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The show is set in the year 2517 A.D., following the depletion of Earth's resources and an expansion of the human race into the frontier of outer space. The show takes its name from the "Firefly-class" starship operated by the central characters; the ship's class name is itself a reference to the appearance of the ship, whose tail section blinks during acceleration. Captain Malcolm "Mal" Reynolds is the veteran of a war of resistance against "The Alliance"—an organization that attempted to achieve the unification of all mankind under a single imperial government. A central "core" of planetary systems have fallen under Alliance control, while settlers and refugees in the farther reaches of space enjoy relative freedom from the long arm of the government but lack many of the amenities of a high-tech civilization. Mal now owns a small Firefly-class starship called Serenity, making cargo runs and performing various other tasks—legal or otherwise—to scrape together a living for himself and his crew.
Featuring a blend of elements from science fiction and western genres, the show depicts mankind's future in a way that is uncharacteristic of many contemporary science fiction programs. The dialogue and interplay between characters is central to the plot of the program, resulting in a story that is alternately serious and humorous.
The show's plot pits these characters against various criminals and schemers, Alliance security forces, the violently insane Reavers, and the mysterious men with "hands of blue" who are apparently operatives of some rogue secret agency within the Alliance. The crew is driven by the need to secure enough income to keep their ship operational, against the need to keep a low profile to avoid their adversaries. Their situation is greatly complicated by the very divergent motivations of the individuals on board Serenity. The show's brief run did not allow full elucidation of all the complex interrelationships of the cast and their external contacts.
Though the show had a loyal following during its original broadcast, it was cancelled by the Fox Broadcasting Company in December 2002 after only 11 episodes shown in the USA and Canada. Low ratings were blamed for the cancellation; it was also suggested that Whedon's additional responsibilities on Angel after co-creator David Greenwalt's departure from that show was a contributing factor. In the hopes of getting another network such as UPN to pick up the cancelled show, fans formed the 'Firefly Immediate Assistance' campaign, but were technically unsuccessful (though Universal did decide to pick Firefly up as a movie project, see below). Fillion later appeared in the final season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, while Torres and Baldwin took on recurring roles in Angel.
Fans attributed the low ratings in part to actions of the Fox Network. Firefly was promoted as an action-comedy rather than the more serious character study it was intended to be; episodes were occasionally preempted for sporting events, and the episodes were not aired in the order that the creators had intended. Most notably, the two-hour episode Serenity was intended to be the pilot episode, as it contains most of the character introductions and back-story. However, FOX decided that Serenity was not a suitable pilot, and so the second episode, The Train Job, was rushed into production to become the pilot episode.
The sequence of episodes aired varied by locality:
|1||1AGE79||Serenity (2 hours)||Joss Whedon||Joss Whedon||Dec 20, 2002||Fox|
|2||1AGE01||"The Train Job"||Joss Whedon, Tim Minear||Joss Whedon||Sep 20, 2002||Fox|
|3||1AGE02||"Bushwhacked"||Tim Minear||Tim Minear||Sep 27, 2002||Fox|
|4||1AGE03||"Shindig"||Jane Espenson||Vern Gillum||Nov 1, 2002||Fox|
|5||1AGE04||"Safe"||Drew Z. Greenberg||Michael Grossman||Nov 8, 2002||Fox|
|6||1AGE05||"Our Mrs Reynolds"||Joss Whedon||Vondie Curtis Hall||Oct 4, 2002||Fox|
|7||1AGE06||"Jaynestown"||Ben Edlund||Marita Grabiak||Oct 18, 2002||Fox|
|8||1AGE07||"Out Of Gas"||Tim Minear||David Solomon||Oct 25, 2002||Fox|
|9||1AGE08||"Ariel"||Jose Molina||Allan Kroeker||Nov 15, 2002||Fox|
|10||1AGE09||"War Stories"||Cheryl Cain||Jim Contner||Dec 6, 2002||Fox|
|11||1AGE12||"Trash"||Ben Edlund, Jose Molina||Vern Gillum||2003-06-28||MundoFOX|
|12||1AGE13||"The Message"||Joss Whedon, Tim Minear||Tim Minear||2003-07-15||SABC3|
|13||1AGE10||"Heart Of Gold"||Brett Matthews||Tom Wright||2003-07-19||MundoFOX|
|14||1AGE11||"Objects In Space"||Joss Whedon||Joss Whedon||Dec 13, 2002||Fox|
A box set of the first season's episodes, including those unaired in the USA, were released on region 1 DVD on December 9, 2003; and on region 2 DVD on 2004-04-19.
Whedon said in an April 2003 USA Today interview that he hadn't given up on the show, and hoped to continue it in any format. For information on the movie, based on the series, see the Serenity Movie page. You can also visit the official website at http://www.serenitymovie.org/(approve sites)