To be clear, there haven’t been any new announcements from Joss Whedon, Tim Minear, or anyone else regarding a return to the [Firefly Sequel](movie:841824) ‘verse.
The last bit of news on that front came back in February (proof that some still want to see a return and that it’s worth discussing), from writer/executive producer Minear:
In terms of getting the band back together to make a new adventure, who knows? I would love it. It would be great. But first everybody has their respective projects that limits them from crossing over into other things. It’s just trying to coordinate everybody’s obligations so they could somehow participate.
The continued lack of forward progress on reuniting the crew for more adventures left me wondering - what is the best, most realistic form for a returned Firefly to take? Let’s break down some options.
When I was at my most optimistic for Firefly’s return, Netflix was my pretty-floral-bonnet-wearing hero. In 2012, the video streaming service gave birth to hope by granting a brand new fourth season of 15 episodes to another fan-favorite series that had been cancelled by Fox: Arrested Development.
If that show - which also featured an ensemble cast of active actors, I might add - could return after several years, why couldn’t Netflix do the same for Firefly? Well, the rights to the show still belong to Fox, for starters. Really though, can it be argued that Arrested Development warranted a return any more than Firefly? AD was originally granted 2+ more seasons than Firefly was, but our beloved space western had its own full-length Hollywood feature. Neither catalog is notably more significant than the other.
The first, and only, season of Firefly can still be streamed on Netflix (at least in the US). Considering the fact that I am one such person, I believe there is an audience for the show through that outlet. Take some of that House of Cards revenue and make Firefly season 2 happen, Netflix!
In another option that honestly doesn’t seem too farfetched to me, Firefly could be given new life as a mini-series. Keeping my examples in the Fox family, another of the network’s shows that has previously reached a finale is leading by example...
After 4 years off the air, 24 is returning this May with a run of 12 episodes. In ideal circumstances, this sort of “event series” would be my favorite presentation of new adventures aboard Serenity. If 24’s return proves to be a success, maybe this idea will actually see the light of day. Also, what Mr. Minear said:
It doesn’t have to be 13 episodes. Look how Sherlock does it!
A tv mini-series would be shiny. We’d all get to see Mal and his crew in action again, and the studio’s commitment/risk would be less daunting than if they’d put the show back on air with an entire second season.
In less than ideal circumstances - actors no longer being fit for their roles, for example - a sort of podcast might get my vote for a Firefly revival. It has the added benefit of being more viable than the other options, considering it’d require less from the actors.
It could be done in audio form only, akin to a radio show from back before everyone relied on television and its visual stimulation for entertainment. Instead of doing a full tv show production, they could record what would essentially be a roundtable script read-through. Can’t get all the actors in the same room? Do it over Skype or something of the sort, I don’t care, just tell us more stories!
Alternatively, Firefly could follow in the footsteps of another Whedon project, a fun little ditty by the name of Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog. It could be a web series that calls YouTube home. That might not be the most practical endeavor though, considering Firefly’s inherent need for big budget sets, visual effects, etc.
One idea that lies just outside the realm of possibility is another Firefly film. Could it be great? Surely. There were times when I liked Serenity more than I did the tv show as a whole. Additionally, Joss Whedon has become more accustomed to working on that larger format. Ever heard of The Avengers? Yeah, Firefly-creator Joss Whedon steered that ship.
Serenity, the franchise’s first post-cancellation movie, only brought in about $39 million during its theatrical run. Considering the film was made on a budget that was estimated to be $40 million, it simply can’t be called a financial success that would warrant a sequel any number of years later. The franchise may have picked up more fans in the time since, but even so... another movie isn’t the way to go. Besides, I would want more than just another one-and-done revival.
Finally, we've got what I feel is the least likely possibility: a return to traditional television. If I’m honest, I don’t see Firefly ever reappearing with an order of a full 22-episode season. Maybe if Nathan Fillion’s Castle got cancelled, and Firefly had already seen huge success in a return in some other form... but outside of a half-hearted April Fool's Day joke, we won’t one day randomly read a headline that says “BREAKING: Fox renews Firefly for second season!!!”
However unlikely it would be, I do believe the show could make it on the air these days. One advantage it has over most other series pitched to the network is the not-insignificant fanbase that it has built itself over the years. Furthermore, I feel like Firefly's appeal falls more in line with audiences now than it did a decade ago. For better or worse, it is regarded as a nerdy show, and we nerds are closer to ruling the world than ever before.
NBC's Community, a uniquely entertaining show with a famously-small group of loyal fans who won't stop shouting "six seasons and a movie," has crawled across the 'renewed for another season' threshold four years in a row now. Futurama, yet another show that Fox cancelled, received an order for new episodes six years after its first series finale. If those shows can keep on keepin' on, who's to say Firefly couldn't? Make an ad that says "From Joss Whedon, director of Marvel's The Avengers" and bam, everyone and their mother will watch the new pilot.
If it could, how would YOU like to see Firefly return? Which way seems most possible? Discuss, Browncoats!