Firefly is one TV series that had successfully transported us from the comforts of our sofas right into the thick of the action in a futuristic universe set against a classic Western-ish background. While it gave us a new world to dream upon, it has also accomplished so many great things that fans and casual viewers love. This article hopes to point out some of those great accomplishments in an attempt to describe what makes a great TV series.
Respect for the Audience
There was a moment back in episode 1 where Capt. Mal kissed the cross chained around his neck during the ill-fated Alliance-Independents war. Years afterwards, there was a scene where he replied, “Only if you say it loud,” to Shepherd Book asking to say Grace. This was special in the sense that while he already lost his religion in between those scenes, show runner Joss Whedon believed that subtle implications would be enough for the viewers. He did not go to lengths making a character fill in the gap by hinting to the audiences that Capt. Mal doesn’t care about religion anymore. Less is more.
What this tells us is the trust given to the audiences to be able to keep up with what is going around, and believing they would follow every detail revealed in the Firefly universe with obsession. This is one show that gives credit to its audiences because they love the show and care about the progress of the characters in their given universe.
This allowed Firefly to do away with filling up every single detail for their audience’s sake, or worse, leading them by the hand throughout the episodes. Firefly allowed the audiences to go on an adventure by letting them do their own homework, instead of treating them with all the female flesh and other fancy stuff every 5 minutes just so they wouldn’t change the channel.
The Introduction of Truly Great Characters
This is everything to the success of the show! The characters obviously made the show. Firefly may have created a great premise leading the progress of the show, but if stale or bland characters were at the helm, you can be sure no one would ever care. While most TV shows thrive with 1 to 2 dynamite characters backed by a steady cast around them, the Firefly ensemble, by comparison, is the whole thing itself, and it is truly inspired.
Each of the characters that added life and warmth to Firefly have depth supported by a good back story. Even so, they were still able to interact with one another in fascinating ways. And they were all representing the primal relationships to which we fans are all familiar with. Aside from the main protagonist duo, everyone represents various elements that make us all humans, like the spirituality of Book, the physicality of Jayne, the heart of Kaylee, the humor of Wash, and so on.
It was clear that Joss and crew did not make it happen this way. The beauty of it all is how he allowed the characters to develop themselves freely before our very eyes. And it all happened within a genre framework that we, up to now, are still curious trying to identify what it is all about.