Killing Firefly was Fox's biggest fail ever

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Fuck Fox.

Not for FoxNews or American Idol or any of the other questionable shit the network has thrown out there in the name of entertainment over the years. People like what people like, however inexplicable that may be, so I couldn't care less about any of that. No, Fox earned my everlasting ire and a golden ticket to go fuck itself when, after just four months on the air, it canceled what was quickly becoming one of the best science fiction series of all time: Firefly.

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Four months. Fourteen episodes, only twelve of which ever aired in the U.S. They gave up just four months into a complex, serialized show in a niche genre, despite the fact that it was critically acclaimed and attracted a hardcore fanbase from the beginning. Fox couldn't be bothered to give it even a full season, despite the fact the show was created by Joss Whedon, one of the most acclaimed writer-directors working then, or now. At that point, Whedon had a few hit films -- Toy Story and Speed -- under his belt as a writer. Then there were the two hit TV shows, Buffy the Vampire Slayer and its spin-off Angel, that he'd created. And some of his best work was still ahead of him, as evidence by last year's excellent films The Avengers and The Cabin in the Woods.

It's not like Fox gave the show their best effort, either. If you ever wanted evidence that TV executives know nothing about what makes good television, that they pick and market shows by looking at spreadsheets and market reports rather than, you know, looking at the actual goddamn shows, look no further: Firefly is all the evidence you will ever need. It had a shitty timeslot. The show was aired out of sequence, with the excellent pilot -- which, like most pilots, kind of sets the whole damn series up -- pushed back to late in the show's run and one of its lesser episodes aired in its place. It was preempted for various reasons. It was advertised as a goddamn comedy. It's almost like Fox wanted the fucking thing to fail.

And what a waste. This was a strong, strong show. It had one of the best casts ever stuffed into a spaceship, led by the unbelievably charismatic Nathan Fillion. It consistently delivered excellent stories, frequently told in bold and unusual ways. The writing was smart and funny. The characters were well-drawn, consistent and all too human, and like all great dramas, they drove the plots, rather than simply being pieces moved around to make a point in the process of telling a story.

Now, Firefly was not necessarily an easy pill for everyone to swallow. Its mixture of sci-fi and Western tropes was offbeat, to say the least. It was a space opera without aliens. One of its main characters was a prostitute, another a priest. It was so full of ideas and back story and characters that it could, at times, feel a bit overstuffed. Its ideas weren't necessarily big -- if anything, it was as small-scale as space opera ever gets. Its settings weren't typically grandiose. But despite all of those reasons, or perhaps in some measure because of them, it was, for the short time it lived, one of the greatest sci-fi universes ever put on screen.

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11 comments
Juan Macias
Juan Macias

Nice list of mistakes but the biggest mistake was the cancellation of Arrested Development.

Peter Dunn
Peter Dunn

Terminator: SCC, Lie to Me, Dollhouse, House (over $) and Fringe. All good shows that Fox killed so we can still watch American I-Dull 8 days a week. They even trimmed So You Think You Can Dance back to a shortened week and season. Great ideas and horrible follow-through.

Craig Hawkins
Craig Hawkins

Ending Terminator; Sarah Connor Chronicles was a pretty big fail, especially when the show was getting so good.

Chris Bast
Chris Bast

whoa!!!,...I'm convinced,..yet,.. not surprised,...

Matt Morava
Matt Morava

Fox News is Fox's biggest fail... because of the damage it has done to this country. Canceling the best science fiction show of all time, while horrendous, is a distant second.

jenna-furrr
jenna-furrr

I swear by my pretty floral bonnet that you are correct, sir.

John Ward
John Ward

This is from American Dad and it works for all the good shows that get canceled: Francine: (To Stan) Are you still moping about Steve? Come on. He's just going through a phase. It's like Steve is America and you're Arrested Development. It doesn't mean you're bad, it just means he's not interested in you.

John Kirk
John Kirk

FOX Blows huge, I mean huge chunks! Reality TV is NOT good television. American Idol....how sad!

sherob2
sherob2

Two f'ing thumbs up!  Even BBC killed off a great show, Outcasts!  

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