NYCC 2015: Firefly Panel, Browncoats Keep Serenity Flying

Robert Tiemstra ’16 / Emertainment Monthly Staff Writer
What is it that made Firefly such an enduring series over the last decade? Ask a Firefly fan this question, and you’ll get any number of answers: affection for Joss Whedon’s blend of science fiction and western iconography, a cast of characters that leapt up from western archetypes to become fully formed individuals, and a truly compelling underdog narrative rivaled only by the show’s own struggle (and eventual defeat) against its own network in one of the most startlingly ironic instances of life imitating art since Apocalypse Now. But what sticks out in these panels is just how comfortable the Firefly cast (here represented by Nathan Fillion, Gina Torres, Alan Tudyk, and Jewel Staite) are in the convention environment. When asked what their favorite parts are about the conventions, Gina Torres responded: “You guys.”
To say that these actors have grown since the innocent days of 2002 would be something of an understatement. All of them have gone on to be mainstays of, or memorable guest roles in, popular network dramas. However, when asked about how Firefly contributed to their careers, the panelists were refreshingly realistic about it, saying that Firefly was more about them growing as actors than as professionals–in the words of Nathan Fillion, “They aren’t going to look at your resume and go: ‘Oh look! They were on a failed TV show!’” but the same man a few moments later said that Firefly was the show that really taught him how to rely on the rest of your cast. “I didn’t know how to be the captain of a spaceship, but I have eight people looking at me and calling me ‘Captain’. I needed them.”
As with most panels for ended shows, the running theme seemed to be nostalgia. Jewel, who is pregnant with her first child, mentioned that she didn’t like reading Firefly comics because “it’s like reading a script you don’t get to perform.” Nathan Fillion jumped in immediately to suggest they all go over to his place and perform the comics with each other–a suggestion that earned rapturous applause from the audience and effectively restored the lighthearted mood of the morning–but he didn’t quite shake the bittersweet feeling that sentiment leaves the Fanbase with. And as much as they wouldn’t like to admit it, the comics are merely effective imitations of the characters they want to see more of, not the genuine article. That’s the problem you run into when one medium tries to pick up the slack where another left off.
Another question that prompted much discussion amongst the panel was ‘How old does your child have to be for them to watch Firefly?” The main suggestions ranged from 8 – 10, presumably from audience members who have forgotten the trauma-inducing Reavers and Inara’s adult occupation. A 14 year old audience member (the youngest in the crowd) spoke up, and Jewel dismounted the panel to give the kid a signed T-shirt. More than any other panel at this con, the Firefly cast treats the audience like another member of the panel, and never condescends or panders. They just hang out.
And now, a few memorable tidbits from the panel:
The favorite dessert of each of the Firefly Cast is as follows:
Pumpkin Pie – Jewel Staite
Apple Pie – Gina Torres
Bread Pudding – Alan Tudyk
“I will eat a Cat Turd if it’s covered in chocolate.” – Nathan Fillion
Nathan Fillion on his character Cade from Destiny: “He’s like Malcolm Reynolds, but in a good mood.”
A curious fan asks: “Malcolm Reynolds and Han Solo walk into a bar. Who walks out?”
Nathan Fillion: “Everyone else.”

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