Ah Firefly, the gleaming gem in a forest of blackened crystals, whose searing brilliance was extinguished long before its time. Often considered the greatest sci-fi television series ever, and often true in that statement, Firefly become a pop-culture phenomenon after its premature cancellation in 2003, and set itself deeply into every geek guy and girl's hearts who were lucky enough to glance upon it.
So when I first picked up the series (of which there are but 14 episodes) on DVD back in April of this year, I had some high hopes. Now, 8 months later, I don't think a day goes by where I don't spare at least one thought to the show. It is that amazing. So when the Blu-Ray was finally released in the UK, I was lucky enough to win myself a copy.
Created by TV legend Joss Whedon, Firefly is a genre-bending experience, blending that of the classic sci-fi conventions with a scruffy Western feel to bring us something entirely unique. It takes place five hundred years in the future, where a totalitarian regime known as the Alliance rules the systems as a combination of both America and China. The show follows the escapades of the crew of Serenity, a Firefly-class vessel as they drift through space looking for work (legal or not) to keep food on the table and fuel in their engines.
Scattered with layered and deep characters (some of which are the best I've ever seen), choc-full of witty dialogue and intelligent scripting, yet still shiny in the special effects, Firefly presents you with a realistic science fiction world, in which our "Big Damn Heroes" aren't always winning. It's this honesty and relatability that gives the show its edge that has carried it in such high regard after all these years. It kick-started literally everyone in the extremely talented cast into pretty big careers, namely Nathan Fillion, who's now regarded as a God of Geekdom.
So without further a-do, I obviously present the show with:
Of course, this is a Blu-Ray upgrade, and so I must also cast an eye on how the new and improved picture and sound matches up. Putting the show in 1080p was always a bit risky with the fan base, who adored the classic roughness the show had pertained with its grains and flares. Luckily though, this charm still remains, but the whole thing just looks a lot crisper. We don't peer at all into what I like to call "Mexican-Soap-Opera" territory (whereby the HD makes the program look cheap), and instead are rewarded with a sharp, detailed and colour popping viewing experience of Captain Mal and his Crew. And those shots of Serenity - in 1080p - are to die for. The only issue I had with the picture was when there were really dark scenes (namely the battle of Serenity, in the first episode), and it became almost squint worthy to get what was going on.
The sound, now in 5.1 audio is obviously a vast improvement on the DVD's tinned noise. While volume may be a problem with this (i.e. effects too loud over voice), and some SFX still sounding cheesy as hell (*Kapow!* for punch!), the thing that makes up for it most is Greg Edmonson's rich and culturally bizarre score. The stuff is like gold dust to the ears - banjos, violins, big round drum thingys - you name it, it's in there, and it sounds great.
All in all, I'd give the quality:
A blu re-release always means one thing for sure, and that's new special features. Building upon the DVD's bonuses (which included a few short featurettes, 4 deleted scenes, gag reel, 7 commentaries and a few goodies), is a new commentary track (on Our Mrs Reynolds) featuring Joss and literally half the cast (it's mostly them laughing for 40 minutes, but still fun) and a half hour "Reunion Lunch" with Joss, Nathan, Ron and Alan. Both new features are worth the watch, almost purely because they were recorded over 5 years after the show's original 2003 run, so there's a lot of hindsight and reminisce. They also talk about Monster Cows and how there should have been an episode where someone's hands expand...
More Firefly stuff obviously equals more awesome, but only 2 added things is slightly lacking compared to how some re-releases work. Paired with the original extras, this is easily 5 Star (mostly down to the insightful commentaries alone), but as the bonuses on top alone I'm only going to say...:
If you own a Blu-Ray and are a Firefly fan (or Browncoat), then it is literally your duty to go out and buy this, even if it's for the picture upgrade alone. Fans without a Blu-Player, I'd say that this isn't your sole reason to get one, because even though the new stuff is cool, it's not quite worth that much, especially if you're not too interested in commentaries or behind-the-scenes stuff. And those who've never seen Firefly, well shame on you! Go out and at least pick up the DVD and experience this most tasty of TV shows.
Show: 5 Star
Quality: 4 Star
Extras: 3.5 Star
Stand-Out Episodes: "Serenity", "Shindig", "Out of Gas", "Ariel", "The Message" and "Objects in Space".