It wasn’t quite love at first sight. But it was close.
I still remember the exact moment it happened. It was one hour and fifteen minutes into the pilot. When Malcolm “Mal” Reynolds walks onto the deck of Serenity, sizes up the hostage situation unfolding, and shoots the undercover Alliance agent in the head without breaking his stride, I literally rose off of my dorm bed and whooped. It was the kind of surprise that made me realize Firefly wasn’t going to be just like any other show. I fell, and I fell hard.
That almost never happens, when it comes to me and television. Usually, I need several episodes to fall in love with a new series. That’s sort of the point of TV, in my experience; you’re supposed to slowly build affection over several hours of investment. Pilots can be hard to love for that reason. It’s no small task to introduce a new cast of characters, establish a world, and explain any relevant backstory all while trying to get people to care enough to come back for more. When the show is science fiction or fantasy, the job is even more difficult.
I can count on one hand the number of pilots that made me fall in love with a series right away. So with Firefly, Joss Whedon’s short-lived space western, I fully expected to need time to get into it—although as it turns out, the pilot was all it took. The bigger surprise, though, was that my love of Firefly would help me discover the love of my life.