(spoilers) Firefly Film Festival #15: "Dead or Alive" - unaired, script only!

So, I’ve posted this a little bit out of order. This week’s actual Film Festival entry, posted by NE Texan, is Number 11: “Trash”. But I stumbled on the script to an unaired and never filmed episode called Dead or Alive and thought that you might like to read it. This episode feels a lot like “The Message” (next week’s episode, for those of you doing the Film Fest), and includes some great moments:

[li]Jayne and his stuffed turtle[/li][li]Simon practicing his doctoring skills[/li][li]Plenty of Independence backstory[/li][li]Great tension between Kaylee and Jayne[/li][li]More great tension between Inara and Mal[/li][li]…and as always, lots of high-larious Chinese cussin’.[/li][/ul]

It’s neat to read more Firefly, but this is not the strongest episode in the series. It’s a writers’ draft, which means that Joss probably never got a chance to polish it, or may even have rejected it out of hand. FOX certainly never gave this the green-light, even for filming. The serial number is the same as you see on the script for Jaynestown, so perhaps this episode was rejected? I can’t even find any confirmation that Cheryl Cain wrote this – some fans on other sites insist that this must be fanfic because it’s not quite up to the normal standards. Others hypothesize that this script is the ancestor to “The Message”.

Real or fake, filmed or totally imaginary, it’s a ruttin’ good time.

I’ve read this, and it’s a little too much like The Message for me to believe Joss ever approved it. It’s not painfully horrible or anything, but definitely not up to the usual standards.

Apparently, “Dead or Alive” was slated to be Episode 7, and was ultimately rejected, and many of its story elements were folded into later episodes, such as “The Message.”

I’m with Kyla: as written, it would’ve been one of the weaker episodes, on a par with “Heart of Gold” or “Safe.” That said, there are still some wonderful moments, and the writing is identifiably “Firefly” enough that I can easily imagine everything happening, with full cast and swooshy special effects, in my head.

Spoilers for upcoming episode, “The Message”:
[/spoiler]The whole “Independents aren’t as noble as Mal perhaps believed” thing was ultimately better done with Tracey, who was played as a decent kid who never managed to adjust to real life, both during the war and after.[/spoiler]

Declan’s past as a anal-retentive order hog was poorly described in exposition rather than via flashbacks (“show not tell” comes into play here), and doesn’t jive with the self-righteous competence he demonstrates at the end of the episode.

The idea that Alliance officers aren’t necessarily as corrupt as their government was a good one (and is hinted at in many other episodes, including the pilot), but Quillan never developed enough of a personality to be interesting. In contrast, the Alliance officers in “Serenity” and “Bushwhacked” both felt like real people even with far less screentime.

I get the feeling that the writer for “War Stories” saw Zoe’s “No, this is something he needs to do” line in this episode and, in true Jossian spirit, turned it into the priceless moment in “War Stories” in which Zoe does the same thing, and Mal yelps, “No! No, it isn’t!”

Favorite moments:
-Simon failing to save Tanaka. This would’ve been some excellent character development for Simon, actually. We know that, if River’s life is on the line, he can be ruthless, but reluctantly so, as his protectiveness of River clashes with his Hippocratic doctor instincts.
-Jayne and the turtle! A bit too reminiscent of his brief infatuation with the rain stick in “Out Mrs. Reynolds” perhaps, but it’s played well and the part where he nearly gives it to a distraught Kaylee is too cute for words.
-River excited about the fair, and then telling the story to the children (particularly the moment when she blithely describes her treatment at the hands of the Hands of Blue guys). This is River in her “creepily cute” mode (as opposed to, say “War Stories,” when she’s just plain “creeeeeeeepy”).

-Was Tanaka the same Tanaka that Mal mentions in “Out of Gas” when talking to Zoe about their eccentric new pilot?

Ack… sorry, I screwed up the coding for the spoiler above. Can a mod fix that?

One thing I do like about this script is that it clarifies a little about why Independents rose up against the Alliance in the first place. In the show, the Alliance is shown as annoyingly bureacratic, and there’s obviously a culture clash, but that doesn’t seem enough to have a war with them.

Egad! I just watched the entire ‘season’ of Firefly and it is my new favorite thing. I am so in love with Jewel Staite.

Did people not like this when it aired origionally? How could they not?


We all blame FOX. The same FOX that cancelled Futurama and Family Guy. Maybe it’s just good shows that start with “F”? Basically, I suspect they found themselves with a potential long-lasting hit that would have poor profit margins. So, for example, if an hour of reality TV costs $500k and makes $3M in ads (totally bogus numbers) and an hour of Firefly costs $1M and makes $2M in ads, then even though it’s profitable, it’s not FOX’s best bet.

FOX did the following things to screw over the show:
(1) reneged on their promise to give Joss a 2-hour premiere
(2) showed “Out of Gas” first and proceeded to show the rest of the episodes out of order
(3) stranded it in the Friday 8pm time slot
(4) spent almost nothing advertising the show
(5) Oh Yeah: they cancelled it halfway through its first season.

As for Miss Kaywinnit Lee Frye, take a number. I think Jayne’s got dibs, and right behind that is a line of Browncoats and Dopers that would make the ride attendants at Space Mountain blush. :smiley:

“The Train Job” was aired first.