Fox actually wants a Firefly revival, there's just one catch

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May 2, 2017, 11:47 AM EDT (Updated)

Firefly fans, brace yourselves. Fox Broadcasting President of Entertainment David Madden has said he would “be open to a Firefly reboot.” There’s just one string attached. And that string is Joss Whedon’s involvement.

According to Rotten Tomatoes, who attended the Television Critics Association 2017 conference: 

“Given the success of Fox’s reboots of The X-Files and 24, and Prison Break returning this year, 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.”

There you have it. Fox would reboot Firefly, but only if Whedon is available, which he isn't. Frankly, it’s not the most sincere offering. It’s more like inviting someone to a party knowing full well they can’t attend. If Madden wanted to put his money where his mouth was, he would be offering Whedon real money. 

And as “reboot” implies a reimagining, likely with a whole new cast, it’s not clear how enthused Whedon would be without his original crew (minus the late Ron Glass). Though they reference the X-Files and Prison Break revivals — which retained the same cast — so this could just be a case of phrasing and they actually mean a revival with the same cast.

Firefly was a 2002-2003 sci-fi series, infused with action, drama, humor and clever dialogue that has stayed with us for years. But it wasn’t infused with enough viewers for its production company, 20th Century Fox Television, which cruelly canceled it after airing a mere 11 episodes. But fans, myself included, have been carrying a bioluminescent torch for Firefly ever since. I wish Madden’s offer had been made a few years ago. 

More than that, I wish Americans were more open to the radio dramas like the ones produced by Big Finish that kept Doctor Who alive during the time of its 1989-2005 hiatus. (Big Finish has also continued the adventures of Blake's 7, The Prisoner, Dark Shadows, The Avengers and Sapphire and Steel.) A radio drama is simple to produce, which makes it easier to negotiate multiple schedules of working actors. And unlike an animated series—a suggestion Nathan Fillion floated at a New York Comic Con several years ago—a radio drama is quicker and cheaper to make.

So what is Whedon doing that's more important than Firefly or even Doctor Horrible 2? According to to IMDb, his next project is a horror movie set during World War II. But after that? Who knows.