I did more Elementary season 1 rewatching, until and including M. Rewatch thoughts, containing spoilers for all three broadcast seasons:

Are under the cut )
...I've started to rewatch the show from the beginning. Which means the occasional rewatch thought in written form.

I had forgotten some details, such as the fact we don't meet Marcus Bell until episode 2, whereas in the pilot Gregson's Faithful Lieutenant with identical initial attitude towards Holmes is another character. I suppose given the time that passes between pilot making and series proper on American tv, the actor wasn't available anymore or was this more a case like the B5 pilot where the network objected to several actors? Anyway. One can't imagine the show without Bell, so I'm glad, whatever happened.

Something else I had forgotten: that the pilot establishes Joan's parents only just got together again after her father had had an affair. No wonder that in season 3 Mary Watson comes to a spoilery conclusion )

The first few episodes establish quite a lot about these versions of Holmes and Watson that holds up well three seasons later, which isn't always the case in shows with an evolving canon. Even something which I thought was one of the few things where Elementary contradicts itself later: does their Sherlock Holmes have friends pre-Watson, or doesn't he? Because actually it's Joan who comes to the conclusion he doesn't in episode 2, and that Gregson is the closest thing to a friend in his life right then. He doesn't refute her assumption, but neither does he confirm it. (They're still very early in their relationship, after all, when he regards her presence in his life as a paternally ordered intrusion.) When Alistair is introduced in episode 6 and during his second, honest conversation with Joan refers to himself and Sherlock as friends, she automatically says "Sherlock doesn't have friends". What Alistair says in reply basically, I think points to the difference betweeen pre-Watson and Watson era friends for this Sherlock Holmes.

Alistair says you can't expect Sherlock to relate to you and behave like a normal person does. Basically that you have to allow Sherlock to set the parameters for the relationship. And if you think about it, not just in Alistair's case but with all the pre-Watson friends we meet through the course of the series, this is certainly what he does. What's so new about Joan Watson is that she doesn't accept this, and does her own parameter-settings. And out of the negotiations between the two grows the Holmes & Watson relationship. (It's one of the things he learns from her that also transfers, not without complications and the occasional fallback, to the other new friendships he makes, as with Bell and Alfredo.

Something else that struck me as I rewatched those early episodes: Joan at the start of the show shares something with Joan mid s3 when spoilery things happen ) Because Sherlock's damage is so obvious, it's sometimes easy to overlook Joan starts the show damaged as well, and I think one reason why they work so well together is that they both at this point need someone to challenge them out of what they think their lives should be like.

You can tell Joan is interested in and intrigued by the detecting from the pilot onwards (and Sherlock does notice it). She's a problem solver by nature. What the three jobs she's chosen during the course of her life - surgeon, sober companion, detective - have in common is this, in connection with helping people, but they also allow her (usually) to keep her emotional distance from the people she helps. She's empathic, but up to a point. This prevents her from getting obsessive the way Sherlock occasionally does.

Elementary has been pretty consistent in having their Sherlock Holmes do the usual abrasive genius thing, but also have him show a particular distaste/deep-seated anger against villains who exploit the weak and powerless from the pilot onwards. (When he pulls that car stunt in the pilot, it's because he has just figured out something spoilery ) Which is important when it comes the careful growth of the Holmes and Watson friendship, and the "why does Joan Watson not quit early on before they become friends?" question. He does have a code of ethics when she meets him. There is a lot he learns from her, but not this basic drive for justice.
Other than "to write meta and fanfiction for me", of course.

What's it about?: Pirates and their fences, both fictional and historical. It's nominally set around 1715, so it should fit right into Age of Sails fandom. Alternative accurate descriptions would be: Treasure Island/Historical RPF crossover, or "Deadwood on water".

But I haven't watched DEADWOOD and I haven't read TREASURE ISLAND, either. And/or I don't even like pirates. What's the allure?: Emsemble-tasticness. World building. Character growth. People don't stay static, they change. Ditto for relationships. Of which there are a lot of interesting ones, between women and men, men and men, women and women. Lots of shade of grey and moral ambiguity, but no cheap cynicism or grimdark gratitiousness.

When you say relationships, you mean...: All kinds. Lethal feuds, practical business partnerships, friendships, sexual affairs, platonic love, mentor/protegé.

But the sex is heteronormative, right?: Wrong. Four of the main characters in present day are bisexual. Another important character who so far has been only seen in flashbacks is also bi. Actually, for all we know, other characters are bi as well; nobody's said "just the opposite sex for me!" yet, and in this show, you can't assume just because it's the tv default.

Fine, but what about the plot? I take it it's not about who gets together with whom.: There are some red threads - the gold of the Spanish ship Urca, for example, who controls the trade in Nassau, whether or not it's every pirate for themselves or something united, whether or not British control over New Providence gets reestablished - which touch in different ways on everyone's lives, depending on their take on those issues. Also, I wasn't kidding about the "all kinds of relationships", I mean, all the canon bi is nice, but several of the non-romantic relationships are just as key. Those shifting allegiances sometimes come without and sometimes with sex. One of the key partnerships pushing the "who rules Nassau and how?" plot forward is between a man and a woman whom neither the show nor the fandom ships. They're both involved with other people was far as romance/sex is concerned.

Are they all white, despite the historical likelihood?: No, though most of the main characters are. There are two important pocs among the regulars, Max (female) and Mr. Scott. The other pocs in the cast are background and supporting.

If it's Age of Sails and TREASURE ISLAND is somehow involved, doesn't that point to mainly male characters? Are there more than one or two women around for more than set decoration?: I'm glad you asked. Why don't I tell you about the characters?


Important characters of Black Sails:


Captain James Flint: The closest thing the show has to a leading man. Played by Toby Stephens. (Which means he's not Tall, Dark And Brooding but Medium, Ginger And Brooding.) Has a gigantic chip on his shoulder because of his Mysterious Past, which gets hinted at in season one and more thoroughly revealed via flashbacks in season 2. Is very good at manipulation and lying; this, not surprisingly, doesn't encourage trust in his crew. (Let alone among characters not in his crew.) Is a big picture type swinging wildly between megalomania and soured idealism. Good at planning, though the capacity for obsession can be somewhat counterproductive.

Eleanor Guthrie: The local trade boss/ kingpin/fence. Came to the job because of her no-good father but surpassed him and made the business empire her own. Has plans for Nassau that go well with Flint's. (That would be the platonic partnership of season 1.) Also has a tendency to put business & Nassau above both her love interests on the show, which does not sit well with either. Other than said love interests, about which more in a moment, and Flint for business, another important relationship of hers is with her trusted right hand man, Mr. Scott, who practically raised her.

Max: at the start of the show, one of the prostitutes in the local brothel, in love with Eleanor. (By the end of s2, she's in a very different position, power wise. Emotion wise too.) Is also very good at spotting non-sexual business opportunities. Can be manipulative, but is a very loyal partner to have if you've proved you're worth her time.

Captain Charles Vane: also obsessively in love with Eleanor. They have an on/off thing (due to Eleanor; Vane's the obsessive here and would prefer it to be on all the time). Flint's main rival for the "most feared Captain" title. Has a shorter temper and tends to more personal physical violence, but turns out to be not incapable of long term planning as well when the occasion arises. Stars in most of the Mary Sue tales written so far. (He does have a great butt.)

John Silver: at the start of the show, a young guy on bord of a ship Flint's crew captures and really good at talking fast and making himself useful. Cheerfully and openly committed to Looking Out For Number One. Smart, but not always as smart as he thinks (he still has a lot to learn, which he does, he's really good at learning). The best thing about Silver is that if you stick him in a scene with any the driven, serious characters like Eleanor or Flint, you get entertaining dialogue gold. He also is quite good in scenes with Max, with whom he makes a business partnership both at the start of s1 and in later s2.

Anne Bonney: an intense woman of few words (and these likely swear words), a lethal blade and a capacity for total commitment. Originally in Vane's crew, but her one true loyalty is to Jack Rackham, about whom more in a second. During the course of s1 and throughout s2, she also developes a close relationship with Max.

Jack Rackham: at the start of the show, Vane's quartermaster. Fast talking, not a good fighter (that's Anne's job) and somewhat resembling Jack Sparrow of Disney fame if Jack Sparrow were stuck in a more realistic canon with the odds stacked against him. His one true loyalty is to Anne, but that's tested (mutually) in s2.

Billy Bones: The closest thing the show has to a good guy without any shades of grey. Totally committed to the welfare of the crew, whom he sees as his brothers; one constant dilemma of his is whether Flint is more a danger or a possible solution for said brothers. Billy, played by Tom Hopper (if you've watched Merlin, you might remember him as Percival), is a firm fan favourite.

Miranda Barlow: the one person on New Providence who knows all about Flint's Mysterious Past, because it's her Mysterious Past as well. At the start of the show, the few of Flint's crew who know she exists think she has Flint in some kind of sexual thrall, while Eleanor's no good father who has some access to London gossip thinks Miranda and Flint are guilty adulterous lovers who ran away together. They're all wrong. Miranda is a bit enigmatic in s1 when the Mysterious Past is just hinted at, but in s2, where it's revealed, she really comes into her own. There's a quiet fierceness and steely grace to her that's very compelling (and able to cut through everyone's pretenses if she wants to).

Mr. Scott: used to be owned by Eleanor's no-good father and raised her. Very devoted to Eleanor, but no, he's not a Magical Negro; in later s1, when he disagrees with Eleanor on a key point, he also has to reevaluate how he identifies vis a vis other poc who are still slaves. In the end, he finds a way to be his own man without letting the Guthries define him.

Then there's an important character whom I can't describe without giving away one of the big s2 twists, so his entire description shall be hidden behind a spoiler cut: Spoilery character description alert )


Okay, so far, so good. But what about the violence?: Well, these are pirates, so of course, there there is some. There are no freeze frame gore & blood extravaganzas a la Spartacus here. Also, the show tends to do its action set pieces at the start and at the end of each season, with another actiony thing (but not as big as the ones at the start and at the end) happening in the middle. This reliably leads some viewers to complain there's too much talking and negotiating and they want pirates fighting, but this show, see the point about world building as one of its virtues mentioned above, remembers that the pirates had to fence their plunder somewhere, and this is why Eleanor is such an important power player. Also, this is a show that avoids the "soldiers/minions/any type of subordinates do what they're told no matter who their leader is" cliché. The fact that crews can depose their captains, and that their captains can't take their loyality for granted if they don't bother to explain (truthfully) what the hell is going on, is an important plot point in both seasons. Incidentally, s2 shows this is also true for the whores of the local brothel. If they have doubts whether or not the current madam's allegiances are endangering them, they say so. And the show doesn't vilify any of them for disagreeing with their respective leaders. This is a show where you have to earn leadership, and constantly.

Before you get off on a tangent, back to the violence. What about sexual violence? I heard there was rape!: In early season 1, there is indeed rape. It happens in episode 3 and is implied to go on (i.e. we don't see it, but know it happens because we see the aftermath) through the next two episodes until a radical event puts an end to it, to put it mildly. No rape happens in s2.

I knew it! Why should I put myself through this?: Well, no one has to, obviously. But here's why I don't think the s1 rape is a reason not to watch the show: a) It's plot relevant, and not in a "man avenges woman" way. One of my criteria for whether or not a rape is gratitious in any fiction is whether the storylines would happen without it the same way. Here, they wouldn't. Because it happens, and happens the way it does to spoilerly details then happen next ). And b) it's not filmed in a tiltillating way, on the contrary. As opposed to the consensual sex scenes, which show plenty of skin and can get lengthy, the rape scene itself is short (just makes it clear what happens) and doesn't expose the actress. Whereas the aftermath, where we see her and other women dealing with what happened to her, gets plenty of screentime. c) The raped character does not lose her own agenda, or becomes defined as The One Who Got Raped.

How about character death? Character death does happen. Your name in the credits does not a safe series life make, in other words. New characters also happen. Next season, i.e. season 3, we're promised Ray Stevenson as Blackbeard!

Most people aren't gen leaning like you. What ships other than the ones you've already listed does this show offer?: Well, Captain Flint's ship is called the Walrus, the one with the Spanish treasure which everyone is after is called the Urca... Okay, okay. Look, why don't I combine a listing of possible ships with some pictures in order to show off the cast?

By all means. Bring on the pretty and interesting and both!

pictures below the cut )


Okay, I'll have a look. Can I skip ahead to when the bi action starts?: No, you can't. This is a continuity heavy show, and you'll be completely lost of you don't start with the pilot. Otoh, the pilot already has some f/f action (Max/Eleanor).

And where can I watch this show?: The first season is out on DVD. No idea whether or not it's also not Netflix. The second season should follow suit soon, now that it's wrapped up.

In conclusion: get thee to a viewscreen!
With spoilers for all the books, so skip if you don't want to know. Having had to write Dumbledore meta during my December posting meme made me reread some Harry Potter - not books, I don't have the time, just a few select passages - and reminded me how much I like the (book) series. I don't actively dislike the movies, but I think they get some important things wrong - Ron comes immediately to mind - and by necessity of the format sometimes cut out some of the most interesting parts, definitely the backstory related ones. Prisoner of Azkaban missing the entire Marauder backstory, the "Snape's worst memory" flashback in Order of the Phoenix not including Lily (and thus missing why this particular encounter with the Marauders is Snape's worst memory), the entire Kreacher-related Regulus story, which makes for one of the most moving chapters in Deathly Hallows. (BTW, I love Snape as a character, but Regulus wins in the Death Eater redemption stakes. Turning against your dastardly Evil Overlord because he abused and tortured your house elf is far less likely than turning against him because he's threatening the love of your life. Mind you, Regulus then coming up with a suicidal plan to foil Voldemort all on his own was both brave and stupid, but no more so than some of the stuff other characters pull off.) Some of Dumbledore's backstory survives, but not all, and Harry has barely time to react to it where the book has him work through the realisation that Dumbledore was flawed and not always wise and right, which is a preparation for the final revelation re: Dumbledore's plans. It's something that works better in book format by its very nature - access to thought process of the pov character - but since they split up the final novel into two movies anyway, they could have tried to work more of this in.

An ongoing theme of the novels as Harry & Co. get older is what tv tropes calls "adults are people", by which I don't just mean "flawed", but complex, with histories, mistakes, and in the case of the villains, also virtues. Snape can be a horrible teacher who never emotionally gets over teenagerdom and an incredibly brave man who lived a lonely, tragic life. Remus Lupin, by contrast, is a wonderful teacher and lovely, nice man, but he also never mastered what Neville Longbottom did already in his first year at Hogwarts, standing up to your friends if your conscience disagrees with them. Sirius, like Snape, never grows out of emotional teenagerdom (unlike Snape, he has the Azkaban excuse), and is an incredibly loyal, loving friend. Narcissa Malfoy is a racist and quite likely murderous racist who at no point shows regrets for any of the victims and a dedicated mother risking it all for her son, in the full knowledge of what Voldemort would do to her if he found out and survived. Dumbledore, see December entry.

And here's one (of several) reason why I really like our chief protagonist: Harry may react with confusion and anger to some of this, but also with kindness and compassion. When he returns to Hogwarts in DH and thinks of Tom Riddle, Snape and himself as "the three lost boys" who found their home there, he doesn't yet know the truth about Snape, and acknowledges the commonality nonetheless; when Snape dies, Harry still doesn't know (though he's about to find out) but is there. And in his last conversation with Dumbledore, when he does know both the good and the bad the man has done, there is this short exchange which I love in how it shows Harry's changed perspective and position - when he tells Dumbledore something he, Harry, knows via his mental link with Voldemort, i.e. that Gellert Grindlewald died defying Voldemort when Voldemort was on the lookout for the Elder Wand. (The movies got that one wrong, too.) The is no reason to tell Dumbledore this but one: Dumbledore has just talked about his own guilt re: falling for Grindlewald in the first place. It's Harry providing comfort without declaring it as such. Whereas at the start of the book, when he reads the first of Dumbledore's obituaries, he finds it impossible to imagine Dumbledore as a youngster his own age, with a family and friendships, he's now responding to someone he can see that way: to the old man with a lifetime of regrets and the young man who fell in love both.
selenak: (Alex (Being Human)  - Arctic Flower)
( Jan. 12th, 2015 10:49 am)
Because the fannish mind sometimes does quirky things and makes you ponder something years later: back when Being Human finished, I had problems with the ending which the additional scene on the dvds largely resolved. To spare you the trouble of looking up the original review, my spoilery problem and why the additional scene mostly fixed it )

Now, ever since watching the scene, I assumed it meant spoilery stuff ). Having rewatched the last episode for the first time since it was originally broadcast, I changed my mind as to the timing and some other stuff. Spoilery musings ensue )

Which is why I'm now revising my theory about the implications of the additional scene. New headcanon: is spoilery as well. )
Last topic I was asked for, and one that made me think about relationships between women in Star Trek shows, its prominence or lack fo same in general. Someone once said Kira and Dax were the first female ST character given a friendship, which isn't true; TNG went there first with Beverly and Deanna chats, and also with Guinan and Ro. (And occasionally Guinan and Deanna.) What these have in common with the Dax and Kira relationship on DS9 is that it's presented as there, friendly, but not the dealmaker for any of the characters some of their other relationships are. I can recall a few Jadzia and Kira friendship scenes; the runabout scenes in the opening season 2 three parter, of course, also Jadzia, pondering whether or not to fuflfill Curzon's vow, asking Kira about the memory of having killed (as in, assassinated, not killed in battle) in Blood Oath, and the show repeatedly depicted them coming from the holosuite or chatting to give us the impression they spend some of their spare time together, and that Jadzia is doing her best to get Kira to relax a little, with varying degrees of success (Arthurian romance? Not Kira's thing), while there are parts of Jadzia Dax which Kira just doesn't get (her fondness for Ferengi in general and Quark in particular - "I don't understand your attitude about the Ferengi" -, her less conventional dating taste (the captain with the transparant skull and big visible brain comes to mind) but which don't stop her from liking Dax. In the last season, there was a slightly different dynamic because Ezri was new and unexperiencend, and Kira played more of an encouraging supporter role, but again, this wasn't particularly prominent.

Kira's best friend on the station in a pre-existing relationship was Odo; of the on show relationships that formed among the other regulars, the most important one was with Sisko, which is somewhat unique among Captain/First Officer ST relationships because he's also the Emissary and therefore a religious figure, and Kira's religion is very important to her. Which isn't to say Kira doesn't also have important relationships with other women in the seven seasons of the show, but I'd rank two non-regulars before the one with Dax (either Dax) - with Ziyal in a positive way and with Kai Winn in a negative way. Ziyal is the direct product of the occupation Kira fought to so hard against and which formed her life, and mentoring Ziyal, who is both Cardassian and Bajoran but belongs to neither world, trying to give Ziyal a life that isn't the one the young Kira Nerys had, is a part of the show long exploration of Kira and her terrorist/freedom fighter past, Kira and Cardassians, which is one of the show's richest narratives. Meanwhile, Winn is the most prominent female villain the show ever creates, and it's easy to forget that Kira actually starts out as a supporter - she intends to vote for Vedek Winn in Winn's introduction episode before getting disillusioned. While Winn has a rivalry with Sisko in the religious icon domain, her antagonistic relationship with Kira gets far more narrative prominence, and it's more complicated than the Sisko-Winn one, because it has all the viciousness of a family feud. While the show in most cases puts Kira in the right and Winn in the wrong (often in a "true believer versus corrupt Renaissance pope" kind of way), this isn't always the case; there's the memorable scene where the fact that Winn spent part of the occupation in a Cardassian Labour camp comes up. Again, Winn, as a leading cleric and then as the head of the Bajoran religion falls into an ongoing plot thread that contributes to the greatness of the show - Bajoran politics -, so it's not surprising the scenes with her and Kira have an importance that any scenes with Kira and Dax just don't.

For Jadzia Dax, her best friend in a relationship already existing pre show is Benjamin Sisko, and while there is some adjustment on Sisko's part to the fact Jadzia isn't an older man as opposed to Curzon, this stays the case and carries over to Ezri. Of the new friendships she forms in the course of the show, the one with Kira certainly is there, but I never had the impression that the show treated it, from Dax' perspective, as more important than the ones with Quark and Bashir. (Worf is a special case because while we saw him becoming friends with Jadzia long before they became lovers, he WAS set up as her future love interest from the get go, and that's s a different type of story. Otoh he and Ezri went the reverse way, ending up as friends after the hostility and tension resolving sex. The relationship with Worf is certainly the most prominent non-Sisko one in Dax' storyline from season 4 onwards, including the last season - one of many reasons why the Ezri/Bashir romance in the last eps feels so artificially tacked on - but it's never either "just friendship" or "just romance".) I am of course somewhat biased in the Quark & Dax direction, but I would still argue they get the type of relationship-as-crucial-factor-for-character-making-decision scenes (as in the episode where Quark crosses the line for Dax when hosting weapons of mass destruction arms merchant sales, and her reaction is a great part of what makes Quark reconsider at the risk of his life) which Kira and Dax just don't.

Now, I'm not seeing the fact that DS9 as a whole, at least as far as the regulars are concerned - and Kira and Dax were the sole female regulars, since characters like Ziyal, Winn, or Keiko O'Brien where recurring guest stars - , did better in the male & male and male & female relationships department than it did in the female & female relationships, as a major flaw. Sometimes it just works out that way. But it's definitely the case, especially if you compare DS9 to the next Trek show, Voyager. As a series, I'm not in love with Voyager the way I am with DS9 and TNG, and in fact Voy was where I stopped watching a Star Trek show regularly, eventually. But it had hands down the most interesting relationships between female characters on any Star Trek show. (Helped by the fact there were now three female regulars at all points of the show, with Kes in the first three seasons being replaced by Seven of Nine from the fourth onwards.) Janeway and Torres early on, Janeway and Seven of Nine from the moment Seven showed up, Seven and Torres, Seven and Naomi Wildman, all of these got development, prominent scenes, and in the Janeway and Seven case a key importance in each other's emotional lives that until this point just hadn't existed between two female regular characters on a Star Trek show, but plenty between two male characters, and later between a male and female character. Voyager was the pioneer there. DS9, despite its many other virtues, was not.


December Talking Meme: The Other Days
Not a combination I would have thought of, courtesy of [personal profile] ffutures, but one that's interesting to compare and contrast. Disclaimer here: I stopped watching Heroes mid season 3, and the first half of season 3 was such a decline that I've blotted most of it out of my mind. So my Noah Bennet canon derives from what I recall about the first two seasons.

Also spoilers for all of Torchwood under the cut )
Disclaimer: It's been some years since my last rewatch. Pray forgive any wrongly remembered plot parts and/or misquotes.

Thoughts spoilery for the first three seasons of BEING HUMAN ensue. )
Disclaimer: I don’t read the comics. The only BTVS canon for me is the tv canon. So whatever issues you may have with the comics aren’t relevant to how I see the characters; pray bring them up elsewhere.

Dawn was controversial from the get go – both as a character and as a concept - , and from what I hear she still gets complained about in some fannish quarters. Now it’s been a while since my last BTVS rewatch, but I still remember Dawn fondly, and a big reason for this is that the Buffy and Dawn relationship spoke to me from the get go.

Spoilery thoughts ensue )

December Talking Meme: The Other Days
This was a prompt by [personal profile] endeni; a comparison which wouldn't have occured to me. Though when I think about it, I can see some parallels. To start with some technical trivia: DS9's key writers - Ira Behr, Ron Moore, Hans Beimler - had all started out and graduated, so to speak, on TNG, but became far more influential in the spin-off. AtS similarly started out with several Buffy writers - David Greenwalt being the most important one for the first three seasons, after which he left, but also David Fury and later Steven DeKnight -, though it's important to note that the writer who in retrospect, taking all five seasons into account, had been the most crucial one, Tim Minear, had never worked on BTVS. (I'm open for a Greenwalt versus Minear debate, of course, as to who was more responsible for sharping AtS.) Both Star Trek: Deep Space Nine and Angel: The Series were spin-offs, and their "mother shows", so to speak (TNG as well as TOS here for DS9), were more widely watched and popular at the time, while the spin-offs were generally regarded as darker and more serialized.

Mind you: the cliché that TNG was the fluffy reset button show to DS9's serialized and serious storytelling is as wrong as claiming Angel was darker than Buffy in general. Point in question: AtS' third season ran in tandem to Buffy's sixth. If you watched both, you know what I'm getting at here. AtS at least until Wesley got his throat cut looked downright frivolous by comparison to season 6 of BtVS. And TNG started to ongoing relationships and actual consequences in a Trek show thing; they didn't do it as consequently as DS9 was to do later, but pioneers rarely do. Still, as with every cliché that in its exaggaration is wrong, there's also a part that's true.

DS9, even in its early seasons where there were far more one shot episodes than later, was by the very nature of its set up different and darker. The Enterprise could come and go and was elsewhere the next week. DS9 was a space station next to a planet which had been suffering through a brutal occupation for 60 years, which was a forming influence to one of the regulars - who'd turn out to be in many way the key regular of the show, Kira Nerys -, which meant an ongoing situation even before new problems showed up. Its leading character, Benjamin Sisko, started out as a grieving widower and as a father with his son. (Picard had had tragedies in his life pre show, like the loss of the Stargazer and Jack Crusher's death, but they weren't something as defining the character from the get go as Sisko's losses and his relationship to his son were.) Kira's struggle to reconcile her freedom fighter/terrorist (this pre 9/11 show used both terms) past with her present were as ongoing as her relationships with various Cardassians, her former mortal enemies. Dax was a centuries old symbiotic being. O'Brien's past with Cardassians influences him in the present, even Bashir, the archetypical young freshman type among the regulars, turns out to have had a past and a secret. Among the recurring characeters, there's notably Garak, and Garak's gradually revealed past, the reasons for his exile on DS9 and the ways in which he did and didn't try to end it - you could say DS9, from the outset, had among other themes the way its characters past formed, burdened and even partially broke them in varying degrees, and how this influenced their present.

Angel from the beginning wanted to be something other than BTVS, version II, and succeeded (in season 1 there is still a sense of the writers trying to find their feet, but from the get go, the show does have its own voice), and one of the ways in which it did this was by a similar past/present situation. Of course, it had at its main character a centuries old vampire with an extremely bloody past and not a teenager trying to have a future, but this thematic treatment was true not just for Angel himself. "The past, she doesn't let go, does she?"' asks the short lived Doyle in the first half of the first season, and no, it doesn't. Doyle has something to atone for and does so promptly since he's quickly written out for, forgive the pun, Doylist reasons. But so does his successor, Wesley, who becomes as key to what AtS became as Kira does on DS9. Wesley on BTVS had been primarily used as a comic relief character in season 3 where he was introduced, but what happened to him then - failing his first assignment as a Watcher, falling out with the Council - is what he carries with him into AtS where it has far more long term results. When Wesley first shows up mid s1 he's still prone to comic relief scenes. But before the season is over, he'll have been tortured by Faith and then offered the choice of handing her over and getting his Watcher status back, which he refuses. Which is still but a prologue given that the show overall has in store for Wesley. Even Cordelia, the youngest of the original regulars, has her past as a reigning and very skillfully cruel high school queen as something to make up for. Of the later regular additions, Gunn is forced to stake his sister who has been turned in to a vampire in his introduction, and Fred has spent years in an alternate dimension that caused her to go ever so slightly mad. Again, as with DS9, the very nature of the set up means that dealing with your past (or running away from it, but even then it usually shows up to haunt you) is something ingrained in the regulars.

Another shared trait: while the "mother shows" , TNG and BTVS, do keep their basic set up formula, the spin-offs don't as a shift happens. By which I mean: yes, Buffy & Co. leave high school after season 3, and, say, season 1 and season 6 are very, very different. But Buffy being the Slayer, needing the save the world, struggling to unite this with living in it as a teenager and then young woman, that stays. TNG at the end has put its regulars through some significant changes - Picard and his Borg experience, also Picard's changing relationship to his crew, Worf and fatherhood, plus he's in a new relationship with Deanna Troi as the show ends, the difference between Data in the pilot and Data at the end is highlighted by the three eras nature of the show finale - but the "Enterprise encounters problem, solves problem, moves on" set up did not change. Meanwhile, DS9's last three seasons are about the building and then erupting Dominion War (while there had been wars in the backstory of TOS and TNG characters, present day war for longer than an episode, at the end of which it was successfully stopped, was unheard of and hugely controversial at the time because it touched on a core ST premise, that the Federation Utopia was strong enough to prevent things from escalating this far). As for the original stated goal, Sisko, who in the pilot was charged with bringing Bajor into the Federation, not only ended up outright rejecting this (for prophecy reasons) but ended the dilemma betwen being the Emissary and a Starfleet officer by ending to be the later and becoming a sort of divine entity. (This wasn't Sisko's idea, I hasten to add, there were plot reasons, I know. Still: miles away from what he started out to do.) With AtS, the "redemption through saving people" premise from the start gradually drew in the background; not that the character stopped helping people, but season 4, the most serialized of the AtS seasons where one episode was directly followed by the next, had at its core a father/son tragedy where saving ended up only possible through a massive deception/selling out, while season 5 had altered the original format so radically that the characters started by running the chief antagonist's business and ended up triggering another apocalypse.

Now, none of this means that the spin-offs were Frank Miller style grimdark. They had comedy epsiodes, they had their regulars fond of banter and bickering throughout. (AtS wasn't afraid to put something like The Girl in Question, which made relentless fun of two of its male regulars, Angel and Spike, and included an affectionate dig at one of the mother show's most famous tragic scenes beside, only three episodes before the apocalyptic finale and after one of the regulars had already died.) (Meanwhile, the less said about DS9's THe Emperor's New Cloak in season 7, the better. Love s7, but not that episode.) But there was certainly a general darker streak and pessimisim about happy endings at work than the mother shows, by and large, subscribed to. None of this makes one better than the other. That was just the glory of them: that they could coexist in their fictional verses, offering the viewers not an either/or, but a both/and to watch.


December Talking Meme: The Other Days
(B)eside him on the settee was a brand which he had brought up in the shape of a slim, flame-like young woman with a pale, intense face, youthful, and yet so worn with sin and sorrow that one read the terrible years which had left their leprous mark upon her.

This is Arthur Conan Doyle's Kitty Winter, from the story The Adventure of the Illustrious Client. Kitty Winter in Elementary retains some of these elements - the intensity, her backstory containing the traumatic abuse by a man -, but since she's not living in Victorian times (or in our times surrounded by jerks), she's not regarded as "ruined" because of this. And so far, the way she deals with her backstory does not include vigilantism. Instead, she's channeling her anger and energy by being a detective in training.

Spoilers for the third season so far beneath the cut )

December Talking Meme: The Other Days
In a show with a premise that's essentially a fanfiction multicrossover and gleeful celebration of tropes and archetypes, both Victorian and current day, (Sir) Malcolm Murray (the show never says, but I'm assuming he got knighted for his explorations, as opposed to being born a baronet) owes his existence to several sources. For starters, he's Mina Murray's of Dracula fame OC father - I think both of Mina's parents are mentioned as dead in the novel, but it's been a while since I've read it so could be wrong. In any event, they don't show up. Like the most frowned upon OCs, Malcolm partially ursurps a canon character's role (gathering the vampire-fighting gang together is canonically Van Helsing's job), but for all that his family connection is with Dracula, the character himself is actually far more connected to another type of late Victorian sensational novel and reality. Think Allan Quatermain and Henry Rider Haggard. Malcolm is, among other things, a deconstruction/variation of the White Explorer, hero in Victorian times and mostly cast as villain in current day eyes.

it gets spoilery from this point onwards )

December Talking Meme: The Other Days
I first consciously noticed this one during The Miller's Daughter in season 2, but it's impossible to talk about without spoilers, and thus I shall employ the protective cut post haste.

Spoilers, spoilers on the wall )
I'm fond of most of the Old and New Who Companions, in varying degrees. But yes, I do have my favourites. And as far as New Who is concerned, Donna Noble is my absolute favourite, still. Which doesn't mean I don't like/love the others as well, or that I'm going for a "best of" title, because I think that's ridiculous. But she was and is the New Who Companion who resonated most with me.

This started during her first appearance, in the Christmas special The Runaway Bride. Now back then, reaction was mixed. Some, like me, liked Donna. Others complained she was too shrill, too shouty. (A commenter once told me this was entirely due to the first ten minutes of the special, one long slap stick and action sequence - during which, yes, both Donna and the Doctor shout. Which is followed by the wonderful quiet rooftop sequence, btw.) In any event, she was only a one time guest star, or so it seemed, until after the end of season 3 world got around Donna would be back. Given how popular she was by the time season 4 ended, and how great the outcry about the manner of her departure, it's worth remembering this was by no means greated by universal cheer (though I certainly cheered). The British SFX even called her "the most controversial companion since Bonnie Langford" (this was not a compliment), which mostly seemed to be biased on Catherine Tate's comedienne persona, and, once again, the idea of Donna in The Runaway Bride as "shrill. In retrospect, I suspect RTD might have anticipated this, because the first two episodes of s4 are showcases of Catherine Tate's range, from the superb comic timing in the season opener (the silent mimic scene between her and the Doctor being but one case in point, and who cares if RTD cribbed from himself in Casanova, where there's also a silent mimic scene between a David Tennant character and the female lead?) to the dramatic chops in Fires of Pompeii where she has to go to a place where she shares the responsibility for thousands of deaths with the Doctor? Mind you, the entire season 4 is a showcase for Catherine Tate's range, and the naysayers quickly grew silent. Today, sharing the Donna love is definitely a majority thing.

And it remains irresistable to me. Donna was the first New Who Companion neither a girl nor a young woman in her 20s, but at least in her 30s, and one with a figure unlike the slender models to come, which she was utterly comfortable with. (Her insecurities were about other things.) She was loud and brash, yes, and tended to voice what she felt immediately, whether it was joy or fear, compassion or dislike. She loved talking. Which didn't mean she wasn't also a good listener (ask Agatha Christie). She could be oblivious, and she could be insightful. While she had never had a steady job - something which definitely did belong in the insecurities department and contributed to the stressful relationship with her mother - , she was really creative in putting all those years as a temp to creative use everywhere in the galaxy.

And she made a wonderful friend. Part of it was the Tate 'n Tennant chemistry and timing with each other - these were definitely actors who just clicked in a best buddies way - but part was also the way the Doctor and Donna relationship was written from their first outing onwards. She wasn't interested in him romantically, or vice versa, which was a welcome first in New Who; whether arguments or hugs, she gave as good as she got. They were mates exploring the univese together, and I wished it would never end while constantly aware that Catherine Tate had only signed on for one season. The manner in wich it did end is its own controversy, which I have absolutely no desire to revive in a post meant to celebrate Donna. So I will only say this: after having watched Donna Noble be her wonderful self through 13 episodes and a special, I had no doubt she would continue to be extraordinary even with missing memories and on earth. I still don't. Because Donna? Is too vivacious, brave, compassionate, funny and too much plain alive to be anything else.


December Talking Meme: The Other Days
Disclaimer: I haven't had the chance to watch the latest OuaT episode yet, so please don't spoil me for it in the comments. Also, it's been years since I read the Potter saga, so any inaccuracy is due to memory failure, and I apologize in advance.

This said, I love this prompt. It's not an obvious comparison, but if you think about it, the two do have their parallels. (And contrasts, obviously.)

Which are spoilery for all of the Harry Potter novels and seasons 1- 4.10 of Once Upon a Time )




December Talking Meme: The Other Days
Naturally, the reply contains lots of spoilers for The Americans seasons 1 and 2. But none for season 3. I am unspoiled and would lilke to remain so, so if you know anything, don't tell me.

Spies like them )



December Talking Meme: The Other Days
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
Among of its many virtues, Manhattan has this: enough female characters so that none of them has to bear the burden of being The Girl, i.e. the sole presentative of women in the narrative, whose actions and story are therefore read as somehow standing for the writers' opinions about all women, instead of simply the story of one particular woman. Liza Winters and Abby Isaacs are two of several, and thus each of their stories can be taken on its own value.

Their stories are of course spoilery for the first season of MANHATTAN )
Aka the post I thought I'd written a long time ago. When I was prompted, however, I checked the tags, and it seems while I've written about the episodes themselves and individual aspects of AtS, Season 4 - for example my lengthy Connor essay (though that one covers bits of s3 and s5 as well for obvious reasons) - I haven't yet put my thoughts as to why this particular season of Angel: The Series is on my opinion the best in one coherent post.

To be precise, the prompt asked for a defense of season 4, which implies it is still maligned. (I haven't kept up with the fandom.) But see, DEFENSE to me implies throwing yourself in front of a bedraggled bleeding child, whereas season 4 to me is a well armed, shiny and lethally beautiful goddess able to defend herself by just being that awesome. Now read on! )
Or, as [personal profile] intriguing put it when prompting, the TARDIS's relationship with the Doctor and what her POV might be.

Now, before I get down to details about this most quintessential of Doctor Who ships (in every sense of the word), first a word about which canon I'll acknowledge. Not the novels, because I haven't read a single one. Not the audios, because while I love me some Big Finish - and sometimes more than the tv show - , the audio canon on the Doctor and the TARDIS includes Zagreus, and I just can't cope with the state of affairs between the Doctor and the TARDIS in Zagreus. (They have a temporary very bitter breakup. This is just not on.) Also Zagreus has the TARDIS being downright misogynistic, disliking the female Companions as rivals, which is also not on. (Other audios don't have that, though she does dislike one specific female Companion, Charley, for which there are Reasons.) In conclusion: as far as the TARDIS and the Doctor are concerned, I accept only tv canon.

Of which there is plenty, all 40 something years of it, and more recently even includes an episode in which the TARDIS does get to voice her pov, the sublime The Doctor's Wife, written by Neil Gaiman. (Which is probably while the TARDIS, temporarily trapped in a human body, has some slight resemblance to Delirium of the Endless.) Stating categorically that as far as she's concerned, the Doctor, aka her Thief, didn't steal her, she stole him, and she's not intending to give him back, ever. Basically, they chose each other, the Doctor and the TARDIS, all the way back in Gallifrey. They were both looked at as somewhat disrepetubable embarassments by the Time Lords for the majority of DW canon, too; practically every other Time Lord in Old Who canon refers to the Doctor's TARDIS disdainfully as an old fashioned model that should have been out of circulation eons ago. As for their opinion on the Doctor's driving skills... speaking of which, in One's day the Doctor has almost no control over the TARDIS' destinations at all, and this changes throughout the show until the present where he can do precision landings. Not that this always works; ask little Amelia Pond. Which brings me to the part in The Doctor's Wife where Eleven says somewhat accusingly to the TARDIS that she's not very reliable and she returns that while she didn't always bring him to where he wanted to go, she always brought him to where he needed to be, which he acknowledges to be true. This, in combination with the fact that the TARDIS is always aware of present, past and future simultanously would indicate that she does have her own agenda as to where to help and where to stay away from. Did she always, even during the days of the First Doctor? Possibly; she already was an out of date model then, i.e. older than the Doctor, who was for all his physical looks still young for a Time Lord, and learning. Whichever is the case, I find this very important in their relationship. The Doctor/Companion relationships all have some give and take, some are more balanced than others, but Romana - who as a Time Lady can steer the TARDIS - aside, the fact remains the Doctor is as Rose Tyler puts it in her second episode "the designated driver", which automatically makes them reliant on him to get home (or not), or anywhere. But in his relationship with the TARDIS, it's the other way around. Ultimately, she decides where they go (or not). He can't do anything against her will.

If the Doctor's relationship with his people is highly ambiguos, consisting of running away and being anything from a criminal on trial to the very temporary President to their destruction to their savior and back and forth, I'd say the TARDIS's relationship to the other Time Lords is even more so. For starters, they intended to retire her and never let her go anywhere else before she ever met the Doctor. And when the Second Doctor is captured by the other Time Lords, forced to regenerate and partially mindwiped to ensure he won't be able the TARDIS to time travel for the duration of his exile, the TARDIS herself is similarly treated. For the majority of the Third Doctor's era, she's crippled, though he tries relentlessly to repair her. (Mind you, their symbiotic relationship and shared exile sufferings don't exclude the Doctor cheating on her for the first and last time of his lives. Whatever the TARDIS made of that fling with Bessie, though, we don't know.) I could see the TARDIS minding the non-existence of other Time Lords post Time War mainly for the Doctor's sake, not because she actually cares for the species (and given her awareness of all eras at the same time, it's even possible she knows they're not really extinct). Though the lack of other TARDISes is another matter; when she sees their remains in The Doctor's Wife, she calls them her sisters and is visibly shaken.

(Sidenote: other TARDISes spotted in Old Who - who did have a functioning Chameleon circuit - don't show up enough to display personality or allow a guess as to their relationships with the Time Lords. Though I will say the Rani's TARDIS wins easily for "most elegant looking", which fits the Rani. Also the Master uses his TARDIS for something the show actually calls a "Time Ram" - I kid you not - parking it interlocked with the Doctor's TARDIS in order to mess with the Doctor in "The Time Monster". How "our" TARDIS felt about that one, no one can tell, but if she ever was sentimental about the Master, which I doubt, she certainly wasn't anymore after he put her through being a paradox machine.)

The Doctor and the TARDIS are both (more or less) unique and the last of their kind in New Who, which only heightens their bond. Does it also reduce the TARDIS' options? Not necessarily. True, if she ever grew tired of the Doctor, it's not like she can have her pick among other Time Lords, but then she didn't have that in Old Who, either, because, see above re: disdain. Whereas the existence of River Song in New Who proves that the child of two humans can mutate into a being enough like a Time Lord to both regenerate and to steer the TARDIS, whereas Journey's End demonstrates "normal" humans, several of them, can steer the TARDIS as well if shown how. So it remains the TARDIS' choice to stay with the Doctor, as he stays with her. Bad Wolf at the end of Parting of the Ways is an amalgan of Rose and the TARDIS, and it's as much the TARDIS' desire to save the Ninth Doctor as it is Rose's that drives her. (I'd say the kiss as energy transfer is also driven by both.) Whereas when the TARDIS is almost gone in the middle of the following season, the Tenth Doctor provides her with a part of his own life energy to revitalize her. It's a more blatant and literal visualisation of their bond than in Old Who, but its existence is nothing new.

So if the TARDIS sees the Doctor as hers - which, going by "my Doctor" in Parting of the Ways and "my Thief" in The Doctor's Wife, she does -, what does she make of the Companions? Also hers? Rivals? Friends? Moving furniture? I'd say it depends on a case to case basis, speaking solely from tv canon. She and the Doctor don't necessarily agree on aesthetic preferences (see "Rory is the pretty one?!?" from Eleven in The Doctor's Wife, in a scene which btw also demonstrates the TARDIS doesn't necessarily think of the Companions by name; names generally don't seem to be her thing). The fanon says she has a particular soft spot for River Song, and I can certainly see why; River was conceived in the TARDIS who presumably is co-responsible for her Time Lord resembling biology, and the TARDIS certainly always is there to save her when required, with the exception of little Melody but that's another season 6 plot problem. Otoh there are two examples where the Doctor says the TARDIS reacts hostile to a Companion; Immortal!Jack Harkness in Utopia and Clara in the second half of season 7. The TARDIS-Clara aversion was brought up a couple of times but never went anywhere as a plot point; I strongly suspect it was simply thrown in to make Clara more mysterious since the point where it was dropped entirely was as soon as we got the explanation for why various versions of Clara had shown up before. On a Watsonial level, I can fanwank that the TARDIS was aware of Clara splitting up into various selves at one point in her timeline and that this felt to her as unnatural as Jack's being a fixed point in time does. Of course, I've seen plenty of fans declare Ten is simply projecting when saying "even the TARDIS ran from you" to Jack in Utopia, which is possible, but it's worth noting that the TARDIS takes off before the Doctor even regenerates in Parting of the Ways (but after having made Jack immortal in the first place), and that she certainly didn't make any effort to drop the Doctor back into his timeline before Utopia. Would it be unfair for the TARDIS to react against a condition she herself is responsible for? Absolutely, just like it's unfair from the Doctor to avoid Jack until Utopia and even there until they end up talking in the radiation chamber. But then, would a flawless being without any faults and biases pick the Doctor, who certainly has both in his various incarnations, to travel with and bond herself to? I doubt it.

Generally, I get the impression the TARDIS is fine with the Companions living and travelling with her, but that she's not invested enough to miss them once they're gone. Does she see them as competition for the Doctor? Nah. They have such short life spans (Romana and now Jack aside), and besides, they communicate with him so differently. It's a bit like imagining one partner in a marriage being jealous of their spouses' toys or pets. Which can happen, yes, but it's hardly the norm or even very likely if the marriage is strong.

Which it is. Note that I say "strong", not "healthy". The Doctor and the TARDIS are the picture of co-dependency. The show has given us some alternate time lines where the Doctor is truly dead. Both in Turn Left and The Night of the Doctor, the TARDIS responded to this by slowly dying herself. Not because no one else could travel with her (see above); because she evidently chose not to continue without him, if he was truly irretrievable. He's her Thief, and she won't ever give him back. Or up.

ETA: And of course I have to include the canonical Doctor/TARDIS song:



The December Talking Meme: the other days
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