From Buffy: The Vampire Slayer creator Joss Whedon, came Firefly… an action drama set 500 years in the future about the crew of a small transport ship that takes on odd and sometimes criminal assignments.
Firefly was all about life on the frontier of space and the freedom of having a ship to call your own and only yourself to answer to. There were lots of parallels to the expansion of the west… including six shooters (the Alliance – the melding of the US and China into the last government on Earth – controls energy and more advance weapons) and characters including the preacher and town prostitute. There is a blend of action as well as snappy dialog and plot twists Joss Whedon is known for.
No aliens are included in the series as humans can be alien enough when left on their own and away from most justice and organized systems. The crew and passengers of Firefly learn to work together finding their own strengths and more freedom then they’ve ever known.
One of the best series to come along in a while with interesting characters and great plots, it naturally didn’t last long. Fox television canceled it after only 9 episodes had aired. It fortunately have found a new batch of fans with the series release on DVD with enough interest (and overwhelming sales) to convince Universal Studios to buy the rights for a big feature film that was released April 22, 2004. Originally created to celebrate the series, we now also include the film and any future incarnations of our favorite space series!
The Cast of Firefly
The Serenity’s crew is an odd assortment of characters each aboard for their own reasons. The personalities of each of the crew and how they interact with each other is one of the greatest strengths of the series. All cast members are back in the big screen feature film, Serenity.
Malcom Mal Reynolds – The Captain (Nathan Fillion)
A former soldier that lost in the battle against unification of the planets by the Alliance, Mal now captains the Serenity with his main goal to keep the ship flying and its crew intact. His desire for a normal life is a constant conflict with his desire to stay in space. He’s witty and very bitter over losing the war, and sometimes flies on the shady side smuggling, stealing, and conducting illegal salvage operations…but he has his limits and won’t murder, kidnap or participate in the slave trade – though he certainly won’t hesitate to shoot if needed. There are very few people he trusts and is still very upset they lost the war.
Nathan Fillion was most recently seen as one of the stars of Two Guys and a Girl as Johnny Donnelly. He also appeared in Saving Private Ryan, Dracula 2000, Blast from the Past and more. He was in the final episodes of Buffy: The Vampire Slayer playing evil priest Caleb. Post Firefly, he’s starred in the short lived drama “Drive”, guest starred on “Desparate Housewives”, starred as “Castle” in the ABC TV Series, and is currently the star of “The Rookie” also on ABC
Zoe – The Soldier (Gina Torres)
A loyal comrade during the war, Zoe serves on board the Serenity along with her husband, Wash. Has the strength and experience to take command when needed. She is a serious bad-ass as likely to punch or shoot someone as she is to talk. One of the few Mal trusts and she would follow him to hell and back.
Gina Torres starred in the syndicated series Cleopatra 2525 though she’s also been in Hercules and Xena, Alias, 24 and many others. She also ha a role in Matrix 2 and 3 and appeared in season 4 of Joss Whedon’s other series, Angel. She married Matrix star Lawrence Fishburne in 2003.
Post Firefly, she starred in “Standoff” and “Suits”
Wash – The Pilot (Alan Tudyk)
Zoe’s husband, Wash is very calm, laid back with a sense of humor but is otherwise pretty unassuming and far from the hero type. Zoe loves him and his calm demeanor…but just might have a thing for the Captain as well. He can be a bit jealous and doesn’t like the way Zoe tends to blindly (in his opinion) Mal’s orders.
Alan Tudyk – has been in a number of stage performances as well as being several voices in Ice Age. He’s had roles in A Knight’s Tale, 28 Days, Hearts in Atlantis and Patch Adams. He has the title role in I, Robot and appeared in Dodgeball.
Kaylee – The Mechanic (Jewel Staite)
The ship’s engineer, Kaylee prefers life on her ship to any planet. She is young, sexy, and relentlessly cheery. She loves life, the ship, and is fiercely protective of Serenity. She has an intuitive sense for ships and how to fix them and does not want to let the Captain down in keeping Serenity running smoothly.
Jewel Straite – At nineteen, Jewel has already been an actress for 13 years. She’s been seen in The X-Files as well as The Immortal, Seven Days, So Weird, and films Honey I Shrunk the Kids, Dangerous Care and Goldiggers.
Post Firefly, she co-stars on Stargate Atlantis as the doctor.
Inara – The Ambassador (Morena Baccarin)
A “Companion” by trade, no one seems to know what such a high-priced working girl is doing on the very low class Serenity. She’s elegant, educated, and beautiful. She maintains her own space – a shuttle on the ship – and only has the high class and decent clientele. Prostitution is legal on almost all planets and she is nicknamed ”The Ambassador” by the crew since most worlds won’t dock with a ship without a decent companion aboard. She doesn’t count the crew among the her clients.
Morena Baccarin is making her TV debut in Firefly coming from the world of theater and independent films including Way Off Broadway and Perfume.
Post Firefly, she has co-starred in “Heartbeat”, and guested on “Stargate SG-1”, starred in the reboot of “V”, and appeared in Deadpool 1 & 2 as Vanessa.
Jayne – The Mercenary (Adam Baldwin)
Big, tough, gruff and often unpleasant, Jayne is a loyal soldier…till he gets a better offer. He’s good in a fight, but would sell out the crew in a heartbeat if there was something in it for him. He develops a begrudging respect for Mal and the rest of the crew – but if a better offer does come along, you never know where Jayne might go.
Adam Baldwin was most recently seen in the recurring role of Knowle Rohrer in the last season of the X-Files. He also had roles in Independence Day, The Patriot, Wyatt Earp, and Full Metal Jacket as well as appearing in the final episodes of Joss Whedon’s series Angel.
Post Firefly, Adam co-starred on the series “Chuck” and “The Last Ship”.
Simon Tam – The Doctor (Sean Maher)
Often disagreeing with the Captain, Simon comes from a wealthy family with a privaledged upbringing quite different from his life aboard the Serenity. He was in favor of the Alliance which puts him at odds with Mal. River is his sister and is fiercely protective of her. Once he displays his skill at planning capers though, he fits in a little better with even Jayne giving him some respect.
Sean Maher has been in 3 Fox dramas, Party of Five, The $treet, and Ryan Caulfield: Year One as well as having the title role as Brian Piccolo in Disney’s TV remake of Brian’s Song.
River Tam – The Fugitive (Summer Glau)
River is a lot like other teens – except that she can read most minds and is being sought by the Alliance. Simon is her brother who will do anything to protect her. She is extremely smart, severely disturbed and a teenager. She tends to blurt out what she (and everyone around her) is thinking.
Summer Glau guest starred in Angel as a ballerina before getting this, her first series regular role. She’s a classically trained dancer who has also appeared in a variety of theatre productions.
Post Firefly, Summer co-starred on The 4400 and The Sarah Conner Chronicles as a Terminator cyborg.
Book – The Shepard – (Ron Glass)
A priest and missionary, he’s the older and wiser member of the crew. He wants to see the universe and wants to spread hope everywhere he goes. While he’s found God, he’s not sure if he’s found himself. He’s well educated and spends a lot of leisure time with Inara…just to talk, of course.
Ron Glass has been in a number of series including Barney Miller and a number of others including stage, TV and film work. He sadly passed away in 2016.
Firefly Episode Guide: Season 1 (2002)
The Train Job – Airdate: September 20, 2002
A battle for control of the craft threatens to erupt after Capt. Reynolds and his sidekick Zoe become entangled in a botched mission to steal cargo from another ship.
Summary: The episode opens in a dark, musky bar on Unification Day celebrating the day the Alliance took over the universe. Zoe and Mal are playing a game while Jayne watches. Of course there is a loud mouth who has to badmouth those who fought in the war against the Alliance (such as Mal and Zoe) and of course, a fight ensues. The bar brawl ends up outside with Wash bringing the Serenity over for a last minute rescue along the edge of a cliff.
Looking for work, Mal, Zoe and Jayne meet a man named Niska with his resident henchman Crow. Niska has a job for them – a train job stealing the cargo from a passenger train. As it’s supposedly Alliance goods, Mal has no problem. But then he finds out the goods are actually medicine needed for the city’s residents who are suffering from a degenerative malady the miners suffer due to living conditions. So Mal must decide whether he wants to get paid and possibly be responsible for the death of miners and their families, or return the cargo and face the wrath of Niska.
- Writers: Joss Whedon & Tim Minear
- Director: Joss Whedon
Our Reaction: A little too heavy on the western parallels, but very interesting characters with a lot of promise. Look forward to seeing how things develop.
Bushwhacked – Airdate: September 27, 2002
A salvage mission goes from dreary to deadly after the crew members find their site ravaged by the cannibalistic Reavers and targeted by an Alliance ship that could do more damage than anyone imagined. The final scene of Wash describing Zoe was part ad lib.
- Writer & Director: Tim Minear
Our Reaction: Better than the first episode with a better mix of action and character/universe information. Not as many wild west references.
Our Mrs. Reynolds – Airdate: October 4, 2002
The discovery of a stowaway (Christina Hendricks) leads to an even more shocking find—she’s actually Mal’s payment for a past job. Meanwhile, the Alliance has its eye on the Serenity. Or at least someone aboard it.
Joss considers this the best script he’s ever written according to the official website.
- Christina Hendricks as Saffron
- Writer: Joss Whedon
- Director: Vondie Curtis Hall
Our Reaction: The best episode so far. Some great character development (Wash actually does have a personality!) and several twists and turns that kept me surprised.
Jaynestown – Airdate: October 18, 2002
Jayne is a local hero of a town Serenity visits. The episode is said to include a song written by Ben Edlund “The Hero of Canton, the Man they call Jayne”. This episode was moved up in the schedule as it was originally to air in November.
- Writer: Ben Edlund
- Director: Marita Grabiak
Our Reaction: A fun episode, if not overly logical (why did Jayne have to go and then why did he stick around after he saw the statue???).
Out of Gas – Airdate: October 25, 2002
Includes more back story about how the characters got together, including a flash back of Mal showing Zoe around for the first time. Includes a scene of Kaylee showing off her expertise in the engine room.
- Writer: Tim Minear
- Director: David Solomon
Our Reaction: The best episode so far. Includes flashbacks of Mal showing Zoe around Serenity for the first time, how Kaylee became the mechanic, and more. A lot of great character bits.
Shindig – Airdate: November 1, 2002
There’s trouble ahead for Mal after he gets into a dust-up with one of Inara’s less-than-noble clients. Mal makes a social faux pas while attending a fancy ball, and ends up challenging Inara’s date, Atherton Wing, to a duel. It would be pretty manly, except that Inara now has to teach Mal how to use a sword. The rest of the Serenity crew would probably enjoy laughing at his predicament, but they are being held hostage by the ruthless crimelord Badger, who has his eye on Serenity.
- Mark Sheppard as Badger
- Writer: Jane Espenson
- Director: Vern Gillum
Our Reaction: Not as tightly written as Out of Gas which knocks it down just a bit in the vie for best episode, but wonderful character interaction and shows how well the crew work together.
Safe – Airdate: November 8, 2002
A battle with cattle dealers leaves Book in dire need of Simonâ™s aid. Too bad the doctor – and his sister – are out of reach, having been abducted by hillbillies looking for a healer. Includes a bit about Simon and Riverâ™s childhood.
- Ron Ostrow as the Commander
- Robin Thomas as Gabriel
- Erica N. Tazel as Doralee
- John Thaddeus as Stark
- Writer: Drew Z. Greenberg
- Director: Michael Grossman
Our Reaction: Another great episode with some interesting twists we hope Joss will have time to explain….like what was on Book’s ID that rated his prompt medical attention from the Alliance? The character development is definitely the strength of the series.
Ariel – Airdate: November 15, 2002
The crew helps Simon infiltrate a ritzy planet’s hospital for info on the experiments going on at Riverâ™s school. But as he uncovers the cause of her psychosis, a betrayal by one of the Serenity members puts the Tam siblings back in the hands of the Alliance.
Will find out more about River at the Academy. This one is said to be a big caper ala Oceans Eleven with fast paced action and a no-nonsense scene with Mal & Jayne at the end.
- Blake Robbins as McGinnis
- Tom Virtue as the doctor
- Writer: Jose Molina
- Director: Alan Kroaker
Our Reaction: The ending alone is worth watching this episode for – though the entire thing is just plain excellent! Nice to see Simon taking over a bit – he.s been in the background for some time and he really gets to shine here. And the scene between Mal & Jayne…brilliant!
War Stories – Airdate: December 6, 2002
Niska, a vengeful crime lord, sets out to derail Wash and Mal’s medical-supplies scam as a payback for Mal’s part in a botched train heist. But the bad guy may have met his match in another member of the Serenity crew, who refuses to see the captain go down without a fight. Nice to see more continuity from episode to episode.
Writer: Cheryl Cain
Director: Jim Contner
Our Reaction: Not easy to watch Mal and Wash getting beat up but wonderful seeing the crew come together to help when needed! Also gives us another thing to ponder about River! Discuss it on the message board.
Objects In Space – Airdate: December 13, 2002 (bumped from January)
A bounty hunter is lured into a treacherous game of cat and mouse after he infiltrates the Serenity to deliver the much sought-after River to the Alliance.
Writer & Director: Joss Whedon
Our Reaction: A bit disturbing but very interesting as we get a glimpse of how River’s brilliant mind works. Keeps you wondering for a while.
Serenity – Airdate: December 20, 2002
The original pilot that Fox had Joss replace with an episode of “more action” to lead off the series. This is a truly awesome episode that explains so much and as far as I’m concerned, Fox should have just let Joss alone. Be sure to watch it and tell your friends who perhaps haven’t caught on to Firefly yet to watch it – I think they’ll be hooked after seeing it!
Writer & Director: Joss Whedon
Our Reaction: What more can I say than this is excellent and Fox was more than crazy to not have aired it first!
Heart of Gold – Never Aired in the US. Available on the DVD Set only.
The crew comes to the rescue of an old friend of Inarra’s now running her house of Companions on a distant planet. It features a number of Companions – which Jayne takes full advantage of. It includes the first glimpse of technologies like laser pistols and a hovercraft, but has a truly western feel.
- Melinda Clarke as Nandi
- Fredric Lane as Ranse Burgess
- Kimberly McCollough as ?
- Writer: Brett Matthews
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Lori has been a science-fiction fan since the age of 12. She is owner of Scifispace.com as well as Scifi-Collector.com and previously chaired science fiction conventions.