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September 07 2006

Brett Matthews gives an update on the new Serenity comic book 'Better Days' and what it's like working with Joss Whedon in this interview with The Pulse. There's also a lot of good stuff about Brett's new comic book series 'The Lone Ranger' with some top notch John Cassaday cover art.

Repeating what we all said on the River/Reaver thread -- I want! Make comics now! ;-)
Might have a look at this. I really want it to be good enough to inspire hope for the next Serenity series (first one didn't really impress unfortunately).
The first one was a bit hit or miss. From what I remember Brett did the writing and Joss came up with the plot (or something like that).
I thought the first batch worked, but they were limited by the size of the run. As in, something happened, no wait, we've moved on, and on, and on, and something else, and oh it's finished.
I'm with Gossi - I was pleasantly surprised by how well Brett got the "voice" of the characters (less impressed by the art) and as a consequence am picking up the Lone Ranger series (which of course, I would probably have gotten anyway because Cassaday draws like an angel - even if he isn't pencilling). Can't wait for another Serenity series, must say.
Heh, well I thought the art was fine on 'Those Left Behind' but don't feel like Matthews really captured all the characters' voices that well ;), all clearly just IMO.

I've found his other 'verse comics stuff pretty hit and miss too (e.g. from 'Tales of the Vampires' I thought 'Dames' was pretty good but 'Numb' was a bit meh) and of all the series episodes 'Heart of Gold' is the only one I wouldn't classify as out and out good (though it was enjoyable and definitely had good bits).
I think I'm correct in saying Heart of Gold went through significant reediting and such. I think Tim said that. They had been getting notes from FOX about the fact there was too much western goin' on, and then looked at the episode and went "Er, it's all western", so it got a bit bastardised around.

Gossi - Brett's excuse expert. Also works for Tony bLair.
So it's not Our Tone's fault cos he's become a bit bastardised ? Pretty much gels with my way of thinking too ;).

That does explain things slightly re: HoG. I guess it's a bit unfair to judge the script-writer without knowing all the ins and outs but it just red-lined my hoke-ometer slightly too often (e.g. v. dodgy laser pistol, Mal catching a mechanised vehicle on horseback, Burgess being a bit of a cackling villain, the whole tart-with-a-heart-of-gold cliche in the first place etc.).
The laser pistol reinforced what we saw in Ariel and other episodes--that just because it's technology doesn't make it better.

And the hovercraft, well, just because it's a hovercraft doesn't make it faster than a horse. It just means it floats. And I'm sure he didn't buy it for speed anyway; he bought it for flash, to show off. And I always got the impression that his flash would be crap in the Core, which is why he ruled over that moon.

And Nandi, as played by Melinda Clarke, was one of the best parts of the episode for me. I really liked the character.

The only thing I'll agree on is Burgess himself (the scene where he speechifies to his people then has the whore go down...um, there, was a bit over-the-top), but as there are men with attitudes like his out there, I didn't find fault with the basic idea.

And it's just an episode full of great character moments, and some of Morena's best stuff as Inara.

And wonderful music cues by Greg Edmonson (esp. during the sex, and opening on the next morning).

[ edited by pat32082 on 2006-09-07 14:28 ]

[ edited by pat32082 on 2006-09-07 14:36 ]
Laser Pistol - it's not the fact it runs out of juice (in the past i've defended the idea of 'old style' guns as superior in a lot of frontier situations for precisely this reason), it's just the actual gun itself. Come on, a big flashing 'Low Battery' sign ? Hoke-mungous.

Hovercraft - so Rance is incredibly stupid then ? I mean, mind-blowingly, galactically, badly-writtenly stupid (IMO), since he must've known there were horses around (his gang brought some after all) but still chooses to 'escape' in a vehicle clearly much, much slower (Mal catches up a fairly large head start) than a galloping horse. Fails my sanity check for character action but YMMV.

Nandi - yep, agreed. I almost put a list in my last comment of the things I liked about HoG and she was near the top (along with some excellent dialogue, the always beautiful music, great stuff between Mal and Inara and most of Jayne's bits - oooerr ;). Doesn't detract from the fact that aforementioned golden-hearted tart is an old western cliche (and, unusually for a Whedon series, not one that the show then goes on to subvert or radically re-form in some way).

Burgess - agreed, no fault with the basic idea. Bad, mysogynist male character, not a huge stretch. Bad, mysogynist male character who could give Brian Blessed a run in the scenery chewing stakes ? Stretchier. Just too OTT in implementation for me.

Any one or two of these I could probably just look the other way since i'm very keen to extend shows 'hoke credit' based on the rest of the episode (or even previous episodes in some cases) but all of them together just tipped my balance. Course, it's totally, totally subjective and HoG is still a cut above most of the TV out there but it's the weakest of the (measly) 14 episodes made, IMO.

(e.g. the 'Never leave a man behind' line in 'Warstories' is also way OTT for me but a) the rest of the episode is good enough to make up for it and b) on further thought I realised it's at least possible that Wash is deliberately written over the top in that line because he's totally un-used to that kind of macho role and, therefore, overcompensates)
And that Wash line was a little joke, too. Because when he says it, he's cocking a very small gun.
Saje, I'm with you on the corny "low battery" bit.

The hovercraft, I dunno. He might, in a panic, have instinctively gone for the horse he rode in on (which wasn't a horse, but I have a quota of cliches to use every day). Or he might have deliberately chosen it, figuring that if he had to shoot while moving, the hovercraft wouldn't be bouncing up and down as much as a horse, and would thus improve his aim.

Loved Nandi, (how does the Whedonverse consistently cast such hot women, none of them cookie-cutter model types), but I didn't see anything from her or the other tarts I'd call heart-of-gold behavior. I think that's just suggested by the cliched title.

As for your other insights, I completely agree.
Somehow I see the "Low Battery" as a network note to Joss, because they thought it needed to be spelled out to the audience that the laser pistol had fizzled, and why. But the script could prove me wrong in the next companion volume.
Perhaps he chose the hovercraft because it is easier to shoot a horse down than a vehicle of metal.
Agreed that it is the weakest of the episodes and it would be interesting to see what Joss's thoughts for it was. Mel got some sex, always good, although that small step forward was immediately blocked by Nandi's death. We saw how deeply Inara cared for him, and we saw that Jayne, while a buffoon, was pretty gentle with the ladies. So there was some character development.
And Wash's and Zoe's conversation about having a baby. And, you know, Inara deciding to leave the ship (plus, we get touches of her backstory from Nandi).
Lioness - ask and get...

Joss

Another one that we did a lot of reshooting and tinkering with after the fact. I think it came together really well, but when we looked at the first cut it left something to be desired. It was just one of those things with a lot of missteps. Also we had been getting notes from the network and we had done this early enough in the process where we looked at it and we were, like, “Nobody but us seems to have gotten the message to tone down the Western thing, so everything looked so Western that we were, like, “The network is going to kill us. This is like we’re spitting in their face.” So we did a few reshoots and changed a couple of lines to sort of hit the idea of why it was the way it was. We did a lot of tweaking. Our guest star, Belinda Clarke, I loved and I loved Inara’s reaction to them sleeping together. There are a lot of things in that episode that are key, but there was much work done in the editing room because we were scratching our heads saying, “It looks like Bonanza, what do we do?”

“Heart of Gold” is one of the unaired episodes and it had one of the most important moments, which is Inara telling Mal she’s leaving the ship. Which we referenced in “Objects in Space,” and then had to reshoot the scene because we weren’t going to air “Heart of Gold” before “Objects in Space.” So we had a little scene between Mal and Inara which we had to do a reshoot in which they didn’t reference that. Now with the DVD, where they’re in the correct order, we put it back in and it does.

Tim

This one is also known as “Shower of Gold” or “Heart of Pooh.” It’s not our favorite episode. This one kind of fell through the cracks. We never quite got the story broken properly. There were just things about it we didn’t love. But as far as I’m concerned, any episode of Firefly is good; it’s always fun to see those people. This episode, though, is a little generic. I will say that the last things that I shot for the series were some inserts for that episode; pick-up shots for a montage and that sort of thing. I remember the A.D. sending each actor into the room as I was shooting and they would get wrapped out of the series after I’d get them. That was weird, because you wrap out guest characters, you don’t wrap out your regular actors, except we were cancelled. So they would come into this room, do a shot or two, and then the A.D. would say, “Ron Glass. That’s a Firefly wrap for Ron Glass,” and then Ron would make a speech to the crew and everyone would cry and then each person came in. Everyone hung around until the last person was finished, because they wanted to be there for it. So that was kind of odd. Then the last shot I did of all of them together - there’s a shot where the entire crew of Serenity is walking up to a brothel. That was actually shot on a soundstage and it’s everyone walking up to this brothel and it was the last time they were all together on a stage to shoot a moment in Firefly.

After this really depressing day of everyone crying and making beautiful speeches, I packed up my bag and went home that night and it was all finished. I turned on the TV and that was the night they were airing the pilot finally, so that was the great irony.

Did Joss really say Belinda Clarke?

I don't think Heart of Gold is the best episode of Firefly, it's probably among the weakest, but it's still quite good. Although I would probably rate it alongside Trash so maybe it's just my weird opinion.

I think Inara really carries the episode, with strong support from Mal and Nandi. There are elements of the plot that just feel a little strange, and moments that seem a little out of character, like Mal initially wanting to run after meeting Burgess. I think having already understood Nandi's strong stubbornness and her intent to stand her ground, and being committed to following through on his word, I don't think he would even consider asking all of them to leave rather than stand their ground and fight.

I really love Jayne in this episode, too. It's nice to see that although his "relationships" seem to be brief (like the one we saw in Jaynestown) but I love that he was actually quite caring for the woman he slept with in HoG.
Burgess on the hovercraft made perfect sense to me. He had to have the newest and nicest of everything, regardless of whether it actually was the most effective in the situation. The fact that no one else had it was enough. I really don't think grabbing a horse for his getaway ever occurred to him, and the fact that his pistol ran out and Mal caught up to him on an animal must have horribly upset his worldview.
Thanks gossi. Now can I have lots of money?
I'd forgotten that this was when Inara decided to leave- it isn't an episode I watch a lot. Morena said at the con this past weekend that that was one of the hardest scenes she had to shoot but that it was so beautifully written she would tear up just reading it and that made it easier to do.
Saje, I agree with your comments about Heart of Gold completely. Even though there are moments of goodness, like Jayne's glee at being laid and Kaylee and Wash's exchange ("am I pretty, Wash?"), and the scene with Mal and Nandi is pretty well done, and I really like River's "I wonder who's in there?" line, but overall it is an ep that has a lot of cliches and cheese (gun says "low battery," horse beats hovercraft, etc.). Not to mention the whole disturbing plot about the baby -- what with forcible amniocentesis and the baby's father being murdered in front of his 6-hour-old eyes and all. Ewww. :-(

Razor, I'm betting that the error in Ms. Clarke's name was made by the interviewer who transcribed Joss's comments, not by Joss.

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