". . . 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

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

The Witches of East End: Season 1

The Witches of East End is a fairly adorable, fast moving, supernatural series, concerning a family of female witches. Many of the special effects, though small budget, are not only clever, but interesting and generally not what we've seen before. They're also attractive, in harmony with the show's overall clever and witty attractiveness. The tone in this first season overall is light and graceful, rather than grave and portentous. Though there is ample tension, danger and suspense, these get resolved quickly.

Witch mom Joanna, played by the adorable Julia Ormond,

her sister witch, Wendy, played by the equally adorable Mädchen Amick, and Joanna’s two daughters, Wendy's nieces,

Freya the bartender, played by the adorably sexy Jenna Dewan-Tatum,

and Ingrid the Public Librarian played by the adorably smart Rachel Boston.

Joanna and Wendy’s immortality has been cursed. Joanna’s two daughters always die in their early – middle twenties, and she is condemned to rebirth them. Wendy, like the cat with nine lives, has a limitation on how many times she can resurrect. This is her last time ‘round.  A unknown shapeshifter from their past is out to kill all four of them permanently.

There are the inevitable wealthy feuding brothers, Dash and Killian Gardiner. Equally inevitably, daughter Freya is involved with both brothers. Which one is good, which one bad?  Is the Gardiners’ mother, Penelope, merely a blousy crass snooty rich bitch, or is there more to her?

Extra added attraction for some may be Tom Lenk,who was the justifiably loathed Andrew on Buffy the Vampire Slayer in an occasional appearance as Hudson, an assistant to Ingrid the Librarian,.

Some of the action is due to witch mom Joanna having kept her daughters ignorant of their witchy heritage, even refusing to train them – they get up to speed with their powers almost immediately once they learn who they are. Some is due Wendy’s sudden, unexpected reappearance, as Joanna and Wendy having been estranged for the last 100 years, and Daughters do not know she exists.  All this information and set-up whizzes by, along with firecracker dialog, before the first episode is finished. That it works so well means the writers must be very good. This isn’t easy to script – particularly since most of the audience sees it first on broadcast television with commercial interruptions, unlike me seeing it the first time and all the way through, streaming.

Other part of the action is due to the Beauchamp ladies having run away from Asgard, whatever that may be, and thus somehow, perhaps, related to the shapeshifter who wants to kill them all. Asgard seems not to be the Asgard of Nordic mythology, for there  are no more non-Nordic appearing people than these characters. Plus, that family name, Beauchamp?

The Beauchamp house is huge, with a kitchen, dining room and living room just made for living expansively and o so comfortably, not to mention garden and yard so lush and gorgeous it befits being owned by a witch, not mention befitting North Carolina.  The set dressers for the series must find this a dream-come-true job, so scrumptious is everything, though the beats are so fast moving we never get to properly feast our eyes.  It’s impossible not to wonder who the help is, who keep this humble abode (humble only in comparison to the Brit style landed ruling class mansion of Dash and Killian) so spic and span, and shining.  OTOH, the owner is a witch and really, kids hardly ever notice how much work it is for their mom to keep up the house – even when she is a public school art teacher.

The house also possesses the additional adorable charm of being inhabited by four women, who love each other, who are having a lot of sex with very sexy fellas, who all are equally, in different ways, sexy, attractive, charming, delightful women, plus the cat, which witch Wendy frequently is.

The Beauchamp home is in an atmospheric location,  which is ... a small town? city? ... on the sea ... which is where? Ah, ye internets answer this question – it's on Long Island!  But the series is shot in the South -- Macon, GA, and Willmington, NC (where the first two seasons of the late, unlamented Revolution were shot).

Criticism is the usual.  There are three non-white characters.  They are not regulars, i.e. in only some of the episodes.  The likable and attractive African American librarian who works with Ingrid we see seldom and briefly. The African American detective dies.  The East Asian woman dies.

The series is adapted from the first so-called adult novel by YA writer Melissa de la Cruz.  I surely couldn't have been able to stand reading the book, but as only 10 eps on Lifetime TV, watching is the equivalent of eating candy – without being bad for either teeth or waistline.

Second season premieres Sunday, July 6th (photos here). First season available from Netflix on dvd and streaming.  It can also be watched streaming on the A&E site.

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