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February 03 2005

Orson Scott Card reviews Firefly. The 'multi-award winning and bestselling' and controversial (What would Giles say?) author writes: "It's fun even as it's tense, and it's smart all the time. So smart that some reviewers have no clue what they're seeing."

'Uncle Orson' rates Firefly 'the best space-opera sci-fi series ever on television' and also the 'best western on television since Maverick'.

The good people at Fireflyfans.net were on to it before us.

(Link via CW)

It's strange, somehow, to see OSC reviewing Firefly, even though he is a SF writer of some repute. (I must admit I've never read any of his books, though Ender's Game is on my "I'll get to eventually" list.) I guess I wouldn't have expected someone into Judging Amy to have the taste for JW's black-edged humor and wit.

Even stranger is the fact that he lives in the same NC town I do, and yet this is the first time I've ever visited his website. Such is the far-flung comprehensiveness of Whedonesque's tentacular grasp. :)

While I disagree strongly with some of his beliefs (and his opinion of Kaylee's sunny charm), it's always delightful to hear good things about one of our favorite shows. Many people respect his opinion, so if this leads to more local viewers and OSC fans in general checking out Serenity come September, then yay for him!

One thing he's dead right about: The perpetual construction situation around here is truly heinous. To judge by the state of roads on my way to work every day, fluorescent orange traffic cones come here to live, mate and proliferate. Rabbits on speed ain't got nothing on the pointy orange witch-hats!
"The actors are wonderful, though a couple of characters can be annoying, especially at first (couldn't Jewel Staite have occasionally stopped smiling idiotically during the early episodes?)."

The above line upset Jewel Statie who posted to Fireflyfans.net "..smiling idiotically.." isn't exactly the thing I was going for with Kaylee. I love reading great reviews about our show, but that comment in particular didn't sit too well in my tummy. I think, a lot of the time, people seem to forget that us actors read our reviews, and we read these posts as well.
Jewel"


Though the overall review was favorable like most other common run of the mill reviewers (cause that’s how he seems to me using the same old formula as all those before him – highlight the good but make sure to criticize something or else your fellow critics may think less f you if you don’t). He has to take a jab at something, in this case, he decided to set his sights on one of the most truly unique character to have been created in a sci-fi series. She is an optimistic, whole-hearted, strong, smart, wonderfully idealistic, and in some ways the embodiment of innocence woman. Why that character, because she smiled to much, because being where she was, and who she was, she was too happy or seemed to enjoy her lot in life to much. Since everyone else seem to have a dark side, even though she may have had one also, she did not let it come through as often as the others did, because she saw a brighter side of things . That to me is what made her one of the most intriguing characters, on a show filled with characters that had intrigue in abundance. She was the light to everyone else’s dark. She did not really fit any traditional role – she was her own. She was the most empathic of the crew because you felt everything she felt more acutely than anyone else in the series did but she didn’t do it by wearing her emotions of her sleeve she did it by projecting those emotions into those watching. I think Jewel did one heck of a job and she should be proud of it and not listen to what some person writes in a review cause for everyone of him there are a hundred if not a thousand more that will come to her defense. Ok I guess I said my peace, not to offend the reviewer but to detest the ease at which he falls to the same formula used by to many reviewers when they must pick something to criticize they go for what they percieve a the simplest target.
Well, it's awful his comment hurt Jewel's feelings. I agree he picked an easy target -- Kaylee's a sweet, kind-hearted character -- and the heart of the show in many ways -- who doesn't deserve such condemnation. If not for her positivism, to say nothing of her mechanical skills, Serenity would have been dead in the water too many times to count.

If OSC wanted to be critical of character behavior, why not call Jayne's general obnoxiousness to task? (Of course I find it endearing and loveable, but treacherous, vain orneriness surely has its detractors somewhere. ;) You don't suppose the fact that AB is hella imposing, and doubtless able to beat all comers into submission with his pinkie, had anything to do with it...?
No one complains about Jayne because he provides som spice in a cast of characters that otherwise contains far to much sugar, without him the table conversations would be just about how nice everyone was.

Must admit that Kaylees cheerfulness got on my nerves too, but I endured because I expected her to die a cruel death in season 2, cause you know in a Whedon show happiness and cheerfulness is normally quickly followed by devastation and death.
But Jewel shouldn't worry cause Kaylee's most of the fans favorite character, we LOVE her "idiotic smiling" and wouldn't have it any other way.
It's interesting, it's all in all a good review of Firefly, but I still don't like the guy. He's definately coming off my christmas card list.
I sold off all of my OSC books after reading his nasty anti-gay-marriage screed a year and change back. I usually prefer to know as little about authors and artists as possible, and he's a prime example why. Never could look at his stuff the same way again.
I read that comment on fireflyflans.net, and I was very happy to see none other than our own RavenU be the first to stand up, eloquently, in defense of Kaylee. And I also noted that Jewel thanked for you doing so . . . :) I agree wholeheartedly - Kaylee is a terrific and original character, and I'd like to see her on screen twice as much.

And I have to disagree that the Firefly characters contain too much sugar; even the nicer members, like Wash, have their flaws and can get crazy-mad. Simon is emotionally closed-off, Inara is cool, in the more literal sense, rather than nice, and Book is simply mysterious - we're not sure what his motives are for acting decently. And then there's Mal, Gina, Jayne, River - any of those particularly "nice" people? Not in my understanding of the word.

I'm with Ocular: while usually I try to separate artist and art, some topics just betray a distance between my own closely-held beliefs and the artist's, which taints everything else. I haven't read this review, and I don't want to read anything by him. It's not rational, but then such visceral reactions aren't.
I agree that even without Jayne, there is plenty of darkness in the FF character set. Matter of fact, that's why Kaylee sticks out. She still has her optimism. None of the others have that, not even Book.

And yes I too have had instances where writers or actors or musicians, etc. that I used to admire show a personal opinion on a topic that I then am not able to shake whenever I hear their name or come across their work. Like SNT said, you want to separate their personality from their craft but sometimes you just can't. There's just a big part of me that says 'I don't want to expose myself to anything that comes out of that mind'.
SNT, I believe that Gina T. is a nice person in real life and what I saw of Zoe in Firefly she seemed nice too, to nice for my taste :).

Firefly is great TV, but nothing is perfect, my own what if scenario on Firefly always includes a seasonal big bad ala Buffy.
Niska with some background and maybe tattoo guy was his son might be one option ?
The alliance would bring us into Star Wars territory and the Blue Sun management might look eerily like our friends at W&H, but with Niska it could be personal.

BDH are only that if they have som Big Damn Villains to fight against, and I need some good villains in my shows, what would SW have been without Darth Vader, Angel without W&H, Buffy S1 without the Master, Luke and Darla v1.


EdDantes, I'm very far from the beliefs of OSC but I will always treasure my copy of Enders Game, one of the better youth Sci-fi books ever written in my opinion.
I would not want to deprive myself of a good thing just because I dislike the opinions or behaviour of a writer.
A lengthy discussion of Card's Firefly review has been going on over at Fireflyfans.net for the past few weeks. Check it out: http://www.fireflyfans.net/thread.asp?b=2&t=8593 -mattro

[ edited by Caroline to say: Yes, as linked in my original post. ]
As an author of insightful sci-fi, I admire Card's work immensely. As an indivdual, I think he's bat-shit crazy intolerant; I often marvel that a writer capable of such depth and poetry is so narrow-minded. It's incongruous to say the least.

Glad he thinks well of Whedon's work. Sorry he picked on Jewel in particular, though what may have been bothering him was the obvious "sugar-coating" FOX was trying to ladle on the early episodes. Jewel was, unfortunately, a too-easy target for a much larger annoyance. Like Card, Whedon is capable of incorporating the darker elements of human nature into a profound and beautiful story; I can see how all the superfluous "niceness" does begin to grate.
jpr, the thing about a seasonal big bad is, we didn't get a full season so it's hard to say that wouldn't have happened. Niska was in 2 episodes, as was yo-saf-bridge and there was always the "two by two, hands of blue" guys. W&H weren't that big a presence in s1 of Angel, The Master was only in 5 episodes of s1 of Buffy (if you split the pilot into 2). My point being that we'll never know how Firefly would've panned out in the long run as far as seasonal arcs go. That to me is one of the biggest televisual disappointments of all time.
I think it is fair to say that OSC's opinions on gay marriages and related subjects have begun to overshadow his work a great deal.

When it was recently announced that he would be writing the Ultimate Iron Man limited series for Marvel a large amount of the fan discussion was centered around how he would deal with the fact that the Ultimate version of Jarvis, Tony Stark's butler, is homosexual, rather than the actual plot of the series.

It's a shame when a writer's personal opinions (or that of a musician, actor or whatever) get in the way of your enjoyment of their work but on occasion it does happen. For me this is one of those times.
OSC is my favorite author, although he hasn't put out great stuff in quite a while. If Ender's Game is on your "to get to" pile, it needs to be raised to the top, JUST behind George R.R. Martin's Game of Thrones, the first of 3 books in his Song of Ice and Fire series. Simply excellent.

I, too, found out that not all of my idealogies matched with OSC upon reading some of his stuff, although he did have perhaps the most balanced and reasoned response to 9/11 that I saw that day. Although I've realized since that he's much more conservative than I am, I choose to think of him the way he wrote then. Of course, he also wrote a more vitriolic response on his political site, but this was the informed view.

Here's a link to an article with some of the 9/11 responses, including OSC and Ray Bradbury, among others:

http://www.chicagotribune.com/features/chi-0109140007sep14,1,4210083.story?ctrack=1&cset=true
I had barely any idea of who OSC was before reading this post. I have to say, trolling through the man's website has turned me off in a major way, the Firefly appreciation aside. I also make a point of separating my feelings about an artist's personal opinions from his/her artistic creations - I'm successful at this much more often than not. But like Ocular and SNT, I've developed an unusually strong visceral reaction to OSC, an unpleasant one.

And Kaylee's "idiotic smiling?" Hmmm. It's his opinion and he's entitled to it, but I disagree.
Well said RavenU. Kaylee, to me, has always been the heart of the show. It always warmed my heart to see how Mal treats her like a beloved child and it was nice to see him be able to loosen up around her and be gentle when he had such difficulty doing that with anyone else. Even Jayne, as hard and as crude as he likes to pretend to be, was unable to pull himself away from watching over Kaylee after she was shot. I love that scene where he is sitting at the window looking in the medical room as Kaylee is lying there. You could see that early on what she meant to everyone. Even the way Jayne teases her is very close to how a big brother would be. And when poor Kaylee is threatened by Early and he describes what he might do to her that never would've had the same impact if it had been Zoe or Inara who had been threatened. It was because it was sweet, optimistic Kaylee that your heart broke and you were scared for her. You felt like she was violated even though he never actually did anything to her. Jewel did a fantastic job making you love and care for her character. Kaylee was/is one of the purest, sweetest characters of the Whedon shows and if the author of this article couldn't feel or sense that, he truly couldn't have gotten it. I chose not to read this article because I didn't want to get mad.
Caroline, thanks for the link to the Firefly thread too. It was nice to hear all the fans praising Jewel and Kaylee. I hope she realizes that this author is just one person and that Kaylee has many fans out there who adore her!
Maybe I'm betraying my sci-fi igorance by admitting I've never heard of Orson Scott Card. As for his review, I thought it was mostly on-target. The Kaylee comment was definitely harsh (and she's one of my favorite characters), but even I have to admit she was a little TOO sweet, all the time, in some of the early eps. I don't know if it's the criticism i would have chosen, but I understand where he's coming from with it.

As for an author's viewpoints influencing what we think of them – I think it's inevitable, although I try to stay away from it at least when it comes to the art they produce. "Winter's Tale" is one of my alltime favorite books, and I remember being shocked when I learned that Mark Helprin was a well-known conservative, almost reactionary in his viewpoints. He still tells a wonderful story. i don't agree with Clint Eastwood's politics either, but I sure love some of his movies. Anyhow, that's all out of context since, as I said, I know nothing about Orson Scott Card, his books, or his political views - but I thought his views on Firefly was pretty good, whatever his views are on other things.

Edit: Just wanted to reiterate that "idiotic smiling" is definitely NOT how I'd characterize Kaylee – and I'm particularly sorry Jewel read and took offense at the review. But her performance seems to have struck this reviewer the wrong way, at least early on, and I think that's legitimate too – and most reviews are going to point out one or two flaws.

[ edited by acp on 2005-02-03 19:48 ]
Paul_Rocks, since Buffy S1 is only 12 episodes it makes sense to compare that with the 14 Firefly episodes, but you are right we will never know what the full season of Firefly might have looked like.
I'm a huge OSC fan. I started out as an Ender's Game fanatic as a kid, then started reading his other books as I've grown up. Card is a very gifted storyteller and his moral views come out in his books.

I respect the fact that he always speaks his mind and stands up for what he believes in. He's blasted Warner Brothers for telling him that he can't make the Ender's Game movie ethnically diverse (WB told him that Battle School will be 99% white and he posted a rant about it).

In terms of gay marriage, he's a Mormon and his religious views come out. He's an opinionated guy and his books tend to make you think, like all science fiction should do. Maybe you agree with him, maybe you don't. He's not all concerned about being PC. But that doesn't make him any less of a great storyteller.
I also found the comment a bit too harsh. Do you think it would have gone down better if he had said that it was Kaylee the character smiling like an idiot rather than Jewel the actress? Makes it a little less personal. By the way, first time posting. Hi, fellow Whedonites!
I love Kaylee and Jewel--the worst thing you can say about her character is that she's a variation of Joss's stock "sweet/capable girl who is the emotional heart of the show" character like Willow and Fred.

I haven't looked through the site, but "Ender's Game" struck me as a truly brilliant, complex novel about modern warfare that spoke to me as someone with a generally antiwar left-of-center outlook. "Homophobia", or dispproval of homosexuality, isn't surprising given that he's a devout Mormon.

For what's it's worth, OSC is also a friend-of-a-friend (or at least an acquaintance of one) and I've heard nothing but nice things about him, though my friend's religious perspective may not be all that different from OSC's.

I should add that, from little of the site I've looked at, it's clear that, given that he's such a prolific, talented writer, he sure watches a lot of TV...and Judging Amy????

[ edited by bobster on 2005-02-03 20:47 ]
I tried reading OSC's "Ender's Game." I have a friend who is quite the OSC fan, and he recommended it. I couldn't get ten pages into it. I disliked his writing style and found the idea of a future reality in which children are used as pawns and cannonfodder for some stupid adult game of war was not a place I wanted to visit. I respect his effort though.

My OSC fan friend listen to me prattle on about how great Firefly was but I don't believe he's seen it himself yet. Awhile back I sent him an email showing him OSC's opinion of the series, thus increasing the odds that he'll consider ordering the DVD set, or at the very least checking out the film when it comes out.

An endorsement of this sort can do nothing but good for the upcoming film. I welcome Orson Scott Card's opinion of Firefly, even if his opinions about other issues may be a little ..old-fashioned.

However, what I can't forgive is his statement against little Kaylee. The girl is a breath of optimism amidst the heat of harsh conflict. Serenity would have been a darker place without her illumination.
I made it through Ender's Game once, didn't find it any better or worse than an average sci-fi novel. His Enchantment, a re-telling of Sleeping Beauty, was pretty good. Can't really bring myself to read anything else and I'm always a bit puzzled by his popularity.

The more authors I meet, the less I want to know about them. I find that I rarely agree with their personal views, and knowing them makes it feel like they're reading over my shoulder. I'd much rather have the liberty to create my own version of an author as I read their work.
Still, with a living author like OSC there's also the economic question. Are you lining the pockets of someone whose ideas repel you? Can one be comfortable with that?
To be honest, I don't have a good answer for that. On one hand you can't stand the ideas, on the other hand you want to encourage a creativity that perhaps you enjoy.

I do agree with ZachsMind, as I usually do, that this review is a good thing. OSC is pretty popular (I noticed a whole shelf of his books in a bookstore in Buenos Aires a few months ago) and the more people singing the praises of Firefly, the better.

And, finally, Kaylee's smiling face is essential to the whole group dynamic of Firefly. I couldn't imagine the show without it and really wouldn't want to try.
Biff Turkle said:

...with a living author like OSC there's also the economic question. Are you lining the pockets of someone whose ideas repel you? Can one be comfortable with that?

Good question. Would borrowing their material from a library instead of purchasing still be helping the author? Many libraries keep track of how frequently a book/video is rented and will sometimes order more copies if they're popular and signed out often enough, so that's something to consider.

Better idea would be to buy second-hand (used book stores, eBay, Amazon's auctions, etc). Someone's already contributed to that author, you buying their used works is less likely to result in a giving that creator more money.

Oh, and while I think OSC's character assessments were too short, I kinda agree with him about early Kaylee (otherwise why bother going into them at all, if you're just gonna write them off in a one or two line description/complaint. He should've stuck to just talking about how well written the plots and characters are overall if he didn't have anything well thought out and truly constructive to say). She's definitely a bit less smiley and more well-fleshed out as the series goes on. Her cheer didn't make me hate her or anything, but it was maybe a little overpowering in "Serenity". It makes sense that she got a bit less cheery though, anyone would after being shot and finding a crew of skinned dead people ("Bushwacked").
I flat out adore Kaylee and agree that FF would have been a very different (and nowhere near as interesting) if she and the ship's original engineer hadn't been caught by Mal making the beast with two backs.
I'm a huge OSC fan when it comes to his writing. I utterly disagree with about half of his political essays. And his movie reviews are hit or miss with me. OSC in person is charming, extremely intelligent, and pretty funny. I do highly recommend the forums on his site; there aren't a lot of places I can argue religion without prompting immediate flame wars, but that's one of them.

However, for a writer who's good at characters he missed Kaylee entirely. Does he not know anyone that eternally sunny? I do. And didn't he see the heartbreaking scene when Kaylee held up the broken part to Mal? He needs to go back and watch 'em again.
Funny how my comment on an earlier thread calling a lefty "racist" for her racist comments about Buffy got deleted for "discussing the author, not the article". What changed here?

As for all the comments about having trouble seperating an author (or actor, etc.) from their personal views: hell, I have to deal with Whedon not only supporting Kerry, but actually holding fundraisers for him. I couldn't watch maybe 90+ percent of TV shows or movies if I paid attention to all the moronic things coming out of various actor's mouths.

As Whedon might say, you all need to learn how to deal. While OSC's opinions on the issues he's being excoriated for on here are pretty far from my own, he is being honest and upfront about them and the reasons he holds them. What ever happened to the American ideal of disagreeing with someone's opinions but being willing to die to ensure he is able to say them?
God, don't knock Judging Amy. It's a fantabulous show.
I don't think anyone here was saying OSC should be silenced. And they weren't making fun of him for having bad hair or an annoying voice or something. It's just an interesting issue when creators we may enjoy say things, political or otherwise, you strongly disagree with.

Personally, I have a long list of conservative-leaning creators who's work I enjoy, from Matt Stone & Trey Parker to Tim Minnear to John Ford and Howard Hawks and many more.

It gets more interesting with music, where political opinions are expressed frequently through song. I post a lot on an Elvis Costello message board. EC is a pretty outspoken lefty, and very many of his songs strongly reflect his politics, yet we still have a couple of highly outnumbered conservatives.
Slayer TV - You've got at least one person on board with you about Judging Amy. It's not a show I watch religiously especially now that it's on opposite Veronica Mars, but I catch the re-runs on TNT from time to time.

No exaggeration - Tyne Daly's character is, imho, one of the most incredible characters to ever appear on television, and TD's acting is just flawless.
Matt Stone and Trey Parker aren't conservative leaning. In fact, from what I've read, Trey is a Libertarian, and all their shows are pretty evenly balanced.

Also, Tim Minear is a conservative? Never heard that, but fair enough.

I have no issue with people expressing their opinions, and I think it's inevitable that a creators work be informed by those opinions. However, given that no one is questioning OSC's right to express himself or asking that he be silenced, I don't think it's unreasonable to have a discussion about what he's saying - be it his views on gay marriage, or those on Kaylee. I mean, I have no issue with someone expressing their opinion, but it annoys me when people get suddenly defensive and accusatory as soon as they're discussed/debated/questioned. OSC makes his views public, and no one here is being insulting or attacking his rights - so let those views be discussed. OSC presumably expected that to happen when he wrote these things in the first place.

And, to keep this Whedon related, I never thought Jewel Staite was smiling idiotically. The character was sweet, passionate, vivacious and filled with life. The whole point was that though she had a certain childlike innocence to her, an infectious positivism, that she enjoyed all of life's pleasures. I was a bit surprised initially when Kaylee was found sleeping with the mechanic in Out Of Gas (my favourite episode), since it seemed slightly out of character. I'd figured her as having a kind of purity or innocence, and to see her having sex with someone she jsut met - it seemed off. But the more I thought about it, and as I continued watching it, it became clear it made perfect sense. Kaylee IS pure and innocent, and so why not enjoy what life has to offer? Be it a tasty burger or a tasty anything-else. To the pure, all things are pure. And I can admire that kind of outlook on life.

Lastly, I'd just like to stress some more how good Out Of Gas is. Not only is it the best Firefly episode, but it's probably in the Top 5 Whedonverse Episodes Ever. It's just so god damned excellent. If I were to teach a class on script writing for TV, that's the episode I'd use.
Lastly, I'd just like to stress some more how good Out Of Gas is. Not only is it the best Firefly episode, but it's probably in the Top 5 Whedonverse Episodes Ever. It's jtst so god damned excellent.

I couldn't agree with you more, Gonnas. When it first aired, I just couldn't believe something that good, and that visceral, was on network TV. I remember the tension of Mal's dilemma gave me a stomachache, and being in actual pain while marveling as the beauty of its structure unfolded is an experience I'll never forget.

I must add that I love Objects in Space just as much. If I was a grad student in film, it would make a totally bomb-ass senior thesis topic.

[ edited by Wiseblood on 2005-02-04 06:24 ]
Gonnas: what you said about Kaylee's character was beautifully-put and dead-on. And Out Of Gas is genius storytelling indeed.

rkayn: no one in this thread has said that OSC is not entitled to hold or say whatever opinions, however misguided, he wishes. I myself said that I choose not to read his work, but that falls a mile short of saying that no one can read his work, or that he's not entitled to write and publish it. Clearly he is and he has, and, holding my nose, I would absolutely defend his right to do so. (But probably not to the death, if I'm being honest . . .) The opinions expressed in this thread have, with possibly one exception, been well-informed, polite, and varied.
[sorry about this, but reading this thread, the following just poured outta me. Inspired, you might say.]

"Daddy?"

Mal walked into the den of Kaylee's childhood home. She'd just met the little lady and was stunned to find himself less than an hour later meeting the man who spawned her. Mister Frye stood up from his armchair like a bear pushing off from a tree. Mal had faced his share of big burly men in bars and taverns. He'd fought in the war. Somehow the very presence of this girl's father brought a chill to his spine. Graying at the temples, he had the build of a man who used to wrestle alligators or chop down large trees for a living, but there was also a softness about his physique, as if he's retired from harsher living. Still, Mal pushed a thought out of his mind of how easily this tree trunk could break a sapling like himself.

With a smile of uneven, glass-breaking teeth, Kaylee's father put out a paw to shake Mal's hand. The shake was a firm but gentle one. Mal met his smile with a grin of his own, and tried not to give away his uneasiness. He was about to ask this man if he could take his daughter away from her home to be his mechanic on Serenity. Why did he feel like he was asking this man if he could take his daughter out on Lookout Point to neck?

"Daddy, this is Malcolm Reynolds. Captain of the uh, uhm-"

"Serenity," Mal released his hand shake grip but Kaylee's father didn't, shaking with a vigor and sincerity that forced Mal to unrelease his grip and try to return the vigor and sincerity. "She's a Firefly class."

Kaylee's father's eyes lit up, "Oh! That one's yours? I've seen it the past few days down at the docks! Midbulk transport, classcode 03-K64 with the extenders, admittedly it's a standard radion-accelerator core but I've heard she's got great acceleration and a lot of storage area. You must be proud of her," he reached out an arm and Kaylee stepped into it smiling. She gave him a big hug and he rested his large arm cautiously on her shoulders, but never taking his gaze off Mal.

"I'm very proud," Mal confirmed.

"And I'm proud of my Kaylee." He looked down at her, "Hon? Mind if you give me and the captain here a moment alone?"

Kaylee's smile faded. She looked up at her father. "Daddy?" Suddenly she looked a little ..worried.

He smiled back at her, but Mal noticed something strange about the smile that he couldn't quite discern. "It'll be alright. Go see to your mother." Kaylee looked over at Mal as she let her father go, and then walked out of the room with her eyes looking at the floor. When she left the room, her father's smile broke into a grim stone-like frown. He gave Mal a good lookin' over, tip to toe.

Mal stood there a little puzzled. The two men looked at each other. "Well sir, I'll get right to the point-"

"Kaylee already explained it to me. I've been wonderin' when a man of your caliber would see in her what I've known since she was crawlin'. Y'know she was helpin' me rebuild transports and farmin' equipment when she was three? Built her own first land rover when she was nine. She's got a gift. Machines kinda talk to her. Might be hard for a man like you to understand."

"Well sir I must admit I've seen it first hand. My old mechanic couldn't get me up and runnin'."

"I've noticed you've been at the dock longer than most ships stay. Most ships just land here long enough to take off."

"Well your daughter looked over the engine and saw the problem right away. A woman with her talents? I'd be hard pressed not to offer her a job."

"Yeah but it's more than that. She can sense when a machine's about to break down before it does. I seen her do it. That is, when she's not distracted, and my little Kaylee's easily distracted." Her father waved an arm to an armchair next to his own recliner. "Have a seat," he said as he sat back down himself.

Mal did so dutifully, "That's a good trait to have. She'd be a welcome member of my crew."

"That's good to hear, Captain. But I've gotta learn somethin' before I say yes. I gotta question for ya."

"Anything. Ask it."

Kaylee's father turned away from Mal to an end table next to his recliner. From there he picked up a small but impressively designed hunting knife. He held it in his left hand and calmly held it to show Mal. Mal tried not to show fear or concern and was mostly successful. Kaylee's father didn't appear to be showing malice with the blade, but his mere presence, added with a small weapon, didn't require any malice.

"Just how bad do you want my daughter on your crew, Captain Reynolds? What are you willin' to do to get me to say yes?"

"Well sir I'm hopin' you're about to ask me to cut off a turkey's head or somethin.' I don't think I know to what you're refferin'. Uh, sir."

"I know what kinda business goes on with Fireflys. Yours ain't the first one I've seen. You look to me like a soldier of fortune. You fought in the war didn't ya? Browncoat?"

Mal nodded soberly.

"Times been tough since then. You take jobs as they come. Do the best you can to survive. So do I, but I stay in one place cuz I got no reason to keep movin'. In my experience, people who don't take root do so in order to be a moving target. So you're probably gonna put my little Kaylee into some danger."

Mal went to interrupt him, but he put up his left paw and that was enough to silence him.

"Now it ain't my place to judge. It ain't my place to know even what you're about. Smuggling? Maybe you're still fighting the war in your own way? I ain't interested in the details. I know enough to know. We got ourselves a custom 'round here. We got ourselves two kindsa families. Family by blood, and family by choice. Kaylee's family by blood, but I couldn't imagine a better soul to call my own flesh and blood. She's near and dear to me. So if I'm going to allow you to take her on as your mechanic, without anyone who's family of my blood goin' with her? Well I need to be assured of somethin: I need a family member of choice to promise me she'll be taken care of. I don't want no harm to come to her, y'understand?"

Mal felt the tension in the air, and knew this moment was an important one for them both, but the man was holding the blade quite confidently and calmly, turning it over in his hand, the light from the nearby fireplace flickering in the metal blade. It was a bit unsettling, "We've only just met sir. So all I have here is my word to assure you, but every member of my crew is hand picked by me, and when we're out there in the black we got ourselves nothing but each other to trust. I have on more than one occasion put my life on the line to defend theirs. Now I can't make any guarantees cuz I can't predict the future. I'm no reader, but I can promise you I'll treat her as if she were my own daughter."

"I'm not askin' for you to take my place, son."

"I wouldn't dream of replacin' ya."

"Well ya won't have ta."

Kaylee's father took his right hand palm up, and with the knife in his left hand, he sliced a cut through his right palm. Just enough to make it bleed. Mal winced at the sight of it. "Now over by the wetbar behind us is a first aid kit. In a few moments we'll dress our wounds and have some whiskey to celebrate, but I've already done this in order to show my commitment to this little custom I believe in so strongly."

Mal noticed his own left hand reaching for his blade, because there was a part of him deep inside who understood from where this man was coming from. Kaylee's father shook his head.

"It must be this blade son, but I appreciate your willingness. Perhaps it's a silly custom to you, but this knife of mine has been in Kaylee's family for generations. My wife and I did this on our wedding night. I've done this with my most trusted farm hands. My great grandfather did this with Major Stromfeld, whom you may not know, but he helped my family on the Earth-That-Was get out here."

"I have heard of him, sir. His military strategies are legendary."

"We're very fond of him in our family, because he was family by choice and by way of this little ceremony, family by blood." Kaylee's father presented the blade to Mal, handle pointed away from himself. "I'm askin' you to join our family, and treat her not as if she were your daughter, but as if you were my brother."

Mal took the blade and tried not to wince at the pain when he sliced his own right palm, "It's an honor sir."

The smile returned to Kaylee's father's face, "No more words, captain." He reached out and took Mal's right hand and shook it firmly again with his own. "This is enough for me."

A few moments later the two men were laughing with one another as they walked into the kitchen. They still held their small mugs of whiskey in their bandaged hands, and Mal could already feel the whiskey dulling the pain just enough. Kaylee and her mother turned around and their faces lit up with smiles.

"Daddy!" Kaylee rolled her eyes, "You didn't!"

"Did." The two men smiled at one another. Kaylee's father slapped Mal heartily on the back.

Her mother looked to her husband soberly, but the smile didn't fade, "So this means we're letting our little bird fly?"

"That it does, dear."

The two ladies let out high pitched squeals of delight and hugged one another with tears in their eyes. Mal looked over at Kaylee's father, unable to avoid smiling at the situation himself. Kaylee's father lifted up his bandaged hand, and Mal did the same, and they clinked their glasses together as Kaylee's father laughed a hearty and glorious laugh.

And that's how Kaylee joined Malcolm Reynold's crew, smiling all the way.
SNT - I'll pretty much agree with you there. I might have over-reacted a bit to the double standards being enforced (or not enforced as the case may be).

PS While I am a fan of his writing, I had no idea what his opinions were regarding homosexuals (or what his positions are on most issues for that matter), though I did have some vague rememberance that he was a Morman. Ironically, I'm pretty sure that he is (or at least was until recently) a Democrat.

In any event, I'm happy for any good publicity for Firefly and/or Serenity.

Gonnas - I was (as Joss definitely intended) surprised to see how Kaylee became part of the crew, but when you give it thought it was completely true to her character. It was just an aspect of it which hadn't been made clear until that scene, which was a classic example of JW's genius.
Thanks for that ZachsMind - it was beautiful and I could really picturing it happening that way.
I've learned long ago to take a creator's personal views and set them apart from their work. I've heard some nasty things about the character of Robert Heinlein and Ayn Rand but hold their work in very high regard. As a libertarian I can't afford to hold a person's socio-political views against them or I'd have to just turn off my television and hand in my library card.

That said, I hold Orson's work in high regard and I think that his pocket review of Firefly was rather fair. He was harsher on the CHARACTER of Kaylee than I would have been but it was still rather mild.

Actors tend to take criticism of the character as directed at themselves. This does strike me as oddly proprietary since the writer and director have a little influence on the character as well. She was acting as written and directed by Joss so if anyone should feel affronted, it is Joss.

Are you okay Joss? Even though you are a lefty who wants to take away my economic freedom I still worry. If it helps, I wouldn't change a frame of it.
rkayn, "What ever happened to the American ideal of disagreeing with someone's opinions but being willing to die to ensure he is able to say them?"

That's not an American ideal. It's a french enlightenment ideal, so you know. It's Voltaire.

And there's not a problem with him stating his opinion, my problem is with the Content of his opinions.
rkayn, we are discussing an author who happens to be controversial and we're doing so in a quiet and respectful manner. We are not trashtalking the writer of a review just because we don't agree with what he writes about whatever we're a fan of. When that happens, we cut in.
writer in this case it was directed at the actor "(couldn't Jewel Staite have occasionally stopped smiling idiotically during the early episodes?)."

As you said it does have to do with the writer and the director just as much as the actor on how a character is ultimately brought to life and maybe if he had said the characters name instead of the actress, Jewel may not have been so put off by it. I still, however, would have been.
Are you okay Joss? Even though you are a lefty who wants to take away my economic freedom I still worry.

Huh, I always thought it was a contradiction in terms, but is this what is generally referred to as ‘compassionate conservatism’? ;)
I just finished the 3rd disc of Firefly -- (yeah, I know, I should have gotten to it earlier, but I cheap, so sue me) -- and after seeing Christina Hendricks (Saffron) for the second time, and after seeing her each week in the pretty-good Kevin Hill, I have to say, wow. How many eps does someone have to be in to be added to the Whedon hottie list, cause this girl has grown on me and she is STACKED.

Man, as I've taken my time with revisiting Firefly -- I missed maybe one or two during its run on TV because this was before my DVR days -- watching each episode and listening to the commentary, I am more and more optimistic and confident about the upcoming movie.

As for annoying characters, I'm sorry, but the most annoying character, even for someone who is a fan like me has got to be River. Her babbling that is supposed to be spooky and endearing was flat-out annoying for much of the show. If she hadn't begun to snap out of that down the stretch she had the potential to ruin the show whether Joss loves her or not.

It's also a little bothersome, despite the supposed status, to have a woman still employed as a courtesan. The "profession" seems to be demeaning and lessening of women, despite Joss' best efforts. But wow, Morena is so gorgeous it's to remember why I care when I watch.

Finally, as for Jewel Staite's/Kaylee's smile, I remember there was an early TwOP recap that talked about how the reviewer was prepared to be annoyed at the "beautiful woman we're supposed to pretend isn't beautiful until she cleans up." Not sure how that applies, really, but that's what I think about when I see Kaylee on the show. All in all, the character/actress is pretty doggone cute.
Just for the record, Matt Stone and Trey Parker have said on the record that they are Republicans (this was during the mild controversy over their extremely mild "That's My Bush") It's true they are pretty far from "movement conservatives" and are socially very tolerant, like many artistic conservatives. But on issues of economics and posibly to a lesser extent, defense, they lean pretty rightward.

They attack liberals with far more consistency than liberals. In "Team America" members of the "Film Actors Guild" take in the shorts, while no conservatives get frontally attacked. To quote Matt Stone: "I hate conversatives, but I really f****ing hate liberals."

Even so, they embrace many conservative positions, so I think it's fair to say they are right "leaning." They are certainly anti-left. In fact, many conservative writers noticed this tendency and came up with the term "South Park Republicans."

On the other hand, I'm sure they'd make fun of OSC and his views. (They haven't exactly been kind to Mormonism.)

[ edited by bobster on 2005-02-05 02:21 ]
While no Conservatives get frontally attacked in Team America, the film spends a lot of time making fun of the American habit of attacking other countries and fucking up. From the way Team America destroy everything in every mission, from the Eiffel Tower to the pyramids, to the song "America, Fuck Yeah!". Plus South Park was consistently anti-religious right and anti-conservatism, certainly as much as it was anti-left or anti-liberal.

I think their stance in regards to the shows is that they're just making fun of everyone, making fun of the situation. Even if they are right or left-leaning in their own personal views, I still think the shows are pretty balanced.
Miranda... conservative compassion? I'm an atheist who believes they should legalized prostitution, drugs and marriage between any sentient beings who so desire. More like Libertarian compassion. While the left wing is trying to take away my economic freedoms, the right wing is trying to take away my social freedoms. That still means that some on the left are fighting for my social freedoms and some on the right are fighting for my economic freedoms. Bloody mess if you ask me.
It's true that Parker & Stone usually make a point of trying to be equally-opportunity-offenders, but just as "The Daily Show" tries to make fun of everyone but always seems to do a slightly better job of making fun of Republicans and you pretty much tell that they lean liberal, so it is with South Park and leaning a bit libertarian/conversative. It's possible the libertarian strain is a lot stronger than the conservative strain. There are specific episodes that contain pretty strong conservatives messages, particularly the "Charbucks" episode and its defense of big business. On the other other hand, certainly, even a bleeding heart liberal can't find anything to argue with in most of their shows (and certainly not "South Park: Bigger, Longer, and Uncut", which is a pretty brilliant dissection of issues relating to censorship, war and propaganda. Also found the "Paris Hilton's Stupid Spoiled Whore Playset" ep. spot on.).
brother_grady: I don't get it. The problems I have with prostitution and the way that I find it demeaning is the way the women are thought of and treated by the men who engage them. For the most part, Inara and Companions in general have none of this. When men are disrespectful to her, she has them blacklisted. She takes care of herself, she is healthy, highly educated and trained, and perfectly competent. I don't see anything wrong with Companionship as a profession as it lives in Firefly. Because she is in control and has power over herself. Why would it be more demeaning for her to trade on her body and sexual prowess than it would be for her to trade on her beauty by modelling or dancing, or to trade on her intellect and skills like Zoe and Kaylee do?

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