Film Literacy: "Firefly: A Celebration" - A Great Big Damn Book for Big Damn Heroes

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It's easier than ever for someone to count themselves as a Whedonite these days, thanks in no small part to Joss Whedon's runaway success on both television and, most recently, on the big screen. His humble show Buffy the Vampire Slayer went for seven seasons and spun-off into Angel, which then led Whedon to the short-lived and ill-treated Sci-Fi series Firefly and its cinematic adaptation Serenity, before finally ending his TV spree with Dollhouse, a show misunderstood and mismanaged by its own network (Fox). For any writer that's a damn great resume, but now the man also has The Avengers under his belt, his fingers in every Marvel Phase 2 sequel (Thor: The Dark World, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, The Avengers 2, etc.), and the unexpectedly popular horror hit The Cabin in the Woods.

It's not hard to see why it's easy to geek out over the man's work thus far, and so its also no wonder that Firefly, one of his shows with an incredibly rabid fanbase (thanks in no small part to the performance of Nathan Fillion), has received such a royal literary treatment in the form of Firefly: A Celebration.

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This oversized, 544-page, leather-bound behemoth has every imaginable tidbit a Firefly fan could hope for including interviews with Whedon, Fillion, Jewel Staite, Morena Baccarin, and the rest. full scripts for every episode, interviews with prop and costume designers, editors, writers, composers, visual effects artists, and more.

For fans, many of the pieces in here might be familiar if they ever bought the previously published companion books for the series, but I can guarantee you their presentation looks cheap and bawdy compared to what's been assembled here. The arrangement of scripts, original and conceptual artwork, unused story ideas, and discussions of episodes and characters by the shows writers, producers, and crew makes for an incredibly immersive experience.

Of course, the best gift for any Firefly fan isn't a book or even a brown trench-coat, it's a follow-up to Serenity that gives a little bit of closure to the whole "hands of blue" thread and various other ideas glimpsed briefly in episodes and the film (like: who was Book in his pre-shepherd days?), That's the obvious, bittersweet downside of this huge fandom compendium: it simultaneously reminds us just how fun and fancy-free Firefly and Serenity are, and it also makes us worry that we might never see more out of this universe and from its characters.

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You'd like to think that post-Marvel's Phase 2 involvement plans for Whedon that he'll have so much clout that he'll be able to summon the funding for a Serenity sequel out of thin air. but who knows. He's in the same situation as Guillermo Del Toro and the Hellboy franchise: both are franchises the artists in question are passionate about, but to continue them they have to play within the lines of the system to earn the leeway. As an added rub, Whedon has gone on record as saying that a near future Serenity follow-up was unlikely as it would tear working actors (like Fillion and Gina Torres) away from popular and successful TV shows (Castle and Suits, respectively), which he doesn't want to do, because he, like we, enjoys them.

For now, Firefly: A Celebration stands as a testament to something which once was and which possibly could be as long as fandom keeps the hope alive.

Sep
27
2012
Lex Walker • Editor

He's a TV junkie with a penchant for watching the same movie six times in one sitting. If you really want to understand him you need to have grown up on Sgt. Bilko, Alien, Jurassic Park and Five Easy Pieces playing in an infinite loop. Recommend something to him - he'll watch it.

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