By this point, the rise and fall of Joss Whedon's Firefly has been well documented: a show that the cast and crew loved and loved making that was brutally mishandled by a network that didn't understand it and refused to support it. But it was a different story from the inside—one of both great hope and crushing despair.
On an episode of the Nerdist Writers Panel—a spiffy podcast moderated by Supernatural writer Ben Blacker in which he interviews a host of television writers about the business and craft—Firefly's executive story editor Jose Molina reveals the perilous highs and lows the staff experienced working on the sci-fi western ... and precisely when it went bad.
"When we got there ... we felt like we were blessed. We were working for Joss on a network that basically had given him carte blanche to do whatever he wanted. The guy was a hitmaker. He was beloved by the network and the studio and everybody. From the minute we got there, we all felt like we were working on something special and cool and interesting and different and artistic. There's a spaceship and there's cows in it. There's six-guns and people speak unsubtitled Chinese. It's like 'F--k yeah, we are so golden.' ... And then we aired.
"They didn't get it. The network and the studio, from day one, did not understand why there were cows on the ship and why people were speaking Chinese and how [to] market the show. The minute I personally knew we were dead was they showed a promo for us during the World Series and the narrator goes 'From the creator of Buffy the Vampire Slayer'—mistake number one; America doesn't know [Buffy]—'comes a quirky new drama.' The minute they say quirky you're f--ked."
To recap: Describing something as quirky is never a good thing. For more of Molina's thoughts on Firefly, as well as Dark Angel and Terra Nova, listen to the whole episode.