briarwood: True Blood - Bill and Sookie from S3 promo pic (TB BillSookie S3)
( The Days )

Day 18 - Favourite title sequence

I have to cheat on this one and pick two, because I just couldn't choose between them. Sometimes titles can be really irritating. Back when I used to tape every show I liked, I would routinely edit out the opening titles because I knew that when I re-watched them, it would swiftly become really irritating. Especially the opening titles with some kind of voiceover. As much as I got a kick out of something like "...a word in turmoil cried out for a hero. She was Xena..." the kick fades on the twentieth repetition, you know?

But I've found a new appreciation for these things, ironically, since so many shows seem to have dispensed with them altogether. And these two (which don't include voiceovers!), I never get tired of. Or...not yet.

The first is the title sequence from Alias Season Four. They only ran it for that one season.

Clip under the cut )

I just love the rapid flashes of all Syd's disguises over the years. Back when the series was airing, I tried every darn week to count them. I could never do it - not without cheating with freeze-frame :) This does what a title sequence should do: it sets up what the show is about. You see Syd not just in every possible alias, but in every facet of her personality. And how is it that one person can look so different in each alias, and be hot in every single one of 'em?

My second choice is probably more predictable: True Blood. Not only is it a great song, again it's the imagery I love, and the way it sets up the show.

Clip under the cut )

In many ways, the imagery has little to do with the show: I mean, very little that you see in the opening titles actually appears in the episodes. But in another way, it's perfect, because what it does is put the episodes into a context. The sequence shows you the world True Blood exists in, a real world as well as a fictional one. It sets the scene, creates the mood. Just perfect for this show.

[And how cool are these twisty cut-tags on Dreamwidth? Finally a cut does useful stuff!]
briarwood: (TTV Human Nature)
( The Days )

Day 17 - Favorite mini series

"Mini series" seems to mean different things on different sides of the pond. In the UK, a full series may be no more than six episodes, so there's nothing "mini" about Band of Brothers and similar. A mini-series, to me, is a self contained story in four episodes or less. And with that definition, I have no trouble at all picking out my favourite: Tipping the Velvet. (And look - I've got an icon for this one!)

Even if it wasn't an awesome three episodes, I'd be tempted to pick this for the sheer gall of a BBC series having a title that's a euphamism for oral sex. Times certainly have changed! But it is awesome. Based on the novel by Sarah Waters, it's a period, lesbian romance. Kinda Dickensian, actually, in that it shows you the underclass and class tensions of Victorian London...but with added sex.

Plot details under the cut )

A lovely piece of television.
briarwood: (HL Methos Gun)
( The Days )

Day 15 - Favorite female character

When I started this meme, I thought this should be an easy question. But the more I think about it, the harder it is to choose a favourite female character. There are so many to choose from. I love women who can kick ass: Xena, Buffy, Sidney Bristow, Sarah Connor, Aeryn Sun. I love women who are smart: Sam Carter, Willow, Lois Lane, Dana Scully, Wendy Watson. I love women who have the self-confidence to insist the world take them as they are: Inara Serra, Sookie Stackhouse, Starbuck, Cordelia Chase, Delenn. I love women who are strong because they are women and that's awesome: Mary Winchester, Ellen Harvelle, Joyce Summers, Kaylee Fry, Precious Ramotswe, Laura Roslin.

How do I choose a favourite from among all of them?

But I did come up with one. Not so much a favourite as a character who embodies all the qualities I'm talking about above: Highlander's Amanda.

Read more... )
briarwood: (SPN John Grey)
( The Days )

Day 14 - Favorite male character

I doubt it will surprise anyone that my favourite male character is John Winchester of Supernatural.

John is...John is just my perfect fictional character.

He's someone I love to write about, because although there are aspects of his life no amount of research will help me understand, on an emotional level I 'get' him. I know where he's coming from, and it's not far from the place all my fic comes from. So he's perfect for me. Don't get me wrong: if I knew the guy in real life I'd probably hate his guts, and I know for sure he'd scare the crap out of me. But as a voice in my head, as a TV hero or a character for me to write about, I'm crazy in love with John Winchester.

And here's where I get to wax lyrical... )
briarwood: Sentinel: My Kind of Justice (TS Justice)
( The Days )

Day 13 - Favorite childhood show

Dick Turpin was written by the same man responsible for Robin of Sherwood: Richard carpenter. IMDB says it began in 1979 and other sources agree, but that doesn't match my memory. I remember watching this show with my Dad and he died in April '79. Even if it aired in January '79, he would surely have been too sick by then to watch it with me.

But, memory issues aside, this was a really great television drama. First thing to note is that it's more a re-imagining of the legend than historically accurate. The real Dick Turpin was not a nice person, he didn't ride a horse called Black Bess and he certainly didn't ride from London to York in a night (that was someone else). He was hanged in 1739, in York.

This series begins a year later, 1740, with the premise that the man hanged in York was an imposter using Turpin's name and reputation. The "real" Dick Turpin returns to his old haunt in the south. He's a good guy who was forced into military service as a young man and who found on his return that the unscrupulous local landowner (with the Dickensian name Sir John Glutton) has stolen the land he should have inherited from his father. This forces him into highway robbery, but he has a bit of Robin Hood about him. In the first episode, he gets involved with an attempt to rescue a young lad who bungles a robbery in an attempt to steal money to save his mother's home, and winds up with an unwanted "apprentice". And that's your setup for three seasons of great, family entertainment.

I loved this show. I still do - they finally released the DVDs a few years back and it stands up remarkably well. Oh, you can see it was filmed on a low budget and the film isn't exactly up to DVD quality. The choreography of the fight and chase scenes looks forced to an eye accustomed to modern stunts and hand-held camera techniques. But the writing and the performances are still good.

The Characters )
briarwood: Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Willow and Tara (BTVS Willow Spell)
( The Days )

Day 12 - An episode you've watched more than 5 times

Please. It would be quicker to list the episodes I haven't watched more than 5 times. Because I watch and re-watch the shows I love frequently. I replayed my ST:TNG tapes so frequently that even now when they re-run on Sky I can often name the episode from the first few seconds. I also tend to watch the whole canon of a show in a long marathon, even if it takes a couple of weeks; I only pick out individual episodes if I need them for a fanfic. So what have I seen more than five times?

All but the last season of Hercules: The Legendary Journeys; the first four seasons of Xena: Warrior Princess; all of Star Trek: The Next Generation and Star Trek: Deep Space Nine; all of Farscape; all of Alias; all of Ally McBeal; all of Hamish MacBeth; all of Robin of Sherwood (though a long time ago; I'm missing a season on DVD); all of Blakes 7 (again, not in the last decade); most of The X-Files (there are a few eps I routinely skip when I marathon); all of Buffy The Vampire Slayer; all of Angel; all of Millennium; all of Lois and Clark; all of Highlander and Highlander: The Raven; all of Babylon 5; Firefly; the first five seasons of Stargate SG-1; all of The Sentinel; seasons one and three of Numb3rs; all of Veronica Mars; two seasons of True Blood...

...I'm sure I'm missing a few. I'm just visualising my DVD shelves here.

I'm not up to five marathons of Battlestar Galactica yet, though I've probably seen the first two seasons more than five times. Supernatural is an odd one (for me) because there are episodes in the first three seasons I skip (Crossroad Blues because it hurts too much and Ghostfacers because it's a steaming pile of crap), but certainly all of season one would be on the list. Four and Five I have re-watched, but not five times.

So...no. I can't just pick one episode out of all that. Yes, I'm a TV addict. Well...it's more that I use TV as background noise the way a lot of people use music. So while I'm working at home or writing, I'll also be watching TV.
briarwood: Supernatural: The Winchesters (SPN Brothers)
( The Days )

Day 11 - A show that disappointed you

I hate to say it, but what other show can I choose here? Supernatural.

There are other shows I could say disappointed me. Shows that started off promising and just lost me somewhere along the way. But none of them have I loved as much as I did Supernatural in the beginning, and "disappointed" hardly seems an adequate word for the way I feel about the show now. Yet I'm still watching. I don't know if I'll watch next season...I'm not sure I can bear to get hopeful and be stomped on again.

I didn't watch the first season of Supernatural until after the finale. So I knew a little about what was to come, and I surely knew that the fandom was, shall we say, a little obsessive about slashing these two brothers. That's partly why I didn't watch earlier - not the incest thing (I cut my genre teeth on Robert Heinlein) - but the obsessive part. I didn't want to be stuck in another fandom with Danielites.

Anyhow, watch I did and I instantly fell in love with the show. Okay, it was a bit too testosterone-fuelled for my usual taste and I'm not a big fan of "kill it" being the solution to every problem. But still...I loved it. The show supplied a horror movie every week, it had an ongoing plot with actual layers and complexity, the characters too were many-layered and sure, the onscreen chemistry between the leads didn't hurt. I could certainly see where the incest was coming from in a way I never could in, say, Heroes.

I could go on for a long time about my love affair with Supernatural, but it's all there in my fanfic. I adored Sam. I liked Dean a lot. It took me a while to get a handle on John, but once it clicked, I was completely in love with him. So much so, that it didn't bother me when he died; the character may not have been present but he was still so essential to the story that for me he was still there.

I don't mean to say that the first two seasons were perfect - far from it. But the imperfections didn't matter to me because the stuff I loved was so much more present.

When did it change? Cut because this got long. )

Wow, that was cathartic. I feel better now :)
briarwood: Sentinel: "I must not put salt in Jim's coffee." (TS Blair Salt)
( The Days )

Day 10 - A show you thought you wouldn't like but ended up loving

Here's another easy choice: The Sentinel.

Like many TS fen, I came to the show through the fan fiction. Unlike many TS fen, I freaking hated the fan fiction!

Let me explain. The first fandom in which I truly felt like part of the online community was Hercules (HTLJ) and to a lesser extent its sister show Xena. When HTLJ was coming to an end, I sort of drifted into Stargate SG-1 because I saw a thematic connection: both were modern reinterpretations of ancient gods. I discovered I rather liked Stargate, and found the same kind of community feeling there that I'd enjoyed among HTLJ fen.

But there were these two characters who I emphatically did not recall from the TV show, who kept showing up in Stargate fanfic. Jim Ellison and Blair Sandburg. It wasn't unusual for the crossover label to be missing from these stories; I always skipped the ones that admitted it because I like to know both fandoms when I read a crossover. But these two guys just kept showing up. In particular, I loathed Blair because he talked like an illiterate teenager but context indicated I was supposed believe he was intelligent. And this 'sentinel' thing, I just didn't get it. Of course, fan writers generally do assume their readers already know stuff: it's one of the luxuries of being part of the audience you're writing for. And mostly it's fine. But all this stuff...it wasn't Stargate.

Eventually, I figured out that Sentinel was a US TV show and these two interlopers in my fandom were coming from there. I figured there must be something in it since so many Stargate fen liked it. So I went to check it out and...blow me, it was a goddamned cop show! This made no sense. I mean, what were Starsky and Hutch doing at Stargate Command? Cops didn't belong there! Not even cops with weird powers and sidekicks who talk funny and can't decide if they're a shaman or an anthropologist. I am really not a fan of crime drama so at that point I gave the whole thing up as a mass mental abberration and resigned myself to hitting the back button any time I saw words like 'sentinel', 'Ellison' or 'Blair'.

But there was this one fic. It was a long-running slash series, not brilliantly written but very engaging, and I was really into it, following it as each new chapter was posted. I wanted to know what would happen. I really did. And the damn writer snuck in a Blair cameo. After resisting my desire to lambast the author for sneakily forcing me to read something so anathema to me, I sighed, bit the bullet and asked on one of the lists if anyone could point me to resources about this Sentinel show. Sheila generously offered to send me tapes of the whole series (wow, tapes - yeah, this was in 2001, way before BitTorrent came on the scene). Around that time, I lost my job so I had a lot of time on my hands. I pretty much mainlined those tapes in a week. Maybe less.

And I got to read that fanfic to the end.

And, since I had so much time on my hands, I watched those tapes again. And then I found this idea for a Sentinel fanfic worming into my brain. And I started writing.

And the rest is history, I guess.

To this day, there remain a lot of fandom tropes I just can't get on board with. I tend to hit the back button every time I see the word 'guide'. Because in spite of everything, what I fell in love with was the canon, in all its flawed glory. This crappy cop show with its babe-of-the-week mentality and its blowing-shit-up and its hero who can't keep hold of his gun, and those weird, out of place episodes with sprit panthers and South American tribes...I just adore it. I can't even articulate why. I just do.

But it still doesn't belong with Stargate :)
briarwood: Supernatural: Jo Fights Like A Girl (SPN Jo Fighter)
You know, doing this meme is really making me realise how many of my favourite shows are missing from my icon collection. I really must fix that. But, on with today's entry...

( The Days )

Day 09 - Best scene ever

This was an easy one. Although I'm not sure the sheer power of it will come across viewing the scene out of context, the absolute best scene in all of television (that I'm aware of) is the climactic scene of Babylon 5's mid-point episode, Severed Dreams. Even typing this now, I get a shiver just remembering it. Watching the scene never fails to make my breath catch. The thing is, so much builds into this moment, the context is everything. It's both a coming together of plot threads that had been building for more than 50 episodes, and a massive turning point for both the overall plot arc and many of the characters.

More explanation and clip under the cut )

Babylon 5 had its faults as a TV show, not least some seriously awful dialogue. But on one thing I can't fault it: this show always, always delivered on it's climactic moments. So many shows go for the big build-up and when the moment finally arrives, it is ultimately unsatisfying. Babylon 5 always delivered in spades. From this scene the stakes got higher, the shocks deeper, the climactic scenes bigger. But this is the one that I find most memorable. Nothing else, in any other series I've seen, comes close to the power of those two minutes of TV.
briarwood: (Dollhouse Sierra Blue)
( The Days )

Day 08 - A show everyone should watch

I've spent the past three days of this meme pimping Hamish MacBeth which I love because it's so quirky. It's quirky in a very British way.

Today I'm going to recommend a show that's quirky in a fandom-geeky way. That show is The Middleman. It only lasted one season, but while it's a tragedy that there'll be no new episodes, what's out there stands alone perfectly well. Aimed at a "family" audience, but jam-packed with in-jokes and references only the older generation will pick up, it's funny, exciting, heartwarming, optimistic and all-round brilliant. When I'm miserable and depressed, I used to turn to Ally McBeal, because the way she builds mountains of depression out of molehills puts my own issues in perspective. Now I turn to The Middleman first because watching a couple of episodes of Wendy Watson being awesome has yet to fail to lift my mood.

The basic concept is this: all those mad scientists and supervillains in comic books with plans to take over the world? They're really out there, they're really crazy and they really do want to take over the world. While there's no corresponding superhero in cape and tights, there is the Middleman: backed my a mysterious organisation which supplies his beyond-the-realm-of-science equipment and grumpy robotic secretary, the Middleman tracks down mad scientists, aliens, creatures from parallel dimensions and suchlike, keeping the world safe from threats it would never believe in.

It's a very cartoon-like show, both in concept and look. Dialogue is snappy and delivered fast: it shouldn't work, but somehow it does, once you get into the rhythm of it. And it's got geek references galore - the obvious comic superhero stuff, and nods to cult sci-fi old and new. But you don't need to get the references to enjoy it - I'm sure I miss a bunch of them.

The characters: Cut because this got long. )

All that said, I'm almost glad The Middleman was cancelled, because I think it would have had difficulty staying this awesome. Don't get me wrong - another season would have been amazing! But six of them...I don't see that working. Stuff gets in the way, writers move on, network bosses start to interfere or show-runners start to think they can do no wrong and end up doing little right. Middleman ended while it was still awesome and that's why it's a show everyone should watch.
briarwood: (LOTR FrodoSam)
( The Days )

Day 07 - Least favorite episode of your favorite t.v show

Still going with Hamish MacBeth as my favourite TV show, at first I thought it would be impossible to pick a "least favourite" because all 20 episodes are awesome. Do I pick the one with the shinty match, since the whole football allegory turns me off (and I still don't understand the significance of knitted ties - can anyone explain that joke, or am I not supposed to get it?)? But the ending of that one is so fantastic, with the chopper and Wee Jock doing the dog on the pitch thing. How about the one where Hamish takes a holiday - that's probably the least show-like of the episodes because none of the action takes place in Lochdubh. But it's still such a good ep, with Hamish pretending to be Jewish (because that's the only way to avoid picking sides in the Catholic vs Protestant debate at the dinner table) and bungling it massively. Or maybe the one with the religious fanatics declaring Hamish to be the Devil? The whole religious theme in that is irritating and the plot is confusing...but again, the ending, with the whole thing revealed as a scam to cover up the minister's gay love affair (with Zoot! And which ends well!) is just precious.

But when I reviewed my episode list, I realised I do have a least favourite, because I'd completely forgotten it. It's not a bad episode (although it does have faults), it's just...not memorable. That is the third season episode The Trouble With Rory. Read more... )

ION - yesterday was a better day. It's still too hot! But I found Magnums on sale in Tesco (3 for 99p!!!) so I bought a bunch and they didn't melt while I got them home. Sis and the Useless Fiance were staying the night elsewhere, so I had a nice relaxing evening. I even wrote fic! I need the weather to cool off a bit so I can stand to sit at the computer long enough to finish some artwork for Geonn (see, I haven't forgotten you!) and type up the fic I wrote.

And there's a circus in town! They're building the big top in the park opposite my office building as I type. I may have to go tomorrow evening - it's the first night so tickets will be cheapest. I can't resist a circus :)
briarwood: (UTS LifeYouDontHave)
( The Days )

Day 06 - Your favourite episode of your favourite TV show

I picked Hamish MacBeth as my favourite TV show, though I don't truly have a single favourite. I'll carry that through to this day and the next of the meme. So, what's my favourite Hamish MacBeth episode? There are only 20 to choose from, 19 if I count the two-part finale as one, and honestly I love them all.

But my favourite is an episode that has everything I love about the show: the quirky humour overlaying a serious message about one of the characters; Hamish being a good cop and simultaneously putting friendship and loyalty ahead of the law; and the people of Lochdubh having their own private mockery of the outsiders, who richly deserve it.

That episode is The Big Freeze. More details and download link under the cut )
briarwood: (SW Yoda Pissed)
( The Days )

Day 05 - A show you hate

This is an easy one, although I can't narrow it down to a specific title because they all blur together as one big ball of toxic evil. A show I hate? Reality TV. Specifically, reality TV that exploits ordinary people.

I'm fine with something like Celebrity Big Brother or I'm A Celebrity - Get Me Out Of Here! Uh...when I say 'fine' I mean I'd rather have experiemental anal surgery than actually watch them, but I'm okay with them polluting the airwaves as long as I don't have to be in the vicinity. The 'celebrities' involved in those shows by definition already know what it's like to be the focus of media attention. They know what they're getting into and they do it to further their careers. Fair enough.

But there are a bunch of popular reality shows that rely on taking (for want of a better term) civilians off the street and making entertainment out of their humiliation. This I find utterly reprehensible.

If I ruled the world for a day, getting rid of those shows and throwing the people who profit from them into a fiery pit would be pretty darn high on my agenda. (You know, after world peace and cleaning up the environment. And waterboarding George Bush.)

I mean, I get that The X-Factor and its ilk are giving talented people a shot at fame...although from what I've seen of them I'd question the 'talented' part. But why show the auditions? There's only one reason to do that: it's mockery of those people who took a shot and failed. And sure, some people go to the auditions fully aware that their only talent is to look like a tosser. I imagine a few people run a betting pool on how many notes they'll get to sing before being kicked out. But there are also people who believe in themselves and want the dream they're being sold so badly...and the show makes entertainment out of crushing them. The indescribably evil bastards behind the production make money by destroying people.

Big Brother started out as a potentially interesting concept. I still wanted to buy the Channel 4 head a copy of The Running Man with instructions to read, learn and inwardly digest, but what it became as the franchise went on was utterly indefensible. From an interesting, if exploitative, social experiment, it became a ratings-hungry monster, designing a 'house' with maximum mental (and physical) torture in mind, intentionally selecting contestants with diagnosed mental illnesses with an agenda to provoke mockery and hate, not understanding. They threw racial minorities in with racists, knowing full well what would happen. They ran a tick-box exercise to 'prove' they were taking care of people inside the 'house' while intentionally doing everything possible to make life horrible for them. And then they top it off by throwing them into a baying mob.

Why do I watch, if I hate them so much? I don't. Unfortunately, my family members do so I catch snatches of these things as I pass through the room, or when I'm trying to have a conversation. Hell, I've even tried to bring to their attention how wholly toxic this crap is, but I don't seem to have much success.

So yeah. A show I hate: Reality TV. We really haven't come very far since throwing slaves to the lions, have we?

(I will take a break from the meme over the weekend; back with day 6 on Monday.)
briarwood: Brokeback Mountain - Shirt (Brokeback Shirt)
( The Days )

Day 4: Your favourite show ever.

If I'd done this meme three years ago, I would have answered Supernatural without any hesitation. Since then, though, SPN has gone downhill somewhat. It's still a show I'm fannish about, but I can no longer declare it my favourite show ever. Shouldn't a favourite be one that didn't break my heart and stomp on it?

I don't know if I have a true favourite. I'm not even sure how to define "favourite".

Shows I've been fannish about (seeking out the fandom, reading and writing fic or meta, going to cons): Hercules/Xena; Highlander/Highlander the Raven; Stargate SG-1; Sentinel; Supernatural.

Shows where I've done some fannish things, but don't really think of myself as "in the fandom": Robin of Sherwood; Star Trek TNG and DS9; Babylon 5; Stargate Atlantis; Buffy the Vampire Slayer/Angel; Alias; True Blood (that last may yet move to the first list).

Shows I've loved but haven't really done the fandom thing: Farscape; Mutant X; Lois & Clark; The X-Files, Sapphire and Steel; Firefly; Dollhouse; Millennium; Terminator: Sarah Connor Chronicles; Legend of the Seeker; Blakes 7; Heroes; The Middleman; The L Word; Queer As Folk (UK version); (new) Battlestar Galactica; Caprica; V (both incarnations); Friends; Ally McBeal; Sex and the City; Hamish MacBeth; Cracker; Merlin; Deadwood; Lexx; Dexter, Veronica Mars.

Plus childhood favourites and probably a bunch of others I don't remember right now.

Of those, there's no way I can pick out one and call it a favourite. Do I pick my fannish obsessions? If so, I'd have to choose SPN, and I've been so pissed off with that show lately that it seems laughable to say that's my favourite. True Blood is the only one that's gone more than a season and hasn't let me down...but although I love the show it doesn't inspire me in a fannish way as SPN or HTLJ did (partly because the fandom is all about Eric, and I don't like stalkers). Babylon 5, Alias and Battlestar Galactica I loved until the end but I never felt the need to seek out other fans or do the whole online community thing.

But for the sake of this meme, I'm going declare my all-time favourite a show that most of my friends probably haven't seen: the BBC-made Hamish MacBeth. Because it's awesome and funny. )
briarwood: (SPN JoSam)
( The Days )

Day 03 - Your favorite new show ( aired this t.v season)

I tend to avoid new shows, at least until I hear they've been renewed. I just can't bear falling in love with a show only to have it taken away again.

But I did take a chance on the re-imagined series V. And I really do like it.

The original V is one of my all-time favourites. Aliens with remarkably human appearance come to earth offering advanced technology and miraculous medicines in return for "a chemical" which they claim they desperately need to save their planet. Amazingly quickly, and in a heavy Nazi allegory, they take over. It turns out the chemical is a smokescreen: they don't look human at all, but are reptilian and they've come to earth to steal our natural resources, primarily the water and food (in the form of humans). It was a mini-series followed by another mini-series followed by a single season of regular eps. And it's still well worth a watch. The effects don't really stand up, but the story sure does.

With the 2009 remake, the Nazi allegory has been ditched in favour of the more topical terrorism. The true purpose of the "Visitors" has yet to be revealed, though it's evidently Not Good, and other aspects of the story have been updated and reworked. The characters are all different. But it's recognisably derivative of the original.

In this story, the "Visitors" have been on Earth for a long time, establishing sleeper cells and infiltrating, before the bulk of them showed up in huge spaceships. This makes for a different kind of tension: in the early episodes you don't know who's human and who isn't, who is good or who is bad. The takeover is more about marketing than about paranoia and power (much more suited to the culture of today).

What's to love about this show?

The lead hero and the lead villain are both women. The main hero character is Erica, an FBI agent whose anti-terrorism work leads her to uncover the truth about the Visitors shortly after they arrive. Assigned to a team dedicated to protecting the Visitors, she uses her position to gather intelligence for the resistance: in effect becoming leader of a terrorist cell herself. The irony of her position is not lost on her and we see her struggle with some aspects of what she has to do. This is a strong woman who follows her own convictions. The main villain is the Visitor leader, Anna. She's a less layered character - "evil" pretty well sums her up - but she's very mysterious. We don't really know who she is or what she wants from Earth. She's cruel and manipulative...in some ways a more stereotypical "bitch", but she's also undeniably in control.

The show doesn't pretend 'morally grey' is okay. One of the things I've come to loathe in SPN is the way horrible things are presented as okay if the heroes do it for the greater good. V doesn't do that. When Erica has to kill someone, she damn well feels it. Not over-the-top angst, just the awareness that she's taken a life. When she has to team up with a terrorist, her discomfort is clear, and he doesn't suddenly become a hero: he's still a terrorist. He's just on the heroes' side. Another main character is a priest and a lot of the core morality comes from him. The characters cross lines, but crossing the lines isn't presented as heroic, just as necessary.

Relationships are at the core of it...but not romantic relationships. Erica's complicated relationship with her son, who falls for one of the Visitors. Anna's relationship with her daughter. Rebel visitor Ryan's relationship with his human girlfriend (okay, that one's romantic, but it's also kinda not). Feelings and emotions play are at the heart of this story: according to Anna, the Vistors aren't supposed to have them. Feelings, that is. Yet they clearly do. If the series goes on, it could have some serious commentary on what it really means to be human.

Mystery abounds What do the Visitors really want? That question really isn't answered. Their duplicity implies they don't have humans' best interests at heart, but there's actually little evidence either way. At times, the viewer feels a little paranoid for assuming the worst. At others, that unknown is truly terrifying.

And it looks like the show will get a second season! So there's a plus, too.
briarwood: (XWP Callisto Bitch)
The Days


Day 02 - A show that you wish more people were watching

I'm cheating a little, because I know I pimped this show recently in another post, but I have to choose Legend of the Seeker for this one. even though I hear it's been cancelled.

Legend of the Seeker is from the same people who created Hercules: The Legendary Journeys and Xena: Warrior Princess so it shouldn't be a surprise that I like it. It surprised me, though. Six or seven episodes in to season one I was more frustrated with the show than into it. The writers seem to have aphasia: a major case of "that word doesn't mean what you think it means". Why call Richard "the Seeker" when he doesn't appear to be seeking anything? Why call Kahlan's magical process of turning people into love-slaves "confession" when it involves nothing of the kind? Why can't you use logical, English words for these things?

I've since read the first of the books this was based on and while the books do answer those questions, the terminology irritates the hell out of me. It's a typical high-fantasy, needlessly overdone way of writing...but reading the book at least lets me blame the original author, so I can see how the TV show creators have done a brilliant job with less-than-stellar material.

My point: though not without faults, this show is brilliant and everyone should watch it. Y'all can keep your hobbits: I'll take the MordSith any day :) The seasons are structured a lot like BTVS - mostly stand-alone episodes, but with a season-long plot arc that builds to a climax and conclusion in the finale. Th S2 finale is yet to air so hopefully they won't make a liar of me, but I'll go out on a limb and say no cliffhangers from season to season. It works very well.

It's a swords-and-sorcery drama, old school: the hero on his quest to save the world accompanied by magical companions. But what puts this one head-and-shoulders above most of the genre is the depth of the characterisation. Richard is the hero, but he's a long way from perfect. He screws up. He deals with the consequences. Characters grow and change. Good characters become bad. Bad characters become good. Relationships evolve and change, alliances are made and broken and remade.

Starting out by saying what's wrong isn't a great way to pimp a show, is it?

Let's see if I can do better. The hero is cute and spends a reasonable amout of time shirtless. And tortured. And, um, dead, occasionally. The villain is seriously sexy and has an army of leather-clad dominatrixes who fight with magical dildoes and break men to their will (one of them played by Charisma Carpenter). There are some twisted family relationships in there (well, not too twisted if SPN is your standard for comparison, but still...) Major subtext between Kahlan and Cara, the two heroines on the team. Strong plot. A great mix of humour and angst. Lots of action. Lots of action. Sex slaves. Wizards. Prophecies. Zombies!

What more could you want?
briarwood: (FF Inara)
In an effort to start posting a little more frequently, I thought I'd try a meme (from [personal profile] birggitt).

The Days )

Day 01 - A show that should have never been canceled

There are so many! But the absolute top of my list has to be Firefly. Fabulous cast, brilliant concept, great characters and plots...wtf happened? Oh, yeah. Fox happened.

The original Star Trek was described as "wagon train to the stars" so perhaps it's not true to say that the traditional Western in space hasn't been done before. Hell, there are nods to the Western in most popular sci-fi, but rarely has it been done as literally as Firefly with its cowboy-like costumes, space-whores, horses and cattle, outlaws and sheriffs, pioneers and wagons and pretty pink bonnets. Even the music follows the Western theme, but at the same time it's firmly set in a fully-realised future sci-fi world. There wasn't a single major character I disliked - though I could have done without one or two of the recurring characters - and the mystery of River provides an ongoing story arc that keeps me watching.

It's been a while since I've re-watched the series, but it's striking how strong that first-and-only half a season is. Most shows with this format (stand-alone episodes with maybe some kind of continuing arc), the first four to eight episodes are really ropey. Firefly was engaging from episode one...or would have been if Fox had actually screened episode one first. Only one episode of the thirteen is truly weak, and even that one might not have been if they'd been allowed to make the full season that would have put it into context.

Fox, what were you thinking?

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briarwood: Gal Godot as Wonder Woman (Default)Morgan Briarwood

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