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‘Con Man’ Trailer: Insights, Cameos, and Easter Eggs

conmaniconAlan Tudyk’s and Nathan Fillion’s IndieGoGo-funded webseries Con Man had a huge Hall H panel during San Diego Comic-Con this past week. During the panel, he premiered the trailer for the upcoming show.

The trailer highlights the satire of the series for Tudyk and his co-star Nathan Fillion.

  1. Spectrum, the sci-fi series Tudyk’s character Wray Nerely is known for, parodies Firefly, the show Tudyk and Fillion are best known for amongst the geeks of sci-fi conventions. Like Firefly, Spectrum was cancelled too soon and gained a cult status afterwards. In the trailer, various people ask Nerely is they’re going to make a Spectrum movie. Firefly was resurrected for the big screen in the film Serenity.alan-nathan-deck-crop-143647
  2. Like in the trailer, Fillion has gone on to bigger stardom. In Con Man his fame is in films, while in real life, Fillion has been the star of the hit t.v. series Castle.
  3. Meanwhile Con Man minimizes Tudyk’s post-Firefly fame by his character Nerely bemoaning that Spectrum was the best thing he’s ever done then showing him doing what appears to be animation voice-work. In real life, Tudyk is a rock-star voice actor, having wonderfully villainous roles in massive hit films Frozen and Wreck-It Ralph.alan-voicework
  4. As is shown in the trailer, Tudyk’s and Fillion’s characters hope to work together again. Con Man was in part an excuse for Tudyk to actually make that wish come true.

Other Easter eggs, jokes, and cameos from the trailer:

  1. Spectrum isn’t all Firefly. The soundtrack and alien/supernatural presence, plus the red and black flight suits are similar to Farscape, another cult sci-fi show that was cancelled and later resurrected due to rabid fan fervor.
  2. Nerely’s accompanied at the convention by Felicia Day, Geek Queen, best known for her webseries The Guild and her role as Penny in Joss Whedon’s Dr. Horrible’s Sing-A-Long Blog.
  3. Sean Austin, who will forever be Samwise Gamgee aka “the fat hobbit” from The Lord of the Rings encourages Nerely to embrace being a “space pilot” because it’s “better than reality.”
  4. The bartender who scoffs at Nerely being able to “play thirty” is Casper Van Dien, known in sci-fi circles as the star of the satirical masterpiece Starship Troopers, from which Firefly borrowed costumes to outfit their Alliance troopers in the episode “The Train Job.”
  5. The fabulous Gina Torres is playing the recording engineer in the scene where Nerely is performing voice work for an animated feature. Torres played Zoe on Firefly who was married to Tudyk’s character Wash.
  6. When Nerely attempts to get a seat on an airplane, he asks a man if he happens to be a sci-fi fan, and that man tells him to “F**k off.” That bearded, sunglasses-wearing jerk is Wil Wheaton, high king of geeks and known best for his role as Wesley Crusher on Star Trek: The Next Generation.
  7. Fellow judge Sean Maher comments, “Oh, he’s sexy.” Maher played Simon on Firefly. He shared publicly that he was gay just a few years ago.
  8. Michael Dorn, aka Worf from Star Trek: The Next Generation, reads Shakespeare while Seth Green, known best as Oz on Buffy the Vampire Slayer and as writer and director of Robot Chicken to sci-fi con-goers, humors Nerely’s bad joke.
  9. Tricia Helfer, who is known for Cylon Number Six on Battlestar Galactica, plays a Helfer lookalike on Con Man. Nerely talks on the phone about how he met a woman who looks just like that hot, hot cylon then underlines the fact that all of the cylons were hot.
  10. Amy Acker shows up as Nerely’s wife? Acker co-starred with Tudyk in Joss Whedon’s Dollhouse.
  11. Speaking of Joss, he appears as a crew member shaking snow and his head.
  12. When Nerely brags that he’s doing a movie with Jack Moore (Fillion), the guy who asks if it’s a Spectrum movie is Milo Ventimiglia, who played Peter Petrelli on Heroes.
  13. Henry Rollins agrees to do Nerely’s movie, but only on the condition that there’s no crowdfunding–which is funny because Con Man itself was crowdfunded.
  14. When Nerely opens his Spectrum doll, the placement and pose of the doll’s right hand suggests masturbation, that he’s a wanker.

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Review: The Fangirl’s Guide to the Galaxy

The Fangirl’s Guide to the Galaxy: A Handbook for Girl Geeks by Sam Maggs is like the geeky older sister back from college to guide a younger sibling into the world of MMORPGs, comic book stores, and cosplay conventions. Considering Sam Maggs is an editor at The Mary Sue, she may actually be one of the most qualified “geeky older sisters” available on the internet.

fangirl coverFanfic, cosplay, cons, books, memes, podcasts, vlogs, OTPs and RPGs and MMOs and more—it’s never been a better time to be a girl geek. The Fangirl’s Guide to the Galaxy is the ultimate handbook for ladies living the nerdy life, a fun and feminist take on the often male-dominated world of geekdom. With delightful illustrations and an unabashed love for all the in(ternet)s and outs of geek culture, this book is packed with tips, playthroughs, and cheat codes, including:
• How to make nerdy friends
• How to rock awesome cosplay
• How to write fanfic with feels
• How to defeat Internet trolls
• How to attend your first con
And more! Plus, insightful interviews with fangirl faves, like Jane Espenson, Erin Morgenstern, Kate Beaton, Ashley Eckstein, Laura Vandervoort, Beth Revis, Kate Leth, and many others.

I really love the idea of this book. It acts as a kind of manifesto for girl geeks, giving voice and published, authoritative presence. It offers interviews with the Queens of Fangirl Geekdom, like Jane Espenson who is known for her sci-fi television writing: Buffy the Vampire SlayerFirefly, Battlestar Galactica, and Once Upon a Time among others. So it offers role-models, a history of girl geekdom even. And that’s really, really awesome.

However, in the execution, I ended up wondering who the reading of the book was for. The coverage of any given topic–how to write fanfic or introduce a friend to a particular geek fandom–is introductory. So who would be starting to identify as a fangirl or geek girl and need guidance on how to find more to their interests or to share their interests? Certainly not me, but since I’m well into my 30’s, I’ve had more than enough time to do super fangirly things like create a Firefly-fan oriented guild in World of Warcraft (I named us the Special Hellions). So likely this is for someone younger, perhaps a teenager starting to orient strongly towards Doctor Who.

This book would be a great addition to a high school library to help diversify the ways students could build identity. It would be a perfect gift for a teen-aged girl without older role models in geekdom who might need some solidarity to allow her geek flag to fly.

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Was the ‘Firefly’ Crew the Bad Guys? recently released a short video wherein the “new guy” posits that the Firefly crew was really the bad guys and the Alliance really the good guys in Joss Whedon’s Firefly/Serenity narrative. It’s an argument with some merit, as it turns out, and the video’s pretty funny for those familiar with the show and movie. My apologies for the required click-through.

Not to take this comedy short overly seriously, but many commentators on the video have put forth examples of the Alliance’s nefariousness or point out that the crew is comprised of anti-heroes to counter the “new guy’s” argument. But I think the main rebuttal is that Firefly only glances at the bad guy/good guy dichotomy before more or less giving it the finger. At the base line of the show is the Western genre, a genre that is traditionally known for its black hats and white hats. But Firefly is more in line with a revisionist Western like Unforgiven where the heroes are broken and the lawmakers corrupted. To attempt to pigeonhole the groups into “good” and “bad” is missing the point. The waters are muddied. Mal would like to be good, but even his name turns against that nature. The ‘Verse forces compromises on his character to keep his ship and crew in the air until he’s no longer a great or even good man–he’s just okay.

Furthermore, the ‘Verse isn’t divided into two clean sides. All of the characters and organizations in the ‘Verse are in a gray area. Niska, Badger, and the like are antagonists to the Firefly crew, as is the Alliance. Mal’s crew doesn’t neatly fit in anywhere. They’re outsiders and misfits, intentionally flying in liminal space, not even trying to find a home, just trying to keep flying.

So ultimately the question is faulty. An amusing mind-trip, but faulty.

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The Joy of Shipping

What this is not: an effusive demonstration of devotion to UPS, USPS, or FedEx. That’s not the shipping I mean.

I’m talking about (relation)shipping, the act of desiring a fictional couple to get into a romantic relationship. Generally speaking, this couple is one that is being kept apart for various reasons: there is something “wrong” about them being together (Logan and Veronica on Veronica Mars, Buffy and Spike on Buffy the Vampire Slayer), their relationship must remain platonic for professional reasons (Mulder and Scully on The X-Files, Mal and Inara on Firefly, Castle and Beckett on Castle), or the show is just milking the romantic tension (see all the above but also Maddie and David on Moonlighting, Sam and Diane on Cheers). Alternatively, this could be a couple that the show gives only a hint of an attraction, allowing a kind of camp or slash reading which could allow for non-hetero sexual pairings, like Xena and Gabrielle on Xena: Warrior Princess prior to the final seasons where their relationship became overt canon.

imageI love the charge of electricity in a great shipper couple. I shipped Mulder and Scully hardcore for many years, even going so far as to read fanfiction that would take them down romantic, non-canonical roads. I would pour over screenshots like the one from “Post-Modern Prometheus” on the left there and watch video clips on YouTube. Talented shippers often show their enthusiasm through images and videos splicing together key moments for the couple.

I think my last shipping excitement was for Logan and Veronica back in 2006. So imagine my joy when a few nights ago the feeling hits me again.

We are midway through season 3 of Once Upon a Time, and I find myself inexplicably pulled into the throes of shipping once again with Emma and Hook. To add to the wrongness of it, my husband has found Hook despicable. But he’s so cute with his tousled hair and black eyeliner. Of course, he’s exactly wrong for Emma, which is exactly what makes him so right. He’s the bad boy type with his black leather duster and his hook hand. But he’s also a great match for Emma. They get each other, understand each other’s tricks. As a former bails bondsman, she’s used these tricks as well as foiled them many times over. There’s clear chemistry. And, he’s not unlike Neil was 12 years prior–a thief and a liar, a criminal with a heart for Emma.

Is this line a Princess Bride reference, making Hook the Dread Pirate Roberts and Emma Buttercup? Suits them.

Is this line a Princess Bride reference, making Hook the Dread Pirate Roberts and Emma Buttercup? Suits them.

But coming to the shipping so late means that some of my normal shipper activities are risky. I realized this when simply seeking out the video clip of the S3.E5 first kiss. Though there are plenty of fan-made videos, images, and fanfic to indulge in, to do so means opening myself up to all of the spoilers for the episodes we haven’t caught up with yet. Boo.

I’ve found OUAT to be a mixed bag, but the shipping has renewed my interest and then some.

Emma + Hook 4-Evah!

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Paradise Lost: ‘Firefly’ Fandom Sullied

My first innocence lost regarding a beloved artist who turned out to be a terrible person was Van Morrison. I had one of those (probably common) discoveries of the album Moondance during my freshman year in college, fell in love to it, and then learned that Morrison beat his children. Now “Into the Mystic” can never be enjoyed free of that baggage.

I’m no imbecile. Any fool could tell you that artists aren’t saints (well, excepting maybe Sinead O’Connor). They all have their vices and flaws. But there are some that cross a line in your heart, bleeding their darkness into the art itself and blackening the pure enjoyment.

Here I sit again with the terrible knowledge of unforgivable immorality by an actor I once adored.

I should have seen it coming really. The two roles I’ve followed him in foretold his actions. Jayne was, of course, repeatedly the one willing to turn over River for a handsome payoff on Firefly. His character on Chuck was a Ronald Reagan devotee and a gun nut. Actually, both characters were gun nuts.

And yet, even though this kind of thing is pretty much in character, and even though I accepted long ago that Adam Baldwin was politically conservative, somehow I never imagined he was a bad person. But he is – he crossed that line, proving himself not merely a douchebag, but a full on bad guy. (Not in the cute, ironic Whedonesque way either.)


In the midst of some internet brouhaha where a bunch of adolescent males got their scrotums in a twist over the fact that women are becoming an actual presence in Gamerville and have started to speak up about the misogynistic portrayal of women in video games and, like, started to design their own, Baldwin tweeted out a link to a video that included personal photos and address of one of these women, Zoe Quinn, a woman who had been receiving threats of sexual assault and violence against her person. He tweeted this doxing to his 186,000 followers, in my mind becoming an accessory to any violence done against her at her home. Or the fact that she CANNOT GO HOME.

Check out this article from The Mary Sue for the full story.

Now, because Baldwin has enabled this violence, I cannot think of him without sick boiling in my stomach. Where once there was affection unbridled for Firefly, I now wonder if I’ll be able to watch it again without accompanying nausea.

But that’s small potatoes compared to the harassment Quinn may receive due to Baldwin’s action. May he rot in the special hell for child molesters and people who talk at the theater.

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A Potential Treatment for the Community Movie of #sixseasonsandamovie

MW_Study_group_unitedIt seems YahooScreen! is already planning to fulfill the order put forth by Community fans for #sixseasonsandamovie.

But what should the show creators do considering how cinematic the television episodes are? How can Dan Harmon and co. expand the scope of the little show that could into a full-fledged movie-going experience?

There aren’t many previous examples of television shows going cinematic: Star Trek, of course, The X-Files, Firefly, and Veronica Mars. But what I’ve gleaned from the most successful of those (The X-Files: Fight the Future, Serenity)  is that you have to keep the show’s flavor while expanding its borders. Here’s one idea to do just that. It is free for use to Dan Harmon should he want to develop it.

First, kill two birds with one stone by bringing back Donald Glover and having him invite the study group/Save Greendale Committee on a vacation cruise. He has escaped the pirates and now seeks revenge or, alternatively, to save his beloved LeVar Burton. Not only will the movie audience welcome the return of our beloved Troy, but it also provides an expanded setting to automatically give us the widescreen landscape.

This also opens up a list of parody/homage options that the show has only been able to touch on during “Beginner Pottery” when part of the group learns to sail in the parking lot.

SuzLavaLava1Opening credits in the style of The Love Boat. Then we could transition to a Cape Fear homage, where one of the college characters, like the Dean, sneaks on to pursue the object of his attraction: Joel. During a scuffle, perhaps Abed could get hit on the head by a mast, leading to a dream-reality.

Embedded in the dream would be a parody of Fantasy Island where Luis Guizman could play Ricardo Montalban’s Mr. Roarke, Chang would be Tattoo, and all the Greendale characters appear as Fantasy Island characters using this Wizard of Oz conceit.  Imagine Starburns in one of those grass-skirt get-ups.

Back on the boat, after Abed is revived, a run-in with a shark leads to Jaws and if they procure themselves a bigger boat, they could transition into Titantic. That shipwreck could lead to a Gilligan’s Island finale, which could either be the show’s cliffhanger for season 7 or series end depending on Yahoo!Screen’s desires.

I leave the more detailed casting of parallel parts to commentors or to Mr. Harmon himself.

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Bionic ‘Community’ Trailer for Season 6

banner-sorayaI think it says something about my TV viewing habits that many of the shows I have loved have broken ground with new ways of continuing their storytelling when the classic ratings system failed to support. Exhibit A: Joss Whedon’s short-lived sci-fi western television show, Firefly, gets cancelled after 13 episodes. After fan petitions and high DVD sales, the television spawns, not a revival on the small screen, but a feature film on the big screen. This film is called Serenity. imageExhibit B: After three seasons, Veronica Mars is cancelled. A decade later, fans Kickstarter a movie sequel. Exhibit C: Community, a quirky comedy with a five season run, gets cancelled, but knowing there’s a strong community of fans, Yahoo! Screen picks up the show for a sixth season presented through their webvideo portal. And a movie has been teased to fulfill the call for #sixseasonsandamovie.

Clearly my television viewing doesn’t fit in with the mainstream. The most popular shows I’ve ever watched are The X-Files, Smallville, and The Vampire Diaries. Everything else has been on the margins of viability, often from very early on in its run. But clearly the media landscape is changing for the more democratic. With a deal like the one made with Yahoo! Screens, Community can exist in a ratings-free world that won’t compare its apples to The Big Bang Theory’s oranges. I am hopeful.

And with that in mind, I present the preview of Season 6, which will start filming in the fall.

Yahoo! Screen has also posted video of the Community panel at San Diego Comic-Con this year.

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Ability to Resist Firefly Online Fading

fireflyonlineiconEnter the last week of July, the season of San Diego Comic Con, which always brings out the big news and developments in the geek world.

A year ago, I experienced momentary glee when Quantum Mechanix Inc. (QMx) and Spark Plug Games announced Firefly Online, a multi-user strategic roleplaying game set in the Firefly ‘Verse. That moment was immediately followed by resigned distance. If the game actually got legs, it might be lackluster. If it was, in fact, good, it wouldn’t matter anyway – I didn’t have time for it. I had a 6 mo. old at the time and was three years out from World of Warcraft progression raiding, which had taught me that MMO’s turned into a second job of near 40 hours a week when you play them seriously. No matter how good the game turned out to be, there was no way I could let myself get involved.

This year, my emotions are again in turmoil thanks to SDCC. First I heard that all of the major cast members were going to reprise their roles for the game – even Wash (Alan Tudyk) and Book (Ron Glass), who were cruelly killed off in Serenity. Alan Tudyk, the actor who played Wash and has now become something of a voice-actor extraordinaire, is actually voicing multiple roles in the game. Also appearing, Niska.

That’s what initially engaged my attention again – the news that the cast would be involved, that those characters would be reprised. They would part of the gameplay, their stories continued in some way.

Then I saw the video of gameplay. It opens with Ron Glass narrating, “If I were a captain…” then montages numerous Browncoats talking about the type of character or ship they would generate with screenshots. There’s even a Sims-like aspect where they showed decorating the ship with posters, furniture, and rugs. Are you kidding me? (Before the World of Warcraft obsession, I was a total Sims addict.) Then Nathan Fillion shows up. And by then my eyes were watering. Seriously, there may have been tears.

So I’m starting to wonder if I can resist the pull of Firefly Online. And I’m not alone.

QMx and Spark Plug announced that the player networking system, aptly called The Cortex, was now live and invited people to register. And then their servers broke. Big time. The Firefly Online Facebook page gave this update on the topic:

We’re aware of the issue, the server is being swamped with 10s of thousands of hits every second. Apparently us Browncoats are generating more traffic than an Amazon sale.

They’re now in the process of relocating everything onto Amazon servers to take the traffic demands. So currently The Cortex appears to only be gathering intel, allowing wannabe players to register. However, registering before the end of August will pay off in a free Kepler as a starter ship in the game.

Word is that the game will also be available to play on iOS and Android, which greatly increases my ability to work it into nap times and the other minute spaces of “free” time I have.


Hey, look! They’ve already made me in game – how convenient!

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Guardians of the Galaxy: The UK Extended Trailer and the Joss Whedon Connection

Watching the UK extended trailer for Guardians of the Galaxy that came out Tuesday, I was struck by how much it felt akin to Joss Whedon’s Serenity, the cinematic revival of his beloved but short-lived sci-fi western, Firefly.

Now compare that to Serenity’s trailer.

Obviously Serenity lacks aliens and “official” superheroes (but, hey, there’s River). BUT. Both follow a rag-tag group of marked criminals as they run from authorities and attempt to save the galaxy. Both have a roguish lead character attempting to organize the various group members into action. Both have comedy coming from the rebellious, rule-breaking these characters partake in to get the job done their own special way. Both are action-based ensemble movies.

Crew members in FireflyAvengers worked like gang-busters because Whedon is a master of the ensemble. His work in television–Buffy, Angel, Dollhouse, and Firefly–and then in movies–Serenity, Cabin in the Woods, and Much Ado About Nothing–all involve juggling numerous characters, making sure they all have personality, motivation, stakes in the action, and an important job to play. Avengers was great because he wove together the personalities of disparate superheroes (and their films’ styles) and had them authentically bounce off of each other while also ensuring each was important alone too. Guardians needs to work in the same way to work at all.

So when Guardians started to seem pretty Whedonesque in that trailer, I did a quick bit of research and turned up an interview with James Gunn, Guardians‘ writer and director, where he speaks directly to Whedon’s involvement. The full article can be read here.

Guardians-of-the-Galaxy-GroupTurns out Whedon and Gunn are old friends and that Whedon pushed for Gunn to head up Guardians. Because of that and the close connections Guardians is going to have with Avengers 2, it’s no surprise that Whedon has helped shape the story and script. After seeing the first draft of Gunn’s script, Whedon told him to make it more of a Gunn film, which inspired Gunn to write a 7-page dialogue on the spaceship. Ironically, a scene like that would be right at home in Whedon’s Firefly.

But let me be crystal. I am ecstatic to find out that Whedon’s hand has been in the Guardians mixing bowl. His experience with ensembles, his tonal balancing of action, drama, and humor, and his wide-angle view of the Marvel universe means that Guardians will fit in with its siblings while also standing out as its own unique self.