firefly

Another Modest Proposal About Firefly

FireflyThis post wouldn’t be possible without the original from M. L. Brennan. You can find it on her blog by following this link. Please start there. Did you read it? Good.

Many of us are fans of Joss Whedon’s Firefly. We love many things about it and some of us can’t believe it was ripped from our television screens before we were ready. Well what if they made another Firefly show? That’s what M. L. Brennan wonders. She got me thinking…

Basically, she proposes continuing the beloved show with a new crew, on a new ship, based around the same principles of the original show. She compares it to the Star Trek shows, how they had TNG and it continued within the parameters of the original show while forging a path of its own. Franchising, if you will. After reading her post, I was intrigued. In fact, the idea stayed with me all day and my brain couldn’t stop churning.

M. L. went with Joss Whedon’s original formula of concepts instead of names.

  • The Captain: Malcolm Reynolds (Nathan Fillion)
  • The Soldier: Zoe Washburne (Gina Torres)
  • The Pilot: Hoban “Wash” Washburne (Alan Tudyk)
  • The Ambassador: Inara Serra (Morena Baccarin)
  • The Mercenary: Jayne Cobb (Adam Baldwin)
  • The Mechanic: Kaylee Frye (Jewel Staite)
  • The Doctor: Simon Tam (Sean Mahar)
  • The Fugitive: River Tam (Summer Glau)
  • The Shepherd: Book (Ron Glass)

For our “new” show set in the world of Firefly, we’d ideally need to fill these roles. Let’s take a look at what my twisted mind cooked up.

The New Captain: Jeffrey Donovan. Any captain needs to be the clear cut leader. When they speak, people listen. When they move, everyone else follows. My choice is Jeffrey Donovan. You may know him from the show Burn Notice.

Jeffrey Donovan

Jeffrey Donovan

I first noticed Jeffrey in the 1998 HBO movie titled, When Trumpets Fade. He had a small role but his performance stayed with me. I believe he embodies that “normal guy,” but with an edge. He can be your best friend or your worst enemy. He became anti Alliance after his wife (a fellow Browncoat) was gunned down. Wounded and unable to act, he watched as she was mercilessly murdered. Lucky for him the fugitive was around to carry him away, patch him up, and fly him to safety.

Jessica Lucas

Jessica Lucas

The New Soldier: Jessica Lucas. For this character, I wanted someone on the younger side. Her father, Book from the original series, was murdered during the events of the film Serenity. She’s tough as nails and looking for payback. Through her we’ll get to learn more about Book’s past. My choice is Jessica Lucas. You may recognize her from the recent Evil Dead remake. Her role wasn’t major, but she did impress. Plus, I’d believe she was Book’s daughter. This character must be a tough killing machine, driven by revenge, but also emotionally vulnerable. She believes that if she was on Haven things would have ended differently. She’s constantly looking for ways to improve her skills almost to the point of being reckless. Her fighting skills make her the captain’s natural right hand.

brandon_t_jackson

Brandon T. Jackson

 

 

The New Pilot: Brandon T. Jackson.I want the pilot to be a strait up hot shot full of swagger. Someone who is the first to tell everyone else how good they are. They love to point out everybody else’s flaws and crack jokes but are the first to step up if others crack on their friends. You know, a wise ass with a heart of gold. I was thinking Brandon T. Jackson would fit this role like a glove. You may know him from the Percy Jackson movies. Deep down, the pilot is as loyal as they come and not afraid to get in a fight. His easy going personality is what got him the job as pilot. The crew generally love having him around.

Dominic West

Dominic West

 

 

The New Ambassador: Dominic West. I’ll be honest, this was the one character I had trouble with. I didn’t know what kind of person I wanted. In the end I decided on a criminal kingpin character who was betrayed by his “family” and is lying low with our new Firefly crew. Once I came up with a concept, it was easy to fill the role. Dominic West is my ambassador. Watch his performance in the film, Centurion, and you’ll understand why I chose him. He’s the type of actor who can smile all pretty while cutting your heart out, perfect for a scorned criminal. Having a guy with his underworld connections makes it easy for his new crew to fly under the radar and get work. They need him just as much as he needs them.

Seann William Scott

Seann William Scott

The New Mercenary: If you saw M. L.’s post, you saw my comment about having a mercenary who was a complete fraud. This character is technically a Browncoat but hid amongst the dead as his fellow soldiers perished. After a particularly bloody battle, he bought his way off world and never returned. Nowadays he walks around bragging about how he survived the battle of Serenity Valley. The best part about this character is even though he’s onboard to shoot and protect, he’s the one who often needs protecting. The other characters are always ripping on him for them having to save his ass. He would be the comic relief, the hapless soldier who will have to stare his past in the face one day. The captain took him in because they both used to be Browncoats. This one was easy, Seann William Scott. You may know him better as Stiffler from American Pie.

Hayley Kiyoko

Hayley Kiyoko

The New Mechanic: Hayley Kiyoko. I went back and forth on this one a bit. In the end I wanted to go with a stowaway that the captain couldn’t turn away. This young woman prefers the company of the ship than her crew. She’s mouse like and naïve to the universe around her, and that’s the way the captain wants to keep her. He see’s her as the daughter he never had and often seeks her out when he needs someone to talk to. Her innocent, heartfelt views often make the most sense. She’s wise beyond her years and somewhat of a sage. She doesn’t like to talk about her past. It becomes clear that she’s hiding something but the captain never pushes the issue. I think Hayley Kiyoko would fill this role well. You may know her from her work in Disney Channel’s Lemonade Mouth, or Cartoon Network’s Scooby Doo! The Mystery Begins.

Brittany Snow

Brittany Snow

The New Doctor: Brittany Snow. This was the first character I had an idea about. She’s addicted to half the meds she uses. The Alliance wants her for stealing those same meds and killing a high ranking official while under the influence. Her addiction is a constant battle and sore subject for the captain. The problem is they don’t have anyone better to act as a doctor. She needs to hide from the Alliance, and our crew needs a doctor. She’s allowed aboard, but only after locking all her meds up and giving the keys to the captain. She would eventually fall for the captain, but never really breakthrough because of her drug habit. It would be the classic will they or won’t they scenario. My first thought was Brittany Snow. You may know her from her work on the films Pitch Perfect, Hairspray, or Prom Night.

Alison Pill

Alison Pill

The New Fugitive: Alison Pill. Our fugitive and the captain have a past. They served in the Browncoats together along with the captain’s deceased wife. She’s the reason our captain is alive today and he feels like he owes her. The fugitive’s character is wanted for terrorism by the Alliance. She convinces the captain she’s innocent but as the series progresses, more and more about her charges are uncovered. Just when we think she’ a no good, dirty, killer, she shows that heroic side again. The captain can’t help but keep her around and she does just enough to make it worth his while. The ambassador knows a thing or two about her and says he’ll keep quiet if she helps him out from time to time with his “extra curricular” activities. She has no choice but to help him in order to protect her secrets. She doesn’t mix words and tells it like it is. She has a hard exterior, but a soft spot for the captain. I think Alison works because she can be tough but looks wholesome. She uses her appearance to catch people off guard and surprise them with her ice cold demeanor. You may know Alison from the films Scott Pilgrim or Goon.

Carlos Arrechea

Carlos Arrechea

The New Shepherd: Carlos Arrechea. I wanted a character who was naïve, or green. This shepherd is brand new and ready to bring the good word to the universe. He’s young, good looking, and has no clue what he’s doing. I had to search a while before I found the type of guy I was looking for and eventually found Carlos. His character needs a ride someplace and stumbles upon our new crew. The mercenary suckers him aboard and he never gets the chance to get off thanks to a gunfight followed by a space chase. I wanted a latino actor who could start speaking Spanish when he gets emotional. The thing is, he doesn’t realize he’s doing it. The crew like to tease him because nobody understands what he’s saying. They all speak English and Chinese. He’s obviously the moral compass of the group because of his unspoiled outlook. I thought someone who was too hunky to be a shepherd would add to the role. Everywhere he goes, people can’t believe he’s a shepherd. The mercenary can’t believe all the ladies flock to the shepherd instead of him.

Tricia Helfer

Tricia Helfer

Kevin McKidd

Kevin McKidd

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The New Villains: Tricia Helfer and Kevin McKidd. Every show needs a great villain. Or two. I don’t know who they are or what they do, but I thought these two actors would be badass as villains in this show. I’d cast Tricia Helfer as an Alliance loyalist. If you’ve seen her act in the new Battlestar Gallactica, you know what I’m talking about. My second villain would be Kevin McKidd. You may remember him from HBO’s Rome or Dog Soldiers.

Annnnd I’m done. Whew! Like M. L. Brennan, I put way too much thought into this. You know what? It was fun.

Who would you cast in another Firefly show? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below, or make your own post. Just make sure you aim to misbehave. 😉

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Characters We Love: Captain Malcolm Reynolds

I know, I was supposed to post this yesterday, then I said next week, but I felt bad for not keeping my own schedule. I’m covering the feature length film Serenity and not the series Firefly in my description of Mal. I found it interesting how Mr. Whedon managed to effortlessly weave in bits of Mal’s back story from the series into the film. Forget the snore fest that was the Avengers, this is Joss Whedon’s best work. The writing, characters, everything comes together in perfect harmony.

Serenity was released in 2005 and takes place after the final episode of the series Firefly. It tells the story of a captain and crew of a “Firefly-class” spaceship named Serenity and their fight for survival outside Alliance control. The captain, Mal, and first mate, Zoe, are veterans of the Unification War having barely survived the battle of Serenity Valley, due to Mal’s bravery and intuition. Their lives of petty crime and hindering The Alliance are thrown for a loop after one of the crew, River Tam, The Alliance’s experimental weapon and psychic, goes berserk after a run in with the Reavers (cannibals from the Outer Rim).

The first time the audience is introduced to Mal, he’s wondering if the primary buffer panel just fell off his ship. Wash, his pilot, agrees the primary buffer panel did indeed fall off. What does Mal do? He calmly grabs the radio and tells the crew to expect turbulence and they may explode, all the while checking on preparations for their upcoming robbery.

What does this scene show us about Mal? It shows us he remains cool under pressure, he has a sense of humor (or a bit of a smart-ass), easily adapts to stressful situations, and obviously has dealt with spaceship problems before. We learn all this in the first five minutes. Mr. Whedon wastes little time conveying many of Mal’s traits. The more movies I watch, the more this seems to pop up. Good directors establish their main characters as soon as possible. Good writers should find a way to do the same through action, as a way to keep the reader interested.

A few minutes later, Simon, the ship’s doctor, gets in Mal’s face about taking his teenage sister on the upcoming robbery. Mal makes it very clear he gives the orders on his ship, to which Simon objects. Mal calmly explains his position and the two men seem to find a common ground, at least for now. Mal says, “I look out for me and mine. That doesn’t include you less I conjure it does. This job goes south, there may not be another. So here we are on the rageddy edge. Don’t push me, and I won’t push you.”

During the robbery, Mal tells the people in the bank he’s taking the payroll and not what belongs to them. We learn that even though Mal is a thief, he has honor. To further this point he convinces the guard to take a bullet in the leg to make it look like he put up a good fight. Basically so the guy will keep his job. Mal clearly doesn’t have to do this, but only wants to take from the Alliance and no one else.

When the Reavers arrive, Mal tells the guard to get everyone down in the vault and not to come out as long as there’s air. The Reavers mindlessly murder, rape, and eat their victims, and all while they are alive. Mal could have simply left with the money but we see that he cares by insisting the innocent people survive. One guy runs after them begging they take him too. Their vehicle won’t go fast enough with the added weight. Mal refuses. The Reavers grab the guy and Mal puts a bullet in his head as an act of mercy. Later, Zoe asks why they couldn’t take the guy. Mal asks if he should have left Jayne, or her. She wonders why they didn’t drop the money. We can see from the look on Mal’s face that the thought never crossed his mind. Remember, he said he looks out for him and his people. We learn Mal may not be as honorable as we first thought.

After the Alliance learns Mal has their weapon, their agent looks up Mal’s record. In about a minute we learn Mal was the son of a rancher and born on the planet Shadow. He was bound by law five times for smuggling, tariff dodging, and transporting illegal cargo. Mal was never convicted. We also learn he was a Captain in the Independent Army, 57th Brigade as a volunteer, and awarded a Commendation of Valor for the Battle of Serenity Valley. All of this information is presented as the agent reads Mal’s file. To the astute viewer, this information is vital to Mal’s character. We learn he was probably a simple, hard-working man before the war. He volunteered to fight for independence and was one of the best soldiers they had to offer. He probably doesn’t believe in the Alliance and being forced to live under their control doesn’t sit well, thus all the Alliance robberies.

I’m going to stop there. Nathan Fillion does a great job bringing this character to life. Malcolm Reynolds has many layers, as do most of us. He isn’t just a hero, or anti-hero. He is a damaged man who holds certain ideals dear. He is a man who will fight for what he believes, even if it means his death. This is the character Han Solo wishes he could be. Yep, Jae, I said it. Star Wars, Star Trek, no thanks. I’ll take Serenity every time.

What can Mal, and Joss Whedon, teach us? It’s a good idea to have a layered character. We can also establish certain traits only to test them in our story. External conflict will only take us so far, we need internal conflict as well. Mal may not want to be a petty crook, but like he says, “I have a powerful urge to eat sometime this month.” He rationalizes the outlaw lifestyle by only taking from the Alliance, the government he never supported in the first place. We should never shy away from tension created from our character’s beliefs. When Zoe questions Mal about not taking that desperate guy and saving him from the Reavers, she helps Mal take a step back and wonder if the criminal lifestyle has affected him more than he realized.

If you haven’t seen Serenity and enjoy Star Wars or Star Trek, you really should check this movie out. Firefly as well. You’ll get a better appreciation for these characters and world.