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This week, a well-loved TV show gets the tribute treatment, ten years after it left the airwaves …
One of the biggest filmmaking challenges of this summer’s megahit The Avengers was its sprawling ensemble cast. With super-spies and demigods sharing screen time with a rampaging green behemoth, a living legend of World War II — and, well, Robert Downey Jr. — the challenge of keeping everything in balance — of giving each character a chance to shine, while integrating them all into a done-in-one narrative that nevertheless leaves the door open for a sequel — was massive.
Some in Hollywood were skeptical when this daunting task went to writer-director Joss Whedon. While he came with a proven track record in series television — and with a built-in fan base, thanks in large part to his work on Buffy the Vampire Slayer, which he created — conventional wisdom saw Whedon as a dicey choice for what was, potentially, the biggest feature-film franchise in history.
They needn’t have worried. Longtime Whedon-watchers had already seen the evidence of his ability to handle high adventure, vivid character beats, and knife-sharp dialogue — because they were among the few who had seen Firefly.
The quintessential “too good for TV” show, canceled by Fox after only 14 episodes, this little-seen sci-fi Western has been given a high-end tribute treatment by Titan Books. Firefly: A Celebration, out this month, repackages three previous releases in a deluxe omnibus edition. It is a glorious object, with embossed faux-leather binding, profusely illustrated throughout with color photos and production drawings, and weighing in at a whopping five pounds. It is the definitive resource for all things Firefly, with extensive production notes, new interviews with cast, creators, and crew, and reproductions of the full shooting scripts for all the episodes — the whole thing packaged with nine cast photographs (suitable for framing) and a replica of one of the prop banknotes used in the show. Yowza!
So why such an opulent tome devoted to a show that tanked so hard in its original run? Why did this show find such a devoted following in its DVD afterlife, even spawning a feature-film sequel (Serenity)? Why is it that — a decade after the show went off the air — a reunion of the principal actors at this year’s NYC Comic-Con was big news in geek circles?
Simply because Firefly is the rare cult classic that really is every bit as good as its reputation suggests….
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