Firefly fans: It’s time to forgive Fox

Last Tuesday, it was announced that the sci-fi series Almost Human didn’t get renewed for a second season. This news wasn’t terribly surprising; the futuristic buddy cop drama about a detective (Karl Urban) reluctantly assigned an android partner (Michael Ealy) was the very definition of an “on the bubble” show: The ratings were mediocre, and so were the reviews, and the high cost of a effects-heavy sci-fi series almost certainly contributed to the show’s demise.

Firefly fans: It's time to forgive Fox

And it wasn’t terribly surprising that loyal fans of Almost Human immediately took to social media with lots of angry comments about the show’s cancellation. What was surprising was how many of those comments also angrily complained about the cancellation of Firefly. Eleven years ago.

Firefly fans: It's time to forgive Fox
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If you were dropped into the middle of this online conversation with complete ignorance of American genre TV of the past decade, you’d be utterly baffled as to how a show that only aired for eleven episodes way back in 2002 somehow became relevant to discussions about the recently axed Almost Human. On the surface, the shows seem to have nothing in common beyond existing in the broad “futuristic sci-fi” genre.

But chances are you do know the common link here, and have already expressed a similar angry sentiment yourself: You see, both of these shows aired on Fox, a network that will now and forever be known primarily for killing off sci-fi shows early.

Firefly fans: It's time to forgive Fox

But is this reputation really deserved after all these years? Should fans of sci-fi TV really carry a grudge against the Fox network all the way to their graves? Here are a few reasons why still being bitter about Fox’s cancellation of Firefly in 2014 doesn’t make a whole lot of sense.

Nobody who cancelled Firefly still works for Fox.

The Fox executive who ultimately made the decision to cancel Firefly is Gail Berman. Berman left Fox in 2005 to become president of Paramount Pictures, and was replaced by Peter Liguori. Liguori left the position in 2007, and was replaced by Kevin Reilly. And Reilly wasn’t working for Fox Broadcasting at the time of Firefly’s cancellation—he was entertainment president at sister network FX.

Which means we’re now two generations removed from the regime that’s to blame for Firefly’s cancellation. And yet, its fans are still determined to teach the network a lesson—generally, through empty “I’m never watching Fox again!” threats on Facebook—without realizing that the people they seek to punish are long gone, and the people who work there now had absolutely nothing to do with Firefly. It’s a bit like calling up whichever company currently owns the Atari name and demanding a full refund for a shitty game you bought for your 2600.

Whether or not your anger at the 2002 version of Fox is justified, taking it out on 2014 Fox is at best pointless, and at worst, counterproductive. But really, your anger isn’t justified, and here’s why.

Fox actually gives sci-fi shows more of a chance than other networks.

Over the past 25 years, Fox has aired such sci-fi shows as Alien Nation, Dollhouse, Space: Above and Beyond, Millennium, Dark Angel, Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, FreakyLinks, Fringe, Harsh Realm, The Lone Gunmen, Sliders, and Terra Nova. And I know many of you are now reading this through rage goggles, picturing all the seasons of great TV you were deprived of because Fox cancelled most of these shows early on.

Now quick: name one other broadcast network that’s even come close to airing this many sci-fi shows in the same amount of time.

The cruel irony is that Fox has a rep for cancelling a lot of sci-fi shows because they air a lot of sci-fi shows. The other broadcast networks generally don’t even bother with them in the first place. Just look at CBS, the network that can apparently only air one sci-fi show at a time, and never long enough for anyone to even notice. Remember Century City? No? My point exactly.

As much as Firefly fans rail against Fox, it’s extremely unlikely the show would have lasted any longer (or even been picked up at all) by any of the other major networks back in 2002. It really is an unfortunate case of sci-fi fans biting the hand that feeds them.

Firefly got a second chance away from Fox, and failed again.

Firefly’s fans are firmly convinced that the show’s cancellation is entirely the fault of Fox’s mismanagement, which included putting it in the Friday Night Death Slot, not promoting the show enough, airing episodes out of their intended order, and giving creator Joss Whedon two days to write the pilot (even though a writer being given less than a week to write a one-hour TV episode is hardly unusual).

Some of those fans take things a step further, insinuating that this is all part of Fox’s master plan. They clearly want sci-fi shows to fail. Of course, the question remains as to why the network would even greenlight them in the first place, or (in the case of Almost Human and its big World Series/NFL marketing blitz) spend tons of money advertising these shows if they only want them to fail. But clearly, a huge corporation beholden to its shareholders is always happy to throw away millions of dollars on a secret anti-sci-fi agenda.

Firefly fans: It's time to forgive Fox

Or maybe there’s a much simpler reason Firefly failed: People just didn’t want to watch it.

Maybe the concept of a “space western” was just bewildering to most; a lot of TV critics at the time were turned off to the show because of the jarring mishmash of genres. Maybe it didn’t have that “water cooler” moment that made people want to spread the word. Maybe viewers were more interested in unwinding with America’s Funniest Home Videos on a Friday night.

All of the above would be firmly in the realm of conjecture, if not for the fact that Firefly actually did get a second chance. The show was resurrected for the 2005 feature film Serenity, and despite the show’s massive cult status and a substantial viral marketing campaign, the movie fizzled at the box office. It may have eventually made back its money in DVD sales, but it clearly wasn’t enough to justify a sequel.

Given that Fox had nothing to do with the revival of Firefly and yet it still failed, isn’t it entirely possible the show was doomed no matter when or where it aired?

Fast forward eleven years, and people are once again complaining that Fox deliberately killed Almost Human by moving it around the schedule and airing episodes out of order (even though the showrunner himself said he was cool with the network airing episodes out of order). But isn’t it more likely that people didn’t watch it because it just wasn’t very good?

Personally, I think the quality of Firefly gets overstated a lot, precisely because it was cancelled early on, meaning it never got a chance to let people down. But even if you believe Firefly was the pinnacle of contemporary television, it’s a bit silly to insist that Almost Human was also a modern-day classic and that Fox could never hope to do any better.

And I haven’t even touched on how (most likely due to the Firefly backlash) Fox has been even more patient with sci-fi in recent years. There was a time when shows like Dollhouse and Sarah Connor Chronicles never would have made it past thirteen episodes, and yet both were picked up for a second season. Add to that Fringe, which lasted for five seasons, despite its eventual move to the same Friday Night Death Slot that many blame for the demise of Firefly.

Given all this, it’s not unreasonable to think another great sci-fi show will eventually air on Fox. But will the fans be there to support it, or will they keep up an 11-year Firefly grudge/boycott that serves no purpose?

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  • Joseph Patrick

    I have to agree with you. I never found “Almost Human” interesting. Even as far as buddy-cop shows I would watch with my dad, it wasn’t enough to keep our interest. “Sleepy Hollow” on the other had, that’s a keeper!

    • MichaelANovelli

      Sleepy Hollow!

      So, Fox is no longer the channel that cancels smart comedies too early? Wow, things changed when I wasn’t looking…

    • Capt. Harlock

      Yeah, I liked it better when NBC did it back in 1992, when it was called “Mann and Machine.” Of course, NBC killed that one in the crib, too. :(

  • CaptainCalvinCat

    “Or maybe there’s a much simpler reason Firefly failed: People just didn’t want to
    watch it.”

    Okay – why?

    Have a look at Firefly, notice, that it has some nice comedic elements, some
    nice action bits, some smart writing, and ask yourself: “Why would people
    not want to watch it?”

    “Maybe the concept of a “space western” was just bewildering to most; a lot of TV critics
    at the time were turned off to the show because of the jarring
    mishmash of genres. Maybe it didn’t have that “water cooler” moment that made
    people want to spread the word. Maybe viewers were more interested in unwinding
    with America’s Funniest Home Videos on a Friday night.”

    So – are people just that dumb? Listening to what the TV Critics bitch and moan about and then
    say “Yeah, not watching it?” I mean, what do I care, what the Critics in my TV-guide say?

    A couple of years ago, they aired a comedy-film, called “Wir haben gar kein Auto”
    (We don’t have a car), starring that guy, who played the character of Angelo in
    german Nescafé-Advertisements and his wife, who is a real actress. (Bruno Maccallini and Jutta Speidel)

    Our german TV-guide wrote: “Wer hier lacht, fordert auch Helmpflicht für
    Fußgänger” (If someone is laughing at this movie, supports a requirement
    for a helmet, even when you’re on foot.”) Okay – in english: Those guys
    were saying, that the movie is completely unfunny and you have to be pretty
    retarded to find it even remotely funny.

    So, I thought “Challenge accepted” and watched that damn flick. And while
    it was no Shakespeare, it was relatively enjoyable, compared to other crap,
    that is sometimes aired on TV.

    And you know what? Don’t listen to that, what critics say. Watch movies and shows
    for yourself.

    Furthermore – the “friday night death slot” is not called Friday night death slot
    for nothing, eh? So – why place a TV show there? That it can prove itself? Come
    on – placing a show on that slot is basically saying “yeah, we don’t give
    a crap.”

    • MichaelANovelli

      “Okay – why?

      “Have a look at Firefly, notice, that it has some nice comedic elements, some
      nice action bits, some smart writing, and ask yourself: ‘Why would people
      not want to watch it?'”

      Well, that’s sort of irrelevant, because it had all of those elements and still failed…

      • CaptainCalvinCat

        And again: Why did it fail?
        For some, it might be off putting, to see Western and Sci Fi so obvious side by
        side, that Star Treks approach to Space Western seemed utterly subtle. Sure.
        I’m not disputing that.

        But I am disputing, that this, and this alone, is the only reason there is.

        As I already pointed out, the friday night death slot is not called that for
        nothing. So basically the most shows, that are being aired there are doomed.

        Yes, there are some shows, that can survive that (X-Files e.g.), never the
        less, here is a list of FOX-Shows on the friday night death slot.



        The Adventures of Brisco County, Jr.

        Alien Nation

        Boston Public

        Dark Angel


        (Firefly – as we know)

        Freaky LInks

        Lone gunmen

        Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles


        over the past 25 years FOX aired shows in their sci-fi-segment, but
        only a few (Eureka, e.g.) managed to get more than 2 seasons. So – you
        are right, no other network produced that many shows and yet no other
        network still was so happy to cancel those shows. ;-)

        • MichaelANovelli

          That may be the case with Fox, but plenty of other networks have successful Friday night programming. Fox’s demographic just doesn’t stay in on Friday nights. (Most likely because Friday’s when most football games happen, and we all know how much Fox’s audience loves football.) If you ask me, it seems more likely that if Fox was trying to kill any of those shows, they would have put them on either early Sunday evening, where they’d get preempted by sporting events, or Wednesdays at 9:00, where it would have had to compete with The West Wing.

          As for everything else, well…

          Just because a show has a lot of individual ingredients you think people would like, doesn’t mean people will enjoy it. Take Arrested Development. Arrested Development was an assembly of some of the most talented comics working today, and also Michael Cera. If even half of the people who claim *now* to have been fans actually watched it, it would have gotten higher ratings every week than the Super Bowl. And yet, in spite of being a slam dunk of everything people want out of a show, it never even broke the Top 100. Because, and let’s not mince words here, Arrested Development is a god-awful piece of trash. Boring, unlikable characters, and a virtual miasma of smug self-satisfaction that thinks it’s a lot smarter than it actually is.

          But Fox cancelled it, so it MUST be a work of under-appreciated genius!

          • Muthsarah

            By your own admission, a LOT of people say they like Arrested Development. Doesn’t that mean the show IS good (good enough to eventually find a fanbase bigger than the Super Bowl or whatever that was), and would have been successful if it was advertised better and/or given the time to do so? Yes, unlike Firefly, AD got three seasons (closer to 2.7 or something, but whatever), and on the whole, I do think that is plenty of time. But one of the network’s main jobs is advertising their shows, making them look attractive to as many potential viewers as possible; the writers/directors aren’t responsible for that. AD’s failure to catch on, lies, by default, equally as much with FOX as it does with the show’s producers. And since AD has proven that it DID have the potential to build an audience, if word gets around, I’d say FOX bears most of the responsibility for the show not catching on to begin with. They failed in their job to get people to watch the show.

            That is, unless you think A) the fans only started watching well after the cancellation and B) they only LIKED the show because they wanna “stick it to the man”, and that C) Most people who DID watch the show at the time hated it for much the same reasons you did (EDIT: and D) the critics who overwhelmingly liked the show at the time, aren’t to be included). As much as I tend to hate what’s popular, I’m not condescending enough to assume that everyone who likes these shows is stupid and has no taste. Similarly, I’d like to think a cultured gentleman like yourself, Mssr Mendo, wouldn’t assume that people don’t actually like what they like, and are either too stupid to know what they like, or all poseurs who only like things for ulterior reasons.

          • CaptainCalvinCat

            *signs Muthsarahs post* This. A million times this.

          • CaptainCalvinCat

            WHen you are right, Muthsarah, you’re right.

            Plus: Yes, Michael, other stations have successful shows on a friday night – but that was not the topic of the essay. The topic was: “It’s time to forgive FOX”. And quite frankly: Nope, it still is not time. It would be, if they had tried to salvage the show – but apparently that did not happen.

            Did Fox advertise, that this show would be aired on this particular slot?
            Surely, it is not the fault of Fox alone, the other facts, Doc O’Boogie was naming, are pretty valid, too – but marketing something really, really helps if you want a show to be successful. That includes making it accessible to the audience, meaning: showing it at a time, where people actually would be watching the damn thing AND telling potential viewers THAT you are airing the show then and then.

          • MichaelANovelli

            I don’t think people don’t actually like things they think they like. I just assume that Arrested Development is like a lot of indie bands: things you might only have a passing interest in but claim to be obsessed with because it gets you cool points. Indeed, most people I’ve asked about AD are awfully cagey about exactly *why* they like the show, almost as if they’re hoping I’ll eventually just get bored and drop the subject.

            Also, the logic still stands that there can’t possibly be as many obsessed fanboys in AD Nation (or Firefly Nation, for that matter) as people apparently think there are, because if there were, both franchises would be unstoppable pop culture juggernauts with the proverbial “six seasons and a movie”. As they stand, the only people one tends to meet who’ve actually seen either of these are people you meet online. And, as much as this diminishes my own importance as well, things that are popular online don’t amount to much more than a big ol’ mountain of piss in the grand scheme of things.

            Both shows were given a fair shot on a major network, failed to connect in any meaningful way with the the population at large, and so far both’s comeback attempts haven’t amounted to much…

    • $36060516

      “Have a look at Firefly, notice, that it has some nice comedic elements, somenice action bits, some smart writing, and ask yourself: ‘Why would people not want to watch it?'”

      I know several people who simply don’t watch shows which include spaceships, monsters, or the supernatural because they think they are silly. I don’t agree with them, but fantastic genres aren’t to everyone’s taste.

      They put the show on Friday because they need to make a certain amount of money to please the investors in their network and if the advertisers won’t advertise on those shows because they don’t have enough viewers, they need to move those shows to a night where the expected audience is smaller and the advertising rates are cheaper.

      “Don’t listen to that, what critics say.”

      You are aware that criticism is the main content of this website?

      • CaptainCalvinCat

        Yeah, I know that the content of the website is critique, but never the less, even here or on TGTWG you should not blindly believe, whatever critics tell you. Because, as you already put it: taste is subjective.
        Meaning: What I might think of as highly entertaining, other people brush off as complete asinine. What I think of as extremely boring, other people might praise as incredible awesome chamber-play-like-atmosphere.

        Critics can give us THEIR view – but our job as consumer should always contain double-checking the facts, that are presented to us by the reviewer.

        I already brought you an example, but let me bring another one, you, me, and others can see on this very homepage.
        Solkir hates Birds of Prey. He (and others, let’s be fair here), sees the logical flaws in the show,notices even the smallest mistakes and failures and tells us about it.

        Personally, I watch the show, notice those flaws, think if they really are flaws and move on.

        One can read or watch reviews for personal entertainment, but never the less, watch the thing that is reviewed and make up your own mind.
        I’m saying nothing more and nothing less.

        And concerning the friday-night-death-slot:
        “They put the show on Friday because they need to make a certain amount of money to please the investors in their network and if the advertisers won’t advertise on those shows because they don’t have enough viewers, they need to move those shows to a night where the expected audience is smaller and the advertising rates are cheaper.”
        And that is basically giving up and admitting that.
        “We don’t have any idea HOW to promote the show – and frankly: we don’t care,”


        “What is your reply to the question raised in this essay asking why Fox would screw over shows they invested large sums of money into in the first place? Saying they air genre shows because they have always aired genre shows is a circular argument.”

        I don’t know “The_Stig”‘s answer, but I know mine:
        From a business-economics-point-of-view you’re right, this would not make any sense.
        But on the other hand, from a business-economics-point it would not make sense to invest large amounts of money and then put the show somewhere, where nobody would want to watch it, where only a small group of people is knowing, that it is aired etc.
        But they did THAT. They put it in the death slot – again, basically declaring, that they don’t have any idea, what to do with the concept.

        Oh – and by the way: the Idea that the mix Sci-Fi and Western would be too offputting… no, Star Trek has some western-ideas in it. The difference is, that firefly is more obvious about being a sci-fi-western.
        DS09 could be viewed as a western city near the border to the unknown.
        Same as classic and TNG could be viewed as “exploring the wild west”.

        • $36060516

          I agree that people need to interpret criticism they read or watch here or elsewhere with care and make up their own minds, not letting their minds be closed to things based on one review. It just seemed like your stated opinion of critics was a little more antagonistic than that, though, going to the lengths of specifically watching a film to spite a critic Almost seemed like you took issue with the basic job description. (Though I could have interpreted wrong.) I’ve noticed a lot of people seem to hold that opinion, especially the people who used to post very angry notes on Rotten Tomatoes in response to anyone who wrote a negative review of a movie, saying they were idiots and asking why they hadn’t made a better movie if they’re so smart. I like criticism, myself, as I like reading people’s thoughts and theories about the art of telling stories.

          I will have to bow out of the discussion of the economic decision-making around the scheduling TV shows because I ultimately don’t know enough about the inner workings of that process to make an informed judgment.

          • CaptainCalvinCat

            Well that “then make something better” really depends on several factors.
            For example: Who is reviewing and what is his reviewing-style.
            I cut a person like SFDebris or this sites very own Sofie Liv waaay more slack, because, even if their oppinion and mine are diverging and they are critizising a movie/a show way more, than I would do, they are stating, that it is their very own opinion.
            That is okay.

            However, if you are presenting your review in a way, that is more or less telling that YOU see your oppinion as the only true one and other people, who don’t agree can go frak themselves, will be ignored or whatever – then I’m saying: “Okay, if you are that smart – go ahead, and do something better.”

          • $36060516

            I just can’t accept that line of attack on critics. I can’t build a car, yet I do think I have the right to write about why I think the car I drive is awful in comparison to other cars. Movies and cars are created by people with certain skills and connections to be used by people who don’t have those skills and connections. That doesn’t mean the people who those movies and cars were created for shouldn’t feel free to express their opinion and how they strongly feel their opinion is correct. Yes, we shouldn’t take such opinions as definitive, but I don’t read an essay criticizing a movie and think that the author is telling me I’m not allowed to have my opinion. He or she is simply writing forcefully and passionately about things they feel strongly about.

          • CaptainCalvinCat

            And again – it depends, how YOU write your critique.
            As a fanfic-author myself, I love getting reviews, I really do. I even love getting something, we call “konstrukive Kritik” (constructive criticism).

            However, when someone would write about my fanfic, that it is an utter piece of crap, story would laughable illogical. all in all I should be ashamed of putting something like that out in the open and he would furthermore make fun about something, he things is bad and would ask “Why would anyone READ that?!” – I know what my answer to that would be.

            of course, you are allowed, to write that you think, that the car you drive is awful – however: the question is HOW you write that.
            Do you have ideas, how to do it better?

            Or are you just someone, saying “My car is shit!”

          • $36060516

            I can agree with all of that!

    • Animikean

      Why didn’t I watch Firefly? Caught an episode, went back to Farscape.
      Sometimes it’s not that people are dumb, it’s just not our bag.

      • CaptainCalvinCat

        In that case “dumb” meant: “Not watching the show for yourself, but just listening to what critics say to you.”
        And yes, that is “dumb” in my oppinion. There is this guy, that say, that show XYZ is stupid, so HURRAY, I don’t have to watch that show, because that guy said, it would be stupid.

        • Animikean

          I did not wish to reply, but you have shown yourself to neither read nor write well (opinion only has 1 p)
          As I said, I did watch an episode of Firefly when it was originally broadcast. I did not care for it. I saw the entire series later at a friend’s insistence and thought it was only o.k.

          I formed an opinion from watching the material in question, what more could one ask?

          • CaptainCalvinCat

            Okay – thank you for your tip about english orthography. Please note,
            that I repeatedly explained, that I’m german. By the way, if you didn’t
            WISH to reply, why did you?
            And while we’re at it – I was not calling
            you dumb, I explained, what I meant, when I asked if people are really
            that dumb, listening more to a reviewer

  • I never really recovered from the cancellation of Battlestar Galactica. Galactica 1980 just wasn’t the same. *sniff*

    • $36060516

      That’s a load of felgercarb!

  • But…but…can I still hate them for canceling Futurama (the first time)?

  • madmanoreo

    Okay, Fox’s tendency to sink shows is not just limited to scifi, the people behind Family Guy and Futurama have talked about similar shenanigans just off of the top of my head. Also the idea of it being for nefarious purposes when it’s more than likely caused by ladder-climbing bastards at Fox trying to torpedo anything they weren’t involved in, to make the things they had a hand in look better by comparison(I can words good, huh?). So yeah I stopped watching because they keep hobbling and then cancelling new shows and I don’t want to go through that anymore, as opposed to them shafting Firefly in particular.

  • Murry Chang

    I’m a HUGE sci fi nerd and I just don’t really like Firefly. It’s because of Joss Whedon, I can’t dig his style.

    • $36060516

      I thought it was okay at the time (not something I got passionate about either way) but have really fallen out of love with his style in the years since.

  • Immortan Scott

    Glad someone pointed this out. I loved Firefly and Serenity, but I understand that not everyone is going to want to see them

    I’ve noticed that TVTropes seems to have a hate-on for Fox. Every scheduling decision Fox makes seems to infuriate them..

  • Thomas Stockel

    Damn it, Winston, stop talking sense. Your rational and well reasoned observations have no place on the internet!

  • Solkir

    Oh man. I was planning something with a similar concept. Granted with my typical accusatory spin

  • The_Stig

    I won’t forgive Fox for how they treat genre shows but I’ve long since gotten over Firefly and moved on. Firefly was neither the first nor the last science fiction series the network screwed over, I think the reason they rely so much on genre programming is because they always have since launch. Alien Nation was supposed to be one of its flagships, and there was another show that aired at the very start that was part of the sunday night lineup with 21 Jump Street, Married…With Children and the Tracey Ullman Show called Werewolf which was, shockingly, about a werewolf. I quite enjoyed it, but it didn’t last too long.

    You could say Fox has ALWAYS been fucking with genre fans.

    • $36060516

      What is your reply to the question raised in this essay asking why Fox would screw over shows they invested large sums of money into in the first place? Saying they air genre shows because they have always aired genre shows is a circular argument.

  • GreenLuthor

    I really have to say: thank you for writing this. I watched Firefly when it first aired, and really liked it (hated Serenity, though, but that’s a different story), but the fact that people still rail against its cancellation is rather irritating. As you said, the simple fact that it was picked up in the first place was a minor miracle; the fact that it didn’t last shouldn’t have been surprising in the least. Really, the “space western” concept alone

    pretty much guaranteed it was going to have trouble finding an audience; combining “westerns”, a genre that fell out of favor amongst audiences in the 70s, with “science fiction”, a genre that’s never been in favor with audiences, and you’re pretty much asking to fail. It may be a neat concept, but the odds against it were pretty substantial from the get-go.

    And just remember: the Friday Night Death Slot? That’s where The X-Files was placed its first season. Even in a bad slot (as long as the scheduling is consistent), people can find shows if they want to watch them.

    • MichaelANovelli

      If you ask me, the space western reached its pinnacle with BraveStarr!

      • danbreunig

        Awes Yeah!

    • $36060516

      I didn’t care for the movie either.

    • Muthsarah

      Firefly is about as close to science fiction as is Star Wars. Both wear their other-genre-isms on their sleeves (Star Wars has more than a bit of the Western to it, plus classic medievalish epic, plus 1930s serials, plus a lil’ bit of WWII B-flick). One found a mass audience, the other didn’t. Partly, I believe, because of the different eras in which they debuted. TNG, like all Trek, is similarly lumped into “sci-fi”, but it too found a mass audience. BSG found a significant-enough audience at roughly the same time as Firefly.

      I doubt that “Western + sci-fi” was too off-putting a concept. Now, I could have permanent blinders on, because, unlike most TV viewers, I’ve both seen, and love, Firefly, but I just don’t see what coulda been (and today, simply could still be) so off-putting about the premise. The series was based on the idea “if you go far enough out into space, you’ll leave civilization behind. Eventually, you’ll be all alone, having to survive by your wits, and whatever resources you can find, in a rough area. Sometimes, that exposes you to dangers you never could have imagined, but other times it’s worth it, if your own freedom matters more than anything else.” Basically, libertarians in spaaaAAAAAaaaace. Or something. It’s an intriguing idea.

      As I mentioned earlier, I didn’t catch the show when it first aired, but I don’t think I was even aware of it. I just didn’t watch any TV at the time (late 90s TV, plus my first real job, plus social activities, TV just wasn’t what it was as a kid). Nothing against the show, or the premise.

      Sure, the decades-old image problems of sci-fi still confuse me. But “Westernizing” the sci-fi genre shoulda brought it (ba-dum-tishishly ironically) back down to Earth. Make it not about aliens, and transwarp inducer chronotons reflecting off the deflector dish, or whatevers. Just about people surviving on limited means, on the frontier. I just don’t see what’s so danged bizarre about that premise.

      As for the X-Files surviving its first season, TV was a vastly different landscape in the early 90s. Shows were still given time, and could survive on little but critical buzz, a premise with growth potential, and even one executive who thought it was an interesting idea. Sure, many shows failed, but they were typically the DoA sort, not the ones that showed genuine ambition and that had the slightest backing from anybody important. And TV was all the better for it. I just don’t think, at all, that we as an art-consuming species, are as well off today, with such short-sighted networks, and shows that have to explode on impact or else smothered in the crib. X-Files was given that chance, same as were Cheers and Seinfeld. They were all good from the outset (I don’t think for a second that network executives are stupid, just smart people following stupid rules), and they all eventually found their audience, and a huge audience.

    • Raymond Soto

      I think the reason people are still angry about Firefly is because people are still watching it for the first time all these years later.

      Like me. I just finished the last episode earlier tonight, well into the year 2015. I had never seen this show before. I am now quite unhappy.

      Fuckin’ A.

  • Muthsarah

    Not even when I’m DEAD!!!!

    Yeah…I mean…sure. I didn’t even watch the show when it was on. But I wasn’t watching anything. And I’ve never lived in a Nielsen household. But still, there’re only fourteen episodes in the Firefly file. Hate’s as good as anything to pad that out.

    And the early cancellation of Firefly wasn’t just the killing off of, in my eyes, the best television show ever made, it was the clearest example of everything that has gone horribly wrong with television (and that isn’t “reality”-based). TV execs used to know quality programming, and give it a chance, even if it starts out rough. I’m sure everyone here knows all about the early seasons of Cheers and Seinfeld, unless this is the first time they’ve waded into this particular debate. Shows have such short windows, just like movies have to open big or get immediately yanked. There’s no time for word-of-mouth, which is the BEST way for a good show, movie, or anything to triumph over bad ones; good movies will be recommended, good movies will be re-watched, good shows will get talked about. Hyped movies only have to penetrate people’s minds and convince them to pay their money before they have time to hear if it’s any good or not. So hype is a better selling point than quality, or a sufficiently-reliable one to become the industry standard.

    The days when well-made TV shows are given a season or two to show their stuff, and movies lasted in theatres for half the year, constantly drawing in new viewers, because of a good rep, is long past. And I think it’s to the detriment of the audience, and to the quality of the works as well. I don’t think I’m making a huge leap of faith to assume you understand me when I point out that network TV as a whole has gotten a hell of a lot crappier in the last decade or two as well. One of many reasons cable’s been kicking its @$$.

    One thing I don’t see you mentioning was how they rejected the first pilot (EDIT: Oh wait, there it is), giving Joss and Tim three days to write a new one, then aired every single episode out of order. That’s just ****ing insane. And entirely unnecessary. The show didn’t find an audience, you say? People didn’t like it, you say? Critics didn’t get it, you say? No wonder, given how Fox treated the show even during its short life.

    • MichaelANovelli

      Well, not that I would ever endorse Tyler Perry, but he knocks out three episodes of his shows a week, so I don’t think tight scheduling is that big of a deal in the TV world…

      • Muthsarah

        I’ve never seen anything by Tyler Perry, so while I’ve heard nothing but dismissive things about his work, I can’t say for certain that his show is lazily-written, full of old jokes, feels like it’s not really about anything, or just in any way feels rushed and/or is the result of someone not giving a damn. I’ve heard all of those things, but I’m not the one to make any such claims, other than to passively(-aggressively) let them bounce off of me.

        And short of that, I really can’t respond to this comparison, except that Firefly has never felt like a rushed or lazy product. I love Trek (I think I’ve gotten that across around here), but that franchise is formulaic as hell, always has been, and frequently lazy and nonsensical. Doesn’t mean it can’t or shouldn’t be good, though. Even The Train Job (the hastily-written second Firefly pilot) is pretty damn good by the measure of most shows I’ve seen. Sure, lots of people saw Firefly and weren’t impressed; non est disputandum. But, especially given the scheduling out-of-order thing, the idea of telling Whedon and Minnear “this isn’t good enough, go back and write a whole new pilot in two days” suggests that FOX’s collective heads were screwed on all wrong from the get-go. Sure, some have written TV shows in two days; but is that a fair way of giving a show a good first impression for the fans and critics? Especially in an era where first impressions are more critical than ever, if not everything (hi, “Heroes”)? The first pilot was (or had to have been) in the works far longer. FOX clearly had no faith in the show, or its creators (hi! remember “Buffy”? Lots of advertiser-friendly kids loved them some Buffy), and either felt like dictating to them how the artistic end of the show is to be run, or else were committed to only give the show the barest of bare minimum support and patience before showing it the axe.

        Or, as someone else pointed out here (and one of the few theories I’d never thought of, though it totally fits given how much I’d read about the “John Carter” fiasco), one exec ordered the show, and another sunk it for the purposes of positioning and basic squabbling. Sure, none of them are around anymore (according to the good Dr.), but, really, when I hate FOX (not just when I say, when I actually do), I don’t hate the execs themselves. I don’t even know their names; I just picture those three executive robots from Futurama. I hate the model the industry follows. I think it is legitimately bad. For people. And art. And I do – and certainly wish to – believe that had they given the show a fairer chance, one full season of minimal meddling, given Whedon’s track record, it would have succeeded. At the very least, had they given it a shot and had it failed anyway, there’d be a hell of lot more peace in Serenity Valley. But the way FOX acted from the beginning, no, that’s still clearly wrong how they approached it. And, again, it’s the whole industry and its short-sightedness I blame. I cannot fault anyone else, not the fans (like myself) who found it too late, nor the viewers who did tune in but didn’t care for it, nor the critics who didn’t rave about a show that was – gasp – doing something a LITTLE different, or the creators, who made the best show I’ve ever seen.

        So who does that leave? The idiots at FOX, who clearly handled it horribly.

        • “one exec ordered the show, and another sunk it for the purposes of positioning and basic squabbling” This definitely isn’t what happened in the case of Firefly. Gail Berman worked pretty closely with Whedon to develop Firefly, as well as his other shows.. It was actually Berman’s idea to turn Buffy into a series.

          • Muthsarah

            Umm….I haven’t actually looked too deeply into the corporate end of this (hence why I left off at theory), partly because I’da have no friggin’ idea where to look. Do you have sources to share on this?

            And was Berman actually in a position to determine the viewing order, or the pilot, of the series?

          • Sure, there’s this interview with Gail Berman:

            “Canceling ‘Firefly’ was as difficult as anything I’d ever been involved in because Joss and I had been creative partners at one time,” she said. … “I worked with him very closely on this particular show and when it didn’t perform [in the ratings], having to cancel it was very difficult.”

            And also this:

            “Although she would later be mercilessly castigated as the villain who pulled the plug on Firefly when she was head of programming at Fox TV, the fact is that without Berman’s initiative, neither Buffy nor Firefly would ever have been produced.”

          • Zeranamu

            If Buffy never made the light of day and that meant keeping Firefly on, I would of been all for it.

          • CaptainCalvinCat

            Isn’t there the rumour, that they wanted to keep Dark Angel and originally did not want to give Firefly that slot and then Whedon said “okay, then there won’t be a new Buffy-Season”? I’m sure, I heard it somewhere.

      • Tyler Perry makes movies, not TV shows.

        • MichaelANovelli

          No, he makes TV shows, too. Like House of Payne. :)

    • $36060516

      ” in my eyes, the best television show ever made,”

      Here a few TV shows I’d rate better than “Firefly” (not that anybody cares, just for my own amusment):

      * The Twilight Zone
      * The Outer Limits
      * Alfred Hitchcock Presents
      * Monty Python’s Flying Circus
      * The Muppet Show
      * The Singing Detective
      * Pennies From Heaven
      * Brimstone and Treacle
      * The Bridge (Danish/Swedish version, not American)
      * The Killing (Danish version, not American)
      * The Shadow Line
      * The Sandbaggers
      * The House of Cards Trilogy (British, not Netflix)
      * I, Claudius
      * The Prisoner
      * The Kingdom
      * The Bullwinkle Show / Rocky and His Friends
      * Nowhere Man
      * Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy
      * Garth Marenghi’s Darkplace
      * The World at War
      * Brass Eye
      * Cracker
      * Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer / Frosty the Snowman / etc.
      * Harry’s Game
      * This is Not My Life
      * Callan
      * The Ernie Kovacs Show
      * Blackadder
      * Star Trek
      * Real Humans
      * Louie
      * The Simpsons (earlier seasons)
      * Voices and Visions
      * Mystery Science Theater 3000
      * The Sopranos
      * Invisible Man
      * Connections
      * Utopia
      * Wonder Showzen
      * La Femme Nikita (first version)
      * League of Gentlemen
      * Police Squad
      * The Shock of the New
      * Survivors
      * The Tripods
      * Fang of the Sun Dougram
      * Twin Peaks
      * Ultraviolet
      * Charlie Brown Christmas and Halloween specials
      * Neon Genesis Evangelion
      * SCTV
      * The Kids in the Hall
      * Freaks and Geeks
      * Homicide: Life on the Street
      * The Wire
      * the Beatles “All You Need is Love” live broadcast

      • Muthsarah

        This comment (and its recommendation, danbreunig, you Brutus) are baffling to me. Are you, M_M, trying to put me in my place by saying that you don’t care all that much for this one show that I happen to consider the best I’ve seen (not my favorite, that’s a separate issue…and it’s TNG for the record).

        Yeah, Firefly was a thunderbolt to the tingliest of pleasure centers in my brain, straight from Zeus’ mighty crotch. I don’t expect my opinion is universal. Thank you for going to such lengths to describe the depths to width you disagree with me.

        • $36060516

          No, I’m not trying to put your in your place. I’m a firm believer that taste is highly subjective and that my opinion is no better than yours.

          I do confess to mild irritation at how overrated this show is (in my opinion) by its most devoted fans (no personal slight intended to you) who seem to overstate its cultural importance. The characters and stories on the show do not seem exceptionally meaningful or life changing to me in comparison to many of the shows I named, though I moderately enjoyed watching it. I didn’t feel like it had a lot to say about our lives (which is the quality I most highly prize in entertainment), and instead seemed devoted to finding inspiration and meaning in previous movies such as Star Wars.

          I regularly enjoy your contributions to the discussions on this site and did not mean to upset or demean you, nor did I expect to change your mind. Just have strong opinions on pop culture and got into listing shows I thought were better as an intellectual exercise.

        • doc

          Ah yes, TNG, the show with classic episodes like Code of Honor and anything with Wesley in it. Oh, the memories lol

          • CaptainCalvinCat

            Well, “Code of Honor” – stripped of all of it, that make it iffy in the real world – (racism) is still a relatively enjoyable episode. It even contains a scene, in which the “price, that is to be won” says “KNow what? Frak it, I’m fighting for my life here!”.

            And I don’t have that big problem with Wesley…

            Plus: Those are first-season problems. Back in the day, people at least had the decency, of giving those shows another chance. And with a show like Star Trek you need time to develop.

          • Muthsarah

            “Code of Honor” is my least-favorite episode. It’s not the worst-written episode (not counting “Shades of Gray”, that would probably be “The Outrageous Okona”). It’s not the worst-acted episode (probably “Encounter at Farpoint”). But it’s the worst, and we all know why.

            The sheer, crazy variety of the show, the vast gulf between wonderful and truly wretched is one reason I still like the show so much. It still can never fail to provoke one of many dozens of possible reactions, and thus, it has aged perfectly.

            “Code of Honor”, as brazenly offensive as it is, is still kinda worth a watch, if you’re in the right mood. It’s mesmerizing.

      • CaptainCalvinCat

        From all those shows you just mentioned, I’d only place “invisible man” over Firefly, and only, if you’re referring to the seventies show with David “Ducky/Ilya” McCallum.

        Well… erm… and Star Trek – although – Star Trek and Firefly are on the same level.

        • $36060516

          Nah, I was referring to the early 2000s one on the Sci-Fi Network (which by checking IMDB just now I see was actually titled “The Invisible Man”). I haven’t seen the ’70s show, so don’t have an opinion there. “The Invisible Man” is one of the shows on the above list that I would least stand behind being better than Firefly, because I think its level of quality is not that different than Firefly, I just personally preferred it. I would more strongly argue for many others on the list.

      • Chris Palmer

        Why are you comparing all those shows to Firefly? True, the ones I have seen are mostly excellent (although I prefer the Nikita where she DID kill a guy), but you might as well be comparing The Hills to Casablanca for all the sense some of those comparisons make.

    • Chuck Green

      I will continue to boycott FOX. Firefly had no trouble being both entertaining and endearing, perhps because I watched Serenity before I started the show.. I liked the characters, there was plenty more to learn of them. It was a truly great show that ended way to early. I care more about Firefly’s young death than forgiving FOX. One of the points of the show was standing up for what is right in the face of overwhelming odds. Some executive(s) killed something beautiful.

      • MichaelANovelli

        They killed it because there wasn’t an audience for it. It doesn’t matter how good a show is if airing it is causing the network to lose money. That’s just how it works, and has always worked…

  • Gallen_Dugall

    this is silly (to put it mildly) both series were deliberately aired out of order, delayed without notice, rescheduled and shifted about without notice or explanation until they failed. What this points to is a corporate culture that undermines “expensive” shows to free up funds for some execs “pet project” that turns out to be yet another crappy remake masquerading as original programming.

    • What this points to is a corporate culture that undermines “expensive”
      shows to free up funds for some execs “pet project” that turns out to be
      yet another crappy remake masquerading as original programming.

      Or is another reality TV show, or even worse, a show that’s a clone of another show (Mad Men begat Pan Am and Playboy Club, Friends begat a ton of other clones, the original Beverly Hills 90210 begat 2000 Malibu Road, The Roundtable, Freshmen Dorm, The Heights, the Canadian show Cold Squad begat the American rip-off Cold Case, and so on. ) Many of these people need to be fired and replaced with creator-managers that understand finance but also understand creativity.

  • $36060516

    Hey, Winston — I just looked at the trailer for the new “Gotham” show over on YouTube and the comment section is full of these “too bad it’s on Fox,” “gonna be another Firefly” obsessives. You nailed it.

    • No surprise there, the YouTube comments are not exactly a bastion of creative/original thought.

      • They’re saying that because in the case of Fox, it’s true.

        I wish that this reality TV show shit would die off so that we can have great dramas and comedies on TV again, in addition to great sci-fi shows.

        • Chris Palmer

          Just remember that Two And A Half Men has inexplicably made it to 12 seasons, and Family Guy managed to somehow find an audience. Meanwhile, The Simpsons is a shadow of its former self, and comedies that don’t rely on verbal humour (like, say, Arrested Development) are nowhere to be found.

  • Hal_10000

    I think you may some good points. However, it should be pointed out that there are a number of shows that have done poorly initially only to eventually “go viral” and become huge hits. Game of Thrones, for example, drew about two million per episode its first season. Now it’s regularly drawing three times that and broke HBOGo with online viewers. And that is a massively expensive show. Same with the X-files, which was a FOX show and was not even in the top 100 in its first season. It didn’t become a big hit until it’s FOURTH season. So while I agree that Fox’s decisions was *defensible*, it was still a bad decision. Because I think if they had looked at the show, they would have seen the elements of success and given it at least a full first season. They would have seen that this was a show worth gambling a bit more money on to see if it became a big hit. They have been patient with shows like Arrested Development and the X-files. I wish they’d been more patient with this one.

  • Animikean

    X-Files did well from on the Friday night “death spot” and shows now have the benefit of delayed and online viewing.

    Wheadon-ites chill out please.

    I liked Almost Human and was disappointed with it’s cessation but it could have been worse, they put together a “we can stop here” last episode. Do you remember (the American version) Life on Mars? To tie their ends together they had to rush the storyline, I understood but it did make the last part of it jarring when you compared it to the controlled pace leading up to it.

    And worse (I do hate to pick on Fox in this) Brimstone. Yeah, everyone’s forgotten this one, from 1998 (four years before Firefly) and John Glover played a hell of a devil in it. 13 episodes, a damn good show and it has not been put out on DVD this entire time. Go look for yourself. Go to Amazon, there’s been a fan-made placeholder listing since 2010 and it STILL has a review score of 4.8 out of 5.

    I was going for hipster cred I would have said “Adventures of Brisco County, Jr.” and if I was going for more obscure I would have said “VR.5”.
    Ya know what? Brisco took 13 years to get a DVD release, VR.5 and Brimstone have a snowball’s chance at seeing one, I’m ending this a lot less sympathetic then I meant to.

  • I was waiting for “Almost Human” to go to Netflix. I hate watching shows once per week. I watch two or three at a time however long I want.

    • Zack_Dolan

      i hate to tell you, but that’s part of why the show got cancelled. you and other people waiting for netflix meant no one was watching it when it was on. it’s not family guy or game of thrones and it’s not a guarantee it will be there to make it to dvd or netflix whether you’re watching or not, if you want a new show to succeed, you have to make the effort to watch it. don’t take that as a personal attack or anything. I’m just saying we can’t assume it will survive unless we actively watch it, at the very least for the first season

      • Moppet

        It’s interesting to note.

        Who should change? The people watching the content? Or the people delivering the content? If more and more people are no longer interesting in viewing content delivered in particular manners, who is at fault? The people no longer interested in receiving entertainment through specific means or the people that continue to insist on the delivery method they know more and more people are losing interest in, in favor of other methods? To put it another way, “Why gauge the success of a product based on sales through through retailers people are turning away from in greater numbers every year?”

        I won’t pretend one method is inherently better than another, I think both have their merits, but you can’t really blame people, “for getting something cancelled” because the manner in which they consume entertainment has changed. Think of the move to digital music, who was at fault when record companies refused to change, or were just to slow to change, to the new method? Was it the consumers fault the record companies of the time refused, or were simply to slow to, make a change? The companies that jumped on that opportunity, when others would not, flourished. Just look at iTunes.

        • JD

          Do Netflix shows have commercials? i don’t have Netflix but i do do the watch a whole season’s worth of certain show’s on my DVR after its over in a couple days rather then each week. mostly so i can skip the 38 minutes worth of commercials in a hour long show. they should be able to tell if customers are recording or not.

          • Zack_Dolan

            netflix does not have commercials and actually they do count DVR recordings as ratings. there’s like a 72 hr scanning period that picks those up after it airs, so that still counts as watching it when it airs when you record it. so that’s really the best way to support a show you like when life just won’t allow you to be there every week to see it first run

          • You can record off of Netflix? I certainly didn’t know that.

          • Zack_Dolan

            no, you can’t. i was talking about just a standard dvr on your tv. it was two different thoughts, but they were mashed into one by that point haha

          • doc

            No, but Hulu Plus does. Avoid it unless you absolutely have to watch that new episode of New Girl on your TV.

        • Zack_Dolan

          i don’t disagree with you at all. certainly shows should be GOOD if we are expected to watch them. what i was saying is that if you think a show is already good, you should make the effort to watch it when the season is running so it can continue to get funding and air. if you really really love arrow, you should watch arrow, bcs every season you skip til it goes on netflix is not getting your “on paper” backing as far as the network is concerned, so it thinks no one cares about it, know what i mean? i think that netflix works best for the “on the fence” shows, at least for me. like if i really wasn’t sure if i cared or not and i didn’t have the time to keep up week after week, netflix is perfect. including the fact that if a whole series makes it to netflix, that’s already an endorsement it was better than expected, just because it survived. that means when it was new, enough people thought it was great enough to make the time every week. so i guess my point is, when you find that show you just love to pieces, you should really make the effort to watch it, or at least DVR it (which still counts in the ratings)

          now having said all that, do i not think you’re right and we would be far better off with a universal rating system that still takes things like netflix, hulu, and online streaming of other legit varieties into account, to adapt to the way we watch tv nowadays? No, i totally agree, but until we get that, we’re stuck with the old way i guess

      • Moppet already gave my rebuttal to this, but I am not part of the problem, the distribution method is the problem.

        Really I am awash in genre TV shows (I have not managed to watch “Eureka” or “Fringe” yet) so I can just wait, and unless a show is on the level of Netflix or HBO and sold to me that way I have little patience to actually sit down and watch it on the schedule that a network chooses to use.

  • Clu Gulager Alert!

    Fans of Firefly and other shows cancelled “before their time” should also take into account the rather antiquated model for TV series production, namely “shoot forty pilots, air twenty, and hope that five get enough viewers for renewal.” Firefly probably wasn’t a big budget show, but you can bet that it cost a bit more than your typical sitcom did in 2003. Renewing a show like that based on lackluster ratings is a multi-million dollar decision that could’ve meant passing on 2-3 cheaper, more highly rated shows. Even today, over-the-air network executives are making renewal decisions based on limited data and best guesses.

    This is why I love the Netflix model. Rather than relying on inaccurate Nielsen diaries, Netflix can tell who’s tuned in to a show, how long they watch, and who they recommend it to. It’s the kind of targeted data that TV execs could only dream about 12 years ago. It also makes if harder for really, truly good shows with potential for wide appeal to get cancelled.

    • Muthsarah

      Not meaning to challenge you, but this one critical point simply hasn’t be adequately answered, and it’s a biggun:

      Why air the episodes out of order? Firefly isn’t a total serial, but there IS continuity. Cancelling the original pilot (and airing it LAST, out of all episodes, where it will do NO good, having already been covered by the second pilot and re-writes of other episodes) DID screw up the characterizations more-than-somewhat. I think, a big reason many viewers (and possibly critics, depending on whatever they got to watch) never got into it.

      Firefly came out in a very awkward era. Sure, shows such as Family Guy and Futurama, that came out roughly the same time, were able to survive due to the Cartoon Network airing their reruns and helping to build up buzz (which showed, beyond any shadow of a doubt, that word-of-mouth is still meaningful, and that FOX did a $#!++y job of promoting and supporting shows that COULD appeal to wide audiences, leaving it for cable to do that job for them), but the Cartoon Network is kinda focused on Cartoons, and Sy-Fy (or whatever) wasn’t as big a presence back then, before the Carnigator vs. Octa-shark or whatever. Yeah, if it came out today, it’s possible that the Netflix model could have sustained a show like Firefly. But the Netflix-exclusive shows seem to be granted incredible leeway, funding and shooting and airing it a whole season at a time, without interference, as opposed to a show whose episodes (again) were aired out of order. More proof of the value of giving a show a friggin’ chance.

      FOX greenlit a show. FOX meddled with that show. The show failed. On that basis alone, FOX screwed up, and it’s all FOX’s fault. But it’s pretty twisted to assume that their only mistake (out of MANY) was greenlighting it to begin with. You’re (EDIT: not YOU, dh, you as in others) giving them far too much leeway in how they handled their eventual failed project, and thus implicitly placing all the blame on the showrunners themselves. As if THEY bear the responsibility for not writing, producing, and directing a show that could survive such moronic handling by the network. “Hey, if you can’t survive OUR idiocy, you don’t deserve to be on TV.”

      • Clu Gulager Alert!

        Do you know how scheduling decisions are made? I don’t, but I’m sure sweeps weeks have an impact, as do preemptions, advertising deals, ongoing management of ratings (not just of Firefly, but all the other shows, too), deals with hundreds of TV stations, international viewing rights, and many other factors. I wouldn’t dismiss scheduling problems as “idiocy” for that reason. Common sense would dictate that a show would air in order, but there are so many factors involved in TV production that it’s just not that simple in real life. The showrunners aren’t to blame, but their job is to make a show. Fox’s job is to make enough money off that show, and dozens of others, to make a profit.

        Corporate inertia comes into play here as well. The mechanics involved in Fox’s operation involve thousands of employees and managers, all attending meetings and making decisions according to established processes. In big corporations (not just entertainment but all types of companies), the inertia generated by those processes is what sometimes kills good projects. Getting above and around this inertia is often difficult or futile, and requires either herculean effort or the intervention of the CEO. It’s no one’s fault, just the result of the internal mechanics.

        Finally, as Winston points out in the article, Firefly got a second chance with Serenity. Fox wasn’t involved, and it still didn’t work. Maybe Firefly could still thrive in a different format or revival, but I think it’s fair to say that its had more than one chance to prove it by now.

        • Muthsarah

          I’m sorry. I don’t want to be this reductive, but….still….why air them out of order? It seems you don’t have an answer for that. Yeah, common sense (and the intentions of the artists you are hiring to make programming for you to air) suggests to air the episodes in the order intended, because….the people who made them might have spent a lot more time than you have putting these episodes together in a meaningful order, intending them so to best and most logically appeal to their audiences….audiences they have found before in other series….whereas if you were to re-arrange the order….exactly WHAT are you expecting to get out of it….other than the ephemeral thrill of meddling, and claiming to your bosses that you have thus meddled, and are thus worthy of preserving for another fiscal quarter?

          Corporate inertia? Sorry, but nothing you’re saying here is making this whole situation look anything more than deplorable and pitiable. Make a decision, based on the best information available to you at the time, trust your subordinates (in this case, the artists), let them go and do their thing as best and unfettered as they can, and take responsibility for what comes of it. If the system can’t function thusly, then the system is itself broken. This isn’t limited to television, or to art in general, this is every rational system ever. If one failed project gets a show-runner booted out onto the street, if one executive cannot be realistically expected to back even a single project, if a showrunner can’t be tolerated to put a series together as best they can with the blessings of the board, without that board interfering in order to claim they’re “doing something”, then the whole system is fundamentally flawed. A system cannot function if it is subject, on all levels, to groupthink. An artist cannot function, if he/she has to run all decisions by a boss who cares nothing but for bean-countery. A multi-million dollar entertainment product cannot be created if “corporate inertia” dogs it at every step. If it requires “Heculean effort” to overcome even a typical TV show’s shakedown, then the “internal mechanics” should be scrapped. You’re never gonna get meaningful art out of such a system. You’re gonna get marketing-designed, shallow, populist crap, or you’re gonna get nothing else, because nothing else can survive such an atmosphere. You seem to be re-enforcing my earlier claim that it’s the entire system that’s ****ed up.

          As for Serenity: A movie based around a series that never caught on (for whatEVER reasons….) not catching on, is not exactly a shocker. To reach a mass audience these days, you need MASS MARKETING. Which, of course, wasn’t provided. They TRAINED their audiences to respond to this $#!+. Serenity: The Movie was DoA.

          Not that I’ve seen it. I bought it. Years ago. Can’t bring myself to see it. If I watch it, there’s nothing left.

          • MichaelANovelli

            Well, I know they don’t usually film in order. I always figured they just aired them in whatever order they were finished…

          • Moppet

            On the DVDs it’s noted that the two hour Pilot episode was aired later, and another, “more action packed” episode was aired instead, the Train Job, if I remember. It was made quite clear that the out of order episodes aired were aired out of order despite in order episodes being available. Take that for what you will.

          • CaptainCalvinCat

            Not necessarily.
            Take Star Trek: In William Shatners “Star Trek: Memories” it is described, that they aired “The Man Trap” as one of the first Star Trek Episodes – which was not even the first one, that was produced.

          • Muthsarah

            Which was because NBC felt the premise of Man Trap’s “woman as killer salt monster” would go over better than Where No Man Has Gone Before’s “exploring the cosmos and the nature of humanity”…which fits Trek’s MO, and thus represents the series, quite a bit better. But, they had several already-completed episodes to choose from beforehand (they could have picked “The Naked Time”, AKA the shirtless-Sulu-with-a-rapier episode), none of which was an official pilot and thus not intrinsic to fully understanding any of the other episodes. And they aired Where No Man Has Gone Before shortly thereafter anyway.

          • CaptainCalvinCat

            Which caused the critics to call “Star Trek” stupid and forecasting a not very long run. Don’t get me wrong, I like “The man Trap”, but – I agree, it should have not been the episode to introduce Star Trek to us. I think, they should’ve gone with “Where no man has gone before”…

            By the way: That is the point: “NBC FELT”…
            Maybe Fox felt, too, that the should show some episodes before others. ^^

          • Adam Bomb 1701

            “The Corbomite Maneuver” was the first “Star Trek” episode done in regular production; “Mudd’s Women” was the second. “The Man Trap” was the sixth. “Charlie X” was the second episode aired; “Where No Man…” was the third. “Corbomite” wasn’t aired until November 1966, no doubt due to the complicated opticals involved.

          • Moppet

            The DVD for Firefly mentions the 2 hour pilot was pushed to air later, in favor of a more action packed affair being the introduction to the Firefly Universe. I suppose it makes sense, on some level. I believe the Train Job was what was aired first. Personally I didn’t ever see an advertisement for Firfly during its original run. I never even knew it existed until an advertisement after it had been cancelled. The Advertisement was on the sci-fi channel, they were airing the episodes (in proper order I assume, since that order seems to match my DVDs) and showing commercials for the Firefly movie. So, outside of things mentioned on the DVD , I know nothing about what episodes were aired when or in what order during the original FOX run. Obviously, with the DVDs, you only get one side of the story too, but they do talk about the situation some, for anyone curious.

            I remember tuning into every episode they aired on the sci-fi channel once I knew the bloody thing existed, and being quite happy with it. I couldn’t say, without bias, what I’d have thought if the Train Job were my introduction to the Firefly universe or what other episodes airing out of order would have done. I know that how the sci-fi channel handled airing managed to hook me, got me to go see the movie and got me to buy both the series DVDs and the Movie’s DVD once they were available.

      • What Fox did in airing episodes out of order reminds me of how The Powers of Matthew Star was most likely treated; it’s pilot episode was aired as the final episode of the series instead of as the first.

  • Cameron Vale

    It’s entirely possible that the concept couldn’t have lasted much beyond its cancellation date anyway. Cowboy Bebop was extremely similar in concept, and it visibly struggled in its second year.

    • …Cowboy bebop didn’t HAVE a second year. It was a standard 1-production block 26-episode anime series run consecutively that got a movie due to it’s popularity. Sunrise pumps those out annually.

  • bluehawk222

    Firefly was on tv at the wrong time. I think it might have fared better on cable but let’s be real here and understand space tv drama does not have wide appeal. Name how many space tv shows are on television right now. Doctor Who is really the only one. They can’t even get Star Trek back on the air. But there was significant mismanagement by Fox that can’t be brushed aside. Let’s look at Arrested Development, that was critically acclaimed and won several awards. As David Cross pointed out in an outtake Fox failed to advertise the show well enough. But these shows are demonstrating the failure of the network tv model that is more geared towards quantity and money more than quality. It works okay for sitcoms but is failing with dramatic tv which is why with the recent awards network tv dramas are getting brushed aside. Because cable is giving writers and directors more creative freedom. Firefly might have lasted longer if it was on another channel. Syfy should have honestly picked it up and paired it with BSG which did very well actually. But I mean the argument that no one was watching it is kind of absurd because no one was given a chance to really watch it. Fox did air episodes out of order and changed when they aired. So it was hard to maintain or even acquire a steady viewership like that. It used to be networks did give shows more leeway. First seasons of shows were always iffy. You think Seinfeld was comedy gold in Season 1? Nope. Cheers almost was canceled until NBC moved it with the Cosby Show.

    • The truth is, Fox loves shit like American Idol and So You Want To Dance Like An Idiot and will push that kind of shit ’till one’s ready to puke to death. Arrested Development was likely too smart for them as a sitcom, so it was neglected; likewise earlier sci-fi shows such as The Adventures of Brisco County Jr.,Alien Nation, VR.5, Space: Above And Beyond were similarly badly treated. This network may air a lot of sci-fi, but it treats the genre like shit.

  • I’d point out the Scifi Channel as a station that’s given Sci-Fi television just as much if not more a chance than Fox, but 1: it did pick up reruns or early-cancelled series from other networks; giving some new life with new seaons and others a chance to allow unaired episodes from the quick-cancelled ones to make it to broadcast (the incidents with MST3K from Comedy Central, Sliders from FOX and Stargate SG-1 from Showtime as the former and Threshold an example of the latter), so much of their greatness (bar First wave, farscape, the invisible man, Eureka) began as cast-offs, 2: you needed basic cable to watch the Sci-fi Channel, and the phrasing in this article implies a focus in it being the top one of stations that can broadcast ‘over the air’, and 3: the channel that did that no-longer exists in the form which allowed that to occur. Right now the best place on American Television to See Science fiction is BBC America.
    Still, Fox is notorious for this because, despite picking up Sci-Fi Series, they have in the past regularly shafted said programs by Not advertising them, putting them up against rating giants where they would naturally falter by the numbers (Late-Classic-Era Doctor Who battling coronation street in it’s timeslot, anyone?), and shuffle them across their schedule’s willy-nilly so people who DID care couldn’t catch them reliably, before leaving them in slots which were notorious for terrible ratings.
    Similarly, they fund and give priorities to ones that should have never made it to air in the first place because of major conceptual flaws, like Terra Nova and what actually brought this all up: Almost Human.
    And then they wonder why they fall through.
    And yes, other networks shuffle their schedules and try shows against ratings giants only to fail, but Fox does it FAR more than other networks. I think Bones has run in every primetime slot they have bar Weekends. Their schedule is the most dynamically changing, and that’s part of the problem.
    Incidentally, Almost Human SUCKED. I am A Sci-Fi Fan that loves tales involving Artificial sentience; and most of currently running shows I follow on American networks are crime drama’s. I was the target demographic for that show and I could not Stand sitting through it. I am VERY glad it got cancelled.
    It’s amusing that Fringe was cited as an exception, as by that point in relevant television history that it got moved to the end of the week, Fringe was the only “good” thing in Scifi on Fridays, which in the past was the go-to night for such fare; primarily on the afore-mentioned Scif-Fi Channel. But under normal circumstances that would have been another example of, in years prior, the slotted show challenging the timeslot’s rating’s giant. But after said station Caught Syfy-lis, that was no-longer the case.
    and Fringe was not that good a scifi series.
    The Volume doesn’t acquit them of their crimes against the quality ones they had a vendetta against, and Firefly is the posterchild for that because everyone that watches it has a high chance of Liking it even after all of this time, and it was treated reprehensibly by the network.
    Also: a Sci-fi Western being something new at the time of Firefly’s inception? You must not watch a lot of Scif-fi. That was old-hat.
    That said…Yes, people are overreacting by blaming them still for Firefly on anything new. Firefly’s example shows them what not to do, and allows them to give a bit more attention and advertising to one’s they’ve brought on after that. Fringe, despite not being that good was an example of them changing their ways and letting a show with a stable audience run it’s course. Dollhouse and Tru calling (does Fox Like Eliza Dushku?) ever getting second seasons shows that as well….but by proxy, they’ve let in more stuff that should not have been made, thus they cancel it quickly, and that just ignites the ire all over again as their biggest mistake concerning the genre is thrown in their face again. It’s an interesting Catch-22.

  • Phanixis

    What really frustrates me about Firefly is that you had the perfect storm for making a awesome series. Excellent writing, excellent characters, and excellent acting. Its mere 11 episodes were all instant classics. This is particularly telling when you compare it to many of the more popular sci-fi series. Star Trek TNG is arguably the popular sci-fi series of all time and a strong series in its own right, but pretty much everyone agreed the season 1 sucked. Same goes for Deep Space Nine, and I would argue that Stargate SG-1 had a weak season 1 as well. Even Farscape, which I felt had a much stronger season 1, still seemed to have some weak early episodes. In contrast, Firefly hit the ground running without a single weak episode in its short run. Had any of these other series been treated the same way as Firefly, they probably would have never even been remembered as it would have been a collection of relatively poor episodes with little redeeming value. Just imagine judging TNG on the merit of its first 11 episodes. But these series were all given a chance to shine, and we got an excellent payoff because of it. We can only imagine what Firefly would have been had it been given the same chance. Its treatment by Fox was down right criminal. They destroyed a work of art with their pig-pigheadedness.

    In regard to the claim that Firefly would have failed even if Fox wasn’t being obtuse because of the performance of Serenity, it needs to be pointed out that Serenity was far and away inferior to the series. Serenity seems to suffer the same problem a lot of spin-off sci-fi movies suffer; it got converted into an big dumb action flick. One with some really good action sequences mind you, but the well written characters and clever plots of the series were replaced with your stock action plot where the hero punches out the villain mono-a-mono at the film’s climax. Nice eye candy for fans of the series, but not nearly up to the standards of the series. You can no more judge Firefly by the performance of its movie than TNG by the performance of its four movies. Had the series itself been brought back with the same quality of writing it would have been far more successful, but I suspect that by the time the movie had debuted it was far too late for that.

    • MichaelANovelli

      Well, perfect storm though it may have been, television is a democracy, and the people have spoken. See also: Arrested Development.

      • Zack_Dolan

        arrested development….ANOTHER show that is at best, not bad, that somehow has developed a slobbering cargo cult to worship it and send death threats to network execs over for cancelling. again, not a BAD show, but it does not, and never has deserved this level of psychotic devotion

        • Muthsarah

          Again, it’s one thing to claim that you just don’t care much for the show. But it’s quite another to claim that those who love it are psychotic, slobbing cultists. You don’t HAVE to like to a show to conclude that those who do are in any way justified in feeling differently than you do. I personally think “The Big Bang Theory” is a modern-day blackface sitcom about nerds/geeks, by non-nerds/geeks, FOR non-nerds/geeks, making fun of nerds/geeks using extremely shallow (yet ALWAYS mainstreamedly identifiable) nerd/geek references, otherwise the non-nerds/geeks wouldn’t get that they’re making fun of nerds/geeks to begin with. Have nerds/geeks act as broadly “other” as possible, so you understand that they are an “other”, and then laugh at them for being different. All in good fun But I’m not condemning those who watch that show. I’m keeping my condescending opinions to myself. If only the rest of you were doing likewise.

          FWIW, Firefly is, to me, my choice for “greatest TV show ever”, and AD is my choice for “greatest TV comedy ever”. It’s not wannabe-elitist, it’s just how I feel. Firefly blew me away by perfectly marrying “sci-fi”-ish elements with witty banter-ish comedy, and a bunch of likable characters just being themselves and trying to get by, day after day. Very identifiable. It hooked me within ten minutes of the Sci-fi Network mini-marathon I watched several years ago; within the hour, I was ordering the whole series and movie online, so impressed was I. What an unreasonable, elitist, condescending bitch I musta been at that time. Yeah, the Browncoats are passionate, but so are every other significant subdivision of mass-media geek culture. Why persecute Firefly and AD fans as you are here? So many people here have railed against the fans of both shows, not only saying that they are wrong for daring to defend these shows, but saying that they are wrong for even liking them. “Firefly is not very good, AD is a shit show with shit characters and shit comedy, something that nobody really likes, but that people claim to like, only because they are all hipster douches.” That’s really ****ing insulting. Seriously. I expect trollish comments from nobodies, but even the content creators have jumped in here, and too enthusiastically for comfort.

          Lots of people genuinely like these shows. Just because you don’t like them, that doesn’t mean it’s not A-holish of you to claim that those who DO like it are in any way being unreasonable, lying, poseurs who only claim to like a show for the purpose of making a statement. Seriously, read the shit you’re typing here. You’re coming off so crazily, dismissively elitist, all the while claiming that the OTHER side is elitist purely because they like something you don’t. Absolving yourself of any unreasonability by pre-emptively claiming the OTHER GUYS are doing the exact same thing YOU are actually doing. For ****s sake.

          The anti-Firefly and anti-AD sentiment in this comment section is disconcertingly vitriolic. And so one-sided, since the beginning – before my first comment, like days ago, EVERYONE was agreeing with the good Dr., such that defensiveness on YOUR part should be quite unnecessary, WE are the ones being attacked here. The anti-Firefly and anti-AD “side” seems especially unreasonable in being so harsh in its repeated condemnation of not only the shows, but especially its fans. You disparage both of the shows, and their fans, in general. And it’s quite unwarranted. Seriously, reflect on your own words here.

          Again, it’s fine if you don’t like it. That doesn’t mean it’s OK for you to claim WE are all being completely unreasonable by defending a show we love. Look at this comment section again. Who are coming off as being aggressive dickholes? Not the Firefly and/or AD defenders. Seriously look at what you’ve been doing here .

          • Zack_Dolan

            uh,…when the hell did i do any of those things? i didn’t think you were a slobbering nut before, but i sure do now, what with the frantic jibbering 10,000 word thesis about how you’re being persecuted for liking a show. like, when did that happen? I’ll tell you what did happen though, you done proved my point, son. I dared to speak anything less than drooling praise for your precious firefly and you just shit your pants and had a ragesplosion all over the comments section. That IS being a slobbering cargo cult, pal. just sayin’

          • Muthsarah

            “I dared to speak anything less than drooling praise for your precious Firefly”.

            Uhh….no. You went quite a ways beyond that. You said Firefly had “developed a slobbering cargo cult” with a “psychotic devotion” to the show. Your words. Two comments up.

            And then you said it all again. “That IS being a slobbering cargo cult, pal.”

            Yes, sir, you are being VERY dismissive, not only of the show, but of its fans.

            To actually speak “less than drooling praise” for the show would be to say….I dunno…that it seemed like an OK show, but not something to obsess about and/or miss post-cancellation, or to say that the show had nice production values, but the aesthetics of the western/sci-fi mixed genre was just kinda weird, and made it hard to get into. Or even to say that Whedon-esque dialogue just didn’t appeal to you. Those would all be non-insulting critiques.

            But…instead…you claimed that those who like the show are drooling, psychotic cultists. Seriously…it’s hard to take such a statement any other way but as a personal attack. YOU are being excessively dismissive and insulting. If you don’t like something, let it be, or if you really wanna critique it, find a way to critique the work without insulting those who like it. It shouldn’t be too difficult. But you very clearly crossed the ad-hominem line. In the future, critique the merits of a show, and resist the urge to comment negatively on those who actually like it.

          • Zack_Dolan

            No, I’m dismissing YOU: the crazy person. not firefly or arrested development fans as a whole, just you, the crazy nattering whiner. and you ARE being completely crazy. relax and grow the fuck up. you didn’t WRITE the damn show. I wasn’t personally insulting you. I am now, but that’s bcs you’re being a giant baby who can’t take criticism of their favorite show and i am sorry you have to take an offhand general remark as a personal attack. I am deeply sorry your panties are that terminally bunched, i hope that clears up for you in the future. how about we try this. I think what i like and you think what you like and how about you stop telling me what i am allowed to think about a show and how i express it.

            and for the record, i said it didn’t deserve the specific sect of overzelous aggressive fans that threaten fox execs once a year with death and still clog message boards with embittered crying about how it’s the worst injustice since the holocaust (a sect you are clearly a member of), NOT that all firefly (or arrested development) fans were a member of this particular group that irritated me. so how about we read more carefully next time before we set our crazy meter all the way up to Patty Hearst, hmmmm??

          • Muthsarah

            “I wasn’t personally insulting you.”

            Not individually, perhaps (at best), but when you claim that fans of Firefly or AD are “a slobbering cargo cult”, you most certainly are insulting us.

            ” wasn’t personally insulting you. I am now, but that’s bcs you’re being a giant baby who can’t take criticism of
            their favorite show and i am sorry you have to take an offhand general
            remark as a personal attack”

            Again, you crossed the line between insulting the show and insulting the fans of the show a long time ago. I have thus far quoted that moment twice. If you’re gonna claim you still don’t see that moment, I’m gonna hafta assume you’re just not willing to own up to it. Again, there is a big difference between critiquing a show and insulting those who actually like it. Are you gonna claim you seriously don’t see where you crossed that line?

            “and for the record, i said it didn’t deserve the specific sect of
            overzelous aggressive fans that threaten fox execs once a year with

            Even if you were to produce a source of this, I don’t see the reason behind accusing the fans HERE of having to answer for that.

            “and still clog message boards with embittered crying about how it’s the
            worst injustice since the holocaust (a sect you are clearly a member of)”

            YOU are assuming something far beyond anything you have reasonable bounds to assume. WAY beyond. I haven’t said anything remotely resembling this, so stop jumping to the nearest convenient hyperbole and actually respond to the specific stuff I’m saying, or just piss off.

            “so how about we read more carefully next time before we set our crazy meter all the way up to Patty Hearst, hmmmm??”

            I think it should be clear that you’re arguing against someone else here, perhaps someone who only exists in the corroded recesses of your mind. I feel like I may be interrupting an inner dialogue. If this is the case, just don’t respond, and I’ll leave you to deal with your own psychosis.

          • Zack_Dolan

            ok, seriously, do you hear yourself? how did i know this was going to be another dissertation where you pull quote my entire post and over analyze it like a fucking english professor. i would explain that i didn’t say those words exactly bcs i felt like reasonable normal people wouldn’t assume i was talking about THEM specifically when i describe crazy people, but you ARE fucking crazy, so i guess i WAS talking about you. yes, i am, in fact, now, at this moment, insulting YOU, personally, bcs you are fucking blathering idiot, sir. this is me telling you in plain english. i was not insultng you or anyone maliciously in my earlier posts, but i am now, in this post, insulting you now. firefly fans are not as a group idiots, you, as an individual, are. is that clear enough you jumped up little turd?

          • Zack_Dolan

            and if you’re going to reply to this with ANOTHER novella full of my pull quotes, please don’t waste my time or anyone else’s. it’s just getting embarrassing at this point.

          • Muthsarah

            “how did i know this was going to be another dissertation where you pull
            quote my entire post and over analyze it like a fucking english

            You mean…where I actually read your comments word-for-word and take it seriously? As an adult? I don’t think you were being remotely unreasonable by assuming I would actually read your comment. You claim my comments are a “dissertation”, when they’re really only two or three paragraphs. I hope you understand what a dissertation actually is; and I mean that in a general, humanist way.

            ” i would explain that i didn’t say those words exactly bcs i felt like
            reasonable normal people wouldn’t assume i was talking about THEM
            specifically when i describe crazy people, but you ARE fucking crazy, so
            i guess i WAS talking about you.”

            Cute. You weren’t talking about ME, you were only talking about all those OTHER Firefly/AD fans, apart from myself. That’s not remotely plausible. Own up to your own words. Why are you posting stuff if you’re not willing to claim your words as your own? Do you truly care so little about what you’re saying?

            “yes, i am, in fact, now, at this moment, insulting YOU, personally, bcs
            you are fucking blathering idiot, sir. this is me telling you in plain
            english. i was not insultng you or anyone maliciously in my earlier
            posts, but i am now, in this post, insulting you now. firefly fans are
            not as a group idiots, you, as an individual, are. is that clear enough
            you jumped up little turd?”

            While we’re admitting insulting each other, I will state that you are coming off as a child here. Instead of actually responding to critiques, or arguments, you are increasingly relying on ad-hominem, getting shriller and shriller by the comment, to the point where you are replying to your own comments before I even have a moment (to thoughtfully) respond to your previous one. You’re shouting. Perhaps even with your fingers in your ears. Supposition, yes. But I think it’s justified by even a cursory reading of your post.

            I guess I am to assume that you don’t even intend to have a reasonable debate, and just want to toss “turd” remarks and the like at everybody. Do you even have a point you’re standing by anymore, or are you content to just call people “turds”, and leave it at that? It really seems that you don’t even want to be taken seriously.

          • Zack_Dolan

            I don;’t want to be taken as anything, i want you to grow up and go the fuck away. how many other ways do i need to explain this, you fucking twit??? what am i owning up to? I made a general statement. if you took it the wrong way, then it applied to you, so fuck you. I said what i said, i never denied that. i tried to explain it was talking about a very specific group. and guess what? turns out YOU ARE in fact one of those slobbering maniacs i meant. i didn’t realize it at the time. it wasn’t meant to hurt anyone’s feelings. they hurt yours apparently bcs it’s true. too fucking bad. i don’t want to have a debate with you at all. i want you to stop blowing up my inbox with notifications of your whining. I want you to go outside and find a life outside of this show and stop masturbating to your captain mal pic collection. do you seriously think i come to this site to be lectured about what shows i am allowed to like by fuckstick youtube commenters? you severely overestimate your importance, princess. I had no beef with you til you came in here with your hawty pants hiked all the way up to your nips with a chip on your shoulder, bitching endlessly about how hurt you were by my words and i didn’t even know what the hell you were talking about. YOU picked this fight you whiny little shit. nothing i said initially warranted this butthurt of a response. YOU got upset over nothing YOU started a fight over it and now YOU are the one who won’t let it drop and go find somehting better to do. or perhaps maybe i’m being too complex. maybe i should put it another way


          • Muthsarah

            ” I made a general statement. if you took it the wrong way, then it applied to you, so fuck you.”

            Oh, you are SO destroying your own image as a legitimate commenter here. I’m almost enjoying this.

            “I said what i said, i never denied that”

            You DID deny the repeated ad-hominem. You don’t HAVE to admit to that, but you did anyway, despite denying it. Somehow.

            ” i don’t want to have a debate with you at all.”

            Prove it. Prove it by not replying to this post. I don’t think you have it in you.

            “[The rest]”


            Yeah, look at you. You’re already responding to your own comment. Again. For the second time in the last 30 minutes. You claim you don’t care. But you so clearly do. PROVE to me you aren’t taking me seriously, as you repeatedly claim. Let it go.

          • Zack_Dolan

            “i know what let’s do, i’ll emphatically be told to shut up and stop commenting, but since my twisted psychosis won’t let me just stop, i’ll just write back and say that THEY shouldn’t comment…leaving me in complete victory!!! it will fool everyone!!!”

            you disgust me, sir.

          • Muthsarah

            Interesting. Not very, but slightly. You have a Guest comment above my last one, saying the exact same thing as this post. Are you also posting under an alias?

            Pure morbid curiosity at this point, of course.

          • Zack_Dolan

            it was me. I posted it in reply to my previous statement, not yours, then deleted it to move it. for some reason it turned it into a guest comment.

            look, i flipped out on you bcs you were driving me nuts with your nitpicky bullshit, but i am done with fighting you. I really meant no offense with my original post, but you just couldn’t let it go and you pushed me to the point that i wanted to cave your face in with a hammer, but i shouldn’t have lost my temper and started directly insulting you.

          • Muthsarah

            Well, that seems as good a place as any to disengage. Good night to you, Zack_Dolan, regardless of your time zone. May you have a pleasant Saturday.

          • Zack_Dolan

            fair enough. you’re nuts. I’m a dick. i think we can both live with that. let’s shake hands and move on with our lives. :)

          • Guest

            “i know what let’s do, i’ll emphatically be told to shut up and stop commenting, but since my twisted psychosis won’t let me just stop, i’ll just write back and say that THEY shouldn’t comment…leaving me in complete victory!!! it will fool everyone!!!”
            you disgust me.

          • CaptainCalvinCat

            I don’t think, that you help your point, Mr. Dolan, when you call other people “crazy persons”. ^^

            And – just for competions sake, your original comment, that Muthsarah takes issue with, included: “it certainly wasn’t a BAD show at all, but the fact that a psychotic
            cult of “browncoats” has sprung up around it that over a decade later is
            still complaining about it deserving a second chance is frankly absurd”

          • Zack_Dolan

            yes i am aware i went overboard when i snapped at that dude. we were both driving eachother to the point of murdering the other, but you’re about 12 hrs too late to jump in this we already worked it out. I can’t imagine something i want to do less than continue this nonsense with you

          • The way the fans acted in this case reminds me of the fans of the old (classic? Your mileage may vary) TV show The Fugitive; CBS had not been able to get the original music for the season 2 DVD, and so had to compose new incidental music for it. The fandom was in uproar, and a protest mounted forced CBS to pay to use the original music on a subsequent DVD megaset. If that was all, it would have been okay, but the fans acted towards CBS and Paramount Home Video in the same way that you described in your response; I’ve never seen a group of adults act so childish on-line over crappy incidental music from a stock music library not being used on the DVD of a TV show yet.

          • I hate to break it to you, but as Zach said, not everybody loves Firefly/Serenity, including, it seems, many Asian Americans: Frustrations of an Asian American Whedonite

          • If you think that this article’s bad, you haven’t seen this: AGAIN with the inscrutability!

  • Doc Skippy

    Let me speak for the masses who didn’t support Firefly or Serenity when I say: I’ve only ever seen a few promotional materials for the TV show and movie, and neither one whetted my interest in any way. Nothing about either one makes me want to commit even a minute of my time to watching them.
    So, if you apply Occam’s Razor to the causality of cancellation, the likeliest reason why Firefly got canceled was because it was an unpopular show that had poor prospects for retaining viewership (and consequently almighty advertiser dollars).

    • Phanixis

      That is an awfully harsh judgement of the show based solely on your like of the advertisements. Perhaps you should watch and episode or two of Firefly before passing judgement. You might discover why a show that barely aired at all has so much support.

      • Zack_Dolan

        the truth is, he’s right. you can blame fox all you want for being an EEEEEEEVIL corporation that doesn’t care about good sci fi, but honestly, shows get cancelled bcs people don’t watch them. and people don’t watch them when the ads don’t make them want to watch. so the fact that the ads gave this guy no desire to watch is the fault of the marketing, not his taste. i’ve seen firefly and i’ll attest it’s shamefully overrated. and i’ll also tell you i had to have my arm twisted into watching by someone who swore it was the best thing ever bcs i too did not get a lot of interest from the ads. it certainly wasn’t a BAD show at all, but the fact that a psychotic cult of “browncoats” has sprung up around it that over a decade later is still complaining about it deserving a second chance is frankly absurd. the fact is firefly DID get a second chance. it was called serenity. and no one watched that either. oh and a third chance in comic form which, you guessed it, no one read. i think it might be time to accept that not nearly as many people find firefly brilliant as you might think.

        • Muthsarah

          Do you really think a show’s creators are responsible for its marketing?

          • MichaelANovelli

            No, but by entering into a contractual agreement with a network, the show’s creators are on the hook for not causing the advertisers to lose money.

          • Muthsarah

            Regardless of whether or no the advertisers do a good job or not? If the project fails, the show’s creators take all the blame. If a show succeeds, everyone claims credit. Yeah, not a surprise there. Not right at all, but not a surprise. And I don’t think that lets either the network or the advertisers off the hook, just ‘cuz they have the power to absolve themselves of any responsibility…to themselves.

          • Zack_Dolan

            whether it’s fair or not is irrelavent. it’s the way it is. and yes, i do think they are at least partly responsible. they made the material shown in the ads. sure editing can alter perception of something, but it’s not going to turn mac and cheese into caviar or inversely make an alex ross painting look like a coloring book page. it can only account for so much. the show actually has to do the work and even if it wasn’t the case, even if the network really is to blame for the whole marketing problem, that doesn’t change the fact that when i watched the show, i still wasn’t impressed. it doesn’t change the fact a LOT of people prob. felt that way and didn’t tune in. you can blame everyone in the world for this show not still being here, but while you’re at it, blame joss whedon for dropping the ball when he got that almost never given second chance with the serenity movie. i find it hard to believe that there was going to be a whole lot of epic things coming in firefly bcs when given the chance, he added virtually nothing to the narrative. just retread the same shit. if you were him, wouldn’t you…i dunno, do some real moving and shaking in your story when you get a movie? especially when you knew this may be your one and only shot at it? maybe even have the decency to FINISH the story for your loyal fans who had stuck with you even though you had only produced less than 12 hrs of actual content. instead of…well, basically just making an obious attemot to squeeze more blood from the stone by making it a movie franchise instead. like, if we want to complain about who’s mismanaging firefly, why don’t we complain about the moron who had the arrogance to think that a twice cancelled show would draw in enough of an audience to justify turning a massive theatre release as a bloated 2 part episode that literally wrapped up nothing and then be able to convince them to come back at least twice more. fox didn’t ruin firefly…joss whedon did. live with it.

    • TheCrazyFish

      This reminds me of all the people who refuse to watch Dr. Horrible’s Singalong Blog just because of the stupid title.

      On the one hand, it’s an amazing movie and everyone should watch it.

      On the other hand, that is seriously a terrible, awful, horrible title. You can’t really blame someone for expecting something called a “Singalong Blog” to be bad.

      So… who’s fault is it? The fault of the people who refuse to give a good movie a chance? Or the fault of the people who gave their good movie /that freaking name/?

      Honestly? Both. That name is awful, but once word of mouth reached me that the movie was freaking amazing I decided to give it a chance, because that’s what people should do.

      Same thing. You’ve never seen a commercial that made you want to watch Firefly? Fine, and yeah the advertisers are idiots and failures for that. But surely you’ve heard word of mouth about how good the show is, right? Surely you’ve heard about how the commercials don’t do it justice? Yet you refuse to give it a chance under any circumstances, to even so much as watch a single episode to judge for yourself… why, exactly?

    • Hayley Prychun Rodgers

      So because it was only a few ads you saw you assume it wasn’t poor advertising from Fox but instead the show? How much hype do shows like American Idol get, and those shows suck. Yet MILLIONS tune in because the ads make it seem like the show is actually doing something other than wasting people’s time. And the winners rarely go on to major stardom after a year or so, runners up have more success, yet you still see people tuning in religiously.

      If it had been “an unpopular show that had poor prospects for retaining viewership” then it would not have the following it has today. And look at what else Joss has brought us that have been insanely popular with similar writing.

      • Doc Skippy

        For the record, I do not equate popularity with quality.
        Also for the record, here are the Joss Whedon-affiliated projects I have consumed and found distinctly lacking: Alien: Resurrection, The Avengers, Cabin in the Woods, Buffy the Vampire Slayer (TV show).
        Finally, show just looks like it sucks. I don’t know what else to say. I’m a busy guy. I can’t be a slave to my TV set. I guess that’s for the young people.

        • Hayley Prychun Rodgers

          Nor do I, that was my frigg’n point. Just because you only saw a few ads that means it’s shit?

          And whether you would enjoy the show or not, it by no means sucks. Really if you found Avengers and Buffy distinctly lacking it is likely not your style (nor is anything else that is fun, action, sci-fi/fantasy or otherwise enjoyable)

          And I am by no means a slave to my TV, it’s called Netflix, watch an episode and see if you like something. I did that with Firefly 2 years ago, and Dr. Horrible recently, Supernatural and many other shows I have found I enjoy. I also found that I don’t enjoy Orange is the New Black at all. One episode, less than an hour thanks to no commercials, instead of basing your opinion of decade old ads that have been proven to have been lack luster even to the rabid fans.

          • Doc Skippy

            It’s true, I do hate fun, good things. There, now that I’ve admitted that, I’m fully prepared to go back and give Joss Whedon’s stuff a second try! I’m sure I’ll like it much better now!

  • Michael Bagamery

    All right, writing as someone who was converted to Firefly less than a year and a half ago, I have to say I wondered, not for the first time, why I hadn’t been born about fourteen years earlier. At least now, on Netflix, one can see the episodes in order (it does help immensely—and if the guy behind Almost Human did agree to let Fox air his show out of order, it makes me think he was professionally suicidal, not that Fox had a price on his head).

    I’ll confess I was not able to see Almost Human as I had planned; I identify as a nerd, but more as a ‘school’-type nerd than a ‘sci-fi’/‘comic book’/‘high fantasy’/insert-choice-historically-marginalized-by-mainstream-society-genre-or-medium-here. So I had to attend to my studying. (Curse you, conscience! Curse your sudden but inevitable betrayal!)

    “People just didn’t want to watch it” … well, substantive SF has two inherent disadvantages in the marketplace. First, it’s substantive, meaning the members of its target audience have IQs ≥125, and unfortunately, we’ll always be outnumbered by our dumber peers. Second, it’s SF, and we must contend with Sturgeon’s Revelation. Yes, the science-fiction flick has dominated box office charts for a while now, but it’s pretty soft sci-fi. It’s a steeper climb for The Matrix than Star Wars to conquer hearts and minds, and I’m pretty sure The Matrix would’ve drowned if it had been released in any year other than 1999. Examined through this lens, Firefly getting on the air looks nothing short of miraculous.

    Maybe somebody has already left a comment pointing this out since I last read this page, but Albert, the San Francisco Chronicle review of Firefly you cite is of the episode “The Train Job,” which, at the risk of pointing out the glaringly obvious, is decidedly inferior to “Serenity,” the legitimate pilot. The tonal inconsistency between the two is kind of jarring even if you see “The Train Job” two months after “Serenity,” during which time you’ve been very busy (exactly what happened to me) and as such don’t remember that much of the latter. “The Train Job” re-explains nearly everything—and not for the better.

    But I still give Firefly as a series a solid 8.8/10, and Serenity the motion picture 10/10.

    Firefly being the pinnacle of contemporary television, though? That really sells Community short. (I sincerely hope there hasn’t been a follow-up piece telling us to lay off NBC for cancelling us at ninety-seven episodes, which really is a lot more torturous than eleven because the network-based syndication finish line is in sight …)

  • gearedmah

    After reading many of the comments…I’ve figured out why Firefly and Serenity failed…it’s not quality…not FOX…not marketing…its the same thing that made Brittney Spears and Backstreet Boys mega millionaires and leaves Mark Lanegan in somewhat anonymity… The reason why blu ray beat HD-DVD…the reason why Goliath and not David wins….SHITTY TERRIBLE AMERICAN TASTE,..painfully plain and simple. The same people who say the Matrix sequels didn’t give you your “Hollywood ending”, so therefore it’s utter garbage…the same reason we have POP MUSIC…and GLEE…and Kardashians and all the other successful GARBAGE that we have in this world…. It’s the reason that the original ending to Great Expectations had to be rewritten for the masses…why we PRAISE Shakespeare…but NO ONE writes tragedies…piss poor American tastes….”gimme more of what I like but make it a LITTLE different but mostly the same and make sure I don’t have to think too hard or too long…and don’t give me none…and I mean NONE of that stuff I ain’t tried before because I can’t take new things into my brain because that requires me to process whether or not I like it and without 3-20 people I like giving their input, we can’t make a decision like that because it might make me/us alienated from my group of people that I am afraid to be without or looked at as different or weird…so…in conclusion…make all my music dry bland and VERY similar…like pop and rap…make all my movies based in reality…none of that fancy DREAMING stuff or artsy crap that my social safety net has informed is not our thing…tits…lots of tits and crap music…and make all of my video games EXACTLY like Call of Duty…you know…but DIFFERENT… So I don’t get bored…”
    Hell truly is other people…

    • CaptainCalvinCat

      Or VHS beat Beta-Max. ^^

      There is a saying in a german dialect “Wat der Buer nich kennt, frett he nich” (What the farmer doesn’t know, he doesn’t eat). I think, that can be the summary of your article – and yes, it is true.
      That’s the reason why we have America / Germany / Australia / Switzerland has talent, I’m a celebrity, get me out of here and all those other “fake reality” shows.

  • Not sci fi, but FOX canceled Enlisted. HOW DARE THEY! HOW. DARE. THEY.

  • Zeranamu

    “Or maybe there’s a much simpler reason Firefly failed: People just didn’t want to watch it.”
    Now I know you are on drugs, or taking money from Fox. There’s a reason I don’t read your website – you nailed it!

  • Amy Payne

    Who the frack wrote this article? They seem to have no idea what they are talking about. Usually I’d write a longer post, but given the quality and seemingly non-existent effort that when into writing this drivel, I don’t think it’s worth my time or effort.

    • MichaelANovelli

      To answer your question, that would be our site founder and glorious leader! And, speaking as a business major, he’s pretty on the money, at least in terms of how I understand network development deals to work…

      • Zeranamu

        Glorious leader? Like a North Korean dictator? Please. This is flimsy ‘I’m advertising for Fox’ garbage, and the author clearly has no idea what they are talking about.

  • janpeterkanker

    Fuck you with your “it’s time to forgive fox” asshole