In our new weekly series, Counter Programming, we offer a substitute to the blockbuster that will be opening across the country this Friday. If you want to skip the theater chaos of Star Trek Into Darkness (or just want a great title to watch afterwards), we recommend Joss Whedon’s space epic, Serenity, currently streaming on Netflix Instant.

Like Star Trek Into Darkness, Serenity is an extension of a beloved series—"Firefly"—created by wunderkind Joss Whedon. While Whedon’s "Firefly" ran for a mere 14 episodes, the show’s cult status was long cemented before it even aired. Even after "Firefly" was cancelled in 2003, the fans rewarded by Serenity in 2005, thanks to the dedication of Whedon, the cast and crew and Universal Pictures.

“You can’t stop the signal” became one of the taglines of the film (as well as a nod to its loyal fanbase). Like Star Trek Into Darkness, Serenity is not an exact continuation of the series, but almost a re-imagining of sorts. Set in the 26th century, Serenity follows a rag-tag group of former freedom fighters from The Colonies, who have long since lost their battle for independence from The Alliance, the powerful government that runs the Universe.

Where Star Trek Into Darkness has its Captain Kirk, Serenity has its Captain Malcolm “Mal” Reynolds played by Nathan Fillion. While Fillon has grown comfortable   on his hit series "Castle," he is lean and hungry in Serenity. His Captain Mal is brash, arrogant, capable and fiercely loyal to his crew. If you think Chris Pine is dreamy, try getting lost in Nathan Fillion’s baby blues.


​Reynolds and his crew take aboard two runaways: Simon Tam, a medical doctor, and his troubled sister, River, the subject of a sinister experiment that turned her into a killing machine. Because of these new additions, Renoylds and his crew are targeted by the Alliance and its Operative (a menacing Chiwetel Ejiofor) and forced to flee across the ‘verse. Their mission is to uncover the origins of the mysterious “Miranda,” the key to discovering the nature of River’s problems and exposing the Alliance for its shady dealings.

An engaging blend of science fiction and the western genres, Serenity is a thrilling space adventure that will leave you breathless. Whedon’s uncanny ability is to merge compelling and fully formed characters with an vast and intricate imagined world.  Full of action, drama and Whedon’s trademark wit, Serenity will make you laugh and cry (trust us, you will), but mostly, you’ll be entertained. By the end of its two-hour running time, you too will be a Browncoat.