New on Blu-ray: Firefly – Complete Series

It's unfortunate when a quality show is not given a fair shake by networks despite loyal interest. This was the hand Firefly was dealt.

Set in a world that is both past and future, a mismatched group travel the universe avoiding government capture and seeking safe passage to the next big score. Mal (Nathan Fillion) is captain of the ship. A former soldier, he uses his knowledge to complete complicated jobs. His second-in-command is Zoe (Gina Torres), who is tough as nails, obedient and the only other surviving member of his battalion. Her husband, Wash (Alan Tudyk) is the sarcastic but skilled pilot of Serenity. Kaylee (Jewel Staite) is sweet as pie and the most knowledgeable mechanic this side of the 'verse. Inara (Morena Baccarin) is a companion; i.e. a very beautiful, well-trained, high-class prostitute with a heart of gold. And Jayne (Adam Baldwin) is a hired gun that mostly sticks around until a better offer comes up. New to the crew are Shepherd Book (Ron Glass), a religious man out to see the world; Simon (Sean Maher), a highly skilled doctor; and Simon's sister River (Summer Glau), a girl suffering a lot of confusion post-governmental experiments on her genius brain.

Originally, all the episodes were not aired on television nor were they aired in their intended order. Happily, the DVD release of the complete series has rectified this. The first is a two-part episode that introduces audiences to the characters, illustrating how they came to be together on the ship. A later episode, “Out of Gas,” delves further into the crew’s history but the opening episodes are a good introduction. Subsequent episodes follow the ragtag gang as they steal, disagree, fight for their lives and band together as combined members of a family. The series is a smart mix of science fiction and the western. Set in 2517, the only superpowers to survive the wars are United States and China, so the show also incorporates Mandarin in the dialogue.

Joss Whedon fans will not be disappointed. The same wit and humour he provided characters of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel is one of the key likeable elements of the show. Furthermore, his passion for the story is evident as each character and the situations they find themselves in are well thought-out and in perfect unison with the spirit of the show. The CGI is high quality, responsible for not only the speeding ships but also many of the surroundings on various planets.

It is unfortunate Firefly’s life was cut so short; thankfully, Whedon was able to complete the story in the feature film Serenity and has expanded the tale in graphic novels.

Most of the original bonus features from the DVD release are carried over to the Blu-ray collection. This includes audio commentary on the seven episodes; a 30-minute look into the cast and crew’s experience in producing Firefly, including their last days on the set; an in-depth look at Serenity, “the 10th character;” a tour of the set by Whedon; and four deleted scenes with short descriptions. In addition, special features include a gag real, Whedon singing the Firefly theme song and Tudyk’s audition tape. New to this release are an additional audio commentary and an entertaining 30-minute reunion between Whedon, Fillion, Tudyk and Glass in high-def (everything else is standard-definition full frame).

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