selenak: (Alicia and Diane - Winterfish)
( May. 16th, 2015 04:37 pm)
Or, to paraphrase Tallyrand about the execution of the Duke of Enghien ("worse than a crime: a stupidity"), it's worse than ridiculous: it's unprofessional.

So, one of the shows I stopped watching during the season that has just finished was The Good Wife. Mostly because a truly excellent season (the fifth one) was followed by a very mediocre one which took back most of what had made the fifth season good and didn't offer anything interesting in its place, instead increasingly going for Greatest Hits Retreats (with characters who had long outstayed their welcome, looking at you, Colin Sweeney), while also losing the ensembleness and character interactions that used to make the show. Now, had all of this not been the case, the fact that this was also the last season for one of the main characters, Kalinda, something which the audience was very aware of since the actress leaving the show had been announced, would not have been that big of a deal to me; while I've always liked Kalinda, she never had been my favourite character, or the key selling point of the show to me.

However, even if Kalinda hadn't been what made the show for me, it HAD been unavoidable to notice that despite the characters of Alicia and Kalinda reconciling in season 3, the actresses hadn't shared a scene together for more than 50 episodes after that. While Kalinda and Alicia talked, it was always on the phone. This year, there was incrreasing speculation about the reasons for this in the press. When it turned out that even in the last episodes, after I had stopped watching, the shared scene(s), when they finally came, were the result of cinematic trickery and green screen, I experienced the most massive eyeroll since that time when Newt Gingrich complained about Bill Clinton not invinting him to the front of the plane en route to Rabin's funeral and named this as a reason to shut down the government. Seriously?

Look, I don't care if politicians behave that way, but I want my members of the acting profession and of tv producing to have certain standards. To wit: no matter how you feel about each other, you do what you're paid for, which is, if you're an actress: acting your character with other actors to the best of your abilities. If another actor is abusing their kids or beating up their spouse or guilty of something similar, THEN, and only then, I could understand someone declaring "I don't want to work with this person, I don't even want to be in the same room with them". In all other cases, it's just stupid and, see above.

I'm a Star Trek fan. Which means I'm very aware of a very famous case of a leading actor managing to piss off the entire supporting cast with his ego. Did said supporting cast ever let that influence how they played their characters' emotions towards his character? Nope. And say what you want about William Shatner, but he never pulled a stunt like this, either. (If he had, we'd know by now.) And he actually worked in Sci Fi, where the use of what used to be blue and is now green screen is justified.

Mind you, I'm blaming the producers, too. If they didn't have the strength of character to put their foot down and declare "no matter what differences you have privately, your characters are supposed to be on screen together, so get in the studio already, ladies", they're failing their profession just as much.

I mean. This is show biz. Theatre, film and tv are full of feuding actors who worked together regardless because that was their job. (And it provided us with lots of entertaining stories, too.) I refuse to call this "diva like behavior", because divas, female and male, actually know better. They're professionals.
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
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
No new Clone adventure to contemplate today, so a few thoughts on why season 2 as a whole - while offering many good things - didn't work as well as s1 for me.

it's all about the focus or lack of same )

Other fandoms:

Penny Dreadful:

Short but very interesting interview with Timothy Dalton about a certain scene in 1.05 and the Vanessa-Malcolm relationship in general.

Star Trek:

We learned the sea : beautiful love declaration to the various shows (TOS, TNG, DS9, Voy), their captains, and their relationships.
At last, I managed to watch the Christmas Specials of two shows I'm following. One of them was lovely, encapsulating all the particular show's strengths and managing to create sympathy for the guest stars in peril despite the inevitable short screen time they could have. The other, while not as bad as some ominous above cut rumblings let me to believe, unfortunately, much like that show's last season, neither particularly good or particularly bad, just mediocre, though entertaining, with a few outstanding moments, which is all the more frustrating because very recently we've seen the show do better.

Three guesses which was which, and the first two don't count.

Doctor Who Christmas Special )

Call The Midwife Christmas Special )
selenak: (City - KathyH)
( Dec. 23rd, 2013 12:07 pm)
No topics for the busiest of holidays and the day before that, thank God, which allows me to read what everyone else has written, and thus you get links today. :)

Poetic meta on Jackie Tyler, the Ninth Doctor and Rose as Demeter, Hades and Persephone.

The Inner Light as a TNG highlight. TNG and Picard love are always lovely to read.

It's been literally decades since I've read the Silmarillion, but I still found this hysterical and want [personal profile] penknife to write the Southern Gothic versions of Lord of the Rings as well:

Leaving Bliss, aka Galadriel's backstory from the Silmarillion, the Southern way. :)

But if you want to know the beginning of it, you have to go back to my grandparents. Grandpa Finny (and if you're confusing him already with Uncle Fenny and his brothers Fin and Little Finny, you aren't from Bliss yourself) was always keen on having sons.
Once upon a time in ye olde days of the 90s, the Dominion War arc that Star Trek: Deep Space Nine did, which ended up as one of those show defining narratives, was in fact pretty controversial in Trekdom. As I recall, there were two major argumenets against it in Trekker debates:

a) It went against the Utopian ideal of future humanity as having evolved and being able to solve conflicts avoiding war. True, Trek in any incarnation had included fight scenes, and backstories of wars - TOS with the Klingons, TNG with the Cardassians (when they first were introduced we also learned there had been an off screen Federation/Cardassian war from which everyone was still reeling, and DS9 itself, of course, had at the heart of its premise Bajor as a planet whose military occupation had only recently ended - but whenever war was threatening in the show present, what Our Heroes did ended up averting it. (Yes, even Kirk, though in the most famous case it were the Organians who made him and Kor do it.) In more recent Trek chronology, this averting of wars had been written in a shades of grey fashion - the last two seasons of TNG, which ran concurrent to the first two of DS9, introduced the Maquis, and even before that, and before the existence of DS9, you had episodes like The Wounded (the one where the Cardassians were introduced in s5) that showed avoiding wars was still the best solution but came with a cost. Still, to have the Federation engage in an actual war running over several seasons was by part of fandom perceived as going directly against a core ethical ideal.

b) It was perceived as a ripping off the Shadow War which simultanously went on on Babylon 5. While yours truly was always a fan of both space stations and couldn't see the point of bashing one while loving the other, there were, unfortunately, also a lot of hardcore partisans of either playing them out against each other and constantly trying to show the other did X better or just copied Y. Now B5 had no monopoly on space warfare, but what laid the Dominion War open to such fannish accusations, especially before either show wrapped up their respective wars, was that DS9 by introcuding the Pagh Wraiths as the evil counterparts of the Prophets seemed to veer a bit too closely to Shadows and Vorlons on B5. (Two obvious ironies here: evidently, both staff of writers knew their Tolkien; also, as it would turn out in B5's fourth season, the Vorlons were by no means the angelic good guys they presented themselves, were in fact no better than the Shadows, which was a major s4 plot point, while on DS9 the Prophets' moral ambiguity, to put it nicely, unfortunately came across as non-intended by the the narrative but the role they played remained still very unlike both B5 and Tolkien.)

Now, dozens of non-Trek shows with major war storylines later, the taboo breaking dimension of the Dominion War doesn't exist anymore - in fact, today, the avoidance of war is the more rare and original story twist again. (Not by coincidence, Ron Moore, who on DS9 was one of the main architects of the Dominion War, went on to create the rebooted Battlestar Galactica, which kicked off with devastating genocidal warfare and ended up in reconciliation.) But the Dominion War arc on DS9 still holds up pretty well, with inevitable blemishes.

Spoiler cut for DS9 newbies )
Which started in my part of the world yesterday evening, which is when I saw it. I haven't read anyone else's review yet. Mine is going to be spoilery, because I don't think you can discuss this film without spoiling the hell out of it, so anything beneath the cut: don't read until you've watched it. ((Unless you want to be spoiled.) My own overall verdict would be: flawed and enjoyable. Oh, one more thing I actually can say without spoiling. Because of the way most trailers (though not allL) were cut, you could be forgiven for getting the impression that most of the action takes place on Earth and Benedict Cumberbatch is in 99% of the scenes. This did not make the part of the fanbase happy which wanted the focus on the Enterprise crew and wasn't that enamored with Mr. Cumberbatch. Well, rest assured on these counts. Actually most of the plot takes place in space, Benedict Cumberbatch's character doesn't get more screentime than Nero did in the last film, or any other ST villain, and the emotional focus is certainly on the Enterprise characters.

The good, the bad and the ridiculous are extremely spoilery )
Just a sample of the goodness, which, you know, you can find and comment (or kudos) on here.

The Charioteer:

Washing-up, Ward B : Nurse Adrian compares notes with Andrew. Both great as a friendship story and as a direly needed reaction and revelation story.

Greek Mythology:

and wake to start the world again: Wherein Pandora is curious, Prometheus proud, and Athena has a different plan than Zeus. An inventive twist on the myth of Pandora.


Apart Yet Not Afar: In which Rebecca saves Ivanhoe's life (again) some nine years after the novel, he returns the courtesy, and the author actually pulls off Sir Walter Scott's style, which is awesome. Most of the (few) post-Ivanhoe fanfics I've come across were about getting Rebecca and Ivanhoe together; this one decidedly is not.

Star Trek:

Waiting: Saavik during the months between The Search For Spock and The Voyage Home, with flashbacks to her life pre Wrath of Khan. I'm always delighted to come across fanfiction featuring Saavik, and this one does a wonderful job with her, and with the various other characters she deals with, including but not limited to Spock, Kirk, Amanda, T'Pol (from Enterprise), and, best of all, Number One. (The original female first officer from the unaired ST pilot.)

West Wing:

Cast me gently into morning: When Ellie catches Zoey's interview on TV, she is prompted to go up to New Hampshire to see how her sister is really doing. Hooray for sibling interactions, and a great take on Ellie helping Zoey deal with the aftermath of the s4 cliffhanger.
selenak: (QuarkDax)
( Apr. 6th, 2013 07:02 pm)
You guys, I just stumbled across a beautiful Jadzia Dax vid:

Loosen up

It captures so much about Jadzia - to quote the vidder, her sense of fun; her relationships with Ben, Quark, a whole bunch of Klingons, a few Trills, some more Humans, Bajorans, and other aliens; and her exquisite skill at the game of tongo. My favourite Dax, though I like the others, too, but Jadzia Dax became my favourite female character in the Trekverse, full stop, any show. (Pace, Kira fans, I know she's awesome, and I honour her, but you can't decide whom you love best: it just happens. Also, Kira loved Dax, too. Would she have worn that Guinevere outfit for anyone else?)

In other news, I finished my [profile] rarewomen story and sent it off to be beta'd, which was a relief, because starting Monday I'm travelling again, which means doubtable time for storywriting. I wrote in a fandom I love dearly but haven't been writing any fanfic in yet, about a genuinenly obscure character (in fanfic terms), so it's probably going to be one of my lesser read stories. As for [community profile] queer_fest, I didn't claim any prompts this year because none really talked to me the way last year not just one but two did. And Remix doesn't seem to be happening, which means once this season of Once Upon A Time has fanished, I'll be hopefully able to write the Snow White story that's nibbling at me.
Day 28 - First TV show obsession

Leaving aside cartoon shows watched as a little kid and described on day thirteen, Star Trek, which entered my life when I was a somewhat older kid. I watched every episode. I bought the tie ins; those that were published in German, anyway; this was of course years before I spoke a single word of English, and btw, yes, like everything else imported, Star Trek was dubbed and known as Raumschiff Enterprise. (Which means I heard the voices of the original actors for the first time when I was in my mid-20s and discovered that the local video store also carried ST tapes in English. To this day, though, the dubbed German voices are those I associate first with the TOS crew, sorry, can't help it. Also Bones is Pille, not Bones.) Now Star Trek was actually shown in the late afternoon as part of the programms for kids, and this meant there was an infamous example of censorship to prevent the young 'uns asking questions about the Vulcan mating cycle. To wit: the dialogue for Amok Time was completely rewritten so that in the German version, Spock gets mysteriously sick, McCoy is racing against the clock to find a cure, Spock in his feverish delirium has a bizarre dream about going home to Vulcan to marry his fiancee which ends up with him killing Kirk, McCoy finds the cure, Spock wakes up, has a bit of trouble sorting out fever dream from reality and overreacts when meeting Kirk again. The end. You can imagine that when some of the media tie ins referred to the whole business with T'Pring, I was confused because hadn't that been a dream? Also, what was this Pon Farr everyone was talking about? Ah, the troubles of being a German first Generation fan.

(The other instance of censorship was that Patterns of Force didn't get dubbed at all until a few decades later. I first saw it, undubbed, at a convention and decided I hadn't missed much. It was exceedingly dumb and one of the worst examples of American tv using the ever popular Nazi trope.)

When the movies came, I was just the right age to see them in the cinema. This meant being unspoiled for Wrath of Khan, which no one will ever be again, but I think I already suspected Spock wouldn't remain dead despite sobbing as one does. And overidentified with Saavik who I decided was totally me in space. (Then I read the tie-in novel where Vonda McIntyre hooks her up with Kirk's newly discovered son, David, and went eeeeewwww, because Mr. Curly Blond Hair wasn't my type at all. However, the tie-ins later delivered the romance free Saavik backstory The Pandora Principle, which I read so often that my copy practically falls apart.) But I didn't make the ultimate fannish step of looking for fanfiction, going to conventions, debating with other fans, and being so impatient for new episodes that videos from England were imported until TNG times. Not only did I fall in love all over again (not at fist sight: as was said a lot by me in these reflections, the first TNG season was, err, not the falling in love type, but it had just enough to keep me watching), but this time I had this overwhelming wish to talk about what I'd seen and about the people, and how much for a convention ticket and train fare to Bonn again?

Space, I tell you. The final frontier. These were the voyages...

The rest of the days )
Day 26 - OMG WTF? Season finale

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

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

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

Here are the spoilery reasons why as a FINALE, it is my choice for the WTF? category above all other candidates )
Day 22 - Favorite series finale

Even these many years and many other beloved shows and some excellent finales later: All Good Things..., the series finale of Star Trek: The Next Generation. It managed to accomplish so many things: clever use of the "three different time lines" macguffin, allowing the audience which had followed the show both a look back to the start (oh, and for departed crew members to come back, not just Denise Crosby as Tasha Yar, but also Colm Meany as O'Brien, who at this point already had clocked two seasons of DS9 as a regular but made the time for an appearance on his old ship, the Enterprise), at the present and at a possible future. It used Q and the Q/Picard relationship well. (Much later I discovered it also managed to upset a certain branch of Republicans, because of the short scene where Q takes Picard back to prehistoric earth, shows him various amino acids in the primordial soup and casually remarks this is the origin of life on earth. Apparantly creationists took expection to that. Here's to an additional bonus!) It allowed the entire ensemble to shine, playing two, sometimes three different versions of themselves. It wrapped up the show yet also reassured us there were many more adventures for our heroes to come. In short, it was TNG and Star Trek optimism at its best, without coming across as preaching or blind.

And here is the very last scene, which still reduces me to fangirl mush no matter how often I watch. The sky is the limit!

The rest of the days )
[community profile] queer_fest is open for prompts. I enjoyed participating last year and will again this year, though I'm still mentally collecting prompts. One I know already. It's an idea that admittedly ows itself to yours truly being ticked off and truly SICK of one Merlin/Arthur request that asked for Gwen erasure too many (not at Queer_fest, elsewhere), but it's also the wish to see one of my few OT3s getting written. Ater all, bisexuality - and love that works in polyamory, not "just" one person/another person monogamous arrangements - are among the subjects to celebrated at this ficathon. Therefore, my prompt numero uno will be: After Arthur's return, Merlin and Arthur try to live as a couple on their own and quickly discover they can't. They need Gwen. Not just for her common sense but because they love her. They don't rest until they find her in the present. I'd like both Arthur and Merlin written as bisexual (not straight, not gay), and the relationship between them and Gwen explored as a triad where each party is invested in the two others.

One of the prompts I saw already posted is a DS9 one and asks for Jake/Nog, which I'm all for, but the prompt itself positions something I'm not sure about, to wit: "Nog has always broken Ferengi taboos - what's one more?". What I'm uncertain about here is: would it even make sense for Ferengi to have a same sex relationship taboo? I think to assume they have one is to ignore the practicalities and the precedents of a deeply sexist society that, before the reforms that start during the course of the show, isolates their women from public life, most professions and hardly lets them off the planet while at the same time having a floroushing intergalactic economic presence. Bearing ancient Greece and in particular Athens in mind: these conditions are more likely to encourage same sex relationships and the elevation of them not just to equal but superior status to the male/female ones. (A lot of those quotes about erastes/eromenos relationships that often end up in slash said by one character to the other come if you read further with some nasty misogyny, along the lines of women not being possibly capable of the emotional and spiritual depth of true love, etc.)

If we look at tv canon, there is just one incident that could be constructed as a clue to how the Ferengi see same sex relationships, and that's the season 2 episode that's basically Yentl in space, with Quark in the Avigdor role. I haven't watched it for a while, but when Pel, who is a Ferengi woman disguised as a man, kisses Quark (who doesn't know yet she's a woman), he doesn't react repulsed or homophobic, he just doesn't go for it and pretty much ignores it. He only freaks out somewhat later when finding out she's a woman, because this is the big taboo breach. If we include media tie-ins, which of course is optional (and I usually ignore them, but hear me out), there are the complete Ferengi Rules of Aquistion as written by Ira Behr and Robert Wolfe, both writers and producers of DS9 (Ira Behr wrote most of the Ferengi episodes), and they include after a show quoted rule that says "Never have sex with the bosses sister" a rule that says "Always have sex with the boss" with a footnote "In case I need to spell this out: there are no female bosses on Ferenginar".

In conclusion: I don't think the Ferengi have same sex relationship taboos. You can still write Jake/Nog as taboo breaking, but more because it's an interspecies relationship, and while there are a lot of those on the show (to wit: every woman but Pel Quark is ever attracted to plus of course the long term couple of Rom/Leeta), it's in each case not exactly a case of joyful acceptance from both of the species in question.
Day 19 - Best TV show cast

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The rest of the days )
Day 13 - Favorite childhood show

That depends on how young a child the meme has in mind. Little [personal profile] selenak loved the cartoon series Sindbad best. The link gives you the title sequence, and embarrasingly, I can still sing it, along with other cartoon series title melodies such as "Heidi" ("Heidi, Heidi, deine Welt sind die Beeeeeerge") or "Die Biene Maja" ("Und diese Biene, die ich meine, nennt sich Majaaaaaaa"). [personal profile] bimo heard me do it once, she can confirm it. Anyway, Sindbad in Sindbad is a child, not an adult, but still from Baghdad, his sidekick is a know it all clever bird named Sheela who is actually, as we find out much later, a princess who was transformed by the requisite evil magician, and together they have most of tales from the Arabian Nights, somewhat altered for a child hero, as adventures, and then some. Child!me tried her best not to miss a single episode and loved clever bossy Sheela and impulsive adventurous Sindbad to bits.

Still a child but somewhat older me watched Star Trek, and a life long fandom was born. It was definitely my favourite live action series, though oddly enough, it wasn't and isn't my favourite ST ever after first TNG and then DS9 came along. It only was when it was still the only Trek in town.

Sindbad, otoh, beat Maja the bee, Heidi and Pinnocchio fairly and simultanously.

The rest of the days )
Name five favorite episodes of your five favorite series

Now that's ambigously phrased and could mean five episodes per show, couldn't it? :) Ah well. Five only, one per show, not the best or the only favourite in each case, but certainly a favourite. And of course, being the multifandom person which I am, I have far more than five favourite shows, so again: not the top five, but among my favourites.

1.) Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Restless The dream episode to end all dream episodes. Weird, silly, deep, shallow, all and everything in turn. The imagery stays with you for good, and it's a great emotional summing up of where the four Scoobies are at this point. Also? I wear the cheese. It does not wear me.

2.) The Sarah Connor Chronicles: Samson and Delilah. Because Sarah and John are at their human most vulnerable (both physically and emotionally) and still survive, because Charley patches everyone up, because James Ellison is stunned by his survival and tries to find meaning in it, because it has one of the best uses (and with this show, it's saying something) of a song (sung by s2 star Shirley Manson who plays Catherine Weaver) in the opening sequence. And most of all because Cameron wants to survive (one of the primary signs of sentience, isn't it?) and because she tells John not only that she loves him (which Sarah can refute as a trick) but that he loves her (which she can't).

3.) Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: House of Quark. Why not one of the show's acknowledged masterpieces ("In the Pale Moonlight", "Duet") or, say The Wire, aka the one that launched a million Garak/Bashir tales? I love those as well. But this particular Ferengi-Klingon culture clash is such a great showcase for my guy Quark, letting him win the day in his own unique way, starts the Rom characterisation of later seasons, and proves that while Mary Kay Adams wasn't as good a Na'Toth as Julie Caitlin Brown, she makes a fantastic Grilka.

4.) Babylon 5: Dust to Dust: see, The Coming of Shadows or Fall of Centauri Prime etc are awesome, but I can't watch them too often, because they hurt so good, so to speak. However, this one manages to have both a great Centauri-Narn storyline and a great Bester storyline, thus managing to unite two of my favourite aspects of the show, and they're woven seamlessly into each other. The Bester-Garibaldi double act is great and contains some of his best one liners. (It's also the first but thankfully not the last time the show broke from the previous "Bester comes to the station, causes trouble, is foiled, leaves" pattern.) Londo is at first at his most infuriating with the visiting Vir, and yet note Vir's expressed faith in Londo towards Lennier and Delenn in the same ep; then, because he's Londo, just when you want to shake him G'Kar does not only that but much more, and you flinch on Londo's behalf. And G'Kar, oh, G'Kar both hits rock bottom and has his big epiphany here. In conclusion: I love this episode.

5.) Merlin: The Moment of Truth: it's an ode to friendship, it has the four leading characters at their best, it contains both great Merlin and Arthur scenes and the very first great Arthur and Gwen scenes, and it has HUNITH as a guest star. Mirrorverse Bashir, err, Siddig as the villain of the week is just an added bonus. I love it!
selenak: (Skyisthelimit by Craterdweller)
( Dec. 31st, 2012 11:00 am)
via [personal profile] honorh, the perfect way to send out 2012 with a smile: the gag reel of s2 of Star Trek: The Next Generation. Very funny even if, unlike yours truly, you aren't a TNG fan. Watch Patrick Stewart cuddle, Michael Dorn being unable to keep a straight face, and the whole lot of them coming across with that joyful-around-each-other aura I remember from conventions. Has bonus Gene Roddenberry at the end!

A happy new year, everyone!
selenak: (Claudius by Pixelbee)
( Dec. 28th, 2012 07:54 am)
I still haven't read all the stories and fandoms I want to expore, there are that many this year. :) But here is a second bunch of reccomendations:

Singin' In The Rain: Top Billing

What happened to Lina Lamont and Cosmo Brown after the film. The author hit on the ingeneous idea of letting Lina essentially become Hedda Hopper (who was a film actress before switching to becoming one of the two lethal gossip journalists of Hollywood), while Cosmo gets into script writing in earnest, and the zingers fly while Hollywood is Hollywood.

Star of the Guardians: Sanctuary

I think I may have mentioned before, years ago, that among the many, many Star Wars inspired space operas, this one, a series of novels by Margaret Weis is my clear favourite. Given the central relationship in it is between friends/lovers-turned-enemies-turned-allies-where-trust-is-a-big-question, how could it not? The simplest explanation for non readers is probably: think Leia and Obi-Wan Kenobi as one and the same character (the Lady Maigrey Morianna), with a telepathic link to the Darth Vader character (Derek Sagan), whether or not they're currently enemies or allies. This story is set after the novels end and probably makes no sense if you haven't read them, but it captures their dynamic beautifully.

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: Familiar

At Ezri's zhian'tara, she is most nervous about meeting the most recent former host of the Dax symbiont. I'm fond of Dax in various incarnations, and this one was written beautifully. The Ezri-Jadzia-in-Kasidy encounter is the well deserved climax, but I confess I had a particular soft spot for Curzon-in-Quark.

Norse Mythology: The Lidless Eyes of Night

Sigyn is holding the bowl. Fantastic fleshing out of a character somewhat obscure in the myths, Loki's wife Sigyn. Pulls no punches.

Looper: Across The Sea: impossible to describe in an unspoilery fashion, and the film is still relatively new, so I shan't try. Let's just say it's an intense portrayal of the three main characters that deals with some of the central questions of the film.


The Spy's Guide To Survivor's Guilt: Carrie after season 2. A possible future. Excellent ensemble use, and I love the Carrie-Dana encouner in particular.

L'Dor Vador: Backstory for Saul and Carrie, Saul's pov. How their relationship was forged. A magnificent Saul voice.

Adrian Mole Diaries For Historical Characters:

I picked this header because there are actually two this Yuletide, and they're both hilarious, one for Alexander the Great and one for Augustine. The Augustine one has already been recced all over the place, but I'll link it anyway, because it's just that good:

The Very Secret Diaries of Saint Augustine

Correspondence Jerome continues. Infuriating. Do not understand why he does not see my point! Translation of "gourd" vital to understanding of gospels.

And then we have young Alexander, Achilles and Patroklos fanboy extraordinaire, whose parents just don't get it:

The Not Remotely Secret Memoirs of Alexander the Great, Aged 13¾

When will I meet my own Patroklos??? Father has dozens of lovers, and six wives to boot. I only want one! Well, I suppose I’ll need a Queen someday, as well, but one of those will be quite enough, too.

Dollhouse: Documentation

As far as Whedon shows are concerned, I think of Dollhouse as an interesting and sometimes even fascinating failure, but it had its moments and most definitely its actors. Some of the characters stuck with me, which is why I still check out the fanfic at Yuletide, and I'm glad I did, because this Topher portrait just about kills me.


selenak: (Default)


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