Some shows are just better when binge watched. Whether it's the latest BBC comedy, a PBS miniseries from the '70s, or just that cultish show prematurely scrubbed from a network — we're hooked on the stream. So, we're unrolling Staying In(stant), a new feature highlighting the best of streaming content. Each week, we bring you a show we're obsessed with and think you should be, too.
This week we're talking Firefly, the much-loved, little-watched, outer-space Western (stick with us here) from Joss Whedon. Firefly managed just one short season (curse you, Fox!), but due to its soaring popularity on DVD after the cancellation, Whedon was able to create a continuation movie, Serenity, which brought closure to fans who were left hanging.
The show follows Malcolm "Mal" Reynolds and his crew aboard the cargo/smuggling ship, Serenity. Reynolds takes a doctor aboard, who smuggles his mentally disturbed sister on board the ship. This girl, River, was subjected to numerous experiments by the government (a.k.a. the Alliance), which gifted her with supernatural abilities like telepathy, future sight, and the ability to kick some major ass. The plot hinges around Mal's need to generate enough money to keep the ship in operation and the Alliance's attempts to track down River — whom they considered a valuable asset — and her brother Simon and bring them back into the fold.
Where To Watch
Hulu, Amazon Prime, Netflix
How I Got Hooked
As a rabid Buffy fan, I was left feeling adrift after the series ended. Angel wasn't really my cup of tea (I was more of a Xander woman than an Angel one, thankyouverymuch), so I resigned myself to a world bereft of Whedon's signature witty humor and fully realized supernatural worlds. In the infant days of Netflix, I stumbled upon Serentiy as I was browsing the (very) limited movies available, and I gamely added it to my queue when I saw the director's name on it.
I watched the movie and loved every bit of it. This led me to sleuth out that it was based on a TV show, so of course I hunted Firefly down and Netflix'ed the crap out of that. Since this was before the days of livestreaming, I couldn't bingewatch the entire season in one fell swoop. I instead had to wait in agony the three days it took to send back each disc and have a new one mailed to me. It only made me love the series more. When I finally got to the last episode, I was so distraught that it was over, that I immediately added the movie back into my queue, so desperately did I not want the experience to be over.
This was a toughie. I initially wanted to say "Our Mrs. Reynolds," which features a pre-Mad Men Christina Hendricks as a con artist named Saffron who tricks Mal into marrying her. It's what would happen if Joan truly embraced the scheming, anything-to-get-ahead side of herself. But, I would have to say my favorite, hands down, is "Jaynestown," in which we get to see Adam Baldwin's (no, not of those Baldwins) Jayne in his doofusy, frat boy/space cowboy element.
The crew lands at a settlement where Jayne has had some past troubles and is concerned the inhabitants might want to do him harm. Upon setting foot in town, they find out that the inhabitants remember Jayne, alright. In fact, they think he is the hero of the town, much to the shock of his crew mates. When the occupants of a local bar start singing a ballad dedicated to Jayne, the sheer look of horror and astonishment on the rest of the crew's faces had me in tears laughing. This is just a great example of Whedon's skill with creating characters that have such rich depth and of his innate knack for writing some of the most humorous dialogue and situations in television today.
Why You'll Love It
Because Whedon has a talent for creating an immersive place that sucks you in — the world of Firefly has a complex history, complete with its own language and slang. Because if you miss Buffy as much as I do, this is the next best thing. And the cast, led by Nathan Fillion, has some of the best chemistry I've seen this side of, well, Buffy. But, most importantly, it's an original idea, with original characters, that is well-executed, engaging, entertaining, and just plain fun to watch. Just be warned: Once you launch into the world of Firefly, you're going to have a hard time pulling yourself back out.