Ever since Joss Whedon’s space western was canceled back in 2003, its fans — at first, a relatively small contingent, but as time and DVD sales grew, so did the ranks swell — have wondered what could possibly rescue it from the tightly clenched jaws of death. And until now, nothing could. But with Netflix resuscitating other long-canceled shows, and greenlighting original programming, what had been a firm NO is now a wobbly MAYBE.
There were lots of reasons why Firefly never got a second shot at life (not counting the 2005 feature, Serenity), not the least of which is that ship-based science fiction shows are expensive. The rights can be a bit of a tangle: Fox owns the rights so if anyone wanted to make more episodes, they’d need to buy the opportunity — and networks who might be right for Firefly, like Syfy, have already crunched the numbers and found them not entirely attractive. Especially for a show that already failed once. And the cast could be hard to lock down—okay, Nathan Fillion will be hard to lock down. Since Firefly ended, he’s become a full-on TV star, and his time won’t come cheap if, contractually, it could come at all.
All of that makes total sense. Or, rather, it did…before Netflix made the deal to make new episodes of the late, lamented Arrested Development.
Suddenly, all of that logic goes out the window. Because, presumably, Netflix will rebuild all of those sets, has negotiated the rights, and got the cast to sign on. They’re trading on Arrested Development’s cult status to bring new subscribers to their service, in the same way that HBO counts on critical acclaim to enlarge their viewership. Add that to the fact that Netflix is producing original series left and right — from people like David Fincher and Eli Roth — and it’s a whole new ballgame.
Would shooting new episodes of Firefly be expensive? Yes, but I don’t think any more than your average episode of a TV drama: Special effects are getting cheaper all the time and sets are sets, whether they’re emergency rooms, police precincts, or starship bridges. Fox already does business with Netflix — the whole Whedonverse is streaming — so the rights issue shouldn’t be all that headache-y. (Plus, I’m sure Fox wouldn’t mind being able to eventually sell a whole new season of Firefly on DVD and Blu-Ray.)
And most of that cast, I’m sorry to say, isn’t all that gainfully employed — at least the surviving members of Serenity’s crew. I’m sure they’d drop everything to do more of a show they loved (and get paid for it). And Fillion has said, time and again, that Firefly was the best job he ever had and that all Joss had to do was call. I’m sure he could work something out with the Castle brass.
So, the question isn’t really “could Netflix bring back Firefly?” — it’s “what are they waiting for?”