". . . But the past does not exist independently from the present. Indeed, the past is only past because there is a present, just as I can point to something over there only because I am here. But nothing is inherently over there or here. In that sense, the past has no content. The past -- or more accurately, pastness -- is a position. Thus, in no way can we identify the past as past." p. 15

". . . But we may want to keep in mind that deeds and words are not as distinguishable as often we presume. History does not belong only to its narrators, professional or amateur. While some of us debate what history is or was, others take it into their own hands." p. 153

Silencing the Past: Power and the Production of History (1995) by Michel-Rolph Trouillot

Sunday, January 6, 2013

The Return of Television and Mardi Gras!

Friday, 01/04/13:

The premiere of SyFy's Merlin's fifth and final season. I haven't been able to make through the fourth season.  Really? King Arthur still doesn't know that Merlin has magical powers?  Really?  Evidently they will go all through season 5 without Arthur learning either.  So when does he?  Also, bored by what they've made of Morgana and her ridiculous bed head.  None of this is the fault of the actors.  The fault lies with conception of a series that supposed to be, kind of, maybe, sort of an arc series. The producers saw it as a five season series from the start, They Say.  But if the constant is each episode's conclusion is Arthur, now King Arthur, still no more clued into Merlin's real self than at the conclusion of all the episodes before, there can be no actual arc, i.e. character development.

This probably explains why I generally care little for entertainments that feature kids or Young Adults in the first place.  I'm an adult.  I understand there is cause and there is effect, a great deal of it of our own doing, no matter how much we wish to blame the Mean Girls and the Mean Boys in Our School, and we need to deal with that.  It's called growing up, and we as a nation aren't doing well with that. I am really interested in how adults handle their problems.  Thus:

Today (Sunday):

The Good Wife (CBS) resumes its season four.  It's so much fun watching all these actors in this series about adults, with matured beauty of Julia Marguiles at the center.  It's also fun to recall her as Morgaine from the Mists of Avalon miniseries (2001), which was excellent, with a cast of actors, with the sad exception of Guinevere -- here called  Gwenhyfar -- good enough to inhabit the large figures they played. This includes Angelica Huston as Vivienne, Lady of the Lake.  That was a funny time, the early aughts; strong actresses were playing strong roles in fantasy miniseries.  Recall Saskia Reeves in the splendid (2000) Dune, and Alice Krige in (2003) The Children of Dune, each playing  Lady Jessica Atreides?  Isabella Rossillini as the head priestess, Thar, in the not-so-splendid in some ways, (2004) The Wizard of Earthsea? Most lately we saw her as Annie T's mom in last year's season three of HBO's Treme, holding that screen down with that voice, those eyes, and that delivery. Woo.

SyFy's Lost Girl premieres its season three. Urban paranormal fantasy, set in some un-named Canadian city (Toronto?), this show shamelessly pulls on Buffy most strongly (but no high school and no college either, though there is a hilarious episode in the first season where Bo, and her utterly smart, too-adorable- to-live, sidekick (and no, you do not hate her, you love her!), Kenzie, investigate disappearances in a sorority. It references other fantasy series like Xena, particularly with the girl-on-girl, bi and hetero action.  Even Wonder Woman receives a nod -- in one episode of the second season Bo, the succubus fae central character, our Lost Girl, is given a magical bracelet that deflects fire balls.

But the show is smart, as when we say, "walked smartly," "smart" dialog,  the slap made her cheeks "smart," her outfit was "smart."  All of these and more.  It fast and precise, it's timing impeccable. It has all the qualities that I liked so much in Tanya Huff's urban fantasy novels, (2009), The Enchantment Emporium and (2011) The Wild Ways.  I don't like paranormal fantasies as fiction at all, but I liked these two novels of Huff's very much, fresh in treatment, character and Canadian locations. Like these two of Huff's novels, Lost Girl is splendidly inventive, always finding a new and delightful twist you would never have thought of yourself for every tired and over-used trope of the fantasy genres.

It is also features as diverse a cast of characters in terms of race, sexual identity and age you are going to find on television. Only Scandal gives Lost Girl competition in the diversity range, but Scandal is mostly, hetero, whereas Bo is definitely bi.

She has two romantic interests. The first is an intellectual blonde human doctor named Lauren, who was claimed by the fae (humans don't know they exist, while they live amongst us doing everything we do and things we cannot; yeah, I know plausibility isn't the show's strong point -- we just move beyond that, particularly since it is the world(s) of the fae we're interested in anyway). The second is Dyson, a werewolf fae, who is a homicide detective in the un-named city's human police department.  He's played by Kris Holden-Ried, who most of first saw as common born William Compton, Henry VIII's friend  in the first ten episodes of The Tudors. He played Quint Lane, the mutated lyca (i.e. werewolf) in Underworld: Awakening (2012).  Um yeah, eek darklings, they are both white, as is Bo herself. There are though many characters of color, including regulars. The diversity emphasis seems to be focused more on sexual expression and gender identities.

So are her other two closest people white. The small person known as Trick, a/k/a the  light fae Blood King (yes, that tired trope of light and dark fae, but it's OK here -- at least so far), also proprietor of the neutral ground of dark and light waystation, the Dal Rait, a Celtic brew pub. The Dal Rait plays the role that the library, the Bronze club-bar, and later, the Magic Box did in Buffy the Vampire Slayer.  Trick also has in his private basement living quarters (nothing at resembling poor Xander's basement) many histories and geographies, magic texts, lore texts, fae and other magical implements, weapons and tokens. He also has Willow's capacity for doing research and knowing everything.

However, when it comes to the research and figuring out patterns, and never doing what you think she'll do, leave it to Bo's most beloved, Best Friend for Life -- not just Female Friend for Life --  the young human woman Kenzie -- thief and all around con artist -- seemingly of a Russian or a Gypsy or a Ukranian family -- or you name it, whatever works for Kenzie, she's it.  The opening of the series starts Kenzie and Bo off very fast as bonded forever, though not necessarily explained.  There's a great deal of seat-of-the-pants feel to Lost Girl's scripts.  Things arrive when needed, though not necessarily with entire explanation. So far though, it hasn't been bothersome. But, one cannot help but notice that when the series began neither Bo nor Kenzie showed any particular weapons expertise, even though Bo does take out a bruiser to show her worthiness to survive in the fae world, previously unknown to her. By now they can do anything from martial arts and boxing to samurai swords, cross bows, even, when appropriate, a chain saw.

Kenzie is so smart-sharp, so cute, so adorable -- yes, I did use the word previously, but that how adorable Kenzie is, and oh, does she know it.  She reminds me of my 7 going on 8 year-old-Haitian goddaughter, who obviously learned as early as Kenzie that her first and greatest survival skill was to be the cutest one of all, and is equally hyper all the time.  Except when Kenzie's hung over (my goddaughter, of course, has the experience of hangover far in future as yet). Kenzie is human, yet she's Bo's equal and even in some ways her superior. Even her own kind of beauty -- and the actress is very beautiful, makes for a grand contrast to Bo's beauty -- and Anna Silk is very beautiful.  Hey, Bo's a succubus -- she has to be that beautifully charismatic.

This is where the show really shines.  The relationships -- they are never what you think they are.  Dyson's first and true love shows up? She is beautiful and rich but she's not overused cliched mean bitch who hates Bo. Ciara is good, she's brave, she's honest and loyal, and truly wants to understand and be Bo's friend -- and she succeeds.

Lost Girl doesn't have the urgency and sheer fear that we get from Buffy, at least the first times we watch, but it is no less enjoyable for that -- perhaps, in these days of economic and the many other real fears so many of us struggle against -- this is a plus. No matter how frightened by what is happening or going to happen to the characters, those sequences never go on too long.  Nor does the show revel in gore and terror, any more than the girl-on-girl and other sex is given to us in a pervy, creepy, male-gaze sort of way -- very not Joss Whedon (the creator of the show is a woman).

Its tone varies with each episode from wry and cynical, to sweet and vulnerable, sad to comic, suspenseful to sexy. Though you might think it wouldn'y work, it does, I think, because Lost Girl doesn't take itself as seriously as much as it enjoys itself.

What I don't like about this show?  The ridiculous shoe - stilettos 8 inches high fetishism -- fighting in those heels, really?  And that I can count on one hand and not use all the fingers, nevermind the thumb, of scenes that don't show enormous acreage of Bo's tits. One other thing. Dyson's a werewolf.  We never see him being a werewolf.  I am guessing from how other things are handled on this show, that the budget is relatively small, certainly by the standards of what is spent on a single episode of HBO's Boardwalk Empire.  On the other hand, nobody seems to care that for all the direwolf fanning, we don't really see the dires do anything, in GRRM's pages or on HBO's Game of Thrones, beyond Brandon running inside his wolf. In fact, we hardly see the wolves at at all after the first book, except John Snow's Shadow growls sometimes. But years have gone by and the other surviving wolves are off somewhere somewhere else not where their bonded humans are.  Nevermind.  I digress.

Tonight too premieres o dear, the very bad, o yes, really bad PBS's Downton Abbey's third season.  It's already been howled at and picked over for months in the UK. I helped, I confess, as I saw some of the third season while there last fall.   Everybody will watch it. Nuff said. But so many of us are so ready for Sherlock! At least the first episode.  They are going to keep us waiting for quite some time longer to learn how he who is on the side of angels but o so not an angel himself handled his death and resurrection.  Are they really going to keep us waiting until Easter?


Justified (FX) opens season four. I haven't yet seen season three -- it's in my netflix queue, but netflix is really stingy with its dvd budget .... Though what I've heard about season three, it comes across as inferior to the exciting season 2. So I guess I can wait. I do like series though that aren't set in my hometown or LA -- though I like those too, often, i.e. see Damages.  I quite like thinking of the ghost of that Great Orator from Kentucky, the Great Compromiser, Henry Clay, floating around Raylan Givens. Clay's Ashland estate outside Lexington is still there:

Ashland - The Henry Clay Estate
120 Sycamore Road,
Lexington, KY 40502 Phone (859) 266-8581
Fax (859) 268-7266 

And Thursday:

ABC's Scandal, resumes its season two.  Pow, this has been one for the books. Thanks, Hulu.  The o so awesome awesomeist evah Olivia Pope is giving Glenn Close's Patty Hewes of Damages a serious run as the most monstrous lawyer -- or consultant? detective? whatever Olivia is, of all time -- though Olivia is beautiful and Patti's not, and Olivia can do vulnerable like nobody else, and Patty would rather turn her back on her own son than exhibit a hint of vulnerability. Who back in season one would have thought Olivia Pope could be cold at all, much less that cold? Also that time lapse, back to the past, return to the present style, though somewhat softer, is very Damages-like. When we concluded last year everybody was spying on everybody via an illegal program, and everyone was allied with and betraying everybody else ... all at the same time! It was even more mad than the soap, Revenge, it was awesome!

Happy watching.

O yeah, it's also King's Night, and the opening of Mardi Gras. The Phunny Phellows are drinkin' champagne on the street care of St. Charles. I just saw a video, and these are some of the drunkest white people you'll ever see.

No comments: