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Firefly the series versus Serenity the movie

Brett and Debbie face off with a friendly debate about whether or not "Firefly" was better than 'Serenity' ... or if 'Serenity' was worth watching at all.


Firefly was an interesting journey for me. When I first watched the series, I liked it, but I didn’t get what was so amazing about it. Neither cowboys or sci-fi really interested me and I found it just a bit … boring. Then I saw Serenity, in the actual movie theater, which is in and of itself a small miracle. I adored the film from start to finish and I looked at it as a great movie based on a mediocre TV series, and I applauded Joss for what he was able to do.

Here’s the weird part: I went back and re-watched Firefly after I saw Serenity, and I loved it. Everything that I found boring I now found fascinating and well-written and compelling. I loved the slow burn, the development of the characters and their interaction with each other. I realized that Serenity could never have been so good if the groundwork hadn’t been laid with the series. I was able to appreciate the series more in every way because of the movie, which made me love the movie even more.

I know you feel a bit differently about it, so what’s your point of view?


I think the reason we have such differing opinions on the movie has a lot to do with how we took in the original series. Unlike you, I loved it from the get go. I was on board from the first episode. Truth be told, it’s probably the show I’ve been most devoted to ever. So, I was understandably excited when it was revealed that my favorite show ever was getting a movie. The problem is that Serenity wasn’t a Firefly movie. At least, not in the sense that it was a continuation of the series. It was far more a re-imagining of Firefly, and I take issue with that.

I still have no idea where the idea to just throw away (or piss all over, depending on your level of outrage) so much of the story from the series came from. And it happens right from jump street. What the fuck with Secret Agent Simon busting River out? Not only is that very much not how it happened in the series, it also flies in the face of everything we know about Simon. Even worse, it makes the mission in Ariel seem completely stupid. He no longer needs to get on board to find out what they did to River, because he already knows. And why even bother with Fanty and Mingo when Badger was such an obvious, and better, choice?

The argument for the changes is usually something along the lines of “they had to make it appeal to the audience that hadn’t seen the series.” And to that, I have to call bullshit. Because really, as a stand-alone movie, it’s not very good, and none of those changes to the original story are helping. It depends heavily on the back-story that the series provided. Big scenes like the death of Wash carry almost no weight without the hours of Firefly. If you just watch his character in the movie, he gets almost no development, making his death slightly more shocking than any run-of-the-mill redshirt. Ditto for Book. The only way either of those scenes really work without Firefly is if it’s Mal or River getting killed, because they’re the only ones that are really developed.

And, given that choice, I’d choose River, partly out of spite simply because she is probably my biggest problem with Serenity. It became too much about River, at the expense of the other characters, and for me it really went too far. By the end of the movie, there is no reason for anyone else to even be on the crew. She’s a better shot than Jayne, a better fighter than Zoey, a better pilot than Wash, and if they hadn’t been concerned with the rating, we probably would have learned that she’s a better hooker than Inara.

Ultimately, Serenity is a huge disappointment because of what could have been. It really could have been a great continuation of the series. Instead it was a muddled mess that didn’t honor the series the way it should have.


Everything you wrote is true, and I even laughed out loud in a couple of spots as I read it, remembering how absurd Simon007 and Bionic River were. And one of the reasons I went back and re-watched the series after I saw Serenity was because I actually thought I was remembering some things wrong.

Maybe it’s easier for me to overlook the obvious inconsistencies because I didn’t love the series right away, but I think the bottom line might just be that the movie was so much fun that I didn’t really care how goofy and inauthentic it was. And it got me to take a second look at a series I came to love so I’m really glad it was made.


I think you’ve hit on something there. I might even go so far as to say I was obsessed with the series. For example, long before there was a fancy DVD set, I had already made my own, complete with custom labels. Heck, I’m sure if I dug the big box of VHS tapes out of storage I probably have a VHS copy of the series as well. I also went to the preview screening of the movie. So yeah … probably a bit obsessed, and that is probably why I can’t brush aside the obvious problems with the movie. But I get that you, and others of your ilk, aren’t nearly so picky, and think Serenity is “so much fun.” And that’s fine. We can’t all like the same things, and we can’t all be right all the time. You’re just wrong this time, but I’m sure you’ll be right about something tomorrow.

Also, I’m totally going to steal ‘Double-O-Simon’ for all of my future Serenity rants.

Enjoy all of our Firefly week posts over on CliqueClack TV. …

Photo Credit: FOX

Categories: Features, General

6 Responses to “Firefly the series versus Serenity the movie”

June 16, 2011 at 4:14 PM

Brett isn’t wrong.

But that doesn’t take away from my enjoyment of the movie. They SHOULD have been connected, but, even though they were not, still both make for good entertainment.

June 16, 2011 at 5:57 PM

I am a devoted browncoat and a fan of both, HOWEVER… Firefly will always be my first choice because of Greg Edmonson’s music. He brilliantly created a gamut of moods for the show, from a hillbilly hootenanny to Niska’s dungeon to Inara’s suite to the blackness of space. I was deeply disappointed that he was not chosen to score the film.

June 17, 2011 at 12:57 AM

Firefly is better because at the end of it Wash is still alive. How could they kill off Wash?

Wash was in my “hook” moment for Firefly. In the middle of an operation there’s Wash sitting in the cockpit playing with a dinosaur action figure.

“We will rule over all this land and we shall call it …… This Land. I think we should call it YOUR GRAVE! Ahhh curse your sudden but inevitable betrayal!” ROTFLMAO!

June 17, 2011 at 8:18 PM

I’m in complete agreement with you, Wayne. Wash was the character I identified with most, he was also hilarious as hell and Alan Tudyk is just plain awesome. The thing the movie did that I found unforgivable was to not only kill off Wash, but Book as well. Those were just cheap shots and completely pissed me off.

June 17, 2011 at 3:28 PM

I look at it like Serenity is the best episode of Firefly. I enjoyed it more and it was more polished than the series. The only thing I missed was the Dobro music.

Brett seems like the typical butt-devastated fan. I do not agree with most of what he says because unlike him I thought virtually everything was improved upon in the film. He also seems to be the immature type to unjustifiably dislike a character and possibly the actor playing them because he is a ‘canon queen’ and an obvious tropester(ugh). Also, in addition to everything Brett said, River is also the funniest character on Serenity with most of the best comedic lines.

Also, in reference to Ariel, I can’t believe someone who claims to be a fan of scifi would think someone would know exactly what the Alliance had done to her brain and how to help her by getting a 10 minute pitch from a lab dude in the opening of the film… I also find it hard to believe that you suddenly take issue to Simon lying or keeping things from the crew… because he had been deceptive since the day he boarded Serenity. If anything this only improved his meh beta male character and gave him more depth.

No lame pew pew lazor sounds.

Simon actually had a set of balls and broke River out… I am convinced that if the opening scene of Serenity was the television show opener we would be on like the 10th season now. I think the first 10 minutes or so of Serenity is likely the most well made intro into a new universe in a short couple of scenes ever filmed and I think Serenity is one of the best scifi films of all time.

No ABC Family villains with blush dish-washing gloves.

Joss binned River’s potato sack and improved her costume, along with everyone else’s.

Someone actually died after getting wounded.

Taking into account all that I digress to my first line.

June 25, 2011 at 3:54 AM

Just re-read Brett’s posts. Well said!! When the TV series came out I was busy getting married and being, well, in-bunk with my hubby. When I started seeing posters for the film, I saw River with her knives and the bleak-looking scenery and said ‘Another horror movie trying to pass itself off as sci-fi. No slashing for me!’ It took until this year, when Science Channel came to Firefly’s rescue, for me to find out what I’d been missing. That is RIDICULOUS. I am a sci-fi fan! I’ve been to 4 cons, gorrammit! But I get turned off when SF veers too much into the horror direction. And Serenity was very guilty of that. So, upon further reflection, I guess I’m not a huge fan of both. I think I speak for most of us womenfolk when I say that the appeal of Firefly came from the character development, and the warmth of the relationships among the crew. Adam Baldwin said that the dinner table scenes where everyone was together were always his favorite to shoot. Where was that mood in the film?? I would have gotten on board much sooner if the film had been truer to the TV series. I’m angry about all the time I’ve missed, when I could have been writing letters and advocating for the show. Instead I was just staying away, thinking it was all grimness and horror. And yeah, I want Wash and Book back. Badly. You suck, Joss. You suck until you do another Firefly project, featuring many, many flashbacks.

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