Though many Firefly fans still set a place for it at the dinner table, it would stand to reason that most would have grudgingly accepted that the passage of time has conspired with the bitterly sweet upswing of Joss Whedon's career to make a return to the "verse" seem unlikely. Despite those limiting realities, though, that quivering ember of hope - lit by those fans and the obvious affection that Whedon, his cast, and his crew have for that subsisting little series - seems as unstoppable as a certain signal, particularly when people fan the flames.
Enter Tim Minear, writer and producer extraordinaire who is presently working on American Horror Story. Before Minear made creeping out audiences his primary preoccupation, he worked on Firefly (and also Terriers, where's your pitch for the continuing adventures of Hank and Britt, Tim?) and in a new interview he theorizes that a limited return to television could work for Malcolm Reynolds, Zoe, and the man they call Jayne.
Here's Minear on the chances that we will see more Firefly on television:
"I would never foreclose the possibility. The fact that it was even a feature film after it spectacularly failed on Fox was a miracle. And of course it lives on in other forms. In terms of getting the band back together to make a new adventure, who knows? I would love it. It would be great. But first everybody has their respective projects that limits them from crossing over into other things. It’s just trying to coordinate everybody’s obligations so they could somehow participate. [...]
"It doesn’t have to be 13 episodes. Look how 'Sherlock' does it. [...] I think a limited series of some kind would work best. Something like that could also work if, say, 20th could partner with Netflix, or another distributor. It would have its home on Fox, of course [then a second window on streaming]. A limited series would do very well, I bet."
By "respective projects," Minear is surely referring to his Horror Story responsibilities, Whedon's role as the Don of the Marvel movieverse, Nathan Fillion's gig on Castle, and a host of other cast and crew members with occupations and obligations that make a reunion a bit of a sticky wicket.
To his credit, though, Minear is thinking outside the box, mentioning the "event series" model and Sherlock (the UK series that doesn't seem to have any trouble keeping fan support - on both sides of the pond - despite its three-episode seasons and long breaks). Even still, could this actually work for Firefly?
It seems doubtful. Minear was an integral part of Firefly, but there's no dispute (and certainly not from Minear) that Whedon would be the one to decide if the campaign to resurrect Firefly should kick into high gear or not. And, unfortunately, his last recorded thoughts on the matter indicate that he was more on board with a new film down the line when his Marvel obligation ends (assuming that he doesn't keep recommit).
Why a film over a show? This is just speculation, but maybe Whedon doesn't want to subject his story and the fans to something that is open-ended again - even as a limited series. Because the last thing that anyone needs is for Firefly to come back from the dead only to meet another premature death.
With that said, the idea of a limited series with the whole cast does grab one's attention, but the real interesting takeaway from Minear's interview may be that Whedon discussed a spinoff with him about eight years ago. That would put that conversation just a year after the disappointing box office returns of Serenity.
It makes us wonder: Which character would a spinoff have have focused on? And could a spinoff still be a way back for the property if Whedon were to change his mind and become open to the idea of another series? (Then again, maybe he is open to that. After all, he didn't explicitly say "No new show," he just said, to paraphrase, "Yay movie.") It's also worth wondering if a prequel could work, though the passage of time has made that a more unappealing option since it would likely involve recasting.
As is always the case, Whedon's availability is the key, but with his willingness to have a more hands-off role on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., maybe he might do something similar with a Firefly project. It sure seems like Tim Minear would be game and it's obvious that the fans would flock to it. We'll have to wait and see if it ever becomes a reality.