No Right Explanation

No Right Explanation: Sarah Connor Chronicles vs Firefly


Last week the boys debated which series was most unfairly cancelled by Fox, Terminator: Sarah Connor Chronicles or Firefly. But since the debates you see are only a small slice of the discussions and decisions that make up an entire episode. With that in mind, we’re allowing Chris and Kyle and Dan the chance to bring a bit more context in a new follow-up feature, No Right Explanation


Chris: To be honest, deciding what Kyle and Dan failed to say regarding Sarah Connor Chronicles and Firefly is difficult because- and here comes the blasphemy- I haven’t seen either. I know Firefly fans, chastise me for that one, I probably deserve it what with Fillian’s arguably best work just sitting unwatched in my Netflix instant queue for the better part of two years now, but I think that does tie in with a point Kyle didn’t really get into: Firefly‘s fanbase is ravenous and will cut you for suggesting ill of the Serenity and its crew, whereas Terminator fans are few and far between.

This could actually turn into a strong point for either, depending on how they wanted to word things (as all good arguments work). On the one hand, Kyle essentially had a grenade ready to go off in Dan’s face should he have pulled the Whedon pin and hucked the old “Hey look at Firefly‘s fans and how Fox pissed them off” argument that we’ve sort of heard again and again, an argument that’s still as valid as water is wet.

However, the debate isn’t “Which fans are most bothered by Fox’s choices” (that would be Arrested Development fans by the way, though that’s an argument for a different day); the debate is “Which TV Series Was Cut Down In Its Prime The Most.” Regardless of Dan’s questionable grasp of the English language when titling debates, with some simple finagling you have the fan argument squarely on Dan’s side, as Sarah Connor Chronicles got cut down even before its fans could rise up and make a difference. Being in one’s prime is so subjective that Dan could have nailed Kyle down with that if played correctly.

I think the biggest point that the debate was missing was the most crucial: Me. I am big when it comes to fan outrage, and, were I not recovering from an illness that would have killed most mortal men, I’d have stormed through and ravaged my opponents with such amazing arguments that they would have been stunned into submission. So perhaps that’s what I felt was missing. Dan and Kyle, pull out the full reversal submission card next time, especially if it’s grasping at straws.

Still, I think the debate would have been over with a simple, “Who really gives a crap about Terminator anyway?” For that, Kyle should have lost. He got lucky that Dan is a giggly Mary when on camera. He won’t be as fortunate when I’m healthy and banging on all cylinders again.


Kyle: I think Dan would have scored a point for mentioning the fantastic acting in Terminator: Sarah Connor Chronicles. While Firefly has some excellent work, it’s harder to pull off the type of drama present in Terminator. Thomas Dekker played John Connor better than any other actor. Brian Austin Green was a laughable choice for a surrogate father figure to replace Kyle Reece, but he pulled it off with gusto and (spoilers! Spoilers! SPOILERS!) I felt so angry about his abrupt and brutal death. The real big acting moments came from Garret Dillahunt as John Henry, the machine learning morality. Check his comedy abilities on Raising Hope if you get the chance.

Another big point Dan missed out on (and I know Chris would have jumped right on this, because it would have pissed me off) is that “Firefly” borrowed so much from Star Wars and modern westerns. Yes, Captain Malcolm Reynolds is a Han Solo character. No, there’s no coincidence that the charming rogue has sexual tension with the high-society lady who kicks ass. Of course the war that the brown-coats lost is merely a sci-fi analogue of the American Civil War. These points cannot be denied, and at least Terminator: SCC was willing to attach itself to an existing franchise before plucking themes and motifs from it.

And as for the subject, which show was screwed the most by Fox, Terminator has a very big ace in the hole. Almost everyone associated with “Firefly” has moved on to greener pastures: Fillion has Castle, Adam Baldwin had Chuck for five years, Alan Tudyk got many big movie roles including Steve the Pirate and all those robots in I, Robot. Even Joss Whedon is rocking The Avengers this summer, as well as some secret Shakespeare movie with his favorite past casts. They got cancelled, but they all had stuff to go to. Even Summer Glau had…well Terminator. Meanwhile, when TSCC got the axe, the cast disappeared. Dillahunt got Raising Hope, and that was about it. Dekker, Lena Headey, Green, and all the supporting players have yet to star in anything as big since. Summer Glau’s biggest win since? The Cape. Ouch.


Dan: Contrary to popular belief, I do judge the debates in a very literal sense. Each episode is filmed in order, and after the drinking portion (assuming no one has achieved the “Spit-take” win) Chris and Kyle turn to me and ask who won. After reflecting on the debate I just filmed, I give my verdict and we film their reaction to victory or defeat. While editing, I must reverse engineer the point system based on my decision, to match the footage.

However…in the case where the sheer hilarity of comments has caused a spit-take, I am freed to do whatever I want because (in my best Drew Carey voice) the points don’t matter.

So, with that in mind let me explain why the points landed where they did. The first point went to me (Dan) based on my comment that, while Firefly had reached its quality peak, TSCC was still ascending to unknown heights of quality. My ruling was that the hypothetical zenith that TSCC could reach was tea-bagged by Fox much harder than Firefly‘s established abilities.

The next point also went to me, (no, me being judge and debater did not influence my decisions, so shut up about it) was about Summer Glau. Many have said she is the kiss of death to shows, and for the life of me I can’t name one show she graced that is still on the air. However, she does look as if she could be related to Olivia Wilde, and that is great. Think about this; In TSCC, Summerbot will do whatever John wants. Tell me he wasn’t going to Frak that toaster eventually. In Firefly, Summernut didn’t take anyone’s orders, and was questionably underage anyways. She was never groomed to be a sex symbol, unless you’re a pervert. Stop being a pervert.

Next point went to Kyle (Yay, Kyle!) for his comment that the villains after Summernut were introduced without fleshing them out. Yes, it was a shame, especially after seeing them melt everyone’s brains with that extend-o-matic whateveritwas.

Kyle gets a point by bringing up the “Aired out of order” defense.” Obvious, but true.

Next up, point for me on mentioning the killing a main character then bringing him back in the final episode. To this day, I am still in awe at the quickness that John Connor’s uncle was shot in the face. They didn’t even give it a music crescendo or a close-up on anyone’s face. It got all the attention of a James Bond henchman being mowed down. Then to bring him back in a way that would allow the series to keep going with him? Brilliant.

Finally I get a point by mentioning that TSCC is an action movie, which requires an ending more than the soap opera that was Firefly. Don’t get offended, the new Battlestar Galactica was also a soap opera. Soaps can be good if you set them in space. I’m pretty sure that’s possible.

Alas, I was having so much fun that I couldn’t keep from laughing at Kyle. Honestly he could have read from the phone book and it would’ve set me off.

See you all next week, and feel free to post further questions you have for us. We will do our best to answer them.

About the author

Daniel Epstein
Father, filmmaker, and writer. Once he won an Emmy, but it wasn't for being a father or writing.