selenak: (Londo and Vir by Ruuger)
2015-01-07 08:10 pm

And for that, I still envy you

First world problems: no Good Wife or Agent Carter yet for me (come through, Itunes, come through!). Also Darth Real Life keeps me really busy these days. Still, I have had an unexpected attack of Vir (from Babylon 5) feelings. He really is one of the most endearing characters ever, and one of the few where the balance between loyalty/friendship and individual conscience works just perfectly for me. Vir's affection for Londo at no point means he accepts Londo's rationalizations for wrongness. And he doesn't just have scruples, he does something about this (as in: actively helping, see Abramo Lincolni). Conversely, he never gives up on Londo, and imo that's a big part of why many a viewer doesn't, either. And lastly, the fact that it's Vir who makes Londo finally turn around and face himself/his deeds/G'Kar in The Very Long Night of Londo Mollari is possibly my favourite part in my favourite dream episode: "I'd miss you." "And I suppose I would miss you", and he turns around; still one of my favourite examples of two characters saying "I love you" without using these words.

In another fandom entirely: Neat article by Russell T. Davies and Aidan Gillen on the creation of QUEER AS FOLK.
selenak: (Ellen by Nyuszi)
2014-12-28 07:14 am

December Talking Meme: Top Ten Favourite Vids

With the disclaimer that this is prone to change depending on mood except for the first two, and is in no particular order:

1) Scooby Road by [personal profile] luminosity. Still the most awesome vid of them all, not only if you're a fan of BtVS and of the Beatles, and I am both. My detailed ravings on it are here.

2.) Ophelia, a Babylon 5 vid. I'll forever be glad to have lured [personal profile] andraste into B5, and not just because she makes fabulous vids, but this vid - about the dead women and the way they return on the show - is definitely a part of why.

3.) Blank Space: a more recent favourite, to my mind, the best Doctor/Master vid to date, encompassing both Old and New Who.

4.) Savages: a magnificent vid that beautifully captures all I loved about The Borgias. (Not so coincidentally based on the first two seasons.)

5.) Virgin: it's Vorenus/Antony, yes, and I do have a soft spot for that pairing, but better than that, it's about Rome and Rome, and captures the essence of both.

6.) On your wings: Doctor Who again, this time a vid portraying one of my all time favourite companions, Ace. And beautifully so.

7.) The Unforgiven Ones: Battlestar Galactica, Ellen and Cavil, the Five and the Seven; a short vid that packs an incredible punch.

8.) We didn't start the fire: still BSG, this time on the hilarious side. I love this to bits, and the identifications (Lee as the Cather in the Rye! Laura Roslin as Richard Nixon! Athena as Lawrence of Arabia!) reliably crack me up every time.

9.) Half Acre: incredibly beautiful Six Feet Under vid that uses Claire's art to frame the entire show.

10.) Runner: aka the Connor from Angel character study which made me go "here I wrote lengthy posts about him and the vid makes all my points much better, and then some"!

December Talking Meme: The Other Days
selenak: (Shadows - Saava)
2014-12-17 10:25 am

December Talking Meme: Babylon 5's biggest weaknesses (Doylist, Watsonian or both)

Disclaimer: I love Babylon 5. It's one of my two adored space station shows, it was my first non-Trek sci fi tv fandom, it contains some of my most beloved characters in any fandom of all time, and I think it still holds up as one of the most amazing things pulled off on tv. With all this in mind....

...yes, absolutely, of course it has weaknesses. Tiny ones and big ones. One of them is also one of its strengths: JMS deciding to write all the episodes from mid season 2 onwards. On the plus side, this makes for a consistent vision and even more consistent character voices. If you look at some of the s1 episodes, say, D.C. Fontana's, they're perfectly satifactorly sci fi tv by themselves, but they could take place in any 'verse, the aliens are, that one scene between Londo and Vir in the garden (which was inserted by JMS) aside, pretty generic. Whereas even a weak episode in later seasons couldn't take place anywhere else but B5. However, if you have solely one scriptwriter for three and a half full tv scenes, not only does this cause stuff like Grey 17 is missing, which he later admitted he doesn't even have clear memories of writing in sickness and exhaustion, but, more seriously (because every show, no many how writers are employed, has the occasional weak episode), it means that there are no other "voices", so to speak, to balance issues the main writer has which are not beneficial to the story he's trying to tell.

(Sidenote: it also means JMS' flair for metaphorical speechifying is given full reign, which also can be a virtue and a flaw at the same time. At its best, you get G'Kar. At its worst, you get Byron.)

In Babylon 5's case: JMS' fondness of the Great Man view of history. Which definitely isn't solely to be found in the season 4 finale, though it's spelled out most clearly and textually there. Now from a storytelling pov, I favour extraordinary individuals as well, and remember some history lessons made very dull indeed for teenagers with all the insistence on market forces. (Sorry, Marx.) But it's more than that in the JMS case, and the reason why this becomes increasingly a problem with the human and Minbari storylines is that he's simultanously trying to tell a modern story and a Tolkien-esque epic. If he'd gone for the purely Tolkien approach, it wouldn't be a problem. It would be a very conservative story, but that doesn't say anything about strength or weakness. When Aragon becomes King in Return of the King, the novel, this is not a problem for anyone (except Denethor, and Denethor is about to go mad anyway and certainly not representative of the people). There is never any question will be Aragon would be a good king, a mediocre king or a bad king, whether the people of Gondor would agree with his decisions - he's the heir of Isildur who has proven himself in hardship, exile and battle, he's restoring the realm, it's a happy ending for both Aragon and Gondor. Which fits the type of novel we're in. (For the film versions, Jackson, Boyens and Walsh changed this somewhat because their Aragon has an ongoing learning process about kingship, whether he wants it, whether he'll be worthy of it, what the long term consequences are as demonstrated by the rulers he meets like Theoden, etc, which is a reflection of a different narrative approach in a different time.) But Babylon 5 can't simply let Sheridan become king and Delenn queen. Not a story which in its first three seasons shows a democratic human society turning fascist and positions its heroes against this development, which is a story very much born out of the experience of the 20th century. Sheridan isn't anyone's heir. He's a military officer who at some point decides he can't in good conscience continue to serve an increasingly unjust regime, and also can't simply stay apart, but has to act actively against it. Which is a good story to tell. But unfortunately, it doesn't demand Sheridan-as-ruler-of-the-realm at the end of it. This is still where JMS wants to go, though, so Sheridan becomes President, only without the messy bother of campaigns, debates, compromises and elections that go with the democratic process; he becomes President with an offstage sleight of hand.

Then, because season 4 and season 5 have the problem of being written first with the fear there would not be a fifth season in the case of the former and then with the need to produce fillers to stretch out what was originally planend to fill only half a season in the case of the later, we actually get to see him being President. And he's not a good one, which would be less of a problem if the narrative didn't claim he was. Now, rebels are always easier to write as sympathetic than people in power, which probably is why Sheridan wasn't originally planned to get the presidential job until mid season 5. But leaving the s4/s5 network caused writing problem aside, he was always supposed to be President, and a good one; the closest thing to the fantasy ending of the hero becoming king and restoring the realm. Except any head of a democratic government has to put up with opposition, arguing and the need for compromises. And this is where JMS' fondness for the great man theory of history becomes problematic. Anyone criticial to Sheridan-as-President is written as just plain wrong, egotastic or unworthy, like the historians in The Deconstruction of Falling Stars. Why? Because "John Sheridan was a good man" and a great one, as an aged Delenn says. Yes, but what has that to do with him being a good President, or not? Sorry, but history is full of people with personal virtues who really sucked at governning. And the thing is, Sheridan doesn't come across as an effective politician at all during the year the show has where it has to show him in office. His decision to offer Byron's telepaths sanctuary backfires badly, and he's telling Lochley to fix it without offering any solutions himself. He's unable to keep the Alliance from going after the Centauri after the succesful Drakh framing. (He's also mysteriously unable what he learned from his trip into the future re: Londo and Centauri Prime, but that's a plot hole which has nothing to do with him as President.) The rueful observation he makes about war and peace in late s5 lampshades this a bit ("fight evil space dictators" simply is a far easier narrative to sell than "attempt to keep the peace"), but that doesn't help the basic problem of Sheridan being an uneffective leader while the narrative insists he's a great one, and has him being fanboyed in the worst tell not show way.

This, mind you, did not come out of nowhere. It's simply more glaringly obvious because Sheridan can no longer claim underdog/rebel status. The s2 episode where ISN (still the democratic ISN, not the Clark controlled one of later season 3) does a special on Babylon 5 is a case in point, because we're clearly meant to sympathize with Delenn crying and not with the reporter making her cry who dares to ask whether Delenn had considered that her turning half human could be perceived as an insult by a humanity who very nearly got wiped out in the Earth/Minbari war. Why? Because Delenn is a Great Woman Of History, the way Sheridan is a Great Man. We the audience know Delenn meant her physical alteration to act as a bridge between two enemies (and we later learn also about the atonment aspect there, given her culpability in the war), we know she keeps working for peace because we've seen her do it. But the reporter hasn't, and her question is absolutely valid. If you were a human and had lost people in the war, why would you perceive one of your former enemies becoming physically like you as something that "acts as a bridge"? Wouldn't it look rather patronizing at best? (As it implies becoming human is a sacrifice.) Insulting at worst? (As a perpetrator, claiming belonging to who you very nearly genocided is... leaving real life examples aside because I so do not want to go there, well, just imagine how G'Kar would have taken it with Londo for some reason had decided to dress up as a Narn.) And yet the reporter is positioned as ignorant and insulting here, while Delenn is the Wronged Heroine.

Now, there are several narrative alternatives I could think of to fix this, but they all involve ditching the idea of Sheridan as a peacetime leader altogether, and definitely ditching the idea of him and Delenn alternating as Presidents and leader of the Rangers in the twenty years following Objects at Rest and before Sleeping in Light. (This works in dressed up current day dictatorships, not democracies.) . The most radical would be to leave him dead after Z'ha'dum - as I've mentioned before, this is where his personal development stops anyway, and Delenn and Ivanova could have divided his narrative functions between them for the reminder of the show. But alternate suggestions isn't what the prompt is really about.

Because Babylon 5 is an ensemble story, a rich tapestry woven of several storylines, it doesn't stand or fall on the success of the Sheridan tale. (As mentioned many a time before, I'm a Centauri and Narn fangirl here, though I do like most of the other storylines as well.) But it is telling that while a part of B5 online fandom made Bush/President Clark comparisons during the Dubya years, JMS was stunned to learn that Bush himself was supposedly a Babylon 5 fan. Identifying himself with of course not with Clark, but with Sheridan. A great man's gotta do what a great man's gotta do, and if some idiots can't see it... Well.

December Talking Meme: The Other Days
selenak: (Shadows - Saava)
2014-08-08 06:20 am
Entry tags:

Do not go to Z'ha'dum

Babylon 5 movie reboot?? My first instinctive reaction was a massive DO NOT WANT. Not because I can envision the roles only played by the original actors, btw. I mean, right now I can't imagine anyone matching Peter Jurasik, Andreas Katsulas and Stephen Furst as Londo, G'Kar and Vir, but do I know every actor ever? No, I don't. And I've often been pleasantly surprised by actors rising to occasions and alternate interpretations, etc.

However, and this is crucial: I really don't think the B5 concept is suitable for a movie. At all. Star Trek movies are tricky enough and rarely succeed because the movies all insist on a conventional "let's defeat the big bad" plot which was never what anyone watched the tv shows for. But what made B5 so innovative back in the day and what really remains key to its greatness was that it really was a five years novel developing on screen. Long before shows like The Wire did it. B5 was the arc show to end all arc shows. And you were expected to keep up. When, in season 3, a two parter like War Without End revealed some key plot points, you were expected to remember the episode Babylon Squared from season 1 where these were first set up as well as all the other developments since then that had taken place. There was no "last time on Babylon 5" to help you out. What made B5 great was the character developing over years; what made it unique were the Londo and G'Kar arcs. And you can't do those in two hours. You just can't. Sheridan? Sure. Delenn? You'd probably lose the changing relationship to Neroon and the entirety of Lennier beyond "loyal sidekick", but you could do Delenn in two hours, too. You could simplify the Shadow War into: "Earth officer, veteran from war, rebels against Earth going fascist and teams up with ambassador from former enemy to fight against creepy spider aliens". But that was never what B5 was about to me. (And loses the "Vorlons and Shadows are both rotten" that distinguishes the Shadow War storyline from its obvious LotR precedent and just about every good versus evil fantasy war ever.)

I know I'm a hopeless Centauriphile, but surely you don't have to be to regard Londo's arc as the absolute key to the show? And again: Londo and G'Kar going from arch enemies to friends in a subplot (because a movie is bound to focus on the human characters) in two hours just can't be done with anything like the same emotional weight, let alone G'Kar going from crafty ruthless ambassador/former guerilla fighter to enlightened sage, Londo going from comic relief with melancholic moments to villain to anti hero to hero. And Vir! A movie probably would end up giving him only a sentence or two, and thus there would not be the heartbreaking loveable everyman (everyCentauri?) hero whose conscience and loyalty are so important.

Also: the B5 tv movies aren't exactly confidence inspiring when it comes to JMS and B5 film scripts. (Otoh, JMS can write a standalone movie script per se - I liked the one for Angelina Jolie as a mother who is given a child not her son.) They're not as bad as some fans would have it, but they certainly, none of them, reach the level of the show at its best. An episode like The Coming of Shadows justly won the Hugo. Even the best of the B5 tv movies, In the Beginning, wouldn't have had a shot. (Not least because In the Beginning really relies on you knowing the show for the emotional pay off.)

In conclusion: DO NOT WANT. Would rather JMS writes something not B5, something new, to amaze and astonish.
selenak: (Shadows - Saava)
2014-04-21 08:39 am
Entry tags:

B5 rec

Easter holidays with the family have been lovely so far, lots of sunshine except for Friday, hence also lots of hiking through the Franconian scenery. However, the APs are having computer troubles, which means my only internet connection is via my trusty Ipad, which means certain tv will have to wait until I'm back in Munich (which I will be tonight). (Except for Orphan Black, which is now up at Itunes and hence accessible to yours truly. Will be reporting anon.)

This also means I don't dare to go on twitter or facebook for their horrible spoileriness and only very carefully on lj. Once upon a Time especially is something I want to watch sans spoiler. However, there is always fanfic from closed canons, like this wonderful Londo (& G'Kar, Vir, Delenn, Timov) Babylon 5 story. Among many other things, it illustrates why I'm glad B5 didn't end with s4 plus Sleeping in Light, not despite but because Londo is my favourite character. Yes, Londo is in an apparantly good place at the end of s4. But it's one of denial. He hasn't confronted what he did yet, not really. This story bridges the time between Rising Star and The Very Long Night of Londo Mollari in s5, and builds up to the confrontation of his past and responsibility that starts there.

My Graceless Heart (5775 words) by Amatara
Chapters: 1/1
Fandom: Babylon 5
Rating: Teen And Up Audiences
Warnings: No Archive Warnings Apply
Characters: Londo Mollari, G'Kar, Vir Cotto, Timov, Delenn
Additional Tags: Angst, Friendship, Hurt/Comfort, Heart Attacks, Guilt, Destiny

Five conversations Londo had in the days before his heart attack, without seeing the warning signs.

selenak: (Shadows - Saava)
2013-12-03 03:27 pm
Entry tags:

December Talking Meme: Babylon 5's Third Season

Okay, the one where Ivanova gets to do the credits monologue, Delenn has her most famous scene of the show, Sheridan decides he and the entire command crew need a fashion makeover as far as their uniforms are concerned and my guys Londo and G'Kar hit at different points rock bottom, which leads to great things in season 4.

In case there are some B5 newbies finding this entry, I shall now employ a spoiler cut )
selenak: (Emma Swan by Hbics)
2013-11-30 09:17 am

Fictional rapists and the fannish problem they pose

Today's [community profile] fandomsecrets has, for about the fifth or sixth time that I recall, a secret involving Once Upon A Time character Regina Mills aka The Evil Queen and the fact that back in season 1, she had a non-consensual sexual relationship with a male supporting character (he was the one non-consenting). Now Regina did a lot of other villainous things (including ordering massacres), but I don't think any of them, with the arguable exception of her gaslighting her son, is brought up and argued about more. (I may be wrong about that, since I try to keep away from most OuaT fannish discussions unless I know the people in question.) Cue usual "oh no she didn't!"/"oh yes she did", as well as "if she was a male character, this wouldn't even be a question" (both from the "oh yes she did" side in the sense that a male ruler ordering a female prisoner who is revolted by him into his bedchamber would not be interpreted as anything but a rapist, and from the "oh no she didn't" side (which argues that male fictional rapists get excused all the time). In between, someone points out that Regina did a whole lot of other stuff which doesn't get argued about, and why is rape treated as the ultimate crime? Good question, and not just regarding Regina. It's the crime most often named when people argue why they can't root for the redemption of character X and/or the crime most argued to not even have been committed by X from people who want said character redeemed (or see him, and in rarer cases her, already as good).

Now I think that "more/less evil" isn't a criteria you can put on rape versus, say, murder. They're both heinous actions. But it's still worth noting that as far as fannish discussions are concerned, the killing score of sympathetic villains/morally ambiguous characters seems to bother fans a whole lot less than if their canon shows them committing, or trying to committ, a rape. At a guess, part of this is that fantasy violence (especially if the canon avoids showing much of the resulting dead bodies and gore) is easier to dissociate from real life, while rape is not. And then, there is probably the fear: "I like this character, maybe I even love him/her or fantasize about him/her, I want this character to succeed, to win, to be loved - but this character committed rape. What does this say about me? Therefore, this character hasn't really committed rape. The fantasy surroundings make it not count. Or I take the Doylist appraoch and declare it was the writers (whereas the character's other actions which endeared him/her to me in the first place were of course Watsonian and only the character). Or: the character was himself/herself a victim and so traumatized that she/he can't be held accountable for their actions. Or the ever popular: hero X did something just as bad, so there!"

I decided to do some self inventory and see which of the characters whom I like (in varying degrees ranging "mildly fond" to "love and adore") comitted rape in their canons, and how fannish discussion (if it exists at all) handles that. Let's start with the Romans, because if you are in a slave owning society, and among the owners, and also not in a show that deliberately avoids the issue, chances are that you're guilty as charged, but even so, some characters go above and beyond:

Rome: Mark Antony, definitely. One of his very first scenes shows him having sex with a peasant woman against a tree mid-travelling. I doubt he bothered to ask her first. There is also an episode in which he wants to have sex before getting out of bed, Atia is not in the mood and orders one of her slaves to accommodate him. Which btw means Atia is enabling said rape. Also a rapist: Pullo. Who is in love with his slave (later freedwoman, even later wife) when having sex with her but doesn't bother to ask for her consent, either and is shocked when finding out that upon being freed, she wants to marry a fellow slave (cue death of male slave). I'm fond of Mark Antony, Atia and Pullo. I think the only one whose actions get debated in this context is Pullo, with the argument being "but he thought Eirene was already in love with him!" and/or "different times". Well, yes, different times, and presumably he did think she was in love with him until disabused of the notion. He still didn't ask, and she was his property at the time, to do with as he pleased. The scene as shown also had her enduring, not responding, to his caresses.

Spartacus: nearly every Roman character, sooner or later, but re: the topic in question, let's stick with Batiatus and Lucretia, both of whom use their slaves as sexual toys for themselves and for other people. I don't think I've seen anyone saying Batiatus isn't guilty, but I did some some debate around Lucretia, specifically, her relationship with the gladiator Crixus. (The debate nexter brings up all the other slaves Lucretia and Batiatus use to turn themselves on at all.) The "oh no she didn't" argument usually goes thusly: she developed genuine feelings for him, then she thought he also loved her, and then there was that one time where she didn't have sex with him when he didn't want to because she was concerned for his life (plot reasons). This ignores that Spartacus isn't subtle about the whole ownership point: Crixus and Lucretia first start to have sex because she orders him to, he is her property, and the fact she doesn't insist that one time doesn't negate all the other times. (Not to mention Lucretia's reaction once she finds out Crixus loves someone else.) Lucretia is played by Lucy Lawless, and she was one of my favourite characters on the show. She's also, no question about it, a rapist. (Ditto, of course, her husband, whom I was also fond of, horrible person who he was.)

Moving on to contemporary shows with long lived characters:

Highlander: Methos, obviously. Universal fannish favourite, and for quite a while, he was mine, too. (Then Amanda overtook him.) (I still like Methos a lot, though.) He's also, no question about it, a rapist, over a really long time. And wouldn't you know, while fandom never tried to explain the pillaging part in "rape and pillage" away, or the massacring of "tens of thousands", au contraire, thought that Methos' Bronze Age raider past made him even more interesting than he'd already been, it solved the "rape" part by vilifying the surviving victim of same and/or write stories in which Methos was the one raped (by other characters), which made him so traumatized that he, da capo, al fine. Oh, and of course times were different.

Buffy and Angel: oh, the can of worms to dwarf most others, and I really don't want the discussion to end up in a reiteration of the Spike Wars, but it would be cheating not to bring the Buffyverse up. So: Angel(us): definitely a rapist, and not just in a metaphorical bloodsucking vampire way. (There are the servant girl in the Amends flashback and Holtz' wife, and the implication is certainly that there were others.) (And driving mortal Drusilla into insanity culminated in Angel and Darla having sex in front of her before Angel turned her; what do you want to bet they left it at taking her blood?) Spike: see above re: Spike Wars, avoidance of same. But even leaving out Seeing Red, he mentioned multiple rapes in Never Leave Me, which however often gets dismissed as "he just wanted to get Buffy to stake him on that occasion" (well, yes, but that doesn't mean he made that up; over at AtS, near the end of Damages, a key Spike self realization is his admittance that while he wasn't Dana's tormentor, he did do similar things to a great many other people). Darla: while we don't see her having on screen sex with an unwilling victim, she certainly gets a kick of watching her darling boy doing so. Faith: when about to strangle Xander, she sexually assaulted him as well (and he did say no repeatedly). I do like Angel, Spike and Faith, a lot. Darla is my overall AtS favourite.

Torchwood: my own assumption when watching the Torchwood pilot, in which, among other things, Owen uses a alien pheromene McGuffin to make himself sexually irresistable when going out) was that when he used it on the boyfriend of the girl he'd been hitting on, he made a quick getaway as opposed to having a threesome, so that on this particular occasion, no sex took place. However, the original intention certainly had been to have sex with the girl, who showed no inclination to respond to his overtures before he used the pheromene McGuffin. Which, yes, makes Owen an attempted rapist (and since I doubt this was the first time he used the McGuffin, I'd be ready to drop the "attempted".) Owen was my favourite TW character during the first two seasons.

Being Human: Mitchell and Hal, step forward. Definitely, like Angelus, guilty of rape in the literally sexual as well as the blood taking vampire sense. Neither of them were my favourites in their canons, but I definitely had times of being fond of both, and my Mitchell issues weren't due to him having raped people (also my Mitchell issues were brilliantly resolved by canon, but that's another story).

Once upon a Time: and we're back to Regina. Who isn't my favourite, but I like her and am certainly on board with her current storyline. In addition to being a multiple murderer, guilty of mental and physical torture on various occasions, and the kidnapper to dwarf all other kidnappers (it's hard to beat transferring everyone in Storybrooke from one dimension to another in order to play out her fantasy scenario, but Regina is also a kidnapper on the mundane literal level, see also: Hansel and Gretel, Owen), she is most definitely a rapist.

And now for the future - including the wretched Prophets of DS9 would be cheating, because while they do committ rape I never could stand them, and they're not fannishly popular, either, so they don't qualify.

Babylon 5: I was going back and thro whether or not to include this example, because it's not sexual non-con, and if you start to include fantasy metaphors, you don't have to bother to differentiate with all the vampires between literal rape and blood taking to begin with. But still: what happens in the episode Dust to Dust is a mental assault/violation which gets textually, on screen, called a rape (Bester, who ought to know, explains the effect of Dust that way in the exposition scene early on), so I'll include it. Anyway, the perpetrator, G'Kar, who hits rock bottom here, followed by enlightenment, is most definitely among my favourite B5 characters.

In conclusion: I seem to be fond of a lot of fictional rapists. (Or fictional versions of historical characters, in the Roman cases.) The fact they raped people isn't why I like them, obviously, but neither did it stop me from liking them (or prevent me from ever developing sympathy, in the cases where the rapes happen early on). Whereas I don't think there is a rapist among the few fictional characters I have a visceral loathing for, come to think of it, which presumably goes to show rape isn't one of my triggers, at least not in the sense of reacting with "I no longer like this character" or "I have to explain this away in order to continue liking this character". I think my own inner self justification for this, beyond "but they're interesting", is to keep their victims in mind (and in both Methos' and Spike's cases, write fanfiction from their pov). (The other day I came across yet another variation of "but how rude and horrid are the Charmings and the rest of Storybrooke for not wanting to have dinner with Regina mid season 2" . Err. Just about anyone from the Enchanted Forest, with the exception of Rumplestilskin who did his share to form her and besides is guilty of centuries more crimes, is justified in not wanting to socialize with Regina for the rest of their lives. ) (Though since Regina has interesting interactions with other characters, I'm glad some are around her anyway.) And not to prettify anything they've done. Especially when/if I want them to redeem themselves.
selenak: (LondoGkar)
2013-09-09 09:04 am

Multi fandom recs

I just saw that TV Tropes also does fanfic recs, and was both pleased and amused that a story of mine made the cut, to wit, In the Pale Moonlight, which got recced in the Babylon 5 section, subsection shipper fic. (Um, I suppose you could call it that? In a unrequited type mindmessing type of way? Since it's about Cartagia and Londo.) The reccer spotted my shameless theft of one of Oscar Wilde's aphorisms for Londo's dialogue, and gratifyingly declares this to be IC for Londo.

Anyway, the great thing about discovering a whole new set of fanfic recs is of course following said recs, which is how I found a short, intense and sublime Once Upon A Time story about what it was like for Henry to grow up in Storybrooke:

Growing Pains (1152 words) by Malteaser
Chapters: 1/1
Fandom: Once Upon a Time (TV)
Rating: General Audiences
Warnings: No Archive Warnings Apply
Characters: Henry Mills, Evil Queen | Regina Mills, Jiminy Cricket | Archibald 'Archie' Hopper
Additional Tags: Family, Dysfunctional Family, Family Secrets, Angst, Growing Up

Henry Mills grows up in Storybrooke. He's the only one.

Comes in particularly handy when you think, as I admit I sometimes did during originally watching s1 (but not upon rewatching with the whole of canon in mind!) that Henry gives Regina a hard time during the first season. He had reason. Did he ever.

Not courtesy of TV Tropes but spotted by yours truly on the net yesterday were these two gems:

X-Men Movieverse:

Repentance (4526 words) by zandperl
Chapters: 1/1
Fandom: X-Men (Movieverse), X-Men (Movies), X-Men: First Class (2011), X-Men: The Last Stand (2006)
Rating: Teen And Up Audiences
Warnings: No Archive Warnings Apply
Characters: Erik Lehnsherr
Additional Tags: Introspection

Post-Cure Erik Lehnsherr alternates days playing chess in Central Park and doing chores, except for on the Sabbath. When he makes a new friend who reminds him of an old friend, he realizes the meaning of the Ten Days.

XMFC brought an onslaught of new Charles/Erik stories, but not only did these tend to be more and more AUs with ever more unrecognizable characterisation, they made me miss stories about the older versions of these characters, the Stewart and McKellen shaped ones who first won my heart. So I was very happy to find this one, which manages to use all the movieverse canon and also explores Erik Lehnsherr's Jewish heritage beyond the Holocaust.

Babylon 5:

Drink Deep (3194 words) by Amatara
Chapters: 1/1
Fandom: Babylon 5
Rating: Teen And Up Audiences
Warnings: No Archive Warnings Apply
Relationships: G'Kar/Londo Mollari
Characters: Londo Mollari, G'Kar, Vir Cotto
Additional Tags: Hurt/Comfort, Angst, Drunkenness, Awkward Conversations

G'Kar struggles with his sudden status as a religious icon, and Londo realizes he can take some lessons from Vir in how to handle melancholy drunks. Missing scene for the season 5 episode "The Ragged Edge".

There are too few stories exploring G'Kar dealing with both the realisation his religous icon status separated him from his people, the long term effects of the Centauri Occuspation and with what happened to Na'Toth, not to mention what his relationship with Londo turned into. This story tackles it in a short but poignant manner.
selenak: (Timov - Muffinmonster)
2013-08-10 04:43 pm
Entry tags:

Babylon 5 fanfic rec

A compelling new story about my all time favourite one episode only (why? oh why?) character from Babylon 5, Timov:

Et Amo (2745 words) by Amatara
Chapters: 1/1
Fandom: Babylon 5
Rating: Teen And Up Audiences
Warnings: No Archive Warnings Apply
Relationships: Londo Mollari/Timov
Characters: Londo Mollari, Timov, Vir Cotto
Additional Tags: Missing Scene, Angst, Snark

With Cartagia dead and the Shadows and Vorlons gone, Londo and Vir visit Timov just before their return to Babylon 5. Missing scene for the season 4 episode Into the Fire.

selenak: (Cora by Uponyourshore)
2013-05-26 05:44 pm

If I were Likeadeuce, I'd have a Springsteen quote for this post, but...

You know what I gave my Aged Parents for Christmas? Tickets for tonight's Bruce Springsteen concert in Munich. On the reasonable assumption at a concert at the end of May would have, if not nice weather, than somewhat warm weather.

It's rainining cats and dogs, and 5° Centigrade. The APs and self shall try to brave the Olympiastadion nonetheless for Mr. Springsteen, but if it turns out our part of the seats doesn't fall among the ones that are covered, we're out of there.

Meanwhile, links:

Once upon a time:

Twenty-Eight Years: the one repeating day for Cora and Killian Jones, aka Hook. Beautifully written and intense.

Babylon 5:

At a convention, JMS doesn't only share some hilarious Londo and G'Kar related anecdotes (of course the rest of the cast and himself arranged to be around when their intense scenes were filmed!) but also the deeply moving story of why Michael O'Hare really left, necessitating Sinclair being written out. It's not anything that was speculated before and makes me respect the actor all the more.
selenak: (The Doctor by Principiah Oh)
2013-05-13 07:22 am

Doctor Who A Nightmare in Silver

In which I agree with what seems to have been the above cut lj consensus: not as good as The Doctor's Wife, but a fun adventure.

Am I the only one paying attention? )
selenak: (Live long and prosper by elf of doriath)
2013-03-06 08:00 am

Thirty Days of TV: Day Twenty-Six

Day 26 - OMG WTF? Season finale

Star Trek: Enterprise, season 4: These are the voyages... comes immediately to mind.

Some background first: I had watched the first few Enterprise episodes when they were broadcast and then decided the show wasn't really for me. Not that it was staggeringly incompetent or something like that, but it came at the tail end of the production team having more or less written Star Trek in various variations for sixteen years, and it showed. Especially since Enterprise had the bad luck to come at a time where there were several other good sci fi shows around. Give it a rest for a while, thought I, meaning both myself and anyone producing Star Trek. The fact that fannish rumour told me subsequent seasons reflect 9/11 happening and Star Trek suddenly going all gung ho (and not in a self critical way, unlike, say, the relevant DS9 episodes where Sisko & team are confronted what the Dominion threat has made of them and Starfleet at large) didn't encourage me to tune in again.

However, the show did have its champions. And I often have a soft spot for the fannish underdog. (By which I don't mean the in-story underdog, I mean those characters unpopular by fandom at large.) So when I began to hear, from [personal profile] bimo and others, that Enterprise offered some genuinenly good stuff, like fleshing out the Andorians the way TOS had done the Vulcans, TNG had done the Klingons and DS9 had done the Cardassians, Bajorans and Ferengi, that the fourth season in particular was eminently watchable, other than the finale, which everyone hated (including, as I heard at FedCon from Jolene Blaylock, the actors), I thought, come on, why not? So I watched the fourth season, which I was assured I could do without having watched the previous ones, and didn't regret it. But boy, could I ever see what the complaints about the finale (which wasn't just the season but the series finale) had been about. I didn't hate it, I just thought it was the most misguided idea ever for a series finale. If it had been a mid season inter-Trek crossover episode (which TNG, DS9 and Voy had all done), it would have been not stellar, but okay.

Here are the spoilery reasons why as a FINALE, it is my choice for the WTF? category above all other candidates )
selenak: (Puppet Angel - Kathyh)
2013-03-03 01:48 pm

Thirty Days of TV: Day Twenty-Three

Day 23 - Most annoying character

Disclaimer first: like so many things, annoyance is in the eyes of the beholder. One person's much beloved character is another person's well of irritation, and I know I sometimes feel absurdly hurt reading my favourites torn to shreds by internet friends, so I apologize in advance. Another disclaimer: to me, there is a big difference between characters designed to be annoying and who are recognized by their narrative to be - where it's a deliberate part of their characterisation - and characters whose irritation factor is heightened (imo, as always) by the fact that their annoying qualities while for me glaring are either ignored by their narrative or even declared to be virtues. I may sometimes be irritated indeed by the former, but never so much as by the later. Which is why you won't find, say, Ziggy Sobotka from The Wire as my choice. To quote Jessica Rabbit, he was written that way. :)

The characters whose annoyance factor was out of all proportion to me weren't. They were not supposed to be irritating. But they still managed to push every one of my irritation buttons, and then some. Step forward, Galen from Crusade, Byron from Babylon 5 and Bill Adama from Battlestar Galactica, so that I may choose between you. You are relieved, Michael Vaughn from Alias and Jack Shephard from Lost, by virtue of having reached the peak of your annoyingness several seasons before your show ended and having improved subsequently. You didn't exactly became favourites, but I made my peace with you and occasionally even felt for you, when I had only wanted to strangle you in your respective third seasons. So, you are not my choice.

On the other hand, it's really hard to pick one of these three gentlemen:

1.) Byron from Babylon 5. I feel a bit like beating a deceased equine, because Byron is probably going to be topping a lot of replies to this question. I won't say he's universally loathed, because I actually met a Byron fan in person and another in othe internet, but... he's the closest thing to universally loathed I've known a B5 character to be. The best in show thing about Byron is that he brought Bester back to the show several times, and the best fandom thing is the hilarious filk titled I am the very model of a maudlin telepath, but neither really justifies his existence. It's... well, everything about him. He's supposed to be a charismatic cult leader, and I'm sorry, but the actor doesn't have charisma, at least not in this role. (He's okay as a Minbari in In the Beginning.) Also, he has speeches that are JMS in over the top rethorical mode, and you need to be Andreas Katsulas to make these come across as wise and profound. Alas, the actor is no Andreas Katsulas. Then there's the long golden shampoo commercial hair when he's supposed to live in poverty and on the run, and the awful love speeches ("you are my willow").... he's just the very model, you know?

2.) Galen from Crusade. As opposed to Byron, Galen is really popular in fandom. 99% of what exists of Crusade fanfiction is about him. So unless you've been following my ramblings since years, you may be surprised I find him so annoying. Here's why: For starters, he's the third example of JMS' tendency of casting a British actor in the role of black-clad, brooding man with a mysterious past (after Marcus and Byron), and at the time it was getting old. Secondly, he's also an example of JMS' Tolkien fanboying, not just because he's a technomage, but because he does the Gandalf thing of mysteriously coming and going and delaying explanations. But it sometimes irritates me even when Gandalf does it, and Galen is no Gandalf. Thirdly, his narrative does not chastize him for endangering everyone else in a gratitious and reckless way to soothe his mourning soul. I think if I had the impression that Path of Tears meant me to be furious with Galen for the stunt he pulls, I would not mind. After all, my beloved Londo does a great many infuriating things, but in his case, the story means us to see this as wrong. (Or, to remain in the same show, Max Eilerson does a great many selfish things, and I adore him. The difference is of course that the show points out to Max and the viewers alike when he's being a pain in the butt.) But in the case of Galen, I thought the show wanted me to go "awww, poor woobie!", and I most certainly did not. Fourthly, with all my fondness for manipulative characters, female and male alike, I still didn't like what Galen did with Dureena. And I absolutely can't stand his voice, which I have to hear during the credits in every single Crusade episode. And did I mention that 99% of the existing fanfic is about him? In conclusion: bloody Galen!

3.) William Adama from Battlestar Galactica. You know, there was a time when I liked Adama, and I've written the fanfiction to prove it. Also, just recently I rewatched, for the first time since the original broadcast, the first half of season 4 of BSG and went "hm, this is tighter written than I remember... I really like these eps... maybe I was too hard on Adama, these scenes when he reads to Roslin are actually sweet, and Eddie Olmos doesn't overact, he's conveying great warmth here"....and then my rewatch arrived at the episode Sine Qua Non. At which point not only my Adama annoyance but my Adama hatred came back in full force and all my zen disappeared. I wished Adama had been rejected and spat into the eye by every single of the few characters he cared about. I wished he had been retconned out of existence by a time travelling Romulan. I wished... well, you get the picture. Seriously, there is nothing like Sine Qua Non to sum up every bad trait Bill Adama ever had and put it to its worst effect. If you wish to know the gory details, here is the review I wrote at the time, and rewatching gave me only more, not fewer things to complain about. (One annoyance I did not mention in my original review: our hero Adama, informed that his XO got a Cylon prisoner pregnant, not only telling the man that it would have been preferable if Tigh had tortured the woman, but also adding "what would Ellen have said?". I mean, seriously. Adama despised Ellen. (And vice versa.) That the news of Tigh having sex with a Cylon isn't bad to him because it could have been rape (that doesn't even seem to occur to him) and that he declares torture to have been a better alternative is awful enough without adding the hypocrisy of "what would Ellen think of you?" as if Adama had ever had a moment where he didn't wish Ellen to disappear from the universe. And it's very satisfying to me that Ellen, not Bill, gets the ever after with Saul Tigh, oh yes, it is.) To get from Sine Qua Non back to Adama in general, here is why he wins over Byron and Galen in the degree in which he annoys the living hell out of me: his hypocrisy, self-righteousness, self-pity and complete lack of empathy for anyone outside his very limited circle grew and grew and grew over the course of the show, but unlike at the start this was neither balanced by a display of his good qualities, nor by in-show criticism from sympathetic characters; instead, everyone insisted on admiring him despite the show not giving us any longer reasons for this to be the case. And they let Eddie Olmos go completely overboard with chewing the scenery, severely overestimating my patience for scenes where we see Adama cry, rage, or monologue. And, worst of all, one of the best, most interesting female characters in the last decade, Laura Roslin, was reduced to simply being his love interest, having no virtually no scenes which weren't about Adama in the last ten or so episodes she was in. Byron and Galen at least got neither of them even a complete season to bother me. Adama? Is still getting webisodes.

Most annoying (to me) character ever.

The rest of the days )
selenak: (Black Widow by Endlessdeep)
2013-03-01 09:29 am

Meme Replies, aka: Crossover Madness Ahoy

Thank you for all the gloriously crazy prompts! Okay, here's the list:

1.) Natasha Romanoff (MCU)

2.) Gaius Baltar (BSG)

3.) Skyler White (Breaking Bad)

4.) Quark (DS9)

5.) Alfred Bester (Babylon 5)

6.) Joan Watson (Elementary)

7.) Emma Swan (Once Upon A Time)

8.) Caleb Temple (American Gothic)

9.) Amanda Darieux (Highlander)

10.) Arvin Sloane (Alias)

11.) Kima Greggs (The Wire)

12.) Birgitte Nyborg (Borgen)

13.) Gwen Cooper (Torchwood)

14.) Arthur Pendragon (Merlin)

15.) David Fisher (Six Feet Under)

And now behold the results! )
selenak: (Omar by Monanotlisa)
2013-02-27 12:16 pm

Thirty Days of TV: Day Nineteen

Day 19 - Best TV show cast

I take this to mean "best cast of actors", not "best cast of characters", which would be a very different thing. Even so, it's not easy to answer, not least because an actor just marking time or having cameos in one show might reveal he or she has actually amazing range in another. For example, I would never have guessed how good an actor Walter Koenig is before seeing him as Alfred Bester in Babylon 5, because Chekov in Star Trek wasn't a role in which he could do more than be cheerfully optimistic and talk in a fake Russian accent. And the two or so episodes of the original Battlestar Galactica I watched certainly didn't prepare me for Richard Hatch, who was the original Galactica's straight man Apollo, being great and utterly convincing as devious politician and ex terrorist Tom Zarek in the new BSG. Then there are cases where an actor might be good in one particular role but once you see him or her in another show/film/play, you realise it was the writing, not the acting, which made this character so memorable. Or at best a union between the two. *eyes James Marsters*

Conversely, there are cases where a show actually isn't that good but the cast is amazing. I would say Dollhouse is an interesting failure at best, but the ensemble of actors, both regular and recurring, with the notable exception of the leading lady (and oh, the irony that a show designed to show off Eliza Dushku's versatility instead pointed out she's something of a one trick pony as an actress), might actually be stronger than in any other Whedon show (and all the others were far better written). With Dinchen Lachman and Enver Gjokaj the standouts as Victor and Sierra, but Olivia Williams, Fran Kranz and Harry Lennix also did superb jobs, as did Amy Acker (and Alexis Denisof in his s2 appearance reminded me all over again of the mystery that post Angel, this best of all male Jossverse actors pre- Gjokaj didn't seem to get any roles).

Then there are shows where there are stronger and weaker actors but the parts for the weaker ones are either so small or play to these particular actors' strengths, and the overall writing is strong enough that the general impression is of a strong cast. (Case in point: Star Trek: The Next Generation. I don't think anyone else in the cast is as good as Patrick Stewart, but no one is bad, Brent Spiner really is excellent, and after the shaky first season the writing gets to a point where actor strengths and character happily meld for the entire ensemble, and most importantly, no one, be it a good episode or a bad episode, ever gives you the impression of just marking time and waiting for their pay check. And the general chemistry is really good.)

...and then there are the cases where the writing is not just good but great, and the actors are amazing in these and other roles. Which means I have to choose between:

1.) I, Claudius: as I said elsewhere, the cream of 70s British acting shows up there - Derek Jacobi, John Hurt, Sian Phillips, Patrick Stewart, John Rhys-Davies; and, again as mentioned on another day, Brian Blessed delivers one of the most amazing death scenes ever as Augustus in complete silence, acting only with his eyes and the most subtle of expressions and proves once and for all that if given the opportunity he can do more than shout.

2.) Six Feet Under: the wonderful Frances Conroy as Ruth Fisher, Michael C. Hall as my favourite gay character of all time, David Fisher, Peter Krause as Nate, Lauren Ambrose being awesome as Claire (and in many ways Claire is the pov character throughout the show), Rachel Griffiths as Brenda, and those are just the regulars through all seasons. Terrific cast, great writing, and that goes for the recurring characters and one shot guest stars as well.

3.) The Wire: I marathoned it so recently that I'm hesitant to include it because usually I need some temporal distance to be sure about my jugment, but it really is everything that was claimed about it in fandom and in professional criticism, both writing and acting wise. And even though the earlier two examples make it hard, I think I'll still name The Wire as my end choice, because the format - five seasons, with each seasons introducing new characters in addition to the established ones and putting the emphasis elsewhere, which means, for example, a minor character in s1 can be a main character in s4, and the reverse, a main character from s1 can get only cameos in s4 - means that of all the shows I named, this one has the largest ensemble of actors, and the best opportunity to give each othem the chance to shine. This includes some teenagers played by actual teenagers, not adults playing teenagers as is the custom on tv, which, considering said teenagers have to do some heavy dramatic lifting, was a risky move that pays of amazingly. conclusion: the cast from The Wire, who were, in the order that Wikipedia gives them and not limited to, Dominic West, John Doman, Idris Elba, Frankie Faison, Larry Gilliard, Jr., Wood Harris, Deirdre Lovejoy, Wendell Pierce, Lance Reddick, Andre Royo, Sonja Sohn, Chris Bauer, Paul Ben-Victor, Clarke Peters, Amy Ryan, Aidan Gillen, Jim True-Frost, Robert Wisdom, Seth Gilliam, Domenick Lombardozzi, J. D. Williams, Michael K. Williams, Corey Parker Robinson, Reg E. Cathey, Chad L. Coleman, Jamie Hector, Glynn Turman, Clark Johnson, Tom McCarthy, Gbenga Akinnagbe, Neal Huff, Jermaine Crawford, Tristan Wilds, Michael Kostroff, Michelle Paress, Isiah Whitlock, Jr.

The rest of the days )
selenak: (Companions - Kathyh)
2013-02-26 12:38 pm

Thirty Days of TV: Day Eighteen

Day 18 - Favorite title sequence

Impossible to narrow it down to one, but I shall try. Before I discuss the various top candidates under a cut because I shall use the vids to demonstrate, let me explain about one candidate which isn't there: the Dexter title sequence, which is witty and clever (making what turns out to be Dexter simply going through his morning routine of breakfeast, cleaning his teeth, getting dressed, leaving his apartment look incredibly sinister). However due to my increasing disaffection for the show I can no longer enjoy it as I used to. It's not the title sequence, it's me! Now on to the others.

Share the wonders that I've seen )

Trying to decide between these is really hard, you guys. With a pistol pressed at my head, I shall say that artistically I admire the Carnivale intro most, am most mushy about the B5 season 5 intro, and in its mixture between the stylistic and the emotional appeal love the Farscape s3 intro best.

The rest of the days )
selenak: (Shadows - Saava)
2013-02-22 07:30 pm

Thirty Days of TV: Day Fourteen

Day 14 - Favorite male character

Londo Mollari, of the show Babylon 5

Since I've written an an entire essay about the reasons why, allow me to quote from it: Throughout the show, he takes turns as comic relief, villain, antihero and finally tragic hero. And sometimes all at the same time. (...) Londo Mollari, ready to go over dead bodies to fulfil his ambition and yet capable of enormous self-sacrifice - offering his own life for others without hesitation -, witty ("arrogance and stupidity in the same package; how very efficient of you") and bombastic ("you make me feel alive, you fountain of passion"), who dooms and saves his planet, who redeems himself not through dying a heroic death but through living in torture, a complete traditionalist (even when he's planning to assassinate the Emperor, it's important to him to show up completely dressed when Cartagia calls him, as anything else would be disrespect to the imperial position) who comes to be closer to his former greatest enemy than he ever was to any of his own people, save Vir, who is incapable of sitting still for longer than five minutes without talking, yelling or laughing and then ends up brooding endlessly and alone in the prison of his own body, remains, to me, the most fascinating character I saw on tv.

The rest of the days )
selenak: (LondoGkar)
2013-02-17 11:52 am

Thirty Days of TV: Day Nine

Day 09 - Best scene ever

Great Maker, as Londo Mollari would say. One? Out of the gazillion? Well... okay then. I'll just have to go with one particular scene from The Fall of Centauri Prime, a season 5 of Babylon 5 episode. In which the arcs of Londo and G'Kar culminate in a wonderful, sublime, unforgettable scene which has been termed by many a watcher of the show, including yours truly, you guessed it... "the best scene ever".

Mind you: you really have to have followed the show through its five seasons to understand the full emotional impact. What Londo did, what G'Kar did, the story of their worlds. You need to have watched their relationship change throughout the seasons, in the best canon example of and now it gets spoilery )

Best. Scene. Ever.

The rest of the days )
selenak: (Dust - Radak)
2013-02-14 07:33 am

Thirty Days of Television: Day Six

Day 06 - Favorite episode of your favorite TV show

As detailed here, I can't narrow it down to one favourite show, only one per genre. Favourite episodes are similarly difficult, but with an heroic effort, I can come up with:

Babylon 5 and Buffy: Dust to Dust and Restless, for reasons explained in more detail here.

Angel: Either Darla or Deep Down, when I'm in a noir mood; if I want to be cheered up, why, Smile Time, of course. :) (Despite the fact Gunn essentially makes the classic Faustian deal from hell in that one.)

I, Claudius: tricky, tricky, very hard to choose, but it's probably Queen of Heaven. Mostly for the two stunning Livia scenes; first the birthday dinner with Caligula and Claudius, and at the end of the episode her death scene, again first with Caligula, then Claudius. They accomplish to much. In the long term narrative, this is where the role of main villain gets handed over from Livia to Caligula (while various Little Bads abound; at ths point, it's Sejanus, played by Patrick Stewart), but that's the least of it. The dinner is the one and only time where our hero and narrator, Claudius, and Livia who was the main antagonist for most of the show until this point speak completely honestly to each other; it's a mutual revelation scene and the emotional build up which makes it possible is so wonderfully done. (Also, Caligula is around for a while being incredibly creepy, setting himself up as the next main antagonist.) The death scene accomplishes something very very few stories ever manage. Livia has committed various murders and ruined lives of people the audience cares about. She's not repentant about any of this. (Though she'd rather not pay for them in the afterlife, hence the importance to her to be declared a goddess once she's dead, as the gods can commit any crime they want.) And yet, when she dies, both the audience and Claudius, who has hated and feared her through his entire life, feel intensely sorry for her - again, without diminishing or prettifying any of her previous acts. Part of it is, again, Caligula, and the way he takes his leave of her, but it's also the acting and the state Rome is in at that point and - well, everything.

Six Feet Under: Again, very tricky, but I think I'll go with the s1 finale, Knock, Knock. Various themes of the first season (and some overall themes of the show) get a great showcase here, it has some of David's best scenes (and one of the show's most famous visual gags), the screwed up family dynamics (the Fishers among each other, Federico and the Fishers, Brenda and Billy) each get showcases, and it conveys that "life is a mess, but there is hope" atmosphere of the show so well.

The rest of the days )