You can't take the sky from Judge Adam Arseneau—unless you kick him into a jet engine.
"We have done the impossible, and that makes us mighty."—Malcolm Reynolds
As George Lucas knows all too well, the most powerful force in the universe isn't the Force. Ravenous fans make the world turn 'round. When Fox lowered its well-honed cancellation axe down on Joss Whedon's (Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Angel) western-themed science-fiction series Firefly, fans were outraged. Faced with the prospect of losing such a well-conceived and brilliant show so early in its career, people sprang into action with an intensity reserved only for nuclear reactors and science-fiction fans. These fans knew a good thing when they saw one and weren't prepared to give up their beloved show so easily.
Legion after legion of Firefly fans (calling themselves "Browncoats") flooded the Internet with praise, pre-ordered enough DVDs to make Fox's corporate heads spin and engaged all manners of grassroots guerrilla marketing to spread the word of Whedon. And so, Serenity was born. A big-budget adaptation of a recently-canceled television show, it was the first of its kind, driven almost entirely by voracious fan interest and DVD sales.
Many fans were banking on the film to revitalize the television franchise, but alas, the show remained stalled. Serenity eventually made its money back in DVD sales and in foreign markets, but failed to become the smash hit that Universal and fans were hoping it would be. Despite furious campaigns of letter-writing, campaigning, petitions, protests and egg-hurling, the Firefly universe drew itself to a close.
Unable to revive the object of their collective affections, a large group of dedicated fans went out and did the next best thing to saving the show: they made their own movie. Lacking millions of dollars, Nathan Fillon and a spaceship, a fan-funded version of Firefly was out, so a documentary was the only reasonable option.
Done the Impossible is the ultimate expression of fanboy love, a documentary composed entirely of warm, gushy feelings towards a cancelled television show and the people who adore it. Created by fans and for fans, the film chronicles the rise and incredibly quick fall of Firefly and the passionate fan movement to see the show resurrected. Chock-full of fan commentary, cast and crew interviews, and footage recorded at conventions, and narrated by Adam Baldwin (Jayne on Firefly), Done the Impossible adores its subject with every single frame, giving equal time between fans and stars alike.
Most of the Firefly cast and crew make appearances in Done the Impossible—including Whedon himself—gushing about how awesome Firefly fans are. Indeed, what makes the film fascinating is how interconnected the Browncoats have become. Done the Impossible is more an examination of a community of like-minded individuals than a documentary about Firefly itself. In banding together to save something they loved, a community of television mourners became interactive and intertwined, a family that transcended borders and locations. The listing of credits at the end of Done the Impossible alone gives you a sense of exactly how many people have now become Browncoats, traveling all over the world to attend conventions and screenings together.
The problem with Done the Impossible comes in the masturbatory quality of the subject matter: fans raving about Firefly for 80 minutes. That's a movie? Calling this film a "documentary" is probably inaccurate, since it feels more like a gigantic infomercial for the franchise. For the record, I like Firefly, so the film is decent in my eyes…but I shudder to imagine how somebody who disliked the show would take to this film. Done the Impossible has absolutely no appeal to anyone who hasn't seen Firefly or Serenity. In fact, the intense attitude of fanaticism will probably turn you right off the show for good. Consider yourself warned: this one is for fans only. Even then, it's a bit obsessive at times.
Still, when you start thinking of the documentary in broader strokes, the significance of the film sets in. Television shows get canceled all the time; everyone at one point or another has felt the irritation of having something you invested time and energy into taken away from you for good. The worst part is the lack of control on the part of the consumer. Even though the networks would fail to exist without loyal viewers, the viewers are given almost no say in the creation or maintenance of a series. If it gets cancelled, there is nothing you can do about it, period. Well, not so in this case. Not only did Firefly fans refuse to say die, they managed to help convince a Hollywood studio to dump millions of dollars into a feature film to keep the show's vision of the future alive. A lot of them even managed to score spots as extras on the set of Serenity. I mean, how cool is that?
Rather than bemoan and lament the passing of the show on endless Internet newsgroups for the next decade, these intrepid fans actually put their money where their mouth was, or rather where their mouths would be, were they not talking to each other by computer all day. These fans drew a line in the sand and simply refused against all odds to let the show die. Such devotion impresses the hell out of me. A bit nerdy, sure, but I am in awe of such raw and undiluted adoration.
Shot on HD, Done the Impossible exhibits a very natural picture quality, with clean crisp lines and unsaturated colors. Comprised mostly of interviews shot against backdrops and comic conventions, the quality is consistent and high quality, doubly so for an independent production. A simple stereo audio track does the job on the audio side, with minimum bass response and tinny dialogue.
Done the Impossible has over six hours of supplementary material, including interactive timelines; extended cast, crew, and fan interviews; trivia games; music videos; fan stories; printable material, and more, not to mention an audio commentary track with the five producers and directors. Yes, five. It takes a lot of Browncoats to make a movie, apparently. Since the film itself isn't complex from a production standpoint, most of the track is full of sly witticism, verbal palm-smacking and gushing over all the famous people they got to interview, which suits me just fine. The creators have thrown together a fantastic DVD presentation loaded with goodies for the ravenous fan.
Much has been said about Fox's terribly bewildering treatment of Firefly, having made the critical error of airing the series out of order, utterly decimating any possible acceptance of the show by the casual viewer. A super fan, I'm not, but I admit that I feel the loss when I throw on my Firefly DVDs. The show had fantastic potential and surprising depth for such a brief flicker on the airways, and I miss it.
Done the Impossible is the ultimate gift of appreciation from a community of die-hard fans, both a celebration of the show they love so much and a tribute to what they managed to help pull off. The film does nothing but toot its own horn, giving the DVD little replay value, but these guys have earned themselves a bit of ego-stroking in my book.
Now, I'm going to watch Serenity. Give yourself a hand, you Browncoats…you done good.
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