Well, well, well, well. First look I've ever had of the Firefly series, and I'm impressed. Whedon's filmmaking skills have grown since his work in Buffy the Vampire Slayer (well, he does have a relatively bigger budget)--now he stages fight scenes with clarity and little fuss, and you can see the action choreography and Summer Glau's awesome high kicks in all their glory (maybe not in the league of Hong Kong action, but far better than anything in multiplexes nowadays). And he seems to have struck the right balance between evoking old history and telling a new story in the context of that history, allowing newcomers like me to follow without being swamped, and leavening all that complex detail with careful characterization and offhand humor.
And I'm sure y'all notice the allegory here--that the Alliance with its tight hold over everything including the media can't control absolutely everything, that the tighter the control the more things slip loose; that what those beyond Alliance control needs now is commitment to the cause of opposing the Alliance (can't help notice that Alliance people have immaculate uniforms and stroll spotless corridors while the rest--including the Serenity crew--relax by strumming guitars and sitting by a fireside. What with conservative labelling of liberals as upper-class elitist intellectuals, this image of them being the plain ole folks instead of the right is downright refreshing).
Also note that Whedon knows how to stage a knock-'em-up, drag-'em-out battle where the stakes are high (are, in fact, practically everything), and the casualties are people you know and even care for, that he knows how to pile the odds against our heroes to the point that you begin to wonder, that if they are able to survive the odds, the means of survival are reasonable and even ingenious (until the next death struggle). The heroes, if they are to succeed, do so not through the rightness of their cause, but through skill and cunning. And the odd misplaced nerve.
And (SPOILERS) nice to see that the crew's success is put in context--it's not a knockout blow, but a wakeup call, not the end of the struggle, but a good start. Seems to be a pretty accurate reading of where the United States is at the moment, and just what it needs to get off its ass, at least from where I'm standing.