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In the first episode of Firefly (Serenity), there's a scene where Serenity escapes from a pursuing Reaver ship. After they get away, there's a brief shot of Wash and Zoey while the other crew members express relief at their escape.

In this shot, the yoke (steering wheel) is completely missing.

Missing Yoke in Firefly S01E01

It's particularly odd because there's another shot only moments later where they yoke appears as it should.

Firefly S01E01 Yoke Appearing Correctly

Why was this shot included in the official release?

Did they run out of time to reshoot the scene?

Did an actor have a reaction that was difficult to reproduce?

(I welcome speculation, but I'm hoping for an answer that can be attributed to someone in the Firefly production staff.)

  • At this late date I think it's unlikely you would get the official answer you are looking for but it's likely this was due to timing/ budget issues. Frankly, I 'm surprised that the yoke was capable of being unmounted. I'm gonna have to check to make sure this isn't just a lighting issue. Now...where's that boxset, perhaps there's a commentary track? – Paulie_D Jul 4 '18 at 14:28
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    Indeed, you have my Upvote. A mistake in coverage /editing would not be unlikely especially given the budgte issues the show had. Still, I now have an excuse to rewatch the show! :) – Paulie_D Jul 4 '18 at 14:39
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    Yay...this is actually answered in the DVD commentary. – Paulie_D Jul 4 '18 at 19:31
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    I notice this gaffe every time I watch this episode (which is a lot) and I seriously didn't think it was a gaffe. I just assumed Wash let go of the yoke but was so tense from executing his maneuver that he couldn't relax his arm. – Kodos Johnson Jul 6 '18 at 1:14
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    @KodosJohnson That's how I've interpreted that clip as well. Works nicely in-universe, as Wash is somewhat prone to panic (more so than the other crew members, at least). – Arthur Jul 6 '18 at 7:12
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This is covered in the Firefly DVD commentary track.

To get the wide shot they had to pull Alan Tudyk's chair back from the console/yoke and Alan Tudyk mimed as though he was still holding the yoke.

Now if we look carefully, I believe that we will see Alan is not holding anything!

Nobody noticed, we had to pull the chair back to get the shot and nobody noticed he was miming it and we still used it!

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    First thing I noticed comparing the two pictures in the question was how much further back Tudyk was, jumped out at me because the two blue screens/instruments in the panel next to him. – T.J. Crowder Jul 5 '18 at 9:44
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Late edit: While I was figuring this out the hard way, Paulie_D got the same info from the DVD commentary... I'll call it parallel thinking ;-)

Between the first and second pic the camera has moved in towards the actor, but also across [camera right] & panned camera left. If you look at the only really distinctive markers on the console, the green/blue screens & two white 'dots' in front; compared to the sloped part at the left of shot [which is behind his hand in the 2nd shot] then it would be a reasonable guess to say it's just out of shot.

I also feel the chair itself has moved forwards a couple of feet - i don't know the show so I don't know if that is a sliding chair or a continuity error, but there's no way he could reach the front console in the first shot.

Here's a quick interpretation of the "map" as I see it.
Blue squares used to try to estimate in "numbers of screens" the console distances at the rear.
Red rhomboid rectangle thingy, to try estimate where the chair back is pointing at.
Green squares, a guess at how far in front of the blue screens we may be seeing.

It's very rough, I know, but here goes...

enter image description here

enter image description here

Additionally, if he were to try reach the yoke in the first shot, not only would he have to lean forwards a long way, but he'd also have to twist a whole lot more. The yoke is well out to his right... definitely not built for left-handers.

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    Kudos for the effort. It's never shown in the series, but for this particular scene the chair was in fact moved backwards for reasons. – KlaymenDK Jul 5 '18 at 16:41
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    Yeah - now I know from Paulie's answer that they did it to get the camera position. I can see it now. Presumably they'd forgotten when they built the set that to be able to shoot long from over the console, they needed to have built a removable wall ! Any soap opera set designer could have told them that, that's how you can see towards every side of the Queen Vic or the Rover's Return... cos all the walls are removable ;) Maybe they just didn't have a shorter lens... – Tetsujin Jul 5 '18 at 17:03
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As far as I remember, this was done because Whedon wanted to film the series in anamorphic widescreen (1.78:1 aspect ratio), but the Fox insisted on broadcasting the episodes in 4:3.

Whedon shoot wide for the incoming DVDs, keeping in mind only the center of the image would be seen on TV. This led to some scenes on DVDs (and later blu-rays) in which objects or installations not visible in the original 4:3 broadcasts are now visible (such as the invisible yole).

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