×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

‘Firefly’ still glowing at Science Channel

Network reignites fan passion for cancelled series

“When ‘Firefly’ was cancelled, I thought it would go the way of most all other canceled shows: nowhere,” said Nathan Fillion, who played the lead role of Mal Reynolds on the show. “But it just won’t die.”

In fact, “Firefly” hasn’t just stayed alive in the 10 years after its cancellation — it’s thrived. The story of nine crew members of the Firefly-class ship Serenity in the year 2517 blossomed into a cult phenomenon, with legions of “Browncoats” — a fond nickname for “Firefly” fanatics — packing ballrooms at the San Diego and New York Comic-Cons this summer.

Now Science Channel, which began rerunning the show in March 2011, has unveiled the new hour-long special “Firefly: Browncoats Unite,” which airs Sunday and reunites the entire Serenity crew for a comprehensive discussion of the show and its lingering questions. The special features Fillion, Sean Maher, Summer Glau, Adam Baldwin, Morena Baccarin, Alan Tudyk, Gina Torres and Jewel Staite, along with showrunner Joss Whedon, exec producer Tim Minear and exec story editor Jose Molina.

The special is part of an effort by Science Channel to grow “Firefly” as much as possible for new audiences, even packaging episodes with scientific breakdowns from frequent network contributor Dr. Michio Kaku. For Science general manager and exec veep Debbie Myers, “Firefly” gave the net a perfect opportunity to venture into scripted programs without having to risk investing in an unproven series — or shouldering the expense of producing one.

The channel has also given hungry Browncoats the opportunity to relieve a show that many say died far too early.

“Our community feels like it was robbed, and it’s just tragic,” said Nerdist founder Chris Hardwick, a self-professed “huge fan” of “Firefly.”

Fox cancelled the show largely because of low ratings, though the way in which “Firefly” aired — on an irregular schedule and with episodes often released out of chronology — has also been blamed.

“Most shows don’t crush in their first season anyway — ‘Firefly’ really needed time to breathe, to grow and earn its viewership,” he said.

Beyond the often-repeated batch of Fox episodes, lingering fan interest in “Firefly” also birthed a 2005 theatrical feature, “Serenity,” written and directed by Whedon.

“The fact that 10 years later, people are still obsessed with this series is a testament to Joss’ storytelling genius, and for many of us at this studio, a bittersweet reminder of what might have been,” noted Gary Newman, chairman of 20th Century Fox Television.

But Hardwick, Myers, Fillion and others also feel there’s something the outcome that adds to the “Firefly” mythos.

“For one, the show never had a chance to suck,” Fillion quips with a big laugh. “And every episode is a piece of pure gold. It’s perfection.”

More TV

  • CW Sets Premiere Dates for 'Batwoman,'

    CW Announces Fall Premiere Dates for 'Batwoman,' Final Seasons of 'Supernatural' and 'Arrow'

    The CW has announced its fall 2019 television season premiere dates, including the launch of two new series “Batwoman” and “Nancy Drew,” as well as the final season premieres for “Arrow” and “Supernatural.” As previously announced at the network’s upfront ceremony in May, “Batwoman” will lead the new superhero Sunday nights, paired with “Supergirl.” That [...]

  • Alternatino with Arturo Castro

    TV Review: Comedy Central's 'Alternatino with Arturo Castro'

    There’s something extremely cathartic about watching a Latinx comedian get his own platform to do as he pleases, ripping cliches in the entertainment industry and beyond with invigorating vehemence. With his new Comedy’s Central sketch show “Alternatino,” Arturo Castro has the rare opportunity to tell his own story and skewer the inevitably cringe-inducing perceptions of [...]

  • Editorial use only. No book cover

    MGM to Adapt Rodney Dangerfield Comedy 'Back to School' as Unscripted Series (EXCLUSIVE)

    Rodney Dangerfield may finally be getting some respect in the halls of higher education. MGM Television is developing a docu-series inspired by the 1986 Dangerfield film “Back to School,” in which the comedian’s character, millionaire Thorton Melon, enrolls in college with his son to keep him from dropping out. In typical Dangerfield fashion, he triggers [...]

  • Chris Kelly and Sarah Schneider office

    'The Other Two' Bosses on How 'SNL' Still Inspires Their Comedy

    “The Other Two” co-showrunners Chris Kelly and Sarah Schneider split time between Los Angeles and New York because their writers’ room is on the West Coast where he lives, while production is back East where she lives. This means they are constantly packing and unpacking their office. But when they do settle into a new [...]

  • Netflix Recurring Actors

    How Netflix Created an Unintentional Repertory Company

    Taking a cue from the theater and the old Hollywood studio system, Netflix has built up an impressive stock company of actors since getting into original programming. But interestingly, it is more coincidence than intentional creation of a repertory company. The streaming giant does not have a dedicated casting department at the network level. Instead, [...]

  • Jimmy Fallon and Hasan Minhaj in

    Jimmy Fallon and Hasan Minhaj on When to Get Political in Late-Night

    Jimmy Fallon and Hasan Minhaj were like magnets when Variety brought them together in New York for a joint Q&A about late-night TV in the age of Trump. The two host very different shows — Fallon fronts NBC’s “The Tonight Show,” while Minhaj recently picked up a Peabody Award for his work on Netflix’s “Patriot [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content