Category Archives: TV

How the Hell Do I Get Myself Into These Things?

No, this isn’t exactly earth-shattering news, I get that. But, I’ve somehow* managed to find myself re-watching four–Count ’em. Four!–shows on DVD.

We’ve got two of my all-time favorite sci-fi shows (I’d be willing to say all-time favorite shows, period) Farscape and Babylon 5. Look! Spoilery videos!

Then, we have Veronica Mars…a show that not only has one of the best TV dads ever (it’s true…even Joss Whedon says so), but also introduced me to my future wife:

And, finally, we have the underrated sci-fi/action/comedy The Invisible Man:

*: Actually, I’m pretty sure it’s all Ashley’s fault. Even if it isn’t, I’m just gonna blame her anyway.

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Separated at Birth?

Well, maybe not “separated at birth,” per se…but, at the very least, I think I’ve just single-handedly given birth to The Bear Jew-as-Sylar’s-grandfather fanfic.

I’m With CoCo!

BITE ME, LENO!

SUCK IT, NBC!

I’M WITH COCO!

Art courtesy of Mike Mitchell.

Is It Me…

…or does Matt Smith’s Eleventh Doctor–

–look more than a little bit like Crispin Glover’s George McFly from Back to the Future?

I just hope, at some point in the fifth season, some vile alien menace grabs new Companion Amy Pond (Karen Gillan)*–

–forcing the Doctor to declare: “Hey you…get your damn hands off her!”

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*: Yes, I know I didn’t need to include a picture of Amy…but, it’s my blog, so I get to do whatever I want.

If Not For Brent Spiner, I’d Be Illiterate.

Okay, this is not entirely true. But, it’s pretty close.

Here’s the deal: I love to read. I’m always reading something. I can’t walk into a bookstore without walking out with something. As soon as I read the last sentence of one book, I immediately read the first sentence of another. But, when I was a kid, I hated to read. Hated it. Hated. If I had to write a book report in elementary school, I’d read the back cover and skim the first and last chapters to get a vague idea of what the book was about.

What the hell happened? you ask.

This happened:

41kqe2GtBOL._SS500_I was a fan of Star Trek: The Next Generation. I recall seeing a handful of episodes from the original series on Saturday afternoons as a kid, but TNG was what really introduced me to the Trek universe. So, imagine my surprise when I came across this book. A novel. About the crew of the Enterprise. Holy shit, right? I devoured it, followed by several other ST:TNG novels. I was a reader…and it was all thanks to the media tie-in novel. (Okay, I think the Sherlock Holmes stories probably came first…but, otherwise I stand by the previous statements.)

From then on, if someone wrote a book based on a show or movie I liked, I’d usually check it out. I’ve read books based on The X-Files, Quantum Leap, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, various iterations of Star Trek, Farscape, Star Wars, and Indiana Jones. I’ve read books based on comic books, too. The medium doesn’t always translate well to straight prose…but, Andrew Vachss’ Batman: The Ultimate Evil stands out as being an excellent example of literature of any genre. On my bookshelves at the moment, I have tie-in novels of Bones and Criminal Minds waiting for me. I’m tempted to check out the novels based on Monk, Psych, and Burn Notice. I’d kill for novels based on the new Abrams-verse Star Trek or Leverage.

Why am I telling you all this? I don’t know…maybe because I can.

“Hi, My Name Is Mary Sue, and I’m a Vampire.”

There’s really no good way for me to ease into this, so I’m just going to come out and say it: Vampires, at least many modern interpretations of vampires, are little more than Mary Sues.

anne-rice-vampiresUntil recently, I wasn’t familiar with the concept of the Mary Sue, even though  it’s fairly common in the world of fanfiction, a corner of fandom that I have never really had any interest in visiting. Anyway, in brief, a Mary Sue is an overly idealized, hackneyed character who functions as a kind of wish-fulfillment for the author or the reader. A Mary Sue can be either male or female and, despite originating in the realm of fanfiction, several canonical characters can be considered Mary Sues (Wesley Crusher from Star Trek: The Next Generation and The X-Men‘s Kitty Pryde have both been classified as Mary Sues in the past). There’s a pretty good explanation of the Mary Sue phenomenon here.

So, where do I get off calling vampires the Mary Sues of film, TV, and literature? Well, I think the prevailing depiction of vampires in fiction leans heavily on the “overly idealized” and “wish-fulfillment”parts of the definition. When I was growing up, vampires were monsters. They were evil, bad. They hung out in castles and abandoned crypts, killing and feeding on people. Then, somewhere along the line, an author by the name of Anne Rice showed up (perhaps you’ve heard of her?), and vampires experienced a thematic shift. (Disclaimer: I’m not saying Rice was the one who created the new, Mary Sue-ish vampires–in fact, I’m pretty sure she isn’t–but, she’s probably the writer who is most associated with the Sue-pires.) No longer were they monsters to be feared, hunted, and killed in the name of humanity. No. Now, they were to be pitied. And, in most cases, fucked. This is where the Mary Sue bit comes in. These new vampires were bad boys…but, bad boys who felt soooooo tortured by what they’ve done, that all they need is the love of the right mortal woman to put them on the path to righteousness and redemption. In the real world–y’know, the place we all live; the place we keep our stuff–guys who spend their time killing people probably don’t give a shit about redemption. No, they’re more likely to beat the crap out of you or throw you down a flight of stairs.

Now, I’m not knocking the whole “bad boy” thing. I get it. Bad boys can be wicked cool. Clint Eastwood, Charles Bronson, Lee Marvin, John Wayne: they all played a variation of the bad boy. Wolverine? Jayne Cobb? Logan Echolls? Yeah…they’re all awesome. I also understand because I suffer from the male version of the Bad Boy Fixation–the Crazy Girl Dilemma. River? Parker? Kara? Faith? Yes, please. I understand the draw, the excitement of never knowing what’s going to happen next. The truth is, in real life, both the bad boy and the crazy girl would fuck your shit up as soon as look at you. However, in the world of Mary Sue-pires, the tortured, immortal bad boy is easily tamed by the mortal woman, thereby providing the reader (and, possibly, the writer) with the best of both worlds: they get their bad boy who is dark, mysterious, and brooding, but all of the danger that would come with a real bad boy has been safely removed: “He may be a vampire, but he’ll never hurt me. He feels bad about all the killing and will never do it again.”

In closing, while I may not like the current crop of emo, metrosexual vampires plaguing modern fiction (don’t even get me started on the sparkly ones), that doesn’t mean I think you shouldn’t. In fact, I insist. If you like something, by all means enjoy it…drink from the well of entertainment ’til your thirst is slaked. But, I think you should realize (and accept) that the tortured vampire bad boy is complete and total wish-fulfillment. In reality, this guy would be the abusive boyfriend, the rapist, or the wife beater.

Four on the Floor #19: Sassy, Intelligent Heroines

The Situation: We all have our types, right?  Some guys go for the femme fatale or the Sex and the City-esque fashionista.  Some gals like bad boy bikers or tennis-playing preppies.  Me?  Well, I admit to enjoying the ass-kicking ladies.  But, when it all comes down to it, I’m a sucker for a sassy, intelligent gal.  (I’m actually a bit surprised it’s taken me this long to do this list…)

The Criteria: The ladies on this list may not be physically imposing–no Xenas, Buffys, or Wonder Women here–but they are far from helpless.  Like Robin Hood or Bugs Bunny, these gals use their intelligence and spunk to outwit their foes and save the day (which, of course, does not mean they don’t possess some additional powers or abilities).

1. Katherine “Kitty” Pryde

For me, Kitty is the Alpha and the Omega of sassy, intelligent female characters.  When she phased her way into our hearts, Kitty was the youngest member of the X-Men, but that never stopped her from pulling her weight.  A buddy of mine (who happens to be more of a femme fatale/’50s pin-up kinda guy) said he could never get behind Kitty because he felt she was created to be the kind of girl comic fans would dig–the smart, cute, spunky girl next door.  Um…duh.

2. Hermione Granger

Everyone was all about “The Boy Who Lived”, but poor little Potter wouldn’t have made it to the end of the first book without Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger.  Bookish, principled, and focused, Hermione had no problem bending (or, occasionally breaking) the rules to do the right thing.

3. Clarissa “Clary” Fray

Clary is just like every other shy, artistic fifteen year old in New York City.  What Clary doesn’t know is that she’s also a demon-killing Shadowhunter.  But, what she lacks in strength and training, Clary more than makes up for in wit, guile, and spunk.  It doesn’t hurt that she also happens to be a redhead.

4. The Joss Whedon Triumvirate (a.k.a. Willow Rosenberg, Winifred “Fred” Burkle, and Kaylee Frye)

Joss Whedon works in archetypes.  And, since he’s gone on record as being a huge fan of Kitty Pryde (hey, the man has taste), it should come as no surprise that the sassy, intelligent girl next door shows up in one form or another in each of his three series.  Whether it’s computer geek-turned-Wicca Willow Rosenberg, theoretical physicist Fred Burkle, or uber-mechanic Kaylee Frye, Whedon knows sassy and intelligent.