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My (new) Firefly/Serenity Collection Thread

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My (new) Firefly/Serenity Collection Thread

Postby pennausamike » Sat Nov 18, 2017 5:03 pm

Hey All:

I'm going to try this again.
I'm posting a condensed version of my old seven page collection thread here.

If ya'll would do me a favor, please leave this reply free for awhile;
or at least until I get most of the info back up.
Somehow, I have slipped through the Photobucket picture purge,
so I'm hoping my PB pics stay up long enough to migrate the hosting to this site.
Final challenge to overcome; it is holiday/ car inspection season again, so time and interest will be pretty limited.

I'll turn this first post into a real intro at some point, but I'm not sure when.

Thanks,
Mike
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Re: My (new) Firefly/Serenity Collection Thread

Postby pennausamike » Sat Nov 18, 2017 5:11 pm

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A few years back, there was a Cartoon Network show, the Powerpuff Girls, about little girls with superpowers. In one episode, a fanatical Powerpuff Girl merchandise and memorabilia collector becomes a villain when he realizes he owns EVERYTHING there is to collect so he decides to kidnap the Powerpuff girls themselves because there is nothing else left!

After six years of collecting and building a LOT of stuff in the Firefly/ Serenity 'verse, this book stands as a testament to the fact that I am still in no danger of running out of things to collect or build. I've reached a point where, although there are still things I would be interested in acquiring, the reality of "how-much-stuff-is-enough", combined with a fair backlog of unfinished projects, means that I'm largely at the end of this journey.

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There is still more to finish, so this book is a record of a work in progress. And that has value, too. If someday I decide to revisit my "completed" Firefly/ Serenity Collection and document the final result, great! But if not, this book will preserve a moment in time that might otherwise be lost to the ever swelling seas of responsibilities and distractions.

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I put lots of my "how-to" builds in the book.

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And a number of essays and articles.

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So, here it is, what six years of blood, sweat, tears and toil hath wrought. Alright, there were no tears, because this was just one of the fun-est, most satisfying hobbies ever, but there was definitely some sweat, a lot of toil; and even a little blood, because some of the tools and pieces are SHARP, and I'm not always all that co-ordinated.
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Re: My (new) Firefly/Serenity Collection Thread

Postby pennausamike » Sat Nov 18, 2017 5:13 pm

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If you are going to have a Firefly and Serenity collection, it all starts here; the DVD's.

First would be the four disc set in the slipcase. I recommend this version over the less expensive set currently available at Walmart for $19.95. The less expensive set is four discs in a single case. I just prefer the more expensive packaging, in part because there is more info on the individual case sleeves, in part because such a noteworthy show deserves the better presentation, but mostly I have a sense of warm nostalgia at handling the DVD box set that shocked the execs who canceled such an "unpopular" show.

The second required viewing item is the Serenity Collectors Edition. It is the black box next to the Firefly slipcase. The Collectors Edition has all the special features of the original release of Serenity (top of the picture) plus most of the features of the Australian release (middle of the second row). I actually bought a region-free DVD player to watch the Australian version of Serenity. The special features included a few things not on the original US Serenity release and also a Q&A with Joss Whedon at FOX Studios in Sydney Australia that has STILL not been released anywhere else.

The DVD at the top-row-right is the "Done The Impossible- A Fans' Tale of Firefly & Serenity". Brought to you by some uber Firefly/Serenity fans, DTI is an excellent overview of the brightest hour of Browncoat fandom. The early "save Firefly" movement, the guerrilla marketing campaign, the creator, cast and crew refusing to give up, the interaction between fans and filmmakers, everything leading up to the green light for the BDM Serenity; are encapsulated in this well-made documentary. I came kinda late to the party (January 2006 after seeing BDM Serenity on DVD) so DTI is my link to the most optimistic days of the fandom.

The DVD under DTI is a collection of panels filmed at a handful of conventions. Sadly, the sound is so bad, these things are nearly unwatchable. Sitting quietly, it is barely possible to make out kinda-sorta most of what is said. I put the best of these on at a shindig once, but I could tell I was making folks strain too hard to follow for this to be fun. Only for the most hard-core collector.

Finally, on the far right is a Joss Whedon interview on "the Write Environment" hosted by Jeffrey Berman DVD. This is a well done interview DVD showing Joss in his natural working environment, speaking on a variety of subjects.
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Re: My (new) Firefly/Serenity Collection Thread

Postby pennausamike » Sat Nov 18, 2017 5:14 pm

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Alright, if the Firefly DVD boxed set and the Serenity Collectors Edition DVD's are the obvious ESSENTIAL Firefly/Serenity purchase, I'd tend to place all four of the Companion volumes as a close second. These books contain the scripts for all the episodes and the movie, plus a wealth of info on the fictional Firefly/Serenity 'verse, and the behind the scenes people, props, sets and wardrobe that made the 'verse come alive. The majority of Firefly props were rescued from obscurity or worse by English film industry professional, Karl Derrick. Although he has sold off the collection, it is featured prominently in the companion volumes and on Karl's Firefly Archive website.

Firefly Companion Vol. I contains the scripts for: Serenity, The Train Job, Bushwacked, Shindig, Safe, and Our Mrs. Reynolds
Firefly Companion Vol. II contains the scripts for: Jaynestown, Out Of Gas, Ariel, War Stories, Trash, The Message, Heart Of Gold, Objects, In Space.

Awhile back I made a small contribution to Titan Books for their Companion volume, “Firefly: Still Flying”. Instead of reimbursement, I asked for a copy of the book. Well, Christmas came in May that year and I’m here to tell you that “Firefly: Still Flying” is a fitting wrap-up to the Companion series. As noted above, I consider the Titan Companion books to be essential reading for even a casual Browncoat fan. Firefly: Volumes One and Two and the Serenity Companion volume contain the original shooting scripts for the shows and the Big Damn Movie, Serenity. | As often happens, there are little bits taken out or added in as the filming actually takes place. So, the Companion volumes offer little tid-bits of info and insight in addition to a hardcopy version of the stories fans love so much. The Companion volumes offer excellent and often unreleased photos of the actors, sets, props and behind the scenes artists that made Firefly and Serenity the amazingly realized vision they are. Everyone involved in the latest volume deserves to be congratulated for a simply wonderful job. I long ago sent an email to Titan Books listing what my expectations/ hopes were for "Still Flying". They have done a fantastic job of balancing everything I hoped to see in the book. I don't mean “Firefly: Still Flying” was able to include literally everything. But they struck a great balance of touching on all the aspects of the show I hoped to see covered. I mentioned behind the scenes info on the sets, locations, props and CGI city-scapes and ships. The section on the stunt work was a neat and unexpected bonus. I mentioned that I thought it was necessary to include sections on the principle actors, but that I thought that would be a tough thing to pull off because we fans have heard it all before. I think the info the “Still Flying” team presented and the way it was done was an inventive, informative solution to a tricky problem. I loved the varied insights culled from various sites, sources and time periods. I think they avoided the sense of rehashing old ground. They touched on fan activities, fan films and for-fan merchandising. Given the breadth of Browncoat activities, they didn’t hit it all, but they gave a nice introduction that points folks in the many directions Firefly fandom points. The inclusion of four new stories by Firefly story contributors will give fans a little bit of new content to enjoy and discuss. The presentation of photographs and artwork in the book is beautiful. The quality of the shots and the lay-out is top-notch! I highly recommend the Firefly and Serenity Companion volumes and “Firefly: Still Flying” meets or exceeds the standard of the first three.
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Re: My (new) Firefly/Serenity Collection Thread

Postby pennausamike » Sat Nov 18, 2017 5:16 pm

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So___Many___Words___ The music of Firefly was every bit as unique as every other aspect of the show. Greg Edmonson scored Firefly in an amazing blend of American country-western with an international twist. The Firefly sound was very organic, always sounding as if it could be played on those backwater worlds where folks were left with nothing but a few blankets and a herd... ...and some simple stringed instruments. Although Greg used some electronic tonalities in some of the "battle" music, it was things like the juxtaposition of his homespun guitar chords over a space ship lighting the afterburners that helped the future world of the 'verse feel comfortable and at home in our early 21st century hearts. John Williams popularized the idea of writing musical themes for characters in Star Wars, but Greg Edmonson has said he wrote to capture the emotion of a scene rather than try to write character themes. Even the oboe piece that has come to be thought of as Jubal Early's theme was written to capture the mood of this really bad man sneaking aboard Serenity. From the energetic hoe down song backing the spaceball game opening of "Bushwacked", to the weeping funeral song of "The Message", I can't recall an out of place note in the Firefly 'verse. The soundtrack album captures much of that wide range of musical style (tho' the absence of the Persephone docks music, "The Hero of Canton", and the "Our Mrs. Reynolds" river intro music is sorely felt). The only problem with listening to a TV soundtrack album is that the musical pieces are barely more than snippets. The Firefly album is essentially 44 pieces of music broken up into 25 tracks. And even at that, I rearranged the song order to try to make the music "flow" a little more to my liking. Snippets or no, this album still triggers emotional responses straight out of the show, and listening is like carrying a little bit of the show where ever you take your CD or MP3 player.

Top left is the Firefly music book. It's filled with a bunch of notes that, frankly, mean nothing to me, but I bought it because of my love for the music that Greg Edmonson created for Firefly, and a hope, however fleeting and unlikely, that I might someday be able to make use of it.

Below the music book is the Firefly soundtrack album, which also includes the show's theme, written by Joss Whedon and performed by Sonny Rhoades. I have to admit, the first time I heard the Ballad of Serenity, I thought it was a little goofy. About four episodes in I realized how perfectly it captured the Firefly vibe, and at some point before I finished watching the series for the first time, I found myself singing along.

To the right of the Firefly soundtrack album is the BDM Serenity soundtrack. Yeah, uh, well; it's a really good MOVIE soundtrack, but.... like many of the changes made to BDM Serenity from the TV show, Firefly, it feels too much like an attempt to appeal to a mainstream audience. BDM Serenity's soundtrack is-just-so-much-BIGGER. In the liner notes, Joss Whedon waxes enthusiastic about composer David Newman's talent. And everything he says is true: Newman "got" the "western" thing (our first view of Serenity breaking atmo to a banjo is a very "Firefly" moment) and he crafted a very solid movie score. But at times, BDM Serenity's score almost feels cliche. The characters had themes (tho' River's slightly out of tune piano theme does capture her slightly out of tune character) and where Firefly felt very organic, BDM Serenity feels very "Alliance", that is to say the music better represented the resources of the Core planets than the Rim worlds the audience is asked to identify with. Much of the big battle music feels very, "been-there-done-that" up to and including a number of (seems like) note by note, sound by sound lifts from the Road Warrior and Star Wars soundtracks. Missing from the CD is the very cool electronic music that so well fits Serenity docking at the Beaumonde shipyard.

Most Firefly fans seem to feel that the scoring nod should have gone to Greg Edmonson. Artistically I agree. Commercially, I can see the David Newman score for a blockbuster summer release, but when Universal decided on a, "nobody but Browncoats will see this movie" Fall release; well aw shoot, they might as well have let Greg score the thing with that "Wow, never heard that before" touch of his. Above the BDM Serenity soundtrack are the CD's "On The Drift" from the Bedlam Bards and the"Done The Impossible" soundtrack. These albums are a mixture of songs that fit IN the 'verse, and songs ABOUT the show and fandom. I'm not personally into folk music or Filk, but like Greg Edmonson's Firefly music, many of the songs transcend a pidgeonhole genre and work as the eclectic mix that defines the Firefly 'verse. And some are just fun Browncoat anthems, good for singin' along, if'n ya can remember all the words.

And finally, I beg a little indulgence, (assuming your eyeballs haven't already rolled back into your skull from so___many___words). Part of my love of the Firefly 'verse is that I could pack my bags and move there. When I build the props highlighted in this collection thread or listen to the music from the show, there is a sense of at least peripherally inhabiting that fictional world. And if I'm going somewhere, I'm not leaving my Led Zeppelin behind. Led Zeppelin isn't totally out of place in the 'verse, because the band traveled the world and brought back Eastern tonalities, phrasing and instruments, and incorporated them into their rock sound. So, the green album in the upper right is "Kashmir: Symphonic Led Zeppelin" played by The London Philharmonic Orchestra. Arranged by Jaz Coleman, the mix is so Eastern, I believe parts of it could be literally used as backing for the Firefly show.
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Re: My (new) Firefly/Serenity Collection Thread

Postby pennausamike » Sat Nov 18, 2017 5:17 pm

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Ah yes, the comics, the only licensed continuation of the story of the crew of Serenity in the 'verse. I would have to state that I'm not a fan of comic books in the first place. Not that I dislike 'em, just never really got into them, either. And , I would have to say, none of these Serenity comics have really jump-started any desire to delve further into the medium. The first release was "Those Left Behind". This tale of the period between the end of the series and the BDM Serenity was put out at the second high point of Firefly fandom. The crest of Browncoat fandom was during the save-the-series-led-to-the-movie period documented in the fan documentary, "Done The Impossible". A second, smaller crest came after the DVD release of the movie into the first few Can't Stop The Serenity charity showings of the BDM. During this second rising wave of Firefly fandom, Browncoats were buying everydamnthing that was put out to prove Firefly/Serenity was a growing, viable, franchise with legs, like Star Trek became. (I was sort of in that camp, too; sorry folks, it didn't work out..) "Those Left Behind" is a bridging story, but is weaker than it should have been, I think. Main characters had left the ship, and by the BDM, things were in pretty dire straits for those remaining. None of that is captured in "Those Left Behind". The friction between Shepherd Book and Mal seemed forced and out of place, especially when compared with the seeming warm relationship shown with Captain and crew in the BDM. Absolutely no insight was given into Inara's decision to leave Serenity. There is no sense of the tightening reins of the Alliance alluded to in the BDM. And last but not least, the returning villain is ?Agent Dobson?, WHO GOT SHOT IN THE HEAD WITH A PISTOL THAT CAN DROP A HORSE WITH ONE SHOT?!?! The only good thing about THAT scenario is the credence it lends to MY insistence that Wash Lives*. (If Joss can bring back a meaningless secondary character, he can sure as heck bring back the crew's anchor, comic relief and one-half of Serenity's mature married team. Humpf!) For me, part of the failure of "Those Left Behind" is a weak story, but a large part is the lack of the actors' input. The cast of Firefly was a huge part of translating "clever" and "good" on the page into "excellent" and "magical" on screen. At no point did I feel the Firefly magic while reading "Those Left Behind".

"Better Days" is the second comic released under the BDM "Serenity" license; although until "Float Out", all the comics are rooted in the Firefly era. I found "Better Days" to be "better" than "Those Left Behind". The crew dynamic is more familiar and there are times I could "hear" the actors "saying" the dialog. The plot is more engaging with lots going on, at least until the end, when the crew loses their large windfall of wealth. Mal's seemingly purposeful move of losing the crew's big payoff and driving them all back into barely scraping by felt like an unrealistic retelling of Niska taking all the crew's money from the Ariel heist.

The eight page, free, web comic, "The other Half" is good short story that also suffers from the "been-there-done-that" vibe. It ends on a another "Welcome to the crew, River" note along the lines of "Objects In Space" (explicitly) and the BDM (implied).

"Float Out" is an OK story. I'm not sure it would have been published if a non-celebrity had submitted it. But having a celebrity fan write a story in the 'verse probably seemed like a good idea at the time. My perception of the story is colored by the fact that it is the first officially licensed continuation after the BDM and it is written from (heck, ABOUT) Wash's death in the film. Sorry, but that's not the story I want to hear, and I find it interesting that so far it hasn't been a story a Whedon has chosen to tell.

Speaking of which, "Downtime" is a little tale that appeared on the USA Today website. Written by Zack Whedon as an outgrowth of his work on "The Shepherd's Tale", I found "Downtime" did a good job of capturing the actors "voices" in the portrayal of their characters. USA Today printed the first page of the eight page story on a full page of their paper, along with a nice write-up.

"The Shepherd's Tale" is the only comic that I feel really adds to the Firefly 'verse. There have been little bits that felt right, but none of the stories grew the 'verse for me. Until now. I was prepared to dislike "The Shepherd's Tale". I bought it and read it three times over the first three days. And it kinda grew on me. I think Zack Whedon did a fine job capturing the "feel" of the 'verse. The dialog felt right and the revelations mostly fit the type and scope of what I found reasonable. The only flaw I sensed is the timeline. I think "Shepherd's Tale" puts the Unification War as going back further than the events of Miranda allows. This isn't a first for Joss, tho'. He confused the timeline in his pre-production notes for the BDM "Serenity", as reproduced in the Serenity Companion volume.

The Comics, listing the items in the picture: In the center, the three issue comic book version of "Better Days". Moving clockwise around the outside, starting from the upper left, The full page from the issue of USA Today A printed out copy of the web comic, "Downtime". A printed out copy of the web comic, "The Other Half". The two different covers for the single issue story, "Float Out". Hardbound volume 3, "The Shepherd's Tale". Hardbound volume 2, "Better Days And Other Stories". Hardbound volume 1, "Those Left Behind". The trade paperback version of "Better Days". And the trade paperback version of "Those Left Behind".

Book's wartime "experience" is twenty years in the past in "Shepherd's Tale", compared to thirteen years in the TV series and BDM. In a number of ways, the comic timeline is horribly flawed. "Canon" in the 'verse, in everything from timelines to wardrobe errors, has been very sloppy. But, the story itself was worthy of inclusion in 'verse canon, and I hope Zack convinces Joss to help him play in the 'verse a little more. As far as presentation, I REALLY like the three hardbound volumes that contain all the Firefly/Serenity comics. I feel they are presented as deserving a place in my collection with the DVD's and the Companion volumes. The artwork is all over the board; sometimes the nuances of the characters' appearance and actions are captured perfectly, sometimes not so much. Inara is the one Firefly character who has never been drawn badly. If I didn't already have more Firefly art than walls to hang it, some of the comic art is definitely frame-worthy!

* My "Wash Lives" essay
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Re: My (new) Firefly/Serenity Collection Thread

Postby pennausamike » Sat Nov 18, 2017 5:19 pm

FOX spent a ton of money on promo goodies for Firefly. The only promo/swag item I ever acquired was the cool light-up Firefly pen.

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After about three years of being outbid, I finally won the one shown below for a pretty good price; probably less than many folks pay for simply a really good pen.

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Firefly Promo Swag Among the FOX promo items like the pen, and T-shirts and hats out the wazoo, was coolest of all, a small gray shipping crate filled with unique "in-the-'verse" goodies. 1. Black cardboard storage box with “Private” label 2. Booklet/Packet describing the show, cast, plot, Joss Whedon etc. 3. Promo hat (with original logo) 4. Promo shirt - original logo (black shirt) - new logo (white shirt) 5. Leather wallet 6. Metal Flask 7. Boarding pass 8. Mal’s pilot's license 9. Note from Mal (on parchment) 10. Blueprints (3 pages) 11. Postcards (3?) 12. VHS tape of original pilot 13. Food bar (chocolate bar in gold brick box) 14. Alliance planetary nebula map NGC 3242 15. Alliance rations: Jerky, space food freeze dried fries, astronaut ice cream, freeze dried strawberries, more? | Somebody else's Firefly Promo shipping crate, because I never got one.
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Re: My (new) Firefly/Serenity Collection Thread

Postby pennausamike » Sat Nov 18, 2017 5:20 pm

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Promoting The 'Verse On the left is a foldout, three page booklet with info about the Firefly origins, the world, the creator and the cast and characters of Serenity. Top-center is a copy of the 27-page Serenity Production Information included in the press kits. Below that are two promotional postcards, shown front-and-back. Beside the postcards is a German tri-fold info booklet. I don't know WHAT the heck that says, but I'm sure it's much the same info as the US promo pieces. As a note, the European posters and promotional items featured the more gray-tone art with River in a couple of acrobatic combat poses. I personally prefer them to the dark blue US posters, and yet I somehow never seemed to latch on to one. Now, I just have more stuff than I have walls to hang it, so I'm not really looking to buy more posters. Far right are DVD backer cards, like you used to see in Blockbuster (who was driven out of business by Netflix, who's being driven out of business by; well, I just can't keep up). The top card is for the US release, the lower card is from Australia, which features the more European style art. Finally, at the bottom is the Big Damn Thank You card from the fan-led effort to get a sequel made. Interestingly enough, this became sort of the, "What The Hell Are You Doing?!" campaign when Universal and FOX started sending Cease & Desist letters to all the small Firefly/Serenity fan vendors; most notoriously going after Firefly Fan "11th Hour", the woman who spearheaded the "Save Firefly" guerrilla marketing campaign with her compelling artwork.

Note below that the front half of Mal's ICONIC! pistol has been overlayed with the muzzle and slide of a modern automatic pistol.

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What...The........... It is like all the suits and mundanes involved in handling Firefly and the BDM Serenity were fixated on the idea that its lack of mainstream popularity stemmed from the fact that it was a "space-western". I'm not sure if Firefly/Serenity would have ever achieved Star Wars level popularity. I DO find it amazing that SOMEHOW it has never occurred to both the TV and movie executives that a quality made show, featuring character-driven stories, could succeed if it was just where it was supposed to be, when it was supposed to be there! FOX really did promote Firefly pretty well. They spent a good deal of money on promotional swag and advertising; only to sabotage themselves by putting an expensive-to-produce show on the known-worst TV viewing night, aired out of order, constantly pre-empted. Fellow collector and uber-Firefly-paper-prop-maker Yellowjacket modified the image of my promo pen to more accurately reflect FOX's actual handling of the show: | I feel that Universal really did try to market Serenity, but they just...couldn't...get...it... Here is a look at this tiny detail from the initial US DVD release, something so small that I'm sure most folks didn't even catch it. But I did, and someone in marketing felt compelled to make the change. | Universal really did try to promote BDM Serenity. Advanced screenings to gage interest, the River Tam Sessions viral marketing, all the usual promo info and goodies; only to put off the release of a great summer action movie (multiple times) to the dead spot of Fall, in and out of theaters in two weeks. The overlayed Mal pistol is emblematic of the studios' basic un-comfortable-ness with the whole concept of Firefly.
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Re: My (new) Firefly/Serenity Collection Thread

Postby pennausamike » Sat Nov 18, 2017 5:21 pm

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Top row, left to right: One of a few licensed Serenity RPG books, Finding Serenity, Serenity Found, The Big Damn Chefs Cookbook. Bottom row left to right: Filming locations booklet, The Firefly Episode Guide, Investigating Firefly/Serenity, a blank version of the Big Damn Chefs book from Cafepress. Not being into roleplaying games, I bought this Serenity RPG book from an Extended Universe perspective. There was info on building EU characters, but it wasn't really what I was looking for. Finding Serenity, Serenity Found and Investigating Firefly/Serenity are books made up of essays. Some interesting, some not so much. My favorite from the essay books is Jewel Staite's piece in the first volume. I personally enjoyed the little episode guide by Mimi Noyes more than Finding, Found or Investigating Firefly and Serenity. The Big Damn Chefs cookbook is OOP and only minimally interesting from a 'verse building standpoint. (One of the Bedlam Bards describes his recipe with an "in 'verse" narrative.) There is a recipe describing how to pack Griswolds in apples, but substituting prizes for explosives. Whew! Although the cookbook is OOP, their Cafepress Store still up, http://www.cafepress.com/breliefcorps with a number of nice products with the cool art work done for the project, http://www.cafepress.com/breliefcorps/2282415 Far as the Locations book, it was a little plastic bound together deal I got from an eBay seller. I've been posting most of the info with better pictures in the episode threads on http://www.fireflyprops.net BronsonBB has been a major shooting locations sleuth, and the combination of my online looking and his in-person seeing is more info than what is in the little booklet.
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Re: My (new) Firefly/Serenity Collection Thread

Postby pennausamike » Sat Nov 18, 2017 5:22 pm

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Firefly Fan Films on Video The collection of Firefly Fan Films is spotty at best. Browncoats: Redemption is the only legally permitted FFF made to date. And given the reluctance of the studios to commit resources to keeping an eye on something as high-effort, no-tangible-return as overseeing fan film production, that is likely to STAY the only officially permitted release. As far as relating to my collection, Browncoats: Redemption and Cache have both used my Alliance armor, so I have a costumer credit on both films. The DVD containing trailers and blooper reels includes a video taken at the 2009 Farpoint convention that I attended. Alan Tudyck showed the uncut BDM Serenity blooper reel, which is undeniably more hi-larious than the watered down version put on the Serenity official release DVD.
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