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Serenity: Collector's Edition

When Joss Whedon's sci-fi western Firefly was canceled before its 2002 season was completed, no one could have predicted the passionate fanbase and long life that would keep Whedon's rag-tag crew of space outlaws on the cultural radar for years to come. The love for this sadly misbegotten show has been intense, stoked by the release of the feature film Serenity (2005), and kept alive by a loyal network of fans who call themselves "Browncoats" after the duster worn by series star Nathan Fillion. Years after the show's cancellation and the film's release, Serenity lovers flock to annual "Serenity Now" showings in 47 U.S. cities each June, celebrating Whedon's birthday with charity events benefiting the human-rights organization Equality Now. Recently, weekly "Firefly" episodes screening at a Portland, Ore. brewpub attracted around 250 people each week, despite showtimes that began at 10 p.m. in the middle of the work week. Internet bulletin boards, mailing lists, and websites like Serenity Tales offer "Firefly" lovers a chance to not only connect with each other, but to create their own adventures in the Serenity 'verse — fans even organized a "Browncoat Cruise" to Mexico slated for December 2007, a sort of sci-fi convention at sea. The tenacious, continued support for the TV show and movie even inspired a documentary on the subject, Done the Impossible, which debuted at the 2007 Comic-Con in San Diego. Game players will get to create their own characters in the "Firefly" universe starting sometime in 2008, when a MMOG (massively multiplayer online game) based on the series reportedly will be released by Multiverse Network, Inc. And in June, 2007, astronaut Steven Swanson brought "Firefly" and Serenity DVDs along with him on the Space Shuttle Atlantis, donating the discs to the International Space Station's crew.

Whedon has remained characteristically modest about the love for Serenity, telling one interviewer, "I think it's lovely for people to say that Serenity is this generation's Star Wars, but I don't think it's accurate. Star Wars had a cultural impact that is unprecedented and almost untraceably large. Serenity is not that. It's like comparing apples to… unbelievably huge apples." But still, the executives at Universal Pictures know a moneymaker when they see one. "Firefly" fans, being smart enough to know that nothing impresses a studio like cold, hard cash, have continued to support Whedon's brainchild by purchasing multiple copies of the TV show box set and the first Serenity DVD release (both shoot to the top of Amazon's rankings during the "Serenity Now" events every June), and that devotion has paid off with the creation of a "Collector's Edition" release of the film. Whedon has even allowed that there's the slim possibility of another movie if this DVD sells well, saying, "It's probably not being discussed in board rooms right now, but the fact of the matter is, if it makes enough money, sooner or later they say, 'Hey — this is money!'" For those unfamiliar with the world of Serenity, Whedon's space opera still works beautifully as a stand-alone film, a wickedly wrought homage to classic sci-fi, Indiana Jones-style serial adventures, and shoot-'em-up Western pictures. It's a geeky thrill ride designed to appeal to hardcore movie lovers (and, yes, to fans of the TV show), but be warned — once you see Serenity you'll want to run right out and get the "Firefly" box set, and once you're through with that, you'll understand the Browncoats' frustration that there are no more adventures forthcoming from Serenity's crew. You may even find yourself haunting Internet chat rooms and booking a cruise to Mexico to get your Whedon fix. Don't say we didn't warn you.

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Universal Studios Home Entertainment's two-disc Serenity: Collector's Edition offers all of the bonus features from the previous DVD release — the original commentary track by Joss Whedon, an introduction filmed by Whedon to precede early screenings of the movie (4 min.), a blooper reel (6 min.), nine deleted scenes (14 min.), "We'll Have a Fruity Oaty Good Time," in which Whedon discusses the creation of the bizarre Japanese commercial (2 min.), and three behind-the-scenes featurettes — plus another 60 minutes of new bonus features, including an additional, brand-new commentary track with Whedon and stars Nathan Fillion, Adam Baldwin, Summer Glau, and Ron Glass that's funny, silly, informative, and a whole lot of fun. The new "making-of" featurette, "A Filmmaker's Journey," is a detailed, behind-the-scenes look at the making of the movie with reminisces by cast and crew (20 min.); "Sci Fi Inside: Serenity" is a pretty standard promotional piece hosted by Baldwin (4 min.); "Session 416" offers up five creepy Internet teasers that show River being interviewed by doctors back during her time at the Academy (8 min.); "Take a Walk on Serenity" is a hilarious tour of the ship with Whedon, Fillion, Baldwin, and Alan Tudyk — according to Whedon, the ship's bridge "has a lot of blinking lights. And as we all know, blinking lights means science."(4 min.); "The Green Clan" looks at the contributions of DP Jack Green and his crew — several of whom were members of his family (3 min.); and four extended scenes that don't add much, but are an enjoyable addition for fans nonetheless. Dual-DVD slimline keep-case.
—Dawn Taylor

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