GENERAL DISCUSSIONS

If Whedon had originally intended Mal to be more dark....

POSTED BY: LIGHTINTHEBRAINPAN
UPDATED: Monday, August 9, 2004 00:55
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Tuesday, August 3, 2004 6:43 PM

LIGHTINTHEBRAINPAN


....why did he decide to cast Nathan Fillion? I'm fairly new to Firefly, have watched the DVD only once through, really love the series, can't wait for the movie; also think Fillion may have chops as a dramatic actor. BUT I do think he was perhaps a long-shot choice for the part of the Captain. Probably were other actors out there who could be "darker." Has Whedon has ever explained why he chose Fillion, who primarily was a comic actor or certainly who tended in that direction? Given that Fox eventually seemed to pressure Whedon to make Mal "funnier" (I'm thinking especially of some of the lines in "Trash," such as when he said "...crazy time," which I thought was perfectly delivered but seemed a bit jarring to me coming from this Captain), Fillion was a good choice.... any thoughts? Or have you guys already talked about this ad infinitum, in which case, never mind?

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Tuesday, August 3, 2004 8:07 PM

JAYNEZTOWN


Fillion was real good, yeah sure there are others out there who may look slicker or meaner or play a better star trek captain role or look more handsome and speak louder lines

The reason Nathan was chosen is that he fits the role near perfect, he has this way about him when he acts as Mal which describes his history, the story and emotion. Mal is mean and hard, he's been in a war that lost but he feels he can now do right by other good people, such as Kaylee, Shepherd and River. Nathan brings real life to the role and there's an intensity in his eyes, his words and his way of showing Mal to be a man saying 'you can't take the skies from me'
Nathan a real fine choice and a fantastic actor

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Tuesday, August 3, 2004 8:08 PM

SARDONICA


I'll admit that when I first watched Firefly, Mal was the hardest character for me to appreciate. At first, I loved the show "except for the captain", I felt he was okay but kind of "cheesey."

I wanted him to be much darker, more grim.

^Mind you, I didn't have a problem at all with his acting abilities, but rather, I just felt that he was miscast.

But as the series progressed, I learned to appreciate his character and the actor portraying him. One turning point for me in my appreciation of the series was when I thought about my desire for a "darker" captain, and realized that I was wishing for a cliche, for the OBVIOUS way to fill the role.

I've since changed my mind and feelings about the role of Mal, I think it's very original to have a Captain who is dark and haunted, but at the same time, isn't closed off or brooding. Who is tortored, yet maintains a sense of humor Who has a pessimistic view of the universe, but still has a positive relationship with his crew, his "family." It makes for a very unique combination of characteristics. I've never seen a character quite like him...

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Tuesday, August 3, 2004 8:22 PM

SWITCHY


Quote:

Originally posted by Sardonica:
I'll admit that when I first watched Firefly, Mal was the hardest character for me to appreciate. At first, I loved the show "except for the captain", I felt he was okay but kind of "cheesey."

I wanted him to be much darker, more grim.

^Mind you, I didn't have a problem at all with his acting abilities, but rather, I just felt that he was miscast.





I felt the same way. He initially reminded me of Andy from WKRP crazy as that sounds. I think it was the haircut. He seemed a tiny bit too affable at first but then I started to see the character and now I know that the show really owes a lot to both the character and the actor. It really is a show about Mal's journey.

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Tuesday, August 3, 2004 8:39 PM

YT

the movie is not the Series. Only the facts have been changed, to irritate the innocent; the names of the actors and characters remain the same


Quote:

Originally posted by lightinthebrainpan:
....why did he decide to cast Nathan Fillion?


I don't think folks give Nathan enough credit for delivering Joss's Firefly Frontiersman dialect naturally (as if he'd been speaking it all his life).

Quote:

Fillion, who primarily was a comic actor or certainly who tended in that direction?

Spielberg was sufficiently impressed with his dramatic abilities to cast him in Saving Private Ryan, as Private James Ryan.

Keep the Shiny Side Up

Wutzon: Karl Denson's Tiny Universe, "How Fine is That", from "the Bridge"

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Tuesday, August 3, 2004 10:09 PM

HEB


I absolutely thought Nathan Fillion was the perfect choice to play Mal. In the deleted scene from Serenity Zoe said something like
'hope, trust, compassion - those are things he left back there. If Kaylee pulls through I think he'll do right by you'

That's the sort of Mal that I wish we'd seen but obviously didn't turn out to be true. A Mal who whilst appearing incredibly dark still seems to do the right thing by people on his boat. If Joss had been allowed to do that though I think Nathan Fillion totally could have done it - he just had to play it at the degree of lightness Fox wanted. When we see glimpses of the darker Mal Nathan is fantastic. For example in Serenity when he really, really stresses at Zoe:

'our luck! Have you noticed anything about our luck lately'

- that was not the expression of a light man when he did that. Also at the end of Ariel.

Joss Whedon said that he chose Nathan Fillion because he could go from comic to dramatic faster than anyone he'd worked with (apart from maybe James Marsters).

Well, my sister's a ship... we had a
complicated childhood
.................
I wear the cheese. It does not wear me.

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Tuesday, August 3, 2004 10:32 PM

WHISPERING


Quote:

Originally posted by heb:
I absolutely thought Nathan Fillion was the perfect choice to play Mal.


Exactly my thoughts. Dark, funny or whatever, he does it perfectly.

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Tuesday, August 3, 2004 11:42 PM

AURAPTOR

America loves a winner!


lightinthebrainpan wrote:
Tuesday, August 03, 2004 18:43
Quote:

Given that Fox eventually seemed to pressure Whedon to make Mal "funnier" (I'm thinking especially of some of the lines in "Trash," such as when he said "...crazy time," which I thought was perfectly delivered but seemed a bit jarring to me coming from this Captain)

It's the last part of this comment which I find myself scratching my head at. Why does the ' your crazy time ' line to YoSafBridge seem jarring to you? I just watched that episode again last night, and I was impressed w/ Nathan's performance.

" They don't like it when you shoot at 'em. I worked that out myself. "

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Wednesday, August 4, 2004 12:59 AM

DOUBLESHINY


I think Nathan's absolutely perfect for Mal, I think the old cliche of the 'dark, brooding Captain' is really tired : Nathan takes it to another level



Curse your sudden but inevitable betrayal!

www.alantudyk.net

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Wednesday, August 4, 2004 1:04 AM

PURPLEBELLY


Quote:

Originally posted by switchy:
I think it was the haircut.


God bless you; I had thought I was alone. For me, Malcolm Reynolds' hairstyle screams tv star; I wait for the product placement. Maybe it's just cultural. Maybe I'm old and jealous, but then Ron's hair is great.

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Wednesday, August 4, 2004 4:51 AM

BROWNCOAT1

May have been the losing side. Still not convinced it was the wrong one.


I can't imagine anyone else playing Mal than Nathan. I know that Nathan has it in him to play a darker Mal if the script calls for it. We saw a bit of that darkness in War Stories when Mal finally broke free of Niska's torture. We have also seen a darker side of Mal in his dealings w/ Jayne at the end of Ariel and his shooting Dobson in Serenity.

I was kind of hesitant to see Nathan play Caleb in the BtVS, but was impressed w/ how easily the sadistic bad guy role seemed to come to Nathan. Kind of creepifying watch our favorite captain play the warped servant of The First.

From what we have heard, Mal is supposed to be a bit darker in the movie. I know Nathan can pull it off, so I am not too concerned. I am sure it will fit right into Joss's script.

"May have been the losing side. Still not convinced it was the wrong one."


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Wednesday, August 4, 2004 5:09 AM

PIERSNICA


And David Boraneaz is afraid of chickens...

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Wednesday, August 4, 2004 5:12 AM

SIKKUKUT


Makes sense to me that he'll be darker in the movie. I was watching the commentary on Train Job the other day, and it's all about how they had to bend over backward with the story and the characters to make it how F*X wanted it. Makes perfect sense to me that having broken free of the demon's bonds, they'll go in their own direction a bit.

Now the question is, are people going to like it? I'm guessing we're all capable of appreciating both sides of Firefly, but we've certainly gotten to know the Captain as... well, kind of a wacky guy sometimes. Train job especially. One hopes that "darker" does not mean it'll lack the humor to which we've grown accustomed.

Of course, that would astonish me, and the fact is, it would *still* be good.

*sits down and waits for BDM, fidgeting every month or so*

____________________________
"You're mean. Firefly's making me reconsider my lifelong devotion to Star Trek." --My mother

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Wednesday, August 4, 2004 5:57 AM

EMBERS


Quote:

Originally posted by lightinthebrainpan:
....why did he decide to cast Nathan Fillion?



Joss said, in the commentaries on one of the DVDs ...or maybe it was in an interview format...
that Nathan Fillon is one of only two actors he knows who can change on a dime from angry to funny, and that this is an ability that Joss really likes.

[The other one is James Marsters (Spike) who Joss said could go from Dracula to Jack Benny in a heart beat....]

So anyway, I think when Joss says 'dark' he means in addition to being funny...because he is never willing to give up the humor!

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Wednesday, August 4, 2004 7:07 AM

SSJ4BLACKBELT


Joss and Tim also mentioned in the commentaries that they didnt know if things would have ended up they way they did in the show had they not turned Mal into a friendlier person. I believe Joss is bringing back the darker Mal in the movie (ie. the bank robbery in the trailer) and I cannot wait to see what Joss truly intended for Mal.

"I got my hands on a pair...of invites!!"

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Wednesday, August 4, 2004 7:10 AM

RAISTLYNNE


I didn't like Mal!

When I first watched the complete series, I had an intense dislike for Malcome Reynolds. Upon this realization, I KNEW Fillion was the perfect choice for the role. He actually made me NOT like the character.

Playing Mal with a kind of "screw everone" attitude (especially the Alliance) was offputting by comparison with the kind of Captains I'm used to seeing on Star Drek, B5, etc. He keeps most of his thoughts and emotions to himself. Only allowing a rare glimpse into his real self. Mal is the type of character that you have to grow to like over time.

I don't think Fillion was a long shot or a dark horse choice for playing Mal. I can't imagine anyone else being able to pull off the part convincingly. There is such a believability to Mal's portrayal by Fillion. I find myself wondering how much the two are really alike.

I look forward to seeing what Joss and Nathan do with Mal's evolution as time goes on. Maybe back on the little screen again?


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Wednesday, August 4, 2004 7:33 AM

GWALLY


Frankly, I though Nathan was miss-cast in his role on Two Guys and a Girl - just a little too hunky (not that I'm any judge of hunkieness) and not goofy enough. As Mal, he plays the dark captain well in the first episode, and adapts well to the 'lighter' directive from FOX in later shows. Yes, his hair is a little too perfect, but this is just a TV show!

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Wednesday, August 4, 2004 7:53 AM

WITLESSCHUM


How close was the Mal of "Serenity" to the one Joss originally intended. My impression from listening to the commentaries was pretty close.

I mean there's a big transition between that and "The Train Job" but he does turn a baddy into a red mist.

Dan

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Wednesday, August 4, 2004 7:53 AM

PURPLEBELLY


Quote:

Originally posted by RAISTLYNNE:
I find myself wondering how much the two are really alike.


Fillion to Whedon (reported in DVD extras) I am so much not this guy

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Wednesday, August 4, 2004 7:56 AM

RHYMEPHILE


I came to Firefly seeing Nathan first as the dark and evil character Caleb in BtvS. So seeing him as a heartbroken hero in FF was a big change, but I liked Mal right away. I like him dark, but I also enjoy the playfulness we see in him in scenes with Kaylee. I've always thought of him as the type of guy who believes in righteousness, but get him pissed off enough and you see his darker side.

As for the dialogue, don't forget Nathan is from Alberta, Canada, land of wide-open prairie, farmland, ranches, and, I think, pretty close to what Mal would have experienced growing up.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
"Revenge!"

Vince in Rex the Runt

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Wednesday, August 4, 2004 8:27 AM

SIKKUKUT


Quote:

Originally posted by SSJ4BlackBelt:
I believe Joss is bringing back the darker Mal in the movie (ie. the bank robbery in the trailer) and I cannot wait to see what Joss truly intended for Mal.




Whoa, whoa, whoa, back up. TRAILER?

____________________________
"You're mean. Firefly's making me reconsider my lifelong devotion to Star Trek." --My mother

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Wednesday, August 4, 2004 9:38 AM

DIGIFICWRITER


I personally haven't ever noticed much change between Mal in 'Serenity' and Mal in 'The Train Job'; one ep puts more emphasis on the darker, more moody aspects of his personality while the other ep puts more emphasis on his humor.

Take my love
Take my land
Take me where I cannot stand
I don't care
I'm still free
You can't take the sky from me
Take me out to the black
Tell 'em I ain't comin' back
Burn the land and boil the sea
You can't take the sky from me
There's no place I can be
Since I've found Serenity
But you can't take the sky from me

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Wednesday, August 4, 2004 10:02 AM

KALIMEERI


Quote:



That's the sort of Mal that I wish we'd seen but obviously didn't turn out to be true. A Mal who whilst appearing incredibly dark still seems to do the right thing by people on his boat. If Joss had been allowed to do that though I think Nathan Fillion totally could have done it - he just had to play it at the degree of lightness Fox wanted. When we see glimpses of the darker Mal Nathan is fantastic. For example in Serenity when he really, really stresses at Zoe:

'our luck! Have you noticed anything about our luck lately'






To be truthful, after watching the pilot episode that Joss initially pitched to Fox, I'm glad that they lightened Mal up as a character. Much of the Firefly essence came from that humor (many of which were re-shot scenes). It was very hard to like the "dark" Mal as portrayed in that version of the pilot.

I'm hoping that Joss doesn't go that dark in 'Serenity.' We would love Mal anyway, but new fans, not so much.

Jen dao mei.

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Wednesday, August 4, 2004 10:08 AM

BLEYDDYN


Quote:

Originally posted by Sikkukut:
Whoa, whoa, whoa, back up. TRAILER?



A reference to the short trailer Joss showed at Comic-Con a couple of weekends ago.

--Bleyddyn

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Wednesday, August 4, 2004 10:19 AM

KELLAINA


Quote:

Originally posted by Sikkukut:

Whoa, whoa, whoa, back up. TRAILER?



I think they're referring to the trailer/clip shown at Comic Con during the Serenity panel.

As for dark/not-so-dark Mal, whether intentional or not, I've always liked the fact that while there was a darker side to him, he can be a little lighter too. It's what made the character more realistic to me. The darkness is there, just below the surface but it isn't dominating him (although it easily could).

Slightly off-topic question: If he was dark all the time, wouldn't he be, well, Angel?

As for his interactions with the crew, I think the fact that the crew know so little about him (as Mal tells Saffron in Our Mrs Reynolds, they know better than to ask) alludes to the fact that he is a darker character (or that he's supposed to think that he's dark or a "mean old man"). He's close to his crew but he keeps them at arms length. He's not cuddly. But he's not scary either. I think the scene that best illustrates this (to me at least) is in Serenity when Mal punches Simon for insinuating that he's Alliance. The fact that Mal hit Simon (and that Jayne knew it would happen) suggests that violent reactions aren't out of character. But the fact that Simon was able to approach Mal to make the insinuation in the first place shows that Mal is not so dark that he's evil or anything. He's worthy of the crew's trust, but they don't want to make him mad.

As for the casting of the role, like the rest of the cast, I think Nathan Fillion is perfect in the part. I can't imagine (nor do I want to) anyone else in it.

End rambling reply (can you tell I really like the character? )




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Wednesday, August 4, 2004 11:41 AM

GRIMLAKIN


HUmmm interesting...

Allow me to set up something for a miniute here.

Wheadon relies on something generally set up and relied upon as being eternal for the primary hook to any of the three tv series of his that I know of.

Buffy had the slayers.. a mythological trait passed on to a young woman every generation... blah blah you get it.

Angel had... well... Angel. The eternal pivitol character to the series.


And Firefly has the Firefly class ship Serinity. The series to me was more about the crew of the ship. IE the Ship and it's crew. Mal is only captian of the ship insofar as he gets to generally guide things. The story of Serinity has the potential to span multiple generations of characters. And I think that is the primary source you could pull other seasons from with a new cast.

Just my opinion mind you.

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Wednesday, August 4, 2004 2:36 PM

ARODIN


Quote:

Originally posted by YT:
Spielberg was sufficiently impressed with his dramatic abilities to cast him in Saving Private Ryan, as Private James Ryan.



Should note that he played James Fredrick Ryan, not James Francis Ryan (the title character) who was actually played by Matt Damon. This role of Nathan's actually makes him seem less likely a candidate for Mal, because James Fredrick Ryan was a sniveling, sobbing soldier who was crying about going home.

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Wednesday, August 4, 2004 2:56 PM

SHINY


Quote:

Originally posted by Sikkukut:
One hopes that "darker" does not mean it'll lack the humor to which we've grown accustomed.



Even if Mal is "darker" there are still at least a few ways to get really good humor across:

1) Playing really dirty tricks on Simon (e.g. "Kaylee's dead" or "don't take all day; you still have to get suited up")

2) Dry wit, sarcasm or gallows humor (e.g. being a smart-ass to Niska, or Zoe's "oh yeah. now we can retire" from the movie trailer)

3) Cutting from Dark Mal to some flat-out funny quip from his Dinosaur-playing, goose-juggling, shadow-puppeting pilot.


Jayne, your mouth is talkin. Might want to look into that.

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Wednesday, August 4, 2004 4:33 PM

SWITCHY


Quote:


And Firefly has the Firefly class ship Serinity. The series to me was more about the crew of the ship. IE the Ship and it's crew. Mal is only captian of the ship insofar as he gets to generally guide things. The story of Serinity has the potential to span multiple generations of characters. And I think that is the primary source you could pull other seasons from with a new cast.




I like it! No knock to the current cast of characters but I think you're right about the central figure being Serenity herself. Good work.

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Wednesday, August 4, 2004 5:12 PM

LIGHTINTHEBRAINPAN


Great conversation!! Had meetings back-to-back today so couldn't join in....

Auraptor, as I think about it, "crazy time" in "Trash" seemed over the top to me not in terms of Fillion's delivery, but in the writing of it. I'm a huge fan of Whedon's writing, would probably crawl on my hands and knees across Nevada to work for his shop, but every now and then something seems over the top. Still, overall, the man's a master at dialogue, and I'm quibbling over a little thing.

Thing about Mal is, and I wonder if Whedon did this on purpose, he reminds me of some Vietnam veterans I knew who were in Saigon at the fall. A particular brand kind of cynicism/sarcasm/humor, and sometimes very sexy, in that world-weary sort of way. So that's one aspect of Mal's character that I like. "Crazy time" was funny but verged on sitcom to me. Again, quibbling.

I too will be VERY interested to see how Mal's character evolves in the movie---perhaps shifting toward the darker end of the spectrum---didn't someone say that when the movie begins, something major has happened that has had an impact on the Captain? It's there that we might see a very dark Mal. And then perhaps he brightens again, as the film plays out.

One thing that came up in this thread was how Fillion captures the cadence and idiom of Whedonspeak so well, and that's true. A world comes alive through the Captain's speech. Actually, it seems to me that ALL of the characters are like that. I've wondered whether Whedon chooses actors based on the timbre of their voices--their diction. I think in the DVD Whedon mentioned something about the way "Simon" says a phrase, and that's exactly it. Words really become wonderful in their mouths.

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Wednesday, August 4, 2004 7:12 PM

CANTTAKESKY


I've always wondered, how would Mal have acted differently if FOX hadn't pressured Joss to lighten him up? If he had been as dark as Joss envisioned, what would Mal have done or not done?

Here are some of my speculations on what Mal might be like if he truly left behind forgiveness, faith, and compassion.

1. Mal would have killed Patience, instead of letting her go "run her little moon."
2. Mal would have let Jayne fall out of that airlock.
3. Mal would have taken a little extra time to hunt Niska down while he was still there on his statiion, and taken care of that threat once and for all.

I think Fillion doesn't have as commanding a presence as we have come to expect from spaceship captains (like Picard or Sisko). But his humanity and humor are a very nice and effective contrast to those stereotypes. Fillion pulls off sardonic wit, family loyalty, and survival hardass-ness perfectly. He *does* remind me of Vietnam veterans, except vets tend to be even more laconic than Mal is. But it is a perfect reminder, since Mal is a hardened vet.

Can't Take My Gorram Sky

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Wednesday, August 4, 2004 7:32 PM

SHINYOBJECT


Just thought I'd throw in my two cents

I thought Nathan was perfect for Mal in terms of when The show started (the battle of Serenity Valley) Mal seems even in the trenches as kind of a goof ball. and it dosen't seem to be disputed here that the man has those comedy chops to play the younger freewheeling Mal.

I guess I just like to think of it as while is preformance is based off that goofy sargent, through the time since losing the war to when serenity is formed, there's a whole big chunk a time where there were Mal had to go through probably a lot of hardships to be where he was content on Serenity

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Wednesday, August 4, 2004 9:39 PM

SUBETAI


Quote:

Originally posted by canttakesky:
I've always wondered, how would Mal have acted differently if FOX hadn't pressured Joss to lighten him up? If he had been as dark as Joss envisioned, what would Mal have done or not done?

Here are some of my speculations on what Mal might be like if he truly left behind forgiveness, faith, and compassion.

1. Mal would have killed Patience, instead of letting her go "run her little moon."
2. Mal would have let Jayne fall out of that airlock.
3. Mal would have taken a little extra time to hunt Niska down while he was still there on his statiion, and taken care of that threat once and for all.



Forgiveness, faith and compassion are religious virtues, and Mal has no religion. As he tells the Shepherd: "You're welcome on my ship, God ain't."

Instead, Mal's virtues are justice, competence, reason, and a benevolence towards people. These are not unusual virtues among thinking atheists.

Forgiveness is not in Mal's character. What we see, instead, is a man who understands the weakness possible to human character, and tries to make allowances for it. Here is my interpretation of your examples:

1. Mal didn't kill Patience because the immediate danger was past (he had no problem killing her accomplices) and she was no threat to him. He is not a casual killer.

2. Mal probably planned to let Jayne get sucked out of the airlock. He was motivated by a sense of justice. However, Mal doesn't like to kill. He looks for, he wants some reason, some mitigating circumstance to let Jayne live. Jayne is a risk to his crew because he betrayed them for money. Jayne knows what will happen to River and her brother if they are caught, but they mean nothing to him. This is not a happy situation among crew members. But towards the end, Jayne asks Mal not to tell the crew about his deceit - indicating that Jayne does value the crew (and their opinions of him) after all. This is the excuse Mal needs to let him go.

3. Niska deserved to die and Mal would have killed him in a flash if he'd had the chance. But Mal is practical rather than vengeful. His little crew has attacked a skyplex and managed to free him, mainly because of the element of surprise. He doesn't want to stretch his luck and gets the hell out as quickly as he can, even if it means leaving Niska alive. There is no compassion for Niska - he later tells Inara that he's sorry that Niska still lives - it is just a matter of practicality.

I can provide a couple examples of my own.

The first episode that people refer to as "dark" does not seem dark to me. What we see is Mal acting more according to his nature rather than to please the Fox execs:

1. Mal doesn't kid himself about reality, he faces things as they are and deals with them. He is just, but not cruel. He tells Simon "look, I know you didn't mean to hurt my crew by sneaking on to my ship, but see what your actions have done. My crew is in danger because we're harboring fugitives, and we're not in a position to stand Alliance scrutiny. Sooner or later something's going to need to be done about the Fed agent. I know you won't do it. I'll have to get rid of him for you and become a fugitive myself because of this." At this point, Mal probably doesn't intend to kill the Fed. This is not an unreasonable or "dark" attitude. Mal is angry and frustrated.

2. Mal tells Simon that Kaylee is dead when she's not. This might seem like dark humor, but there is some justice there as well. Mal did not like Simon threatening to let Kaylee die, and he gives Simon a couple of uncomfortable minutes in return. His crew apparently see his point and laugh as well.

Quote:


I think Fillion doesn't have as commanding a presence as we have come to expect from spaceship captains (like Picard or Sisko).



All I can say is, thank God. Where do I start? Picard is a frump. Not the man's fault, it is what the Star Trek universe expects. He is captain of the godly starship enterprise of illustrious history, and his declamations suit the fact.

But Mal doesn't command a Federation Starship, he's just the captain of a tramp cargo vessel. If he acted like Picard on the bridge of Serenity (where the poor guy doesn't even have a captain's chair), he would look funny.

But I disagree over who has the more commanding presence. My test is simple - when Mal looks mad, I'd want to be polite to him. When Picard throws a fit, I want to snicker. The difference is that much of Picard's "command" comes from the fancy set and the pseudo military fol-de-rol. Mal's command comes just from his strength of character. It speaks volumes, which can't be matched by thousands of lines of captain-y script in endless episodes of TNG.

Note that I've got nothing against Patrick Stewart, no doubt he is a fine actor. It's just that the Star Trek universe has grown pompous and self-righteous and politically correct beyond my tolerance.

Before I finish, I'd like to say a few words about Joss's universe and Mal's place in it.

Recall the circumstances. Apparently, humanity is spreading faster than civilization can keep up. The central planets decide that this can't be allowed and team up to form the Alliance to impose law and order everywhere.

Now people have different outlooks on this. No doubt law and order are nice things, but with them come certain restrictions on individual freedom. This is the price people pay to live in a civilized society. Look around you today - the same argument rages. Should we buy security at the cost of freedom? Should we hand over our lives to mommy-or-daddy-state if they assure us we will be safe?

Now in the old days, if you got tired of the status quo, you moved to a new land. That's how this country was founded. And if cities in the new land began to look too much like the old land, you up and moved to the frontier. But we ran out of frontier one day.

There were two sides to Mal's war. There was the alternative of one central state, benevolent, but all-powerful and unresistable. And there was the other alternative of a loose confederation, a zillion people living in millions of unique societies, all following their own beliefs. Among all those societies some are sure to be corrupt, cruel and evil. But that's the nature of humans - as they create the bad, they also make the good. Mobility is the great equalizer, just buy a ticket on the next spaceship and move to wherever suits you. You can't do that if the entire universe is alike under a central alliance.

Mal's side lost the war, but not quite. While the Alliance was too powerful to beat outright, it could not prevail. Because Mal's universe didn't have a frontier - as soon as Alliance power reached outlying planets, people moved out a bit further.

It's in this context that we need to place Mal and his crew. Their own planets came under Alliance law, so they went where it didn't reach. He's not out to save planets like Picard, he just wants to live life on his own terms peacefully.

His character is built with that frontier in mind. People who choose to live beyond the safety of civilization are often like Mal. They are competent and self-reliant, or they wouldn't survive. They are not overly sentimental. They are very practical. They generally have little time for pettiness or wanton cruelty, because like as not those things will get you killed.

And they are benevolent as Mal is benevolent. How can someone who is confident and sure of his own virtue and worth not look at the whole universe with a benevolent eye? He has nothing to fear, no reason for spite. He likes people and wishes them well, so long as they don't harm him or his crew.

I don't know where Whedon or Minnear got their ideas for this series. I have the feeling that we've read the same books. Jack Vance, Edmond Hamilton, E.C. Tubb, perhaps. Old scifi.

At any rate, my congraturalations to them for such a wonderful series. I look forward to the movie. Don't listen to the people complaining about Mal being too "dark", Joss.

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Wednesday, August 4, 2004 10:50 PM

HEB


Quote:

Zoe's "oh yeah. now we can retire" from the movie trailer)




*runs screaming away from spoiler*

Well, my sister's a ship... we had a
complicated childhood
.................
I wear the cheese. It does not wear me.

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Thursday, August 5, 2004 1:32 AM

NEDWARD


Quote:

Originally posted by lightinthebrainpan:
....why did he decide to cast Nathan Fillion?

Can anyone think of good examples of his acting prior to Firefly that made Joss choose him? Or was it just a convincing screen test? It can't be on the strength of Saving Private Ryan alone, surely.

I'm not asking if we think he was a good choice: clearly he was. But we have hindsight!

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Thursday, August 5, 2004 4:20 AM

CYBERSNARK


I think that, whatever Joss might've originally planned for the character, the character as he appeared on TV has altered it. It happens; sometimes you start writing a character and the character him/her/itself gets out of your control. The character you'd planned to turn traiter suddenly becomes a team-player. Your sycophant courtier becomes the angsting philosopher. Maybe it's your subconscious interfering with the writing, but sometimes a story will change itself, regardless of what the writer wants.

This is moreso with TV characters, who're amalgams of what the writer, the actor, and the producers' dictates all bring to the part.

I genuinely don't think this Mal could go dark and gritty 24/7. I mean, yeah, Joss could write it, and Filion could carry it off, but it'd feel wrong. Forced, even. Not while keeping "in character," and Joss is far too skilled a writer to use such an awkward and heavy-handed retcon.

Mal may be in a darker place in the movie, but I'm pretty sure he'll still have that trademark sense of humour. Otherwise, why keep Zoe around as the straight-woman?

-----
We applied the cortical electrodes but were unable to get a neural reaction from either patient.

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Thursday, August 5, 2004 3:56 PM

LIGHTINTHEBRAINPAN


"We have hindsight" -- that's the thing! How did Whedon KNOW that Fillion could do what he did with the character of Malcolm Reynolds? I guess that's sort of a general question I have about good directors. How do they sense this stuff? It would be interesting to see Fillion's screen test.

Interesting to compare this Captain with the Captains many of us "grew up" with: "Federation," starfleet... all very much officers and gentlemen. The Prime Directive. Etc. "Serenity" is a much more personal story. As Whedon says, it's all about family. Captains Kirk and Picard were more (though not exclusively) about professional honor, I think. More about a code of behavior in the midst of the unknown. ... I'll have to think more about this, if I ever get to watch the DVD set a second time.

Interesting also to think about the "moral universe" that Mal and his crew find themselves in. Judeo-Christian ideals sort of revolve around the concept of choice: Human beings are designed in such a way that they get to choose whether they do good or evil. Civilization kinda provides an ethical framework; the Alliance, like any centralized government, would provide law and order (at a price). But Mal and company are really "in the black"---it's just them and their consciences. Another thing I find interesting about "Serenity" or any other frontier-type story.

I wonder whether the movie will explore more about what happened after Mal and his regiment were abandoned in Serenity Valley. That would be a key to Mal's character.

I've also wondered whether one of things that has happened just before the movie begins is Inara leaving. Meaning nothing good for Mal's heart or soul. Does he totally lose his sense of right and wrong at that point? Will that be the low point from which all of the rest of the BDM flows?


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Thursday, August 5, 2004 4:03 PM

EMBERS


Quote:

Originally posted by lightinthebrainpan:
"We have hindsight" -- that's the thing! How did Whedon KNOW that Fillion could do what he did with the character of Malcolm Reynolds?


I was just rewatching the commentary for 'Serenity' last night (Joss & Nathan together)
and Nathan pointed out one of his 'audition scenes' and Joss said that yes, he chose two specific scenes for the Mal auditions because he needed to see if the actor could go easily from the dark place to the humor and still be convincingly dark AND funny.
So I think Joss knew.
In fact I think over all the years casting for BtVS and Ats that Joss has gotten pretty good at knowing who is going to work in what role.

altho admittedly he had to recast Inara.

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Friday, August 6, 2004 1:34 PM

ANKHAGOGO


Quote:

Originally posted by Kellaina:
As for dark/not-so-dark Mal, whether intentional or not, I've always liked the fact that while there was a darker side to him, he can be a little lighter too. It's what made the character more realistic to me. The darkness is there, just below the surface but it isn't dominating him (although it easily could).

Slightly off-topic question: If he was dark all the time, wouldn't he be, well, Angel?



Actually, I've always thought that Mal and Angel were tremendously alike. They're both very intense men with a rather dry sense of humour that often pops up at odd moments,both of them inspire loyalty in those who work with them, both have integrity and do what they think is the right thing to do, even if no-one else agrees with them. I actually think Mal is darker than Angel, personality-wise, and yes, I'll tell you why. :) Angel is (I can't say "was" yet) working toward a specifically defined goal, and Mal is not. Angel is partially externally motivated by the hope of redemption, and Mal's only motivation, at this point, seems to be just living his life the way he wants to.
Mal's motivations, I suspect, are almost entirely internal, and that gives him an edge in the darkness department, because he is, in many ways, wound much more tightly than Angel. Angel at least lets things out occasionally -- not just venting, but actually expressing the "what ifs" -- "What if I'm never really going to be able to make up for all the stuff I did?" type things. Mal is much more self-contained, to my way of thinking. Possibly that's from his military days -- you're not really supposed to unburden yourself and share your doubts those under your command. Psychologically speaking, "surviving" is not much of a goal. Mal often doesn't seem to be very interested in "living", and I don't mean that he's suicidal, just that Mal doesn't take time to stop and smell the space roses. Don't get me wrong, Mal's my favourite and I wouldn't have it any other way, but he doesn't have a lot of hope in him. It's one of the reasons I like him -- he's very interesting like that.
The thing is that we all got "brooding Angel" in our heads during his Sunnydale days, but he generally wasn't that dude once he moved to LA. Angel on the series was a much different person than he was on Buffy -- I couldn't stand Angel until he moved, and now I have to say I prefer Angel the show to Buffy. But when he moved, Angel started to realize there were things about life he could enjoy while working to a) help the helpless and a1) get all redeemed and stuff.
He didn't go all Pollyanna by any means,but Angel on Angel was a lot more relaxed, and less perpetually intense. He had his slightly to
really dark moments, of course, but I am willing to bet $4.57 that there will come a time when Mal will fire his crew, then lock a bunch of lawyers in a room and let vampires eat em all up(metaphorically speaking, of course). That was one of my very favourite Angel seasons,the Buffy version of it was most of season 6,and I would looooove to see the Firefly version of it. I like when Whedon explores the darkness, especially with characters that are already pretty dark.


"You two are the two who are the two! I'm the other one!"

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Friday, August 6, 2004 1:50 PM

ANKHAGOGO


Quote:

Originally posted by Cybersnark:
I genuinely don't think this Mal could go dark and gritty 24/7. I mean, yeah, Joss could write it, and Filion could carry it off, but it'd feel wrong. Forced, even. Not while keeping "in character," and Joss is far too skilled a writer to use such an awkward and heavy-handed retcon.



I disagree. I think Mal going to a very bad place is a natural course of action, perhaps inevitable. As I just said a minute ago, both Buffy and Angel hit very dark, very nasty pits in their lives, and I don't think either of those felt forced. To me, it felt like they were hitting bottom because they had no control over their own lives, which is pretty natural. And I don't think Mal's hit bottom yet.

As far as such a move not being "in character", I can see where right now it might not be in character for Mal, but in the future, who knows?
During, say, season three of Buffy, would you
ever have predicted that Wesley would one day keep a chick locked in the closet of a boat for an entire summer while simultaneously sleeping with someone like Lilah? (which was awesome, by the way) Wes is my favourite example of how gradually Whedon can do character development and make it seem just very organic and logical as a progression.

I think Mal's in for a rough ride, the poor guy.


"You two are the two who are the two! I'm the other one!"

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Friday, August 6, 2004 2:25 PM

THOREAU


I'd love to see the original, un-chippered Mal in the BDM. To have a character who's name is 'bad', who's briefest character description is 'loss', be happy and playful all the time is just silly. The balance in The Train Job and Our Mrs Reynolds and such was ok, but the darker Mal of Serenity is much more honest.

t

Jayne: "These are stone killers, little man. They ain't cuddly like me."

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Friday, August 6, 2004 5:46 PM

LIGHTINTHEBRAINPAN


Quote:

Originally posted by thoreau:
I'd love to see the original, un-chippered Mal in the BDM. To have a character who's name is 'bad', who's briefest character description is 'loss', be happy and playful all the time is just silly. The balance in The Train Job and Our Mrs Reynolds and such was ok, but the darker Mal of Serenity is much more honest.



I agree. I'd like to see the Captain as Whedon originally-originally conceived of him; though, as others have said, Whedon probably did always plan that Mal would have SOME kind of sarcastic/sardonic twist of humor to him. Just maybe not as much as he ended up having.

I wonder if Fillion worries about getting the darkness right in "Serenity"! One thing I remember from my (as yet one and only) viewing of the DVD is Fillion saying that he wasn't satisfied with the "mean Mal" scene post-Niska-torture. I can imagine him analyzing the dailies....

And Inara is the female "darkness" to Mal's male darkness? There's the theory that Mal is the father figure and Inara is the mother figure, but I see Inara as dark as Mal is...for reasons we do not know yet, of course.

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Saturday, August 7, 2004 6:27 AM

ANKHAGOGO


Quote:

Originally posted by thoreau:
I'd love to see the original, un-chippered Mal in the BDM. To have a character who's name is 'bad', who's briefest character description is 'loss', be happy and playful all the time is just silly. The balance in The Train Job and Our Mrs Reynolds and such was ok, but the darker Mal of Serenity is much more honest.



I think he's equally honest in all those episodes, considering what was going on. In Serenity, they were a)close to destitute, b)carrying an Alliance mole & fugitives, c)double-crossed by Badger, d)dealing with Kaylee being shot, e)forced to deal with a less-than-trustworthy Patience, f)double-crossed by Patience, and let's not forget, g)pursued by Reavers. Oh, and h)very nearly busted by the Alliance. Precious little time there for doing anything but staying alive by the skin of their teeth. So we got a visibly darker, more intensely-focused Mal.
Whereas in Our Mrs. Reynolds, no-one knew what the hell was going on for a good deal of the episode, most particularly (and most amusingly) Mal. There was no reason or place for darkness until they found out what Saffron was up to, and it would have been extremely out of character for Mal to be Serenity-dark with the big-eyed,innocent,submissive, passive-agressive girl Saffron was pretending to be.
As someone said earlier, if Mal was dark and brooding all the time, he would be Sunnydale Angel, who I thought was was very irritating and very one-dimensional.
I think it would be more dishonest if Mal were Serenity-dark all the time, even if the situation didn't warrant it, and we do see that darkness in almost every episode, when the time is right. He doesn't just go off into fits of depression, because he's got 8 people and a ship that depend on him. For Mal to ignore that responsibility and let himself be always overwhelmed by his inner demons would also be out-of-character. In my opinion, the responsibility for ship & crew are a large part of what help him keep that darkness at bay. Ironically, that responsibility is also what will bring outthe darkness quicker than anything.

"You two are the two who are the two! I'm the other one!"

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Saturday, August 7, 2004 8:02 AM

GHOULMAN


Quote:

Originally posted by SSJ4BlackBelt:
Joss and Tim also mentioned in the commentaries that they didnt know if things would have ended up they way they did in the show had they not turned Mal into a friendlier person. I believe Joss is bringing back the darker Mal in the movie (ie. the bank robbery in the trailer) and I cannot wait to see what Joss truly intended for Mal.


Was reading all the interesting bits above (nice commentary on this thread!) and stopped here. Something went 'bing' in my mellon. ;p

Seems to me, Joss let go. That is, he seems ot have approched the creation of his characters with the same designs as he has done before but, unlike in the past, has let the characters go in directions THEY want to go. Fillion is perfect for the role not because of his take on it but because Joss has the brains to let it happen. Which is, I think, new to Joss. Fillion is simply so great we are even more facinated by his character now that it has forgone the iconic (and limiting) "dark Mal" that Joss created.

Reminds me of that scene (in Ariel I think) when Mal pulls Kaylee over for a huge after the adventure was over that day. It wasn't in the script and in the commentary of the show Joss says he just let it happen; "Nathan just grabbed Jewel and hugged her. We kept it in".

I think this is a new thing for Joss. He's letting go. He's letting "it" happen.

Just one of the things about Firefly that keep me interested and the characters, like Mal, interesting. Trust me, "Dark Mal" would have been boring from show one!

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Sunday, August 8, 2004 11:42 AM

MISGUIDED BY VOICES


Quote:

Originally posted by Sikkukut:
Now the question is, are people going to like it? I'm guessing we're all capable of appreciating both sides of Firefly, but we've certainly gotten to know the Captain as... well, kind of a wacky guy sometimes. Train job especially. One hopes that "darker" does not mean it'll lack the humor to which we've grown accustomed.



When we refer to the "darker" Mal, are we all on the same page here? I haven't seen the "original" Serenity pilot, just the DVD version, which I understand has a glimpse of the "darker" version at least.

Mal as seen in the series was hardly what I would describe as "wacky" - but the fact is that if Mal was "dark", the only people left on that boat would be maybe Zoe and Wash - the rest would have left. I have always assumed that the reference to darker was more along the lines of that the lows for Mal would have been lower.

"I threw up on your bed"

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Sunday, August 8, 2004 6:44 PM

THEGREYJEDI


Is it not possible to like the whole gamut of Mal? I think that the episodes Tim and Joss did are more well written than some of the others, but in "Serenity" he was serious, sometimes even downright grim, but in the same episode, he was busting out laughing. "The Message" showed us a much darker Mal, whereas Train Job and Shindig showed a much more humorous Mal. The context is the important part. "The Message" was serious. An old war buddy in trouble, and he ends up having to kill his old friend. There's a reason to be serious. But in Train Job, it was Mal enjoying what he does in the crime. In Shindig, he fights not only with a sword, but another weapon, which is his dry wit.

I think that the character of Mal is whole and, while perhaps adjusted for Fox, not necessarily poorly so. It gives a whole picture. I identify with the wholeness of the thing. I'm not generally what one calls a cheerful person, but this is not to say that when amongst friends and family that I can't let loose and laugh. Mal loves his friends. He lost the ability to express that very well in Serenity, but his inability to show this at times doesn't diminish its truth. I think a darker Mal would be a bad thing. He's got just enough brooding and bru-ha-ha and bravado. I imagine the BDM will allow more exploration of the characters than the tv show allowed, but at the same time, I don't think there's much that will fundamentally change. If there is a darkening for Mal in the movie, I believe that by the end of the movie, or at least by the end of the series of movies, he will be at a higher place in the mood scale than when he started. He seems a man that wants so very bad to remember what it's like to be a happy man, but can't find the way. Inara could show him if they could get over the social hooey surrounding Inara's employ. But I digress.

Conclusion: Mal perfect as is. Fillion does damn good job of making Mal work.

--------------------------------------------------
ZOE: Now we have a boatful of citizens right on top of our... stolen cargo. That's a fun mix.
MAL: Ain't no way in the 'verse they could find that compartment, even--Even if they were lookin' for it.
ZOE: Why not?
MAL: 'Cause... ?
ZOE: Oh yeah, this is gonna go great.
MAL: If anyone gets nosy, just, you know...shoot 'em.
ZOE: Shoot 'em?
MAL: Politely.

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Sunday, August 8, 2004 10:03 PM

YT

the movie is not the Series. Only the facts have been changed, to irritate the innocent; the names of the actors and characters remain the same


Quote:

Originally posted by embers:
altho admittedly he had to recast Inara.


But in the commentary, it sounded like he knew before start of filming that his original choice wasn't up to what he wanted. (He filmed the original actress almost entirely in single shots so, when he cast Morena, the other eight actors didn't have to redo much to replace all of her scenes.) That sounds more like a case of slim pickings, rather than a poor initial choice.

Keep the Shiny Side Up

Wutzon: George Thurogood, "Bad to the Bone"

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Monday, August 9, 2004 12:55 AM

KALIMEERI


Quote:



When we refer to the "darker" Mal, are we all on the same page here? I haven't seen the "original" Serenity pilot, just the DVD version, which I understand has a glimpse of the "darker" version at least.




I don't think we are all talking about the same thing. The final (DVD) version of the pilot does show Mal being tense and darker than the rest of the series, but nowhere near how the 'original' pilot portrayed him. The only sign of a sense of humor in the original was the sick joke he played on Simon. It was NO surprise at all when he shot the lawman dead. When I watched it, I kept waiting for all the scenes that I liked the most to come ... and they didnt. The 'darker' scenes in the DVD pilot were those that were left in. The new ones added a nice balance.

While I DON't agree with Fox's forced reworking of The Train Job as a pilot, I think Fox did give Joss a push in the right direction, and he took it from there ... and found out he had a winner.

I'm not a Buffy fan, but people I know who are tend not to like the 'darker' seasons so much. Maybe it's a necessary progression for the character, but Joss has to be careful with that. He has to keep a balance, or the truly dark times don't stand out. I got tired of Alias real fast--it was like the girl was afraid her face would crack if she smiled. I don't care how much her life sucked--she was No fun to be around.

A character can be in a dark place and still crack a joke--even if they don't much feel like it. That's part of their character, too. Contrast is everything. It's much less interesting when you have a 'low point' versus a 'lower point.'

(Edited to add): The original pilot is worth watching ... but ONCE is quite enough. Mal is just not the same person. Knowing how much of a jokester Nathan Fillion really is, it was just too much not to see him smile.

Jen dao mei.

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