We found out back in July that the Science Channel would be airing a Firefly TV special on titled Browncoats Unite on November 11, which reunites the cast and crew of Joss Whedon’s cult favorite television series.
In honor of the upcoming one-hour special, the Science Channel held a panel on Saturday at New York Comic-Con to premiere some exclusive clips from Browncoats Unite and Firefly stars Jewel Staite (Kaylee Frye) and Sean Maher (Dr. Simon Tam) were in attendance. When the former cast members, whose characters were on the cusp of a beautiful love affair when the series created by Joss Whedon was unexpectedly cancelled, greeted each other lovingly on stage, then shared a champagne toast to celebrate their 10th anniversary.
Nathan Fillion, who played Captain Mal Reynolds on the show, called into the panel, but of course, then came out and surprised everyone. As the audience stood up and screamed with delight, Staite and Maher took turns straddling Fillion – yes, it was a sight to see, check our photos capturing that moment and more from the panel here below.
Entertainment Weekly’s Kyle Anderson moderated the panel and kept bringing the conversation back to the fact that Firefly was cancelled by Fox after only 13 episodes (and the pilot). The actors all reflected on their memories of working on the show, beginning with their castings (Frye was told to gain 20 lbs. after she was hired) to their reactions to the series being cancelled, down to the feeling on the set on their last day of filming.
Fillion said that after the show was cancelled, he went on an online message board and posted that if fans see him on the street, they shouldn’t ask him why the show was cancelled or anything like that, because it hurt him to much to have to talk about. Instead, he suggested that fans just nod and say “Captain” if they see him, and til this day, he constantly has people nod at him and say “Captain.”
Fillion also said that getting the news of Firefly‘s cancellation felt like having the most amazing beautiful girlfriend you ever had, who’s super hot, super smart, super amazing, and they’re like “It’s over.”
In an exclusive clip premiered at the panel, the cast sits together in the round and Fillion recalls how he was always reassuring his fellow cast members that the series wouldn’t be cancelled. “We’re not getting cancelled, we’re making a great show,” he recalls saying. “I’m going ‘Buddy, bank on it!’ and slams his hand down. Although he obviously had a point – they were making an amazing show that shouldn’t have been cancelled when it was – perhaps he shouldn’t have banked on Fox not pulling the plug prematurely.
During the panel’s audience Q&A, someone asked what the actors think of seeing fans dressed up as their Firefly characters, at which point people in the audience in Firefly cosplay stood up. There were several Kaylees and Mals out there, but no visible Simons, which prompted Maher to say, “Clearly there are no Simons,” but on queue a “Simon” did stand up. “We would have also accepted shirtless,” said Fillion about possible Simon cosplayers. Quick aside: There was a lot of talk about the men removing their shirts. At one point when Maher tells the audience to keep their pants on, someone shouted back “Take your shirt off,” which led to a “Take it off!” chant. Fillon then said, “Nothing says I respect your work like ‘Take it off.’
The actors were also asked if they could write and direct episodes in later seasons, what would they do for their character. Fillion joked that he’d have his character in a coma to lessen the workload (a true joke, considering the actor’s reputation on set as a hard worker who never complained). Frye expressed that she’d want an episode where she gets to kick ass: “I want to fire a gun and beat somebody up,” adding that Simon would be nude and oily in the episode. Fillion then came up with this own Kaylee’s story where she’d be in a situation where she has to have another persona, so she goes out and kicks ass and even kills people, but never tells anyone; instead, she comes back to the ship, knocks on Simon’s door, and says “Mama needs some me time.” Maher say for his episode Simon and Kaylee would have have lots of babies, then Simon would become an abusive drunk.
When a fan asked what they thought of a Firefly musical, Fillion immediately came up for a song for Kaylee called “Can’t fix nothin’ if you don’t love it first.” He then suggested that Firefly: The Animated Series would be a great way for the franchise to live on.
At the end of the panel, the moderator said that if enough people tweet @ScienceChannel with #FireflyNov11, the Science Channel will unlock exclusive footage from the Firefly: 10th Anniversary: Browncoats Unite documentary.