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Lisin

S01.E01: Serenity

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From IMDB:

In the first half of the original pilot episode, the crew of Serenity takes on several passengers and make their way to another planet to try and sell goods they salvaged from a wrecked ship. Their efforts are impeded, though, when Wash and Mal realize that there is an undercover alliance fed on board. In the second half of the original pilot, Simon struggles to save Kaylee, and in turn River and himself while Mal, Zoe, and Jayne attempt to unload the cargo from the salvage to a trigger-happy mayor of a border moon.

Well here we go folks! I'm watching it right now so I'll come back and add thoughts in an hour but if anyone wants to start us off go for it! Lets do this thing!

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So, thoughts? Full disclosure, I've watched Firefly before, I honestly don't remember if I've seen every episode I watched it when it was airing and my husband has marathoned it before so I've caught bits and pieces while that was happening. I've also seen the movie which

sometimes makes it hard for me to watch because I know who dies and it makes me sad... damn you Joss.

I really like this episode and honestly I cannot figure out why the network decided to pull it in favour of the second episode to use as a pilot. I realize they eventually aired it (as the last episode to air) and that was mostly because they had it and why not but still. That being said I think this is a really good pilot! It's got exposition but it isn't annoying, you get a really clear picture of who everyone is and what their characters are like, there are a couple of good surprise reveals, River in the cargo box and (at least for me) the fact that the stolen cargo Mal and crew were trying to sell was food and not some sort of gold type metal. It's fun and of course quippy and all Joss like, but different enough from the way they talk on Buffy/Angel that I don't feel like we're just going over the same material.

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I think I had heard at one point (maybe in the commentary) that Fox requested a different pilot because they felt that Serenity wasn't action-heavy enough, and there were complaints about Mal being too mean as a protagonist.  It was funny at the time how they had made this huge point in the commercials about "a girl in a box", and then didn't air the only episode where that happens until after cancellation.

I do love The Train Job, but the actual pilot feels more focused to me on introducing the characters and the feel of the universe (and I like that there was a pretty good balance of space stuff and western stuff here).  There are a lot of great little exchanges that define the relationships between the existing crew members, and also integrate the new passengers.  The shot of Jayne watching Simon operate on Kaylee through the infirmary window is one of my favorites in the whole show, and it's something I go back to as a moment when upon re-watching I started coming around to loving Jayne even though I didn't like him during the original run of the series.  Badger is fun in this episode, and I like seeing the way they deal with different business associates.  They really cover a lot here, so I sometimes wonder if it might have felt overwhelming or tedious had this actually been the first episode I saw, but maybe others can weigh in on that.

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I never watched Firefly at all, or even knew anything about it other than that nerds liked it, until a few years ago. I started this ep, was pretty turned off by the initial battle scene, got interrupted by something or other ten minutes in and then never felt the need to come back to it until the EHG canon. That battle scene just looks like butt (the biggest offender being not the special effects, which are fine, but for some reason the color balance and stuff just looks awful to me in that scene).

The rest of the episode, though, I like. We get a nice little introduction to who all these people are, there's not too much exposition, there's a couple of nice tense moments, etc.

The betrayal is pretty obvious (hey, the possible candidates are everyone from the title sequence and then this one other guy!), though I don't know if I actually felt that way the first time through. I do think that the first time I was wondering if they were actually going to kill Kaylee despite her being in the credits, and though in retrospect the fact that River's in the box should have been clear from the credits I think I was mildly surprised by that too.

Seeing Mal be a huge showoff at the end ("go back to running your little world", followed shortly by the matter-of-fact stomping of Mr Federal Agent) was a great impression to leave of him at the end of the episode, I think.

One of the things I didn't know when I initially watched the show was that the western elements were actually like, literal horses and stuff. I had thought that everyone was just talking metaphorically, in the same way that Star Trek is a space western, and when I realized it was literally horses in space, just thought it was kind of dumb. (Does it really make sense? Not really. I'm super-down with Sparks Nevada, Marshal on Mars, but that's partly because it doesn't try or need to make sense. Also, because Cactoid Jim is a thousand times cooler than Mal Reynolds. Still.)

My roommate who hasn't seen this before half-watched it with me, and his verdict was "Not a bad show."

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I've seen the pilot maybe five times now, and every time I go "Hey! It's That Guy" when Carlos Jacott shows up. He seems to specialize in apparently unassuming guys who turn out to be crazy psychopaths who try to kill the main characters (

or in the case of Big Love, succeed

). He wrote some of the better episodes of Psych too.

I'd forgotten how long this pilot was. There's probably too much of the war stuff at the start, and it doesn't really work. I could also probably do without the horses later on.

Edited by ApathyMonger
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I had forgotten it was Carlos Jacott until he showed up at which point I said "they really shouldn't cast him as a sneaky bad guy anymore... the second I see his face I assume he's the bad guy that no one else knows about yet." 

I agree with everyone saying there was too much war stuff in the beginning, I don't think it was ultimately necessary. It could have been covered in dialogue just as easily, something from Zoe about how they were in the trenches together or whatever. We didn't need to see the battle and I also think it looked bad. I can give or take the horses, I mean on the one hand I like that when they said "Space Western" they meant it, but on the other hand I can't figure why people would spend time and energy shipping living animals to moons and planets when clearly they can build 4 wheelers just as easily... but then horses don't require gas or batteries and are relatively easy to take care of. 

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I discovered the series about three years ago, and this will be only my second time to watch it through. One little thing I hadn't noticed before is that in the initial battle scene, Mal is wearing a cross and quickly kisses it. I think it adds a little dimension to his character to know that he wasn't always cynical about religion, but perhaps lost his faith because he felt that God failed him and his cause.

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Also forgot to mention fun blooper fact, when they pull the Crazy Ivan maneuver you can see Wash pantomiming holding the steering wheel, it's only for a second but for some reason there's no wheel in his hand. Then later it's back. 

And let me not forget that this is where one of everyone's most quoted lines is found, Wash's "Curse your sudden but inevitable betrayal!"

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And let me not forget that this is where one of everyone's most quoted lines is found, Wash's "Curse your sudden but inevitable betrayal!"

Oh yeah, I forgot to say: his line reading there was so different in my head than how he actually said it! I was really surprised by that.

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I wonder if the network complaint about Mal being too mean for a protagonist would still be made if Firefly hadn't aired just before the whole anti-hero trope started taking over TV. He does act rather dickish towards a lot of people (including some that maybe don't deserve it), but I think they do a good job establishing he's also willing to go above and beyond for the people he considers part of his crew. I really loved that he's willing to shoot the marshal and that mayor lady's horse because, even if it's not the most moral, it's clearly the most practical thing to do at that moment. As much as I like Star Trek, it drives me crazy how often the people on those shows refrain from doing what needs to be done in favour of what's right (Janeway could've gotten that ship home at least a dozen times if she'd have been willing to just say 'you know what, screw the Prime Directive').

Overall, I quite like the pilot. The story and action isn't necessarily the most well-executed or original, but the universe they created and all the character stuff really works for me. My first introduction to Firefly was through the movie and they take some steps introducing the people and place there (and they do it again in The Train Job), but I think the pilot by far does the best job at it. A lot of shows (including many of Whedon's) don't really figure out who their characters are or how they all fit together until far longer into their run. That Firefly kinda nails it right from the start is why I, and I think many people, still watch it today.

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Also forgot to mention fun blooper fact, when they pull the Crazy Ivan maneuver you can see Wash pantomiming holding the steering wheel, it's only for a second but for some reason there's no wheel in his hand. Then later it's back. 

And let me not forget that this is where one of everyone's most quoted lines is found, Wash's "Curse your sudden but inevitable betrayal!"

Two of my very favourite moments in this episode. <3

I truly don't know why, but I'm a total sucker for this show. When I first saw it, I was very skeptical. I had seen a little of Buffy and almost none of Angel at that point, and I had pretty much decided I was just not a person who was going to be into Joss's stuff. Something about Firefly, though, really clicked for me. It's the world and the language and the humour of Firefly that drew me in; it's the family of Firefly that kept me coming back.

Since then, I've watched all of Buffy and Angel and Dollhouse and Dr. Horrible (I'm a completist!), and Firefly is still my fave of the bunch.

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Since then, I've watched all of Buffy and Angel and Dollhouse and Dr. Horrible (I'm a completist!), and Firefly is still my fave of the bunch.

I still remember watching the final episode of Dr. Horrible at 6AM on the day it went up. That was a gut punch.

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I watched for the second time ever (the first was a couple years ago), and I am still pretty much in love with this show. It hits all of my buttons....scifi, great characters, strong women, and commentary on religion. I noticed the cross as someone said above...very interesting for how borderline hostile Mal is to Shepherd (until he kicks ass later in the ep).

The other new thing that I realized was that I think that the River storyline is the least interesting of them all. I get that it's the main plot...it just already makes me tired of her screaming/whining. Sorry, not sorry.

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This is not the first time I've watched Firefly for sure, and I love this show beyond reason... but watching it for the express purpose of commenting on it here has really had an impact on me! This must be the first time I actually thought about the show rather than mindlessly enjoying the heck out of it because it pushes all my happy buttons.

Still love: Wash with all his insecurity and fondness for dinosaur drama, the 'gee mister' sunniness of Kaylee, grumpy Mal, competent Zoe, and the man they call Jayne.

Meh: Book when he's not kicking ass, Simon and River in this ep.

Haaaate: Inara, space hooker! Her sniffy condescending attitude really grated, and shockingly it's never bugged me this much before. I know she's supposed to come off as mysterious and wise, but it registers as haughty and insufferable with me. I always knew she wasn't my favorite, but I'm kind of surprised by how much she pissed me off. I'm kind of looking forward to seeing just how much I hate her by the end of the rewatch!

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I voted for Firefly as the rewatch so am pumped for the opportunity to discuss.

Wash's signature line of the series (if we're not including the movie) always makes me grin.

Having seen the outtakes I do agree with (Joss'? Nathan's?) assertation that the character of Mal is Han Solo-y in that he is kind of a jackass but also sort of not.

Edited by mledawn

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Hooray, Firefly! I missed the rewatch but I know this episode by heart, so...I've been doing a posting thing at LiveJournal "The moment when I knew I loved this show." For Firefly, it was when Mal

strode in with the Reavers on their tail and shot Carlos Jacott.

Blam, just like that, I knew this show was going to be something else.

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I just re-watched and two things struck me that didn't on previous watchings.

[1] Inara is kind of a crappy Companion.  I would imagine that one of the key lessons at "Companion School" is "Let Them Down Easy".  "You're going to get clients who are clingy -- who want more than what you're willing to give.  In this lesson, we'll teach you how to leave so they're not angry, but happy return customers."

[2] Unless that Reaver ship burned up on re-entry (and from what they after, I'm not so sure it did), Mal and crew left Persephone with a bunch of angry Reavers coming to town.  They didn't even bother to tell anyone.

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Watching this RIGHT now, and loving it all over again. 

"That's my girl." 

"Work work work"

"How is business, by the way?" "None of yours."

I love this show.

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I'm certainly not much of a Whedon fan, I really don't like Buffy, I seem to be in a minority who prefers Angel's season 5 (especially after Fred turns into Illyria), and I liked Connor's overall arc and I thought casting a limited actress like Eliza Dushku in Dollhouse pretty much doomed that show from the beginning for me. I think, he's just not good with casting. Sometimes he lucks out, but most of the time, it's people like David Boreanaz or bloody Amy Acker.

Having said that, adore this show. I even like Whedon's patented waif character represented in River. I think it was the contrast between extreme vulnerability and excessive joy Summer Glau managed to portray.

I only watched it after it was off the air, so I managed to miss the mismanagement by Fox and saw this one first. I still think it's a very good pilot. I do wonder what they were smoking when they thought to air train job first.

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... but then horses don't require gas or batteries and are relatively easy to take care of.

 

But the Verse is made of up terraformed worlds. There is no alien life. Including no vegetable life, or algae or dinosaurs.

So.

No petroleum.

They have solar power, wind power, hydro-electricity. But no gasoline.

They have bamboo, glass,  industrial ceramics (Higgin's Moon), metal and brick/adobe. But little wood (which takes a good 25 years to grow to harvestable size).

And no plastics. Nylon would be about it. Industrial chemists could jump in here. 

 

The most fun I have is working out the economics of the Verse. Getting The Atlas of the Verse: The New Canaan Run has been fascinating. (And it's canon, written by Tim Minear.)


And nuclear power, including portable, rechargeable 'fuel cells'. 

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Just started to watch this on Netflix - I had heard about it for so long that I needed to see what all the chatter was about.

 

I've watched the pilot (Serenity) and the 2 ep - they were good.  From reading the comments above, it sounds like on the original airing they played Ep 2 as the pilot and the pilot as the final episode? 

 

I thought Serenity worked well - introduced me to everyone and got the basics in place.

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I've watched the pilot (Serenity) and the 2 ep - they were good.  From reading the comments above, it sounds like on the original airing they played Ep 2 as the pilot and the pilot as the final episode? 

Pretty much, yeah. The feature length pilot Serenity was written, filmed and went through full post-prod, ready to air, only for Fox to decide they didn't like it, so Whedon had to scramble to write a second episode that would both follow on from that first one while also functioning as an introductory episode in its own right. It was an early sign of what was to come, as a carefully plotted season was aired completely out of order, with the original pilot eventually airing after the show was cancelled, while other episodes that had been filmed were never aired at all. Shoddy treatment, effectively sabotaging their own show, which deserved better. All these years later, Firefly and its universe remain among my favourites ever.

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I'm in that tiny minority who actually prefers The Train Job to Serenity, though I totally see why most think that Serenity was a more thorough introduction to the characters and their world. For some reason Serenity is actually down there with Heart of Gold for me as my least beloved episodes of the series.  

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Ugh. Heart of Gold...that was an ill-conceived episode, IMO.

 

For me, Serenity is a better pilot in the sense it does introduce the show better, but I agree with you amensisterfriend, I too think The Train Job is a better episode. Although, I absolutely adore the beginning of Serentiy (after the battle parts that could've been removed altogether) with Wash playing with the dinosaurs.

 

This show has the oddest effect on me. There's so much I adore about it, yet there's a lot I think was overthought...like the Chinese getting randomly thrown in.

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Same here, DittyDot! I totally get and even love the theory behind blending proper Queen's English with Old West slang and random Chinese phrases, but in practice it often felt really forced and awkward to me. And everything having to do with Inara/companions in general is still fast forward-worthy for me. And the Simon/Kaylee pairing was a terrible idea as well, IMO. 

 

That said, there's just so much to like about Firefly, and it's amazing how much I still love some of the show's characters and underpinning ideas despite how briefly the show was on our screens.  

Edited by amensisterfriend
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Heart of Gold could have worked if they had committed to how Companions were viewed and treated in this 'verse and stuck to it.  The concept of a group of women making a living from doing something they loved, freely, and having that attacked by obvious (so no need to overstate it) villains, would have been cool.

 

But they never locked down the whole ethos of Companions.

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I just finished watching the Firefly pilot for the first time in years.  I forgot how good it was.  The acting, the story, the design, the world-building...all impressive.

Edited by benteen
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The betrayal is pretty obvious (hey, the possible candidates are everyone from the title sequence and then this one other guy!), though I don't know if I actually felt that way the first time through. I do think that the first time I was wondering if they were actually going to kill Kaylee despite her being in the credits, and though in retrospect the fact that River's in the box should have been clear from the credits I think I was mildly surprised by that too.

 

If I recall correctly it was known that Whedon had wanted to  pull that trick on the first episode of Buffy with Eric Balfour and Firefly was a big deal in the SF magazines as the season approached.

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On ‎26‎/‎03‎/‎2014 at 10:06 AM, ApathyMonger said:

I've seen the pilot maybe five times now, and every time I go "Hey! It's That Guy" when Carlos Jacott shows up. He seems to specialize in apparently unassuming guys who turn out to be crazy psychopaths who try to kill the main characters (

  Hide contents

or in the case of Big Love, succeed

). He wrote some of the better episodes of Psych too.

I'd forgotten how long this pilot was. There's probably too much of the war stuff at the start, and it doesn't really work. I could also probably do without the horses later on.

Yes, Carlos is great and one of Joss' Triples (Buffy/Angel/Firefly)

 

On ‎28‎/‎03‎/‎2014 at 1:43 AM, mledawn said:

I voted for Firefly as the rewatch so am pumped for the opportunity to discuss.

Wash's signature line of the series (if we're not including the movie) always makes me grin.

Having seen the outtakes I do agree with (Joss'? Nathan's?) assertation that the character of Mal is Han Solo-y in that he is kind of a jackass but also sort of not.

I always thought the difference was Han is a pure mercenary whilst Mal is the disillusioned idealist. 

 

On ‎16‎/‎09‎/‎2015 at 2:54 AM, Raja said:

If I recall correctly it was known that Whedon had wanted to  pull that trick on the first episode of Buffy with Eric Balfour and Firefly was a big deal in the SF magazines as the season approached.

Remember he did kill off his original 'Adorable Nerd Girl' Cassandra in the Buffy movie

To think this was the 11th ep aired! What a mess!

The good;
The 'treasure' mislead is very clever indeed as is the mole, we think it's Simon then Book. Love Kaylee's parasol. The Mal/Jayne face off at dinner is powerful as is Mal telling Jayne to shut up on Persephone but then agreeing he's actually right. It's a small gesture but love it when Simon is about to give River an injection and she sticks her tongue out.

The bad; The opening battle scenes are too dark, I can barely work out what's going on. They appear to operate on Kaylee yet keep her clothes on (like Buffy at the end of season 6). Passing the Reaver ship is a tense moment but stupid when you think about the physics as Joss admits on the commentary. Shouldn't Jayne bring his own rifle to the gunfight, what if there were no snipers? What if their rifles were inaccurate/faulty and how does he use a weapon not zeroed for him? The Reavers just letting the Serenity go then arbitrarily coming back for it later with no adequate expectation is just stupid and lazy writing or am I trying to find logic in the actions of madmen? (The Reavers, not the writers). Can't they just take the markings off the food? Why does Mal peg the guy in the hat for the best shot when he's got an ancient Colt repeater rifle? How come Mal shoots Dobson in the head yet he doesn't bleed as he and Jayane chuck him out the door?

Kinky dinky; Naked Summer Glau, a cause for joy as anyone who ever watched The Sarah Connor Chronicles knows ("Put'em back in the holster"). Mal tells Kaylee he's considering tying her up, gagging her and throwing her into the hold. She then kisses him and says she loves him. Much like Willow maybe there's a lot of kink beneath that sweet and innocent exterior? "Force is OK" Wash likes to watch Zoe bathe, Inarra also does it unabashedly in front of Book, causing him to gawp. Kaylee certainly knows how to eat a strawberry, maybe Inarra taught her how? Zoe says the Reavers will "Rape us to death" if they are boarded.

Reminds me off; the Dortmunder reminds me off the Chig ships from 'Space; Above and Beyond' which Joss is a self-confessed fan off. As indeed does the strawberry eating.

Questions and observations; Note Mal kisses his cross before taking on the skiff. Is that why he shows hostility to Book later over grace, he's lost his faith? Note even Jayne does say grace. Mal seems to resent Simon as a 'rich kid', he's a very working class hero. Simon tells Mal to dope Kaylee which you shouldn't do with a stomach wound but maybe their drugs are more advanced? Who are the underground movement Simon claims helped him free River? Did Jayne free the Fed? The Serenity reminds me not so much of a bug as off a goose. I always thought at the end Wash was giving some sort of weird futuristic thumbs up, hilarious to think he's actually faking steering the ship and in the widescreen we see there's no control there. Mal tries to put his past behind him but still can't give up his resentment against the Alliance, won't beg to work for them. He also resents Inarra, Book and pretty much everyone. In the future they still use platinum for money.

Marks out of 10; 7/10, interesting but not brilliant from the beginning by any means

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On 5/27/2018 at 7:30 AM, Joe Hellandback said:

Can't they just take the markings off the food?

Mal said they were marked down to the molecule.  Can't scrape that deep.

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25 minutes ago, SVNBob said:

Mal said they were marked down to the molecule.  Can't scrape that deep.

I get you, like they put chemical markers in explosives, clever. 

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