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The Show
After hitting gold with Buffy and its spin-off Angel, Creator Joss Whedon moved on to something completely different. Hence, Firefly was born. Joss put his heart and soul into this project and it’s a stroke of pure genius. Set in a post-apocalyptic future when humans are spread across the galaxy, it follows a the crew of the cargo-transport ship Serenity, who will take whatever job, legal or not, as long as it keeps gas in the tanks and food on the table. After stopping to pick up some passengers, the crew of the Serenity, lead by Captain Malcolm Reynolds (Nathan Fillion) suddenly find themselves begin hunted down by Alliance Law Men. The reason being passenger Dr. Simon Tam (Sean Maher) is transporting his sister River (Summer Glau) to a safe location after breaking her out of a Government facility where her extraordinary mind was being tampered with. After agreeing to help, the crew and new passengers alike must now work as a team in order to evade the Alliance and other enemies that may come up.

The spaceship Serenity
This show may sound a bit like Star Trek and The X-Files put together, but it is anything but. If it weren’t for the fact that people travelled around in spaceships, it would be hard to tell this takes place in the future. It has the feel of a Western as the costumes, weapons, sets and persona of the people reflects. One would never know gun slinging mercenaries would hang out in the Saloon after a job. There is also a healthy dose of action to go with it. Whedon manages to blend these genres just perfectly and the show comes across as exciting, funny, frequently charming and always entertaining. He has also done his best to create an ensemble of characters who are well written, believable and very lovable, especially the Engineer Kaylee (Jewel Staite). Although there are a whopping total of nine main characters, all are well taken care of by the terrific scripts and you never feel like you don’t know a character as well as you could at that point.

Firefly is a work of genius by Joss Whedon and received a very raw deal by Fox Studios, with Joss only allowed to shoot a total of fourteen episodes. Before it was cancelled, these episodes were shown out of order, two of which were never aired. This ground-breaking new show is a masterpiece in Science-Fiction as well as being a diamond among the many fibreglass shows we see on television these days. Fox made a mistake in cancelling it as great things could have happened. We can only hope the movie adaptation coming out in 2005 will tie up the loose ends left by the show.

Malcolm Reynolds (Nathan Fillion)
Video
Presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1, Firefly looks impressive in its widescreen format. The show has a wonderful look about it and the quality of the video on this DVD brings it up quite well. Although it is a very nice transfer, there are a few minor problems, the main gripe being the touch of heavy grain we get here and there. It is mostly in close-ups during scenes with heavy orange or black backgrounds. This makes it a tad more obvious and in later episodes it does become quite annoying, but is soon forgotten. Overall the show looks great with vibrant colours, no pixilation and no blur at all (well there is, but its part of the show and its very well used). There are occasional flaws but overall it looks great.

Audio
Included on the disc is an English Dolby 2.0 surround track. Considering it is an adventure show this may seem disappointing, but fear not, this is a brilliant audio transfer. If this is a 2.0 surround track it is beyond imagination what a 5.1 track could have done. Dialogue is always clear and easy to understand so you won’t miss a word. The audio is always in sync, especially in action sequences which is where DVDs usually slip. Clicks and dropouts are something to be forgotten about here, but the best part is the extensive use of the surrounds. They are used for anything and everything from background noise to throwing you right into the centre of the action. One of the most memorable is in the show’s opening battle sequence. When that came on, it was thought that maybe 2.0 was a misprint on the cover. There is also a hint of sub which is a pleasant surprise. It’s not used often, but it’s well placed when use. A wonderful soundtrack all up.

Personal favorite Kaylee (Jewel Staite)
Extras
On all discs there are audio commentaries by select cast and crew on eight episodes. Without going into too much detail, many of the participants have some good anecdotes and have some very interesting things to say about the show. Considering the raw deal the show got, they are all (especially Joss Whedon) very diplomatic.

The fourth disc holds all the other extras. There are three behind the scenes documentaries, the first being ‘Here’s How It Was – The Making of Firefly.’ Through interviews and behind the scenes footage, this tells the story of Firefly from the pre-production to its troubles with Fox and to its premature end. The piece also gives hints towards the upcoming movie. The second is called ‘Serenity – The Tenth Character’ which covers the design of the ship and the part it plays in the show. The third is ‘Joss Whedon tours the set’ which, at only two-minutes long, doesn’t go into too much detail. It’s just a brief on-set look as well as a small tribute to the characters at the end.

Next up are the four deleted scenes, two of which are from the pilot. Funny as one of them seems kind of relevant to the history of the characters. Another seems highly irrelevant and was cut for length purposes. The last was actually aired on television but was cut for the DVD to help tie up a loose end before the show ended.

The remaining extras are fairly passable. There is an audition tape from actor Alan Tudyk, a half amusing gag-reel, Joss Whedon’s version of the theme song, and a hidden extra where an actor sings a tribute song written for his character.

We are treated to a good set of extras here. The audio commentaries are worth listening to if you love the show half as much as I did. We get a good idea of the show from the documentaries and deleted scenes as well as a good laugh from the little other extras that a thrown on.

The crew finding a monument dedicated to their least likely member.
Overall
Brilliant. What more can be said. Firefly is a well conceived series that was unjustly spat in the face by Fox. Once the show has you it doesn’t let go and you are in for a great ride. It is still sad to know we have to wait until the feature length movie in Easter to know what happens next. We are treated to a good video transfer and a great audio transfer as well as a decent compilation of extras. If this show interests you in just the smallest way, it is well worth picking up.


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