Firefly Extras

The DVD set comes with a number of extras. They're all held together by the phrase, "for those who got the series" as if this drabble justifies all the liberties the writers took. Oh, yeah, if you "got it", then you're probably eligible for some sort of fraternal handshake instructions and a secret decoder ring, either of which probably alternate between identifying you as an inner circle mushroom or result in your being shot, stabbed, bludgeoned, etc. at random.

"You were not put on this earth to 'get it', Mr. Burton!"

If you "get it" then this series was written for you! Only you! If you don't "get it", then… Well, the series was cancelled. What were we supposed to "get"? Lame writing? Incongruous character development? A message not to trust reality? The government is bad? Hasn't this last one been done to death?

Talk about arrogant. It's like saying that people should be pilloried who don't "get" Dr. Seuss. I mean the book "The Cat in the Hat" made more sense than Firefly. It even had a moral. I "got" Dr. Seuss. All that I "got" from Firefly was a sense of conceit from the writers and director.

Let's talk about how the deleted scenes potentially abused the viewers and definitely showed the disdain the writers and director had toward their audience. The character River is the locus for the motivation behind the overarcing plot.

She's smart, incredibly smart. She "could have been a doctor." (There's a yardstick for ya! It was once, but now…) She can see into the future. She's the one character this whole hodgepodge hinges upon, the one touchstone to reality. So why, in one episode, did the director film a scene where she wants to marry her brother because the pillow she's holding in front of her means that she's "with child"?

Granted this was left out and not aired. But the fact that it was almost part of an episode and that the director, per his commentary, liked the scene so much that he wanted to leave it in if it had done something to move the plot along, speaks of the contempt for the audience. This was totally out of keeping with the character. Yet, because the director thought it was a nice scene, character continuity was not a concern.

The fact that it would have destroyed the impression of River as being someone to contend with due to her intellect did not enter into the decision. This scene wasn't just written and rejected, it was filmed and barely rejected.

Here's another scene that was obviously included for the sake of a scene, reality be hanged. First, to set the stage, Serenity travels in space. For short trips it uses two side mounted engines. For long distances, or turbo mode, there's a main engine like a lightning bug's butt that's used. Remember, side engines used for short trips. Remember, no air in space. These are not turbine engines. If they're used in space, there's no intake because there's no air.

Make up whatever conditions you want, you'll still have to arrive at the fact that a dual environment engine makes no sense. You'd need two types of fuel, yet there's only one internal source. For a single engine to use combustible fuel in an atmosphere and non-combustible fuel in a vacuum is preposterous.

But in one episode, the captain and another individual are standing near these engines. Not a hair is mussed by any convection. There is no distracting noise that these men have to talk over. About ten feet away from them are the engines that don't need, can't need, air to work. Mal, in his ever present spasm to display his sensitivity, kicks the man back about ten feet. Suddenly the engines are drawing air, you know, like the kind of air you get in a vacuum. The man is sucked into the engine. Nothing else, no dirt, rocks, or other people are affected. The impossible vortex selected one thing to suck in. Nice scene, but not that nice.

Want more? The writers and director seem to have a hard time with air. It apparently baffles them. They know that people breathe air. They know that combustion engines need air when they have what they envision as a really cool scene in mind. Heck, they even manged to even figure out that without air there is no sound. They have a second grader's understanding of air. But, from there everything's kind of grey. It drove me nuts.

For example, adhesives do not work without air pressure. That's it. There are no exceptions. In the first episode, the Serenity crew is caulking an explosive onto a space ship, in space, without gravity, or air. In space, the explosive would not adhere to anything because there is no air!

Also, do you know why water boils? The writer's don't. Water boils when the energy of the water is high enough to overcome the pressure of the surrounding atmosphere. Water boils at 212° Fahrenheit at sea level. Below sea level, the temperature required to equalize the pressure is higher. Above sea level, it's less. In space, water boils at just above absolute zero. Guess what happens to people without space suits in space? Well, they explode because there is no air! So let's ask, what happens to liquids in space? It boils away immediately. The caulk should not have even remained liquid, muchless adhered to anything.

Then there's the whole firing a bullet in space thing. Did you know that bullets come with their own oxidizers? I was as ignorant as the writers on this one until relatively recently (although, in my defense, I didn't get paid for writing for Firefly or some other television show, movie, or comic book for that matter). So, can you (or anyone for that matter) fire a bullet from a gun in a vacuum? Don't spend too much time on this, because I'm going to tell you.

Common sense, you know that one that made mankind believe that the sun rose every morning, tells you that a bullet firing is an explosion and an explosion needs oxygen. So, by cracky, a gun won't fire in a vaccum and the sun does too rise in the east! That kind of thinking will keep you on Obamabucks for life.

What is gunpowder? It's three things - something to burn, something to make the burning something do it quickly, and something to join those two items together. This is the principal behind solid fuel rockets, too. (The kind that work in space.) That second thing, the thing to make the first thing happen really quickly, that's the oxidizer. It supplies oxygen. The oxygen required for combustion is contained within the bullet. No external oxygen need apply. In fact, external oxygen would, wait for this, actually get in the way of the bullet.

Why am I going on about gunpowder? Well, I find this fascinating...and since I can do this and belittle Firefly at the same time, I'm having fun. In the end, you can fire a gun in space and the sun doesn't rise, set, sit up, beg, or roll over (it's the Earth that's moving).

To get back to air in general and how profoundly the writers displayed their complete lack of understanding of it, let's compare this work of virtuosos with works by other writers (honest, hard working, intelligent, sentient writers). The film 2001: A Space Odyssey made a point of explaining why Dave didn't explode when he returned to the main ship. Even diversion-only movies like Outland understand what happens if someone takes in the air in a vacuum. Hint: there is no air!

It's this little stuff, combined with the big stuff, that's so irksome. Either you don't believe that space is a vacuum or you do. Don't take the middle ground, like was done with the entire series.