Firefly is a TV series that ran for a single short season (12 episodes) before being canceled. The driving force behind it’s creation was Joss Whedon, and it’s received rave reviews from lots of libertarian types. As such, I thought I’d give it a try.
The series is set in the far future, focusing on the Firefly-class spacecraft Serenity and it’s crew of criminals, smugglers, and generally ornery types. One of the recurring villians is the Alliance, which did some conquering in the backstory and in the series present plays the role of overbearing, aggressive government. If that wasn’t enough to ensure a boycott from the politically-correct crowd, one of the recurring characters is a prostitute and the leading character casually shoots a cop during one of the early episodes.
Overall, I can understand both why the show was canceled and why it has been such a hit among libertarians. It’s fairly well written, the actors aren’t at all bad, and there is none of the “camp” feel of the Buffy series. There are some rough episodes, particularly those that didn’t air, and you can bet the networks weren’t getting any brownie points from the government for running the show. (This isn’t widely publicized, but networks get government incentives to run certain kinds of propaganda; mostly anti-drug and anti-gun messages).
One of the elements that remained extremely jarring throughout the 12 episodes was the very western feel of all the action outside the ship itself. Brown leather, revolvers and lever-action rifles, horseback riding, and corrupt sheriffs are all present and accounted for. The concept worked well in some ways (thematically), but could have been much more subtle.
Overall, the series is worth watching. It deserves applause for presenting a libertarian setting in a favorable light, something that almost nothing on TV does. It doesn’t stand head-and-shoulders above everything else like Babylon 5 did, but Babylon 5 had 5 seasons and an ungodly number of spinoffs. Firefly was a good show that could have been great. Serenity, the movie released after the series cancellation to finish up the plot for enthuiastic fans, was great.