Now available on Disney +, the Firefly series only lasted 14 episodes and 1 season when it first aired in 2002-2003, but why was this sci-fi series so brutally canceled?
Firefly marked a generation of American viewers when it was broadcast in 2002, then French SF fans when it appeared on Série Club in 2005 then Sci Fi in 2006. Created by Joss Whedon then still in Buffy and Angel, the series put on stage Nathan Fillion, Gina Torres and Alan Tudyk, among others.
The series is set after a civil war that brought the Union of Planets to dominate space. Captain Malcolm “Mal” Reynolds (Fillion) and his crew struggle to survive aboard the starship Serenity by completing various missions with little regard for legality. But why did the show only have one season?
It was December 2002 when Fox announced that the SF series had been canceled. The American TV channel justifies its decision based on the show’s audiences, which are indeed low with an average of 4.7 million viewers in front of their screen per episode, which is not good, especially for a large network and an expensive special effects series.
At the time of this announcement, only 11 of the 14 episodes shot had been broadcast, and out of order! Fox started with episode 2, followed by 3, 6, 7, 8, then 4 and 5, 9, 10, 14 and 1. With that, difficult to make the series coherent for the televiewer! The remainder ended up going on the air anyway, but much later: episodes 12 and 13 on July 21 and 28, 2003, then episode 11 on August 4.
The other reason that could explain this chaotic broadcast, the placement on Friday evening (“sacrificed” slot if any) and finally the cancellation is that behind the scenes, Joss Whedon and his producer have “creative differences” with the chain executives on the vision for what Firefly should be.
In addition, the executives lose interest in the series, never coming to attend the filming. On the set, the actors have to pay for their meal and sometimes eat in costume because they do not have enough time to go get food and have something to eat! Very early on, everyone understands that the end is (already) near.
The series won an Emmy for Best Special Effects in 2003, which will be its only consolation prize.
From the start of the broadcast, however, fans responded and years later, specific Firefly conventions continue to emerge. After the cancellation of the series, and in particular on the basis of this strong public demand, Joss Whedon manages to finance a feature film, Serenity: the ultimate rebellion, released in 2005.
It takes place six months after the events of episode 14 of the series (which let’s remember, aired as episode 10). A comic book titled Serenity: Those Left Behind tells about what happened during the time between the feature film and the show.
Despite fan support, Serenity: The Ultimate Rebellion was a dismal failure with $ 40 million reported worldwide on a budget of 39. Universal drinks the mug, and Firefly is hitting the radar for good.
If since then, persistent rumors continue to announce a return of the series, none has materialized at the time of these lines. The controversies and accusations surrounding the person of Joss Whedon are undoubtedly not unrelated to it. The creator has, however, succeeded in bringing about a new sci-fi series released last year on HBO, available on OCS in France: The Nevers.
Will Firefly return to the screen one day after the passage of the Guardians of the Galaxy, which has become the new benchmark of relaxed space opera since 2014? The advent of content-producing platforms and the possible success of the series on Disney + may convince producers once again …
More info: Did you know the Serenity was making a cameo in Battlestar Galactica? In a scene from the miniseries released in 2003:
Find out what fans of Firefly and other cult series call themselves: