The basic premise of Firefly a sci-fi western. Earth's two biggest superpowers, America and China, have merged, so everyone, no matter their education level, speaks both English and Chinese. This is very handy for the TV series, as all cursing is done in Chinese! lol~ All Chinese is spoken in a context that makes it obvious what is meant, whether they're cursing or speaking terms of endearment, so it's easy to understand what's going on (during the brief moments when they're not speaking English).
It's many years in the future, and mankind has outgrown the Earth. They've gone on to new worlds, terraforming planets and moons to make them habitable, and dropping settlers on the various planets where they live or die. The central planets form The Alliance, but the "less enlightened" planets on the outer edges have differing points of view. The war with the "Browncoats" was devastating to both sides, with the final battle being fought, and won by The Alliance in the battle of Serenity, which is both the name of the movie, and the name of the main character's ship.
Our main cast, from left to right:
Jayne, Kaylee, Shepard Book, Simon, Inara, Mal, Zoe, Wash and River
Jayne Cobb is our cutthroat mercenary. He's rude, crude and socially unacceptable, and money and guns are his main focus in life. Despite this, he has a good heart buried in there, which will occasionally show itself forcefully.
Kaylee Frye is our sweet, lovable and earthy ship's mechanic. She has a love of machinery, as well as for the ship's doctor, Simon.
Shepard Book is a preacher, caught up in a world he didn't expect when he signed on as a passenger on Serenity. He discovers the brutal reality of life outside the abbey, but he may just be exactly where he belongs.
Simon Tam is the ship's doctor. A brilliant student with a promising future, he threw it all away to save his little sister, River, from the clutches of the Alliance, who was holding her captive and conducting tortuous experiments on her.
Inara Serra is a companion. In the future, being a companion is a very respected and prestigious profession. By companion, you can figure out the connotations of what a companion does. The schooling starts at the age of eight so that the women can become the finest ladies in the 'verse, skilled in everything from tea ceremony to sword fighting - they can do it all... besides keeping others company.
Malcom Reynolds aka "Mal" is the captain of the ship, as well as a former volunteer sergeant for the Browncoats. Serenity is his life and his home. He and his crew scrape a living by doing jobs for others, both legit and illegal. He hates everything about the alliance, so the illegal jobs don't bother him a bit. He's an honorable man with a twist. :P Has a volatile relationship with the ship's companion, Inara, as - though they can't admit it, even to themselves - they have deep feelings for each other. Not the least of his problems with Inara is his healthy disrespect for her profession.
Zoe Washburn is second in command on the ship, as well as in the war. A warrior woman, her loyalty to Mal is unswerving and unquestioning. This occasionally causes problems in her marriage.
Hoban Washburn aka Wash is the ship's incredibly talented pilot. Married to Zoe, theirs is a true portrait of contrasts, as he is a light-hearted joker - nothing "warrior" about his man. Usually wears Hawaiian shirts and loves to play with plastic dinosaurs, this man will keep you smiling.
River Tam is Simon's sister, and co-fugitive. I mentioned that Simon is brilliant, but River makes her brother "look like an idiot child" (direct quote from Simon, by the way). Intuitive, graceful, incredibly talented and even more intelligent, she was taken by The Alliance, for she is also a psychic. The experiments they conducted on her has left her mind fragmented, and her behavior erratic. The love between this brother and sister pair is touching, and sometimes painful to watch.
The characters are beautifully cast, and the rapport between them is palpable. If you get the chance, watch this series from beginning to end - in the order which it was meant to be seen. It's funny, quirky, dramatic and at times touching. I highly, highly recommend it! I love LOST, but for me it's something that has to be taken in small doses. Firefly I will watch over and over again, and still want more!