Re: Anyone here a fan of Firefly?
Okay, let's amend my statement to "new, unexpected and unconventional on American TV." I'm thinking Fox execs never saw Outlaw Star, Cowboy Bebop, Blake's 7, or realize what Star Wars' roots are. Likewise a majority of US couch potatoes.
I meant American stuff chiefly. The 'space western' is as old as the 1930s, at least, with its origins in the pulpy paperback of the day - and more pertinently, there's the Western elements incorporated prominently into successful space operas like Star Trek and Star Wars. Whedon just shears the same idea of the thin veneer of sci-fi spectacle that was usually overlaid onto the western concept.
And of course there's the influence of actual Westerns to consider. Whedon has conceded his own fondness of western TV growing up as a major influence on how Firefly was shaped.
'Spock is always right, even when he's wrong. It's the tone of voice, the supernatural reasonability; this is not a man like us; this is a god.'
- Philip K. Dick