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Whedonesque - a community weblog about Joss Whedon
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September 16 2005

Tonight's Firefly episode on SciFi - 'Out Of Gas'. As penned by Tim Minear and directed by David Solomon. The one the network wanted put in chronological order. Oh yes and there's the moustache. The moustache!

This is a fantastic episode. The colour schemes alone are sensational. And the acting is top notch.

Anyhow here's the relevant CFQ commentary from Whedon and Minear.

My single favorite episode. I broke the story very specifically with Tim. I pitched all of the flashbacks, very specifically the structure and I’m blowing my horn about what I had to do with that episode, because I did not write it and I did not direct, and it really is our best. Tim just wrote an amazing script, David Solomon, who’s been with me since the beginning of Buffy, shot it very beautifully. David Boyd, the D.P., brought in that insane reversal stock for the flashbacks that provided that incredible look. I don’t think anything ever got to the heart of both what we wanted the show to be sort of what a show should be, what the show was and how it was than that one. Apart from the flashbacks, just the very ending, just seeing Serenity from across a crowded room and falling in love, it explains so much about our characters, and who they were and what they wanted. It was such a simple premise: this ship is going to break, we’re all going to die because of something really, really mundane. I just think there was more emotion, surprising humor and a perfect kind of structure to that thing than anything else we did. To me, it was the most moving episode that we did.

That’s probably my favorite episode and probably one my favorite things I’ve written in a long time. I think Joss and I both sort of did our best work on Firefly.


I remember I was going to write the next episode and Joss had the idea that they run out of gas. I’m like "That’s great, but now I have to write 54 pages. What does that mean?" We looked at it this way, we looked at it that way. There’s a tiny part of the story where this other crew comes aboard the ship, but that was originally going to be the story. They run out of gas and we get to see another scavenger ship with a crew not unlike the crew of Serenity, but they’re bad guys. That was the idea, but it didn’t thrill me. I remember Joss and I went out to dinner. We were eating our steak and Joss said, "Can the episode open with Mal being shot in the gut?" And I said, "Now you’re talking."


I get a call from the network and they’re confused. They’re confused because it all seems to be taking place out of order. They were asking me if I could put it in chronological order. I had to explain to them that here was no chronological order for this episode. If I put it in chronological order, it wouldn’t make any sense because it’s jumping around like a fever dream and that it has it’s own kind of dream logic. I added that no one who has seen it has been confused in the slightest. But they just assume that people are too stupid to follow something like that, I guess. Basically my feeling was that if they insisted I put it in chronological order, I would just quit. There would be nothing I could do at that point. But, look, there were some people at the network saying that. For the most part, the executives who were covering this show loved this episode. They totally got it, completely protected it and it got to air as conceived.

Probably one of my favourite Mutant Enemy episodes ever. This one has so much going for it.

Random factoid: according to a random post by Tim on Buffista's recently, 3/4 of this episode was written one Sunday afternoon.

I get a call from the network and they’re confused. They’re confused because it all seems to be taking place out of order. They were asking me if I could put it in chronological order.

You know, the more I read on Whedonesque about Firefly and Angel, the more I'm convinced Network execs have no brains.

Like all the others, I loved this ep! And I was not at all confused with what was happening.
My second favorite episode. :)
Christ, that episode was crystal clear. Thank god network execs aren't in charge of the country...

... oh.
my favorite episode!!! YAY!!!!
Yep, that was pure synergy between the two of them. A perfect episode. And perfectly placed. You kept hearing from Kaylee about the one piece that was going to blow in previous episodes and then it paid off. You know and care about the characters by this point and are rewarded with those lovely flashbacks.
This is what TV should be.
Before OOG, I thought this was a pretty good series. It wasn't until this episode that Firefly became an extraordinary show.
My favorite episode, as well. I'm so happy the network execs didn't screw it up. This is about as close to perfect as TV ever gets.
Out of Gas was when I realized that not only did I really really like this new show, but that it was indeed my FAVORITE show and I became a Browncoat for life.
<-- What vampire Dan said.. but with more exclamation points and poorer grammar.

My all-time favourite episode, which, for a series that's only 14 episodes long, doesn't say all that much.. Still, it rivalled some of Buffy's finest moments, and if that's not the best damn compliment ever, then I don't know what is!

[ edited by [wcip]Angel on 2005-09-16 22:29 ]
Oh hoh hoh... the NETWORK was telling Joss and Tim that THEY were confused because the scenes were out of order?!! What about doing that to an ENTIRE SERIES? :P
lmao! Ronald_SF has such a great point there!!!
The network suits obviously came from the same mold as the suits who made Tru Calling put in flashbacks every five minutes because the viewers are two dumb to remember anything importand unless it's rammed down their throats. Their target audience must consist of goldfish and their fifteen second memory. I'd hate to see their TV Movie version of Usual Suspects.
I woudn't go as far as gossi, calling it my favorite ME episode ever, cause that would go with no doubt to "Restless", but "Out of Gas" is definetely my favorite Firefly episode.

I was never a huge Tim Minear fan myself, but there are some episodes that he wrote, that I consider classics, such as Angel's "Five by Five" or "Home", and I'd include "Out of Gas" in the same league.

I love how the episode take us through a three fold narrative, with Flashbacks about how the initial crew was gathered, how Mal got "Serenity", and his efforts to save "her", and all the agonizing moments in between. By not telling the story in a chronological order, was the perfect way to tell it. I wouldn't go any other way with it. I was watching my "Memento" DVD the other day, and try watching it with that chronological movie feature, and it's not the same thing. The first time I watched "Out of Gas", it was one of the things that it reminded me of, of Nolan's "Memento". And this episode made me sure that I was in love with the 'verse.

It has comedy, drama, tension, all the ups and downs from a ME show classic episode. And it strongly carried Joss belief about "made families". It's hard for me to choose a favorite momento from this episode, but I really like the wya it ends, with Mal asking if everyone will still be there when he wakes up, and then we're taken to a final flashback with him gazing at the beauty that is "Serenity".

Wished I had tmy box set or my VHS copy with me right now, it would be a great episode to re-watch today.

[ edited by Numfar PTB on 2005-09-17 00:14 ]
For me this episode plays like a memory, like how one thinks of the past. If it doesn't follow the story chronologically, it follows the mental and emotional thought process Mal must went through when he was lying there on the floor and everything afterward. Thinking about the past, what had led up to this point, what gave him the drive he needed to stalk through the ship bleeding... A beautiful episode. Not so much a "story", but more like a poem, conveying Mal's love for the ship and his crew.
The most perfect Firefly episode ever. The sequence, superb. So glad the execs didn't screw with it.
I totally agree with Vampire Dan and AnotherFireflyFan.

Firefly has yet to be shown on terrestrial TV here in Ireland, and I always had the intention of getting the DVD as I am a huge Buffy and Angel fan. It just took me a while because I hadn't followed the story of the series very intently, mainly just snippets in Buffy or Angel magazine.

Whenever I watched the DVD, I was very impressed, but it was "Out of Gas" where I felt the momentum of the season picked up and I really cared for the characters. Of course I liked and was interested in them from the start, but this was one of the first times when I really felt I loved it and saw the potential it had to live as long as Buffy had.

I totally loved the way it was shot, including the way the story unfolds. It adds to Mal's state of mind at that point and makes the story more interesting as you wonder how he got to that point, there is a real sense of foreboding. It was also beautifully shot, especially the flashbacks, which also added more to the characters and the whole story allowed them to show off their talents evern more.

Having seen the whole series, when I look back at the episodes preceding "Out of Gas" I do have greater regard for them, but in terms of first viewing it was the first perfect, emotional episode.
Best episode ever, but it seems plenty of people already covered that ;)
Network execs think the audience is dumb. They want shows that cater to the least common denominator. They think the country is full of folks that will elect the village idiot their leader. Oh wait...
The most perfect hour of television ever made. Nuff said.
Once more, redundant, but this is also my favorite "Firefly" episode and probably one of the top-five Whedonverse episodes. Can't say more.
One of the reasons this episode is the best in the series and so sublime is that it has a nearly perfect balance of humor and pathos. Nothing's overdone, and as someone else said, it plays out like a poem. I found myself sniffling more at sad moments because the funny moments were so well-played and vice versa. This is the same reason the movie resonates so much for me, except the emotions were a little more heightened than just sniffles.
I loved this episode because it showed what a family this group of people really were and what they meant to each other. For me, it's a toss up between this episode and OIS as my two favorites. But this one was the first huge glimpse of how great this story was going to be if it had been allowed to grow.

My favorite scene is Mal waking up and wondering if he's dreaming and they are all sitting around him, anxiously waiting for him to wake up. God, I'm getting choked up just thinking about it!

I thought it was brilliantly filmed and if you haven't listened to the commentary make sure you do because it will make you love the episode even more.
For me, it's a toss up between this episode and OIS as my two favorites.

Ha. OOG used to be my favorite ep ever until OIS overtook it in a stunning turn of events, and now safely my second favorite ep. But still the kind of episode that makes me pull my hair out in frustration because TV is bereft of this kind of wonderfulness seemingly for years.
And also the source of the second-best clip on the gag reel, with Zoe and Mal and their facial hair.

(The best? The one I've only ever seen online with Nathan ending up in the coffin.)
Well, that was just exquisite. I'm so glad you mentioned the use of color - I kept thinking "dang! they're gonna get me to like them earth tones again". It set the tone...
And at 7:40, even though I already knew everything was going to be just fine, I had tears in my eyes and I was rocking back and forth saying "oh god, oh god - Mal!"
Just so.well.done.

The one-two punch of this and "Ariel" (since I missed "Shindig" during the original run and actually liked "Safe" a lot as a bridge between "OoG" and "Ariel" when everything was aired out of order) sealed the deal completely and guaranteed this as one of my favorite TV series.
Mals survival and the last scene always reminds me of the "story" we have been through on our way to "Serenity". Tim, Joss, Nathan and the rest of the cast.... "We'll be her."
My favourite Firefly ep ever, and my third-favourite ME episode ever, after Once More, with Feeling and Restless (With "Hush" tying Out of Gas). I need to make lists of all my favourite ME epsisodes!
My favorite episode....and the ONE I missed in the original airing! Boy did my husband and I peg Kaylee as 'sweet and innocent' through the entire run! Then we saw this and thought she was just sweet!!

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