Firefly 15th Anniversary Collector’s Edition Blu-ray Review

Ralph Potts reviews the 15th Anniversary Collector’s Edition of Joss Whedon’s Firefly, which is set five hundred years in the future and follows a renegade crew aboard a small spacecraft, trying to survive as they travel the unknown parts of the galaxy, evading warring factions and authority agents out to get them.

The Review at a Glance:
(max score: 5 )

Film:

Extras:

Audio/Video total rating:
( Max score: 100 )

81

Details:

Studio and Year: 20th Century Fox – 2002
MPAA Rating: NR
Feature running time: 665 minutes
Genre: Sci-fi/TV Drama

Disc Format: BD-50
Encoding: AVC
Video Aspect: 1.78:1
Resolution: 1080p/24

Audio Format(s): English DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio, German DTS 5.1, Spanish/French Dolby Surround
Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish
Starring: Nathan Fillion, Ron Glass, Gina Torres, Adam Baldwin, Summer Glau, Sean Maher, Alan Tudyk, Jewel Staite
Written & Directed by: Joss Whedon
Music by: Greg Edmonson
Region Code: A

Release Date: September 19, 2017

“Journey Into the Wild Western Space Frontier”



My Take:

I reviewed Firefly when it was originally released on Blu-ray and have included my comments from that review here. Ratings for film, audio/video and legacy bonus content will be the same as they are identical to the original release. New comments for the collectible material/packaging have been added

Hang on for the ride of your life as you launch your imagination into a spectacular world of sci-fi action and rugged adventure from the genius mind of creator Joss Whedon! Set 500 years in the future in the aftermath of a universal civil war, Firefly follows Captain Malcolm Reynolds and his renegade crew of the transport ship Serenity – a fiercely loyal team ready to tackle any job, legal or not. But when they unwittingly take on a mysterious pair of travelers, they find themselves constantly on the run, desperate to evade Alliance authorities, flesh-eating Reavers and other hostile dangers in the darkest corners of space.

Firefly is a sci-fi TV series that ran during the 2002- 2003 season. It is set in the year 2517 and follows the exploits of the crew of the Firefly Class cargo ship Serenity. The series explores the aftermath of a civil war and the pioneer culture that exists on the fringes of their star system. Captain Mal Reynolds (Fillion) is a tough battle-hardened sort who relies heavily on his trusted first mate Zoe (Torres) who fought side by side with him during the war against the Alliance. Her husband “Wash” (Tudyk) is the ship’s pilot, Kaylee (Staite) is the engineer, and last there is hired gun/tough guy Jayne (Baldwin). The crew will pretty much take on any task as long as it ends in a payday. This includes taking on passengers, cargo for transport to other planets, and smuggling.

During the series pilot Serenity 1 & 2 the crew takes on passengers Dr. Simon Tam (Maher), his sister River (Glau), and holy man Shepherd Book (Glass). For good measure they added ‘companion’ Inara Serra, an old friend, to the fold. The term companion has a different meaning and involves her working as a futuristic type of prostitute. Problems arise for the crew when it’s discovered the Simon and River, who has psychic abilities, are on the run from the Alliance. This is the foundation for the events that transpire over the course of the show with plenty of interesting subplots along the way. Firefly has sort of a futuristic western feel that works very well. It was short lived but has a rather large fan base that was extremely displeased by its cancellation.

The entire series is presented here with all 14 episodes (three of which were never aired originally), spread out over three BD-50 Blu-ray discs. Creator Joss Whedon came up with a successful formula that included a cast that truly liked coming to work every day and excellent writing that felt fresh and edgy. The 2003 release of the series on DVD helped to elevate the show’s popularity and broadened its fan base. In 2005 a film Serenity was released based upon the show, and it brought back the entire cast to reprise their roles. Fireflyis a really terrific sci-fi drama that features a great mix of well-developed characters, and creative writing. Unfortunately, it was short lived but has been kept alive but its many endearing fans.
This new Collector’s Edition comes housed in a handsome, embossed keepcase that has a lift off cover, where the contents slip inside. The discs are kept in a book style slipcover with sleeves for each that feature pics of the cast. This arrangement requires pulling the discs out which leaves fingerprints in their edges. Everything fits neatly with the cases hard shell which is nice. Overall, I found the quality and aesthetic of the case to be very pleasing.

Replay Value:

Parental Guide: 

There is violence, language, and some sensuality contained in the series. I would think that a TV-14 rating would be appropriate.

AUDIO/VIDEO – By The Numbers:
REFERENCE = 92-100/EXCELLENT = 83-91/GOOD = 74-82/AVERAGE = 65-73/BELOW AVERAGE = under 65

**My audio/video ratings are based upon a comparative made against other high definition media/blu-ray disc.**

Audio: 82
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)

 

  • Dynamics: 
  • Low frequency effects: 
  • Surround Sound presentation: 
  • Clarity/Detail: 
  • Dialog Reproduction: 
  • DSU/DTS Neural:X Rating * (non-rated element): NA

 

Video: 80
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)

 

  • Resolution/Clarity: 
  • Black Level/Shadow Detail: 
  • Color Reproduction: 
  • Fleshtones: 
  • Compression: 

 

Firefly comes to Blu-ray Disc from 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment featuring 1080p AVC encoded video that has an average bitrate of 24 Mbps and lossless DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio sound that has an average bitrate of 4 Mbps.

The high definition picture was rendered with good overall resolution that featured bold contrast, punchy colors, and lifelike complexions. Fine detail wasn’t always conspicuous from scene to scene which resulted in images appearing less delineated at times. On the contrary there were many instances where the picture had good sharpness and definitive clarity. Whites were overcooked which washed out the presence of detail. Blacks were deep and mildly crushed so that subtle gradations were harder to detect. Detail in the shadowy and dark confines of ship was apparent but its quality was scene dependent. Grain is present and its rendering varied. The ending scene in the opening of Serenity Part 1 exhibited a strange flash of mosquito type noise that covered the entire frame. Dark scenes and backgrounds seemed to highlight grain which made it appear uneven and thereby distracting. It was visible during lighter sequences but was better resolved and natural in appearance. Having seen the show in high definition on Universal HD this presentation was reminiscent of what I saw then.

I was pleased with the quality of this audio presentation as I really wasn’t expecting that much form a TV series based soundtrack. There was quite a bit of surround activity that varied in intensity. Soundstage depth was excellent, with great front channel separation and room spanning spatial directionality. Dynamic range was fairly extended which provided a nice visceral energy to active sound effects. Bass was well defined with strong presence and tangible extension. The show’s signature music had excellent clarity with discerning detail in the mid and upper treble that never sounded harsh or edgy. Dialogue was intelligible and crisp but not as prominent within the mix as I would have liked.

Bonus Features:

  • NEW Firefly Poster, collectible character cards, collectible keepcase
  • Audio commentary
  • Here’s how it is: The making of Firefly featurette
  • Trailers – Dollhouse, Buffy & Angel promos
  • Firefly Reunion: Lunch with Joss, Nathan, Ron, and Alan
  • 4 Deleted scenes
  • Featurettes:
    1. Serenity: The 10th character
    2. Alan Tudyk’s audition
    3. Joss sings the Firefly theme
    4. Joss tours the set
  • Gag Reel

Final Thoughts:

Firefly was a short lived and well executed TV series that has become a classic to its many fans. Its release on Blu-ray gave many a chance to relive it over again I high definition. This 15th Anniversary Collector’s Edition from 20th Century Home Entertainment features the same audio/video presentation and legacy bonus features, found on the original release while offering fans new collectibles that make for a perfect accent to their collection. If you’re a diehard fan, I can think of no better way to enjoy it than this.

 

Ralph Potts
AVS Forum Blu-ray Reviews

Reference Review System:

JVC DLA-RS500 3D/4K Ready High Definition Front Projector
(Calibrated with Calman 5 & C6-HDR Meter from Spectracal)
Stewart Filmscreen – Studiotek 130 G3 100” 16×9 Screen
Carada Masquerade Electronic Horizontal Masking System
Marantz AV8802A 13.2 Channel Audio/Video Processor
Sherbourn Technologies – 7/200 Seven Channel Amplifier
B&K Reference 200.7 Series 2 Seven Channel Amplifier
Oppo UDP-203 Ultra HD Blu-ray Player
Sony Playstation 3 Blu-ray disc Player
System Controller: Apple iPad/iRule Pro HD Universal Remote Control
Canton “Ergo” and Canton In-Ceiling Series Speakers
SVS Ultra Surrounds (Gloss Finish in Bipolar Configuration)
SVS PB-13 Ultra (Rosenut finish)
SVS SB-13 Ultra (Piano Gloss finish)
Panamax M5400-PM Power Conditioner/Surge Protector
Wireworld, Better Cables (Silver Serpent) – Audio/Video/Speaker Cabling
AC Infinity Aircom T8 Component Cooling Systems