Firefly: The Complete Series

Firefly: The Complete Series
Any discussion about Buffy and Angel creator Joss Whedon's sci-fi Western Firefly takes place in vaguely theoretical what ifs? What if the Fox network had decided to run the show in its intended order? (The two-hour introductory pilot was the last episode to air and others in the series were shuffled.) What if it had been given a better timeslot and the nurturing faith that Whedon shows regularly require to find an audience? What if Whedon had been given a full season run to give his multiple storylines a chance to bloom? None of that will happen; what's left is 14 episodes of an innovative TV hybrid that unconsciously merges past and future into a theoretical present, part Western, part space adventure, dusty and technologically advanced at the same time. The treat for fans is that the DVD restores the show's running order and presents three unseen episodes that turn out to be some of the show's best. To be sure those episodes are the highlight of this DVD; the handful of commentaries (several by Whedon himself) and featurettes are suffused with a feeling of loss. Imagine seeing only the first 14 episodes of Buffy or Angel and trying to extract the years of evolution from them — that is the joy and ultimate frustration of Firefly. It's good TV, no doubt, but not flawless — the first handful of stories stumble occasionally trying to find this tricky show's footing. The fact that the final episode, written and directed by Whedon, is the series' best only makes you mourn all the more its lost potential. Plus: featurettes, deleted scenes, gag reels, audition tape. (Fox)