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Whedon Week: An Argument For A Firefly Radio Drama

Written by: Sal Crivelli, Special to CC2K

Most loyal browncoats would love to see Firelfy return in any form. We have an idea how it could return better then ever.

ImageI'm a fan of Joss Whedon's Firefly/Serenity. You might even say I'm one of those "Browncoats" you hear about. Yet despite this fact, I know in my dirty, border-planet heart we're never going to see a sequel to Serenity. It's something fans of the unsuccessful cult TV half-season show Firefly and follow-up movie tie-in Serenity have to hear. Oh, we might get the occasional comic book tie-in, but we're never going to see the original cast of Firefly together, playing those parts again. Any hopes of a follow-up movie are dashed every time Whedon is asked about it. The sad fact is, as of right now, Serenity will never fly again. 

Part of the unique feel and charm of Firefly/Serenity, I feel, lied in its ability to recapture that sense of nostalgic awe Star Wars had when it was first introduced. I think the gritty, semi-realistic, hyper-stylized space drama has some resonance with our culture, and can't help but find an audience whenever a good attempt is made. I think Battlestar Galactica is a recent example of how successful this genre can be. Firefly/Serenity, too, has its place, as it finds an audience long past its original expiration.

Unfortunately, the expense of making an effective space opera (even one where a major appealing component is simply dialog), does not permit the continuation of a series. Even animation would feel out of place, and again– the cost issue raises some concern. Few investors would financially back the continuation of what most would call a failed series.

Now that we've gone through the chief reasons why we'll never see Serenity fly again, let me tell you how we can get her crew back. I believe I have found a way to re-ignite Firefly's engines and get her humming again, at an incredibly reduced cost to Whedon and the fans, while still delivering on the principles that made the franchise so appealing. Or rather, I remembered that there was yet one format that hearkens to the burgeoning days of live fantasy, when friends and family would gather around the box and enjoy the continued adventures of fantastic characters, with limited production value and relatively low cost by today's standards.

The Serenity Radio Drama.

A serialized program of episodes, written by chief authors of the original series and performed by the original actors and additional talented voice actors. The episodes would be written a little more toward the radio drama format so there's less reliance on visual effects, but the tone and voice of the show/movie is exactly the same.

With the advent of the iPod, podcasting followed suit and revolutionized consumers' expectations of what they want to hear during their commute, their exercise routine, or around the house. Podcast personalities and downloadable content gave rise to another defunct, yet currently profitable online series: MST3k's own Fans may enjoy the appeal of their canceled show, and the charm of the original cast, riffing now on current films for a very affordable price. Whedon himself found a means through which he could create and work during the Writer's Strike through the wondrous power of the internet, through a little superhero musical called Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog.

What they do is hire a knockout narrator, include terrific post-production audio sound effects, and you wind up with something similar to a podcast drama, available for download with limited commercial interruption to build some revenue.

We fans can have more Firefly, the cast gets to play with their characters, the creators can tell more story, the franchise remains heavily tethered to its nostalgic roots, and the entire budget for the series is cut significantly. No sets. No costumes. No CGI. For some actors who can't make the recording sessions, you have them send their parts later (like animation) and splice them back in post.

A downloadable Serenity radio drama has a myriad of options. It could be a series of episodes that make up a "season." It could be a serial of "movies," broken into parts over time. The possibilities are endless, and the creators can milk this for as long as they have ideas. As the actors age or fluctuate in weight, the characters remain exactly the same. The web site fans can download episodes from could include exclusive content, to deeper enrich the universe your show takes place in.

I did say we'll never see Serenity again. But maybe, with a little luck, we can hear her fly. Even if there's no sound in space.


Author: Sal Crivelli, Special to CC2K

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