firefly or no Firefly, I'd rather take the latter.
Brinderwalt, you just said what I was thinking...... None of those other things are as good as Firefly was (or could have been).
I dunno, I'd rather my favourite shows go out on top rather than descend into mediocrity.

The thing is - if they aren't around long enough to get mediocre, how are you going to be able to tell when they were on top in the first place?
If Firefly had stayed on and begun to diverge a great deal from the show that fans originally fell in love with, that process probably would have started happening after season 3. So many brilliant shows, unless messed with, seem to build and peak around season 3*. Then the decline, or losing shape process, starts to happen after that. Just a personal observation and theory.

The death of one who is young, beautiful and brilliant with the promise of so much more to come, hurtles this one to the ranks of the immortals. I've alway thought of Firefly as the James Dean of TV shows. Alas, only a glimpse of something truly amazing, and then he was gone.

Live fast. Die young. Leave a good looking DVD set.

But remember, the contemporary of James Dean was Marlon Brando. They were both powerful, beautiful and uniquely talented. As to Marlon Brando, look at what time eventually made of him. Perhaps James Dean's early departure saved him from the ravages of his own personal demons, and forever cemented him as a wonderfully ideal, tragic, icon. We are left to fill in the blanks with our imaginations of the brilliant work he did not live to do.

Still, I hold fast that there will be more Firefly. I just do. It's a worthy goal and I still put energy into helping it happen. I just hope that any new incarnation won't lose what made it so incredible to begin with. If that means Joss rereading The Killer Angels every now and then to refresh the original creative spark, maybe that would be a good thing.

The article made some interesting points about the other projects that Joss made, which most likely would not have happened had he been absorbed with Firefly. But Joss tends to multi-task rather well, so it's a tough call. Some of the projects may have still happened, but differently. As to the cast not being available to play the roles they did after Firefly, well as good as many of those roles were, the cast were so perfect in their Firefly roles. They inhabited their characters so well, and the stories gave them wonderful, different things to do. Firefly still seems to have been an outstanding showcase for their considerable talents. Plus many actors still have time to do other roles during the "downtime" of TV shows, so they would have still been free to do other work… and Joss would have probably killed some of them along the way, so there you go… time for other work freed up!

Only an alternate reality universe experiment where the different scenarios are played out would provide the answers… so we are left with a lot of personal theories, and interesting discussions.

*Except for Angel, which totally rocked the house in season 5. But I attribute that rebirth of creativity to the burst of anger, grief, revenge issuing from Joss as a result of the murder of Firefly. Again, just another personal theory…
The question is not so much whether this guy is right or wrong but whether he has the right attitude. I say yes. In fact, since the question of whether we're better or worse off is entirely subjective (and conjectural), the answer is determined by the attitude of the person answering. This guy thinks he's better off, and by so thinking, he makes it true.
Squishy, That's an interesting point and I do have to agree that he has a constructive attitude worth considering.

However, for me personally, all of the things mentioned, no matter how positive they may have been, pale in comparison to that which was lost.
@ Simon, Ime Joss' shows always start out slow and improve as they go along. As amazing as Firefly was, I believe that Joss could have made it even better for a long while to come. Ultimately, I think that we fans who believe it had not yet reached it's stride have a better case then those who are glad it was canceled so that it could not have declined.

Even if it would have continued and declined, that still would have allowed the people who didn't like it to leave, so those who think this way wouldn't have been harmed in any way. Under either scenario, those who did want more are out of luck. This thinking, that we should be happy that it was canceled soon so as to "protect" those who had no faith in the show and/or Joss that it could have retained it's brilliance strikes me as rather unreasonable.

Lastly, Joss seemed rather broken up about it's cancelation. I think that anyone who suggests, even if indirectly, that we should be "glad" about that should really try to keep that in mind.
"However, for me personally, all of the things mentioned, no matter how positive they may have been, pale in comparison to that which was lost."
Risch22

Agreed. The only thing that I feel probably wouldn't have happened had the show gone on is CSTS. Would fans have come up with something just as cool if there had been several seasons & no movie? Maybe.

But that doesn't mean I'm happy or will ever be happy the show got canceled.
I know some have said that it's better to burnout than fade away, but for me, a weak season of Firefly would have still been a season of Firefly.

Meaning even if each season did not match the splendour of the last (that's a large if!) it still would have been:
Firefly (Less Great Season) > Nearly Everything Else On

It's a shame we'll never have arguments about which season we liked more, sigh. Firefly being cancelled was a huge loss and I don't think trying to paint it in a flattering light will ever be possible.
I would go so far as to say I would rather have bad Firefly than cancellation. As much as the show's limited run and untimely death have contributed to its mystique and the strength of its fanbase, there is something to be said for being able to let go in peace, even if it's through disappointment. Firefly fans like me can never have that, because we know deep down that even if there is eventually more Firefly, it can never be what it could have been had the show survived.

It's much easier to be nostalgic about missed opportunities than bungled ones, but I also find it much more painful. I can let go of a show that starts to suck after a while, but it's much more difficult for me to let go of something that was killed in a state of near-unlimited potential.
I hate it when people love Firefly and choose to ignore the rest of Whedon's work.
I hate it when people love Firefly and choose to ignore the rest of Whedon's work.

Not too clear on where you're seeing the aforesaid ignoring.

Also hate seems like a pretty unhealthy reaction to others loving something, assuming that something isn't inherently evil of course - Like, say, vampires. ;)

[ edited by brinderwalt on 2011-03-19 06:26 ]
The thing is - if they aren't around long enough to get mediocre, how are you going to be able to tell when they were on top in the first place?


I'd like to think I have the ability to tell when a show is at the top of its game. One would have to wonder what would have happened if Firefly had gone the same as Veronica Mars (fans actively campaigning for non-renewal) or Heroes (critically despised after season 1). Some might thrown in Buffy Seasons 6 and 7 for good measure (but I'm not one of those people).

I hate it when people love Firefly and choose to ignore the rest of Whedon's work.


People don't have to watch everything that Joss does. There's fans here who've only ever watched Buffy. Heck there's fans who love Astonishing X-Men and never watched any of Joss' tv shows.
The thing is - if they aren't around long enough to get mediocre, how are you going to be able to tell when they were on top in the first place?

Plot early episodes on a graph, extrapolate then find the point of inflection ? ;)

As to Marlon Brando, look at what time eventually made of him.

He became Superman's dad ? ;)

True 11thHour but if he'd died young then we wouldn't have 'The Godfather' (or we'd have a different one anyway). Pull one thread...

As much as the show's limited run and untimely death have contributed to its mystique and the strength of its fanbase, there is something to be said for being able to let go in peace, even if it's through disappointment.

Man, as a previously HUGE fan, i'm watching 'House' die exactly that death at the moment and personally, the something i'd say for it is "It sucks" (some find letting go easier than others). On balance i'd probably rather have more 'Firefly' (particularly cos we can't be sure what would or wouldn't have been made afterwards) but i'd much rather have none than bad.

[ edited by Saje on 2011-03-19 10:25 ]
I think there is something to be said for the idea that Joss might not be doing the Avengers if Firefly had continued. Joss's relationship with Marvel developed as a result of his work on Astonishing X-Men, and I don't think he would have done the latter while running a big, expensive show like Firefly. Also, Joss had a chance to get a lot of diverse directing experience without Firefly, see, e.g., Serenity, the Office, Glee, Dr. Horrible, that he might not otherwise have. Of course, it's possible that he would have done some of this stuff anyway but it seems highly unlikely that he would have developed the kind of résumé and relationships that made him Marvel's choice to direct the Avengers.

If Avengers succeeds, then it likely will be better for everyone than if there were ten more seasons of Firefly. Better for Joss, because he'll get access to lots more funding for future creative projects, bigger and better writing and directing gigs, etc. Better for us for the same reasons.

Of course, all this is speculation by someone not in the industry, but I think it's even more speculative to say we'd be better off if Firefly had continued.

In short, I think the author has a great point and exactly the right attitude.
Another 6.5 seasons of Firefly is worth all of that and a bucket or two more. TV, with its slow and thorough development of both story lines and character arcs, is where Joss' real talent for character and dialogue get a chance to shine. Serenity was not his best work, and neither was the last half-season of Dollhouse (which felt too rushed, trying to cram too much plot in at once); and I'm sure he'll do a good job with the Avengers, but what I really want to see him doing is another multi-year, multi-episode series about something he loves. Like Firefly. Which was special by any standard - even by the standard of Joss' work.
See, if it was crappy Firefly, I'd rather it be axed, just because I hate to see the quality of a good show drop so badly.

I just wish I could be lured into watching it on Science channel...*sigh*
Which was special by any standard - even by the standard of Joss' work.

I think that this is very true.

If Buffy had been cancelled in its first season, would it have the enduring quality that Firefly does? I seriously doubt it because, while it was way better than the movie, that 1st season was very nearly as campy and not very memorable, IMO. It was fun but not something I'd have cared about after its demise. Buffy in its second season was what made it such a complex story.

Firefly? Hit all the right notes in those few episodes that were made; that's part of what made it so awesome. The rest can be attributed to its writers, its cast, the combined talents of the entire creative team that worked to take Joss' vision and make it a reality on-screen.

To say that I disagree with the linked article is putting it mildly. I love me some Eliza but I would have rather have had a few more seasons of Firefly because Dollhouse didn't even come close to the brilliance of Firefly for me.
I so agree about House, Saje, also having been a big fan. Quite the bummer. I felt the same way, too, about the last, watered down, pandering gasp of Homicide: Life on the Street, which had been so fine and a big favorite of mine long ago. But I can still (and do) watch (nearly) all of Buffy and Angel without many qualms and with much pleasure. So, I'd vote for more Firefly myself, and take my chances on maybe missing out on some of the other good stuff cited. Cause, you know, most of it might have also happened, in one form or another.
I'm confused as to why more Firefly would have made Nathan Fillion *less* of a geek icon.

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