Murphy’s Law – Do it for Mal

Joel Murphy

Joel Murphy

“I’ll tell you this. No one has ever shown the kind of faith in me that Joss Whedon has shown, in both giving me a lead on his sci-fi show Firefly and in letting me play a villain for the very first time. No one’s ever let me play a villain before. So, I would say that I think he’s done great things for my career and certainly my confidence in general.”

– Nathan Fillion

In this dark, barren TV wasteland filled with reruns and that suckfest known as John and Kate Plus 8, one must look to outside sources for entertainment. That’s why I have been relying on my Netflix account so heavily lately.

I recently had Netflix send me the entire Firefly series. I am a huge fan of the movie Serenity, but had never actually watched a single episode of Firefly (even though my nerdy friends have continually urged me to do so), so I finally decided to right that wrong. It is, of course, a fantastic show and I have loved every minute of it.

I enjoyed it so much, in fact, that I decided to check out another Joss Whedon project, Doctor Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog, which just became available on Netflix this week. For those of you who are unfamiliar with it, it was originally created as a three-part web series during the writers’ strike last year. Whedon decided to use his free time during the strike to write something independent of the big studios and to release it on the web to show what you could do on your own with a small budget and a little creativity.

Doctor Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog is the story of a mad scientist (played by Neil Patrick Harris) who is trying to get into the Evil League of Evil while also trying to woo Penny (Felicia Day), a beautiful girl at his laundromat who he is too afraid to talk to. Dr. Horrible must also do battle with beloved superhero Captain Hammer, who is played by Firefly star Nathan Fillion.

I can’t recommend watching Doctor Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog highly enough. In fact, I recommend skipping the Netflix route and just ordering it directly from Amazon, where it is 10 bucks. Trust me, it’s worth it.

Now, in the interest of full disclosure, I should probably come clean right now and admit that part of the reason I checked out both Whedon projects is that I have a bit of a man-crush on Nathan Fillion. Perhaps it is because his portrayal of Malcolm Reynolds is reminiscent of Harrison Ford as Han Solo, who I loved wholeheartedly as a child. But whatever the case, I find Fillion to be a charismatic and funny action star.

Unfortunately, many people in mainstream America don’t even know who Fillion is and post-Serenity, his IMDB resume is suspect at best. He had some success with the popular indie film Waitress and a guest spot playing Kate’s love interest in an episode of Lost, but for the most part he’s been getting by with reoccurring roles on Desperate Housewives and One Life to Live and a starring role on the show Castle, which from the previews looks like one of the most generic and painful chick shows on television today.

I don’t begrudge Fillion for working on any of these shows. As I’ve stated before, I’m not one to look down on actors I love for collecting a paycheck and Fillion has to go where the work is. If Hollywood isn’t smart enough to utilize him correctly as a charming action star, then he has to do what he can to earn a paycheck.

However, I do think I’ve figured out a way to salvage his career – I think that he should work exclusively with Joss Whedon. Whedon just knows how to write for Fillion. Whether he is playing the goofy and heroic Malcolm Reynolds or the boorish Captain Hammer, Whedon always finds a way to play to Fillion’s strengths. Whedon was even the first person to let Fillion play a villain, casting him as the evil Caleb in the final season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

And it’s not just a one-way street. As much as I’ve come to love and respect Whedon’s work, I think that he is at his best when he has Fillion around. I haven’t watched a single episode of Dollhouse, but I feel confident in saying that the show would be much more enjoyable with Fillion on it.

Some directors just click with a certain actor – like Tim Burton with Johnny Depp or David Fincher with Brad Pitt. Now, Burton is clearly in love with Depp and has gone as far as to marry Helena Bonham Carter, who looks strikingly similar to the actor. I’m certainly not suggesting that Whedon needs to go to those lengths (and, in fact, I shudder to think what the poor woman who resembles Fillion), but I do think the two should collaborate as often as possible.

So please make it happen, Whedon. Save Fillion from the soap operas and the chick shows. Do it for Mal. Do it for Captain Hammer. But for the love of god, just do it before he gets cast in the next Sex and the City movie.

Joel Murphy is the creator of HoboTrashcan, which is probably why he has his own column. He loves pugs, hates Jimmy Fallon and has an irrational fear of robots. You can contact him at

  1. Chris Kirkman June 3, 2009
  2. Courtney June 3, 2009
  3. Joel Murphy June 3, 2009
  4. Joel Murphy June 3, 2009
  5. Chris Kirkman June 3, 2009
  6. Joel Murphy June 3, 2009
  7. Chris Kirkman June 3, 2009
  8. JeT June 3, 2009
  9. Joel Murphy June 3, 2009
  10. JeT June 3, 2009
  11. Chris Kirkman June 3, 2009
  12. Chris Kirkman June 3, 2009
  13. Darrin June 3, 2009
  14. Joel Murphy June 3, 2009
  15. Chris Kirkman June 3, 2009
  16. Joelle June 3, 2009
  17. Joelle June 3, 2009
  18. murf June 4, 2009
  19. FireflyFlan June 4, 2009
  20. Darrin June 4, 2009
  21. Joel Murphy June 4, 2009

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