'Firefly' Production Designer Takes You Inside Serenity

Serenity

by Tami Katzoff (@tvtamijo)

Any reputable list of the coolest fictional spaceships must include the USS Enterprise, Discovery One, the Millennium Falcon, and, of course, Serenity. A decade after “Firefly” and seven years after the feature film update, Serenity remains a sci-fi icon.

The little ship that was home to our Big Damn Heroes got its look and feel from production designer Carey Meyer, who had worked with Joss Whedon on “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” before joining “Firefly.” Meyer recalls the number one directive from his former boss: “He really wanted the ship to have an identity.”

Serenity’s exterior was conceived after Meyer shoved a balloon inside a paper airplane. “It ended up looking a little bit like the legs of a wasp when a wasp flies, and so there were aspects of it that felt insect-like,” he says. “And [Joss] really wanted the back end to have a significant point where it lights up, like a firefly.”

The interior sets were also designed with Whedon’s original edict in mind. “He came up with a menu of all the spaces that he wanted to have inside,” Meyer says. “He wanted each of those spaces to have a distinct identity, so that you always knew where you were, no matter where you were in the ship.”

Meyer has worked on many productions since “Firefly,” including the current CBS show “Vegas.” But Serenity still remains the closest to his heart. “It’s not every day that you’re able to work with people that closely and have that much fun doing it,” he says. “I loved the show, I loved the ship that I designed, I loved everything about it.”

In the past few years, Meyer has witnessed Serenity’s popularity grow exponentially, and he cites the recent campaign to have the ship immortalized in a Lego play set as one indicator of its dedicated fandom. “It was definitely that inspirational to us,” says Meyer. “It’s really fun to see it become as inspirational to other folks as well.”

The tenth anniversary of “Firefly” came with renewed talk of continuing the story of Captain Mal & Co. And since Serenity was a completely rebuilt hodge-podge of other Firefly ships, Meyer sees no reason why it wouldn’t still be flying. The “Firefly” set, though, is another matter.

“It’s very difficult to hold on to that sort of thing,” says Meyer. “All that wood was recycled and is probably in my sets here at ‘Vegas.’”

Previously on The Weekly Whedon:

» ’Billy the Vampire Slayer' arrives in 'Buffy' comics

» ’Firefly: Browncoats Unite’ is a labor of love

» ’Firefly’ special exclusive clip: how Nathan Fillion joined Serenity crew

» Jane Espenson’s ‘Husbands’ gets comical

» Charge up the freeze ray: Here comes Dr. Horrible!

MTV News producer Tami Katzoff presents The Weekly Whedon, a column exploring all corners of the Whedonverse from "Marvel's The Avengers" to "Buffy" and beyond. Assemble your reactions in the comments section!