[Joss Whedon's series, Firefly, was cancelled by Fox who did not like the idea of a show about "nobodies" who "get squished by policy" instead of actual policy makers. After the cancellation, the series was ended with the theaterical feature film, "Serenity". Firefly depicts veterens of a failed civil war against a meddling government, living as smugglers on the wild frontier and refusing to submit. - aaa]
To call Firefly a space-western is an oversimplification that touches upon the set-dressing in which a tale of intimate and epic proportions unfolds itself. Thematically, it is about family, freedom, free will, and identity. It's about a person's purpose in life, a person's place in the universe. It's about survival, faith, and civilization.
Firefly follows the lives of nine people caught in-between: people who have found that they can no longer live in the ultra-civilized and structured society of the Alliance, yet don't belong with the lawless savages who haunt the edges of civilized space--nor do they quite belong with the average, common criminals infesting the underbelly of society. The crew and passengers of Serenity walk the Rim where technology is at it's most basic and the governments influence is least felt. They live in a time that straddles the two worlds of a high-tech future and a throwback to the old frontier.
"I wanted to play with that classic notion of the frontier: not the people who made history, but the people history stepped on --the people for whom every act is the creation of civilization. Then again, there's also gunfights and action." - Joss Whedon
They walk that fine line in the middle, forging their own path while caught between absolute chaos and absolute law.
But they are not your average criminals, abiding not by the fast and loose rules of the seedy underbelly of the criminal world, but by the law of Captain Malcolm Reynolds, who, even in his defiance of man's laws, has his own moral compass which guides his every action. On Serenity Mal's word rules, even while living the contradiction of being a rule-breaker by trade, and considered lawless by society's standards.
"How do you create a civilization? It's a personal process. Your ethics and moral structure are going to be tested. It's about life when it's hard, about how we live when we're on the edge." - Joss Whedon
Our story begins when Mal's world is turned upside down by the arrival of three passegers and a mysterious piece of cargo, and it is at this point that the landscape changes, and his once simple life of living job to job gets complicated beyond his imaginings. Circumstances pit him against the Alliance in a way he never anticipated, which sends him and his ship and crew hurtling down an exciting path of danger and it is this pivotal event that starts off the series.
"When I pitched the show, I said it was about nine people living in the blackness of space and seeing nine different things. That's what I'm fascinated by, how they all react." -Joss Whedon
It is this uniqueness of perspective amongst the characters that allows for an intriguing and intricately rich source of stories.
"They must make decisions that are horrific to people who aren't fighting for their lives every day. It's about a group of people who are living hand-to-mouth, and are heroes, day-to-day."