No Power In The 'Verse: The Making of Firefly

No Power In The 'Verse: The Making of Firefly

This year mark the fifteenth anniversary of the single-season and movie hit "Firefly" - so how did it even happen in the first place?
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We all have that one thing we loved, yet it didn't catch on so it quickly disappeared. For some, it's an indie band that had one or two good albums, or a product that you bought on impulse, but never saw again in the stores. For others, it's a TV series – more specifically, Firefly. This year marks fifteen years since the show was first broadcast on Fox, and also fifteen years since the unjust cancellation. The production wasn't difficult, nor was it an accidental success. The show and the movie sequel, Serenity, became what they are today because of the fans, and out of the desire of the creator to make his story complete, no matter what it took. From studios getting in the way to being continued in several comic book titles, a series that didn't even make it a completed season in the first run has become a major sci-fi franchise beloved by many.

Firefly was created by Joss Whedon, then known for the hit shows Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel. This new idea was to combine the classic Western genre with the science fiction world, in such a way that it would be up to the individual episode to fit into either side. Whedon had an interest in writing a series about a losing army in a war, and with a name for himself already in the industry, set out to make this possible – by writing a two-hour character driven pilot episode introducing our main cast and the iconic ship, Serenity. Several then-unknown actors were cast in the show, including Nathan Fillion (who went on to star in Castle) and Alan Tudyk (K-2SO in Rogue One), along with television veteran Ron Glass. The story was simple - a group of smugglers, led by a soldier from the losing side in a galactic civil war, travel from planet to planet, with the "aim to misbehave." The pilot was filmed, edited, and screened before the executives at Fox – and as per many projects proposed to the studio, they demanded Whedon write a more action-focused pilot, to be aired in place of the two-hour one, along with adding more villains to be closer to their recently-ended X-Files (the pilot would eventually be aired as the final episodes on Fox). Following the weekend writing, a new episode was turned in and Fox gave the go-ahead to make an additional eleven episodes (not including the pilot “Serenity” and the second pilot “The Train Job”). However, it was becoming increasingly obvious that Fox did not like the way the series was being handled by Whedon, as they wanted something more along the lines of X-Files science fiction and not Gunsmoke in space – and during filming on the episode “The Message,” the crew received the cancellation notice. It was over before it could even start, causing Fox to air only eleven episodes – and not in order, which in turn caused confusion on the part of the home audience. Whedon attempted to get other networks to buy the show, but none were interested, and the first season of the planned seven became the only one.

Despite the few episodes and little care from the network, Firefly grew to having a large amount of fans, who bought the DVD releases in droves to prove to Fox that there was an interest. Whedon himself was done with dealing with network demands, and upon realizing he owned the rights to the story and characters (just not the name), he began work on a sequel movie – also thanks to the “Browncoats” that showed there was more than just a few people tuning in. Universal greenlit the film for a Fall 2005 release, and despite giving a lot of creative freedom to the crew, the studio did come in and make some demands, such as killing off the characters of Wash and Shepard Book, as Alan Tudyk and Ron Glass could not commit to doing an immediate sequel. The script was written down from a three hour epic into a much more manageable two hour film, and the intention was reworked to act as a series finale, over a sequel to create more movies out of. The film, titled Serenity, was released in September 2005 to positive reviews, and reignited the Firefly fandom. However, due to being a September release and not getting an awful lot of advertisement, Serenity bombed at the box office, and hopes for a sequel were put down – until the DVD sales came in, and even then, Universal was not too interested in a full-budget film. And so, like the show it continued off of, Serenity stands twelve years later as a single film, made to finish a story the fans needed closure on.

Since then, Firefly has been held up alongside Star Wars, Star Trek, and Battlestar Galactica as one of the all-time great science fiction franchises, as well as often topping lists of shows canceled too soon. Roleplaying games, editions of Clue, toys, Funko Pops, and comics have been made, all continuing the story. But what makes it still have such a large group of dedicated fans when the series has been over for years now? Simply put, it's because the show was never given the time to get to the point where you go “oh great, another season.” Every episode and every moment hold up, and they're all there for a reason to serve the greater story. It started the idea of using a movie to finish up a canceled series, something that Veronica Mars, The X-Files, and possibly even Community have done or are rumored to be doing. People from all walks of life enjoy the series, from those who can't get enough of space cowboys to those who hate most science fiction but like Westerns. As with anything, the fans keep the series going and keep the story alive, passing it on to others who in turn, tell more people about it – a fifteen-year word of mouth campaign. Every now and again, the cast reunites, and rumors circulate over a relaunch. For now though, we only really have the fourteen episodes and the movie as the main points in the franchise, and with the occasional comic or short story sequel, there is still plenty of room to explore the 'Verse.

Cover Image Credit: 20th Century Fox

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Why High School Musicals Should Be As Respected As Sports Programs Are

The arts are important, too.
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When I was in middle school and high school, I felt like I lived for the musicals that my school orchestrated.

For those of you who don't know, a musical is an onstage performance wherein actors take on roles that involve singing, and often dancing, to progress the plot of the story. While it may sound a little bit nerdy to get up in front of an audience to perform in this manner, this is something you cannot knock until you try it.

For some reason, though, many public schools have de-funded arts programs that would allow these musicals to occur, while increasing the funding for sports teams. There are a few things that are being forgotten when sports are valued more than musical programs in high schools.

Much like athletic hobbies, an actor must try-out, or audition, to participate in a musical. Those best suited for each role will be cast, and those who would not fit well are not given a part. While this may sound similar to trying out for say, basketball, it is an apples to oranges comparison.

At a basketball try-out, those who have the most experience doing a lay-up or shooting a foul shot will be more likely to succeed, no questions asked. However, for an audition, it is common to have to learn a piece of choreography upon walking in, and a potential cast member will be required to sing a selected piece with only a few days of preparation.

There are many more variables involved with an audition that makes it that much more nerve-racking.

The cast of a school musical will often rehearse for several months to perfect their roles, with only several nights of performance at the end. Many sports practice for three or four days between each of their respective competitions. While this may seem to make sports more grueling, this is not always the case.

Musicals have very little pay-off for a large amount of effort, while athletic activities have more frequent displays of their efforts.

Athletes are not encouraged to but are allowed to make mistakes. This is simply not allowed for someone in a musical, because certain lines or entrances may be integral to the plot.

Sometimes, because of all the quick changes and the sweat from big dance numbers, the stage makeup just starts to smear. Despite this, an actor must smile through it all. This is the part of musicals that no sport has: introspection.

An actor must think about how he or she would respond in a given situation, be it saddening, maddening, frightening, or delightful. There is no sport that requires the knowledge of human emotion, and there is especially no sport that requires an athlete to mimic such emotion. This type of emotional exercise helps with communications and relationships.

Sports are great, don't get me wrong. I loved playing volleyball, basketball, track, and swimming, but there were no experiences quite like those from a musical. Sports challenge the body with slight amounts of tactic, while musicals require much physical and mental endurance.

The next time you hear someone say that it's “just a musical," just remember that musicals deserve as much respect as sports, since they are just as, if not more demanding.

Cover Image Credit: Cincinnati Arts

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10 Shows To Watch If You're Sick Of 'The Office'

You can only watch it so many times...

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"The Office" is a great show, and is super easy to binge watch over and over again! But if you're like me and you're looking for something new to binge, why not give some of these a try? These comedies (or unintentional comedies) are a great way to branch out and watch something new.

1. "New Girl"

A show about a group of friends living in an apartment in a big city? Sound familiar? But seriously, this show is original and fresh, and Nick Miller is an icon.

2. "Crazy Ex-Girlfriend"

Ya'll have been sleeping on this show. It's a musical comedy about a girl that follows her ex boyfriend across the country. I thought it sounded horrible so I put it off for WAY too long, but then I realized how incredible the cast, music, writing, and just EVERYTHING. It really brings important issues to light, and I can't say too much without spoiling it. Rachel Bloom (the creator of the show) is a woman ahead of her time.

3. "Jane the Virgin"

I know... another CW show. But both are so incredible! Jane The Virgin is a tongue-in-cheek comedy and parody of telenovelas. It has so many twists and turns, but somehow you find yourself laughing with the family.

4. "Brooklyn Nine-Nine"

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Brooklyn Nine-Nine has been in popular news lately since its cancellation by Fox and sequential pickup by NBC. It's an amazing show about cops in, you guessed it, Brooklyn. Created by the amazing Michael Schur, it's a safe bet that if you loved "The Office" you'll also love his series "Brooklyn Nine-Nine".

5. "The Good Place"

Another series created by the talented Micael Schur, it's safe to say you've probably already heard about this fantasy-comedy series. With a wonderful cast and writing that will keep you on your toes, the show is another safe bet.

6. "Fresh Off The Boat"

Seriously, I don't know why more people don't watch this show. "Fresh Off The Boat" focuses on an Asian family living in Orlando in the mid 90s. Randall Parks plays a character who is the polar opposite of his character in "The Interview" (Yeah, remember that horrifying movie?) and Constance Wu is wonderful as always.

7. "Full House"

Why not go back to the basics? If you're looking for a nostalgic comedy, go back all the way to the early days of Full House. If you're a '98-'00 baby like me, you probably grew up watching the Tanner family on Nick at Night. The entire series is available on Hulu, so if all else fails just watch Uncle Jesse and Rebecca fall in love again or Michelle fall off a horse and somehow lose her memory.

8. "Secret Life of the American Teenager"

Okay, this show is not a comedy, but I have never laughed so hard in my life. It's off Netflix but it's still on Hulu, so you can watch this masterpiece there. Watch the terrible acting and nonsense plot twists drive this show into the ground. Somehow everyone in this school dates each other? And also has a baby? You just have to watch. It might be my favorite show of all time.

9. "Scrubs"

Another old show that is worth watching. If you ignore the last season, Scrubs is a worthwhile medical comedy about doctors in both their personal and medical life. JD and Turk's relationship is one to be jealous of, and one hilarious to watch. Emotional at times, this medical drama is superior to any medical drama that's out now.

10. "Superstore"

I was resistant to watch this one at first, because it looked cheesy. But once I started watching I loved it! The show is a workplace comedy, one you're sure to love if you can relate to working in retail. If you liked the Office, you'll like Superstore!

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