Over the weekend I learnt about, downloaded and watched a documentary called Done the Impossible all about the fans of Firefly and Serenity. I’ve written before about Firefly and Serenity. For anyone who doesn’t know, Firefly was a TV series from Joss Whedon, creator of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel. It followed a motley crew aboard a spaceship (Serenity) as they transported legal and illegal goods and performed all manner of other ‘jobs’ to pay the bills. Through the series we were introduced to the crew and how they had come to be on Serenity. Firefly only managed one series on US TV before it was cancelled.
Despite only 13 episodes being made, the series gained a large and loyal fan following (they had to be loyal, because the episodes where shown out of sequence and the pilot wasn’t aired first). They were devastated at the news of its cancellation and turned to the internet to find others who shared their passion. Slowly they grew together and began to organise a campaign to get Firefly back on the air.
Around the same time, possibly because of this reaction by the fans, Joss Whedon approached the TV network who had cancelled Firefly to see if they would let him ‘take is somewhere else.’ They agreed and he started looking for another network to buy a new series. Nobody seemed interested, so he looked into making a feature film based on the characters and continuing story.
Around the same time a boxed set of the series was released for sale and did fantastically well. This may have helped influence the decision by someone at Universal Pictures who was already a fan of Firefly to finance a feature film called Serenity. The original cast were back, they broke some more molds in production, choosing to stay in LA rather than film somewhere cheaper. The film wasn’t what you’d call a blockbuster, but it did good business.
The story above is essentially a synopsis of the documentary, called Done the Impossible (after a line in Firefly: “We’ve done the impossible, and that makes us mighty.”), which charts the story behind the remarkable tale of how fan power made a movie. If they manage to get it back on TV they truly will be mighty and it’ll show the power of not only the fans, but the internet, where most of the organisation for this has been done and which made possible the distribution of their documentary (which is available by free download via bittorrent or you can buy it on DVD).
This is the first time a TV show has been resurrected due to fan power, the original Star Trek TV series was brought back literally by popular demand. The Browncoats (as fans of Firefly are called) share many similarities to Trekkies (or Trekkers) and enjoy dressing up as their favourite character and attending conventions by the looks of the documentary. They really do like to immerse themselves in it.
Now, I’m a Brit. Firefly, as far as I know, was never aired on UK satellite, cable or terrestrial TV. So how did I get to know about it? Well, a few of the sites I read mentioned it and Serenity, they recommended it so much so in fact, I went and did something naughty, I downloaded a torrent of the pilot. I liked it enough that I ordered the DVD boxed set. That led me to watch Serenity. (Incidentally, this is a nice example of free downloads creating an audience and making the creators money). Now I wasn’t overly blown away by the movie, and watching the series back the characters are fairly cheesy (in a nice way), but it’s still a series I’d like to see more of and maybe, just maybe, those crazy Browncoats can pull it off.