The Train Job

Episode Report Card
Shack: C | 11 USERS: C+
Confederacy Of Dunces

Big, major props to Strega. I'm assuming that she has handled the recaplet for this episode for me. I have to operate on assumptions at the moment, because as I write this, four days after moving into my new apartment across the country, I still have no phone service at all. Speaking of which, big, major anti-props to Verizon, the most incompetent utility company I've ever had to deal with in my life. Ever. The most incompetent company, period. And I've had to brave the IRS customer service line. Verizon sucks. When Verizon eventually files for Chapter Eleven, and they most certainly will, I will dance a happy dance of schadenfreude.

But enough about me; let's get to the latest chapter in the Book of Joss: Firefly. Will it breathe new life into the sci-fi genre and continue Mutant Enemy's string of modest successes? Will it crash and burn like every single drama that has been stuck on FOX's Friday-night schedule ever since The X-Files was moved to Sundays? Well, considering that one of the most creatively written and critically acclaimed sci-fi series to hit the air in the past five years was just unceremoniously canceled, I'm not exactly getting too attached to these characters. Plus, I've already seen the ratings for the premiere. Not good.

We open with some CGI shots of a ship flying past various planets and a caption indicating the year as 2517. In a voice-over, a man explains, "After the earth was used up, we found a new solar system, and hundreds of new earths were terraformed and colonized." "Used up"? Was this intro written by a second-grader? And which solar system has hundreds of planets? Apparently terraforming isn't what it's cracked up to be; we see shots of people wandering around some dusty desert town in drab Western clothing. The man continues, "The central planets formed 'The Alliance,' and decided all the planets had to join under their rule. There was some disagreement on that point." We see shots of the inside of an Alliance base, bustling with drones in the goofy-looking uniforms in neutral shades that are required by any credible futuristic oppressive empire. And an outside shot of the Alliance base shows that it looms impressively, like reputable evil space headquarters are required to do. As we see some brief shots of ships fighting and explosions, the narrator continues, "After the war, many of the 'Independents' who had fought and lost drifted to the edges of the system, far from Alliance control. Out here, people struggled to get by with the most basic technologies. A ship would get you work; a gun would help you keep it." We see more shots of people living in Western-style poverty. So if the planets at the edge of this gigantic solar system aren't really under Alliance control, then who really won the war here? Already this Civil War conceit is starting to fall apart. It would be like the U.S. government looking the other way at a little slavery still going on in the Florida Keys or something. Well, maybe I'm being a little harsh. Clearly we're in the futuristic equivalent of the Reconstruction. We see clips of the various cast members of our show in action as the narration concludes, "A captain's goal was simple: find a crew; find a job; keep flying."

We cut to the inside of a dusty, dirty bar, where gaps in the roof allow for shafts of natural light to shine down into the building, driving home the fact that the bar is full of dust and dirt. There's probably as much silicon floating through the bar as there is to be found in the breasts of the belly dancer who writhes around the tables while vaguely Arabic/Oriental music plays. It's all very "Indiana Jones meets with an old friend and contact who fills him in on the secret Nazi plans minutes before coming to an unfortunate end." The dancer writhes around for about ten minutes, the camera following her torso around (you are watching FOX!), and eventually makes her way over to a table in the corner. There, she slips a piece of paper into a man's hand with all the discretion of Suzy Jackson passing a note to Kelly Wood in third-period English to ask if Tommy McIntyre had asked her to go to the homecoming dance yet.

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