PDA

View Full Version : (Spoilers) Firefly Film Festival #8: "Out of Gas"


NE Texan
06-26-2005, 08:49 PM
Welcome to episode eight of the Firefly Film Festival.

As discussed here (http://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb/showthread.php?t=315162), we'll be reviewing and talking about one Firefly episode each week.

In this thread, please remember the following as a warning to yourself and courtesy to other posters:
* There will be unboxed spoilers about the current episode in this thread; you are forewarned.
* Please use spoiler boxes if you want to bring up points from later episodes.
* Please use spoiler warnings if you want to use info from the movie. Also be prepared for massive jealosy.
* Label what the spoilers are about so that readers can decide whether to open the box.
* We'll be talking about both the episode and the DVD commentary here.

Previous episodes:
1. Serenity (http://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb/showthread.php?t=315707)
2. The Train Job (http://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb/showthread.php?t=316716)
3. Bushwacked (http://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb/showthread.php?t=317772)
4. Shindig (http://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb/showthread.php?t=318931)
5. Safe (http://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb/showthread.php?t=319905)
6. Our Mrs. Reynolds (http://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb/showthread.php?t=320800)
7. Jaynestown (http://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb/showthread.php?t=321988)

Time for a thread on this week's episode: Out of Gas. "Maybe I should do that then!"

Kyla
06-26-2005, 09:08 PM
Probably the best episode of the lot. I love getting the background on everyone. Who would have suspected it of Kaylee? Oddly enough, looking through a transcript, I don't see lots of hilarious lines like I usually do. It's not the witty banter that makes this episode, it's the storyline. And hey! The captain? Perhaps a little crazy!

Oh, okay, fine.

Kaylee: Catalyzer on the port compression coil blew. That's where the trouble started.
Mal: I need that in Captain Dummy-Talk, Kaylee.

And Jayne's attempt to get Inara to tell some "funny whorin' stories".

You know the button that Wash installed to call everyone back? Alan Tudyk filched it when the show was cancelled.

:: sniffle ::

El_Kabong
06-26-2005, 09:24 PM
Mal: "Ship like this will be with you till the day you die."

Zoe: "That's 'cause she's a deathtrap."

I had liked Firefly from the first time I'd seen it, but this was the episode that tipped me over to thinking "Dang, this just may be the best TV show ever". Beautifully filmed and directed in almost a graphic-novel style, the ep seamlessly integrates poignant and sometimes hilarious vignettes concerning how the crew came together with a reasonably convincing main story describing the dangers inherent in spacefaring aboard an old, indequately-maintained vessel.

As ever, the cast nails their performances; there are so many great scenes it's almost impossible to highlight one, but if pressed I would say the most impressive is the sequence in which Mal first tells the crew they're going to have to abandon ship, and their reactions to the news, followed by him rejecting Inara's plea that he come with her in here shuttle. The fear in his eyes and voice, that he is indeed about to go down with his ship, seems pefectly genuine.

Note to self: If my mechanic ever says we need to replace the port catalyzer, I'll be sure to replace the damn port catalyzer.

Oh, and the story (related in the commentary track) concerning what Alan Tudyk did with the red button after the show had been cancelled really touched me.

NE Texan
06-26-2005, 09:25 PM
This is a great episode - even though it has a very thin plot - because it has such character moments.

We get to see when and why everyone joined, and some unique moments about them.

Like Zoe not liking Wash at first.

Like Jayne turning on his previous crew. (Which really should make us think about those episodes where he nearly turns on Mal...)

Like Kaylee replacing the "genius" mechanic. ("Genius? No one's ever called me that before." Yeah, we can see why.)

And the dialogue as ever:

"It's an easy, langorous journey."
"Gee, I wonder what that would be like."

NE Texan
06-26-2005, 09:27 PM
Oh, and I love the revelation at the end that the ship that will last if treated properly is not the Firefly that Mal ended up with.

Waenara
06-26-2005, 09:46 PM
Definitely my favorite episode.


"C'mon. You ain't even seen most of it. I'll show you the rest... Try to see past what she is, on to what she can be."

"What's that, sir?"

"Freedom, is what."

"No, I meant -- what's that?"

"Oh. Just step around it. I think something must've been living in here."

gardentraveler
06-26-2005, 10:05 PM
One of my favorite episodes, partly because of the background and partly because you get to see how the whole crew has really become a family: as a group during the birthday scene and when Mal tells them they need to leave on the shuttles, and in smaller scenes like the one with Simon and Inara talking about dying on the ship or River and Book talking about Book being afraid.

Technically, I think it's really neat to see how they weave in and out of the different points in time. It was really interesting to hear the commentary on that. It's much different than how they originally planned it, but I can't imagine the flashbacks being woven in more effectively.

GT

Sam Stone
06-26-2005, 11:11 PM
"When we get it flying. You mean it's not flyable now?"
"Not so much."

Great episode. I loved the last scene, where it's love at first sight between Mal and Serenity. This was the episode where the ship itself became one of the characters in the show.

And I thought Kaylee's scene was about perfect. Clearly, sexuality in the Firefly universe is much more casual than it is today. Which makes sense, given the advanced medicine, no doubt perfect birth control, etc. I liked how she could be that open sexually, while still being a nice, innocent girl, without it being a contradiction.

One nit was with Wash's character. He just didn't seem like Wash, and it wasn't just the cheezy mustache. I think he was trying to roll the character back and show how different he was 'back then', but the change was just a bit too much.

But anyway, the non-linear storytelling was handled very well, the character development stuff was perfect, and the pacing was great. A great hour of Firefly.

Otto
06-26-2005, 11:34 PM
Leading to one of the best gag reel moments, when Wash-with-moustache ets up from behind the console and Mal and Zoe have cheesy moustaches of their own.

FatBaldGuy
06-26-2005, 11:36 PM
You know the button that Wash installed to call everyone back? Alan Tudyk filched it when the show was cancelled.

:: sniffle ::Yes, he filched it, but then he gave it to Joss, so that when the show got picked up again he could call everyone back.

scr4
06-26-2005, 11:37 PM
Clearly, sexuality in the Firefly universe is much more casual than it is today.
I don't think so - look at Simon. And the big deal made about sex in "Our Mrs Reynolds." Like today, some people are more casual about sex than others.

Oddly enough, looking through a transcript, I don't see lots of hilarious lines like I usually do
There are a few:

Mal: Which one you figured tracked us?
Zoe: The ugly one, sir.
Mal: Could you be more specific?

Mal: Well. Looks can be deceiving.
Jayne: Not as deceiving as a low down dirty... deceiver.
Mal: Well said. Wasn't that well said, Zoe?
Zoe: Had a kind poetry to it, sir.

everyone: Happy birthday!
River: "Day" is a vestigial mode of time measurement based on solar cycles. It's not applicable.
Simon: ???
River: I didn't get you anything.

Wash: Yes, Mal. It'd boost the signal, but even if some passerby did happen to receive, all it'd do is muck up their navigation!
Mal: Could be that's true.
Wash: Damn right it's true! They'd be forced to stop and dig out our signal before they could go anyplace! ... <pause> ... Well, maybe I should do that!!

Randolph
06-26-2005, 11:40 PM
Okay, I've been following all of the Firefly threads religiously, because I'm a shamelessly nerdy Firefly fan (as evidenced (dmiphoto.com/images/legacy/jaynehat2.jpg)), but I haven't posted yet. I'm jumping in here, though, because this is the beginning of what I've heard called the Whiplash Point - the point at which Firefly hits and sustains a level of television that I've just never seen equalled. The last few episodes were enough to firmly grab you, but this, and the next few, just smack you silly with their quality. Or at least did to me.

This is a terrific episode, my second-favourite of the series (Objects in Space comes first). By now we've got the characters down pat and we can go all emotional (in a good way). They did a terrific job with the transitions (always important in a time-jumpy story) and the color schemes / camera work really set the mood for the origin flashbacks.

The origin chronology is a bit confusing - Mal's "finally got ourselves a genius mechanic" line is clearly meant to refer to Kaylee, so the Wash flashback takes place after the Kaylee flashback, but is shown before it - and since they're so close together, chronologically, the tendency is to take them as sequential. Doesn't matter much, I guess, in the end.

Absolutely love the scene of the shuttles departing, and Mal closing all of the doors behind him. The commentary's right, you just don't get to _do_ that on TV anymore. I guess that's one of the reasons Firefly really stands out - they trust the audience to be interested enough in the characters to enjoy taking their time with the storytelling.

Also this episode provides a speculative spoiler for a possible future Inara plotline:

During the quiet Simon / Inara scene, in the commentary, Tim Minear says there's a clue in the scene's dialogue as to an unused Inara backstory. There's really only one line it could be, and it fits in nicely with the Inara-is-dying speculation mentioned in numerous threads:

Inara: I love this ship. I have from the first moment I saw it.
Simon: I just don't want to die on it.
Inara: (distantly) I don't want to die at all.

This episode also has one of my favorite guest stars - Bester the mechanic. The guy playing him is just perfect, a wonderful, futuristic blend of surfer/stoner/poseur, like Kato Kaelin moved into Han Solo's guest house. I fully believe you could make a comedic Firefly spinoff starring Bestor as a sort of luckless, hapless, amiable Surfer Cowboy, hanging out in spaceports and stumbling in and out of trouble. Perhaps with a sidekick. A flying monkey of some kind.

Other episode likes: "Captain dummy-talk", Wash's pornostache, Kaylee heartbroken over not being able to fix Serenity, Mal's leading-Wash-to-water-but-letting-him-drink-on-his-own argumentation technique, Jayne's heartfelt goodbye, Mal letting his guard drop before falling back asleep, and of course the final scene, the origin of Serenity.

Kyla
06-26-2005, 11:49 PM
Mal: Well. Looks can be deceiving.
Jayne: Not as deceiving as a low down dirty... deceiver.
Mal: Well said. Wasn't that well said, Zoe?
Zoe: Had a kind poetry to it, sir.


How could I forget this? This is one of my favorite lines in anything, ever. I'm just dying to work "deceiving as a low down dirty deceiver" into a conversation.

I really love this episode.

NE Texan
06-26-2005, 11:56 PM
The origin chronology is a bit confusing - Mal's "finally got ourselves a genius mechanic" line is clearly meant to refer to Kaylee, so the Wash flashback takes place after the Kaylee flashback, but is shown before it - and since they're so close together, chronologically, the tendency is to take them as sequential.
Well, no, the "genius" does not refer to Kaylee. He's playing with us there. We hear "genius mechanic", and we all think Kaylee (who was in the previous scene) - and in walks Bester. He even says "Wow, no one's ever called me a genius before." (I mentioned that in my post).

Bester and Wash are both hired before they get Serenity off the ground the first time (it doesn't fly, "not so much", at first).

Kaylee is picked up later - they're on a rock for a few days on their way to some job, and Mal's on Bester's back for not fixing the problem faster, while Bester's on his back - erm... anyway, Kaylee shows how easily the problem can be fixed. So those two flashbacks are in order.

But in general, most of the flashbacks don't need to be in order. Inara, Jayne, Kaylee - can you tell from evidence in the episode what order those happened in? I can't. You don't need to. (I do suspect, though, that Inara's shuttle was rented out before they left the first time, but I can't support that with a quote from this episode.)


Jayne, in this episode and the last, obviously has a way with words. (Not a good way, just a way...)

levdrakon
06-27-2005, 12:12 AM
One of my favorite episodes. (of course, I have 14 favorite episodes)

Definitely one of the most important episodes. As others have mentioned, this one gives us backstory on how our basic family formed; Wash, Kaylee, Jayne.

"They'd be forced to stop and dig out our signal before they could even go any place...
Well maybe I should do that then!"
"Maybe you should!"
"Ok!"
"Good!"
"Fine!"
"Hey, what you two think you're doing, fighting at a time like this? Use up all the air."

"She likes engines, they make her hot. Secondary grav-boot's shot."
"No it ain't! Secondary grav-boot's just fine... Hello!
"She doesn't... that's not what it... no it ain't!"
"Sure it is, grav-boot ain't your trouble. I seen the trouble plain as day when I was down there on my back before... Your right couple's bad."
"Right couple... no it ain't."
"Sure it is. Your right-couple. Right... here. This. I'm pointin' right at it."

"She fixed it."
"It wadn't really broke."

"You got much experience with a vessel such as this?"
"I ain't never been up in one before."
"Wanna?"
"Just gotta ask my folks!"

"Mal, whattaya need two mechanics for?"
"Really don't."

Tarrsk
06-27-2005, 01:20 AM
"Yeah, 'cuz sick people are hi-larious!"

"Out of Gas" is the episode that really cemented my love for Firefly. It's probably the most character-driven episode of the series, the plot existing primarily to show our heroes' responses to utter disaster. Plus, the cinematography is gorgeous... as Randolph noted, it's very rare that you get to see long, dialogue-free sequences in which the imagery alone tells the story on television. Scenes like the opening shot of Serenity adrift (and how great is it that she actually drifts in space, instead of slowing to a stop like in every other sci-fi show ever?), the departure of the shuttles, and Mal's subsequent journey back to the cockpit give the episode a truly cinematic feel.

As much as I love this episode, though, I wince every time Simon says the line "pure adrenaline," comically enormous syringe in hand. That much adrenaline would kill a freakin' elephant, even if it were injected in some halfway realistic manner, rather than straight into the gut (WTF?!).

scr4
06-27-2005, 01:59 AM
About the adrenaline, here's what the Master has to say (http://www.straightdope.com/columns/050218.html) about a similar scene in Pulp Fiction:
But here's the thing: doctors honest to God do on (rare) occasion jab a big hypodermic of epinephrine, aka adrenaline, directly into the heart of someone who's gone into cardiac arrest, a technique called intracardiac injection (ICI). If the patient is lucky she revives quickly--epinephrine is the fight-or-flight hormone that blasts through your system in moments of extremity. So there's a grain of truth to the scene.
Given that Zoe was going into cardiac arrest, I suppose it's not completely inaccurate. More accurate than Pulp Fiction, in fact. The later scene with Mal injecting himself is ridiculous though - his heart is obviously still beating and there's no need for an intracardiac injection. Then again Mal isn't a doctor and maybe he didn't know any better.

There are a few other technical/scientific problems I saw too. For example, opening the hatch to put out the fire should have reduced cabin pressure considerably, and with life support down, they shouldn't have been able to replenish the air in that area. And the very memorable scene of Mal closing all the doors as he goes up to the bridge - that makes no sense. Mal has no way of extracting oxygen from the closed-off sections and pumping it into the bridge, so he's better off leaving all the doors open.

Not that I care much about these technical problems. It's still the best hour of any show on TV, IMHO. It's a complex episode with three different time periods interlaced, but they pulled it off wonderfully.

Tracy Lord
06-27-2005, 02:46 AM
This is definitely my favorite episode of the series, and that's saying quite a lot. I remember during the series' original run, I couldn't watch this episode as it aired (prior engagement or summat) and the tape I'd set to record didn't take -- I had to wait a few days for a friend to send it to me. And when I finally saw it? HOO BOY. That was love. Like a lot of other people have mentioned in this thread, this was the turning point from "It's a great show!" to "It's an amazing show."

I'd end up quoting the whole episode if I talked about dialogue I loved -- it's not all witty-quotable, but for character and emotional resonance, there's not a single line of dialogue I dislike. Highlights for me was the dinner/birthday party scene (as the fireball came through, especially) and Mal and Inara having their last conversation -- but choosing favorite scenes in this episode is like pointing out the strongest part of Casablanca. There's not a single flaw here, IMO, and beyond that, it's all wonderful.

Tarrsk
06-27-2005, 03:08 AM
Given that Zoe was going into cardiac arrest, I suppose it's not completely inaccurate. More accurate than Pulp Fiction, in fact. The later scene with Mal injecting himself is ridiculous though - his heart is obviously still beating and there's no need for an intracardiac injection. Then again Mal isn't a doctor and maybe he didn't know any better.

Even then, it would be an extremely dilute epinephrine solution:

In cardiac arrest, 0.5 to 1.0 mg (5 to 10 mL of 1:10,000 solution) may be given. During a resuscitation effort, 0.5 mg (5 mL) should be administered intravenously every five minutes.

Intracardiac injection should only be administered by personnel well trained in the technique, if there has not been sufficient time to establish an intravenous route. The intracardiac dose usually ranges from 0.3 to 0.5 mg (3 to 5 mL of 1:10,000 solution).
-From RXlist.com (http://www.rxlist.com/cgi/generic3/epi_ids.htm)

A shot of saturated epinephrine solution in a syringe as large as the one Simon uses would almost certainly be fatal, although to be fair I don't know of any specific experiments where people were injected with massive epinephrine overdoses. ;)

levdrakon
06-27-2005, 03:53 AM
The whole beginning scene, with Mal introducing Zoe to Serenity, that's a scene, a dialogue, that every married couple goes through. Not just married couples, every couple of close people, friends, lovers, whatever, that's a conversation they have. "What made you buy this piece of gorram?" "Gorram, why, with some love and attention, she'll be with you 'til the day you die." "Yeah, 'cause it's a death-trap."

Mal & Zoe are, in their own way, married. But lots of us are married to our friends, we just don't acknowledge it as the whole "married" thing.

Mal is married to every single member of his crew. I guess we call it love, family, friendship, loyalty, whatever. Joss Whedon's got it right on. The crew of Serenity is a loving family, and we all feel like a part of that family. Damn it Whedon, don't make me feel this way! You're like a heroin pusher!

MrDibble
06-27-2005, 06:02 AM
This is absolutely my favourite - just the best 40 mins of TV ever. Everone's already covered most of my points, there's just a couple lines that stand out for me:

Inara:"A Companion doesn't kiss and tell"
Mal:"So there is kissing..." *Zing!*

River: "You’re afraid we’re going to run out of air. That we’ll die gasping. But we won’t. That’s not going to happen. We’ll freeze to death first."

Inara: "Mal, you don't have to die alone."
Mal: "Everyone dies alone."

Inara: “The Alliance has no quarrel with me. I supported Unification.”
Mal: “Did you? Well, I don’t suppose you’re the only whore that did…”
[something]
Inara: "...that's the last time you get to call me 'whore'"
Mal:[something like "Of course"? If he'd said "As you wish.", I just might have had a fangasm]

Also, the end of Mal's exchange with the "pirates" says so much about how he views himself:
pirate:"you'd have done the same"
Mal:"well, we can plainly see that I haven't"

Man, so much to love. "Sex Kaylee" is just a bonus...

MrDibble
06-27-2005, 06:04 AM
Oh, and I forgot this great bit of wordply. The show's writers write like people who really love the craft over the paycheck(Trekwriters, I'm looking at YOU)

Mal: You are very much lacking in imagination.
Zoe: I imagine that's so, sir.

Orual
06-27-2005, 08:36 AM
This is my favorite episode, no question. The crew of Serenity is more like a family than any other TV family I've ever seen. Who would've thought you could cram so much emotional impact into an hour-long TV show?

Everyone's performances were fabulous, but the scenes that got to me the most were Mal's (hunkering under blankets in the cockpit waiting to die alone, leaving bloody handprints all over the hallways, fumbling with and dropping the catalyzer, "you'll all still be here when I get up? ::sniff:: ).

I love how not even imminent death can make Jayne any less ... Jayne.

Favorite lines that haven't yet been mentioned:

Kaylee: Sometimes a thing gets broke can't be fixed...

Simon: It's just... it was my birthday.

Jayne: She did something to her shuttle, Mal. Smells funny.
Inara: I told you, that's incense.

Mal: Didn't I order you off the ship?
::Wash says how Zoe made them come back for Mal when she woke up::
Zoe: Won't happen again, sir.

Randolph
06-27-2005, 09:56 AM
Well, no, the "genius" does not refer to Kaylee. He's playing with us there. We hear "genius mechanic", and we all think Kaylee (who was in the previous scene) - and in walks Bester. He even says "Wow, no one's ever called me a genius before." (I mentioned that in my post).
Huh. That's kinda disappointing, actually. I thought the scene was more clevererer with Bester coming by, overhearing Mal's reference to Kaylee, and still not realizing he's gonna be fired ("What do you need two mechanics for?") misappropriating the compliment in a charmingly clueless sort of way.

And I thought Kaylee's scene was about perfect. Clearly, sexuality in the Firefly universe is much more casual than it is today. Which makes sense, given the advanced medicine, no doubt perfect birth control, etc. I liked how she could be that open sexually, while still being a nice, innocent girl, without it being a contradiction.
This to me seems like more of a farmer's daughter thing - very practical about sex, since they've grown up around it their whole lives. It certainly does add a whole 'nother layer to Kaylee's character.

dropzone
06-27-2005, 11:03 AM
I taped it then watched the first couple minutes but had to stop the tape.

"Oh, shit! Star Trek usually waits for the second season before they trot out the 'everybody's suffocating but are saved in the nick of time' plot. There goes another promising series down the tube. :( "

That was before I learned to Trust Joss. Does he always turn cliches on their heads?

Jurph
06-27-2005, 11:58 AM
One nit was with Wash's character. He just didn't seem like Wash, and it wasn't just the cheezy mustache. I think he was trying to roll the character back and show how different he was 'back then', but the change was just a bit too much.

I'm going to disagree with you there. I've seen video of myself taken before I was married, and there's definitely a character difference. When Wash comes on the ship at that point, he's on an interview. He's presenting himself as a pilot, but he's also "interviewing" the ship. He and Serenity are getting to know each other, and so he's having as much fun as he's ever had.

Once he's had a honeymoon with Zoe, flying a Firefly-class freighter drops down to at least #2 on his list of "most fun he's ever had".

MEBuckner
06-27-2005, 12:51 PM
My very favorite episode. (I wouldn't even trade it for Yo-saf-brig.)

Um...most of the things I can think of to say have already been said by somebody; I'll just mention the music, which I thought was very well done in this episode, especially in the scene when the rest of the crew abandons ship and Mal is walking through the ship to the cockpit, dogging all the hatches behind him. Also, some great illustrations of the "no sound in space" principle, and I think a nice demonstration of how that can actually add to the dramatic impact if properly done.

Bosstone
06-27-2005, 01:07 PM
Yet another classic episode. Since everyone's pointed out the good about this ep, though, I'll go ahead and point out a bad.

The commentary brings it to the viewer's attention, but it's still worth noting: that is one dinky gun Mal uses to force the salvagers off the ship. Nathan Fillion does an excellent job with what he has, but really. There's 4 or 5 guys there, all with weapons, Mal's bleeding from a gut wound, and he's got a tiny holdout pistol. It's hard to see the salvagers leaving because of that. The first time I saw this episode, I figured they were simply going to humor him; go back in their ship, wait until he bleeds to death, then take Serenity at their leisure.

The rest of the episode is absolutely wonderful, but that one scene feels forced. As the commentator says, it would have worked far better for him to have a big, menacing shotgun or something.

Miller
06-27-2005, 01:33 PM
The commentary brings it to the viewer's attention, but it's still worth noting: that is one dinky gun Mal uses to force the salvagers off the ship. Nathan Fillion does an excellent job with what he has, but really. There's 4 or 5 guys there, all with weapons, Mal's bleeding from a gut wound, and he's got a tiny holdout pistol. It's hard to see the salvagers leaving because of that. The first time I saw this episode, I figured they were simply going to humor him; go back in their ship, wait until he bleeds to death, then take Serenity at their leisure.

I didn't think that was an issue at all. Sure, they could try to take him, and he'd at most get one, maybe two of them before he died, but none of the pirates want to take a risk on being that one guy he takes down. Plus, even a simply wound would likely be fatal to a bunch of pirates, days away from any port, with no on-board doctor, no money for expensive medical procedures and probably a price on their heads at any planet with a decent medical facility. Basically, they're a bunch of cowards who only tried to take Serenity because they thought they could get it at absolutely no risk to themselves. Once that plan was scuttled, they just took off. Not like the whole thing actually cost them anything, except the price of one port compression catalyzer.

MrDibble
06-27-2005, 01:37 PM
The commentary brings it to the viewer's attention, but it's still worth noting: that is one dinky gun Mal uses to force the salvagers off the ship. Nathan Fillion does an excellent job with what he has, but really. There's 4 or 5 guys there, all with weapons, Mal's bleeding from a gut wound, and he's got a tiny holdout pistol. It's hard to see the salvagers leaving because of that. The first time I saw this episode, I figured they were simply going to humor him; go back in their ship, wait until he bleeds to death, then take Serenity at their leisure.

I think the important thing about the dinky-gun-vs-crowd-of-people thing is where (or rather who) you aim at.

Sam Stone
06-27-2005, 01:56 PM
It's also possible that they WERE back in their ship, off at a safe distance waiting for him to die, but then those two shuttles arrived with all those people, and their plan went to hell.

FordPrefect
06-27-2005, 01:57 PM
I think the important thing about the dinky-gun-vs-crowd-of-people thing is where (or rather who) you aim at.
When I was a kid I watched one of Kenny Roger's "The Gambler" movies. They had a scene where Kenny pulled a Derringer pistol when confronted with three bad guys. The head bad guy laughed and said, "He can only get one of us with that thing." Kenny's response was, "Who's it going to be?" and all three bad guys left.

This "problem" was for me such a welcome change from the typical bad guy always fighting to the death because he don't care about his own life. Which is stupid. A few might be psychotic, but there is no profit in being dead. I thought the pirates reacted exactly like I would, although, I would have put a second round in Mal's head before turning my back on him, but that is just me.

Cervaise
06-27-2005, 02:18 PM
This episode contains what might be my favorite Firefly moment, the thing that sums up the intelligence, humor, and emphasis on character that are the show's hallmarks.

It's during the Jayne flashback. Mal and Zoe stand with their hands up being menaced by three dirty thugs, Jayne among them. Neither Mal nor Zoe seems particularly concerned, because they know where the loot is and so they're not in any real immediate danger from these lowlifes, but they're still in something of a stalemate. Mal says something to this effect, that as long as the cargo remains hidden they can stand there all day.

Jayne says: "Tracked you down easy enough."

And Mal cocks his head, turning his eyes to the suddenly very interesting third thug, and he says, musingly, "Yeah, you did."

In that split-second, Mal learns what he needs to know about the situation, and he understands what he needs to do to get out of the pickle. From that moment on, he may still have his hands up, and he may still have three weapons pointed at him, but make no mistake, he is absolutely in charge of the scene. The shift is extremely subtle, but it's unmistakable; right there, he takes command, and the three thugs — or, rather, the two thugs who aren't Jayne and who therefore don't interest Mal — don't have a chance. And what's more, it's a scene wherein our hero has a gun pointed at him, and he escapes not with action but with wit: he is clever and he talks his way out of trouble. A lesser show would resort to a brief distraction and then have the hero tackle or shoot somebody; Firefly, not so much. :)

Oh, and best of all, Zoe doesn't miss a beat. She picks up on Mal picking up on it: she gets his play instantly, and she backs him right up.

I love this moment so much, when I'm watching this episode, I sometimes rewind just so I can see Mal cock his head and say "yeah, you did" a couple of times. It's just so perfect. He goes from not looking at anything in particular (and therefore looking at everything at once) to turning his hawklike eyes right at Jayne; volumes are communicated in that one glance. It's perfectly written, it's perfectly acted, and it's perfectly directed: quiet, subtle, based entirely in character instead of action or pure plot. It may be my favorite unsung moment of the entire series.

merrily
06-27-2005, 02:23 PM
That was before I learned to Trust Joss. Does he always turn cliches on their heads?
Yes. In fact, he is famous for it.

Although I wouldn't quite say "on their heads." He twists them so you are surprised, but without making you feel betrayed.

I'm going to disagree with you there. I've seen video of myself taken before I was married, and there's definitely a character difference.
<snerk>

I do have to agree, though, that the old Wash seemed less mature.

And I wish that the guys from the other ship had said something like, it isn't worth it, we'll pick this up on our way back. But it didn't affect how much I loved this episode. I agree that this sets up a trio of episodes that changed the scale for a good series for me.

NE Texan
06-27-2005, 04:36 PM
I did think there were two plot holes - well, plot weaknesses, rather than holes. They've already been mentioned, but the two things that bug me:

First, the thugs from the other ship leaving. I can understand them getting off the ship while the gun is pointed at them; but as soon as they're gone, they know that they're facing one wounded guy on a broken ship. I would expect them to sneak back around, board some other way, or something.

Second, the whole "seal the other doors up" - I don't see how this saves oxygen, exactly as scr4 says.

However, I like the episode so much, I ignore both of these...

This episode is really great in showing Mal's acting (excuse me, Nathan Fillon's). Cervaise's favorite above is a prime example, but also every scene Mal has alone in the ship. He's not saying anything - but you can see how he's feeling, what his problem is, where he's trying to go, how difficult it is, how he presses just to keep moving - just from his expression, body language, and pace.

Merijeek
06-27-2005, 07:13 PM
Note to self: If my mechanic ever says we need to replace the port catalyzer, I'll be sure to replace the damn port catalyzer.


Leading to another great line.

Bad Captain: Catalyzer is a nothing part.
Mal: It's a nothing part until you don't got one.

How many times have you been in a "Oh fuck, if only I had a [whatever*] I'd be fine" situation?

-Joe

*Twist tie, screwdriver, quarter, gum, HDD jumper, etc - any $.10 part will do

Miller
06-27-2005, 07:31 PM
I may be talking out my ass, but when Mal was closing the doors, could it be that he was conserving heat, and not air?

As for the pirates not waiting around for Mal to die and taking the ship some other way, they have to know that however lonely Mal is now, he had a bigger crew at some point, just to get a Firefly out there. Either they're coming back at some point, or Mal is bug-fuck crazy enough to have killed them all and disposed of the evidence, or something even more bizarre is going on. With so many unknowns, it makes perfect sense for them to decide "Screw it," and just leave.

Also, they might simply not have the right equipment to force a boarding of another ship in space. We saw the Serenity's crew use that thermal gel to melt their way into the cargo hold of that ship in the first episode, but maybe that stuff is harder to come by than we know, or the other ship used all theirs up, or they were worried about booby traps, or... or... or...

There are enough possible explanations as for why they just left, it doesn't bother me in the least that they never offered one in the show itself.

Hellestal
06-27-2005, 07:32 PM
My second favorite episode, behind "Objects in Space." Everything's been pretty well talked through, though, so I'll just give credit where it's due.And Mal cocks his head, turning his eyes to the suddenly very interesting third thug, and he says, musingly, "Yeah, you did."

In that split-second, Mal learns what he needs to know about the situation, and he understands what he needs to do to get out of the pickle. From that moment on, he may still have his hands up, and he may still have three weapons pointed at him, but make no mistake, he is absolutely in charge of the scene. The shift is extremely subtle, but it's unmistakable; right there, he takes command, and the three thugs — or, rather, the two thugs who aren't Jayne and who therefore don't interest Mal — don't have a chance. And what's more, it's a scene wherein our hero has a gun pointed at him, and he escapes not with action but with wit: he is clever and he talks his way out of trouble. A lesser show would resort to a brief distraction and then have the hero tackle or shoot somebody; Firefly, not so much. :)You are my favorite critic, on the boards or off.

I've never rewound the scene, but I have paused right at that look Mal gets when he says "Yeah, you did." I've even tried to practice it in the mirror a few times but have been forced to admit to myself that I am not a big damn space-western hero. Before now, though, I never had the words to describe why I love that flashback so. Thank you.

Sam Stone
06-27-2005, 08:57 PM
This episode contains what might be my favorite Firefly moment, the thing that sums up the intelligence, humor, and emphasis on character that are the show's hallmarks.


A similar scene for me was in the pilot, when Badger says, "You're late!", and Mal instantly sees what Badger is trying to do, turns the situation around on him and puts him on the defensive. Mal is smart.

phouka
06-27-2005, 09:19 PM
Second, the whole "seal the other doors up" - I don't see how this saves oxygen, exactly as scr4 says.

See, I don't have a problem with this. A spaceship must be compartmentalized, to protect from loss of atmospheric integrity (it's also a handy option to have for ship-to-ship combat or mutiny). Implicit in that is that they have control over the atmosphere in those sections. Air has to be pumped in under normal circumstances, so they should be able to pump out the air and keep it in the occupied areas, limiting the waste of oxygen.

But that's just me. I probably read too much Heinlein as a kid.

Sam Stone
06-27-2005, 09:54 PM
<Putting ultra-geek mode on>

If you're going to nitpick... Given the size of the ship, there was a LOT of air for Mal. A SCUBA tank holds 72 cu ft of air and can last for an hour, but a human only metabolizes about 5% of the oxygen - the rest is simply exhausted with the CO2. In a closed circuit system (the spaceship), the real limiting factor is CO2 level, not lack of oxygen. If you can scrub the CO2 out of the air, a couple of cubic feet of air is enough for more than an hour.

According to Whedon, Serenity is 191 ft long, about 50 ft high, and probably about as wide. Not all of that is breathable space, but let's say half of it is. Call it 200,000 cubic feet. Let's say a third the air was lost to the fire (there was enough pressure left for the crew to not become hypoxic, so the cabin altitude couldn't have been more than about 12,000 ft, meaning no more than about 1/3 of the air could have been lost). So... There was probably 150,000 cubic feet of air left in Serenity. With CO2 scrubbing, that could last 9 people maybe two years. Without CO2 scrubbing, it gets a little more complex:

Our body makes about 200 cc's of CO2 every minute. So in an hour, we produce 12,000 cc's of CO2, or about half a cubic foot of CO2 per hour. CO2 starts to become toxic at about 50,000 ppm, and can kill you around 500,000 ppm. Let's assume the lower limit, and say that the crew is in trouble once the CO2 level is at about 5%. That means the crew needs to start worrying once they've made about 7500 cubic feet of CO2, which would take the 9 of them about 1600 hours, or about 69 days.

And no doubt, I got something horribly wrong in the calculations somewhere, but suffice it to say that they could have lasted a long, long time. River was right - they'd freeze to death first.

<geek mode off>

scr4
06-27-2005, 09:55 PM
Implicit in that is that they have control over the atmosphere in those sections.
I was about to say "why would the pumps work if the life support system is down?" but I looked at the script and Jayne says:
I went ahead and closed off all below deck vents.
Diverted what there is to the bridge. It ain't much.
So my advice, seal off everything tight behind you
when you go back up. Might buy you some time.
So you might be right, maybe they still had the ability to move air between compartments.

FordPrefect
06-27-2005, 10:00 PM
I was about to say "why would the pumps work if the life support system is down?" but I looked at the script and Jayne says:

So you might be right, maybe they still had the ability to move air between compartments.
Well, they still had lights and radio.

Sam Stone
06-27-2005, 10:06 PM
As a sanity check to my geekiness, I just remembered that the show Mythbusters did a segment to see how long you could survive being buried alive in a sealed coffin. They put one of the Mythbusters in the coffin set up with Oxygen and CO2 bloodstream sensors, and sealed it up. He was okay 50 minutes later, although his CO2 levels were beginning to rise substantially. An empty coffin is what, about 50 cubic feet? Assume the person takes up the bulk of that space, there could have been no more than 5 or 10 cubic feet of air for him to breathe. If Mal had even sealed himself up in a 10 x 10 x 10 bedroom on the ship, he could have survived for days.

But where's the drama in that?

Merijeek
06-27-2005, 10:58 PM
As a sanity check to my geekiness, I just remembered that the show Mythbusters did a segment to see how long you could survive being buried alive in a sealed coffin. They put one of the Mythbusters in the coffin set up with Oxygen and CO2 bloodstream sensors, and sealed it up. He was okay 50 minutes later, although his CO2 levels were beginning to rise substantially. An empty coffin is what, about 50 cubic feet? Assume the person takes up the bulk of that space, there could have been no more than 5 or 10 cubic feet of air for him to breathe. If Mal had even sealed himself up in a 10 x 10 x 10 bedroom on the ship, he could have survived for days.

But where's the drama in that?

Funny. You think River's line about how they'd all freeze to death before they suffocated (back when Serentity's air was being used by NINE people) would have already have made this pretty clear. Abundantly clear. Completely clear.

Amazing how obsessive people can be.

-Joe

Sam Stone
06-28-2005, 02:13 AM
Yeah, we wouldn't want any actual fans to show up here.

Lighten up.

Tarrsk
06-28-2005, 03:21 AM
Yeah... let's keep it nice here. This is supposed to be fun, after all!

'sides, you don't want to scare away any prospective Browncoats out there, do ya? ;)

FordPrefect
06-28-2005, 10:32 AM
But where's the drama in that?

Besides, why can't people in the future make silly mistakes like people in the present do :)

Left Hand of Dorkness
06-28-2005, 11:46 AM
Besides, why can't people in the future make silly mistakes like people in the present do :)
Excellent point! Mal is brilliant about people, but he leaves the math and science to other people on board. For all he (and Jayne!) knew, sealing up the decks was the only way for him to keep on breathing.

Daniel

merrily
06-28-2005, 12:45 PM
I also wonder, it may be one thing to be in a small space with air, and it may be another to be in a large space. If there is less oxygen in a large space, it might not be where you can breathe it, if you take my drift.

Mal seem to be extremely good at reading people, he does that continually, but most of all, he does it with Jayne--remember the pilot episode, he knew what Jayne was likely to do, without being there.

gardentraveler
06-28-2005, 07:36 PM
... Also, some great illustrations of the "no sound in space" principle, and I think a nice demonstration of how that can actually add to the dramatic impact if properly done.So explain this one to me, please. Sci-fi isn't normally my thing and my most scientific area of knowledge is horticulture (where I'm a beginner), so I'm lost. But intrigued.

GT

Bosstone
06-28-2005, 07:57 PM
So explain this one to me, please. Sci-fi isn't normally my thing and my most scientific area of knowledge is horticulture (where I'm a beginner), so I'm lost. But intrigued.

GT
Simplistically, sound needs air to travel from its origin to your ear. Air molecules buffet each other all the way up to your eardrum, causing it to vibrate and report to your brain as sound. No air, no eardrum vibration, no sound.

As for silence increasing the dramatic impact, I can't answer that as simply, but I imagine it has to do with the lack of sound forcing you to focus more closely on the visuals.

levdrakon
06-28-2005, 08:24 PM
Just as a for instance, when the pirate ship suddenly appeared and sorta startled Mal, because he hadn't heard their radio transmission. Basically on Earth, or any planet with an atmosphere, Mal would've heard the roar of the other ship's engines, but in space, no sound of engines.

I'm sure you're familiar with that distinctive sound the Tie fighters (http://www.filmsound.org/starwars/tie.wav) make in Star Wars, as well as the sound of their blasters firing. In reality, and in Firefly, you don't hear any of that, and if handled well, it adds to the spookiness of space.

gardentraveler
06-28-2005, 09:17 PM
Thanks BayleDomon and levdrakon for the explanation. Got it now. The scene with the shuttles leaving Serenity conveys this concept as well, if I've understood it correctly. Hmmm, guess I'll have to go and watch this again and think on it a bit more...

GT

Sam Stone
06-28-2005, 11:04 PM
I think the best thing about no sound in space is that it gets across the absolute strangeness of the environment, and really cements home the idea that the ship is just a little oasis of life in a lot of nothing. It helps give the show that Das Boot feel in some ways and heightens the drama (they did that as well in the pilot when they basically 'rigged for silent running' when they were being 'bugged' by the Alliance cruiser.

In fact, I think the isolation aspect makes the characters closer, and enhances their relationships. Again, movies like Das Boot had that same thing - a small number of people living in an isolated world, with nowhere to go.

I really hope they keep the soundlessness of space intact in the movie. It's a very strong device, besides being technically accurate. I'm amazed that other SF producers haven't figured that out.

Kyla
06-28-2005, 11:24 PM
In fact, I think the isolation aspect makes the characters closer, and enhances their relationships. Again, movies like Das Boot had that same thing - a small number of people living in an isolated world, with nowhere to go.


I know we haven't gotten to it yet, but that reminds me of one of my favorite lines in Trashed, when Wash says "How did she get on the ship? We're in outer space!" The first time I saw it, it made me sit up and think. Outer space. I guess you wouldn't really expect a lot of hitchhikers, huh? Really isolated. You'd have to trust your crewmates pretty much.

Incidentally, I finally broke down and ordered my own Firefly set today. I know! I'm going into the Peace Corps and couldn't justify spending money on DVDs when I won't be able to watch them for a couple years, but my leave date just got put off from August to...uh, some unidentified date that's further in the future (damn gimpy spine). Anyway, I look forward to actually watching the episodes in time for future FFF threads.

Tarrsk
06-29-2005, 02:18 AM
I know we haven't gotten to it yet, but that reminds me of one of my favorite lines in Trashed, when Wash says "How did she get on the ship? We're in outer space!" The first time I saw it, it made me sit up and think. Outer space. I guess you wouldn't really expect a lot of hitchhikers, huh? Really isolated. You'd have to trust your crewmates pretty much.

Kyla, just a quick reminder of the rules- please put spoilers for upcoming episodes in a marked spoiler box. Some of the people reading these threads are watching Firefly for the first time, and we wouldn't want to spoil the fun for them. :)

scr4
06-29-2005, 02:39 AM
I really hope they keep the soundlessness of space intact in the movie. It's a very strong device, besides being technically accurate. I'm amazed that other SF producers haven't figured that out.
Stanley Kubrick did. Actually he went one step further and only showed spaceships coasting with their engines off, which is technically accurate and really conveys the desolate atmosphere. (Or lack of atmosphere.. um.. you know what I mean.)

Of course Serenity had the engines off too, in this episode.

sturmhauke
06-29-2005, 03:15 AM
Yeah, but "2001" had the disadvantage of being boring as hell.

Sam Stone
06-29-2005, 03:36 AM
Stanley Kubrick did. Actually he went one step further and only showed spaceships coasting with their engines off, which is technically accurate and really conveys the desolate atmosphere. (Or lack of atmosphere.. um.. you know what I mean.)

Of course Serenity had the engines off too, in this episode.

Well, Kubrick sort of cheated by playing a musical score over the space scenes. I think the dead silence works better.

And Serenity coasts with engines off, too. In the pilot episode, after they do the 'Crazy Ivan' there's a shot of them leaving orbit and their engines shutting down as they fly away from the planet.

Or maybe that's just the main engine, and they still fly on the little side engines. Or vice versa. With the times it takes them to move from planet to planet and moon to moon it's clear that they have a constant-acceleration drive of some sort anyway. If you're flying towards another planet at constant acceleration and your engine quits, you are quite literally 'drifting', just like Kaylee said. Doesn't mean you're motionless in space, it just means that you're now in an orbit that isn't going to take you anywhere near where you want to go. And if the failure comes early enough in the boost phase, you'll be going very slowly and take a long time to get anywhere.

levdrakon
06-29-2005, 07:31 AM
Yeah, but "2001" had the disadvantage of being boring as hell.

Obviously, you didn't drop acid and see it.

Of course, I didn't either.

Kyla
06-29-2005, 08:54 AM
Kyla, just a quick reminder of the rules- please put spoilers for upcoming episodes in a marked spoiler box. Some of the people reading these threads are watching Firefly for the first time, and we wouldn't want to spoil the fun for them. :)

I'm sorry. I totally even knew there are some people watching the episode for the first time along with these threads. I'll contact the mods. I'm really embarrassed.

scr4
06-29-2005, 09:51 AM
Well, Kubrick sort of cheated by playing a musical score over the space scenes. I think the dead silence works better.
There's usually music in Firefly too. I'm positive there was a simple fiddle tune in the "Let's moon them!" scene. Not too sure about the "two shuttles in opposite directions" scene, but isn't there a quiet tune there as well?

Or maybe that's just the main engine, and they still fly on the little side engines.
The two big engines on the side are either airbreathing engines or ducted fans. Otherwise they wouldn't be sucking things into the intake. Which means they are for atmospheric flight, and the glowing spinning thingy is the interplanetary/interstellar drive (that's a whole separate debate).

And the whole premise of Out of Gas is that if the engine dies, you don't get to the destination.

El_Kabong
06-29-2005, 10:34 AM
The two big engines on the side are either airbreathing engines or ducted fans. Otherwise they wouldn't be sucking things into the intake. Which means they are for atmospheric flight, and the glowing spinning thingy is the interplanetary/interstellar drive (that's a whole separate debate).

The pylon-mounted engines (are those the 'extenders' Kaylee refers to in the pilot?) apparently are turbofans, and are indeed used primarily in atmo. I've seen at least a few shots in various episodes, however, in which they are emitting a glowing exhaust (and thus, presumably thrust) in a vacuum environment. This implies that they can somehow be used as rocket assist to the main engine as well.

And don't get me started on the main engine, or 'glowing spinning thingy'. It's a pretty effect, and I love the engine room set, but what it does makes no sense to me at all. It doesn't appear to emit large amounts of heat or reaction thrust, but as we see in the pilot, if you do a full burn in atmo, you get an effect similar to lighting up an Apollo booster rocket. Can anyone come up with a plausible explanation for this in Captain Dummy talk?

Sam Stone
06-29-2005, 10:53 AM
There's usually music in Firefly too. I'm positive there was a simple fiddle tune in the "Let's moon them!" scene. Not too sure about the "two shuttles in opposite directions" scene, but isn't there a quiet tune there as well?


No, there have been lots of scenes where there was dead silence. You're right that there was music when they 'mooned them' in the pilot, but there was plenty of dead silence at other times in that episode - like when they blew the hatch on the freighter they were entering. And I think there was dead silence in 'Out of Gas' when they vented the fire overboard. There was also dead silence in other scenes in upcoming episodes we're not supposed to talk about yet.


The two big engines on the side are either airbreathing engines or ducted fans. Otherwise they wouldn't be sucking things into the intake. Which means they are for atmospheric flight, and the glowing spinning thingy is the interplanetary/interstellar drive (that's a whole separate debate).


You're right, although I can't remember if they've ever been shown running in space. Could be a hybrid drive of some sort, I guess. Anyway, they shut 'em down when they left the atmosphere in the pilot.


And the whole premise of Out of Gas is that if the engine dies, you don't get to the destination.

And in fact, you won't. A constant-acceleration ship can fly from point to point in pretty much a straight line. Lose the engine, and you you will no longer wind up where you were planning to go. Instead, you will go into an elliptical orbit or leave the system, depending on how fast you were going when the engine quit. But you won't come anywhere near your original destination, because the planets are in motion and gravity is acting on you. So it's not that you just get where you were going slower - you don't get there at all. As Kaylee said, "You're drifting". She never said you stop. You just drift along whatever vector you happened to be on when the power quit.

scr4
06-29-2005, 12:03 PM
The pylon-mounted engines (are those the 'extenders' Kaylee refers to in the pilot?)
Nitpick: it was Book.

Book: She don't look like much.
Kaylee: She'll fool ya. Ever sailed on a Firefly?
Book: Long before you were crawling. Not an aught-three, though. Didn't have the extenders. Tended to shake.

It doesn't appear to emit large amounts of heat or reaction thrust, but as we see in the pilot, if you do a full burn in atmo, you get an effect similar to lighting up an Apollo booster rocket. Can anyone come up with a plausible explanation for this in Captain Dummy talk?
You just invert the tachyon matrix, bypass the primary power coupling to divert warp power through the deflector and... Oh, wrong show.

Raguleader
06-29-2005, 12:18 PM
And don't get me started on the main engine, or 'glowing spinning thingy'. It's a pretty effect, and I love the engine room set, but what it does makes no sense to me at all. It doesn't appear to emit large amounts of heat or reaction thrust, but as we see in the pilot, if you do a full burn in atmo, you get an effect similar to lighting up an Apollo booster rocket. Can anyone come up with a plausible explanation for this in Captain Dummy talk?

The way I understood it was that it ejected plasma or fuel or something out the back of the ship and then ignited it, the ship somehow riding on the shockwave. Apparantly trying this in an oxygen-rich atmosphere has the potential of the plasma igniting prematurely as it's being dumped out of the Firefly's hindquarters. At least, that's when doing the full-burn boost thing. When it's just cruising around, they probably do a more controlled burn along similar lines.

Cervaise
06-29-2005, 01:43 PM
I really hope they keep the soundlessness of space intact in the movie.I've seen the movie. Very minor spoilers to follow; nothing significant about the story will be given away. This will be safe to highlight unless you're one of those who wants to remain absolutely pristine.Space is, indeed, soundless — for the most part.

The introduction of our heroes has them approaching a planet. The little Firefly coasts silently toward the world for a few seconds, and then suddenly there's a huge roar, which is clearly intended to represent their plowing into the top of the atmosphere.

There's also a fairly sizeable space battle during the film, briefly glimpsed in the trailer, with dozens of spaceships on both sides. There is, unlike the rest of the movie, sound during this scene. However, as indicated by the visuals and the dialogue, it all takes place in some sort of "ion cloud" (don't remember exactly what they said) blanketing a planetoid. Superficially, from a story standpoint, the cloud is there to camoflage the activities of the character inhabiting the planetoid, but I also presume Whedon put the gaseous material there to justify having an exciting whiz-bang soundtrack during the battle. It's a little odd and out-of-place, and seems like a sop to the mainstream audience, but it does seem to have a rationalization.

Since this was an advance screening of a film in progress, I don't know if any of this will remain true for the final release.

El_Kabong
06-29-2005, 03:00 PM
Nitpick: it was Book.

:smack:

The way I understood it was that it ejected plasma or fuel or something out the back of the ship and then ignited it, the ship somehow riding on the shockwave.

Ok, I'll go with that. I recognize that details of propulsion systems are not what the show's about anyway.

gardentraveler
06-29-2005, 07:24 PM
...I recognize that details of propulsion systems are not what the show's about anyway.That's what I like so much about this series. It's done realistically enough that the poetic license moments aren't too distracting. You can debate and nitpick if you feel like it, but there's generally a plot-driving reason for items that don't exactly fit into our current picture of how things would be. But in the end, none of this takes away from the fact that it's a set of really good stories that are told really skillfully.

GT

Sam Stone
06-29-2005, 11:19 PM
That's exactly right. There is a place for 'hard' SF where the characters can expound for pages on the scientifically-plausible reasons for various things, but it's not in a film. Firefly just has to be plausible enough that A) the goofy explanations aren't so bad that they draw you out of the show, and B) it shows that the producers and directors and actors actually cared about the product they were making. They wanted it to be right, and logical, and reasonable, and did their best to make it so.

What I can't stand are the arrogant movie people who say things like, "It's more exciting if spaceships whoosh, and the audience won't know the difference anyway," or the ones who are just too lazy to bother.

But we're also geeks and nerds, so it's still fun to try to work out the rules of the universe, figure out the technology, and all that fun stuff. It's part of the enjoyment you can get from any show that's logically put together. Look at the endless debates that went on about the plot details of the X-Files, or analyzing '24'.

Dob
07-01-2005, 02:15 PM
I just want to say, I hate you all. After reading all these Firefly and Serenity threads, I bought the damn DVD series. And I freaking LOVE it!

But I love it with a air of sadness...I am at episode 4 and I know I only have 8 more to go, then nothing!!! I have to contain myself to not watch all 8 in a day, I want to stretch it out and enjoy it all. And I know, I KNOW, it is going to end and leave me feeling hollow. Damn you all! :)

NE Texan
07-01-2005, 02:27 PM
That's why we're doing them one per week. To drag it out. Until almost (but not quite) when the movie comes out in wide release.

(Although, I wouldn't mind doing Farscape this way, too.)

Kyla
07-01-2005, 03:47 PM
Hey Dob, from one FF newbie to another, welcome. That's the only good thing about there being so few episodes, it doesn't take long to be as big a Firefly geek as everyone else. I mean, it took me years to achieve my status as major Buffy geek. It only took a couple weeks to become a Firefly geek! I've even already seen Serenity!

Um, cold comfort, I know. Anyway, on to the point: there is more than just the TV show. Joss is writing FF comics that are going to begin coming out in July (which is now! ooooh!). The covers are already floating around the net and they look totally awesome. Then there's Serenity, and hopefully, its sequels. I know Joss loves the world he created here, and so do an awful lot of other people. I look forward to revisiting it often for years to come.

Dob
07-01-2005, 04:03 PM
Thanks Kyla! I look foward to at least joining the last few FFF threads!

Sam Stone
07-01-2005, 04:35 PM
Also, the repeat value of the Firefly DVD set is amazing. I have a lot of DVD's in this house that I bought and have never watched twice. The Firefly DVD box set sits right beside my DVD player, because I find myself throwing an episode in whenever I feel like watching something and don't know what.

Plus, you can watch all the episodes that have commentary on them over again. And the commentary is great. I love Alan Tudyk and Nathan Fillion chatting on 'War Stories'. It's hilarious.

Then you can watch the episodes again when the inevitable discussions about finer points crop up on the SDMB.

And before you know it, Serenity will be here, and you can REALLY enjoy it.

After that, the long dark winter of no new Firefly content. Let's not think about that.

yastobaal
07-01-2005, 05:03 PM
Joss is writing FF comics that are going to begin coming out in July (which is now! ooooh!). The covers are already floating around the net and they look totally awesome.

Comics? He's doing comics? With the crew or just in the same universe/star system? And would you know where to get them and get them to the UK?

Kyla
07-01-2005, 05:22 PM
Comics? He's doing comics? With the crew or just in the same universe/star system? And would you know where to get them and get them to the UK?

With the crew. The comics take place between The Message and Serenity. I think they start coming out on 7/14, but I could be wrong about the exact date...as for where to get them in the UK, check with your local comic book store? I don't know. As per usual, my stupid work firewall is preventing me from googling, but a quick google of firefly+comic ought to uncover something.

gardentraveler
07-01-2005, 08:34 PM
Here's a couple of links: 1) about the comics (http://comics.ign.com/articles/621/621787p1.html) and 2) a place where you can pre-order. (http://www.tfaw.com/search/?sstring=serenity&qt=googlead126) Looks like there will be several different covers.

GT

dropzone
07-02-2005, 01:33 AM
Obviously, you didn't drop acid and see it.The time expansion effects of marijuana just extended the torture. Imagine a trip to Jupiter in real time. You start envying the dead guys in suspended animation.

Acid, considering it takes a couple hours to peak, would be timed perfectly but you'd be left peaking with the closing credits.

Knorf
07-03-2005, 02:51 AM
Just a dissenting voice to say that I loved 2001 and don't find it boring at all. I will say this, though: it sure helps to see it in 70mm. The quality of color and detail gives the film an extra visual impact that serves it well. I think it's an amazing film.

Anyway, back to FF: yeah, this episode is great, and for all the reasons people are mentioning. I love how Mal points out how much he really is not like the wannabe space pirates, and would not have done what they tried to do.

I can't wait for the movie!

.... still waiting, but fidgeting impatiently.

...


There's gonna be a lot of fidgeting until September gets here. *sigh*

Oslo Ostragoth
09-16-2005, 08:30 PM
I heart Firefly. I'm just now catching it on SciFi, and I'm really pissed that I didn't catch it on its original run.

And I think this is the best episode yet.

carnivorousplant
09-16-2005, 09:36 PM
the producers and directors and actors actually cared about the product they were making. They wanted it to be right, and logical, and reasonable, and did their best to make it so..

Yeah, like the futuristic BAR (Alice? Gladys? Ethel?) needing air to fire. :)

Sam Stone
09-16-2005, 09:59 PM
Yeah, like the futuristic BAR (Alice? Gladys? Ethel?) needing air to fire. :)

A couple of things - first, the gun is not just a BAR. It's got all kinds of electronic gizmos on it. Who's to say that it doesn't need air to fire? Maybe it's got a wind/pressure sensor that allows it to adjust its aim for windage and air resistance, and a vacuum screws it up.

But the other point is that this was not a result of laziness on the part of the crew. Their "expert" blew it. Joss actually thought enough to wonder, "will a gun fire in a vacuum?" so they called the technical expert and asked him, and he said it wouldn't. Thus the spacesuit. So a technical error was made, but even knowing nothing about what happened during the shoot you can easily and plausibly make the case that perhaps some futuristic guns won't work in a vacuum without invoking the issue of oxidizers being in the propellant.

But you know what? Just the fact that we're reduced to having to discuss potentially inaccuracies like this simply means that Firefly is more realistic than another other TV science fiction in memory. Do you apply this much scrutiny to, say Star Trek? What with the phasers, and 'photon torpedoes', and warp drive, and matter transmitters, and sound in space, and subspace communications, and aliens that breed true with humans, and a society that makes no damned sense at all?

Firefly's universe makes sense. It's well thought out, and consistent. The characters in it behave consistently based on their social standing and the rules of their society. Occasionally the creators slipped up, because they're not perfect. But even when you do, you can tell they were trying. In 'Out of Gas', the episode we're discussing, Kaylee didn't fix the ship by 're-routing power from the ship's batteries through the engine', or by 'creating a space-time flux' and using it to get the engine running, or by climbing in a tunnel and touching a sparky probe to some wires. The part broke, and couldn't be fixed. So they were going to die.

WhyNot
09-16-2005, 10:41 PM
Or maybe, just maybe, Jayne was an idiot. I know, I know, shocking idea that Jayne could be wrong.

I don't really understand that particular nitpick. People obviously make mistakes; if someone as technically familiar with guns as Joss' weapons expert made the mistake, why is it so far-fetched to believe that Jayne might have made the same one?

carnivorousplant
09-16-2005, 11:03 PM
if someone as technically familiar with guns as Joss' weapons expert made the mistake, why is it so far-fetched to believe that Jayne might have made the same one?

Joss obviously didn't have a weapons expert. A freshman physics student wouldn't make that mistake. Jayne might be stupid, but Mal has a military background and would know better. It's particularly annoying in that the show otherwise had good physics; the above mentioned soundless space, this might be a spoiler
Serenity and the drifting ship rotating in relation to each other and one mentioned above that I particularly like; the engines burn to leave orbit, but stop when Serenity leaves orbit.

Concerning engines/fuel in between planets, there is some sort of FTL or near FTL going on the travel between planets in the life time of a cow. Well, in days or weeks instead of years. I guess they have an energy source that makes very quick acceleration/decelleration possible.

Sam Stone
09-16-2005, 11:58 PM
Concerning engines/fuel in between planets, there is some sort of FTL or near FTL going on the travel between planets in the life time of a cow. Well, in days or weeks instead of years. I guess they have an energy source that makes very quick acceleration/decelleration possible.

Nah. Any constant-acceleration drive that can accelerate at a significant fraction of one 'G' can go anywhere in our solar system in a matter of days, or weeks at the most. In fact, the scale of Firefly seems just about right to me. They flit between moons in hours or days, and from one world to another in days or weeks. Seems about right, assuming some constant-acceleration drive. It also explains what happened in 'Out of Gas' - as soon as they lost the engine, they entered an elliptical orbit and would no longer make it where they were going. As Kaylee said, "If the engine stops, we're drifting."

The only thing that they've gotten wrong was the time it takes for ships to pass each other, like the Reavers passing by in the Pilot. If they were really on an interplanetary trajectory that takes days or weeks, they'd pass other ships in the blink of an eye. Joss has admitted that that was a flaw in accuracy, but necessary for dramatic purposes. He needs to be able to 'run across' other ships to move some plots, so we have to accept that the scale changes in those scenes. Or if we want to get really geeky-explanatory about it, we could suppose that ships automatically slow down to a crawl when in proximity of other ships. But that would need a big honkin' deceleration and doesn't really make sense.

carnivorousplant
09-17-2005, 12:03 AM
Nah. Any constant-acceleration drive that can accelerate at a significant fraction of one 'G' can go anywhere in our solar system in a matter of days, or weeks at the most.

I would think that would depend upon how fast it constantly accelerated. :)
Got some math? I am admitedly ignorant.

carnivorousplant
09-17-2005, 12:14 AM
A couple of things - first, the gun is not just a BAR. It's got all kinds of electronic gizmos on it. Who's to say that it doesn't need air to fire?

I posted "futuristic BAR because the first time I saw the episode it looked like a BAR. The next time I saw the gizmos. It looks more like an AK, actually.
Good arguement, but your Lord and Master admits on the DVDs that it was a mistake. :)

But you know what? Just the fact that we're reduced to having to discuss potentially inaccuracies like this simply means that Firefly is more realistic than another other TV science fiction in memory. Do you apply this much scrutiny to, say Star Trek?
Hell, yes. Do you scrutinize Buffy? :)

Firefly's universe makes sense. It's well thought out, and consistent.
Yeah, black powder next to hovercraft, FTL and no cell phones. How many hundred planets and habital moons in a single solar system? And boy, do I hate River shooting folks with her eyes closed.
OK, that's just 'cause you pissed me off. I figure they had FTL, maybe only the alliance ships have it, found the one in a million solar system and moved everyone there in some unafordable, government FTL convoy. No wonder you'd fight a civil war over it rather than just move on.

Send questions for Cecil Adams to: cecil@straightdope.com

Send comments about this website to: webmaster@straightdope.com

Terms of Use / Privacy Policy

Advertise on the Straight Dope!
(Your direct line to thousands of the smartest, hippest people on the planet, plus a few total dipsticks.)

Copyright © 2018 STM Reader, LLC.