selenak: (Sternennacht - Lefaym)
A happy and a sad one. Today is composer John Williams' birthday, and I can think of no better tribute than this A Capella rendition:

Sadly, it's also the day we learned Richard Hatch has died. I have no feelings about the original Battlestar Galactica one way or the other, but I thought he was excellent as Tom Zarek in the rebooted BSG, and if the writing in s4 simplified Zarek into one dimension, that wasn't Hatch's fault. Favourite Zarek memories: his debut in Bastille Day, of course, and each and every scene he subsequently had with Laura Roslin, especially during their uneasy team-ups in early s2, and early s3. Unsurprisingly, one of my few BSG stories is a missing scene from the Pegasus arc between Roslin and Zarek, Interlude. Hatch's willingness to embrace the new BSG and graciousness to old and new fans alike also contrasted sharply with the behavior the original Starbuck. From what I've read of him, he always struck me as a gentleman in the best sense of the word. Farewell, and thank you for one of the most interesting recurring characters in the new BSG,Mr. Hatch.
selenak: (The Doctor by Principiah Oh)
Day 27 - What would you cross over with Star Trek?

Somewhat late, because I was away from any internet yesterday until late at night, but here we go. Well, considering I've already written the crossovers in question, obviously I would cross over Star Trek with Torchwood and Doctor Who, just Doctor Who, Babylon 5, Farscape, Battlestar Galactica and Star Wars.

The advantage with Doctor Who especially is that between all the various Doctors and companions on the one hand, and all the various incarnations of Star Trek on the other, you have such a rich, infinite variety of combinations for encounters to choose from, so the two DW crossovers certainly won't be my last. It's also the crossover that's currently do-able on screen, technically (if the BBC and whoever owns Paramount now - Sony? - could ever come to licence terms), and I dimly seem to recall that there was a fannish rumor in the RTD era that a plan for such a crossover existed.

But an on screen encounter would probably not include the character interaction I'm interested in, so never mind that, and let's stay hypothetical and fanfiction minded entirely. Since time travel exists in the Star Trek universe, you can even cross it over with historical fandoms. (Fandoms with immortal characters can bring these into the ST future, of course.) So basically there's no fandom I wouldn't cross over with Star Trek. Infinite variety in infinite combinations, after all.

The other days )
selenak: (Ellen by Nyuszi)
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: (SixBaltarunreality by Shadowserenity)
Looking back at BSG with some distance: a couple both remarkable for what they aren't and for what they are, and still very unusual in any fandom. Let's start with what they aren't which will make it clear what I'm getting at. In the original Battlestar Galactica, Baltar is an unambiguous megalomaniac villain, selling humanity out for power to the Cylons, who are just as unambiguously bad. There is no Six; there is the discreetly named Lucifer, who is most certainly not in love with Baltar.

Spoilers for four seasons of reimangined Battlestar Galactica ensue )

December Talking Meme: The Other Days
selenak: (Six by Nyuszi)
The Quality of Mercy (3780 words) by Selena
Chapters: 1/1
Fandom: Battlestar Galactica: 2003
Rating: General Audiences
Warnings: No Archive Warnings Apply
Relationships: Laura Roslin & Gaius Baltar, Laura Roslin & Tory Foster
Characters: Laura Roslin, Gaius Baltar, Caprica Six, Tory Foster, Ellen Tigh
Additional Tags: Character Study, Missing Scene

Four conversations Laura Roslin has in the four weeks before the end.

BSG was a big fandom in its day, and I always found it great that Laura Roslin - female but not young, politician, a Queen rather than a Warrior - was one of its most popular characters. For a long time, she was also my favourite on the show; not any longer for the last two seasons, but that doesn't mean I turned against her; she certainly remained among my top characters, and I found it very frustrating indeed that in the second half of season 4, i.e. the last season, she hardly got any more scenes that she didn't share with one of my least favourite characters, Bill Adama, and that weren't more about him than about her. Which was one of the reasons why I wrote this story, which is basically a series of missing late s4 scenes addressing Laura's non-Bill relationships and issues that, with time running out for her, she wants to deal with.

Writing it proved cathartic and restored my fannish zen about BSG's last season. It's entirely canon compatible, and simply adds. Re: the title, excuse the pretentious Shakespeare quote. It's from Portia's big court speech in The Merchant of Venice - "The quality of mercy knows no strains..." etc. -, and the irony of Portia pleading for mercy when a few moments later she'll, for a modern audience that regards forced conversion as abhorrent, show none to Shylock, seemed to me be eminently suitable for Laura Roslin.

The rest of the days )
selenak: (Gwen by Redscharlach)
Breaking Bad rewatching unfortunately leads to Breaking Bad missing, badly. How so good, show? So very very very good?

...also it contributes to considering dropping Homeland. I don't know, I've watched the latest ep, and during the exposition about Saul's backstory with a certain s3 character I kept thinking, show, I can't help associating real life politics here and you just don't want me to, because seriously? The history of the US and Persia of the Shah era, and the time immediately preceding that, where then-Persia actually had a parliamentary democracy and the US got rid of its democractically elected leader and helped re-installing a monarchy instead, making itself popular forever more, long before Khomenei & Co. came to power - that's what comes to mind when trying to imagine a spoilerly spoil. ) But leaving rl associations aside, it seemed to be to have a sense of emotional diffusion and not really going anywhere. Maybe I'm wrong. A few more eps, and we'll see, I suppose.

In other news, two more days until the Doctor Who Remix ficathon goes live, and I'm starting to get nervous. Writing in the larger Whoverse again after quite a while has been emotionally challenging and satisfying to me, but it also made me look for stories on some of the characters I was writing about to see whether there was anything new in the last two or three years, and, well, some, but what those stories also reminded me was that my pov on certain issues and characters remains definitely a minority pov. So I tell myself, self, be prepared. Not in a Scar-in-Lion-King way, since he wasn't, or in a Torchwood way, since they weren't. :)

Speaking of the Whoverse, it's getting harder to avoid spoilers for the big anniversary episode, because spoiler cuts apparantly are a strange and unmasterable thing to mainstream publications, which makes me wary of navigating the 'net until November 23rd because I don't want to be spoiled.


Not entirely unrelated: I was thinking about how flexible, or not flexible, affection for characters is. For me, since I can't speak for anyone else. Some characters you immediately take to (or against), sure, but maybe it's a part of getting older than in the last decade, especially in the last five years or so, the number of characters I developed deep affection for not at first sight or even in their first season but later in their respective canons has risen whereas the number of characters I immediately fall for has shrunk. Which, incidentally, contributes to frustration when fandom friends (or acquaintances) start those canons and make snap judgments that make me inwardly go "but wait, yes, such and such certainly seems that way this early, but later she/he becomes so fascinatingly layered that you'll even see those early canon moments with other eyes". To get a bit less abstract, Skyler, Marie and Hank in Breaking Bad or Gwen Cooper in Torchwood are all characters that in their respective first seasons I was indifferent to. Didn't hate them, as lots of fans apparantly did, but I also had no particular fondness for them. Whereas later on they became my dearly beloved favourites I would get defensive about to no end. Or: on good old (well, new) Battlestar Galactica, both the affection for Gaius Baltar or Ellen and Saul Tigh and the dislike of Bill Adama definitely wasn't there at the start for me. I was amused by Gaius and Ellen, and okay with Bill, but my instant favourite in the first season had been Laura Roslin. By the time the show wrapped up, I still liked Laura but didn't love her anymore, deeply loathed Adama, whereas I loved Gaius B., and both Tighs. (The Sixes in their various incarnations are a special case; I had been intrigued by them from the get go but it wasn't love until late s2.) All of this makes me approach long term (i.e. both tv and book series, as opposed to movies) canons in a sightly different ways than I used to: I no longer assume that character x I fell for on sight, on the rare occasion when I do, will still be my favourite later in canon time, and I'm more attentive to and patient with characters that don't immediately fascinate me because who knows, maybe they'll be the ones who sneak up on me when I least expect it.

...and then there is the tried and true method of changing character affection, which I've found works in two thirds of all the cases for me: a majority of other fans decide X is absolutely the worst and turn nearly every fannish discussion around to bash X, often in comparison to extolling the virtues of Y. Now, even if at the start of all this I myself was more fond of Y and had no opinion on X because frankly, X never was that interesting to me, few things are more guaranteed to make me bristle, decide to examine events from X' pov and look at Y with a more critical eye. It's perhaps a bit silly - after all, it's a reaction to other people's reactions, not to something the characters in question did - but it's undeniably there within me. And it works about 70% of the time.
selenak: (Owen by Linaerys)
Day 30 - Saddest character death.

And we conclude with a horrible dilemma of a question, given that the media I consume offers really a lot of death scenes, now that I think of it. However, let me specify in order to narrow the criteria: "saddest death" is absolutely not the same as "most shocking" or "most surprising". And of course, one viewer's sobfest is another viewers "hooray!" or "why hasn't X croaked it already?" Not to mention that there are some deaths which may be sad but also feel right, even necessary, i.e. no matter my fondness for the characters, I would have felt like the narrative was cheating or not giving them their due if they hadn't died. Spoilery examples for season 3 of AtS, season 4 of BSG and season 5 of SFU follow which are therefore not my choice. )

My other criteria for "saddest death": I have to be emotionally very invested in the characters involved. For example, among the many, many deaths that happen in Lost, the one I'd give the "saddest death scene in Lost" award happens in season 3 and is spoilery for same, then compared to two from season 4 ) It's not in any way an objective judgment or one dependent on writing, acting or directing of the scenes in question, but then "saddest" asks for an emotional judgment.

After trying my best to narrow it down, I came up with four scenes in close competition, which you'll find under the cut.

Spoilers for season 2 of Torchwood, season 4 of Battlestar Galactica, season 1 of Deadwood and season 1 and 5 of The Wire ensue )

The rest of the days )
selenak: (Gold by TheSilverdoe)
And in other news: some very tentative looking at Once Upon A Time communities and at the fanfiction sent me back in a hurry with renewed resolution to only read reviews/comments from people I know. It's the phenomenon I first encountered during ye olde Highlander days with Methos and since then kept running into in fandom after fandom over the decades. You know, same old: canon delivers fascinating shades of grey or layered villain character. Hooray! Only... hang on. Why do so many people decide nothing is ever this character's fault and he's misunderstood and why are those MEEAAAAAN people not forgiving already, not that there is anything to forgive because he didn't seriously do anything wrong, and anyway, he's cool, and so forth, and so on. Only this time, said phenomanon comes two editions, one for Rumplestilskin and one for Regina, and for God's sake, did I really just read someone saying Snow & Charming ought to be ever so grateful to Rumpel because of everything he did for them and their family and how he "kept them safe"? SERIOUSLY?

(Also, one would think it to be self evident that blaming a seven years old child is evidence of a warped perspective, but apparantly not.)

*Deep breath* All of this has happened before. And all of this will happen again.

Incidentally, for all my renewed growling about Bill Adama, rewatching some BSG has reminded me that BSG generally atually was good about this. Both the canon and the fandom, by and large, at least to the extent that I recall (and I was admittedly never completely emersed, since the two main ships - Kara/Lee and Adama/Roslin - were ships I actively disliked). The show gave you the Cylon perspective from late s2 onwards in addition to the human one, but it never ignored or downplayed the genocide that started the saga. Most of the characters were enormously flawed, but (in varying degrees) understandable nonetheless, and there were moments of sympathy for everyone, but I never felt that if character X didn't want to forgive character Y, we were asked to see X ans Meaaaaan. There is this moment in Faith (season 4) where spoilery stuff involving Jean Barolay, a Six, Natalie and Sam Anders happens ). BSG was a flawed and at times very bleak show, but it also kept having this presentation of humans (and Cylons, so maybe I should say "sentient beings") as complicated and trying, though not always succeeding, to cope with life; as people capable of doing both horrible and wonderful things to each other. I guess that's why for all my frustrations with individual storylines and some overall decisions, I keep coming back to it, and do get a lot of narrative satisfaction from it.
selenak: (SixBaltarunreality by Shadowserenity)
Some more rewatching of s4 BSG, and checking on my old reviews of the original broadcast, I find my emotions about pretty much everything haven't changed - I still like or even love what I did back then, and still dislike/am irritated by/loathe what I did back then. No, not just Adama, but to exorcise my Bill feelings so I can reach the state of fannish zen once more, I decided on a poll. For said poll about Adama's most infuriating actions in s4, I'm taking the Watsonian, not the Doylist perspective, so "Roslin stopped getting scenes unconnected to him in the last third" is not an option, as this is no fault of Bill's. There are, however, plenty of in-universe actions to choose from!

Spoilery poll is spoilery for season 4 )

To repeat something I've said before, I think the reason why I find Adama so galling while liking characters like Tigh and Baltar, who share several of his bad traits (though not the same ones), is that with Saul Tigh and Gaius Baltar, the show never gives you the impression of being unaware of their numerous flaws; the characters get called on them and every bad decision they make. And, well, in the larger picture, they actually learn something and improve. Whereas with Adama it's a downward slide that's not admitted as such. Plus, of course, there's the way said flaws express themselves. Which is spoilery. )
selenak: (Puppet Angel - Kathyh)
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)
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: (Guinevere by Reroutedreams)
Day 15 - Favorite female character

This is far more difficult to answer than the previous question, not because of fewer candidates, but because of more! Also, I am a bit more fickle with my female loves, in that I’ve always have had more than one favourite. And sometimes my affection lessens a bit over the years. For example, Laura Roslin of Battlestar Galactica was certainly one of my all time favourites for a few years – there are a lot of female warriors and tomboys around, but Roslin was a rare example of that other archetype, a queen, with moral ambiguity and political shrewdness and ruthlessness, and all this being middle aged. Unfortunately, the last half season basically consisted of missing scenes as far as her personal arc was concerned and also I’d come to extremely dislike her love interest (and she evidently did not), and thus while I still liked her (and wrote my last BSG story about her), she was no longer a favourite.

One favourite which remained through ups and downs and many years past:
Amanda of Highlander (and its spin-off): a case where my affection only deepened with the years. Amanda was my favourite cat burglar before I ever “met” Selina Kyle; she has a great sense of humor, her pragmatism can tip over to the wrong side of cutting your losses, but otoh, when it does sink in she did something wrong she faces up to it and tries her best to remedy the situation. If you’re her friend, you’re her friend for life (which, considering she’s immortal, is really saying something). And her relationship with the show’s hero is still one of the most unusual m/f ones I’ve encountered in genre tv, because it’s never played as star-crossed romance or hate sex or whatever else you’d expect given he disapproves of her usual sources of income; they’re lovers when neither of them is with anyone else and friends throughout the centuries they’ve known each other, and it’s amazingly angst free. (Special situations like season finales involving a possible outing of all Immortals excempted.) The scene where she dares him to dance on the banisters (or is the right English word railing?) on top of the Eiffel Tower with her and he actually does it still captures the spirit of Amanda (and her relationship with Duncan) in a few amazing minutes.

And a most recent favourite:

Gwen (Guinevere) of Merlin: her canon didn’t always do right by her, but in terms of her overall series journey and where it lead her to, how we leave her, it did. It’s no coincidence that my first Merlin story was about her, as well as the most recent one I wrote (and I’m still planning on another one, though God knows when I’ll find the time for the necessary rewatchs to write it). Gwen’s development from servant to Queen, her quiet strength, her intelligence and observance, her affection for her friends and loved ones were lovely to watch. Again (as with Laura Roslin who memorably uses a gun only once, starts the show being told she has cancer and would not last in a hands to hands combat scene), I appreciated that while we see Gwen with a sword in her hands perhaps only three or so times in the five seasons of the show, and then only in dire emergency situations, she was a strong character anyway. (Because in the last decade or so this idea that the only way a female character can be strong is if she also is a superior martial artist seems to have taken hold both in fandom(s) and in production bureaus.) When I’d have to list “most impressive Gwen scenes” they would entail her talking to other characters. Because how she connects and confronts, if necessary: that’s one main reason why Gwen is my current favourite.

The rest of the days )
selenak: (LondoGkar)
Clark Gregg, aka Phil Coulson ("his first name is Agent!", as Tony Stark would say), who also acts in the Joss directed Much Ado About Nothing (he's Leonato, I think), was recently interviewed and had this priceless exchange:

Q: So having done Much Ado About Nothing as well, are you now officially part of Joss Whedon’s recurring troupe of actors?

A: I don’t know. You know, we had a nice date, I hope I end up in a relationship with him.

Breaking Bad:

Exit Music : a great summing up of Walter's character arc through four and a half seasons.

Battlestar Galactica:

Whistling Past The Graveyards : Ellen and Saul Tigh on New Caprica.

Babylon 5:

If you've been in B5 fandom for a while, and definitely if you're into Centauri and Narn, you're probably familiar with the tale of how JMS wrote a prank script for Andreas Katsulas and Peter Juraskik in which G'Kar and Londo do the horizontal. Well, my glee knows no bounds because now it's online. (Before anyone says something, yes, that line about women being more forgiving is groan worthy, but hey, it was a prank script, not meant to be filmed.)
selenak: (SixBaltarunreality by Shadowserenity)
Note to self: you already knew not to look at Breaking Bad comments. You have only yourself to blame for breathing fire again. But seriously: "Walt needs a hug! Skyler, you bitch!" as a response to the latest BB episode?!? Rinse, repeat older entry about Skyler hate and how it creeps me out, even more than the usual fandom misogyny. I think I'll do something constructive with my frustration and make a post about how I came to love Skyler White and why Anna Gunn should win an Emmy already. It didn't happen overnight or immediately, but happen it did, and writing a post about why I think she's a great character will be better than hating on the haters and their idiotic, moronic... well, you get the picture.

Helping to wash the bad taste out of my mouth was also this delightful post of silly crossover ideas (Breaking Bad/Buffy, Breaking Bad/Oz, Breaking Bad/Battlestar Galactica, Breaking Bad/The Wire and Breaking Bad/Deadwood). Spoilers for all shows concerned, but if you don't mind that and want a good giggle, have a look.

Two fanfic recs:

Amazing Spider-Man:

Promise not to promise anymore: spoilery for the film summary is spoilery but necessary. )

Battlestar Galactica:

Emissary from Another World: The collected diaries of Dr. Gaius Baltar. It's a story from 2009 but I discovered it only now, and am awed. One of the two best post-finale stories I've read, covering about nine years from the time the show ended. I love the way it takes up, argues with and against and with the ideas of the show. I love the characterisations all around, how the relationships are in constant flux (Gaius and Caprica and their ups and downs, but also Gaius Baltar and Lee Adama striking up the least likely yet, because the story takes the time to develop it step by slow step, entirely believable friendship), how past issues still matter (Caprica and Sharon have quite a different attitude towards Laura Roslin to both each other and to how the colonials see her; Felix Gaeta is very much present in Baltar's thoughts throughout) , how the new characters are as interesting as the ones we know from the show (seriously, this story has one of the best OCs I've seen in the form of Lee's wife, who is... you'll find out), and how people are layered and complicated and screwed up but never quite lose hope but continue trying.
selenak: (Ray and Shaz by Kathyh)
5 characters that wouldn't do karaoke (even if you paid them).

I'm assuming we're exempting "do karaoke or die a gruesome death!" situations, since most characters are attached enough to their lives to comply in that case. With this caveat, here are my replies:

1.) Rorschach (Watchmen). Never would he ever. Not even during the happiest days of his partnership with Daniel before he really became Rorschach. Everyone else in this ensemble, including Jon in disaffected god mode, though? They would.

2.) John Cavil (Battlestar Galactica). Absolutely not, especially since it's the kind of thing Ellen adores, with and without her full set of memories. Cavil's twisted feelings about Ellen being what they are, though, he enjoys watching her do it (and the bar where they meet in The Plan just before the attack is in fact a karaoke bar).

3.) Severus Snape (Harry Potter). Unless we're talking young Severus during the holidays before Lily broke up with him. I can see her persuading him to go to a karaoke bar (and of course during the holidays his Slytherin and her Gryffindor pals are far away, and they live in Muggle households). But definitely not after the Mudblood/Worst Day Ever incident, not for the rest of his life.

4.) Daniel Holtz (Angel the Series). When Holtz visits karaoke bars, it's to blow them up, and that's canon. You know, some of the things Connor did in s4 would have made Holtz immensely happy (i.e. anything to do with hurting Angel - that was the whole point of making Connor his instrument of revenge, after all), and some would appall him (if you must kill fellow human beings, Stephen, it's in the service of bringing vampires to justice, not to bring fallen Powers into the world), but nothing would pain him like this:

5.) Spock (Star Trek). That rumour about him singing the Ballad of Bilbo Baggins is clearly illogical slander. His main reason for not doing karaoke is that Spock is actually musical, and while he's reasonably good at playing the harp (canon!), he'd never torture sentient beings by making them listen to his vocals. He's too ethical for that.
selenak: (Obsession by Eirena)
As threatened, some ponderings on villains and which ones do and don't make me like or even love them. And, not always related: which kind of redemption stories, both in canon and fanfic, work for me and which one's don't. First, a disclaimer: I know some people declare they prefer the villains on general principle and declare the heroes to be bland and dull by comparison. That's not the case for me. If I find I only like the villain in a story and he/she is the only interesting person in it, I say goodbye to the show/film/book in question, the faster the older I get, because a good ensemble is getting more and more important to me.

So: villains. Those I like come in many different flavours. There are the lunatic EvilMcEvils, who need not be boring in their complete evilness and often lunacy if served with a defined time frame; when this happens in a visual medium and they're played by good and charismatic actors, they can be both scary and immensly entertaining. Examples who come to mind are the Emperor Caligula in I, Claudius and his sci fi twin, the Emperor Cartagia in Babylon 5, or Kronos in Highlander. (Take your bows, John Hurt, Wortham Krimmer and Valentine Pelka.) They're far from the only reasons why I love the episodes they're in, but they definitely contribute. But note: they're actually in only a few episodes, the fact that I find them scary and compelling doesn't change the fact it's their victims and Our Heroes I root for, and when they meet their demise, I'm glad. Any longer stay in the story, and either their scariness or the main characters' competence and/or believability would suffer.

Then there are the Evil Overlords and Overladies who are quite sane (except for the whole ruling-the-'verse ambition part, though some of them are happy with just efficient assasindom) and comfortable in their villaindom. They can, but don't have to be Magnificent Bastards (tm), and again, if we're talking visual medium, a good actor helps. So do competence, intelligence and wit. As opposed to the lunatics, their livespan in the story need not be limited in order for both the story and the villain to work. Temporary alliances with the heroes in order to defeat a third party are possible but won't ever last and are not to be confused with a redemption story; this type of villain, as mentioned, is comfortable in their skin and sees no need to change anything about themselves. Examples I've enjoyed watching or reading about include the Empress Livia (I, Claudius again), the Mayor of Sunnydale (Buffy the Vampire Slayer), Milady de Winter (The Three Musketeers), Servalan (Blake's 7) or Lilah Morgan and Holland Manners (both from Angel).

Next, we get the tragic, layered and/or emotionally torn villains, frequently mixing company with antiheroes and sometimes crossing lines from and back to plain old heroes, and here it gets tricky, and I get more choosy as the years pass. A tragic, sympathetic villain often (but not always) has a traumatic background story: next to unbeatable in this regard is Magneto's Holocaust childhood in any incarnation of the X-Men. (Of course, it also comes with its own date problem, i.e. the reason why Magneto already had to be de-aged by Plot Device a couple of times in comicverse continuity in order to maintain physical strength - the fixed date of a real life historic event, from which we are further and further away.) Not that a traumatic past, even a Holocaust trauma, automatically creates a sympathetic character. Just look at Ultimate!Magneto, or rather, don't. (Mark Millar does his usual thing, if you must know.) This type of villain usually comes with the conviction that they're really working for the greater good, not just their own (key difference to the Magnificent Bastards), their methods for them are justified by said greater good (this is where they're mixing company wiht the antiheroes and sometimes the heroes), but they can have doubts about this, waver or even change their mind; also, they often have lasting attachments to other people, and more than one. However, all this being said, they, and this makes them villains, however tragic, are responsible for the deaths and/or ruin of a great many people, and in the most interesting stories, we're not simply told about this by a few measly lines but get to know their victims as people, who didn't volunteer to be character X's sacrifice for the greater good/punchbag for personal trauma/whatever and had their own lives before having the bad luck to encounter said villain. Other than movieverse and most times 616 comicverse Magneto, villains of this type who made me love them include Ben Linus from Lost or Arvin Sloane from Alias, and Kai Winn on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.

And then there are the villains whom I don't love at all and don't like as people, either, but whom I can find interesting as a character and thus end up writing about. When I look at examples, I realise something they share, as different as they otherwise are from each other: a Me ME ME teenage frame of mind that extends far beyond actual teenage years, which comes with a tendency to blame everyone but themselves for their miseries, utter refusal to acknowledge any responsibility and an ever narrower capacity for attachment, that starts out being genuinenly there but as the character devolves includes fewer and fewer people, until only themselves are left. These type of villains might, in other circumstances, have not become villains - that helps making them interesting to me - but aren't tragic (for me, mileage as always varies) because they pass up chance after chance to change said circumstances because that would involve accepting some responsibility instead of blaming everyone else. Primarly examples: Warren Mears in Buffy, Morgana on Merlin and now Loki in Thor and Avengers. There is of course a big difference in how fandom at large responded to Warren on the one hand and Morgana & Loki on the other: Warren wasn't woobified. His own idea of himself was never shared by a majority of fandom. Morgana's and Loki's ideas of themselves, on the other hand, if fanfic and posts are anything to go by, are shared by a great many fans. And all generalisations are broad, I know, and can be unfair, but I rather suspect the reason for this isn't that Warren behaved worse than Morgana or Loki (Loki wins for attempted global genocide in Thor; his attempted conquest bodycount in Avengers and Morgana's by the end of season 4 should be about equal, and all three - Warren, Morgana and Loki, that is - are guilty of mindrape), but that the later two are played by very attractive actors and Warren (pace, Adam Busch! I enjoyed your performance and your guest appearance on The Sarah Connor Chronicles as well!) is not; also, Warren, about whose parents we know next to nothing (other than his mother moved to Sunnydale during Buffy's last two high school years or so), who doesn't have a sibling and who dominates his small group of peers (i.e. Andrew and Jonathan) offers no identification potential for the inner 13 years old temper tantrum throwing tale of "nobody understands me and Daddy doesn't love me enough!".

Now, if you get attached to a character, you usually want that character to stick around and achieve some modicum of happiness for himself/herself. Which is at the root of a great many redemption stories; not so much the need to bring the character to a state where he or she realises their actions (or at least some of them) were wrong and consequently tries to atone for them. Why do I think that? Because I've read a lot of fanfic in many a fandom, and the most popular pattern for redemption stories is this:

1) Not-much-longer-a-villain X saves the life of hero Y (usually the person the author wants to pair X with.)

2) Y and assorted other heroes are impressed in varying degrees; then they find out, if they don't know already, about the incredibly tragic backstory of X

3) Shame at the magnitude of X's sufferings in the past ensues (often, but not always, one of the hero types is held responsible for at least some of X's trauma and now gets punished accordingly)

4) X is redeemed (or rather justified, because clearly, he/she was more sinned against than sinning anyway!); happy sex with Y ensues.

Note that what's utterly missing is X being confronted by his/her victims other than Y and/or whomever of Y's friends they wronged, and these people usually, upon realising the tragic past, forgive X post haste. Characters who refuse to be impressed by X's turnabout and still hold X' deeds against him/her for some reasons are, if they are allowed in the narrative at all, the new villains of the story.

Which brings me back from fanfic to canon sources. Which don't always equal redemption with universal hugs and joyful sex, for some reason. Or even see redemption as the only way for a sympathetic and/or interesting villain to continue in the story. [personal profile] itsnotmymind once observed that one of the reasons why Faith's story on BTVS and ATS is probably the best redemption story the shows did is that Faith never was a regular, and thus didn't have to appear in every episode. Which meant it was possible for her to turn herself in and go to prison for several seasons, which wouldn't have been possible for, say, Willow. (Or Spike, leaving the later's vampire nature aside.) That's true, but Ben Linus on Lost and Arvin Sloane on Alias were regulars on their respective shows. If Alias had ended after the fourth season, you could say both got sort-of-redemption stories in the sense that they both started as villains and ended as sort-of-allies and also in a state of atonment (of sorts); since season 5 of Alias turned Sloane's story around again, he went back to villaindom. Even so, the difference between Ben and Arvin on the one hand and Loki/Morgana/Warren on the other is that pesky self awareness and responsibility thing, along with more-than-one-attachment ability. Not that Mr. Linus and Mr. Sloane don't have their massive self delusions at times as well, but they are aware that the main responsibility for what their life became lies with them. (See also: Sloane, in one of the ever popular taking-place-in-the-mind-of-characters episodes, telling his daughter Nadia in his own head that whatever he was in the past, now "I am a monster, and monsters have no place in this world".) They're also capable of voicing regrets over their actions, and, to a degree, change their behaviour (again: to a degree). Most importantly, though: their narrative doesn't let them off the hook. If the majority of Lost characters distrusts, loathes and resents Ben through several seasons, it's because of his own actions; ditto for Sloane, and at no point does the show imply the other characters are just mean and unfair to hold something like murder, manipulation and lots and lots of mind games against a fellow.

Cynical side note: the fact that Ron Rifkin and Michael Emerson were among the very best actors of the cast, with only one other actor of the same age group competing for the title, but neither of them young and particularly attractive probably helped with the comparative lack of fandom woobiefication, but the fact it didn't happen probably helped me maintain my Sloane and Benjamin Linus love.

But if accepting responsibility is such an important criterium for my personal affections, what, long time readers of my ramblings may ask, what about Battlestar Galactica's Gaius Baltar? What indeed, because accepting blame really isn't his strong suit, and as late as season 3, we have it as on screen canon (as voiced by William Adama near the end of the episode where he and Roslin torture Baltar for a confession) that Gaius sees himself as the wronged party here instead of the wrongdoer. So why do I have such issues with Loki and Morgana pulling that stunt but not with Baltar? Well, the fact that fandom didn't woobify and excuse Gaius B. probably helped, but so did his other characteristics, and the way his story played out on the show. Gaius could be petty on occasion, but by and large not malicious, and while he had a big accepting responsibility problem for the longest time, his chosen method of avoidance wasn't blaming either humans or Cylons for his miseries. In fact, he was one of the very few characters on that show who at no point succumbed to group hate and who as early as early s2 declared the entire cycle of vengeance and counter vengeance between humans and Cylons senseless and stupid (in a conversation with Head!Six on Kobol). Also, the show gave him neither the big dramatic heroic death atoning for his wrongs, nor did it make him into a moustache twirling villain (a la original Baltar in the old BSG) dying in punishment; what happened to him was simultanously the worst and the best thing for him, something he'd run from and tried to escape all his life. I wouldn't call it redemption, but it was by far the most successful personal arc completed in the very shaky way the show wrapped up. And showed you can tell a story of someone responsible for a lot of misery in an interesting way without falling into standard narrative patterns or easy cop-outs, and without ever handwaving the magnitude of what this person did away.

Back to fanfiction once more: one of my earliest Jossverse stories was Five Things Which Never Happened To Warren (using the "Five Things" format worked great with Warren, who in some makes better and in some as bad or even worse choices than in canon), and by now, Morgana has been prominent in or the central focus of five of my so far fourteen Merlin stories. As I said: I find these people interesting to write about. But none of these stories falls under the "everyone realises how wrong they were about X" type of story. (The first Morgana-centric story, Discordance, which was written in the hiatus between s2 and s3, i.e. before Morgana became a villain on the show, was actually inspired by frustration about fanon!Morgana whom I couldn't see bearing much resemblance to the character on the show even then.) Neither are they demonizations; I hope Morgana and Warren come across as capable of more than one emotion and as complicated individuals in said stories. It's just that the fictional examinations of the characters I wanted to read, and consequently wrote, weren't "X was so wronged by everyone and right all along! Team X all the way!" type of stories, but instead stories that took into account what canon has told us these characters were capable of. And I probably will end up writing about Loki sooner or later, despite yet having to feel any love of the character, because the type of Loki stories I'd be interested in reading just don't seem to get written, either.


Having ended up on an Avengers note yet again, two meta recs: Lovely, thoughtful meta on the film here and here.
selenak: (SixBaltarunreality by Shadowserenity)
Which means walking through the city park, the Englischer Garten, currently looking very lovely indeed:


Also pleasing and very flattering was the fact another of my stories got turned into an audio: the talented [personal profile] meri did a podfic version of 'Kin' , my recent Arthur and Morgana story.

Two fanfic recs:

Doctor Who/Buffy the Vampire Slayer:

Crossed Wires is a delightful story about an early BtVS Buffy running into the Third Doctor and Sarah Jane. Everyone is wonderfully in character, and the punchline is both hilarious and inevitable.

Battlestar Galactica:

Sorry-Grateful: a lyrical Caprica Six pov, non-linear and tackling her relationship with Gaius Baltar at very different points in their history. It's by [personal profile] nicole_anell, who writes any of the Sixes and Gaius like no one else.
selenak: (Skyisthelimit by Craterdweller)
Now I know hundreds of movieverse Avengers stories have already been written before even the trailer of the film started, but my problem here is that they were based on guesswork, so the characterisation of people and their relationships doesn't really match, and in order to read something based on this new canon (specifically: something movieverse Natasha centric, like, you know, the epic spy tale of Clint and Natasha and Coulson as their handler), I'll have to wait. *is spoiled by internet, pouts* So, in the meantime, the weekly meme, which asks:

Five characters who could give a great speech

Alas a historical figure is not a character, otherwise I would name Elizabeth I here immediately (one of the all time best big political propaganda speech makers). On to fictional folk.

1.) Jean-Luc Picard (Star Trek: The Next Generation). Or, as Q puts it: "Jean-Luc, Jean-Luc, sometimes I think the only reason I come here is to listen to those wonderful speeches of yours." Well, if you've got Patrick Stewart as an actor...

2.) Jed Bartlet (The West Wing). He's the President, so it's his profession, and also, he has Toby Ziegler as a scriptwriter. (Or metronom, as I'll always think of him due to [personal profile] chaila's vid.) But he's good at improvising speeches, too. In Latin.

3.) Laura Roslin (Battlestar Galactica). Another President. Actually, her political style is more soft spoken delivery of cutting put-downs or, depending on the situation, wise encouragements, and Adama does most of the speechifying on this show, but if Laura has to? She can deliver the scary monologue like no one's business. (See her "I will end you!" threat in s4 to Tom Zarek.)

4.) G'Kar (Babylon 5). Is good at speeches whether he's stirring up trouble as a morally ambiguous s1 character or s2 noble resistance fighter or s5 religious icon against his will. (At which point Sheridan, having twigged G'Kar is the most moving speech writer in his 'verse, has drafted him for declarations and speeches as well.) Also Andreas Katsulas can carry off the JMSian rethoric as nobody else but Peter Jurasik can (and Londo's more a master if the witty comeback and the aphorism), making it sound meaningful and wise instead of pompous. (For what happens when an actor can't do this, see: Byron.)

5.) Rom (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine). Got to bring a union man in. Okay, so he does it only once, but I'll never not love that a Ferengi gets to write the Communist Manifesto in the STverse (and that the writers got away with this - "Workers of the world, unite! All you have to lose are your chains!" isn't exactly an unknown line in this part of the world, I don't know about the US), and a splendid speech it is, too. Also, given the job Rom ends up with when the show wraps up, his ability to make speeches when in a dire situation should come in handy, to put it as unspoilery as possible.

...and now I'm trying to figure out when I have the time to watch The Avengers again. Also I'm wondering whether you could say that movieverse Clint & Natasha = AU Spyrents from Alias where Jack persuaded Irina to genuinenly change sides?
selenak: (Puppet Angel - Kathyh)
I know I've writtten and posted a rant about this very subject, the trivialization of the term "Nazi" in English, and now I can't find it again. Did anyone by any chance preserve it in their memories? Anyway: this post reminds me just how much I'm irked by it again. So do several of the comments. On the other hand, you learn something new every day: one of the comments brought up the Hitler-refused-to-shake-Jesse-Owens'-hand story which btw I grew up with as well and another poster replied that Owens had said: "Hitler didn't snub me – it was FDR who snubbed me. The president didn't even send me a telegram." This was news to me, I googled, and it was indeed an authentic Owens quote.

Anyway, being linguistically and historically annoyed (and newly informed about a detail), I also met my quota of being annoyed by fannish habits, subsection: response to female characters before they even utter one word on screen. Re: Lucy Liu casting news, what she said. This is the very first detail making me remotely interested in Elementary, but if I come across much more "zomg! our holy slash pairing RUINED BY GENDERSWAP!" reactions, I'm tuning in for that reason alone. And hope the next Batman movie will have a surprise!female Robin which Nolan somehow managed to smuggle by the spoiler hounds, so there. (Otoh Christopher Nolan, aka the man who gave Commissioner Gordon a son as a plot point while totally ignoring the canonical niece/adopted daughter... I doubt it.) I'm also having flashbacks to Dirk Benedict making an utter ass of himself by ranting about how horrible a female Starbuck was. Incidentally, I anti-shipped Kara/Lee, but they do demonstrate effectively that making one half of a popular slash pairing female in a new tv incarnation might lead to on screen sex, it does not necessarily lead to a happy ending. Or even the conclusion that sex was a good idea. More the opposite. (Kara's Starbuck and Lee's Apollo made good friends and absolutely catastrophic lovers. Which thankfully they figured out at last.)

And while I'm at it: you know what else annoys me? The whole nudge-nudge, wink-wink approach in various so called "bromances". Sherlock and the Guy Ritchie Sherlock Holmes actually being prime examples. Look, it may have been fun when Gore Vidal wrote his Ben Hur script like that in the 50s, but, current American Republican candidates for the presidency not withstanding, theoretically we live in more advanced times. Asexual Holmes is fine with me. Gay Holmes is fine with me. Bi Holmes is fine with me. Straight Holmes is fine with me. (Ditto for Watson.) But what is so getting old is the endless playing coy and runnig "gay! only not!" gags. Either go for main text or find another running gag, I say.


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