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Limited and "event" series are on the rise these days, and as evidenced by 24's anticipated return, the format is an intriguing option as it relates to TV show comebacks, as it doesn't require a long-term commitment for those involved in making it, or the network looking to get it on the air. Firefly's Tim Minear thinks that format would be the way to go if ever the series were to make its way back to television.
And that's a big if ever.
EW makes it very clear at the start of their interview with Minear that they're merely entertaining the topic and not actually talking about a planned comeback for Firefly. At present, there isn't one, and Minear says the last time he talked about bringing Firefly back was nearly a decade ago when he and Joss Whedon discussed "some kind of spinoff," but it doesn't sound like Minear's been involved in any more recent discussions on the matter.
When discussing what format might work best for some kind of Firefly comeback, Minear suggested a limited series:
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.
It's not all that surprising that he'd appreciate the shorter format to revisit the story, as Minear's spent the last few years working as a consulting producer on American Horror Story. The FX series tells a new story each season, and shuffles up its cast.
As for what he said about Netflix, it's smart thinking to consider the benefits of locking in a streaming deal for the hypothetical series. As Minear notes, the streaming video service is really what gave Firefly the afterlife it had after its one-season run on Fox. " Those ancillary markets only really started blooming in the decade after we went off the air," Minear told EW. "Five years after we went off the air is when people discovered us. If we made it five years earlier it might not have happened that way."
Firefly's afterlife also included Serenity, a feature film that followed up on the story and included the original cast from the series. As Minear points out early on in the interview, "getting the band back together" for a followup would be great. "But first everybody has their respective projects that limits them from crossing over into other things," he says. Like Castle, for Nathan Fillion. It would be a challenge to make it happen, that's for sure, but not impossible. And if they did manage to bring the show back, no power in the verse could stop fans from tuning in.
Alas, this is all hypothetical for now. But looking at 24's comeback, and Fox's current interest in event series' in general -- they also have Wayward Pines and some other short form projects in the works -- we know there's a trending format out there that would lend itself well to this kind of comeback, if ever the stars aligned to make it happen.