Hang on to your hats, space cowboys. The world of Firefly might be returning to TV — and yes, even though talks of a revival have been going on seemingly since the show went off the air in 2003 after eleven episodes (and the tie-in film Serenity premiered in 2005), now the original network and its executive producer have noted that they’re on board for a second round.
The story of Captain Mal (Nathan Fillion) and his motley crew of Browncoat veterans and ragtag weirdos has had one of the longest and most passionate cult fan followings of any TV show, partially because of the original’s all-too brief run. In a world dominated by fan campaigns and catering to nerddoms, a Firefly revival seems natural. It’s starting to seem that way to Fox’s president of entertainment, Michael Thorn, too.
According to The Wrap, which spoke with Thorn, the success of returning franchises like The X-Files may be used to justify a new batch of Firefly episodes. “The macro answer is, any time we look at one of our classic titles, if there’s a way to reinvent it for today so it’s as resonant now as the original was, and is, to the fans, we’re wide open,” Thorn said. “I loved Firefly, personally, and I watched every episode. I didn’t work on it, but I loved the show. [The idea of a revival] had come up before, but we had The Orville on the air and it didn’t make sense for us to have, as a broadcast network who is very targeted, to have two space franchises on our air. But it’s a good idea.”
That’s a very different answer than Fox gave in 2017, when they blamed Joss Whedon’s busy filmmaking schedule for their inability to return to the show at that point:
“Given the success of Fox’s reboots of The X-Files and 24, and Prison Break returning this year, [Fox Broadcasting President of Entertainment David Madden] said he’d be open to a Firefly reboot if Joss Whedon himself wanted to revisit it. Madden suspects Whedon is now too busy with movies, and he would not consider doing Firefly without Whedon.”
Now the need for Whedon has seemingly changed. Perhaps they don’t need him as much now that The Orville’s move to Hulu has seemingly freed up that space-faring timeslot? Maybe he’s more available after his superhero film schedule calmed down? More than anything, the prospects of a revival seem hung up on Firefly executive producer Tim Minear. Minear is a busy guy at Fox right now, though. He is helming 9-1-1 and the upcoming 9-1-1: Lone Star for the network, but is still intrigued by new Firefly — and he doesn’t think it’s out of the question at all.
“[Joss and I] have talked about different permutations and how that might work,” Minear explained. “Do you take two of the characters and put them in a different place and sort of retell a new story with two old characters, with new characters?” Some of the characters might be harder to wrangle than others, considering the likes of Fillion are caught up leading new series of their own.
“You’re not gonna get everybody back — unless you did something like a limited series, like they did for The X-Files,” Minear said. “Then maybe you could get these people to come back. ‘Cause Nathan is a little busy doing The Rookie. But I also know, ’cause I just texted a little bit with Nathan over the weekend, when I posted those pictures from Firefly and he got very sentimental.” So how could it work? Minear thinks limit the scope, which, in Firefly's case, would still double the episode count: “I would love to see, like, an eight- or ten-episode limited adventure in that universe.”