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Why did Firefly "Fail"?

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View Poll Results: Why Did FireFly "Fail"?
Very Bad Luck
9
4.81%
Lack of Real Promotion
75
40.11%
Lack of Mainstream Appeal
70
37.43%
FireFly Crashed and Burned Because it Was Shit...
33
17.65%
Voters: 187. You may not vote on this poll

Why did Firefly "Fail"?

Old 12-20-05, 11:46 PM
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Why did Firefly "Fail"?

Although I never seen the FireFly series, I did get round to seeing Serenity and I was surprised in how much I enjoyed the movie, and many sci-fi fans seem to speak highly of Serenity and FireFly.

However, despite the many loyal fans this series has and the high quality of the writing (from what I saw of it in Serenity), FireFly was cancelled almost as soon as it was aired on FOX Network. To compound matters even more, FireFly's movie spin-off, Serenity, tanked at the box office (although it could do well in DVD sells).

And even worse I heard FireFly's creator, Joss Whedon, claimed that the FireFly franchise is gone for good; no more TV series, no more movies. I never saw FireFly (I'm contimplating getting the DVD though), but I still feel gutted that I'll never see more of this series after watching the promising Serenity movie.

Why did the FireFly franchise fail, despite it's critical praise and healthy cult following?
Old 12-20-05, 11:50 PM
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It came down to not enough Nielsen families watching the show, for whatever reason.
Old 12-20-05, 11:52 PM
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I voted for Lack of Mainstream Appeal. How many true sci-fi shows (or westerns, for that matter) have been hits for the major networks in the past decade? Supernatural is one thing for TV viewers, space is quite another.
Also it wasn't a choce in the poll, but airing episodes out of sequence NEVER helps in the ratings department.
Old 12-20-05, 11:54 PM
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I'm on the "lack of mainstream appeal" bandwagon. I watched the first 6 or 7 episodes, but trying to stay home on a Friday night to watch a show was hard for me to do back then.

I wish there was a "bad day, bad time, bad channel" option in the poll.
Old 12-20-05, 11:55 PM
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Airing the episodes out of order was dumb, even for Fox. The show made very little sense if you watch it from where they started.
Old 12-20-05, 11:55 PM
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I think the real answer isn't up there: it's the lack of a breakout star the marketing department could push hard enough to make people like that they'd watch the show despite its lack of obvious mainstream appeal. If Whedon had been able to make the show right when Alias started and had cast Jennifer Garner as Inara (or any of the female characters), the show makes it at least three seasons.

I think that sounds most like lack of mainstream appeal, so that is how I voted.
Old 12-21-05, 12:02 AM
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Not showing the episodes in order and putting it on the Friday night deathslot were two of the biggies. Wasn't the first show Fox f'd up on and won't be the last it seems.

Really a shame though. Firefly was a great show. Even though Serenity kinda tanked, it's pretty amazing that a show that didn't even last a season created such loyal fans that DVD sales of the series lead to a movie.
Old 12-21-05, 12:09 AM
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Posted by Goldberg74 I wish there was a "bad day, bad time, bad channel" option in the poll
You could vote "Very Bad Luck", since it was bad luck for FireFly that it was broadcast in a very bad timeslot (Friday is the death nail for any FOX show, just ask any Boston Public fan), with lack of real promotion, no bankable stars and FOX really f**ked it up when they aired the series out of order.

But you could say lack of promotion, which was why I never had any interest in FireFly until the Serenity film.

And although this question is more suitable for Movie Talk, why did Serenity do relatively poorly at the box office?
Old 12-21-05, 12:10 AM
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If you ask me, the airing of episodes out of order was a symptom of why the show failed and not a cause -- the marketing folks were in a state of panic because they felt they had nothing to sell and for whatever reason thought they found an angle that required the train robbery episode to come first. That's my take on that part of the show's unfortunate history, at least.
Old 12-21-05, 12:15 AM
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Originally Posted by Cancer Man
And although this question is more suitable for Movie Talk, why did Serenity do relatively poorly at the box office?
I wonder if the manic fanbase didn't work against the film. I know that I was very leery of the Whedon shows before I jumped in because my friends who pushed them were a little scary when they started talking about how great they were. I think that there might be a similar dynamic here that there is with AD -- people eventually tune out the pushers and decide there is no way they'll give the show (or movie) a shot.
Old 12-21-05, 12:19 AM
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I voted "Lack of mainstream appeal." I watched the episodes in order, and the original pilot ("Serenity") is pretty weak. It took several episodes for the show to "hit it's stride", and like, say, "Arrested Development," it's not something you can sit down and love after one episode. It takes a few for you to get to know the characters and appreciate the scenarios.
Old 12-21-05, 12:33 AM
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I vote for "Not enough people gave a crap about it" Like with any show, if enough people care about it, it will find an audience, no matter what channel or time it is on. Fanboys alone can't make a show a success (which was proven again with the movie) without other viewers who don't fall into the 'watch anything sci-fi or 'Josh made it so it must be awesome' categories. I don't remember what it was up against but I never saw an episode on the air because of it so I was more interested in that than Firefly.

In my area, there was enough ads for it so the failure wasn't due to people not knowing it was on.

I don't believe the order of episodes really had much of an effect. I watched the series not to long ago and there really isn't that much of continuity between them. Just a few references and some bits about River. Otherwise they are stand-alone for the most part. The pilot did show how they met up but other shows don't have the 'gathering' episode and you can watch them fine. ST:TOS for example. 1st ep and they were all there. Nobody tuned out because they didn't know why McCoy or Sulu were there.
Old 12-21-05, 12:45 AM
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Count me in with "Lack of Mainstream Appeal". Truth be told, though, most of it was just a big clusterfuck of bad promotion on FOX's part - i.e. showing the eps out of order, commericals where you couldn't really tell what the show was about, airing in one of THE crappiest timeslots on TV - you name it. I taped most of the show when it originally aired, but even I didn't really watch much of the show until the DVD set came out.

Sci-fi's been a really hard sell on TV for the past however many years, though - and a Sci-Fi/Western, that's an even harder thing to try and get folks to understand.
Old 12-21-05, 12:53 AM
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The whole blame lays with Fox. While they did like Joss' original concept and ordered fifteen episodes without seeing any sort of production done (which rarely ever happens in the realm of television), the blame lied with them once they saw the original pilot and started to turn their back on the entire project (as everyone has mentioned with the weak promotions, airing the episodes out of order, the terrible timeslot, and so on and so on). It seems that the entire project was doomed from the start.

I don't believe the order of episodes really had much of an effect. I watched the series not to long ago and there really isn't that much of continuity between them. Just a few references and some bits about River. Otherwise they are stand-alone for the most part. The pilot did show how they met up but other shows don't have the 'gathering' episode and you can watch them fine.
You may want to watch the series again, because there is a lot of continuity between the episodes (and that's common for any Joss [not Josh] Whedon show).
Old 12-21-05, 01:04 AM
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Lack of mainstream appeal.

Sure the out of order thing was a major blow, but it needed atleast three or four episodes just to get into it. Friday nights also not a good spot but where else would you put it? It needed to go on sci fi from the start.
Old 12-21-05, 01:08 AM
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The root cause is that Fox didn't really want it, didn't like the pilot, and sure as hell didn't know what to do with it. The show was dead before it ever aired, and had Dark Angel's 2nd season been even slightly better than complete suck (or not cost so damn much), it wouldn't have even made it that far. Firefly was an unwanted timeslot-filler that looked less disastrously unattractive than the alternatives. Everything else is a symptom of that.

das
Old 12-21-05, 01:23 AM
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Originally Posted by das Monkey
The root cause is that Fox didn't really want it, didn't like the pilot, and sure as hell didn't know what to do with it. The show was dead before it ever aired, and had Dark Angel's 2nd season been even slightly better than complete suck (or not cost so damn much), it wouldn't have even made it that far. Firefly was an unwanted timeslot-filler that looked less disastrously unattractive than the alternatives. Everything else is a symptom of that.

das
I don't think this is as conclusory as the guy who insists the reason the show failed was that it didn't get good enough ratings, but it's a bit too conclusory for my tastes. I feel the need to ask why Fox didn't want it, didn't like the pilot, and didn't know what to do with it. That may just be me, though. That said, I wouldn't blame you for suggesting to me that there is no way to tell what runs through the mind of the modern TV execs.
Old 12-21-05, 01:33 AM
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Originally Posted by Jimmy James
I don't think this is as conclusory as the guy who insists the reason the show failed was that it didn't get good enough ratings, but it's a bit too conclusory for my tastes. I feel the need to ask why Fox didn't want it, didn't like the pilot, and didn't know what to do with it. That may just be me, though. That said, I wouldn't blame you for suggesting to me that there is no way to tell what runs through the mind of the modern TV execs.
It's pretty well known that Fox gave up all hope with the show once they saw the pilot and in turn made Whedon and Minear create "The Train Job" to launch the show instead of the original pilot "Serenity" as it was too much exposition and not enough action. That was the moment where the show was set to fail.
Old 12-21-05, 06:17 AM
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I didn't like it at all. Although, I saw Serentiy last night and enjoyed it. The whole "western" gimmick just didn't fit right with the high tech. The dialog was goofy, with smart ass quips, abeit not as bad as Buffy. The acting was third ... if not fourth... maybe fifth rate. The show lack the spark and felt like a gimmick.

(IMO)
Old 12-21-05, 08:11 AM
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I think the world just wasn't ready for one of the most AWESOME shows ever!!!
Old 12-21-05, 08:14 AM
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Originally Posted by Decker
Also it wasn't a choce in the poll, but airing episodes out of sequence NEVER helps in the ratings department.
I have to agree with THIS option over all others. FOX mucking around with Whedon's vision and attempts at story arcs definitely screwed this show from ever taking off.
Old 12-21-05, 09:02 AM
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This poll is just another Whedon fanbois thread. Bash the network and not Whedon for creating an obviously unpopular show. That became an unpopular movie.

Look at the choices for the poll. The last choice is the only one that applies to the actual quality of the show. It wasn't a horrible show. It was just mediocre, with substandard scripts and performances. I know the Whedon fanbois cannot handle this type of criticism. That is why they universally blame someone other than Whedon.

SciFi fans are hungry for a great show and Firefly wasn't it.
Old 12-21-05, 09:09 AM
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Originally Posted by Cancer Man
And even worse I heard FireFly's creator, Joss Whedon, claimed that the FireFly franchise is gone for good; no more TV series, no more movies.
While I'm sure that Universal couldn't have been happy with the ultimate box office results of Serenity, even Joss doesn't claim that the franchise is "gone for good". I'd suggest you listen to DVDTalk Radio's interview with him (it's pretty entertaining) and you'll get his sense of things. It's more of a "wait and see" approach in terms of how well the DVD does and what Universal may decide to do with the property.

EDIT: Or you can just read some of his comments here: http://www.thestar.com/NASApp/cs/Con...l=969483191630

It certainly wouldn't be a shocker if we've seen the last of the Firefly crew on screen, but I wouldn't count them out yet.

Originally Posted by Cancer Man
Why did the FireFly franchise fail, despite it's critical praise and healthy cult following?
Lots of reasons (none really captured in your poll) that people have already discussed. Ultimately, this is a show that needs to build an audience. You get to know the characters, their situation, the environment they live in -- and you grow to care about them. That'll take at least a few episodes, and probably the most crucial one is the pilot. When a network doesn't understand or support the show, it can't build an audience. As others have said, the decision to not air the pilot that set things up doomed the show from the start.

Fox has a history (a long history) of cancelling shows quickly, moving shows around, and not realizing when they have a hit on their hands. Family Guy and Firefly leap to mind. Futurama was handled horribly by the network. You also have to wonder how many potential successes got the axe too soon by Fox's knee-jerk programming staff (John Doe, The Tick, Action, Andy Richter Controls the Universe, Undeclared, Greg the Bunny, etc. etc. etc...)

In short, the answer to your poll question is: Fox.

Last edited by bboisvert; 12-21-05 at 09:14 AM.
Old 12-21-05, 09:28 AM
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I was a big Whedon fan when it came out and even I couldn't get into it. When I bought the DVD set I realized it all came down to airing the episodes out of order. I just couldn't get into the first episode they showed and that made me not want to watch the second episode and so forth.

It was also on a horrible night but that wasn't really a big deal for me with the TiVo but for the average viewer that was a problem.
Old 12-21-05, 09:35 AM
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I was gonna say that its really a combination of poor promotion and lack of mainstream appeal.

Sure enough its tied 18-18 on those two options.

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