Perhaps the most famous show to be on the receiving end of a Fox cancellation, Firefly’s cancellation brought not only fans hopes for the series to a screeching halt but also the cast and crew of the series who ended up without jobs (temporarily, for most) and with broken hearts that their beloved series would no longer continue. Although Universal would eventually option the rights for a feature film named after the vessel on the show, that would be the last we see of the Firefly crew for years—with this Blu-ray release being the first glint of interest from its owners that there may be some fire left in the hulls of Serenity after all. Or not, I could just be really stretching that hope.
Five hundred years in the future there’s a whole new frontier, and a crew of the Firefly-class spaceship Serenity is eager to stake a claim on the action. They’ll take any job, legal or illegal, to keep fuel in the tanks and food o n the table. But things get a bit more complicated after they take on a passenger wanted by the new totalitarian Alliance regime. Now they find themselves on the run, desperate to steer clear of Alliance ships and the flesh-eating Reavers who live on the fringes of space.
I can still remember the first time I laid eyes on Firefly. One of my best friends kept trying to get me to watch it and I was resistant, simply because it was a show I remembered being advertised on Fox and looking quite…well, stupid. I eventually caved in and settled in to just watch the pilot. And then the next episode. And the next. Maybe I’ll just try starting disc two. Oh disc three…hmm, all right. Disc four…I have time, we can do it. What, that’s it? Dammit!
And so my first viewing went. And my second. Firefly is perhaps the only series I can say I’ve watched more than three times and each time I find more and more to love about it. In typical Joss Whedon fashion the writing is so quick and the characters are so incredibly deep and moving that you’re pulled into this universe within the first hour of the series. It’s a bit jarring at first, sure, but the adaption time is quick and before you know it you’ve become a fan of one the greatest sci-fi shows to never see a second season. It’s an incredible shame that this series hasn’t been picked up by someone, although I’m sure Universal would’ve clamored for more had Serenity performed stronger in theaters (though I’m sure they’ve cleaned up on DVD sales—and soon Blu-ray, hopefully).
The fantastic thing about this series is that there isn’t a single weak episode in the bunch. Usually you come across that “one” episode of a series you’re a huge fan of where you think “I could’ve done without that one” but everything done in the fourteen episodes of the series is simply perfect. Every character hits their mark, nothing ever feels out of place and there isn’t a single story that doesn’t leave you with watery eyes or a smile on your face. In more ways than one, Firefly remains a perfect show and one that I will always hold in my DVD/Blu-ray/Whatever Comes After Blu-ray collection.
Of course what makes the series so enjoyable to watch are the actors, all of whom serve a unique role on the show. Whether it’s Nathan Fillion’s role as the tough but dedicated captain or Summer Glau as the off-the-wall River Tam, the cast is what really makes this show such a pleasure to watch. Adam Baldwin will also grow on you, especially after the “Jaynestown” episode which reveals way more about the character than you would have previously thought imaginable. Every little twist and turn on the show affects the entire cast. It would be a shame not to mention Jewel Staite’s role as the loveable Kaylee, Morena Baccarin as Inara, Gina Torres as Zoe, Alan Tudyk as Wash, Sean Maher as Simon, and Ron Glass as Book. The show wouldn’t be what it was without any of those talented actors involved.
If you haven’t watched any of Firefly yet then please do so. There isn’t a series I could recommend more, as it transcends genres and genders and everyone I’ve gotten to watch the series became as big of a fan (and in some cases, bigger) as I was of the series. Simply put this is a Must See series.
I had always wondered if Fox might eventually re-release this series on DVD with new bonus features, considering the insane volumes of this set that was sold (based on Amazon sales alone, I’d say that they moved more than enough of this set to recoup anything they lost on their piss poor marketing of the show itself) it seemed like an easy way to cash in. Although it never saw a DVD re-release, the Blu-ray format made way for a perfect excuse to re-release this series with, you guessed it, some brand-new Blu-ray only extras. The set itself, now condensed to three discs instead of four, fits neatly inside of a standard thickness Elite Blu-ray case, with a swing tray housing two discs, advertisements for other Fox releases (and a notice to update your firmware) as well as a Complete Series Episode Guide. This isn’t quite as nice as the one included with the DVD set, but it serves the same purpose.
Obviously the main draw for this set will be the AVC (@ 19.34mbps) encoded 1.78:1 video transfer. Although the series wasn’t shot with HD cameras, that in no way hinders the picture quality here. The grain level can get a bit heavy handed at times, but I have to hand it to Fox for not wiping it all away with some DNR. Instead the transfer for the series remains strong and pristine throughout. Such episodes as “Aerial” look especially brilliant with the heavy blues of the medical facility coming through with nice clarity. While the series definitely could be a bit more detailed in some shots, overall this is a fantastic transfer that shows little signs of compression or any kind of detrimental video effect.
The DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio included for the release is also a bit of a surprise, but I suppose Fox wanted to go all out—and bless them for doing so. This mix is powerful and leagues above what the DVD release pushed out with its mediocre 2.0 mix. With each groan from Serenity the speakers come to life in surrounds and the subwoofer channel is more than active when it comes to the gun fire and engine roars. It’s also nice to finally have an audio mix that doesn’t include a high-pitched whine whenever we enter Inara’s quarters. I thought it was just an isolated episode incident when originally watching the series but I quickly realized that throughout all of the episodes on the DVD set there was this background whine throughout all of the scenes, but I’m glad to hear the lack of this on the new mixes. Also included are a 5.1 DTS German mix, Spanish and French Dolby Surround as well as subtitles in English, Spanish and Dutch.
And now for the extras. The first disc contains the same extras as the previous release, with “Here’s How it Was: The Making of Firefly” (28:40) as well as Commentaries on “Serenity,” “The Train Job,” and “Shindig.” There are also trailers for Whedon’s “Dollhouse” and a combined “Buffy and Angel” promo. The next disc is where we find our new extras (and the only one with video in HD), with “Firefly Reunion: Lunch with Joss, Nathan, Alan and Ron” (24:03, 1080p AVC) being first up. This is an all-new round table discussion between the four men, although Glass is so quiet that he may as well not even have been there. Whedon, Fillion and Tudyk take the reins for the most part as they talk about specific episodes of the series in order (for awhile at least, then they start mixing it up) before fading off their thoughts into some other area and eventually never coming back to wrapping up their discussion on each episode of the series. Tudyk shares some interesting ideas for an episode he had, as does Whedon and eventually the two ideas form into a big disaster that I’ll let you find out about for yourself. Overall this is a great little extra, although it’s a bit bittersweet as they all reminisce about how much they wish the series could have continued. As a side note this extra as well as the newly recorded commentary for “Our Mrs. Reynolds” must have been done fairly recently since Fillion mentions Dr. Horrible a couple times.
The next extra on the second disc is the aforementioned “Our Mrs. Reynolds” which finds the same men participating; only this time the audio sounds like it’s coming through a tin can. I’ve never had to strain my ears so hard to understand what they were saying; dialing up the volume proved detrimental as whenever the episode audio would cut back in I was blown away by the loudness, so either the equipment they used to record the commentary was faulty or they just did a poor job of authoring the audio. In any case the commentary itself is highly entertaining, but it leaves you wanting more—I really wish they would have just gone all out and recorded commentaries for every episode on this set that didn’t have one previously, but I guess that’d be asking for too much since those involved with the show are all spread across various productions. Oddly enough the original news about this release stemmed from Jewel Staite mentioning that Fox contacted her about doing new extras for this release, yet she’s nowhere involved with the new goodies on this set. Very disappointing…and very confusing. I guess she was busy on Stargate: Atlantis.
The remaining extras are all repeats from the previous editions and include a commentary on “Out of Gas” on disc two and commentaries on “War Stories,” “The Message,” and “Objects in Space” on disc three. Disc 3 wraps up with the “Serenity: The 10th Character Featurette” (9:45) featurette, “Deleted Scenes”, “Alan Tudyk’s Audition” (1:05), “Joss Sings the Firefly Theme” (1:16), “Joss Tours the Set” (1:23) and “Gag Reel” (2:41). Sadly the Adam Baldwin easter egg from the DVD set is nowhere to be found…unless I just really suck at finding easter eggs (which I do). Fox is one of few studios who does toss eggs on their Blu-ray releases, but the way the menus are set up don’t really scream hidden easter egg to me so I’m willing to bet the video just isn’t included.
Overall while this set doesn’t offer up a whole lot more than a roundtable discussion and episode commentary (which together total up to over an hour of new extras—so take from that what you will), but the chance to own the series in 1080p video with DTS HD MA 5.1 audio will likely be too tempting to pass up for fans of the series. While the series is a great deal pricier than its DVD brethren, if you can spare the cash then I Highly Recommend this release. Browncoats will want to upgrade regardless however, of course. If they know what’s good for them.
Firefly – The Complete Series is now available on Blu-ray.