AOQ Firefly Review 1: "Serenity"

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Arbitrar Of Quality

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Mar 30, 2007, 1:25:38 AM3/30/07
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[Hi, or hi again. If anyone doesn't know me, I'm the Arbitrar Of
Quality. Yes, I'm aware that that's not a real word. My deal is that
I spent the past fifteen months watching _Buffy The Vampire Slayer_
and _Angel_ for the first time, with as little knowledge about them as
possible, and writing a review of each episode before proceeding to
the next one. Reviews were posted in alt.tv.buffy-v-slayer (and
alt.tv.angel for ATS); since we're on Usenet, it's all archived.
People welcomed these threads as a springboard for discussions about
the show, with each one generating dozens or occasionally hundreds of
responses, and a good time was had by all.

Which brings us to now. There's been a fair amount of interest in
completing the trilogy by going through _Firefly_, as a group. So the
regulars of a.t.b-v-s and anyone else who drops by will now be going
in depth and discussing Mutant Enemy's third and final show, episode
by episode. I thought I'd bring alt.tv.firefly into the game as
well. And there was enough demand for me to start off each thread
with a complete review that I'm obliging. Now, I'm sure there have
already been many discussions about this unjustifiably short series in
great depth. This is another one.

A difference from past AOQ Reviews in that I've already seen it all,
so it's not a chance to live vicariously through a first-timer. Which
is too bad, really, since the active discovery factor was what
distinguished my Buffyverse comments from others'. By contrast, this
is just some guy talking about which parts he liked. The moral is: if
these threads are going to be any kind of success, quality audience
participation will be required. Don't be shy.

The other notable difference compared to the BTVS/ATS discussions is
that reviews will be posted more slowly. This isn't just to appease
my desire to do other things, although that's part of it. The speed
for the Buffyverse reviews was fueled by the excitement of devouring a
new show, and always being anxious to see the next one. With
_Firefly_, especially given that we have so little show to work with,
it makes more sense to me to savor it this time through.

The rating system (well, the one I use, anyway) is a five-point scale:
Excellent, Good, Decent, Weak, and Bad (although I don't think I'll
rate any FF episodes below Decent). And there are one or two shows
where I may bust out SUPERLATIVE, we'll see. For reference, there are
only four episodes of BTVS or ATS to which I'd give that rating today,
and only one of them actually received it on first viewing.

To the stars we go.]


FIREFLY
Season One, Episode 1: "Serenity"
(or "Every time I think I'm out, they pull me back in")
Writer: Joss Whedon
Director: Joss Whedon

The first suggestion I ever received about _Firefly_ was to give the
first episode some time - Joss & co. have to introduce a staggering
*nine* main characters and a universe while trying to tell a story.
So be a little bit patient. That's one bit of advice that I've
diligently passed along to everyone to whom I've ever introduced the
show. Conventional wisdom among fans seems to be that had the idiot
network allowed "Serenity" to air first, everyone would have been
swept away by the genius of the show and it would have found an
audience. I'm not so sure. It's not very accessible at first, and I
haven't known anyone who's been fully converted to the FF cause based
on the pilot alone. Then again, it certainly piques one's interest.
And watching it again, I have to say that it's a damn good piece of
TV.

Probably the highest dose of inaccessibility comes at the beginning
with the extended depiction of the Battle Of Serenity Valley. As the
name suggests, it's the root of everything, at least for Mal
Reynolds. Conceptually, it all makes sense. Focus on the arc of a
single protagonist to ease us into the ensemble. Play with convention
by doing the heroic stand, and then getting everything taken away
anyway. Play with the format by, as Joss mentions in the commentary,
showing right away how the inspirational cross-kissing man of
conviction got so bitter and mean rather than grudgingly doling out
the back-story in bits and pieces. Objectively speaking, the part in
which hero takes out a ship with his big gun and it colorfully crashes
to earth looks cool. But I know that the first time I watched this I
was quite disinterested in this very long prologue, and I've seen
other first-timers' eyes glaze over much the same way. It's in the
middle of a generic-looking war scene, the soundstage is monochrome
and dull, and we don't have the context at this point. Those of us
looking for something to latch onto right away will find a lot of
steady gunfire and not a lot of dialogue or reason to be drawn in.

Things aren't helped when we cut to the present future, and have a
bunch of characters in helmets, so it's hard for the first-timer to
tell who's who, pull off a vaguely-defined heist. And then we cut
inside some ship that may be somewhere in the vicinity of this to the
pilot, intoning dramatic statements which turn out to be said by the
dinosaurs he's playing with. That universally draws the first
astonished gasp of laughter of the episode, and this brief scene alone
provides the series with two of its most enduringly quotable lines
("and we will call it... this land!" and "curse your sudden but
inevitable betrayal"). Great stuff. I'd also like to mention the
very brief first appearance of Kaylee: "okay. Now I can't get down."
Right away it sets the stage for her personality and the show's sense
of humor. These morsels hopefully keep the channel-surfer entertained
as the show introduces yet another set of new characters to provide
the expository dialogue. I'm dwelling a lot on how hard this is to
follow, but that was my main original impression, and I guarantee that
I'm not the only one who felt this way. I do like the idea of the
"crybaby," playing on the Alliance's human decency as a way to escape,
or at least I did once I figured out what was going on, which wasn't
the first time.

Yeesh, what a mess. I've heard that whole opening described as a
mission statement, and it's impressive how little it works for me
considering how much I love the mission it portends. Fortunately,
once the teaser ends, the fun begins. I can see why the theme song
and intro was a bit much for some people, but it tells us what the
show's about and further sets it apart as something very much unlike
the _Star Trek_s of the world. Cowboys in space indeed.

Speaking of, the one show that _Firefly_ very quickly reminded me of
is the animated masterpiece, _Cowboy Bebop_ (which may be my favorite
TV show ever, for those keeping track). You've got the self-selected
losers on the fringes of society flying around the frontier planets in
their beaten-up old spaceship, barely scraping by and living from job
to job. Nothing so reminiscent of CB could be bad, right? The
biggest difference is that where Bebop is laconic and stylishly
evocative, _Firefly_ is a Joss Whedon show, meaning it lives and
breathes by its fanfares of dialogue. That's why it's worth getting a
bit of crew banter before continuing with the story. "Captain, can
you please stop her from being cheerful?" The strange cadence of the
speech takes a bit of an adjustment, but soon becomes second nature.
Since there's some mumbling anyway, though, the Chinese usually throws
newcomers. Serenity herself has a Millennium Falcon feel, involving
lots of climbing and one room clearly being connected to another, and
the lack of a big TV screen in the front-center of the cockpit is
important in making it its own show.

Brief mention of the confrontation with Badger on Persephone. Joss
points out, rightly, that it makes total sense for the "good guys" to
get defeated here and capitulate, so we can start mapping out where
they do and don't have limits. In this kind of 'verse, why shouldn't
continued survival require the ability to compromise and know when to
turn tail? Badger comes off as more of a dick than our nobly criminal
main cast, and I kept wanting to make comments about his hat ("see?
I've got a hat! It says 'wizzard,' right on it!") before the others
did.

This planet sequence is where Jewel Staite's Kaylee starts to stand
out for me, as she's in her element convincing a drifting "shepherd"
to come on board. The character is one of those that's calculated to
appeal to the viewer and manipulate us into loving her. And hey, it's
pretty much impossible not to. I suppose she's the cute geek of the
group, the Willow or Fred of this show, but she seems extremely
relaxed and comfortable in her role, not filled with angst. Even
after getting shot, she's overflowing with a sweetness that would seem
saccharine if there were a drop of it that felt at all artificial.
When she matter-of-factly tells Book that her ship is the nicest, we
hope he's convinced.

The other Whedon archetype present here is Jayne, the character who
speaks his mind and insults everyone else. He seems like he's just
the dissenter, regularly mocking Mal for backing down for the rest of
the episode, but at some point it becomes clear that he's openly
dangerous. He's a big mean guy who has to constantly be kept
financially satisfied or else he'll turn on you. But _Firefly_
manages the trick of dark humor in that pretty much everyone thinks
he's hilarious, and are correct in that assessment. Snappy writing
and snappy performance by Adam Baldwin. Not someone I ever want to
live on the same boat with, though. This episode teases the idea of
him betraying Mal, but does it so far in the background that it barely
registers, except to say that the book is by no means closed on ever
doing that story.

Several times during "Serenity" the point is made that Mal is choosing
a difficult life by refusing to sell out to the Alliance, leading to
frontier planets and lack of financial security. This unbending kind
of pride thus starts to go about answering the question posed by the
way he backs down in the scene with Badger. I remember that on first
viewing I didn't like our hero very much. He's not such a nice guy,
but this time around I'm appreciating his conviction. That's the
other bookend of his arc this episode, as he's found a cause into
which to channel the belief and determination seen in the Serenity
Valley flashback. It's something for the viewer to latch on to. The
other ingredient from his soldier days, which I did appreciate the
first time, is the way he treats people like Kaylee who've passed
whatever test he has in mind.

The rest of the native crew of Serenity remains a bit undeveloped.
Wash is the allegedly funny guy who doesn't really say or do much
that's entertaining after he's done playing with his dinosaurs. He
has his moment, though, which we'll hit below. Zoe is his gorgeous by-
the-captain's-book wife who doesn't really say much at all. Also
undeveloped is the connection between Mal and the legitimate
professional "Companion" who rents a shuttle from him. In this case,
though, the gaps in what the viewer knows are clearly intentional, and
intriguing. His mocking is partly to make Book uncomfortable, but the
level of disrespect for Inara is striking, and the way she responds
suggests that it'd make more sense if we knew the history. Their
dynamic is too mean-spirited to qualify as married-couple bickering,
while their concern for each other in times of crisis seems too
strongly established to be simple love-hate romantic comedy stuff.

That's as good a place as any to talk about Book and his relationship
with Inara. Joss Whedon doesn't have to be a big fan of religion to
make a sympathetic character who is. Book, at least one the surface,
seems to practice what he preaches, trying to defuse violent
situations and being one of the few characters who's accepting towards
everyone for whom they are. "If you'd prefer a lecture, I've a few
very catchy ones prepped. Sin, and hellfire... One has lepers." Heh.
But right away there are hints that he's going to be the one with the
mysterious back-story that he seems to feel guilty about. The last we
see of these two is the rather trite image of the preacher seeking
absolution from the whore, but where it fails symbolically for me, it
works with these particular characters precisely because we don't know
what makes our shepherd tick.
Speaking of that, one of my favorite exchanges is during the dinner:
"captain, would you mind if I say grace?" "Only if you say it out
loud." This gives me the opening to mention that one thing that
jumped out at me throughout the episode, but especially during the
dinner scene is the fact that group interactions feel like actual
groups interacting. People are talking amongst themselves in twos and
threes, and having conversations in parallel rather than just mumbling
"watermelon, cantaloupe."

Things finally get kicked up a notch during the two big mid-show cargo
bay scenes. The first one reveals the background guy rather than the
suspicious-looking guy as a mole. The way in which the revelations
play out is a Joss-style comedy-of-errors, with everyone talking past
each other; highly entertaining. Of course the consequences of people
with a lot to lose yelling and waving guns around soon become
relevant. It's a little stunning when Kaylee gets shot. In the
aftermath of that, there's a confrontation between Mal and Simon in
which our resident physician shows a bit of cold steel when he
blackmails our heroes into running from the law in exchange for not
standing by and letting someone die. Maybe he'll fit in to the
backstabbing border life than some rich kids.

Having set that up, time to recontextualize it when we find out that
FF has no qualms about making me happy by giving two of its hot actors
nude scenes within the first episode. Oh yeah, and that Simon is in
all this trying to protect his sister. The relationship between Mal
and Simon is possibly the most important part of the episode to me,
seeing how the former reacts once the latter is firmly framed as
someone trying to look after himself and his, as they might say, in an
Alliance-filled 'verse. Brief note of both Mal's much-beloved "huh"
reaction to first seeing River, and of his rather righteous anger when
he thinks she's being sold as a sex slave. Anyway, Simon's speech is
another one of those big turning points of the show that's riveting in
a way different than what's come before, and kudos to Maher for
pulling it off so well. We've had our action, now we talk a little
about what it means with regard to a disturbing act of wanton human
brutality like what's been done to River. This in turn is contrasted
in a very amusing manner with Jayne indifferently getting up to refill
his cup, and later with Mal's all-business reaction - "yeah, it's a
tale of woe, very stirring, but in the meantime..." Big fan of the mood
changes. River herself is a plot device in service of Simon's story
for now, and the show has to deal with the tightrope act of keeping
her as a figure of strong pity without annoying the audience with too
much screaming and incoherence. How well the show does this... well,
let's watch the rest of the series.

And then thrown in amidst all that's already going on is the Reaver
ship sequence. My initial reaction was that the episode didn't need
this other thing crammed in, that is seemed arbitrary, but initial
reactions are sometimes wrong. This is a manipulative moment in which
everyone talks in hushed voices about how horrible these men-gone-mad
are without showing the audience anything, but damned if it doesn't
work extremely well. The music is perfect during this cross between
submarine sequence and ghost story, and one is right there with the
crew in not wanting to breathe too loudly, lest we draw the Reavers'
attention. Despite the fact that we know (and this show actually
adheres to it) that there's no sound in space, it seems like a good
idea not to make any sudden movements or say anything out loud.

Faking Kaylee's death (and you can get away with that in the pilot,
when we have only a brief glimpse at the credits to tell us who the
regulars are) is hilarious. Mean and such too, but hilarious.

On to Whitefall, where I don't have a whole lot to say about the
desert scenes. The visuals are shiny, Jayne with the headset is very
dumb but fun, Zoe getting shot is a reasonably good fakeout, and "I do
the job, I get paid, and that's all" is a pretty lame catchphrase to
walk away on. I do like the fact that our crew does get paid this
week, and would hope that this sets a trend, since we already have one
group of Mutant Enemy heroes who run a business that's constantly
bankrupt yet never makes any money - that's not believable after
awhile. The tightest action toward the end of the show, though,
happens back on board the ship, as the ones left behind abruptly find
themselves helpless until Mal strolls in to prematurely end one
suspense moment so we can focus on the Reaver threat. The aerial
chase afterward is great, with visuals that feel anything but low-
budget. I love both the flying and the matched scenes inside
Serenity, where the camera suddenly turns to swing on our pilot. Wash
is the hero now, perfectly at home, getting most of the cool deadpans
while the others stand around nervously. And his sidekicks are the
ship and the chick who keeps it running. It feels appropriate to
shift the emphasis this way given the importance of the vessel in a
space opera.

I think it's just the length that seems daunting, since I tend to feel
a little burned out on _Firefly_ after watching this one. It took me
awhile to continue the first time, but I knew I would. Given an hour
and a half, "Serenity" paints the shape of the FF 'verse, leaves the
audience with at least a rudimentary picture of each member of its
large cast, and comes up with an exciting story to go along with it.
Despite my complaints about the first ten minutes or so, in an overall
sense, we had a good day.

Tidbits:

- The only main cast member who'd worked with ME before is Summer Glau
("Waiting In The Wings"). Fillion, Torres, and Baldwin would of
course all end up as prominent guest stars on the vampire shows after
_Firefly_'s cancellation.

- "Serenity" includes two actors who were, at the time, the only two
Mutant Enemy three-peaters to play different characters on each of the
three series: Andy Umburger [D'Hoffryn ("Doppelgängland" and onward)/
Dr. Meltzer ("I Fall To Pieces")/Alliance Captain] and Carlos Jacott
[Ken ("Anne")/Richard ("The Bachelor Party")/Dobson]. The next
episode will feature someone who's been on all three shows but as the
same character on BTVS and ATS; he and one other FF guest star will
eventually go on to become true three-peaters.

- Mark A. Sheppard [Badger] plays a part that Joss originally created
for himself, as discussed in the commentary. He had me wondering
whether we'd picked up the all-too-rare _Deep Space Nine_ alum, since
his name is very similar to that of the uncredited actor who played
the dialogue-free role of Morn on that show. Different spelling,
though. At the moment of this writing, he's probably in the highest-
profile role as far as SF geeks are concerned of anyone associated
with _Firefly_.

- _Firefly_ is the only ME show to have separate opening and closing
themes (or different versions derived from the same song, if you
prefer). More shows should do that; it makes things less monotonous,
and it's surprisingly effective at making the viewer feel differently
at the end of an episode than at the beginning.


So...

One-sentence summary: It's a great place to start.

AOQ rating: Excellent

[Ratings so far:
1) "Serenity" - Excellent]

jil...@hotmail.com

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Mar 30, 2007, 2:24:18 AM3/30/07
to
See, I should buy the Firefly DVDs and do this, as I've never seen
almost any of the episodes. I did see the movie, though.

However, that would involve taking my currently alarmingly tight
budget and stretching it to include the Firefly series, and I can't
afford that right now.

mariposas rand mair fheal greykitten tomys des anges

unread,
Mar 30, 2007, 2:28:50 AM3/30/07
to
> Yeesh, what a mess. I've heard that whole opening described as a
> mission statement, and it's impressive how little it works for me
> considering how much I love the mission it portends. Fortunately,
> once the teaser ends, the fun begins. I can see why the theme song
> and intro was a bit much for some people, but it tells us what the
> show's about and further sets it apart as something very much unlike
> the Star Trek s of the world. Cowboys in space indeed.

actually this is very similar to how startrek started
roddenberry proposed startrek as the wagon train to the stars

the enterprise or serenity provides the home base for the heroes
and because this base can move from place to place (wagon train)
they keep getting to new locales

you also you get this with stargate and doctor who

otherwise they have drifter stories (maverick)
or they are in one place and adventures have to come to them (bonanza)

> pretty much impossible not to. I suppose she's the cute geek of the
> group, the Willow or Fred of this show, but she seems extremely
> relaxed and comfortable in her role, not filled with angst. Even

shes also the ceres earth mother of the group
against zoes athena warrior bitch
and inaras aphrodite professional lover

> That's as good a place as any to talk about Book and his relationship
> with Inara. Joss Whedon doesn't have to be a big fan of religion to
> make a sympathetic character who is. Book, at least one the surface,
> seems to practice what he preaches, trying to defuse violent

for anyone in the christian-bad atheist-bad camp
this is showing that being a moralizing controlling bastard
isnt about your religion
its about whether you are a moralizing controlling bastard
you get that in his attack on inaras profession
and later he starts with assumption that simon is white slaver
and starts attacking simons morality without even bother to ask first

mal appears to think that hes superior to book
but he is the one doing all the things he wants to accuse book of

> Things finally get kicked up a notch during the two big mid-show cargo
> bay scenes. The first one reveals the background guy rather than the
> suspicious-looking guy as a mole. The way in which the revelations

sorry but after ken and the thing that tried to eat doyles brain
i was never in doubt about his character

sort of like when in a future episode when a former comrade in arms shows up
i already know he would be evil after trying to kill buffy and killing fred

meow arf meow - they are performing horrible experiments in space
major grubert is watching you - beware the bakalite
impeach the bastard - the airtight garage has you neo

Atlas Bugged

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Mar 30, 2007, 9:02:50 AM3/30/07
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"Arbitrar Of Quality" <tsm...@wildmail.com> wrote in message
news:1175232338....@d57g2000hsg.googlegroups.com...
___[Hi, or hi again. If anyone doesn't know me, I'm the Arbitrar Of

Quality. Yes, I'm aware that that's not a real word.

You would have gone the distance without getting busted - except for me.
But I look the other way on minor felonies.

___Now, I'm sure there have already been many discussions about this

unjustifiably short series in great depth. This is another one.

Not a problem. FIREFLY is special. You'll see my contributions - also
years late - in my sig. I am a busy professional so I will, of necessity,
delete more of your comments than I want to. But I'll read it all and
comment at key points, at least those I consider key.

___A difference from past AOQ Reviews in that I've already seen it all,


so it's not a chance to live vicariously through a first-timer. Which

is too bad, really....

No, it's all good. FIREFLY is a fabulous integration of stand-alone
episodes and meta-story-arc. If you did it one-bite each, readers would
always be saying, "well, you'd whistle differently if you knew...."

___The rating system (well, the one I use, anyway) is a five-point scale:


Excellent, Good, Decent, Weak, and Bad (although I don't think I'll
rate any FF episodes below Decent). And there are one or two shows
where I may bust out SUPERLATIVE, we'll see.

As you'll see, I use an even more restrictive 4-star system. My view is
that art has a subjective component AND an objective one, and
long-story-short, it means making distinctions such as those in a "10" scale
are little more than just opinion, and "thumbs-up/down" is more useful and
accurate but a tad too restrictive.

Statistically, there is frequently a bell-curve, so most will be toward the
middle. FIREFLY sort of broke this mold because there was nothing bad.

I recommend you look at the show HOUSE, M.D. which has flabbergasted me by
shifting the entire curve toward excellence (it ain't sci-fi, but it's close
and I call it "science-faction.) It likewise has no bad shows, but also,
the bulk of them are very, very good. And they've made over 60 of them!!!
One got an Emmy for best writing, and it deserved ten Emmys.

Also, Battlestar Galactica is bell-curvey, but like FIREFLY, never really
makes an honestly bad show. "Shades Of Grey," anyone?

___FIREFLY


Season One, Episode 1: "Serenity"
(or "Every time I think I'm out, they pull me back in")
Writer: Joss Whedon
Director: Joss Whedon

__The first suggestion I ever received about _Firefly_ was to give the


first episode some time - Joss & co. have to introduce a staggering
*nine* main characters and a universe while trying to tell a story.
So be a little bit patient. That's one bit of advice that I've
diligently passed along to everyone to whom I've ever introduced the
show.

I totally mirror all your comments about this, which I've deleted. My first
FIREFLY was "Mrs. Reynolds," and thank Gor for that. Ideally, you see them
in sequence, but some people who do it that way will be put off.

I had a brief interchange with the FIREFLY official author Kieth R. A.
Candido over his published comments that "Train Job" killed the show by
being first. I think you have it right, and Candido and I ended in
respectful disagreement.
http://snipurl.com/q72e

Our view also tends to dilute the popular view that FOX messed up the show
by not showing the Pilot first.

___Speaking of, the one show that _Firefly_ very quickly reminded me of


is the animated masterpiece, _Cowboy Bebop_ (which may be my favorite
TV show ever, for those keeping track).

Several posters have mentioned this. On my to-watch list.

___[Kaylee's] character is one of those that's calculated to


appeal to the viewer and manipulate us into loving her. And hey, it's
pretty much impossible not to.

Oh yeah, but I'll add: Note how the crew and captain, otherwise gritty,
seemingly heartless, *also* cannot help but love her.

Problem later on is when she's emotionally brutalized by an important
character (Jubal Early, in the last ep, "Objects In Space,") I had an
unintended consequence of hating that character so thoroughly that I could
not appreciate anything about him.

___The other Whedon archetype present here is Jayne, the character who


speaks his mind and insults everyone else. He seems like he's just
the dissenter, regularly mocking Mal for backing down for the rest of
the episode, but at some point it becomes clear that he's openly
dangerous. He's a big mean guy who has to constantly be kept
financially satisfied or else he'll turn on you.

It's misdirection by Whedon. He isn't just mercenary, he appears to be an
arrested development man-child with a low IQ. Instead, he's much more
important than most other main characters, such as the married couple - by
far. He's the one that changes most in the show.

___I remember that on first


viewing I didn't like our hero very much. He's not such a nice guy,
but this time around I'm appreciating his conviction.

Yes, more Whedon magic - by which I mean misdirection.

___The rest of the native crew of Serenity remains a bit undeveloped.


Wash is the allegedly funny guy who doesn't really say or do much
that's entertaining after he's done playing with his dinosaurs. He
has his moment, though, which we'll hit below. Zoe is his gorgeous by-
the-captain's-book wife who doesn't really say much at all. Also
undeveloped is the connection between Mal and the legitimate
professional "Companion" who rents a shuttle from him. In this case,
though, the gaps in what the viewer knows are clearly intentional, and
intriguing. His mocking is partly to make Book uncomfortable, but the
level of disrespect for Inara is striking, and the way she responds
suggests that it'd make more sense if we knew the history. Their
dynamic is too mean-spirited to qualify as married-couple bickering,
while their concern for each other in times of crisis seems too
strongly established to be simple love-hate romantic comedy stuff.

Correct. All ten characters (the ship is considered a character) are
full-blown, major characters. But in the total pantheon, who matters?
Ultimately, River (only if you include the Movie), Jayne, and certainly
Reynolds.

___That's as good a place as any to talk about Book and his relationship


with Inara. Joss Whedon doesn't have to be a big fan of religion to
make a sympathetic character who is.

You are either jesting or don't know. Whedon *hates* religion. If you are
unawares, I have references in the FAQ. Absolute atheism is woven into the
fabric of FIREFLY.

___Having set that up, time to recontextualize it when we find out that


FF has no qualms about making me happy by giving two of its hot actors
nude scenes within the first episode.

Me too, fer sure, but don't forget, there's a comment regarding sexual mores
out-front as well. The highest-status person on board...is the prostitute.

___Anyway, Simon's speech is


another one of those big turning points of the show that's riveting in
a way different than what's come before, and kudos to Maher for
pulling it off so well.

Were we in the movies, he'd be cited for nominations.

___River herself is a plot device in service of Simon's story


for now, and the show has to deal with the tightrope act of keeping
her as a figure of strong pity without annoying the audience with too
much screaming and incoherence. How well the show does this... well,
let's watch the rest of the series.

Correct. My view: If not for the BDM SERENITY, River was an annoying,
worthless element. The BDM propels her to primary importance. This
dovetails with what you said about the slow build-up of the pilot. River
was a series-length slow-buildup.

___And then thrown in amidst all that's already going on is the Reaver


ship sequence. My initial reaction was that the episode didn't need
this other thing crammed in, that is seemed arbitrary, but initial
reactions are sometimes wrong.

With ten main characters, two huge meta-villains, and various individual
villains in each episode, FIREFLY is indeed a little demanding by TV
standards.

___The tightest action toward the end of the show, though,


happens back on board the ship, as the ones left behind abruptly find
themselves helpless until Mal strolls in to prematurely end one
suspense moment so we can focus on the Reaver threat.

"Those left behind," FYI, is how Whedon titled the comic-book (which is
canon) which links series and movie.

___The aerial


chase afterward is great, with visuals that feel anything but low-
budget. I love both the flying and the matched scenes inside
Serenity, where the camera suddenly turns to swing on our pilot.

Whedon understood (and stated) that great effects were becoming routine, so
he focused on integrating effects into the live action.

But yeah, whedon really slowly builds up to this mega-action ending. Some
of us worship the CGI on that. Word has it the first episode cost big
bucks, maybe over ten million.

___Tidbits:

- Mark A. Sheppard [Badger] plays a part that Joss originally created
for himself, as discussed in the commentary. He had me wondering
whether we'd picked up the all-too-rare _Deep Space Nine_ alum, since
his name is very similar to that of the uncredited actor who played
the dialogue-free role of Morn on that show. Different spelling,
though. At the moment of this writing, he's probably in the highest-
profile role as far as SF geeks are concerned of anyone associated
with _Firefly_.

If you are following BSG, Sheppard reveals himself to be an Oscar-caliber
performer. The Badger role is understated brilliance, hard to appreciate.
His current gig shows you he's obviously a terrific actor.

___AOQ rating: Excellent

Whoa, looks like we're on the same page. Including the BDM, your Bugged has
only four outings in that top rank. This is one.

My rating/review page is here:
<http://snipurl.com/krwl>

My other online resources are listed below:

Atlas Bugged, Friday, March 30, 2007
--
SERENITY/FIREFLY FAQ, PLUS!
http://snipurl.com/k8ui "One page, all you need to know, referenced."
STARGATE ATLANTIS FAQ
http://snipurl.com/SGAFAQ "Still just a draft, perhaps daft, help to make it
better."
GOODBYE, SG-1
http://snipurl.com/1d8kw "Homage to the legend w/ last ep comments, no
spoilers."
TROLL/RATS:
http://snipurl.com/19k1q "Referenced guide to stinkers that hide."

These are some of my other FIREFLY original postings:
Why FIREFLY is the worst thing that can happen to you:
<http://snipurl.com/jtgy>
I ramble a bit about how Whedon rejected "faster than light travel" here:
http://www.fireflywiki.org/Firefly/FasterThanLight
Whedon bluntly affirms that the Buffyverse has zero to do with the FF-verse,
http://snipurl.com/kyjy

These are terrific FIREFLY-pix I host, most hi-rez and mostly females, all
NN:
Great Hi-Res cast picture of our Big Damn Heroes: <http://snipurl.com/l2vd>
Splash-page graphic from original film web-site: <http://snipurl.com/l3r6>
Fun comic-panel parody: <http://snipurl.com/kt3a>
SERENITY battles the PENGUINS: <http://snipurl.com/l2og>
What to do if you simply can't go on living because of my stuff:
<http://snipurl.com/ngpn>

Gals: <http://snipurl.com/l70f>
Jewel: <http://snipurl.com/krg1>
More: <http://snipurl.com/lh1o>
More: <http://snipurl.com/kqd9>
Summer: <http://snipurl.com/kqa2>
More: <http://snipurl.com/krfg>
More: <http://snipurl.com/krfl>
<sigh> More: <http://snipurl.com/lt6x>


Who is Atlas Bugged?: <http://snipurl.com/kuu4>


Donny Macro

unread,
Mar 30, 2007, 2:18:06 PM3/30/07
to

>"Arbitrar Of Quality" <tsm...@wildmail.com> wrote in message
>news:1175232338....@d57g2000hsg.googlegroups.com...
>[Hi, or hi again. If anyone doesn't know me, I'm the Arbitrar Of
>Quality. Yes, I'm aware that that's not a real word.

Not in English, but certainly in Spanish.

arbitrar

Main Entry: arbitrar
Function: verb
Usage: Spanish word
1 : to arbitrate
2 : to referee, to umpire


>My deal is that


> spent the past fifteen months watching _Buffy The Vampire Slayer_

>nd _Angel_ for the first time, with as little knowledge about them as

>ossible, and writing a review of each episode before proceeding to
>the next one. Reviews were posted in alt.tv.buffy-v-slayer (and
>alt.tv.angel for ATS); since we're on Usenet, it's all archived.

I will have to check them out, I enjoyed what Buffy I saw but didn't see all
the episodes I'm afraid, enough to know that Joss Whedon is the master of
dialogue, in any show.

>People welcomed these threads as a springboard for discussions about
>the show, with each one generating dozens or occasionally hundreds of
>responses, and a good time was had by all.

Certainly welcome for Firefly. We get little intelligent dissection anymore,
(you may find out why).

One Buffy fan said, that they watched one episode of Firefly
(never did find out which one) and they came away with the impression
that every character was unlikable, and never watched again, until I
lent her my DVD collection that is.

>
>Probably the highest dose of inaccessibility comes at the beginning
>with the extended depiction of the Battle Of Serenity Valley. As the
>name suggests, it's the root of everything, at least for Mal
>Reynolds. Conceptually, it all makes sense. Focus on the arc of a
>single protagonist to ease us into the ensemble. Play with convention
>by doing the heroic stand, and then getting everything taken away
>anyway. Play with the format by, as Joss mentions in the commentary,
>showing right away how the inspirational cross-kissing man of
>conviction got so bitter and mean rather than grudgingly doling out

It occurs to me that in order to tell the story that Joss wanted to tell
and have it actually be watched, it might have helped to follow Simon
for one or two episodes before he got on Serenity, so we had one
character to watch and one quickly understandable mission, and then
introduce the bitter mean Mal with the complex backstory that could
slowly unfold, we would have started off in the high tech scifi Core
worlds and it would have been a gentle introduction for those needing it.

>the back-story in bits and pieces. Objectively speaking, the part in
>which hero takes out a ship with his big gun and it colorfully crashes
>to earth looks cool. But I know that the first time I watched this I
>was quite disinterested in this very long prologue, and I've seen
>other first-timers' eyes glaze over much the same way. It's in the
>middle of a generic-looking war scene, the soundstage is monochrome
>and dull, and we don't have the context at this point. Those of us
>looking for something to latch onto right away will find a lot of
>steady gunfire and not a lot of dialogue or reason to be drawn in.

I never thought about this before, not having watched the actual
pilot first, but I believe you are right, I watched having already
learned to love this show since I watched when it first came out
in the screwed up order it was shown in.

I could not watch Star Trek enterprise, not only was it not good and
there were no interesting characters to follow that theme song was
abysmally bad.

Firefly on the other hand and the Ballad of Serenity, (dismissively called
"take the sky" by some) is brilliant, perfectly evocative of the mood, the
frontier setting is too obvious for some people and the horses at the end
doesn't fit in with some viewers preconcieved notions of SciFi.

>Speaking of, the one show that _Firefly_ very quickly reminded me of
>is the animated masterpiece, _Cowboy Bebop_ (which may be my favorite
>TV show ever, for those keeping track). You've got the self-selected
>losers on the fringes of society flying around the frontier planets in
>their beaten-up old spaceship, barely scraping by and living from job
>to job. Nothing so reminiscent of CB could be bad, right? The
>biggest difference is that where Bebop is laconic and stylishly

Ok now I have to see this Cowboy Bebop I keep hearing about.

snip

>Speaking of that, one of my favorite exchanges is during the dinner:
>"captain, would you mind if I say grace?" "Only if you say it out
>loud." This gives me the opening to mention that one thing that
>jumped out at me throughout the episode, but especially during the
>dinner scene is the fact that group interactions feel like actual
>groups interacting. People are talking amongst themselves in twos and
>threes, and having conversations in parallel rather than just mumbling
>"watermelon, cantaloupe."

Joss is the master of this, there is no one better at dialogue.

>
snip


>
>One-sentence summary: It's a great place to start.
>
>AOQ rating: Excellent
>
>[Ratings so far:
>1) "Serenity" - Excellent]
>

great! thanks for this, an intelligent thoughtful review
that doesn't go off on any tangents or personal crusades.
can't wait for the next installment.


ruthless

unread,
Mar 30, 2007, 5:03:40 PM3/30/07
to
In article <1175235858.5...@p15g2000hsd.googlegroups.com>,
"jil...@hotmail.com" <jil...@hotmail.com> wrote:

Worth it. Really worth it. Can't you borrow someone elses or take it out of the library or something?

Did I mention that it is worth it?

--

Quis custodiet ipsos custo?


" I tried reality once, I found it too confining" Jane Wagner/Lily Tomlin


Rincewind

unread,
Mar 30, 2007, 5:41:06 PM3/30/07
to

> FIREFLY
> Season One, Episode 1: "Serenity"
> (or "Every time I think I'm out, they pull me back in")
> Writer: Joss Whedon
> Director: Joss Whedon
>
> The first suggestion I ever received about _Firefly_ was to give the
> first episode some time - Joss & co. have to introduce a staggering
> *nine* main characters and a universe while trying to tell a story.
> So be a little bit patient. That's one bit of advice that I've
> diligently passed along to everyone to whom I've ever introduced the
> show. Conventional wisdom among fans seems to be that had the idiot
> network allowed "Serenity" to air first, everyone would have been
> swept away by the genius of the show and it would have found an
> audience. I'm not so sure. It's not very accessible at first, and I
> haven't known anyone who's been fully converted to the FF cause based
> on the pilot alone.

Then I am probably an exception...
ten minutes into the pilot I was thinking "whoever wrote this stuff is a
genius" and at the end I was convinced that I had just found the best
science fiction show ever.


> Then again, it certainly piques one's interest.
> And watching it again, I have to say that it's a damn good piece of
> TV.
>
> Probably the highest dose of inaccessibility comes at the beginning
> with the extended depiction of the Battle Of Serenity Valley. As the
> name suggests, it's the root of everything, at least for Mal
> Reynolds. Conceptually, it all makes sense. Focus on the arc of a
> single protagonist to ease us into the ensemble. Play with convention
> by doing the heroic stand, and then getting everything taken away
> anyway.

Since you never mention the soundtrack (which I think is one of the most
important elements in any movie, even if a lot of people don't notice it) I
think I should mention that the scene where Mal looks at the ships landing
(while in the background Bendis gets casually killed... did I mention the
writer is a genius?) has one of the most extraordinary pieces of music in
all the whedonverse. Both BtVS and AtS have given us some good, occasionally
great music (The Gift and Hush come to mind), but what Edmonson did for
Firefly is a lot better than anything else I ever heard in any tv show. One
of my major complaints about the big screen Serenity is the fact that
Edmonson was replaced by a less talented composer, one who did a competent
job but nothing as impressive as what Edmonson could have done.


> Play with the format by, as Joss mentions in the commentary,
> showing right away how the inspirational cross-kissing man of
> conviction got so bitter and mean rather than grudgingly doling out
> the back-story in bits and pieces. Objectively speaking, the part in
> which hero takes out a ship with his big gun and it colorfully crashes
> to earth looks cool. But I know that the first time I watched this I
> was quite disinterested in this very long prologue, and I've seen
> other first-timers' eyes glaze over much the same way. It's in the
> middle of a generic-looking war scene, the soundstage is monochrome
> and dull, and we don't have the context at this point. Those of us
> looking for something to latch onto right away will find a lot of
> steady gunfire and not a lot of dialogue or reason to be drawn in.
>
> Things aren't helped when we cut to the present future, and have a
> bunch of characters in helmets, so it's hard for the first-timer to
> tell who's who, pull off a vaguely-defined heist.

Did anyone notice the big editing mistake in that scene?
Mal asks Jayne to give him the sticky and then applies it to the airlock...
but in the preceding shot we can clearly see that it has already been
applied.
Sorry, this is how my mind works, I always notice these things...


> And then we cut
> inside some ship that may be somewhere in the vicinity of this to the
> pilot, intoning dramatic statements which turn out to be said by the
> dinosaurs he's playing with. That universally draws the first
> astonished gasp of laughter of the episode, and this brief scene alone
> provides the series with two of its most enduringly quotable lines
> ("and we will call it... this land!" and "curse your sudden but
> inevitable betrayal"). Great stuff. I'd also like to mention the
> very brief first appearance of Kaylee: "okay. Now I can't get down."
> Right away it sets the stage for her personality and the show's sense
> of humor. These morsels hopefully keep the channel-surfer entertained
> as the show introduces yet another set of new characters to provide
> the expository dialogue. I'm dwelling a lot on how hard this is to
> follow, but that was my main original impression, and I guarantee that
> I'm not the only one who felt this way. I do like the idea of the
> "crybaby," playing on the Alliance's human decency as a way to escape,
> or at least I did once I figured out what was going on, which wasn't
> the first time.
>
> Yeesh, what a mess. I've heard that whole opening described as a
> mission statement, and it's impressive how little it works for me
> considering how much I love the mission it portends.

Well, it works for me. A lot.

How dare you steal my lines?
(by the way, the fact that you can quote Terry Pratchett is the final proof
that your sense of humor is not broken...)

Also, Morena is so good in that scene that no matter how trite it is it
still manages to be touching.

This is the moment where the show loses some points in my opinion.
Joss is always great when the plot is about people, but when he goes into
hard science fiction territory he is completely lost and he never gets it
right (well, he actually got right the "no sounds in space" thing...).
The problem is: space is big. You won't believe how mindboggingly big it is.
There is no way that two spaceships can casually happen to pass so near to
one onother that you can actually see one spaceship from the other without a
very powerful telescope. Yet we see with the naked eye the big reavers ship
pass only a few hundred meters from Serenity. (ol gur jnl gur fnzr zvfgnxr
vf jung ehvaf gur ovt fperra zbivr sbe zr: gur fprar jurer gurl tb guebhtu n
ohapu bs ernire fuvcf gb trg gb Zvenaqn vf fb evqvphybhf... ohg jr'yy gnyx
zber nobhg vg jura jr trg gurer.).
Anyway, the rest of the scene is quite good, and Zoe's "If we are very very
lucky they'll do it in that order" is one of the great lines of the show
(also, Inara contemplating the syringe is the perfect way to convey without
so many words how frightening these reavers are. And did anyone notice
Jayne's hands trembling while he is loading his rifle? So many perfect small
details....)


>
> Faking Kaylee's death (and you can get away with that in the pilot,
> when we have only a brief glimpse at the credits to tell us who the
> regulars are) is hilarious. Mean and such too, but hilarious.
>
> On to Whitefall, where I don't have a whole lot to say about the
> desert scenes. The visuals are shiny, Jayne with the headset is very
> dumb but fun,

Was this written before or after the Andrew/Jonathan "Check the equipment?
Check. Check." scene in CwDP?


> Zoe getting shot is a reasonably good fakeout, and "I do
> the job, I get paid, and that's all" is a pretty lame catchphrase to
> walk away on. I do like the fact that our crew does get paid this
> week, and would hope that this sets a trend, since we already have one
> group of Mutant Enemy heroes who run a business that's constantly
> bankrupt yet never makes any money - that's not believable after
> awhile. The tightest action toward the end of the show, though,
> happens back on board the ship, as the ones left behind abruptly find
> themselves helpless until Mal strolls in to prematurely end one
> suspense moment so we can focus on the Reaver threat. The aerial
> chase afterward is great, with visuals that feel anything but low-
> budget. I love both the flying and the matched scenes inside
> Serenity, where the camera suddenly turns to swing on our pilot. Wash
> is the hero now, perfectly at home, getting most of the cool deadpans
> while the others stand around nervously. And his sidekicks are the
> ship and the chick who keeps it running.

I can't tell how much I love Kaylee in those scenes, and how touching her
"That's my girl" line is.

Definitely Excellent for me too.
If only Joss learned to ask for advice about physics and such from someone
who actually knows that stuff, this could easily have been a Supelative.


Rincewind.

--
Lines you'll never hear on Buffy:

CALEB: Firefly gets canceled and this is all I get?


C.O.Jones

unread,
Mar 30, 2007, 7:59:43 PM3/30/07
to
In article <sufPh.1332$tx6...@tornado.fastwebnet.it>, Rincewind
<rincewi...@hotmail.com> wrote:

> I
> > haven't known anyone who's been fully converted to the FF cause based
> > on the pilot alone.
>
> Then I am probably an exception...
> ten minutes into the pilot I was thinking "whoever wrote this stuff is a
> genius" and at the end I was convinced that I had just found the best
> science fiction show ever.

If I had been able to see the pilot first... Unfortunately I had to
watch The Train Job first, being the first one broadcast. I pretty much
knew it was really good by the first break. I knew it was going to be
great with the Crow scene. You all know the one.

--
////////// \\\\\\\\\\\
The two most common elements in the universe are Hydrogen and stupidity.
-- Harlan Ellison

C.O.Jones

unread,
Mar 30, 2007, 8:01:52 PM3/30/07
to
In article
<Selfgratifyingoldtimer...@news.west.earthlink.net>,
ruthless <Selfgratify...@reggie.com> wrote:

> In article <1175235858.5...@p15g2000hsd.googlegroups.com>,
> "jil...@hotmail.com" <jil...@hotmail.com> wrote:
>
> > See, I should buy the Firefly DVDs and do this, as I've never seen
> > almost any of the episodes. I did see the movie, though.
> >
> > However, that would involve taking my currently alarmingly tight
> > budget and stretching it to include the Firefly series, and I can't
> > afford that right now.
>
> Worth it. Really worth it. Can't you borrow someone elses or take it out of
> the library or something?
>
> Did I mention that it is worth it?

Ruthless is right and speaks honest and true words, well worth heeding.

Arbitrar Of Quality

unread,
Mar 30, 2007, 8:45:51 PM3/30/07
to

It's often on sale for $20 at Amazon. So depending on how
"alarmingly" is alarmingly....

-AOQ

Arbitrar Of Quality

unread,
Mar 30, 2007, 8:53:32 PM3/30/07
to
On Mar 30, 1:28 am, mariposas rand mair fheal greykitten tomys des

anges <mair_fh...@yahoo.com> wrote:
> > I can see why the theme song
> > and intro was a bit much for some people, but it tells us what the
> > show's about and further sets it apart as something very much unlike
> > the Star Trek s of the world. Cowboys in space indeed.
>
> actually this is very similar to how startrek started
> roddenberry proposed startrek as the wagon train to the stars
>
> the enterprise or serenity provides the home base for the heroes
> and because this base can move from place to place (wagon train)
> they keep getting to new locales
>
> you also you get this with stargate and doctor who
>
> otherwise they have drifter stories (maverick)
> or they are in one place and adventures have to come to them (bonanza)

Never watched _Wagon Train_ myself, but I know that after
Roddenberry's initial pitch, the people he was talking to tried to
define the concept further, and they discussed several potential feels
for the show. One of them, which was described as the WT-esque
option, would involve solving the problems among the crew as they
never really got anywhere, just kept on wagon-training. The emphasis
of _Star Trek_ soon came to focus on the strange new worlds rather
than the journey between them.

> > Things finally get kicked up a notch during the two big mid-show cargo
> > bay scenes. The first one reveals the background guy rather than the
> > suspicious-looking guy as a mole. The way in which the revelations
>
> sorry but after ken and the thing that tried to eat doyles brain
> i was never in doubt about his character
>
> sort of like when in a future episode when a former comrade in arms shows up
> i already know he would be evil after trying to kill buffy and killing fred

But to the first-time viewer, at least one of those things hadn't
happened yet.

-AOQ

mariposas rand mair fheal greykitten tomys des anges

unread,
Mar 30, 2007, 9:05:54 PM3/30/07
to
> > sorry but after ken and the thing that tried to eat doyles brain
> > i was never in doubt about his character
> >
> > sort of like when in a future episode when a former comrade in arms shows up
> > i already know he would be evil after trying to kill buffy and killing fred
>
> But to the first-time viewer, at least one of those things hadn't
> happened yet.

is there any triple player who isnt evil?

Arbitrar Of Quality

unread,
Mar 30, 2007, 9:11:39 PM3/30/07
to

Donny Macro wrote:
> >"Arbitrar Of Quality" <tsm...@wildmail.com> wrote in message

> >My deal is that


> > spent the past fifteen months watching _Buffy The Vampire Slayer_
> >nd _Angel_ for the first time, with as little knowledge about them as
> >ossible, and writing a review of each episode before proceeding to
> >the next one. Reviews were posted in alt.tv.buffy-v-slayer (and
> >alt.tv.angel for ATS); since we're on Usenet, it's all archived.
>
> I will have to check them out, I enjoyed what Buffy I saw but didn't see all
> the episodes I'm afraid, enough to know that Joss Whedon is the master of
> dialogue, in any show.

As someone who recently came into the Buffyverse from a _Firefly_
background, a strong recommendation for me on both shows. They're not
as consistently good as FF, particularly _Angel_, but at their best,
they're something to behold.

> Certainly welcome for Firefly. We get little intelligent dissection anymore,
> (you may find out why).

I browse a.t.f just enough to think I might know what' you're talking
about, and... actually, no, I'm not even touching that unless it
becomes relevant to the review threads.

> It occurs to me that in order to tell the story that Joss wanted to tell
> and have it actually be watched, it might have helped to follow Simon
> for one or two episodes before he got on Serenity, so we had one
> character to watch and one quickly understandable mission, and then
> introduce the bitter mean Mal with the complex backstory that could
> slowly unfold, we would have started off in the high tech scifi Core
> worlds and it would have been a gentle introduction for those needing it.

Huh. But people also want the first few episodes to include the whole
cast and reflect the direction the story is going. And _Firefly_ is
about flying around on Serenity in general, and Mal Reynolds in
particular. It's not hard to see why they put the main character's
story front-and-center from the beginning. Using Simon as our geeky/
uncertain viewpoint character during the pilot and having him meet
everyone at the same time as the viewer does might have worked; it'd
have obviously have turned it into a totally different episode.

> I could not watch Star Trek enterprise, not only was it not good and
> there were no interesting characters to follow that theme song was
> abysmally bad.

But didn't they have faith? Of the heart? (You got that fucking
thing in my head, so everyone else has to suffer too.)

> >Speaking of, the one show that _Firefly_ very quickly reminded me of
> >is the animated masterpiece, _Cowboy Bebop_ (which may be my favorite
> >TV show ever, for those keeping track). You've got the self-selected
> >losers on the fringes of society flying around the frontier planets in
> >their beaten-up old spaceship, barely scraping by and living from job
> >to job. Nothing so reminiscent of CB could be bad, right? The
> >biggest difference is that where Bebop is laconic and stylishly
>
> Ok now I have to see this Cowboy Bebop I keep hearing about.

Sadly, like most Japanese cartoons, it's expensive to get on DVD.
Totally worth it, but high money-per-TV-time cost. Oh yeah, to any
potential new _Bebop_ fans, see if you can forget the hype going in,
and take each story for what it is. I started out very skeptical,
wondering what all the "masterpiece" blather was all about given this
fairly straightforward and somewhat lightweight-seeming show, and that
kept me from fully appreciating the first few episodes. Also, I
recommend the Japanese with subtitles, although the English dub is
serviceable too.

-AOQ

mariposas rand mair fheal greykitten tomys des anges

unread,
Mar 30, 2007, 9:26:07 PM3/30/07
to
> > I could not watch Star Trek enterprise, not only was it not good and
> > there were no interesting characters to follow that theme song was
> > abysmally bad.
>
> But didn't they have faith? Of the heart? (You got that fucking

robin has faith
at least had faith
dont know what theyre doing now

Arbitrar Of Quality

unread,
Mar 30, 2007, 9:34:22 PM3/30/07
to
Oh yeah, forgot to mention that those who one day wish to check out
the Buffyverse should be aware that we just finished discussing that,
and may make references and paralells to it that include spoilers. I,
for one, intend to keep my BTVS/ATS allusions vague enough that it
won't really be clear to a non-viewer what it is that's actually being
spoiled, but I can't make that promise for everyone else who responds.

-AOQ

Donny Macro

unread,
Mar 30, 2007, 10:00:17 PM3/30/07
to

"Arbitrar Of Quality" <tsm...@wildmail.com> wrote in message
news:1175303499....@o5g2000hsb.googlegroups.com...

>
> Donny Macro wrote:
>> >"Arbitrar Of Quality" <tsm...@wildmail.com> wrote in message
>
>> >My deal is that
>> > spent the past fifteen months watching _Buffy The Vampire Slayer_
>> >nd _Angel_ for the first time, with as little knowledge about them as
>> >ossible, and writing a review of each episode before proceeding to
>> >the next one. Reviews were posted in alt.tv.buffy-v-slayer (and
>> >alt.tv.angel for ATS); since we're on Usenet, it's all archived.
>>
>> I will have to check them out, I enjoyed what Buffy I saw but didn't see
>> all
>> the episodes I'm afraid, enough to know that Joss Whedon is the master of
>> dialogue, in any show.
>
> As someone who recently came into the Buffyverse from a _Firefly_
> background, a strong recommendation for me on both shows. They're not
> as consistently good as FF, particularly _Angel_, but at their best,
> they're something to behold.
>
>> Certainly welcome for Firefly. We get little intelligent dissection
>> anymore,
>> (you may find out why).
>
> I browse a.t.f just enough to think I might know what' you're talking
> about, and... actually, no, I'm not even touching that unless it
> becomes relevant to the review threads.

smart man.

>
>> It occurs to me that in order to tell the story that Joss wanted to tell
>> and have it actually be watched, it might have helped to follow Simon
>> for one or two episodes before he got on Serenity, so we had one
>> character to watch and one quickly understandable mission, and then
>> introduce the bitter mean Mal with the complex backstory that could
>> slowly unfold, we would have started off in the high tech scifi Core
>> worlds and it would have been a gentle introduction for those needing it.
>
> Huh. But people also want the first few episodes to include the whole
> cast and reflect the direction the story is going. And _Firefly_ is
> about flying around on Serenity in general, and Mal Reynolds in
> particular. It's not hard to see why they put the main character's
> story front-and-center from the beginning. Using Simon as our geeky/
> uncertain viewpoint character during the pilot and having him meet
> everyone at the same time as the viewer does might have worked; it'd
> have obviously have turned it into a totally different episode.

yes the entire show might have been slightly different, most obviously we
would have lost the the bit about the uncertainty of Dobson being the rat
instead of Simon, and my quick off-the-cuff idea would have gained us
an episode set in the Core as Simon comes to the realization that his
sister is in danger and breaks her out...
It definately would have broken the mold to have the main characters of a
series not introduced until episode two or three, but the actiony sequence
at the start of the pilot serenity was tacked on afterwards, originally Book
read from the encyclopedia to Simon about the battle of Serenity in
regards to the ships name, and Zoe interups... it is in the DVD extras...

Although showing Mal losing his faith is powerful, Joss's original intention
was to show him without faith and slowly revealing why he got that way.
The network wanted more Action, so they got the war sequence, and
they wanted to lighten up Mal, more humor less dark... totally changed
the show... but they were at least partially right there.. the story
Joss wanted to tell was brilliant, but wouldn't have kept enough
of the audience around to figure out why Mal appeared so unlikable.

I was just thinking of a way to have kept Serenity flying... and a bit
of misdirection about what the series was going to be about, god knows
Joss is the master of setting up a situation such that you think you know
what is going on (like Dobson taking River hostage in the Pilot) only
to pull the quick switch on you.

If the series started with a (mostly) likable character acting on a
purely good motive (protecting his sister) perhaps those who tuned
in to the first episode would have continued to watch with more likable
characters up front.

Then gorramit I might have gotten more than the few eps I got.

>
>> I could not watch Star Trek enterprise, not only was it not good and
>> there were no interesting characters to follow that theme song was
>> abysmally bad.
>
> But didn't they have faith? Of the heart? (You got that fucking
> thing in my head, so everyone else has to suffer too.)

worse than the oompo loompa song for that...

but seriously both theme songs were startlingly different for a scifi
show... it's just that one was really really good and the other really
really bad.

>
>> >Speaking of, the one show that _Firefly_ very quickly reminded me of
>> >is the animated masterpiece, _Cowboy Bebop_ (which may be my favorite
>> >TV show ever, for those keeping track). You've got the self-selected
>> >losers on the fringes of society flying around the frontier planets in
>> >their beaten-up old spaceship, barely scraping by and living from job
>> >to job. Nothing so reminiscent of CB could be bad, right? The
>> >biggest difference is that where Bebop is laconic and stylishly
>>
>> Ok now I have to see this Cowboy Bebop I keep hearing about.
>
> Sadly, like most Japanese cartoons, it's expensive to get on DVD.
> Totally worth it, but high money-per-TV-time cost. Oh yeah, to any
> potential new _Bebop_ fans, see if you can forget the hype going in,
> and take each story for what it is. I started out very skeptical,
> wondering what all the "masterpiece" blather was all about given this
> fairly straightforward and somewhat lightweight-seeming show, and that
> kept me from fully appreciating the first few episodes. Also, I
> recommend the Japanese with subtitles, although the English dub is
> serviceable too.

yeah I just checked Amazon, I might have to wait a bit before I can afford
that... perhaps I will see if I can find a way to check out an episode or
two
before I get the entire set for Christmas or something.

>
> -AOQ
>


Donny Macro

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Mar 30, 2007, 10:06:12 PM3/30/07
to

"Arbitrar Of Quality" <tsm...@wildmail.com> wrote in message
news:1175304862....@p15g2000hsd.googlegroups.com...

Myself I only saw about four episodes a season... less after whichever
season ending introduced Dawn... I didn't trust Joss I am afraid and
couldn't imagine what the hell he was up to there.... I recently discovered
what that was about and wish I hadn't given up on the series there.

but Basically I have had all the major plot points spoiled for me by
watching here and there. I always thought Willow was the hottest
thing alive (before Kaylee of course).


One Bit Shy

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Mar 30, 2007, 10:37:42 PM3/30/07
to
> "Arbitrar Of Quality" <tsm...@wildmail.com> wrote in message
> news:<1175232338....@d57g2000hsg.googlegroups.com>...

> [Hi, or hi again.

Strangely, it feels like you never left. Wait a minute...


> FIREFLY
> Season One, Episode 1: "Serenity"

> The first suggestion I ever received about _Firefly_ was to
> give the first episode some time - Joss & co. have to
> introduce a staggering
> *nine* main characters and a universe while trying to tell a
> story. So be a little bit patient. That's one bit of advice
> that I've diligently passed along to everyone to whom I've
> ever introduced the show.

One might imagine that the problem with that first battle scene cascades
into the bollixed broadcast start and episode order and ultimately to the
series' demise. But that's an old argument. I'll just say that I have no
difficulty understanding how a network exec could look at this episode and
imagine throngs of viewers switching channels in the first few minutes.

It didn't work very well for me either. The opening battle scene is very
difficult to digest and relate to the type of show Firefly really is -
especially upon first view. Since first view is exactly it's intended place
in the series, that's a bit of a problem. As a core foundation to Mal's
character it's not much less obscure. To my mind, the power of the moment
is seriously depleted by simply not knowing the character at the time we see
it. Personally I would have preferred the background to have been revealed
in pieces, or perhaps in full at a later date when the contrast between then
and now had more meaning. There's also the problem of starting out with a
downer mood. My opinion.

If I recall correctly, that's the worst criticism the series gets from me.
It's a shame that it's the first impression, but in sum that's got to make
for a pretty good series.


> Things aren't helped when we cut to the present future, and
> have a bunch of characters in helmets, so it's hard for the
> first-timer to tell who's who, pull off a vaguely-defined
> heist.

The lengthy opening battle has already established a kind of mood, making
this scene about contrast. As contrast, I don't think it works very well,
and makes things like not knowing who people are (linking it to the prior
scene) important.

However, I think this scene would have worked quite nicely as teaser by
itself. In that context we don't have to instantly know who everybody is.
(That comes plenty quickly enough.) And it allows for a relatively upbeat
start centered on the fairly popular notion of rogues with attitude
(crybaby, moon them) living on the edge of society. That's a facile
description of the show, but it's a pretty decent entry way I think.

It also would take you much more quickly to the opening credits with its
music and images that intrigue and promise so much.


> Badger
> comes off as more of a dick than our nobly criminal main
> cast, and I kept wanting to make comments about his hat
> ("see? I've got a hat! It says 'wizzard,' right on it!")
> before the others did.

Classic mick crook. In itself, nothing special, though very well - very
properly played. He does, however, help establish the notion that pervades
the world of Firefly of very familiar images and characters placed in very
unfamiliar places and contexts. A wild jumble that is simultaneously
disorienting and comforting. That's one of my favorite things about this
series.

It also very much plays into Joss's way of creating. Joss has always
depended heavily on cultural reference points in his shows. Whether it be
through movie homages, classic literature references, or even
recontextualizations of bible stories. It's kind of a curiosity that his
technique often is less creating something new than careful placement of the
old. (Well crafted too.) But his genius is how, in doing so, he
rediscovers the spirit of old archetypes, making them feel fresh and alive.

As with the whole cowboys in space thing. It's not as if the cowboy stuff
threatens the memory of John Wayne or Gary Cooper. But transporting it
quite literally to the frontiers of space really recaptures the feel that
built the genre to begin with. At the same time the familiarity of it
breathes life into the frontier metaphor that also once inspired science
fiction. (And the space program for that matter. John F. Kennedy spoke of
space as a frontier.)

It's a neat effect on a number of levels. Like taking away a bunch of the
sterility of science fiction, while putting a little shiny into the trail.
But for me it most of all makes the science fiction feel livable, real even.
(On an emotional level at least. I don't really care to get into question
of its true plausibility.) The familiarity of so many elements give it
odor, taste and feel - tangible elements that I usually don't get so
strongly in the genre.


> This planet sequence is where Jewel Staite's Kaylee starts to
> stand out for me,

Ah, yes, the girls of Firefly. Kaylee's my favorite - or at least she is
when one of the other's isn't. <g> I'm going to head straight for the
surface here and just note that this is just about the most watchable group
of gals I've ever seen on TV. Three outright babes and a fourth that has to
settle for commanding the screen every second she's on it. And they're all
completely different in looks and personality. Wow.


> River herself is a plot device in service of
> Simon's story for now, and the show has to deal with the
> tightrope act of keeping her as a figure of strong pity
> without annoying the audience with too much screaming and
> incoherence. How well the show does this... well, let's
> watch the rest of the series.

Loved her panicked climb out of the box. She may serve Simon's story, but I
have to say that I was intrigued by her story and the makeup of her
psychology from the start. It's so tantalizing.


> And then thrown in amidst all that's already going on is the
> Reaver ship sequence. My initial reaction was that the
> episode didn't need this other thing crammed in, that is
> seemed arbitrary, but initial reactions are sometimes wrong.

I didn't feel like it was one too many things. (It's a big episode. It can
handle a lot.) But the little bit at this point felt very artificial to me.
My initial reaction to the Reavers was kind of negative - that the concept
was a bit of a stretch. It'll get better later, but I can't say that I ever
loved the idea.


> Faking Kaylee's death (and you can get away with that in the
> pilot, when we have only a brief glimpse at the credits to
> tell us who the regulars are) is hilarious. Mean and such
> too, but hilarious.

Probably not the most important scene, but it impressed me a lot. The trick
was sort of mean, but Simon had earned it. It's the laughter afterwards
that gets me. There it's not so much mean as really showcasing how hard
these people really are. Implicit is the brutality of life that they must
know.

An extra level of subtext - one that I'm not sure even Mal understands yet -
is that punishment has now been handed down. In that context, Simon gets
off easy, but this trick really would be mean if it were to come on top of
being kicked off the ship.

> The aerial chase afterward is
> great, with visuals that feel anything but low- budget.

I was pretty awed by the visuals - one thing that seemed genuinely new to
me. If there had been that kind of spaceship depiction before, I never saw
it. And very, very exciting. In no sense was either the action or the
story sacrificed for the effect.

---

I didn't hit on too many topics in this sprawling season opener. You were
so thorough. And said it better than I could. I think that may be the best
review I've read of yours. Makes a difference when you're familiar with the
material, doesn't it? Anyway, great job.


> So...
>
> One-sentence summary: It's a great place to start.
>
> AOQ rating: Excellent

I really enjoyed watching it this round. The opening scene and a touch of
the first Reaver encounter are all I have a problem with. I remained
engaged with everything else. So my own rating probably went up a notch to
match your Excellent.


One Bit Shy

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Mar 30, 2007, 10:53:02 PM3/30/07
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"Donny Macro" <donny...@gmail.attitude.com> wrote in message
news:RgjPh.23$qE2.6@trndny09...


> The network wanted more Action, so they got the war sequence,

I didn't know that. Guess I should have followed the firefly group.

Well, so much for my limited defense of FOX's acumen. The opening scene is
the only thing I think is a genuine turn-off. (Beyond not wanting sci-fi at
all, which I think would be asking too much of Firefly to overcome in one
episode.) There's a lot to take in, much of which would feel odd, but
there's tantalizing stuff too, and opening episodes commonly have struggles.
This is a lot better than Encounter at Farpoint IMO.

OBS


Cruithne3753

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Mar 30, 2007, 10:57:19 PM3/30/07
to
Rincewind wrote:
> Then I am probably an exception...
> ten minutes into the pilot I was thinking "whoever wrote this stuff is a
> genius" and at the end I was convinced that I had just found the best
> science fiction show ever.

It was Eavesdown Docks that did it for me... the hustle and bustle, the
way the makeshift buildings were made of transport containers, and the
way I could almost smell the "good dogs" cooking...

Cruithne3753

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Mar 30, 2007, 10:59:50 PM3/30/07
to
Donny Macro wrote:
>> "Arbitrar Of Quality" <tsm...@wildmail.com> wrote in message
>> news:1175232338....@d57g2000hsg.googlegroups.com...
>> [Hi, or hi again. If anyone doesn't know me, I'm the Arbitrar Of
>> Quality. Yes, I'm aware that that's not a real word.
>
> Not in English, but certainly in Spanish.
>
> arbitrar
>
> Main Entry: arbitrar
> Function: verb
> Usage: Spanish word
> 1 : to arbitrate
> 2 : to referee, to umpire
>

The English is "arbiter" - http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/arbiter

mariposas rand mair fheal greykitten tomys des anges

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Mar 30, 2007, 11:23:03 PM3/30/07
to
> It's a neat effect on a number of levels. Like taking away a bunch of the
> sterility of science fiction, while putting a little shiny into the trail.

the science and technology are screwed up
it wouldve helped me if they had gotten that right

they couldve kept it around sol
maybe igniting jupiter or deimos clarke-style
terraforming hundreds of moons
or maybe kuiper belt objects with small orbiting fusion artificial suns

also maybe making the ships somewhat aerodynamic with flight surfaces
theres some little things that would give them a sound foundation
without changeing the character of the show

horses are efficient transport under some circumstances
and its not the high low tech mix that bothers me
its that the technology is unnecessarily lame
because whedon didnt hire someone to do a little research for him

> I didn't feel like it was one too many things. (It's a big episode. It can
> handle a lot.) But the little bit at this point felt very artificial to me.
> My initial reaction to the Reavers was kind of negative - that the concept
> was a bit of a stretch. It'll get better later, but I can't say that I ever
> loved the idea.

this here is injun country

it lets them have savage indians without being politically incorrect

jil...@hotmail.com

unread,
Mar 31, 2007, 12:07:13 AM3/31/07
to

Well, ruthless and AOQ, I live in Japan. It's not here at my local
stores to rent yet, though the movie is. And I can buy the set new
for 6199 yen or used from 4824 yen. Plus not in the libraries.

So you see, it's not for $20 if you're where I am.

Arbitrar Of Quality

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Mar 31, 2007, 1:32:16 AM3/31/07
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On Mar 30, 8:02 am, "Atlas Bugged" <atlasbuggedBYs...@gmail.com>
wrote:

> "Arbitrar Of Quality" <tsm...@wildmail.com> wrote in messagenews:1175232338....@d57g2000hsg.googlegroups.com...

> I recommend you look at the show HOUSE, M.D. which has flabbergasted me by


> shifting the entire curve toward excellence (it ain't sci-fi, but it's close
> and I call it "science-faction.) It likewise has no bad shows, but also,
> the bulk of them are very, very good. And they've made over 60 of them!!!
> One got an Emmy for best writing, and it deserved ten Emmys.

A favorite of mine. It's like a cult of personality; we don't need
medical accuracy or ongoing stories or unpredictability when we've got
Laurie's character.

> Also, Battlestar Galactica is bell-curvey, but like FIREFLY, never really
> makes an honestly bad show. "Shades Of Grey," anyone?

I think I'm the contrary one in that I always kinda liked "Shades Of
Gray." I'm aware that it's not, to say the least, particularly good
by any objective standard, but something about the choice and timing
of the flashbacks works for me. I am glad that fan and studio
reaction was negative enough to keep them from ever doing another clip
show, though.

DS9, besides the fact that gives me yet another excuse to mention it,
is the series I think about when defining episode ratings, because
individual shows were all over the map, quality-wise. You get an
almost-universally beloved piece like "In The Pale Moonlight" followed
immediately by the sub-execrable "His Way" (or for those deluded
enough to like that one, "Profit And Lace" was two weeks later).
Fortunately, the good far outnumbered the bad for me.

> I had a brief interchange with the FIREFLY official author Kieth R. A.
> Candido over his published comments that "Train Job" killed the show by
> being first. I think you have it right, and Candido and I ended in

> respectful disagreement.http://snipurl.com/q72e


>
> Our view also tends to dilute the popular view that FOX messed up the show
> by not showing the Pilot first.

FOX messed up the show, no doubt about it. I just can't say one way
or another whether it would've been much more successful with a stable
time-slot and episodes in the right order. I think giving it a fair
chance would've ensured a loyal following, but not necessarily a large
one.

> ___That's as good a place as any to talk about Book and his relationship
> with Inara. Joss Whedon doesn't have to be a big fan of religion to
> make a sympathetic character who is.
>
> You are either jesting or don't know. Whedon *hates* religion. If you are
> unawares, I have references in the FAQ. Absolute atheism is woven into the
> fabric of FIREFLY.

I don't know whether he hates it or it just isn't for him, but yes, I
know that he's an atheist. But Book isn't the kind of character that
would spring from the mind of a frothing-at-the-mouth religion-
basher. He's instantly likable, and behaves a lot like it suggests in
that book he carries around. And of course he's got secrets and right
away shows signs of being deliciously screwed up, what with being in
the main cast of a Whedon show and all.

> ___River herself is a plot device in service of Simon's story
> for now, and the show has to deal with the tightrope act of keeping
> her as a figure of strong pity without annoying the audience with too
> much screaming and incoherence. How well the show does this... well,
> let's watch the rest of the series.
>
> Correct. My view: If not for the BDM SERENITY, River was an annoying,
> worthless element. The BDM propels her to primary importance. This
> dovetails with what you said about the slow build-up of the pilot. River
> was a series-length slow-buildup.

I was enjoying the buildup that would've taken place across the series
well before I got to the end of it. We'll talk more about that as it
happens, but I hope it's not ruining anything to say that River
eventually becomes one of my favorite characters. I think I'm a
sucker, though, for the archetypal hot teenage chick who starts out
helpless and becomes an action hero. And of course, given that this
is a good show, the ability to kill people isn't, by itself, all that
empowering for her...

> Whedon understood (and stated) that great effects were becoming routine, so
> he focused on integrating effects into the live action.
>
> But yeah, whedon really slowly builds up to this mega-action ending. Some
> of us worship the CGI on that. Word has it the first episode cost big
> bucks, maybe over ten million.

I thought it was a low-budget series? Or did Joss cut corners
elsewhere to make his episode look good? It's the combination of the
integration with the live action, and, as OBS talks about in his
response, the fact that it's an atypical kind of spaceship battle.
Fresh usually looks cooler than recycled.

-AOQ

Arbitrar Of Quality

unread,
Mar 31, 2007, 1:51:06 AM3/31/07
to
On Mar 30, 4:41 pm, "Rincewind" <rincewindwiz...@hotmail.com> wrote:
\

>
> > The first suggestion I ever received about _Firefly_ was to give the
> > first episode some time - Joss & co. have to introduce a staggering
> > *nine* main characters and a universe while trying to tell a story.
> > So be a little bit patient. That's one bit of advice that I've
> > diligently passed along to everyone to whom I've ever introduced the
> > show. Conventional wisdom among fans seems to be that had the idiot
> > network allowed "Serenity" to air first, everyone would have been
> > swept away by the genius of the show and it would have found an
> > audience. I'm not so sure. It's not very accessible at first, and I
> > haven't known anyone who's been fully converted to the FF cause based
> > on the pilot alone.
>
> Then I am probably an exception...
> ten minutes into the pilot I was thinking "whoever wrote this stuff is a
> genius" and at the end I was convinced that I had just found the best
> science fiction show ever.

I think he also wrote a silly vampire show or something.

> > Things aren't helped when we cut to the present future, and have a
> > bunch of characters in helmets, so it's hard for the first-timer to
> > tell who's who, pull off a vaguely-defined heist.
>
> Did anyone notice the big editing mistake in that scene?
> Mal asks Jayne to give him the sticky and then applies it to the airlock...
> but in the preceding shot we can clearly see that it has already been
> applied.
> Sorry, this is how my mind works, I always notice these things...

In the commentary, Joss and Nathan point out the moment just after the
atmo "battle" when the camera zooms out to show Wash triumphantly
steering the ship into the night sky, arm extended to tightly hold...
nothing.

I kept wanting to make comments about his hat ("see?
> > I've got a hat! It says 'wizzard,' right on it!")
>
> How dare you steal my lines?
> (by the way, the fact that you can quote Terry Pratchett is the final proof
> that your sense of humor is not broken...)

Well, this doesn't prove that I've ever laughed at anything in his
books, just that I have some familiarity with them. (I have laughed.
But I can't prove it.)

(BTW, from before you were posting to the AOQ threads, my "alternate
title" for "Killed By Death" was "THERE IS NO QUALITY. THERE IS ONLY
ME.")

> > The music is perfect during this cross between
> > submarine sequence and ghost story, and one is right there with the
> > crew in not wanting to breathe too loudly, lest we draw the Reavers'
> > attention. Despite the fact that we know (and this show actually
> > adheres to it) that there's no sound in space, it seems like a good
> > idea not to make any sudden movements or say anything out loud.
>
> This is the moment where the show loses some points in my opinion.
> Joss is always great when the plot is about people, but when he goes into
> hard science fiction territory he is completely lost and he never gets it
> right (well, he actually got right the "no sounds in space" thing...).
> The problem is: space is big. You won't believe how mindboggingly big it is.

Covering all the standard British SF/F things to quote, are we?

> There is no way that two spaceships can casually happen to pass so near to
> one onother that you can actually see one spaceship from the other without a
> very powerful telescope. Yet we see with the naked eye the big reavers ship
> pass only a few hundred meters from Serenity.

Misjudging distances that way is such an "established," so to speak,
part of space-opera style science fiction nowadays that I'm fine to
cheerfully ignore it.

> > On to Whitefall, where I don't have a whole lot to say about the
> > desert scenes. The visuals are shiny, Jayne with the headset is very
> > dumb but fun,
>
> Was this written before or after the Andrew/Jonathan "Check the equipment?
> Check. Check." scene in CwDP?

"Serenity" must have come first, because pilots are done in advance,
and they were filming "The Train Job" while Drew Goddard was having
the hurried consults with Joss about the script for "Selfless."

> Lines you'll never hear on Buffy:
>
> CALEB: Firefly gets canceled and this is all I get?

Hey, he's the only one who wasn't just a Guest Star, he was a
*Special* Guest Star.

-AOQ

One Bit Shy

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Mar 31, 2007, 1:57:20 AM3/31/07
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"Arbitrar Of Quality" <tsm...@wildmail.com> wrote in message
news:1175232338....@d57g2000hsg.googlegroups.com...

> This gives me the opening to mention that one thing that


> jumped out at me throughout the episode, but especially during the
> dinner scene is the fact that group interactions feel like actual
> groups interacting. People are talking amongst themselves in twos and
> threes, and having conversations in parallel rather than just mumbling
> "watermelon, cantaloupe."

As an aside I recently watched Master and Commander (The Far Side of the
World) - missed it in the theater - and was especially struck by the dinner
scenes in it. They very much reminded me of the dinner scenes in Firefly -
especially the sense of family. Was Peter Weir a Firefly fan?

OBS


Arbitrar Of Quality

unread,
Mar 31, 2007, 2:05:42 AM3/31/07
to
On Mar 30, 9:37 pm, "One Bit Shy" <O...@nomail.sorry> wrote:
> > "Arbitrar Of Quality" <tsm...@wildmail.com> wrote in message

> It didn't work very well for me either. The opening battle scene is very


> difficult to digest and relate to the type of show Firefly really is -
> especially upon first view. Since first view is exactly it's intended place
> in the series, that's a bit of a problem. As a core foundation to Mal's
> character it's not much less obscure. To my mind, the power of the moment
> is seriously depleted by simply not knowing the character at the time we see
> it. Personally I would have preferred the background to have been revealed
> in pieces, or perhaps in full at a later date when the contrast between then
> and now had more meaning. There's also the problem of starting out with a
> downer mood. My opinion.
>
> If I recall correctly, that's the worst criticism the series gets from me.
> It's a shame that it's the first impression, but in sum that's got to make
> for a pretty good series.

At some point didn't you say that although the characters were well
realized, you didn't find yourself particularly liking any of them? I
think that's probably a bigger criticism than the opening.

> However, I think this scene would have worked quite nicely as teaser by
> itself. In that context we don't have to instantly know who everybody is.
> (That comes plenty quickly enough.) And it allows for a relatively upbeat
> start centered on the fairly popular notion of rogues with attitude
> (crybaby, moon them) living on the edge of society. That's a facile
> description of the show, but it's a pretty decent entry way I think.
>
> It also would take you much more quickly to the opening credits with its
> music and images that intrigue and promise so much.

Just by virtue of being shorter, if nothing else, it would've made for
a better teaser. Overall you make a good point. Even though the
teaser of WTTH doesn't include the main character, it encapsulates its
series: teens and vampires and always something unexpected. And the
first few minutes of "City Of" are early _Angel_ in a nutshell.
Serenity Valley is backstory, not a taste of the present. It's
important to the character, but it's not the core of _Firefly_.
(Starting with a prologue and then "x years later" is hardly a
controversial idea that never works, of course. Just not here.)

> Ah, yes, the girls of Firefly. Kaylee's my favorite - or at least she is
> when one of the other's isn't. <g> I'm going to head straight for the
> surface here and just note that this is just about the most watchable group
> of gals I've ever seen on TV.

Absolutely.

> Three outright babes and a fourth that has to
> settle for commanding the screen every second she's on it.

She can eat me anytime.

-AOQ

Don Sample

unread,
Mar 31, 2007, 4:17:22 AM3/31/07
to
In article <1175319136....@e65g2000hsc.googlegroups.com>,

I think that a lot of it was that he spent a lot of money up front.
That 10 million probably paid for the whole Serenity set, the initial
creation of the CGI models for Serenity, and development of some of the
new CGI techniques. It was money spent of stuff that could be reused
over and over for the rest of the series.

(Back when ST:TNG first started out, Roddenberry wrote a scene in
Engineering because he knew that if he didn't get an Engineering set
paid for out of the pilot's budget, the network would never give him the
money to create the sort of set that he wanted later.)

--
Quando omni flunkus moritati
Visit the Buffy Body Count at <http://homepage.mac.com/dsample/>

Don Sample

unread,
Mar 31, 2007, 4:20:46 AM3/31/07
to
In article <1175320266.5...@y80g2000hsf.googlegroups.com>,

"Arbitrar Of Quality" <tsm...@wildmail.com> wrote:

> On Mar 30, 4:41 pm, "Rincewind" <rincewindwiz...@hotmail.com> wrote:
>
> > There is no way that two spaceships can casually happen to pass so near to
> > one onother that you can actually see one spaceship from the other without a
> > very powerful telescope. Yet we see with the naked eye the big reavers ship
> > pass only a few hundred meters from Serenity.
>
> Misjudging distances that way is such an "established," so to speak,
> part of space-opera style science fiction nowadays that I'm fine to
> cheerfully ignore it.

That, and the whole universe somehow got together and decided which way
"up" is.

drifter

unread,
Mar 31, 2007, 8:28:19 AM3/31/07
to
Arbitrar Of Quality wrote:
> On Mar 30, 9:37 pm, "One Bit Shy" <O...@nomail.sorry> wrote:

/snip/

>> Three outright babes and a fourth that has to
>> settle for commanding the screen every second she's on it.
>
> She can eat me anytime.
>
> -AOQ

Those who haven't seen Angel the Series are going to accuse
you of pervertism...or whatever the real word is.
Pervertishness? Arbitrariteism?

--

Kel
"Remaim calm and share your bananas."


Elisi

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Mar 31, 2007, 8:31:22 AM3/31/07
to
On Mar 30, 6:25 am, "Arbitrar Of Quality" <tsm...@wildmail.com> wrote:
> [Hi, or hi again.

Hi! *waves happily* It's good to see you, even if Usenet ate my first
response to this post and this time you'll just get a few highlights.
*kicks usenet and busy RL*

> A difference from past AOQ Reviews in that I've already seen it all,
> so it's not a chance to live vicariously through a first-timer. Which
> is too bad, really, since the active discovery factor was what
> distinguished my Buffyverse comments from others'. By contrast, this
> is just some guy talking about which parts he liked. The moral is: if
> these threads are going to be any kind of success, quality audience
> participation will be required. Don't be shy.

Well it certainly seems like people are talking! As for me... well I
love Firefly deeply and totally. And yet I've never written a single
essay, piece of meta or fic about it. Ever. (Except for that one...)
I'm looking forward to reading your thoughts very much, but I have a
feeling I'll mostly just nod along!

> Several times during "Serenity" the point is made that Mal is choosing
> a difficult life by refusing to sell out to the Alliance, leading to
> frontier planets and lack of financial security. This unbending kind
> of pride thus starts to go about answering the question posed by the
> way he backs down in the scene with Badger. I remember that on first
> viewing I didn't like our hero very much. He's not such a nice guy,
> but this time around I'm appreciating his conviction.

'Conviction' is Joss' new keyword I think. (First it was 'girlpower',
then 'redemption'). Anyway, most women alive adore Captain Tightpants
(and yes, that name is one of the reasons! *g*). The coat, the boots,
the gun, the bitterness, the deeply buried core of decency, the wry
smile... he gives Spike and Angel a run for their money in the hotness
stakes! (Yes I'm a total fangirl. But then I expect the guys around
here to show their appreciation of the girls, as well they should!)

Or as the_royal_anna put it after I leant her my boxset:

****
I am mindblown by Nathan Fillion. Incoherently so. I mean, if ever a
man was born to carry a show. And how.

And I despised him as Caleb. But then, he had unflattering hair in
that role! It was an easy mistake to make. :)

As I said to elisi, I'm only concerned for all the people in the world
walking round with no charisma whatsoever, since clearly at the Great
Charisma Doling Out he went round more than a few times. *So* much
presence the man has. And he has lovely eyes.
****

Her whole post is here. Well worth checking out - and she pretty much
sums up my feelings! :)

http://the-royal-anna.livejournal.com/54603.html#cutid1

I forget who, but someone once described Mal as 'Luke Skywalker if The
Empire had won', which is a wonderful to look at him, and also shows
how Firefly is different to Buffy and Angel. Buffy is about a girl
who's special and has this whole Destiny thing going on, and the story
springs from her. Angel is of course about redemption, but also he's
caught up in a story far bigger than himself, and he's constantly
being manipulated by various powers. Firefly is just about a group of
people trying to survive - no bigger picture, no destiny, no aim. And
the 'hero' has lost the purpose that once fulled him. It's a wonderful
premise.

> One-sentence summary: It's a great place to start.
>
> AOQ rating: Excellent

Oh yes. :)

Apteryx

unread,
Mar 31, 2007, 8:39:09 AM3/31/07
to
"Arbitrar Of Quality" <tsm...@wildmail.com> wrote in message
news:1175232338....@d57g2000hsg.googlegroups.com...

>A difference from past AOQ Reviews in that I've already seen it all,
>so it's not a chance to live vicariously through a first-timer.

Whereas for me, its close to the reverse, having seen about half the Firefly
episodes (the ones I saw on TV) only twice before now, and the other
half only once. So, while not a first time viewer either, my views on which
episodes I like most are less settled than they are for AtS (episodes viewed
on average 4.5 times) and much less than for BtVS (episodes viewed on
average 7.5 times)


>The first suggestion I ever received about _Firefly_ was to give the
>first episode some time - Joss & co. have to introduce a staggering
>*nine* main characters and a universe while trying to tell a story.
>So be a little bit patient. That's one bit of advice that I've
>diligently passed along to everyone to whom I've ever introduced the
>show. Conventional wisdom among fans seems to be that had the idiot
>network allowed "Serenity" to air first, everyone would have been
>swept away by the genius of the show and it would have found an
>audience. I'm not so sure. It's not very accessible at first, and I
>haven't known anyone who's been fully converted to the FF cause based
>on the pilot alone.

Agree with that reasoning, if not necessarily with the conclusion. There is
a lot going on in this episode, making it hard to get into unless the
viewer is already keen to do so. I like it less now (after just having seen
it for the 3rd time) than you do, but I liked it less still on first
viewing. But although its not a great opening episode for the network's
purposes of dragging in huge numbers of initially mildly interested viewers,
neither is Train Job, and it is at least the episode designed to be the
opener.


>Probably the highest dose of inaccessibility comes at the beginning
>with the extended depiction of the Battle Of Serenity Valley. As the
>name suggests, it's the root of everything, at least for Mal
>Reynolds.


I think a mis-step. The teaser should have shown us what to expect from
the series. The battle could have been a later flashback.


>Things aren't helped when we cut to the present future, and have a
>bunch of characters in helmets, so it's hard for the first-timer to
>tell who's who, pull off a vaguely-defined heist.

It does induce flashbacks to the beginnings of Blake's Seven, with the
boarding team going aboard the Liberator in episode 2, but that's not
necessarily a bad thing. Especially given that that turns out to be far from
the last parallel with Blake's Seven.

> And then we cut
>inside some ship that may be somewhere in the vicinity of this to the
>pilot, intoning dramatic statements which turn out to be said by the
>dinosaurs he's playing with. That universally draws the first
>astonished gasp of laughter of the episode, and this brief scene alone
>provides the series with two of its most enduringly quotable lines
>("and we will call it... this land!" and "curse your sudden but
>inevitable betrayal"). Great stuff.

Yep. That is the point where the episode really suggests this could be the
start of something good.


>I'm not the only one who felt this way. I do like the idea of the
>"crybaby," playing on the Alliance's human decency as a way to escape,
>or at least I did once I figured out what was going on, which wasn't
>the first time.


Yep. The bad guys are better than the good guys :)


>relevant. It's a little stunning when Kaylee gets shot. In the
>aftermath of that, there's a confrontation between Mal and Simon in
>which our resident physician shows a bit of cold steel when he
>blackmails our heroes into running from the law in exchange for not
>standing by and letting someone die. Maybe he'll fit in to the
>backstabbing border life than some rich kids.

In fact, its there that Simon demonstrates precisely that he does fit in
perfectly with Mal and his crew. Any of them would have done the same
(probably excepting Kaylee).


>And then thrown in amidst all that's already going on is the Reaver
>ship sequence. My initial reaction was that the episode didn't need
>this other thing crammed in, that is seemed arbitrary, but initial

>reactions are sometimes wrong. This is a manipulative moment in which
>everyone talks in hushed voices about how horrible these men-gone-mad
>are without showing the audience anything, but damned if it doesn't

>work extremely well. The music is perfect during this cross between


>submarine sequence and ghost story, and one is right there with the
>crew in not wanting to breathe too loudly, lest we draw the Reavers'
>attention. Despite the fact that we know (and this show actually
>adheres to it) that there's no sound in space, it seems like a good
>idea not to make any sudden movements or say anything out loud.

You definitely need the Reavers. You can't have a Western without Injuns
(well you can, but its not the same).


>On to Whitefall, where I don't have a whole lot to say about the
>desert scenes. The visuals are shiny, Jayne with the headset is very

>dumb but fun, Zoe getting shot is a reasonably good fakeout, and "I do


>the job, I get paid, and that's all" is a pretty lame catchphrase to
>walk away on. I do like the fact that our crew does get paid this
>week, and would hope that this sets a trend, since we already have one
>group of Mutant Enemy heroes who run a business that's constantly
>bankrupt yet never makes any money - that's not believable after
>awhile.

On Whitefall, the sci-fi veneer on this Western is pretty thin.

But where some complain about the physics of some sci-fi, including this
one, it is the economics that bothers me. How can energy bars be so worth
stealing and carrying great distances to sell in that environment? Sheep
and cattle breed a lot faster than humans, so there doesn't appear to be
much need for newly colonised planet to have much need to import food
(horses also breed faster than humans, and we know at least that they've got
horses on Whitefall). Even odder, from the earlier exchange between Book and
Kaylee, it appears that strawberries are very rare and valuable there. But
if so, then why do only the monks in Book's former abbey think of growing
them in all that spare dirt that's just lying around, doing nothing?

>Tidbits:

>- The only main cast member who'd worked with ME before is Summer Glau
>("Waiting In The Wings"). Fillion, Torres, and Baldwin would of
>course all end up as prominent guest stars on the vampire shows after
>_Firefly_'s cancellation.

I'd seen them on BtVS and AtS first, so of course for me its "Hm. Caleb,
Jasmine, and Hamilton get their own show. That'll end well".


>So...

>One-sentence summary: It's a great place to start.

>AOQ rating: Excellent

A promising start. But I'd only call it Good. It's currently my 7th
favourite Firefly episode.By way of comparison to the other ME shows, the
rating I give it (4.25) is the same as I give my 64th favourite BtVS episode
(Flooded) and my 23rd favourite AtS episode (Sanctuary).

--
Apteryx


ruthless

unread,
Mar 31, 2007, 11:45:41 AM3/31/07
to
In article <sufPh.1332$tx6...@tornado.fastwebnet.it>,
"Rincewind" <rincewi...@hotmail.com> wrote:

> > FIREFLY
> > Season One, Episode 1: "Serenity"

> > (or "Every time I think I'm out, they pull me back in")
> > Writer: Joss Whedon
> > Director: Joss Whedon


> >
> > The first suggestion I ever received about _Firefly_ was to give the
> > first episode some time - Joss & co. have to introduce a staggering
> > *nine* main characters and a universe while trying to tell a story.
> > So be a little bit patient. That's one bit of advice that I've
> > diligently passed along to everyone to whom I've ever introduced the
> > show. Conventional wisdom among fans seems to be that had the idiot
> > network allowed "Serenity" to air first, everyone would have been
> > swept away by the genius of the show and it would have found an
> > audience. I'm not so sure. It's not very accessible at first, and I
> > haven't known anyone who's been fully converted to the FF cause based
> > on the pilot alone.
>

> Then I am probably an exception...
> ten minutes into the pilot I was thinking "whoever wrote this stuff is a
> genius" and at the end I was convinced that I had just found the best
> science fiction show ever.
>


I remember thinking, upon first seeing The Pilot , this is the best SF movie that has been made in years!! And actually, it holds up pretty gorram well.

--

Quis custodiet ipsos custo?


" I tried reality once, I found it too confining" Jane Wagner/Lily Tomlin


ruthless

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Mar 31, 2007, 11:53:35 AM3/31/07
to
In article <j6kPh.9408$_Q.6...@fe2.news.blueyonder.co.uk>,
Cruithne3753 <cruithneThirty...@blueyonder.co.uk> wrote:

Yeah! Me too.. I thought," man, this is such a lovely feat of imagination". The other thing that got me was the strange syntax and the Chinese curse words. I mean, hey who doesn't love a good Chinese curse word. The other thing that got me were all the swell looking men.

Ruth, shallow.

ruthless

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Mar 31, 2007, 11:55:08 AM3/31/07
to
In article
<mair_fheal-CFD99...@sn-ip.vsrv-sjc.supernews.net>,

mariposas rand mair fheal greykitten tomys des anges
<mair_...@yahoo.com> wrote:

> > loved the idea.
>
> this here is injun country


Ah, but you can't get there from here....


Ruth, or should I say Melanie Haybor.....Susan Underhill??

Whoops. wrong newsgroup.

ruthless

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Mar 31, 2007, 11:55:52 AM3/31/07
to
In article <1175314033....@n59g2000hsh.googlegroups.com>,
"jil...@hotmail.com" <jil...@hotmail.com> wrote:

Ok...email me at rutgenneatearthlinkdotcom and we'll see what we can set ya up with.

ruthless

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Mar 31, 2007, 12:07:53 PM3/31/07
to
In article <130ru24...@news.supernews.com>,

"One Bit Shy" <O...@nomail.sorry> wrote:

Great movie, eh?

ruthless

unread,
Mar 31, 2007, 12:11:00 PM3/31/07
to
In article <1175344281....@q75g2000hsh.googlegroups.com>,

"Elisi" <eli...@gmail.com> wrote:
Anyway, most women alive adore Captain Tightpants
> (and yes, that name is one of the reasons! *g*). The coat, the boots,
> the gun, the bitterness, the deeply buried core of decency, the wry
> smile...

I so much agree with the above.

Ruth, dirty old lady/

One Bit Shy

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Mar 31, 2007, 12:37:10 PM3/31/07
to
"ruthless" <Selfgratify...@reggie.com> wrote in message
news:Selfgratifyingoldtimer...@news.west.earthlink.net...

> In article
> <mair_fheal-CFD99...@sn-ip.vsrv-sjc.supernews.net>,
> mariposas rand mair fheal greykitten tomys des anges
> <mair_...@yahoo.com> wrote:
>
>> > loved the idea.
>>
>> this here is injun country
>
>
> Ah, but you can't get there from here....
>
>
> Ruth, or should I say Melanie Haybor.....Susan Underhill??
>
>
>
> Whoops. wrong newsgroup.

Doesn't matter. Everybody knew her as Nancy anyway.

OBS


One Bit Shy

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Mar 31, 2007, 1:13:46 PM3/31/07
to
"Arbitrar Of Quality" <tsm...@wildmail.com> wrote in message
news:1175321142.5...@p15g2000hsd.googlegroups.com...

I've softened my attitude some on rewatch. (Remember, I only got these DVDs
last Summer.) But to some extent that feeling remains - which is less of a
criticism than it may sound. (The well realized part counts a lot.) I
definitely don't love the group the way I do in the other two series. Part
of that is probably just because I'm stuck with 14 episodes (I haven't seen
the movie yet) - they do have potential. Part of it is characters that I
find interesting, but not the sort that I would naturally feel attached to -
Mal, Jayne, Zoe, maybe Inara - though I'm not sure I have a full handle on
her yet. Wash is the weakest character for me - never really got into him.
Simon has an irritation element built into his character that elicits
sympathy while simultaneously being off putting. That's definitely not a
criticism, but makes for the kind of character that would take a long time
to begrudgingly like. (A high maintenance sort.) Book & Kaylee are easy.
For me, so is River.

The net effect are characterizations that I respect a lot - the group
dynamics are superb for example. But with a certain distance between them
and me that prevents me caring so deeply as I did with Buffy and company.

But who knows what would have happened had the series continued. Sometimes
caring sneaks up on you through familiarity.

Each of Joss's series have their relative attributes. The real standout for
me with regards to Firefly is the consistency of its quality. So even if
I'm a tad emotionally distant from it, I find that criticisms tend to be
pretty minor. The only reason the problem with the first scene stands out
as much as it does to me is simply because it's the first scene.

OBS


One Bit Shy

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Mar 31, 2007, 1:17:33 PM3/31/07
to
"ruthless" <Selfgratify...@reggie.com> wrote in message
news:Selfgratifyingoldtimer...@news.west.earthlink.net...
> In article <130ru24...@news.supernews.com>,
> "One Bit Shy" <O...@nomail.sorry> wrote:
>
>> "Arbitrar Of Quality" <tsm...@wildmail.com> wrote in message
>> news:1175232338....@d57g2000hsg.googlegroups.com...
>>
>> > This gives me the opening to mention that one thing that
>> > jumped out at me throughout the episode, but especially during the
>> > dinner scene is the fact that group interactions feel like actual
>> > groups interacting. People are talking amongst themselves in twos and
>> > threes, and having conversations in parallel rather than just mumbling
>> > "watermelon, cantaloupe."
>>
>> As an aside I recently watched Master and Commander (The Far Side of the
>> World) - missed it in the theater - and was especially struck by the
>> dinner
>> scenes in it. They very much reminded me of the dinner scenes in
>> Firefly -
>> especially the sense of family. Was Peter Weir a Firefly fan?
>>
>> OBS
>
> Great movie, eh?

I was stunned by it. I had no idea it was that good. But I was grabbed by
it in the first couple minutes and gripped tightly to the end. It's a long
movie too.

OBS


Elisi

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Mar 31, 2007, 1:36:17 PM3/31/07
to
On Mar 31, 6:13 pm, "One Bit Shy" <O...@nomail.sorry> wrote:
> "Arbitrar Of Quality" <tsm...@wildmail.com> wrote in messagenews:1175321142.5...@p15g2000hsd.googlegroups.com...

How can you not love Wash? I'm not being flip, I just didn't think it
was possible. From that first moment with the dinosaurs I quite simply
adored him! I don't find him attractive, but he's just so very
likeable - like a really mellow Xander who's extremely comfortable in
his own skin, and doesn't need to show off because he knows his worth.
Of course he's also the nearest Joss has ever come to putting himself
into a show... (apparently they'd wear the same clothes on set).

> Simon has an irritation element built into his character that elicits
> sympathy while simultaneously being off putting. That's definitely not a
> criticism, but makes for the kind of character that would take a long time
> to begrudgingly like. (A high maintenance sort.) Book & Kaylee are easy.
> For me, so is River.
>
> The net effect are characterizations that I respect a lot - the group
> dynamics are superb for example. But with a certain distance between them
> and me that prevents me caring so deeply as I did with Buffy and company.

For me it was sort of the opposite - I watched the pilot and instantly
liked and cared about them all. Not in the same way as I care about
the Buffy & Angel characters, of course, but then my love for Firefly
was always different. Buffy and Angel make me think - Firefly I just
enjoy. It's like chocolate.

Rincewind

unread,
Mar 31, 2007, 1:38:02 PM3/31/07
to

"Arbitrar Of Quality" <tsm...@wildmail.com> wrote:
> On Mar 30, 4:41 pm, "Rincewind" <rincewindwiz...@hotmail.com> wrote:
> \
>> ten minutes into the pilot I was thinking "whoever wrote this stuff is a
>> genius" and at the end I was convinced that I had just found the best
>> science fiction show ever.
>
> I think he also wrote a silly vampire show or something.

I think I heard of it... maybe I'll give it a try.
Seriously, if it wasn't for Firefly I would never have given Buffy a chance.
See, I live in Italy, which means that the only way that we can view foreign
tv shows is after they have been ruined by an incompetent translation and
very bad dubbing (do you have any idea what happens to the whedonspeak when
some high school student who doesn't understand half of it has been paid 100
bucks to translate 144 episodes of it in 2 weeks? And what happens to the
nuanced performances by SMG and other good actors when they are dubbed by
actors who are not talented enough to get a real acting job?). So when I
first happened to catch an episode of Buffy on tv I labelled it as a silly
uninspired low quality teen drama targeted to 15 years old viewers...
Then I discovered the wonders of modern technology, namely filesharing and
binary newsgroups, and started downloading random samples of tv shows I had
never heard of and so I happened to watch the pilot of Firefly and it was
like being struck by lightening. So I searched the net for more info about
the show and it turned out that the man who was responsible for that
masterpiece was also the mind behind Buffy and Angel, so I decided to
download a few episodes of Buffy and see if it was a little better in its
original language than it appeared to be in its dubbed version. Luckily, the
first episode I downloaded was Prophecy Girl and when I got to the SMG's
speech in the library I decided that I just had to watch the entire series
(which I did in 6 weeks... I didn't have a job at the time, so I could spend
12 hours a day watching dvds without feeling guilty).


>
> I kept wanting to make comments about his hat ("see?
>> > I've got a hat! It says 'wizzard,' right on it!")
>>
>> How dare you steal my lines?
>> (by the way, the fact that you can quote Terry Pratchett is the final
>> proof
>> that your sense of humor is not broken...)
>
> Well, this doesn't prove that I've ever laughed at anything in his
> books, just that I have some familiarity with them. (I have laughed.
> But I can't prove it.)
>
> (BTW, from before you were posting to the AOQ threads, my "alternate
> title" for "Killed By Death" was "THERE IS NO QUALITY. THERE IS ONLY
> ME.")

I like that, Death has always been my favorite discworld character!.
And I hope someone will soon follow Apteryx's example and revisit your old
BtVS reviews: I'm sure I missed a lot of interesting stuff having arrived
late to this newsgroup.


>> The problem is: space is big. You won't believe how mindboggingly big it
>> is.
>
> Covering all the standard British SF/F things to quote, are we?

Just testing your knowledge of the great classics... :-)


>> There is no way that two spaceships can casually happen to pass so near
>> to
>> one onother that you can actually see one spaceship from the other
>> without a
>> very powerful telescope. Yet we see with the naked eye the big reavers
>> ship
>> pass only a few hundred meters from Serenity.
>
> Misjudging distances that way is such an "established," so to speak,
> part of space-opera style science fiction nowadays that I'm fine to
> cheerfully ignore it.

Well, noises in space are also an established part of space-opera style
science fiction: aren't you happy that Joss got rid of that horrible
mistake?


>> Lines you'll never hear on Buffy:
>>
>> CALEB: Firefly gets canceled and this is all I get?
>
> Hey, he's the only one who wasn't just a Guest Star, he was a
> *Special* Guest Star.

Oh yeah... he had an especially bad part... :-)
I wasn't posting in your threads when Caleb appeared, so I didn't have the
opportunity to comment on how much the character sucks, but seriously, is
there a more trite cliche' than the evil woman-hating preacher? I think
Fillion deserved something more interesting and original: the Caleb
character is beneath him. (I loved what they did with Baldwin in AtS
though).


Rincewind.

--

Lines you'll never hear on Buffy:

ANGEL (after the infamous cookie dough speech): I get it. It's like... I'm
like a, like a cactus. Spiky on the outside, but sappy on the inside. No
wait... I'm like a motown record... groovy on the outside, but full of
soooouuuul on the inside. Or maybe I'm like a...
BUFFY: Huh. The writers really did lose their "Metaphors that Mean
Something" handbook back in season three.


Elisi

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Mar 31, 2007, 1:59:56 PM3/31/07
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On Mar 31, 6:13 pm, "One Bit Shy" <O...@nomail.sorry> wrote:
> "Arbitrar Of Quality" <tsm...@wildmail.com> wrote in messagenews:1175321142.5...@p15g2000hsd.googlegroups.com...
> OBS- Hide quoted text -
>
> - Show quoted text -

Actually, having pondered this a little more, I think there's a
fundamental difference between BtVS, AtS - and FF. Buffy and Angel are
both named after the main character, and the shows center around
*them*. But Firefly is named after the spaceship, and that's what
binds all the characters together. Serenity really is the most
important part of the show. And I (for one) love *the group* in FF in
a way I don't on either of the other shows.

mariposas rand mair fheal greykitten tomys des anges

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Mar 31, 2007, 2:16:35 PM3/31/07
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In article
<Selfgratifyingoldtimer...@news.west.earthlink.net>,
ruthless <Selfgratify...@reggie.com> wrote:

> In article
> <mair_fheal-CFD99...@sn-ip.vsrv-sjc.supernews.net>,
> mariposas rand mair fheal greykitten tomys des anges
> <mair_...@yahoo.com> wrote:
>
> > > loved the idea.
> >
> > this here is injun country
>
>
> Ah, but you can't get there from here....
>
>
> Ruth, or should I say Melanie Haybor.....Susan Underhill??

do you mean bambi?

One Bit Shy

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Mar 31, 2007, 2:48:02 PM3/31/07
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"Elisi" <eli...@gmail.com> wrote in message
news:1175362577.6...@l77g2000hsb.googlegroups.com...

> How can you not love Wash? I'm not being flip, I just didn't think it
> was possible. From that first moment with the dinosaurs I quite simply
> adored him! I don't find him attractive, but he's just so very
> likeable - like a really mellow Xander who's extremely comfortable in
> his own skin, and doesn't need to show off because he knows his worth.
> Of course he's also the nearest Joss has ever come to putting himself
> into a show... (apparently they'd wear the same clothes on set).

Sorry, he just doesn't connect with me. And inserting a character who
represents Joss is not a selling point for me - not as a major character
anyway. It may provide some meta points of interest, but I prefer living
inside the story to that kind of consideration. Now maybe he connects well
to others. I don't know. But to me he's the least real character of the
bunch.


>> Simon has an irritation element built into his character that elicits
>> sympathy while simultaneously being off putting. That's definitely not a
>> criticism, but makes for the kind of character that would take a long
>> time
>> to begrudgingly like. (A high maintenance sort.) Book & Kaylee are
>> easy.
>> For me, so is River.
>>
>> The net effect are characterizations that I respect a lot - the group
>> dynamics are superb for example. But with a certain distance between
>> them
>> and me that prevents me caring so deeply as I did with Buffy and company.
>
> For me it was sort of the opposite - I watched the pilot and instantly
> liked and cared about them all. Not in the same way as I care about
> the Buffy & Angel characters, of course, but then my love for Firefly
> was always different. Buffy and Angel make me think - Firefly I just
> enjoy. It's like chocolate.

Interesting that you say that. Buffy provides a lot of fodder for thinking.
It's obsession with parallels, metaphors and foreshadowing demand it. But,
first and foremost I respond to it emotionally. We talk much about the
grand epic journeys the characters take - hero's journeys and all. But the
driver is love. They follow their hearts. It's on that level that I relate
to it the most.

Angel's run lurches about too much for me to get into it as deeply, but it
has its places where I also relate to it emotionally first. There, however,
the driver seems to be more centered on anguish.

With Firefly I find myself at a little emotional distance. It's just the
way I respond to it.

OBS


One Bit Shy

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Mar 31, 2007, 3:18:34 PM3/31/07
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"Elisi" <eli...@gmail.com> wrote in message
news:1175363996.5...@o5g2000hsb.googlegroups.com...

> Actually, having pondered this a little more, I think there's a
> fundamental difference between BtVS, AtS - and FF. Buffy and Angel are
> both named after the main character, and the shows center around
> *them*. But Firefly is named after the spaceship, and that's what
> binds all the characters together. Serenity really is the most
> important part of the show. And I (for one) love *the group* in FF in
> a way I don't on either of the other shows.

Family is an important theme for all 3 shows. Different family members.
Different experiences. Different bonds tying them. Summing to different
visions of family. It's important, but if that's the cause for my different
emotional response to them, I'm not understanding it. I really think it's
more to do with who the characters are.

That reminds me of how one could look at Star Trek, Next Generation & DS9 as
differentiated by three different models of team. (Verging on family at
times too, but I think of it more as team.) I don't have much more to say
about that other than it's interesting to see thematic links across series
that serve to accent the qualities of each by contrasting their handling of
that common ground.

OBS


Stephen Tempest

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Mar 31, 2007, 3:32:11 PM3/31/07
to
"Apteryx" <apt...@xtra.co.nz> writes:

>I'd seen them on BtVS and AtS first, so of course for me its "Hm. Caleb,
>Jasmine, and Hamilton get their own show. That'll end well".

Jasmine would have both Caleb and Hamilton smiling happily at each
other and saying how much they loved each other.

(Then Hamilton would get an irrational urge to shoot Caleb in the
back, and get all weepy when he confessed it; and Caleb would wonder
why his pants were suddenly so much tighter. But he'd give Jasmine the
credit for that.)

Stephen

chr...@removethistoreply.gwu.edu

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Mar 31, 2007, 8:25:04 PM3/31/07
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In alt.tv.firefly Arbitrar Of Quality <tsm...@wildmail.com> wrote:

> FIREFLY
> Season One, Episode 1: "Serenity"
> (or "Every time I think I'm out, they pull me back in")
> Writer: Joss Whedon
> Director: Joss Whedon

.


> Conventional wisdom among fans seems to be that had the idiot
> network allowed "Serenity" to air first, everyone would have been
> swept away by the genius of the show and it would have found an
> audience. I'm not so sure. It's not very accessible at first, and I
> haven't known anyone who's been fully converted to the FF cause based
> on the pilot alone.

That's been my experience too. Shortly after the DVDs were released, I
loaned mine to a friend at work who was an ardent Buffy and Angel fan.
After watching Serenity, he came straight to my desk the next day and the
first words out of his mouth were, "Please tell me it gets better." He
didn't exactly hate it, but the beginning was so hard for him to get into
that he still hadn't warmed up by the end of the episode. In particular
he said it took him a long time to figure out who all the characters were
and what the battle scene had to do with anything. (There is a happy
ending to this story -- he kept watching and gradually, over several
episodes, fell under Firefly's spell.)

As for me, I watched Firefly when it was first broadcast, so by the time I
saw Serenity I already knew all the characters, their backgrounds, and the
context. But if Serenity was the first episode I saw, would I have
pressed on past the teaser? I think so. The contrast between the
dauntless, faithful and relatively upbeat Mal in Serenity Valley and the
bitter version six years later is just the kind of thing that would have
piqued my interest. (Of course, the contrast is only apparent at the end
of the long teaser, so if I was in an impatient mood that day I might
never have gotten that far.) I would have enjoyed the toy dinosaurs too.
And I can appreciate a disorienting beginning as long as things eventually
get more comprehensible. So I think Serenity would have made a better
introduction than The Train Job for me, personally. But it seems like
most people have a very different reaction, at least about the teaser. I
am forced to wonder if the people at Fox are not actually the slack-jawed,
drooling morons I've long taken them to be.

Many people apparently have trouble with the battle scene because it
occurs before they've gotten to know any of the characters, making it
harder to care about what's happening. This is similar to the problem a
lot of people have with the D-Day scene in _Saving Private Ryan_. And
since I just *happened* to have mentioned _Saving Private Ryan_, two brief
notes: 1.) Nathan Fillion had a small part in SPR. 2.) Serenity the
episode is, in most respects, a better movie than SPR. Take that,
Spielberg!

Does anyone think that the beginning would have worked better with the
original first scene (available among the deleted scenes on disc 4)? It
would have at least had the virtue of being shorter, and so less of a
problem for those who dislike it. On the other hand, it's less clear that
Mal's side lost the war. Also, no action. (The final version of the
teaser opens on an explosion, probably to make as great a contrast as
possible to the earlier version.) On the whole I think the final, actiony
version would appeal to more viewers.

Maybe another way of improving the beginning's appeal would have been to
make the salvage mission the whole teaser, and put the battle scene right
after the credits. (But only as a flashback labelled "Six Years Ago," NOT
as a dream Mal suddenly awakes from. The latter is way too cliched.)

> newcomers. Serenity herself has a Millennium Falcon feel, involving
> lots of climbing and one room clearly being connected to another, and
> the lack of a big TV screen in the front-center of the cockpit is
> important in making it its own show.

Once you start noticing it, it's remarkable how different Firefly looks
from any other SF show (or most other shows), and the ship is a huge part
of that. Simply building each level of the ship as one continuous set was
a brilliant stroke. Normally the only shows where you can see into other
rooms or follow characters from one room to another are shows shot in real
buildings here on earth. Therefore showing us the equivalent on Serenity
simply and effectively gives us the sense that the ship and its crew
really exist. Even a great SF show like the new Battlestar Galactica
usually lacks this. The simple fact that all the interior sets have
visible ceilings also does a lot to build that concrete, you-are-there
feeling. And the ship has character. It's stained and rusted, the chairs
don't match, some cheerful soul has painted flowers on the galley wall,
and so on.

Firefly's visual distinctiveness continues in the camerawork. Listen to
one commentary track and you'll hear more than you ever wanted to know
about hand-held cameras, zooms and lens flares. One of my favorite
Firefly visual habits is the way the camera sometimes focuses on a single
detail -- often not the one you'd think is most important -- just as a
person's gaze will often do in real life. Three great examples in this
episode are the camera wavering between Dobson's face and his gun as he
threatens Mal and Book; when Dobson throws the portable Cortex terminal
away in frustration, the camera follows it for a second; and best of all,
the focus on the teddy bear on Kaylee's coverall as Simon operates on her.
Any show can occasionally pan around and zoom in on an important object,
but Firefly's camera moves much like a person's gaze would. (Compare to
the first act of the BTVS episode The Body.) Another neat touch I really
like comes during Zoe and Wash's first conversation on the bridge: the
camera stays outside in the corridor and peers in, giving viewers the
feeling they're eavesdropping on a real conversation. Maybe I just don't
watch enough TV, but to me all this gives Firefly a visual style different
from any other show -- and far superior to most of them. You feel like
you're really there, which is especially important for a show that's all
about ordinary people far from the 'Verse's spotlight.

> Brief mention of the confrontation with Badger on Persephone. Joss
> points out, rightly, that it makes total sense for the "good guys" to
> get defeated here and capitulate, so we can start mapping out where
> they do and don't have limits. In this kind of 'verse, why shouldn't
> continued survival require the ability to compromise and know when to
> turn tail?

That's part of it. Compromise and principle are two recurring themes
throughout the show, especially for Mal. But this scene also serves a
second purpose, showing us exactly where our nobly criminal main cast fits
in the scheme of things. They aren't just criminals, they're quite low on
the criminal food chain, subsistence criminals rather than cool criminal
masterminds. Firefly is not going to be The Sopranos, let alone _Ocean's
Eleven_.

> This planet sequence is where Jewel Staite's Kaylee starts to stand
> out for me, as she's in her element convincing a drifting "shepherd"
> to come on board. The character is one of those that's calculated to
> appeal to the viewer and manipulate us into loving her. And hey, it's
> pretty much impossible not to. I suppose she's the cute geek of the
> group, the Willow or Fred of this show,

Ah, dear Kaylee. I sometimes say that on BTVS, Willow is the character
that I like the most while Buffy is the one who interests me most. On
Angel, again the title character interests me most while Fred is the one I
like the most. And on Firefly? Big surprise, Mal interests me the most
while Kaylee is the one I like the most. (Though to be honest, sometimes
Jayne comes close to stealing her title. He's not quite as attractive
though.)

> but she seems extremely
> relaxed and comfortable in her role, not filled with angst. Even
> after getting shot, she's overflowing with a sweetness that would seem
> saccharine if there were a drop of it that felt at all artificial.

Kaylee's sweetness is entirely free of naivete, and combined with a
certain healthy, earthy, un-selfconscious sexuality. Thank frog there's
at least one show that understands a female character can be sweet without
being either shy, naive or virginal.

About the cast in general: as soon as everyone is introduced, even before
we know their stories, all nine characters immediately become distinct and
memorable. None of them will ever fade into the crowd, or stay in the
background to pop out for one scene here or there, or lack a clear
relationship to anyone else in the cast. Joss must have learned a lot on
on BTVS and ATS, because from the very beginning he handles with aplomb a
cast of regulars even larger than either vampire show had in their most
convoluted later seasons.

> way he backs down in the scene with Badger. I remember that on first
> viewing I didn't like our hero very much. He's not such a nice guy,
> but this time around I'm appreciating his conviction.

I quickly came to love all the characters, even when they aren't such nice
people. This is *not* a love-to-hate sort of thing. The main cast just
all became real enough to me that I could appreciate their development
even when their behavior, by itself, would normally repel me. In general
I usually like the idea of characters who aren't entirely good or entirely
bad people, but Firefly performs the more difficult trick of making me
like the characters *as people*, even when they're bad. (One other show
that managed this trick is Six Feet Under -- I always loved the main
characters, even at their nastiest, most self-destructive,
emotional-train-wreckiest moments. And it's the opposite of The Sopranos,
where I do pretty much dislike most of the main characters, however
interesting they may be. (Maybe I should mention at this point that one
of my favorite characters on BSG is the thoroughly unpleasant Col. Tigh.))

> But right away there are hints that he's going to be the one with the
> mysterious back-story that he seems to feel guilty about. The last we
> see of these two is the rather trite image of the preacher seeking
> absolution from the whore, but where it fails symbolically for me, it
> works with these particular characters precisely because we don't know
> what makes our shepherd tick.

Very good point. I don't think this occurred to me on first viewing, or
even on fifth viewing, but Book's mysterious past adds depth to his final
scene with Inara. It isn't necessarily just the events of that day that
upset Book so much; they may also have re-awakened a lot of unpleasant
memories for him.

> In the
> aftermath of that, there's a confrontation between Mal and Simon in
> which our resident physician shows a bit of cold steel when he
> blackmails our heroes into running from the law in exchange for not
> standing by and letting someone die. Maybe he'll fit in to the
> backstabbing border life than some rich kids.

At the time Mal takes Simon to be just some spoiled rich kid who's so
self-centered he'll use other people, even threaten to let them die,
without a twinge of conscience, just to get what he wants. Later we learn
that it's just the opposite: Simon has in fact sacrificed everything he
had to save his sister, and he only threatens Kaylee for the same reason.
This lays the groundwork for the respect Mal develops for him (much later
in the episode). Hurting others for self-interest is contemptible, but
doing desperate deeds for some goal beyond oneself is just about the only
thing Mal can still respect. Doesn't mean he suddenly likes Simon, but it
does make him fit to be on Mal's crew.

> Faking Kaylee's death (and you can get away with that in the pilot,
> when we have only a brief glimpse at the credits to tell us who the
> regulars are) is hilarious. Mean and such too, but hilarious.

Absolutely hilarious. I think Joss commented somewhere that bursting out
laughing on cue is one of the hardest things for an actor to do, so he
makes them do it a lot. Many previous instances, eg in BTVS's The Real Me
(and later in End of Days) are only so-so. Here it works better because
four people are doing it at once, and because we cut to them in the middle
of the laugh. Aside from the laughing itself, I like Wash's echoing
Simon's calling Mal "psychotic."

> On to Whitefall, where I don't have a whole lot to say about the
> desert scenes. The visuals are shiny, Jayne with the headset is very
> dumb but fun, Zoe getting shot is a reasonably good fakeout, and "I do
> the job, I get paid, and that's all" is a pretty lame catchphrase to
> walk away on.

I like the fancy camera swing around Mal and Zoe as the fight starts, the
"nice hat," and Mal solving the problem of Patience by shooting the horse.
(Umm, because it was clever, not because I like anti-equine violence.)
However, I don't like the way Mal and Zoe stand out in the open to fight,
without even crouching down. If that's their usual habit, I don't see how
they lived through the war.

Random notes:

-Sergeants are not called "sir," at least not in English-speaking armies.

-I liked Inara's awkward customer at the beginning. Especially the way he
insults her -- "Your clock is probably rigged to cheat us" -- then beats a
hasty retreat. He was trying to sound witty, sophisticated and
worldly-wise, and instead realized that he just sounded petty and
childish, and it shows on his face.

-I love the image of the vast city-like Dortmunder cruising by, reflected
in Mal's spacesuit visor, with his grim face visible behind. It's a nice
symbolic image. He's outside civilization, looking in ... but in
wariness, not envy.

-"Good dogs." Heh.

-Note that in Star Wars, the Alliance is the name of the *good guys*.
Coincidence?

-I wonder if there are some literal-minded fans out there who listened to
the commentary and now think David Boreanaz is scared of chickens?

> AOQ rating: Excellent

Agreed. It's also one of my top three Firefly episodes, over-long teaser
and all.


--Chris

______________________________________________________________________
chrisg [at] gwu.edu On the Internet, nobody knows I'm a dog.

chr...@removethistoreply.gwu.edu

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Mar 31, 2007, 8:37:52 PM3/31/07
to
Hmm. Maybe I too shall check out this "Cowboy Bebop" of which ye speak.

In alt.tv.firefly Arbitrar Of Quality <tsm...@wildmail.com> wrote:

> kept me from fully appreciating the first few episodes. Also, I
> recommend the Japanese with subtitles, although the English dub is
> serviceable too.

When watching anime, I've started playing either select scenes or the
whole thing twice: first in Japanese with subtitles, to appreciate it as a
work of art, and then a second time in English, to figure out what the
hell happened. (I'm only an occasional anime viewer, so the extra time
involved doesn't make a big difference in my life.) It's also sometimes
amusing to watch the English dubbed version with the English subtitles
turned on, just to see how much they differ.

chr...@removethistoreply.gwu.edu

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Mar 31, 2007, 8:56:46 PM3/31/07
to
In alt.tv.firefly One Bit Shy <O...@nomail.sorry> wrote:

> As an aside I recently watched Master and Commander (The Far Side of the
> World) - missed it in the theater - and was especially struck by the dinner
> scenes in it. They very much reminded me of the dinner scenes in Firefly -
> especially the sense of family. Was Peter Weir a Firefly fan?

Dunno about that, but dinner scenes like those ones are important
throughout the Patrick O'Brian novels that the movie was based on. A lot
of the dialogue is taken almost verbatim from the books (including the
"lesser of two weevils" joke).

O'Brian's Aubrey-Maturin novels would make an interesting comparison study
to Joss Whedon's TV shows. The Whedonverse is partly about the personal
journeys of its main characters (especially Buffy and Angel -- Mal didn't
have enough time to journey as far); but it is perhaps more about the
developing relationships in the three "created families" surrounding
Buffy, Angel and Mal. The Aubrey-Maturin novels are partly about Jack's
and Stephen's personal journeys, but still more about the relationship
between them. There's also a lot of emphasis on ships' crews as, if not
families, at least living, developing organisms. (The movie M&C, though
it dumbed down the books in some ways, managed to capture these two
aspects pretty well.)

Arbitrar Of Quality

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Mar 31, 2007, 9:23:49 PM3/31/07
to
On Mar 31, 12:38 pm, "Rincewind" <rincewindwiz...@hotmail.com> wrote:
> "Arbitrar Of Quality" <tsm...@wildmail.com> wrote:
>
> > On Mar 30, 4:41 pm, "Rincewind" <rincewindwiz...@hotmail.com> wrote:
> > \
> >> ten minutes into the pilot I was thinking "whoever wrote this stuff is a
> >> genius" and at the end I was convinced that I had just found the best
> >> science fiction show ever.
>
> > I think he also wrote a silly vampire show or something.
>
> I think I heard of it... maybe I'll give it a try.
> Seriously, if it wasn't for Firefly I would never have given Buffy a chance.
> See, I live in Italy, which means that the only way that we can view foreign
> tv shows is after they have been ruined by an incompetent translation

But enough about the opening scene of "I Robot... You
Jane." [rimshot]

> >> Lines you'll never hear on Buffy:
>
> >> CALEB: Firefly gets canceled and this is all I get?
>
> > Hey, he's the only one who wasn't just a Guest Star, he was a
> > *Special* Guest Star.
>
> Oh yeah... he had an especially bad part... :-)
> I wasn't posting in your threads when Caleb appeared, so I didn't have the
> opportunity to comment on how much the character sucks, but seriously, is
> there a more trite cliche' than the evil woman-hating preacher? I think
> Fillion deserved something more interesting and original: the Caleb
> character is beneath him. (I loved what they did with Baldwin in AtS
> though).

Many people who responded to the thread felt the same way, but a few
found a method to ME's madness - might be worth a read. Fillion made
the character work for me (well, that and the lymph-of-Jesus speech
that I, and possibly I alone, find so endlessly amusing).

-AOQ

Arbitrar Of Quality

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Mar 31, 2007, 9:34:10 PM3/31/07