Yesterday I read about something that really warmed my heart.
The TV show Firefly was cancelled just about four years ago. Since then, a very successful DVD release, a movie, and various related books, CDs and comic books have kept it alive in the minds of the fans. In addition, the show’s creator, Joss Whedon, and a number of actors and other associates have stayed in touch with the faithful “Browncoats” on web sites and at conventions like Comic-Con and Wizard World. I haven’t been to any of those gatherings, but I’ve envied those who, for example, got to see Serenity months early with Joss in attendance. And as time has gone on I’ve gotten a better and better impression of all the people involved with the Firefly projects. They seem like an unusually funny, smart, and above all decent group of folks.
That’s why, if it hadn’t been so damn far away, I might have planned to attend Flanvention II in L.A. this past weekend. Good thing I didn’t. A couple weeks ago, I read in Whedonesque that the convention organizers were giving people mixed signals about whether the event was going to happen or not; they claimed they were having money problems, despite the fact that attendees had to pay ahead of time and the convention was sold out. Someone mentioned that Nathan Fillion had posted on his MySpace blog that no one from Flanvention had contacted him to firm up the arrangements for his appearance at the con and he was wondering what was up. (This in turn inspired me to create a MySpace account just so I could become Nathan’s “friend”. I joked that he must have a cocaine-addicted monkey pressing the Approve button for all friend requests, because I was added to his list within minutes and he now has almost 7000 people on it! Go ahead — friend him. His blog posts are hi-larious.)
The Firefly fan community is a resourceful bunch. They have previously organized efforts like Firefly: Immediate Assistance and the Serenity Now/Equality Now charity screenings of the movie. This time, in the face of serious doubts about the viability of the convention, they planned a “Backup Bash” to take place in the event of a cancellation. The slimeballs at Booster Entertainment did not confirm until the day before that Flanvention II was scuttled, but despite that two groups of California fans were able to put together a full weekend of activities for disappointed conventioneers, some of whom had travelled halfway across the globe for the event.
What most impressed me was the reaction of the cast and crew. I’ve heard plenty of exasperated anecdotes from Star Trek actors about their appearances at conventions. To me it sure seems like they just do it for the money or, if they’re washed up, a bit of cheap ego affirmation. Before this, I couldn’t imagine the more or less currently employed cast members of a former TV show willingly appearing at a fan event FOR FREE. But that’s what happened. Nathan Fillion showed up and gave away some of his Firefly memorabilia. Alan Tudyk showed off his skeezy facial hair. Jonathan Woodward wore underpants on his head. Adam Baldwin, Morena Baccarin, Ron Glass, Christina Hendricks, and Mark Sheppard all made appearances. Tim Minear gave live commentary for the Firefly episode “Ariel”. Greg Edmonson talked about the music. Shawna Trpcic showed off costumes. And Whedon associates who weren’t even involved with Firefly showed up. Robia LaMorte, who played Jenny Calendar on Buffy, was there. So were James C. Leary (Clem from Buffy) and Camden Toy (various demon roles on Buffy). And Clare Kramer (Glory on season 5 of Buffy) opened the doors of her new restaurant two weeks early to host a fan event.
From all the reports I’ve been reading, the weekend was a smashing success. The fact that it all happened so spontaneously and in such a heartfelt way says something to me about the people Joss Whedon attracts — both as co-workers and as fans. Hearing this story made me proud to be one of them.
In fact, I kind of wish I had been snookered by Booster Entertainment into flying to California just so I could have been at Flan B. Instead, maybe I’ll actually start my long-planned series of Firefly episode reviews… Stay tuned!