Recently, I had to ask myself an important question: Should I watch Firefly?
Why? Because I was hounded, hounded by Ryan and his partner in crime Jess, for not having watched Joss Whedon’s cult classic.
Last month, in our second Two Honest Guys podcast, the pair made the case for why I should give Firefly a red-hot go. They spoke of space pirates, Nathan Fillion and an evolution of modern society.
I was intrigued, to say the least, and although I had always opposed the idea — mainly because I didn’t want to become a Firefly fanboy like Ryan — I eventually gave into their demands and watched the show.
In episode three of the Two Honest Guys (& co) podcast, we chat everything Firefly. Looking at what worked, what didn’t and finally finding out if I loved the show as much as the crazy-obsessed fans that have made me reluctant to watch it for so long.
If you haven’t watched Firefly, I suggest you check out our previous podcast episode, read the rest of this article then jump onto episode three of the podcast to find out if you agree with what we have to say — careful, episode three of the podcast is full of spoilers, although this article and episode two are not!
If you’ve already seen the show, then forget about all that shit and listen in now!
Why Firefly is Worth Watching
Now, as Ryan is keen to remind me at every turn, it did take me awhile to get through this relatively short season — a month to be exact.
I’m not known for doing things quickly, but this was slow even for me.
So, was this a reflection on the quality of the show?
Definitely not — I actually got caught up in Narcos — and just started watching Firefly later than planned.
There are a lot of reasons why Firefly is worth watching, and to go into them all in great detail would take more words than I am sure you are interested in reading, especially since we also bang on about it for 40 minutes.
I will, however, highlight some of the major reasons to check out Firefly:
- The Pilot: The pilot of Firefly is perhaps the best example of a pilot I’ve ever seen on TV. It covers so much depth in such a small space of time, growing and developing those all important characters superbly. I cannot fault the execution of the ‘Serenity’, good job Mr Whedon.
- The Characters: What really propels this show is the characters within it. All are well-fleshed out and work together to make the stories engaging.
- The World: We absolutely love how Joss Whedon built the world within Firefly. Instead of bashing you over the head with loads of exposition, treating you like an idiot, he drip feeds it to the audience. Slowly, over the course of the series, you find out more and more about how things work in the Firefly universe. The world-building in the show feels natural, not rushed and overly complex as is common in both TV and film.
- The Drama: Firefly does an excellent job of building drama and tension. Whether it’s through character interaction, narrative structure or sound design, you really feel the moments in this show.
Why It Might Not Be Worth It
Hype is a dangerous thing. It sets your sights high, higher than most anything can ever hope to reach.
Some things are exceptions that prove the rule — La La Land, Game of Thrones, Star Wars: The Force Awakens (Yes it did) — but most will never live up to the pictures painted in the mind.
Firefly has an exceptionally high approval rating from fans. 96% on Rotten Tomatoes, 9.1 on IMDB, which meant I went into this show expecting something Earth-shattering, utterly groundbreaking, and that isn’t what I got.
In this podcast, we were pretty much agreed on three things: The pilot is one of the best in TV history, the first few episodes are weak as hell but it does steadily get better as you reach the final episodes.
Those weak episodes, for me, were pretty darn weak. Earlier episodes, like Train Job and Shindig, follow some worn-out tropes in some uninspired locations and really got me wondering if Firefly was even worth investing in.
We also argued that Firefly would have been a much better show had it followed in the footsteps of its incredible pilot. That two-episode long special does such a great job of setting up the world that you can just jump right into the action, but instead, they then move backwards, spending, even more, time developing characters slowly, in a way we didn’t need.
For myself, the biggest issue with Firefly is that it follows a pretty generic, episode-by-episode format that sees the gang go off on isolated adventures. Sure it works, but I really felt like the pilot set up an exciting narrative that could have carried the entire series. Instead, this story becomes a backdrop, rarely mentioned, for some other, blander and less interesting tales we’ve seen a million times before.
It was frustrating to know it had some much potential but missed the mark doing something more generic.
Should You Watch Firefly? Our Honest Conclusion
If you are asking yourself that all important question, should I watch Firefly? Our honest opinion is that it has to be yes.
Firefly is not the perfect, holy grail of shows that some die-hard fans may have made it seem, but it is an enjoyable ride with some great characterisation, interesting plots, themes and world-building.
Over the entire series, there are plenty of great moments and some truly world-class examples of storytelling, so there really isn’t much reason to miss out.
Go into Firefly expecting an enjoyable Sci-fi adventure, not to be blown away by some sort of revolutionary genius, and you won’t be disappointed.
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James is THG’s technophobic TV nut, movie addict and theorist crackpot. He’ll be bringing you features, insights and incoherent ramblings on all your favourite and least favourite shows and movies.