A Gorram Good Time

Saturday night there’s a little shindig happening at the Portage Theater.

One of the greatest movies to almost never be made, ‘Serenity’, will be screened for a group of the most passionate fans this side of the Friendly Confines. With a costume contest, door prizes, a silent auction, and other surprises planned, it’s guaranteed to be the most fun you’ll have in the ‘verse tomorrow. . .and all in the name of charity.

Chances are, if you’ve heard of ‘Firefly’ it’s because you have a friend who is obsessed with it. After the series’ premature cancellation, the DVDs became this generations’ version of a chain letter. They were passed around by the dozen. Fans bought armfuls of the box sets at a time, gave them out as birthday/Christmas/Flag Day gifts, then watched and re-watched them obsessively. ‘Firefly’ was passed around groups of friends like a bad cold in kindergarten. The show, created by geek god Joss Whedon (creator of ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer’, ‘Angel’, and ‘Dollhouse’), is a genre-hopping adventure series that is part action serial, part western, and part science fiction masterpiece.

Yes, the fans are a stubborn bunch. Nicknamed “Browncoats” after the fictional rebels who fought (and lost) for independence from the omnipresentl evil corporation The Alliance, the fans rebelled. With DVDs sales breaking records and an impressively organized petition campaign, the big wigs in charge took notice. ‘Firefly’ still had a pulse. The series was given a second chance on the big screen with 2005’s ‘Serenity’.

Amy Lund, a devotee of all things Whedonesque and one of the organizers for Chicago’s Can’t Stop the Serenity event, describes Browncoats (herself included, of course) as, “Browncoats are different. . . we don’t give up. The TV show that ‘Serenity’ was based on, ‘Firefly’, was cancelled eight years ago and the movie came out five years ago and Browncoat groups around the world are still going strong and working hard to improve our communities and the world in general, in addition to maintaining the great friendships we’ve made.”

One of the ways that Browncoats give back is with the annual Can’t Stop the Serenity event. 2010 marks the event’s fifth anniversary with 47 scheduled screening taking place across the United States, Canada, Australia, the U.K. and Germany. Last year’s donations totalled over $137,000 for Equality Now (Joss Whedon’s favorite charity) bringing the running total a staggering $416,616.22. Additionally, host cities often choose local charities to donate a portion of their proceeds to including the Greater Boston Food Bank, Nashville Cares, and show lead Nathan Fillion’s pet charity The Kids Need to Read. Tomorrow’s proceeds will be split with 25% going to local battered women’s shelter House of the Good Shepherd and 75% to Equality Now.

Experienced and novice Browncoats are both equally welcomed to Can’t Stop the Serenity. Amy explains, “There is definitely room for first-timers, too! They’ve enjoyed the event in the past. We work hard to provide a balance.” Shiny! See you there, big damn heroes.

Ready to watch the Serenity crew fly again? Head to the Portage Theater (4050 N. Milwaukee Avenue) tomorrow, Saturday August 28th, to join your fellow Chicagoland Browncoats. Tickets are $15 at the door. Doors open at 7 pm and the shindig festivities (including a costume contest, silent auction, ‘Serenity’ screening, and some more surprises) start at 8 pm. The Portage Theater does have a lobby bar, but don’t expect any mudder’s milk.