Oh, Fox! Why did you have to cancel Firefly? The show has since its cancellation close to ten years ago, established a cult following. The show is still beloved by millions of fans who wonder why it was cancelled in the first place.
As a fan, I loved it because:
It had great themes.
The impact of old Western themes to the futuristic setting gave the show something we TV viewers have never seen before.
It had great writing.
Science fiction characters are not really expected to solicit a great deal of sympathy from their viewers. In this show, the characters and situations were fleshed out beautifully. They appeared as real people in believable scenarios. They were folks with emotions in circumstances relatable to the present.
The treatment was great.
For a futuristic show, it didn’t take itself too seriously. With the dramatic scenes came some light comedic scenes. This combination was just right to give the show a distinctively fresh character.
So, why was it cancelled? I can only think of these reasons:
I can not understand why the people at Fox cancelled the series because of poor ratings. I mean, seriously? The show was averaging 3 million viewers, and at the time it was cancelled, reached 4.48 million viewers. For a new series, that seems to be quite good, right? Well, apparently, at that time, it just wasn’t good enough for Fox executives. They decided not order a new season, leading to the cancellation of the show after only one season. That’s just hogwash. They could not have possibly expected 8 million viewers for a western space fantasy show in its first season, could they? What a terrible excuse. At the end of the season, the show proved that it had a fan base. The show would probably get better numbers for the next season, had Fox showed confidence with it. Alas, the network did not have the confidence to renew it.
Then, there’s the issue of the cost. Fox executives said the reasonably increasing viewership of the show could not bring in more advertisers. This meant the show was costing the network too much. Well, it was an ambitious project with a futuristic storyline that certainly costs a lot to produce. But then, had Fox presented more confidence with the show, advertisers may have also seen the logic of investing in the show. This in turn should have made production costs less unreasonable. But then, the network obviously felt they had to have their return on investment ASAP, leaving fan viewers high and dry.
A Show Ahead of Its Time
Perhaps, the concept of the show was way ahead of its time. It wasn’t more than two or three years later when more futuristic science fiction dramas (e.g., Battlestar Gallactica and Jericho, to name a few) became more accepted. Added to the not so supportive network in which it was shown, we probably could not expect the audience to be receptive of it at first.
Another indicator that Fox did not really have the show’s best interest in mind was when it aired it on a Friday evening, the time slot of death. I mean, who would watch a TV show at that time? Everybody is out, partying, having fun! Any show, no matter how good it is, cannot possibly rate well when shown on a Friday evening, much less a show about the future in its first season. Even in that timeslot, the show still produced good numbers. So, considering the ratings and the timeslot, why did it still get cancelled? Let’s go back to the first point.
Earlier this year, some comments on Twitter made by the show’s star, Nathan Fillion, raised hopes among the show’s cult following for a revival of the show. He said he would do the show in a heartbeat again should he get the chance.
This can definitely be done. Look at Cougartown and Damages. A great show can definitely get a network to run it. For Firefly, The Science Channel (where reruns are being shown) and Syfy are great options. We die-hard fans can only hope.