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Firefly: The Complete Series(TV) (2002)
Five hundred years in the future there's a whole new frontier, and the crew of the Firefly-class spaceship Serenity is eager to stake a claim on the action. They'll take any job, legal or illegal, to keep fuel in the tanks and food on the table. But things get a bit more complicated after they take on a passenger wanted by the new totalitarian Alliance regime. Now they find themselves on the run, desperate to steer clear of Alliance ships and the flesh-eating Reavers who live on the fringes of space.
For more about Firefly: The Complete Series and the Firefly: The Complete Series Blu-ray release, see Firefly: The Complete Series Blu-ray Review published by Ben Williams on December 19, 2008 where this Blu-ray release scored 4.0 out of 5.
Starring: Nathan Fillion, Gina Torres, Alan Tudyk, Morena Baccarin, Adam Baldwin, Jewel Staite
Directors: Joss Whedon, Vern Gillum, Vondie Curtis-Hall, Allan Kroeker, David Solomon (II)
» See full cast & crew
Firefly: The Complete Series Blu-ray Review
Joss Whedon's sci-fi classic gets another chance on Blu-ray
Reviewed by Ben Williams, December 19, 2008
For fans of science fiction, today's television landscape is graced by a number of groundbreaking series. "Lost," "Battlestar Galactica" and "Terminator: The Sarah Conner Chronicles" all consistently deliver sci-fi greatness, critical acclaim and a high level of popularity on a weekly basis. However, back in 2002, when "Firefly" premiered on the Fox Network, science fiction had been suffering a protracted dry spell on network television. As is all to frequently the case, "Firefly" laid the groundwork for sci-fi's reentry into the popular consciousness, but struggled to find an audience of its own. Despite only airing 11 episodes, "Firefly" attracted a legion of devoted fans, many of whom didn't discover the show until it appeared on DVD some time later. It's a testament to the show's exceptional characters, story and writing that, six years later, it is still considered a fan favorite that has the ability to inspire intense debate, fandom and passion. "Firefly" is the "Star Trek" of this current generation of science fiction. It's a series that begs to be reinvestigated and, hopefully, continued.
"Firefly" takes place within an interstellar civilization that has left the confines of Earth and the solar system, and has colonized a galaxy, well.... far, far, away. This society has taken on a form similar to that of the American old west. Centralized planets make up the more technically advanced and culturally enlightened portion of the society, where those on the outer rim of the galaxy are more pioneering in spirit. The series begins a few years after a civil war has rocked the galaxy and pit the core systems against the outlaw inhabitants of these outer rim colonies. "Firefly" is unique in that our heroes, Mal Reynolds (Nathan Fillion), Zoe Washburne (Gina Torres), "Wash" Washburne (Alan Tudyk), Inara Serra (Monaca Baccarin), Jayne Cobb (Adam Baldwin) and Kaylee Frye (Jewel Staite) are all pioneers who experienced the defeat of their cause and have taken to lives of crime in an act of defiance against the Interstellar Alliance that now governs their lives. These pioneering rogues live together on a ship called Serenity and make a living in the smuggling of goods and people across interstellar space, while attempting to avoid the prying influence of the Alliance. Early in the series, the crew is joined by Dr. Simon Tam (Sean Maher) and his odd sister River (Summer Glau). The series evolves by detailing events from River's troubled past as the victim of experimentation by the Alliance, while simultaneously weaving an arc that focuses on the crew's activities around the galaxy.
As one of uber-writer Joss Whedon's creations, "Firefly" is an extraordinarily well-written and detailed show. While there are occasional standalone episodes, the show is serialized and develops character arcs over the course of the entire series. As such, "Firefly" isn't the kind of show where a viewer can skip around among the episodes. The show's dialogue is written in an almost poetic way and often makes use of sayings and phrases that are unique to this universe. Character development is the keystone to the show, so while there are plenty of action scenes, the show's emphasis is in building the personalities and traits of each of the well-drawn members of the crew.
"Firefly" may at times seem to be a very serious and dramatic show, but the series is also infused with a fantastic humorous undercurrent that helps to lighten the subject matter. My favorite aspect of the show lies in how it requires the viewer to accept the many shades of grey that each character possesses. To be sure, our heroes are criminals. It's a giant leap of faith made by the writing staff to ask the audience to accept the character flaws present in each crew member in a overall attempt at drawing a complex portrait of a society where the good guys aren't necessarily the ruling power. Mal Reynolds is a good example of this. I still don't know if I like him as a person, but one has to respect his honorable nature despite his occasional preference for financial gain over moral obligation. It's a complex narrative that demands the viewer's attention and was probably more than general audiences were up to challenging themselves with. "Firefly" is an outstanding television show that was cancelled well before its time. I recommend that viewers who purchase this set also seek out the fabulous film Serenity as it serves as a nice conclusion to the events of the show that were left hanging after its cancellation. "Firefly" is highly recommended.
"Firefly" on Blu-ray includes the following episodes:
2 "The Train Job"
6 "Our Mrs. Reynolds"
8 "Out of Gas"
10 "War Stories"
12 "The Message"
13 "Heart of Gold"
14 "Objects in Space"
Firefly: The Complete Series Blu-ray, Video Quality
"Firefly" makes its Blu-ray debut with a fine 1080p AVC Mpeg-4 transfer in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1. The show was originally shot on film and features a purposefully dirty and grainy look that helps to solidify its western look. "Firefly" has a weathered and almost brown-hued look to the majority of the show, while scenes set in space show a much more robust image with deeper blacks and more vivid colors. This picture quality variation helps to visually differentiate between the show's rapidly evolving settings. The show isn't what many viewers would call "pretty," but this Blu-ray version deserves praise for reproducing the desired look of the show. Marcoblocking, edge enhancement, noise and other picture artifacts are never a distraction, fortunately. In comparing the Blu-ray version to "Firefly" on DVD, this set offers a clear upgrade over the blurred and displeasing standard definition image. Sharpness, detail and color reproduction are vastly surperior while helping to preserve the film-like look that the show aspired to. "Firefly" on Blu-ray is clearly the best that this show will ever look. Recommended.
Firefly: The Complete Series Blu-ray, Audio Quality
The audio side of the "Firefly" question is a little more complicated. While the disc's 5.1 DTS HD-Master Audio soundtrack delivers impressive fidelity, the show's original sound design hampers the overall enjoyment of the track. Of course, this isn't surprising given the show's low budget television roots There is a minimal amount of surround activity present throughout the series. Panning effects are rarely used, although when they do occur the do so to great effect. There is a slight amount of low frequency data encoded on the disc, so don't expect your subwoofer to do much during the course of an episode. Dialogue is well recorded and presented, however. It's the one bright spot in this otherwise unremarkable track. I'm sure that "Firefly" could be much more dynamic and exciting if the show's soundtrack were given a thorough remixing. As it stands now, "Firefly" is a little lifeless.
Firefly: The Complete Series Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
"Firefly" arrives on Blu-ray with a ton of scene specific commentaries and a limited number of other special features. Here's what's included:
* "Serenity (Part 1 & 2)" with commentary by executive producer Joss Whedon and actor Nathan Fillion
* "The Train Job" with commentary by executive producers Joss Whedon and Tim Minear
* "Shindig" with commentary by writer Jane Espenson, actress Morena Baccarin and costume designer Shawna Trpcic
* Here's How It Was: The Making of "Firefly" featurette
* "Our Mrs. Reynolds" with commentary by executive producer Joss Whedon and actors Nathan Fillion, Alan Tudyk and Ron Glass
* "Out of Gas" with commentary by executive producer Tim Minear and director David Solomon
* "Firefly" Reunion: Lunch with Joss, Nathan, Alan and Ron featurette
* "War Stories" with commentary by actors Nathan Fillion and Alan Tudyk
* "The Message" with commentary by actor Alan Tudyk and actress Jewel Staite
* "Objects in Space" with commentary by executive producer Joss Whedon
* "Serenity: The 10th Character"
* "Joss Sings the "Firefly" Theme"
* "Joss Tours the Set"
* Deleted Scenes
* Gag Reel
* Alan Tudyk's Audition
Clearly, the producers of the Blu-ray edition of "Firefly" had commentaries in mind when putting together the show's special features. Almost every episode has a commentary track devoted to it featuring various members of the cast as well as the production team. Fans of Joss Whedon will salivate at the various special features featuring him, above all else. While most of these features are in SD and were ported over from DVD, there are a few new items present. In reality, though, most viewers will purchase this set for its improved high definition picture and not a HD video of Joss Whedon singing the show's theme song.
Firefly: The Complete Series Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
"Firefly" is a rare show that has inspired legions of fans around the world, a major motion picture, Serenity, while helping to usher quality science fiction back to television screens. The series presents extraordinary characters, inspired writing and a detailed and lived-in universe that could have inspired viewers for years. As the show arrives on Blu-ray, fans have been presented with an excellent video transfer that does justice to the original photographic style of the show, while offering an appreciable upgrade over the previous DVD version. Audio is a bit on the uninspiring side, but does its very best considering the limited source material. Supplements will, no doubt, please Joss Whedon fans to no end, but casual viewers might not find much of interest. Regardless of any of the above, "Firefly" is as good as television gets. It deserves to find a new audience on Blu-ray. Viewing "Firefly" is an incomplete experience without also checking out the show's theatrical continuation, Serenity. As both are now available on Blu-ray, these two releases offer up some seriously amazing science fiction at a level of quality not before available to fans. Highly Recommended!
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