Go thou and rent or buy the DVD's of Firefly
, and listen thou to the commentary by the Joss. Hunter and I listened to the Joss's commentary on the pilot. It's illuminating to see how he sets up the characters -- and in some cases, sets up the characters with intentional misleads. (Simon is clearly the villain of the episode -- whoops, he's not.) Also a good deal in there about camera and lighting. A bit too much about Nathan Fillion's pants splitting, but it's illuminating to see how Joss convinces you that Kaylee's dead, pulling out all the cinematic stops -- and it's a mislead -- to warn you that any character can die -- and that you can't be sure you know which way the story is headed...
His commentary on "The Body" is also quite illuminating. It's like sitting in a filmmaking class with Joss at the helm.
I just bought it ... got a killer sale and it was only $25! Now to find the time to watch it all. I need to train myself to sleep less.
Well now that's interesting because when I watched the commentary the main thing I noticed was that he kept complaining about how the pilot was better than The Train Job (which he and Tim Minear wrote over a weekend when the studio told them they needed a new pilot)... and I completely disagreed with him.
Now, I'll never know for sure, because I watched the original pilot first, but I thought The Train Job did a fantastic job of introducing the characters in a concise way that made their relationships seem intresting. Plus The Train Job was way more exciting, jumping straight into the action. That scene where Serenity rises above the cliff outside the saloon was such a perfect Firefly image (I get shivers every time I watch it)... much more representative of the idea behind the show than the war scenes or the long, slow (boring) scenes of them on the salvage job in space (though, nerd that I am, I really appreciated the lack of sound out there). With the pilot I felt like I was waiting to find out what the show was about; The Train Job lets you know with a bang. I thought Mal picking a fight with the guy in the bar was a much more interesting way of learning about Mal's history than actually having to watch it happen... it revealed more about Mal's character and was more fun to watch. In your book, don't you say that the pilot should be what the show is going to be? The show is about Mal picking fights in saloons, not about war (though my pet theory is that it would have been about war eventually if it had been allowed to go on). I thought the pilot showed the kind of backstory that writers love to think up for their characters, but that if they're good, they know not to show; they just let it inform the characters' behaviour.
I think The Train Job reveals just what a genius Joss is, but apparently he doesn't think so. Well, whaddo I know? Far be it from me to question the dark god of tv writing.
Anyway, whaddaya think? Two very different pilots for the same show, written by our favourite tv writer. Dare to compare: Could there be a more interesting exercise?
There is a huge difference between the pilot and what actually aired as the first episode, but the difference came from the network. The Network didn't like the dark Mal. They wanted a lighter funnier Mal instead of the cark conflicted Mal that Joss wanted. They wanted more moments like the "Kaylee's dead" moment. That a long with the Network not wanting to air the 2 hour pilot is what lead to "The Train Job."
I personally feel that the actual pilot introduced us to the characters much more sufficiently instead of just throwing all this information at us at once. There was a reason why someone said something instead of just exposition which was a lot of what "The Train Job" was. Joss has even said that the Mal that he wanted would've taken the medicine despite the hundreds of sick people on that planet.
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