One of the nicest things about the popularity of DVD sets of television series is being able to watch your favorite shows over and over again - especially favorites you missed some episodes of. In the case of Firefly, 3 episodes were never aired when Fox decided to cancel it after only 14 episodes were produced (and 11 aired).
Firefly was created by Joss Whedon who also created Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel. Continuing in Joss’ tradition of turning familiar concepts a bit sideways, Firefly was science fiction with a decidedly old west flavor.
Five hundred years from now, the universe is strewn with terra-formed colonies with little or no support from the Alliance - the current government that won a war against the Independents (aka Browncoats) striving for more freedom. Malcolm Reynolds was a sergeant in the conflict fighting on the side of the Independents. His side may have lost the war, but he’s managed to find a measure of freedom by buying a small Firefly class transport ship he named Serenity and putting together a crew to take on odd jobs while flying free.
Onto this ship comes a few passengers that become crew including the mysterious Shepherd Book, a former monk; Simon & River Tam, escaped fugitive brother and sister; and Inara, a registered companion that lends some respectability to the ship.
The show was given a Friday night ‘deathslot’ by the Fox Network that aired it and that - plus the networks’ decision to not air the 2 hour pilot backstory to launch the series as Whedon intended - kept it from finding a wide audience and, though well received by many critics and fans, the show was canceled after only 11 episodes were aired. Three other episodes were broadcast in the UK when aired after it’s cancellation and were circulated widely thru the internet, but for many fans, the DVD set will be their first opportunity to see them - which truly are some of the best episodes of the series.
But this DVD set is a lot more than just the 14 episodes - it contains a TON of bonus features in what I certainly hope will become a trend for future sets. More than half of the episodes has alternate commentary by members of the cast, Whedon, and other producers and crew (though the commentary is sort of hidden in the “language selection” submenu for each episode). The commentary is overall excellent with some fun antidotes and banter between cast members (commentary with Nathan Fillion and Joss Whedon and that with Nathan Fillion and Alan Tudyk is especially entertaining). Plus the final disk of the 4 disk set includes:
Technically, the set is beautiful. Presented in the original wide screen format, it has perfect picture and sound quality and the 4 disks are individually housed in plastic DVD cases with episode titles and brief descriptions included on the back of each. The 4 individual cases are then slipcased in a photo covered box - very similar to the way slipcased sets of books are packaged. This is a very nice way to do it - much easier to manage then the ‘normal’ way of packaging boxed sets in the multiple fold out cases such as Buffy is done.
The only extras that would have been nice was a booklet added in with more complete episode guide, stills, etc, and maybe a separate CD-Rom with an archive of what was an excellent official web site which Fox of course pulled down shortly after the series was canceled. The web site had been filled with a ton of behind the scenes reports, clips and more that I truly wish I had saved somewhere.
Out of a possible 5 stars, I give it:
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