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October 14 2005

Tonight's Firefly episode on SciFi - 'The Message'. As written by Joss and Tim (who also directed). During the filming of this episode, news broke that the show was cancelled. But forget about that for the moment, focus on the cunning hat and of course Jonathan M. Woodward's stellar performance. "When you can't run anymore, you crawl."

On the blooper tape, there's a hilarious performance by Nathan from this episode. Anyway, for me this the most emotional of the Firefly episodes. It's very powerful.

And without further ado, the Cinefastique commentary from Whedon and Minear.

Joss
The episode we were shooting when I got to tell everybody that we were cancelled. I love that episode because it dealt with war, Malís morality and a dead body, which is always fun. It bears an enormous sadness considering itís all about death and betrayal and honor and sadness - it all worked out fine considering things. It bore that because everybody knew that it was over. Except me, who still refuses to admit it. Itís part of my charm, really. Tim and I wrote it together and I wrote the flashback. I was waiting for word and Peter Chernin had a call in to me and I didnít know what was happening, so I wrote a joke flashback that was basically me and Tim in the trenches, waiting. The privates were all executives that kept coming in and putting us on hold. I gave it to Tim and it was actually an incredibly emotional joke, because it basically ended with the two of us waiting together to hear word; listening to Mulan Rouge on hold in the trenches. It was really Mal and Zoe, but Tim and I knew who it was, though neither of us will say which one of us is Zoe, because we both want to be her.

........

Gail Berman called me and the only thing I had to say was, ďWill you allow me to try and take this somewhere else?Ē She said yes, I thanked her and that was it. Then I went to the set and made the announcement.




Tim
Great effects in that episode. There was a pretty exciting chase in a snow canyon between two spaceships. Which is amazing now that Iím working on another show where we canít afford to have a room. Now itís like, ďCan I have a room with a table?Ē ďNo, itís too expensive.Ē Joss and I wrote this episode and we were sort of writing it while I was directing. The scene that I remember the most is when I was shooting a certain scene on the bridge, Joss showed up on the set, pulled me aside and said, ďTheyíve cancelled the show. Do you want to tell people now or do you want to keep shooting?Ē I said we should tell them. We gathered everybody around and Joss said they pulled the plug on the show, theyíre not going to order anymore and he vowed to fight for the show in any way that he could, which he has been doing ever since. So everybody went off and got drunk, I guess, and then we came back. This was a Friday night and I stopped in the middle of shooting a scene. We came back on a Monday and the first scene back I had to shoot - when people look at the DVD, they should look at the scene where itís Mal and Inara and Zoe sitting around the dining room table, laughing their asses off as Mal is recounting a funny story about his dead privates [soldiers]. So the first thing we had to shoot with these people after telling them they were cancelled was a scene where they had to laugh hysterically. That was good acting. The thing is, it never became depressing in a way. We still had fun shooting the rest of that episode and I remember that the last thing I shot was the flashback to the battle scene, which is one of the things Iím proud of because it looks really cool and Joss wrote that scene.

Mr. Woodward's quote is becoming rather apropros for the Serenity Universe's future: Firefly could no longer walk as a series, so it crawled to the Big Screen as Serenity. As initial box office is shaky, Serentiy cannot crawl to more sequels, unless we carry it.
I love Joss' commentary there, but this ep is by far my least favourite. I find the character of Tracey an irritant, and for me the episode is an unwelcome distraction from the great interactions of the core 9. Emotionally it doesn't do much for me - I recognise where it's supposed to pack the punch but I just don't feel it. However, Jayne's hat makes it still worth watching for me.
This episode is worth watching for the final scene alone. The bleak snowy setting, Greg Edmondson's haunting "farewell" to Firefly, and our BDH's. A guaranteed throater.
"Jayne's hat makes it still worth watching for me."

And this line; "Girl's a mind-readin' genius, can't figure out how to eat an ice-planet." - Jayne
When marathoning through the series, I always break order and watch this after Objects in Space. The ending is just so emotional.
Oh my god, it's grotesque!
Oh, and there's something in a jar...


---

Why, is there someone you ARE good at
talking to?


---

:)


PS: I have seen Serenity tonight, for the very first time.

Never will again.

Not with the french dubbing... it ruined the show for me...
Wow, I totally love this episode. It restates and reinforces the soldierly bond between Zoe and Mal, even for a loser like Tracey, who was irritating, but properly so. (I'm reminded of criticism of Dawn here.) And, Znachki, I completely agree about the final scene, in which Mal and Zoe do indeed bring Tracey home, as he, dupliciously, requested in his message to him. A lovely bit of bringing it all together, and the music is simpply overwhelming.

And Shepherd Book was tremendous. A very recent convert to Firefly, a longtime friend, wrote to me about how Book appeared "to be a man who, when giving commands, expects them to be followed immediately. In short, I see a man not of the cloister, but of the quarterdeck."

This, after the first time he saw the episode!

A great, great episode.

A great episode, by my lights.
I think I'll watch it tonight and "pretend" to have the Sci-Fi channel. I always try to avoid it, but only because I know I'll end up crying at the end. Another good Jayne line, "what'd y'all order a dead guy for?"
PS: I have seen Serenity tonight, for the very first time.

Never will again.

Not with the french dubbing... it ruined the show for me...


I just got back from my 5th viewing, the reason for this one was that a French friend of mine came over today specifically to watch Serenity without the French dubbing. We just got back and read this so I'm sorry you had to suffer it. We're going back to see it again tomorrow so I guess it was worth it :)
The plot conceit that Mal and Book wouldn't just tell Tracey their plan was a little much, which is really the only thing holding this episode back IMO. The Wash shtick at the very start is priceless.
That doesn't bother me very much at all, 'cuz they do the same thing in Bushwhacked. Simon asks if they're going to put him and River in plain sight too, and Book pretty much tells him to shut up and do what he's told. So it's not exactly out of character -- and by the time Tracey had taken Kaylee hostage, was it really worth it to tell him anymore?
I agree with Alan... Jonathan Woodward sounds very drunk in this episode. ;)
Jayne's hat.
Ice Planets.
And the final scene. It's heartbreaking, and I always make me want to cry.
Those are all great moments from this episode.
This episode also features, Richard Burgi, who I was already a fan from his "The Sentinel" days.

There are some great lines from Tracey, though I'm not great fan of him. Tracey it's actually the most annoying character from he select few that Jonathan played in all ME shows. He's a little too whiny for my taste.
Reading this, I just realized there is a huge parallel between what Mal went through in Firefly/Serenity, and what happened with the show. Mal losing the war/Joss losing his show. And well, everyone whose scene the movie knows what "can't stop the signal" means and how it's a metaphor for the Firefly fan movement. It's like Firefly had a life of its own and wouldn't rest until it was made. I think Joss has really been blessed. We all have. And thinking about that's kinda shiny, you know?

[ edited by electricspacegirl on 2005-10-15 03:27 ]
I love when there's posts about this ep, because I can say, "I was there! Twenty feet from Tracey eating the beans!"

And then I drove Serenity and it was a lovely day.
What struck me about this whole firefly/serenity situation was what jgsugden and electricspacegirl also observed: how art imitates life imitates art. Its like holding two mirrors opposite each other, one labeled fiction, the other reality and seeing the images reflect into infinity. The writing seems so true and timeless. Like history repeating itself over and over.

I had the slightly unfortunate situation of viewing out of order and seeing The Message last. Story wise it didn't make sense. Emotion wise however it was a pitch perfect ending.
Saw Jonathan Woodward some time afterwards and he was asked what it was like being on the show when everyone had just been told it was over. He likened it to going to someone's house for Thanksgiving Dinner and being told that their much loved grandmother had died. He couldn't really grieve because he didn't know the Grandmother but he could sympathize - and still enjoy the meal!
Poor Woodward, always the villian, always ending up dead. Tim Minear should create a show for him to star in...after he makes a show for Alexis, that is. Or- he could make the J.M.W./Alexis show! Oh wow... I'll be in my bunk.
Hmmm...

I'll be in my bunk, too.
That doesn't bother me very much at all, 'cuz they do the same thing in Bushwhacked. Simon asks if they're going to put him and River in plain sight too, and Book pretty much tells him to shut up and do what he's told. So it's not exactly out of character -- and by the time Tracey had taken Kaylee hostage, was it really worth it to tell him anymore?

It's hardly the same situation though. Mal and Book create the situation where Tracey thinks he has to take a hostage by not telling him the plan. If anything, they're putting the crew at risk by trying to keep Tracey in the dark. And why bother anyway? It would take all of one breath to tell him the plan. Quite frankly, it's ridiculous.
The way I remember it Tracey came in at the tale end of them deciding what to do and assumed the worst and pulled a gun on everyone. He did not give anyone a real chance to tell him anything. At that point, he was nervous and trigger happy so I could see the events unfolding the way we were shown.
The one problem I have with this (I can get around the Tracey thing the way Bl does) is that Womack is a (a dangerous-minded) dirty cop and has no problem killing people, yet they let him go back to his ship that is "loaded with hurt". What's to stop him taking off and just blasting Serenity to hell?
On the blooper tape, there's a hilarious performance by Nathan from this episode.


That one is a riot, his expression is perfect, but some of the bet gags were not on the DVD I recently purchased. I had to find and download them from the web. Such a shame...there are some gems.

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