I had a chance to see all 14 episodes of Firefly and the film Serenity this past weekend. I had seen maybe half the episodes in their totality and others in snippets. When I initially tried to watch the show it didn't grab me, which may be because Fox had decided to air the series out of its intended broadcast order. The show wasn't always on when I went to watch it, having been pre-empted for sporting events. Fox apparently had problems with characterization and the shows tone, so I have to wonder if Fox wanted to scuttle the show from the outset. No other network was willing to pick the show up. This would have been around the time of Farscape's cancellation, when there was talk about the death of space-bound science fiction on the small screen.
I remember reading how networks wanted to stick with earth-bound sci-fi, where they could use real locations, cut-costs on wardrobe, make-up, sets and special effects. That idea was short lived and a show like the new Battlestar Galactica showed how space-bound sci-fi was still viable when it was supported and done right. (Stargate was a hit too, but I never liked the show) It is easy to see the cancellation of Firefly as bad decision as the show only had 14 episodes and hadn't had the chance to screw things up, or "jump the shark". But the writing and characterizations were tight and the effects were extremely well done. The show avoided Star Trek-style techno-babble, but did have a very interesting take on the way we would use language in the future: the characters often used Mandarin curse words while coversing in English.
The film, Serenity, may not have been a "real" film as such, but it certainly was handled better than the X-Files movie and holds its own against the majority of the films in the Star Trek franchise. The film leaves things open for a return to the screen (big or small) but also offers a certain sense of finality, having resolved two issues (The Reavers and River) that arose out of the shows limited run. With networks, apparently, clamouring for high-end concept shows to run in between their commercials, (shows like Lost, Hereos, 24, BSG, etc have opened the doors for things other than "reality" TV) a comeback for Firefly would seem to be a natural. It has a cult fan base that has been expanding since the show's release on DVD and did respectable business at the box office. Still, I wonder if there is anywhere left to go after Serenity? I'd like to see these characters return, but would writers have anything worthwhile for them to do?