Director Joss Whedon's science fiction Western, Serenity, opened a couple of weeks ago to relatively modest box office results (through this weekend, it has earned a total of $28 million worldwide, on an estimated budget of $40 million). Despite the fact that it didn't do "boffo" at the box office, so to speak, it can serve as an interesting cultural artifact in large part due to the fervent devotion of the fans of the failed television show that spawned the movie (the show: Firefly; the fans call themselves "Browncoats" after those who fought on the side of the loosing rebellion in the show's backstory).
Earlier this year, Benbella Books published Finding Serenity: Anti-Heroes, Lost Shepherds and Space Hookers in Joss Whedon's Firefly. Edited by Jane Espenson, a veteran television writer who has written for Whedon's hit series Buffy the Vampire Slayer, among other shows (including Deep Space Nine, Gilmore Girls and more), and who wrote the Firefly episode "Shindig," the book is a collection of essays about Whedon, Firefly, and something of the cultural impact of both.
The essays are written by a wide variety of authors, including former cast member Jewel Staite (who played the Serenity's mechanic, Kaylee), philosopher Lyle Zynda, sex therapist Joy Davidson, authors Mercedes Lackey, David Gerrold, Nancy Holder, and Lawrence Watt-Evans, and linguist Kevin Sullivan. Some of the pieces are light and humorous, such as Glenn Yeffeth's "The Rise and Fall (and Rise) of Firefly (the Behind-the-Scenes Story)." In it, Yeffeth attempts to forensically recreate the correspondence from the FOX Network executives to Whedon about the show. Like most relationships in Hollywood, it starts out so promising:
Listen, I've heard good things about you and that Bunny the Vampire show and I'm starting to think you might be ready for the big time, you lucky SOB! Honestly, I can't remember much of what you were talking about except that it had something to do with space and rocket ships and stuff, and you know how big that Star Wars is. Anyway, I'm mostly a conceptual guy, and I think this is very promising. Write up a proposal for me and I'll take a look. Do it fast, before I forget about it.
But, of course, feelings changed:
I just looked at the ratings for "The Train Job." Maybe you should have called it "The Blow Job," because it SUCKED.