GENERAL DISCUSSIONS

A Firefly Lecture - The reason I love being an arts student!

POSTED BY: VERACOBB
UPDATED: Sunday, August 29, 2004 17:47
SHORT URL:
VIEWED: 5236
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Wednesday, August 25, 2004 6:50 PM

VERACOBB


About five weeks ago I found out I had to prepare a mini-lecture for one of my uni classes. The topic I chose to do was 'Select a title that has had a difficult road to publication and tell the story.' I've just wasted five weeks thinking that I was going to talk about Jane Austen, or Dickens. Then all of a sudden, it hit me. Firefly. I know that's a loose interpretation of the word 'publication' but I am resolved. Besides, Joss's pains with Firefly are far more relevant to today's world than Austen's.

It also means I get to brainwash a class full of people who have likely never heard of the show, and make my point about how shiny it is. (The DVD sets have been released here in Australia but there's no sign of it airing on TV).

So anyway, at the risk of dredging up everyone's bitter resentment and hatred of those bastards we call FOX, I figured I'd check in with the people who know everything, to make sure I get the story right.

I'm based in Western Australia, so I'm a bit vague on the issues of networks and programming, but my basic understanding is as follows:

- Joss filmed Serenity.
- FOX didn't like it. Were going to renew Dark Angel instead.
- Joss wrote Train Job.
- FOX green lights production, canned DA.
- Aired Train Job first.
This is where I get fuzzy
- Eps were aired out of order, and were taken off for sporting events.
Was there warning that this was going to happen? IE - did they advertise that Firefly was going to be on and then show sport, or was the sport advertised?
Did the actual time slot ever change?

- Browncoats realise there are problems and launch campaigns.
- Ratings aren't pleasing the FOX execs so they axe the show.
- Serenity airs last. after the cancellation?
- Browncoats keep fighting. Joss keeps fighting to get Firefly on another station?
- DVD's released with phenomenal sales. (Does anyone know where I can get exact figures about the DVD sales?)
- Universal exec Mary Parent sees Firefly and agrees to the movie.
Was there a delay between Parent wanting the movie and it all the fiddley bits sorted? Any resistance from Universal in letting Joss do everything his way?
- Joss gets $50 million to make his movie with.
- Browncoats are happy again.

Any help, facts, directions to the information that you guys can offer would be eternally appreciated. I may even erect mud statues in your honour.

Also was toying with the idea of showing them a snippet of something. Anyone recommend 'the' scene that sold them on Firefly? Or the scene that best sums up the show?

And on that note I best be getting back to work. Preparing Firefly lectures may be fun, but working on four other projects at the same time can be taxing

Farewell all!



Can we start getting sexed already?

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Wednesday, August 25, 2004 7:37 PM

KELLAINA


VeraCobb wrote:
Quote:

So anyway, at the risk of dredging up everyone's bitter resentment and hatred of those bastards we call FOX, I figured I'd check in with the people who know everything, to make sure I get the story right.


Bitter? I'm not bit... well maybe just a tad. And while I don't pretend to know everything I'll give your questions a shot.

Quote:


- Joss filmed Serenity.
- FOX didn't like it. Were going to renew Dark Angel instead.
- Joss wrote Train Job.
- FOX green lights production, canned DA.
- Aired Train Job first.



In a nutshell I think this is about right.

Quote:

This is where I get fuzzy
- Eps were aired out of order, and were taken off for sporting events.
Was there warning that this was going to happen? IE - did they advertise that Firefly was going to be on and then show sport, or was the sport advertised?



I'm also fuzzy here since with the exception of Serenity I didn't watch Firefly on Fox, although from what I understand there was very little in the way of advertisements for it at all. I know that in Canada there was very little in the way of ads (as in almost none).

Quote:

Did the actual time slot ever change?



Unfortunately, no.

Quote:


- Browncoats realise there are problems and launch campaigns.
- Ratings aren't pleasing the FOX execs so they axe the show.
- Serenity airs last. after the cancellation?



If I remember correctly, Fox didn't formally announce that Firefly was cancelled. The phrase was 'indefinite hiatus.' And yes, Serenity aired last as a 'special-here's-how-it-all-started' episode. Even then, I don't think the net was calling it a finale (although we all knew that's what it was.)

Quote:

- Browncoats keep fighting. Joss keeps fighting to get Firefly on another station?



Yup. Fox agreed to not stand in the way while Joss tried to shop it to the other nets. Unfortunantly, cancelled series are a hard sell.

Quote:

- DVD's released with phenomenal sales. (Does anyone know where I can get exact figures about the DVD sales?)



Estimates are in the 200 000 range. I don't know if there have been any official statements. I've tried looking for a number but anything I find on the net tends to be restricted to those in the industry.

Quote:


- Universal exec Mary Parent sees Firefly and agrees to the movie.
Was there a delay between Parent wanting the movie and it all the fiddley bits sorted? Any resistance from Universal in letting Joss do everything his way?
- Joss gets $50 million to make his movie with.
- Browncoats are happy again.



I think any delays were the typical kind when it comes to filmaking. The script had to be written, contracts negotiated etc. I'm not sure what the timeline is on the Universal deal.

Sorry I can't be of more help, as I was going through the questions I realized how much had gotten fuzzy as time passed .

But isn't using Firefly for school great? Two terms ago I wrote an essay on Jaynestown for a TV criticism and theory class. It was the most fun I have ever had working on an essay .

Quote:

Also was toying with the idea of showing them a snippet of something. Anyone recommend 'the' scene that sold them on Firefly? Or the scene that best sums up the show?


Hmmm... an an intro to the show I'd have to say the first scene of The Train Job because it sets the tone (humour, violence, western, future technology etc). Or the last scene of Serenity ('cause they're still flyin') But Out of Gas is what sold me on Firefly, though I can't recommend any one scene.

Although if you're going with the rough road to publication theme, Mal's "why can't anything go smooth" line in Ariel is quite fitting .

Anyway, I hope I've been of some help.

Good luck on your lecture!!!




If nothing we do matters, then all that matters is what we do. -"Angel"

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Wednesday, August 25, 2004 7:41 PM

SGTGUMP


One time, in the seventh grade, I did a book report on the CD sleeve of my Jimi Hendrix CD. The teacher thought that I was just being lazy and didn't want to give me any credit, but I defended it as well as I could. He decided that if I felt that strongly about it that he would give me credit. So I guess the moral is good things can happen to good people or defend your work or something, either way good luck.

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Wednesday, August 25, 2004 8:00 PM

SOUPCATCHER


Cool idea! Not sure how much time you have for research. That said, here are some links that might be helpful:

This site was around before and during the whole F*x run. There are a number of links that may be relevent in the Firefly: Immediate Assistance section:
http://www.fireflyfans.net/threadlist.asp?b=3&a=1

There are also posts of information about the show before the release in the News Headline Discussions section:
http://www.fireflyfans.net/threadlist.asp?b=7&a=1

The Featured Article section of this site might have some good information:
http://www.fireflyfans.net/featureslist.asp

Jeremy started his site right after the DVD release in the US and has the best timeline of the movie development process that I've found:
http://www.fireflymovie.com/news_old.html
http://www.fireflymovie.com/news.html

I'm not too familiar with fireflyers.net but there is a section of the forum titled "Saving the Show" that has posts going back to the time of the broadcast:
http://www.fireflyers.net/bbs/viewforum.php?f=36

Looks like the Firefly:Immediate Assistance site is not with us any longer ( www.fireflysupport.com) but the internet archive has versions of the site in their database:
http://web.archive.org/web/*/www.fireflysupport.com

Sorry for the data dump , I've always been more of a shotgun person myself...

I shaved off my beard for you, devil woman!

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Thursday, August 26, 2004 12:42 AM

CARDIE


Just something on the "pre-emptions for sport" front. FOX has the rights to broadcast the Major League baseball playoffs and World Series games. These start in October. If any show's premiere is in the typical late September weeks, it will be pre-empted in any week that a game is played during its timeslot. Firefly was not singled out for this treatment. It happened to the entire FOX primetime lineup.

Last year FOX finally got a clue and decided to delay the premieres of any new series until after baseball was over, but it was too late to help Firefly and other shows that got off to a shaky start. The shows were advertised heavily during the baseball games, but FOX's Firefly advertising was targeted to those looking for action and explosions, not intense character drama.

Cardie

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Thursday, August 26, 2004 3:56 AM

WITLESSCHUM


"- Joss filmed Serenity.
- FOX didn't like it. Were going to renew Dark Angel instead.
- Joss wrote Train Job.
- FOX green lights production, canned DA.
- Aired Train Job first. "

Based on the DVD commentary and documentaries, as I remember it.
Whedon is under contract at Fox's TV production studio (for whom he made Buffy and Angel, which were sold to other nets)
So they wanted a Joss Whedon series.
Joss says, I've got this sci-fi idea. He gets money and makes the pilot. They suggest reshoots, he does them.

Fox isn't sure, tells Whedon and Tim Minear to write the episode in one weekend. They write "The Train Job," which gets right into the action and introduces a larger-than-life villain or two, per Fox requests. Fox goes ahead with the show. At this point, Joss and Tim still think "Serenity" gets aired first.
Fox decides to air "The Train Job" first.

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Thursday, August 26, 2004 4:57 AM

KIQUOA


Great idea. Oftentimes the old gaurd teachers only consider classical material to be fair game. I once wrote a paper for a mythology class describing classes from role playing games to one's own personal pantheon. Got an "A", mostly because my paper broke up the monotony of the other 100 or so papers the teach had to read.

If you only have a few minutes to show a clip you probably do not want to get too deep into a character development scene. I too would recommend the train job - the job itself starting with "time for some thrilling heroics"...

Post a copy of your lecture notes once written, I'm sure we'd all love to see what you come up with!

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Thursday, August 26, 2004 6:02 AM

ZNACHKI


Quote:

Originally posted by VeraCobb:

Eps were aired out of order, and were taken off for sporting events.



Here is a link to Whedonwiki that you might find helpful for some of your questions about the airing of eps and such.

[url] http://whedonwiki.com/index.php/Main/FireFly[/url]

There is a lot of information there and the site also has links to other sites.

Quote:

Serenity airs last.


F*X was calling it an "origins" episode

Quote:

DVD's released with phenomenal sales. (Does anyone know where I can get exact figures about the DVD sales?)


I believe it might be possible, but difficult. Here's the problem. Billboard Magazine (and they do have an online version) more than likely has the sales figures. However, the access to that information is part of their fee based service.

I have access to Billboard through a University account. However, we don't subscribe to that portion of the service. So, it is possible, but not easy. I'd suggest speaking to the Business Reference Librarian (if you have one) or other Reference Librarian to see what they might be able to find out. Do that sooner rather than later, as it might take them some time.

Quote:

I may even erect mud statues in your honour.


I'd rather have a song composed in my honor, thanks.

Quote:

Also was toying with the idea of showing them a snippet of something. Anyone recommend 'the' scene that sold them on Firefly? Or the scene that best sums up the show?


Hmmm... that's hard. The thing is, you can go the actionish route, but does that show the depth on other levels, which as we all know, is what the real Firefly is all about. Perhaps one of the things you could show is the deleted scene where Simon goes to the encyclopedia to find out about the Battle of Serenity Valley.

Best of luck - and I second the notion of you posting your notes and such.

Znachki

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Thursday, August 26, 2004 6:24 AM

NEDWARD


Quote:

Originally posted by VeraCobb:
Anyone recommend 'the' scene that sold them on Firefly? Or the scene that best sums up the show?

For me, the interrogations in Bushwhacked. I was pretty sure I liked the show, and that scene confirmed it for me - utter hilarity in the middle of one of the darkest episodes. (Pure Joss, really.)

But this illustrates why I think it's difficult to pick a single scene to show people. This one worked for me because I wasn't expecting Jayne's total silence and Wash's "Her legs!", I was expecting some kind of whiny surliness. One reason why Joss's writing's so great is the pay-offs - light moments in the middle of dark, unexpected twists (e.g. Saffron) and lines (Mal's "Well, I'm alright" in Shindig).

Which is why I don't suggest Out of Gas as the "must-see" ep - all the flashbacks are great if you already know the characters, but I don't think they're the best way to get to know them...

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Thursday, August 26, 2004 9:37 AM

RHYMEPHILE


It's too bad you couldn't edit together a few scenes for the presentation. You could pick out great lines, great scenes and the like. I can think of three particular scenes that, to me, shows that this is a Joss show and the chances he takes:

The scene in "Serenity" when Lawrence the Alliance dude is holding a gun to River, and Mal walks up the ramp of Serenity and shoots him right in the head.

The scene in "The Train Job" (I think) when Niska's henchman Crow threatens Mal that Niska will hunt him down, across the 'verse...and Mal shoves him into the engine turbine. Classic.

The scene in "Objects in Space" when Early comes upon Kaylee and asks her "Have you ever been raped?" That scene is chilling.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
All of me is beautiful and valuable, even the ugly, stupid, and disgusting parts.

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Thursday, August 26, 2004 10:14 AM

SHINY


I'm not sure the decision on the Dark Angel cancellation hinged on the network exec's reaction to the train job; do you have a source for this information?

Jayne, your mouth is talkin. Might want to look into that.

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Thursday, August 26, 2004 10:25 AM

ELLYDRAGON


The other thing you might want to look into is trying to dig up the TiVo ratings for the season. I seem to remember something about it being very highly rated there, and that was used as an argument that it wasn't the show that was getting the bad rating, but the timeslot.

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Thursday, August 26, 2004 10:56 AM

TENTHCREWMEMBER

Could you please just make it stranger? Stranger. Odder. Could be weirder. More bizarre. How about uncanny?


Can't say I know enough to help with the details, but as for the scene that sold me, was the scene in Serenity, just after Patience tries to doublecross Mal, and he comes back onto the ship with the Fed holding River hostage and Mal is so pissed (Badger, Patience, River popping out of cryo, Inara cock-blocking him, Feds, Reavers; enough is enough!) he just shoots the guy mid-sentence and Jayne smiles an "it's about time" smile. I was like "Hell yeah!"

I liked it because it showed that even a hardened battle veteran like Mal can only take so much. Sooner or later he has to do "what he has to do" otherwise he goes insane.

And then the Crazy Ivan...first time I cheered outloud at a show/movie since I saw the Death Star explode the day Star Wars was released.

After that, I HAD to watch it all. Stayed up all night as a matter of fact. Watched every episode, and then logged onto the net to find this fansite! That was one month ago.

I hope you get an A+++ and hook everyone, professor included, on Firefly!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
BROWNCOATS! Rise again and promote Firefly/Serenity!
visit: http://the11thhour.home.att.net

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Thursday, August 26, 2004 11:16 AM

STICKGIRL


There is much more fun. The fireworks actually start before "Serenity" is even written.

Due to the success of Buffy and Angel and their being on different networks, Fox finally decides to get its head out of its ass long enough to want a Joss series of its own to air. They approach him and ask him if he has anything in mind. He has been toying with an idea and says that he might be able to put something together.

At this same time the guys that do X-Men 2 are busy working on a revival of Battlestar Galactica for Fox. This is NOT the crap that aired on Sci-Fi later. This was actually good and honored the original mythology. It was canned after they got the sets and everything ready to go because the timetable for X-Men 2 had to be moved up due to actor availability. No more Battlestar Galactica series.

Fox comes to Joss and asks him to move things up. This puts Firefly in an awkward position from the beginning. Being the miracle worker that he is, he practically dumps Buffy in the hands of Marti Noxon, who at the time was pregnant and not around all the time, dumps Angel into the hands of OMG I don't have an executive producer!!!! What am I going to do?!?! David Greenwalt left Angel to head "Miracles" and reportedly out of protest due to a character's arc (possibly Cordelia). Joss needs Tim Minear to help with Firefly, so he can't be over on Angel much. Joss brings in some guy who doesn't work out. Then Jeff Bell gets the position and does a bang up job with it. Angel suffers very little from Joss' absence. Buffy fans will tell you how greatly Joss and Marti' absence affected the beginning of Buffy's final season. They will use very bad language typically to do this.

Since things are so rushed over at Firefly, when Fox being the asshats they are, decide they don't like the two hour premier that Joss wrote, he has a grand total of 2 days to write what will be the series premier, "Train Job." It is only an hour (technically 42 minutes when you account for commercials) and Joss has to use shorthand to introduce the characters and the universe. From the beginning Fox was incredibly unsupportive.

The Buffy fans weren't sure how to react to this brand new universe and Fox didn't have a clue how to market it. Buffy fans could feel that this was Buffy's last season and were going through some pretty intense emotions. Most weren't sci-fi fans and the whole space ship thing didn't feel right with a lot of them. Fox wanted a series that would pull in the Buffy/Angel fans. That isn't what Joss gave them.

After the series was canceled, Joss shopped it around with Fox's permission. Few networks want to piss off this man. Everyone is waiting to get their hands on "Faith." At the time Eliza Dushku hadn't signed onto "Tru Calling" and "Faith" was expected to replace "Buffy." No network knew how to handle Firefly and figured Joss wouldn't be around as much when "Faith" did take off, so no one would give him a chance.

That and as much of an asshat Fox is, the president of Sci-Fi is worse. The new president of Sci-Fi doesn't like space shows. Joss was told that his show was too space oriented for her network. This is perhaps the most confusing thing that Joss heard. He has a rather funny string of comments about that...he took it to Oxygen and they told him it was too feminist among them. I think he said this as ComicCon 2003.

Then comes Angel season 5 where Joss works out all his feelings about the Uber-evil nature of Blue Sun...I mean network Television and he gets canceled. The only thing that redeemed this was that he had gotten "Serenity" the movie greenlighted and Universal is actually behind the project. He was lucky to still have his actors, since Nathan has a sweet deal with NBC should they find a decent series for him. Joss said he would not do Serenity with a different cast.

This movie is incredibly important to Joss Whedon's career. He is known as being one of the best script doctors in Hollywood. Practically every line of dialogue in "Speed" is his. His work on "Toy Story" even earned him an Oscar nomination. What remained of his script in the original X-men is rather obvious. Joss' style is distinctive. Hollywood is evil though, so how well "Serenity" does will not only determine if there is a sequel to the possible 3 picture deal, but to steal a line from "Once More with Feeling" Where do we go from here.

All this can be verified on-line.

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Thursday, August 26, 2004 12:42 PM

STICKGIRL


Forgot something. The Attacks on 9/11 play into this as well. Sometimes there are advantages to having a husband that is a Battlestar Galactica fan.

9/11 affected most tv studios. Many put productions, especially new ones, on hold. Battlestar Galactica was one show effected by this. This put them behind schedule, which added to the reason Fox shelved them. There was no way they would be ready by the time the writers were necessary for X-2. If you were Fox, would you put your money on a major blockbuster movie franchise that already had proved it would make money or a new iffy tv series? This all afffected poor Battlestar Galactica, Firefly and Buffy negatively.

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Thursday, August 26, 2004 4:00 PM

DROCCULARI


If you want a good read and something to cite that your professor might respect, there was an excellent profile piece on Joss done in the New York Times about the time Firefly went on the air that also covered FOX's inability to understand Serenity. It's called, Must-See Metaphysics by Emily Nussbaum in the September 22, 2002, Sunday Edition. It might have been in the magazine section.

A good scene to show that's powerful, quiet, has complex character development and is one of my favorites in a long list of favorites, is the scene in Serenity where Simon is explaining to the crew his and River's back story.

Have fun, and good luck!

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Sunday, August 29, 2004 6:54 AM

BANRIGH


Which uni?

I wonder if I can sneak in, even though I'm not a uni student.

It's fascinating watching the reactions of potential fans as they watch Firefly for the first time.

Did they kiss your ass to your satisfaction?

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Sunday, August 29, 2004 7:39 AM

FLYINGTAMS


Quote:

Originally posted by VeraCobb:
Then all of a sudden, it hit me. Firefly. I know that's a loose interpretation of the word 'publication' but I am resolved. Besides, Joss's pains with Firefly are far more relevant to today's world than Austen's.



Well, Joss said at comicon that they are planning to make a Serenity cartoon - so that's your publication right there :)

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Sunday, August 29, 2004 7:41 AM

LINDLEY


Quote:




Forgot something. The Attacks on 9/11 play into this as well. Sometimes there are advantages to having a husband that is a Battlestar Galactica fan.

9/11 affected most tv studios. Many put productions, especially new ones, on hold. Battlestar Galactica was one show effected by this. This put them behind schedule, which added to the reason Fox shelved them. There was no way they would be ready by the time the writers were necessary for X-2. If you were Fox, would you put your money on a major blockbuster movie franchise that already had proved it would make money or a new iffy tv series? This all afffected poor Battlestar Galactica, Firefly and Buffy negatively.



There's also a good chance it indirectly ruined Legend of the Rangers ratings.

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Sunday, August 29, 2004 3:26 PM

EBONEZER


I know nothing about the history, but i got some clip suggestions:

Kicking whats-his-face into the engine in The Train Job.

Crazy Ivan

Finding jaynes statue in jaynestown.

and i think you should end by showing the movie trailer, as a kind of, 'the story isn't over yet', and to maybe get some people to watch the movie.

Also, get ready to be bombarded by requests to borrow the DVD.





-----------------------------------

Four out of five dentists reccomend calling Ebo a girl.

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Sunday, August 29, 2004 5:47 PM

JEBBYPAL


One other thing to mention that was brought up by joss in several interviews----the ad department of fox royally screwed the show in the commercials for it. I can't tell you how many people you meet who say, "Oh yeah,saw the commercials for that --- a girl in a box and a whore in space? who'd write that?" Then they see the show and are all "Wow, that was TV? Felt like a movie".

Think that some of the original commercials are available on the net---remember once upon a time seeing a link for them here on FFF.net somewhere??

Best show for clips? depends on what you want to demonstrate ---- some of the clips from OiS would be great to demonstrate the artsiness of the show etc. Plot/story telling -- I'd show the sequence of Mal opening the box during serenity and then Dobson coming in. Don't need to know the characters well and it is very grabbing.

Serenity did air last after cancellation--think i remember Joss fighting to get it shown despite everything just in case the dvds didn't work out (though he refused to allow the network to air the message and Heart of gold during the summer because he wanted dvds to have new contenet).

Hmm...on the universal delay thing, dunno, you might actually try to communicate w/ mutant enemy or something about that. Know joss wrote one script at the end of the year as a finale sorta, then rewrote it completely after he talked to Universal and was getting positive vibes. Think the negotiations btw universal and fox were lengthy --- read somewhere that the "no tv for 5 yrs" may have actually been a universal demand as they didn't want to see the show return to tv and preclude a successful franchise of their own (since fox still owns tv rights, not out of meanness).

Almost all recent interviews w/ joss bring up alot of these issues --- might even be able to google for them. Knowt there was even one on ign.com that discussed some of this although it was pre-movie deal. Several are posted around the board---haken probably archived them all in the news feature section.

Good luck w/ the lecture....and be sure to hand out flyers for the movie!!!

The Strawberry Monkey
http://lurid-eidolon.org/strawberries/
Place your vote for Favorite Firefly Fanfic today

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