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How Tim Minear came aboard Joss Whedon’s Firefly: A story of betrayal, spaceships, and Marti Noxon


And why moving Tim Minear from Angel to Firefly was the best move Joss Whedon ever made...

How Tim Minear came aboard Joss Whedon's 'Firefly': A story of betrayal, spaceships, and Marti Noxon

In the recent amazing, heart-warming 10th anniversary Firefly panel of awesomeness at San Diego Comic Con, Joss Whedon recounted the story of how Tim Minear joined the show.

Tim Minear was executive producer and effectively co-showrunner on the best show ever (Firefly), along with the best writer ever (Joss Whedon), which arguably makes Tim Minear the second best writer ever. Sorry, Shakespeare. (Maybe if you’d written more stories about spaceships and re-ensouled vampires seeking redemption…)

As Mal says in Serenity, “You all got aboard this ship for different reasons, but you’ve all come to the same place…” This is the story of how Tim Minear came aboard…

Alan Sepinwall at Hitfix live-blogged the panel, and he says that:

“Minear wasn’t supposed to work on “Firefly” because he was busy on “Angel,” but “My best friend had me come down to this set on Paramount and let me play with his space ship.” Minear was a geeky kid growing up, who attended cons himself, “And Joss Whedon, the coolest guy in geekland said ‘Come be on my spaceship.’” Whedon admits that recruiting Minear involved “betraying David Greenwalt, which is always funny, because I promised him I would never take Tim Minear off of ‘Angel.’” But Marti Noxon told him, “Joss, you need Tim Minear on ‘Firefly’, or you will never leave that set, and the other shows will die.” He says Marti was so right, “and it was the best move I ever made.””

Smart Marti Noxon is smart. (Smarty Noxon?) After all, she did write episodes like ‘The Wish’ and ‘Wild at Heart’, and was effectively co-showrunner for the underrated Buffy Season 6.

Also, Joss Whedon should henceforth be referred to as "the coolest guy in geekland". Which makes him the coolest guy, obviously. A fact that Hollywood has no doubt finally realised, now that he's directed the third highest-grossing movie of all time with The Avengers (not adjusted for inflation).

Interestingly, when Tim Minear initially pitched to write for Joss Whedon, Joss was impressed by his talent but thought he was the angriest man he’d ever met, so put Minear on Angel so he wouldn’t have to work with him as much.

This conjures up images of Tim Minear as Bruce Banner/Hulk. Don’t make him angry. You wouldn’t like Tim Minear when he’s angry… So putting him on a spaceship, with the vacuum of space all around, wouldn’t seem like the best idea…

But as with Lewis and Tolkien, Whedon and Minear overcame their initial differences to become best friends. (“Yes, he’s actually quite…soft and fuzzy. We’re becoming firm friends…”)

Yes, Tim Minear is best friends with Joss Whedon and got to play with spaceships. (But because of Firefly, we can all do that in our brainpans now too.)

Joss Whedon says that he betrayed David Greenwalt, “which is always funny” by taking Tim Minear away from Angel. David Greenwalt probably went “Curse your sudden but inevitable betrayal!”, then realised he was quoting Firefly, a show that Tim Minear helped to make so awesome, thus undermining his own point.

Picture the scene of this behind-the-scenes skulduggery:

Joss Whedon bursts into the Angel writers’ room.

Joss Whedon: “Timothy Minear? It’s time. ”

Tim Minear: “Is this The Summoning? Or at least A Summoning? Oooh, I’ve always wanted one of those…Quickly, to the Firefly-mobile! Away!” (jumps up and down with glee)

Joss Whedon: “Play it cool, Minear.”

Tim Minear: “Sorry, sir.”

Joss Whedon turns to leave, and Tim Minear trots dutifully along behind him.

David Greenwalt: “You can’t do this! You can’t take my Tim Minear! I need him! You gave it to us, you did…it was my birthday present…my…Preciousss…!”

Tim Minear exits the room. Joss Whedon turns back to face David Greenwalt.

Joss Whedon: “I just can’t seem to care.” (shuts the doors decisively)

David Greenwalt: “Whedonnnnn…!”

(Disclaimer: May not have been exactly how it happened.)

Maybe the cancellation of Firefly was actually due to a vengeful David Greenwalt, embarking on a Holtzian quest for vengeance? (“Hello. My name is David Greenwalt. You took my Tim Minear. Prepare to be cancelled.”)

[Angel S3 spoilers follow]

In Angel Season 3 terms, perhaps this means that: Joss Whedon = Wesley, David Greenwalt = Angel, and Tim Minear = Connor? And that means Marti Noxon = Sahjhan? Except that Joss says she was “so right”, so maybe, in the words of Doctor Horrible, “It’s not a perfect metaphor…”


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