Having read and written about Catherine de' Medici and her daughters in recent months, I was left with a craving for other recent fictional takes on the Valois, who easily can compete with the their contemporaries the Tudors in sheer soap opera-ness, and seeing that Netflix put up the first two seasons of Reign (meaning I could watch without paying), I finally got around to it. And, well, good lord.

On one level it's exactly as you'd expected a teen aimed CW production to be. The cocktail gowns! The hair! The pop songs in the soundtrack! The utter disconnect from anything resembling historical plausibility! Seriously, the sheer crackiness is awesome. S1, apparantly having decided that Catholics versus Protestants is boring, has this entire subplot about secret pagans, and Mary Stuart, of all the people, spouting such lines as "We're not judging you for your religion". S2 does go for the actual big religious conflict of the era, but doesn't bother with such minor things as actually explaining what the differences are, beyond "no Pope". Young Mary Stuart is still a champion of interfaith tolerance, pleading the Protestants' cause (this is hysterical; also, she'd have been incredibly insulted if anyone had told her back in the day she'd ever been depicted as such), and the only Guise relation of hers to show up, other than her mother, is of course not the leader of the hardcore Catholic party more popular than the Royals but Some Guy Easily Disposed Of. (Don't I wish, says the shade of Catherine de' Medici.) Philip II. of Spain gets married to Elisabeth de Valois in the pilot while Mary Tudor is still alive throughout most of the first season. (Philip was a bad husband to poor Mary, but bigamy he'd have drawn a line at.) The Bourbon brothers, Louis, Prince Condé, and Antoine finally make an appearance in s2, where Louis gets to be Mary's temporary love interest and a possible candidate for Elizabeth I. to marry.) (Imagining how both their historical counterparts would have reacted to that suggestion is hysterical again. Good old Condé's historical wives whom he got, all in all, eleven children are of course non existent.) Reign is one of the few historical fictions to actually use Claude, Catherine's second oldest daughter, as a character, but whereas historically she was the only one of Catherine's kids not to have scandalous rumors attached to her and being her mother's favourite, here she's a a teen version of her sister Margot's popular image as a rebellious good time girl and her mother's unfavourite. (Margot has yet to be mentioned as existing, btw; of the younger kids, we've only seen Charles though the future Henri III. was mentioned in dialogue as well.)

Then there's the part where the French court keeps residing in "the castle", which isn't in Paris but isn't one of the gorgeous Loire chateaus like Chambord, either, instead being near the sea coast and looking grey and gloomy. The English, independent of monarch, are Up To No Good throughout but strangely never use this golden opportunity. In s2 inquisitors and their thuggish helpers, directly employed by the Vatican, roam the countryside to round up the helpless, hailing directly from Hammer Horror movies, but the French court itself, other than the occasional Cardinal visiting from Rome, is strangely cleric-free And so forth and so on. When, in s1, Henry II. in a rare reflective moment mentions having been a hostage as a boy it was an utter shock to this viewer because unlike most of Reign's other events, that actually happened.

If you utterly disconnect the goings on on screen from any historical knowledge of this world and see it as pure fantasy, a la The Enchanted Forest in Once upon a Time, though, it definitely delivers in the "entertaining soap" category, and it offers not one or two but five regular female characters (Mary Stuart, Catherine de' Medici and Mary's ladies, with the sublimely historical names of Lola, Kenna and Greer), whose developments and exploits we're following. Plus recurring female guest stars. The Catherine-Mary relationship starts in classic villainess-heroine manner but turns into something surprisingly complex, and Catherine herself is a great character, giving me fond flashbacks to 80s soap operas where the female antagonists if they stuck around long enough were developing layers and also nearly always got the best lines. As for the girls, their stories are actually quite good variations of "how to survive in a system that's stacked against you" even if they do so in cocktail gowns and blithely unburdened by anything resembling period attitudes. It's not every show, crack history or not, which is a female character turn down her True Love's marriage proposal because she's found she likes being financially independent and on her own better. (As opposed to turning it down because of misunderstandings, because of a rival, because she's pressured etc.)

Also, there's a lot of black humor in the dialogue. Have an example:

Mary and Catherine are in their annual "antagonists teaming up because of shared danger" episode; Catherine draws a stiletto, Mary perks up:

Mary: Poison?
Catherine: You say that so hopefully now.


In conclusion, it's pure crack, but if you have nothing else to do and it's available, go for it. Just don't play any drinking games counting anachronisms and the like, or you're passed out before the first episode is even finished.

Meanwhile, in another fandom:

Penny Dreadful

Apples: Joan and Evelyn backstory, sensual and poetical. Headcanon accepted.
selenak: (Peggy Carter by Misbegotten)
( Jul. 11th, 2016 08:33 pm)
Seems that British Politics show I mentioned a week or so ago has written half of their leads out (and all of those pushing for that unbelievable potline). briefly tried to promote a new female villain but then settled on making the lead one of the former minor supporting characters, also female.

Meanwhile, the flashback episodes are still going on. If you want to catch up:

The Chilcot Report, Digested Edition (because it's better to laugh than to cry)


On that note, fanfic from a recently cancelled show, Agent Carter:

Il diavolo rosa: Nonna Manfredi versus Bernard the Flamingo. It's the showdown of the century!
selenak: (Henry and Eleanor by Poisoninjest)
( Jun. 5th, 2016 10:48 am)
So, last year, I signed up on this small endearing historical fiction exchange ficathon, which would have allowed me to post a text just consisting of 500 hundred words, and managed to end up writing an entire novella about Eleanor of Aquitaine because using the "Five things which never happened" concept for her just seemed irresistable. This year, the History Exchange ficathon is open for nominations again, and this time, I am resolved. Only a brief text. That's going to be it.

Meanwhile, if someone should volunteer to write me that "Juana the Probably Not Mad marries Henry Tudor" AU I've been speculating about now and then, feel free to make it as lengthy as you want. :)

Star Wars:

All interested parties probably have already watched this by now, but just in case: Formerly known as is a fabulous vid about the women of Star Wars.


Orphan Black:

ditto: the one where Beth is an actual ghost. Sharp and wonderful.
Fanfiction:

In the Twilight of Memory: Rex and Ahsoka, finding closure.


Anakin and Ahsoka vid "You are a memory" : break my heart, why don't you, vidder:

Kieron Gillan's current comic Darth Vader has been reccommended to me from multiple sides, and since I saw there are two trade collections available already (i.e. something I can actually get my hands on), I went for it. (Also, I really liked Kieron Gillan's sadly cancelled Abigail Brand centric comic back in the day.)

Vaguely spoilery talk about Star Wars: Darth Vader, Issues 1-12 ensues. )


In conclusion: I'll definitely keep reading.

In another fandom, have a Black Sails fanfic rec:

Pieces of Silver: which is a wonderful missing scene set in late season 2 in which we see Silver interact with Miranda Barlow (and Abigail Ashe) while everyone is en route to Charleston. Great character voices for all three of them.
I'm a bit wary of WIPs, not least because such a lot of them never get finished and are endlessly dragged out or lose quality. But every now and then, I come across one that's just so captivating I risk following it, and then, when it's satisfyingly completed, I'm one ecstatic reader. This is the case with this story:


An Early Thaw (129841 words) by ironychan
Chapters: 26/26
Fandom: Captain America (Movies), Agent Carter (TV)
Rating: Teen And Up Audiences
Warnings: Major Character Death
Characters: Steve Rogers, Howard Stark, Peggy Carter, Tony Stark
Summary:

An alternate universe: the year is 1986. Ronald Reagan is president. Peggy Carter is director of SHIELD. Howard Stark is CEO of Stark Industries and father of a fifteen-year-old son. And a survey team in the arctic has just found Captain America





It has that rarity, a real plot, while at the same time being a great character piece (for several characters). It's a well executed AU that tackles an intriguing "what if?" without giving easy answers. (Peggy and Howard in the 80s aren't Peggy and Howard in the 40s, because decades of experience and compromises, and the way they relate to Steve and vice versa can't be what it was.) It avoids the clichés I've complained about in other posts. It has a strong sense of setting - the 1980s aren't chosen randomly, the fact this is Reagan era America, the last years of the Cold War, and that the space program is still a thing, all this is key to the plot. Teenage Tony is very convincing (again: avoidance of clichés complained about, see above). In conclusion, I love it, and you should read it immediately.
Variation old fandom:

*self* Has a conversation with friend involving Iron Man 3. Rewatches IM3, is filled with great fondness, checks out fanfiction especially knowing what the impending arrival of Civil War will inevitably result in. Reads summaries on pages 1, 2, 3 and 4 of the AO3 Iron Man archive. Stares in disbelief.

Prevailing feeling: Who are these people supposed to be? Definitely not any characters I've seen in the movies...

Some spoilery to IM3 observations of how this movie would have been written if scripted by the authors represented by the first few pages of the current archives )


Variation new fandom:

*self* is excited the Black Sails fandom finally is getting larger, new stories are being written, and hey, several of them about a pairing I'm very interested in with a fascinating on screen dynamic!

*self* Reads the summaries. In rarer cases, reads the stories despite that.

Prevailing feeling: Who are these people supposed to be? Definitely not the characters I've seen on my tv screen...

Aaaaanyway.I realise that everything is subjective, my interpretation is just that, mine, not obligatory for anyone else, etc., etc., different strokes for different people, and different tropes, etc. And every now and then, I actually find a gem where what appeals to me on screen is included in the fanfiction rendition. As, for instance, this excellent Silver and Flint emotional power play:

If your feelings aren't a story
selenak: (Peggy Carter by Misbegotten)
( Apr. 1st, 2016 06:23 pm)
April's Fool Day is a bit pointless in a world where Donald Trump has a serious shot at the White House, isn't it?

Agent Carter fans, you have one more day to sign up for SSRConfidential. The requests already made are here, and I'm so looking forward to this.

And speaking of fanfiction:
Better Call Saul:
When the Sky Meets the Sea: Chuck and Jimmy after the death of their father.
selenak: (Equations by Such_Heights)
( Dec. 8th, 2015 08:50 pm)
'Ts the season to be sappy, even for noir detectives with backstory trauma, therefore, have this Jessica Jones post season 1 tale of Malcolm determined to spread some Christmas spirit to Jessica (and Robyn):

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas

Doctor Who:

Why Peter Capaldi is the Über Doctor: not sure I agree re: the previous ones not deliberately echoing predecessors, but it's still a neat appraisal.

And lastly, a non-fannish tale:


Svetlana Alexejievich's Novel Prize lecture: impressive, like the woman's books.
Orson Welles, an eternal interest of mine, turned 100 this year. I've already written my Orson essay last year, but just saw
the New Yorker published an essay by Alex Ross, which not only gives a good overview but contains the information that the third volume of Simon Callow's biography is out. Note to self: acquire. Alex Ross favours McGilligan as a Wells biographer, but to me Callow is best - it's the being an actor himself that makes all the difference, imo. (To wit: no other biographer managed to make Welles' theatre productions come alive in this way. The movies, sure, but that's easier, since we can still all watch them, though not all of them and not always as intended.)

Incidentally, and speaking of essays, I'm too busy this year to do the December meme, but I am planning to do a January meme. Meanwhile, have another fanfiction reccomendation:




Jessica Jones:


The Last Real Man on Earth (1118 words) by anonymousAlchemist
Chapters: 1/1
Fandom: Jessica Jones (TV)
Rating: Teen And Up Audiences
Warnings: Creator Chose Not To Use Archive Warnings
Relationships: Jessica Jones/Zebediah Killgrave
Characters: Zebediah Killgrave, Jessica Jones
Additional Tags: nothing is explicit b/c its from kilgraves pov but kilgrave is sort of his own warning, this is not a kilgrave apologist fic, but his perspective is interesting to say the least
Summary:

This is how you build a sociopath.



What the labels say, and very convincingly done, too.

BTW, this makes me frustrated again Orson Welles didn't live into the resurrgence of superhero movies. I mean, he certainly counts as one of the earliest incarnations of one, playing The Shadow on radio in the 1930s, but you just know he'd have taken a Marvel or DC assignment to direct one, on his perrennial quest for cash, and made something unique out of it, resulting in both infuriated and enthralled fandom.
selenak: (Black Widow by Endlessdeep)
( Nov. 25th, 2015 09:41 am)
Aaand we have another Marvel trailer, this for for Captain America: Civil War.





Thoughts, based on the trailer but no MCU spoilers (other than what is in the trailer), since I'm actively trying to avoid those, though I will discuss the comics Civil War storyline (which by necessity was different anyway): we used to be friends. )



In another fandom entirely: while I no longer watch Once upon a Time, I still care about the characters, so I was delighted to find this "life and times" story for Milah, fleshing her out and giving us her pov: Ship in a Bottle.
Unspoilery review of the earliest Jessica Jones episodes. That is, unless you consider the stuff the trailer already gave away as spoilery. Curse it, I want to watch this show NOW!


Rome:

In other news, I brushed up on more recent Rome fanfiction (more recent meaning: younger than a year or two), and lo, there's this bit of goodness:


Simple as Falling: Mark Antony/Lucius Vorenus, perfect voices for both men. Also, it's hot. Because in recent years I went "eh, can't see it" about a few juggernaut slash pairings in a few fandoms, I was starting to worry that my slashdar might be broke, which makes me check out a few older m/m pairings that I totally could (and still can) see, and yes, works every time.
While pondering this year's Yuletide options, I received last night a wonderful, unexpected gift from last year, as one of my prompts from then has resulted in this terrific story:


Lydia Gwilt in the American Melodrama Novel, or The Bride And Some Other People In The Tomb (10462 words) by Blueinkedfrost
Chapters: 13/13
Fandom: Armadale - Wilkie Collins
Rating: Teen And Up Audiences
Warnings: Creator Chose Not To Use Archive Warnings
Characters: Lydia Gwilt
Additional Tags: Adventure, Mystery, Supernatural - Freeform, bloodthirsty murder, antihero protagonist, Mrs Alex. McVeigh Miller
Summary:

Lydia Gwilt goes to America and has further adventures. There's a bride, a tomb, bloodthirsty murder, Spiritualism, monsters of various kinds, and maybe even a new passion for our brave antiheroine. Epistolary fic.




Lydia Gwilt from Wilkie Collins' novel Armadale is my favourite Collins character by far (she also was my first antiheroine, and remains a favourite redhead), and her witty, acerbic voice as Collins presents it in the various letters and diary excerpts that form his "sensation novel" is a big reason why. So I was delighted that not only did this author come up with a great adventure for Lydia, but one that followed the Collins precedent, voice wise. And managed an affectionate spoof of certain 19th century novel tropes besides. I loved it.
selenak: (Allison by Spankulert)
( Aug. 25th, 2015 05:06 pm)
I'm currently so worried, angry and frustrated about events like these, which keep happening over here (two more only last night). Which makes the need for fannish things to enjoy even more urgent. On that note, here's an Orphan Black rec. One of the s3 elements I was pleasantly surprised by most was the way the late (since the pilot, so not really a spoiler) Beth Childs was used, the way Sarah's thoughts keep coming back to her. This story expands on the mental Beth-Sarah conversations by giving Beth conversations with a great many other characters. Intense, with a dream logic that makes emotional sense, and extra points for including Amelia:

and when they sing (8316 words) by piggy09
Chapters: 1/1
Fandom: Orphan Black (TV)
Rating: Teen And Up Audiences
Warnings: Major Character Death
Relationships: Beth Childs & Sarah Manning, (sort of) - Relationship, Beth Childs & Kira Manning, Beth Childs & Helena, Helena & Amelia (Orphan Black), Beth Childs & Rachel Duncan, Beth Childs/Paul Dierden
Characters: Beth Childs, Katja Obinger, Kira Manning, Helena (Orphan Black), Amelia (Orphan Black), Rachel Duncan, Charlotte Bowles, Paul Dierden, EVERYBODY SHOWS UP TO CHAT OKAY
Additional Tags: Dreams, Confusing and pretentious
Summary:

As soon as Sarah had enough memories for Beth she was here: this kitchen, the safest place Sarah knew, a keeping-place until Sarah was ready to meet her. She had been alone there for a while. There were visitors, sometimes, but mostly Beth was just alone. Waiting and waiting and waiting for Sarah to come and see her.

selenak: (Bilbo Baggins)
( Aug. 18th, 2015 03:33 pm)
Lord of the Ring:

Sunshine and Rain: a lovely friendship and comfort vignette between Elrond and Bilbo, shortly after the Ring got destroyed.

History

If certain pop culture clichés about the Spanish Inquisition ever amused and/or annoyed you, here's an excellent post (triggered by a movie I haven't seen, The Headsman, but really only taking its use of an Inquisitor as a starting point, and thus perfectly understandable for everyone) dissecting and clarifying what the Spanish Inquisition actually was, versus what pop culture thinks it was:

Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition.
selenak: (Abigail Brand by Handyhunter)
( Jul. 26th, 2015 07:41 am)
Marvel:

Brian Bendis seems to be in ecstasy about the Jessica Jones tv show. (And has as hard a crush on Luke Cage as ever, which cracks me up. Seriously, if there was ever a creator in love with his creation's love interest...) There's also the first photo of Krysten Ritter as Jessica Jones. I'm so looking forward to this show!

Sense8:

Accomodation: lovely Capheus pov, exploring him processing what happened in the show's finale.
Which by its nature is spoilery for season 2, so under a cut it goes. )
It's good to know that Bryan Fuller's American Gods adaption is still on, and progressing. (Not just because I'm looking forward to the Fuller-meets-Gaiman result, but because I would like a Fuller series I can watch again. Says she who tried and disliked Hannibal, thus gave it up after eight episodes.) Meanwhile, I've just seen a (German) tweet to the effect that they want to do a remake of The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. Methinks someone took notice of the fact that Penny Dreadful is drawing an audience and recalled they still have the Alan Moore property. Dear movie makers who own the LoeG rights: I didn't see your first movie because your git of a director and your idiot of a producer gave an interview before it ever came out in which they said they changed the set up from Mina being the leader to Alan Quatermain being the leader because "can you imagine Sean Connery taking orders from a woman?" So if you want me to watch a new film version, pray go back to the Moore, let Mina stay the leader (and don't change her into a vampire, the entirely human sharp tongued take charge woman of the first two LoeG volumes will do nicely), and if you must add non-Moore characters, don't let these be Dorian Gray and Tom Sawyer. Go for Lydia Gwilt from Armadale and Marian Halcombe from The Woman in White instead.

Yesterday I got a mail informing me the BBC will stop its Global iPlayer service, so that was depressing. Whyyyyy, BBC? I loved watching your shows in my trusty iPad! Has the newly confirmed Cameron slashed your budget that much already? On the bright side of BBC news, though, they're planning an adaption of A Place of Greater Safety. Considering this is the Hilary Mantel novel I love, whereas I have mixed "yes, BUT" feelings about the Thomas Cromwell novels, I hope this will indeed come to pass. Not least because: a British production about the French Revolution in which the French revolutionaries are the heroes and there's not a heroic aristocrat, British or otherwise, in sight, that will truly be a first one. (There are some sympathetic aristocrats in Mantel's novel - poor trying-to-do-the-right-thing Lafayette who gets loathed by Marie Antoinette and the Jacobins alike for his trouble, Mirabeau as the gifted and corrupt but not evil type, oh, and Mantel has fun giving a few scenes to the author of Les Liasons Dangereuses since he's Philippe d'Orleans' sidekick for a while - but they're all supporting, not major characters.) I'm also looking forward to bisexual Camille Desmoulins, a tragic instead of evil Robespierre and hope that whoever gets cast as Danton has the necessary charisma (and voice!). Finger crossing for Alex Kingston as Annette Duplessis - for Lucille, I have no opinion yet.


And lastly, because Elementary is so much on my mind these days, a fanfic rec:


When You Know I Can't Love You (3319 words) by AxolotlQueen
Chapters: 1/1
Fandom: Elementary (TV)
Rating: General Audiences
Warnings: No Archive Warnings Apply
Relationships: Sherlock Holmes & Joan Watson, Sherlock Holmes & Kitty Winter
Characters: Sherlock Holmes, Joan Watson, Kitty Winter, Jamie Moriarty | Irene Adler
Additional Tags: Character Study, Platonic Love, Mental Health Issues, Mentions of addiction, Past Sherlock Holmes/Jamie Moriarty | Irene Adler, Gray aromantic Sherlock, Loneliness
Summary:


He had thought himself, for a long time, incapable of love. Some people simply are, after all.


A character study of Sherlock and various kinds of love.

selenak: (Jimmy and Kim)
( May. 20th, 2015 03:04 pm)
I thought the old matriarch in Mad Max: Fury Road looked somewhat familiar. Turns it was Melissa Jaffer, who played Noranti in the fourth season of Farscape!


And a quick fanfic rec, a lovely missing Better Call Saul scene for Jimmy and Kim:


There Should be a Trophy (1700 words) by laliquey
Chapters: 1/1
Fandom: Better Call Saul (TV)
Rating: Teen And Up Audiences
Warnings: No Archive Warnings Apply
Relationships: Jimmy McGill & Kim Wexler
Characters: Saul Goodman | Jimmy McGill, Kim Wexler
Additional Tags: Ambiguous Relationships, Friendship/Love, Manicures & Pedicures, Cooking
Summary:

After Kim gets fired by the Kettlemans, Jimmy does what he can with the limited resources in his office & the salon to cheer her up.

selenak: (Breaking Bad by Wicked Signs)
( Nov. 25th, 2014 01:34 pm)
The assigned Yuletide story is posted, now to see whether I can manage the treat I want to write. Meanwhile, here are other people being creative:

Torchwood/Doctor Who:


The mind is its own place The on-going adventures of Toshiko Sato, because Missy never spotted the little things.

Tosh in the Nethersphere, poetically written, quietly saving the world. Absolutely canon compatible with both shows, and heartbreaking in the best way. Also the Owen cameo is perfect. (Err, spoilers for the most recent season of DW, of course.)



Breaking Bad/Frozen:

Do you want to build a meth lab? : one of the most hilarious vids ever, which I found via [personal profile] ffutures. I dare you to keep a straight face.
.

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