Crawling Out of a Cave

So, I had one of “those” weeks in my meat-space, bill-pay job last week.  And apparently it took more out of me than I thought because on my to-do list for the weekend I marked off….well, nothing completely.  I slept an inordinate amount of time.  Like, ran-out-of-battery-and-collapsed-for-6-hours-in-the-middle-of-the day.

So, with a week that was packed and a weekend where I struggled to remain conscious, I’m stuck here on Sunday night, feeling like I’ve just crawled out of a cave after a few years of isolation.  I haven’t seen or read news in over a week.  I have no idea what’s going on in the world, other than I do know from the calendar that Monday is First Monday….but I have no idea what’s actually on the Supreme Court docket for the first argument, so….

Not willing to go into this coming work week with this level of ignorance, I’m trying to pay catch up.  Hmmm, bullshit political news?  We can skip that drivel since it’s cheap, useless and does nothing more than give a lot of un-talented half-ass writers delusions that they are real journalists.  Local news?  Sadly, not as entertaining as it can be at times.  New plans for the bus routes in the city.  Since there’s like, one bus from the transit authority that comes out here to my neck of the woods, well, forget that.  What else?  Now the Afghan Army and the US troops are shooting at each other.  I can’t honestly say I never saw that one coming, and if you didn’t, can I just tell you about a lovely piece of ocean-front property in Arizona I’d like to sell you at a super-low-low price?  Next up, entertainment news?  Oh, look, Lindsay Lohan looking more like a train-wreck than ever.  It’s a complete waste that girl can’t get her shit together, but  not really news.  Let’s see, some new gadget released that I don’t give a shit about…World economy, blah blah…

Y’know what?

I didn’t miss a damn thing.

EXCEPT WHO THE FUCK IS LETTING TAYLOR SWIFT PLAY JONI MITCHELL?

Seriously?  I mean, I’m not going to claim I’m a huge Joni Mitchell fan–I like her stuff, and own a few albums, but I’m not die-hard or anything–but even I know that’s just a travesty.  As Kristy once said, “Who told that poor child she could sing?”  Now, I honestly can’t comment on the girl’s acting, but I’m not holding out much hope that it’s going to be any stronger than her vocal talent.

Yeah, I’m definitely crawling back into that cave now.

Travesty of a Time Vampire

This time vampire is one that I will never repeat (if I can help it).  Truth be told, I knew it was a bad idea.

Once upon a time, a dude named Kevin Sullivan made two fabulous miniseries portraying much of the Anne of Green Gables series.  It was not completely true to the books, but the creative license taken was forgiveable.

Then came a third series.  We try not to talk about this one.  It diverges so far from the actual books as to make it a travesty.  Rather than use the plethora of material in the books and bring to life the characters we knew and loved, this third installment utterly screwed the timeline (moving Anne a full generation later) and had no characters or plot remotely resembling the real thing.  I own the DVD only because I could not obtain the original two mini-series without it being stuck in the box–if I could have handed it back to the clerk, I would have done so.

So, when I found out that Mr. S was making a prequel to Anne, I knew this would be a train wreck.  After all, the pre-Green Gables period in Anne’s life is summed up in a chapter in Anne of Green Gables and a tiny pilgrimage in Anne of the Island.  In order to build a prequel, we would again be subject to completely non-canon material.

I avoided this one like the plague for several years.  But, when I stumbled on it at the library today, it jumped out at me.  After all, I’d gone through the other travesty and survived.  I might as well complete the full cycle, right?

ZOMG.

WRONG.

The scenery is gorgeous (as one would expect–it’s the same parts of Ontario-masquerading-as-PEI as featured in prior productions).  And the cast is quite good (Shirley MacLaine is always awesome, of course, but there’s no weak link in the cast–even the kids do a good job).  But no amount of scenery and acting makes up for the weakness in the material.  The timeline is still screwed up, it’s full of anachronisms and multiple key moments in the show are clearly cribbed from either prior Anne series or Jane Eyre.  Even the relationships themselves are clearly shadows of those in the real Anne series (Mrs. Thomas and Anne is a poorly drawn Marilla and Anne).

If I was able to completely set aside everything I know about Anne and treat this as a true stand alone story, it might not be too horrible (other than the anachronisms, but even those could partly be overlooked).  A family-friendly kind of costume drama.  The trouble is, they throw the Anne part in your face so much with those cribbed moments and copied snippets of dialog (and the care to cast the same Mrs. Hammond from the earlier miniseries).  It’s like Anne is being used as a marketing tool to sell something that someone wasn’t sure would stand up on its own (when, really, without that, it may have done better).

More than two hours Hoover’d outta my life to see one of my favorite literary universes subjected to a Mary Sue prequel.  This is to Anne fans what Star Wars I-III were to those of us who grew up in a world that started with Episode IV.

 

Deepest Condolences, Soap Fans

With absolutely no joking or sarcasm, I offer my deepest condolences to my co-blogger and all the other One Life to Live fans.

I can’t even come close to claiming I’m a soap fan in the traditional sense.  Outside of vague memories of my Mom watching All My Children, and Kristy keeping me entertained with well reasoned and supported arguments as to why one Joey Buchanan was the best, and retelling highlights of plots, I am all but soap ignorant.

But that doesn’t mean I don’t see where ABC’s misguided assumptions about achieving a bottom line have created a cultural travesty.  To replace something that’s endured for over 40 years with, well, reality tv, is abominable.

Oh, I get the business reasons.  It’s cheaper, yadda yadda yadda.  Believe me, I know.  I also know that business jack-asses rarely know as much as they think they know and statistics are easily manipulated.  Dollars and cents wise it may be cheaper to go to a reality show with lower production costs, even if the audience shrinks–at least in the short run.  Long run?  I’ve got my doubts.  Soaps are another victim in the ranks of creative programming (and by creative, I mean requiring writing and acting creativity, not just editing).

Even if I didn’t doubt the accuracy of the business decision, I’d still hate the over all cultural impact.  For one thing, it’s hard not to see the downfall of One Life to Live and All My Children has a kind of insult to women.  We’re the overwhelming portion of the viewership for soaps and have been from the start. And before that?  We were a listener-ship when these types of works were on the radio. For many of the soap fans I know, they started watching because older female relatives watched.  Kristy acknowledges her memories of her Mom watching soaps.  My Aunt (a PhD scientist) watched occasionally because my Grandma watches.  Another friend of mine watched because it was part of her summer stays with her Grandma who has passed on.  A girl in law school talked about watching with her Mom and Aunt to learn English when they came to the U.S.  Take away a multi-generational point of connection for so many women, and it’s hard not to have your feminist hackles rise a bit.

Additionally, while I never really dove into the genre, I’ve always been able to respect the unique way a soap is driven.  From a writing perspective, I’m in bloody awe. When you think that one of these series entails generating written scripts for Every. Single. Weekday. For. Decades.  Even if you have multiple writers, you have got to tip your hat to that–after all, sitcoms have whole teams of writers, too and they’re sure as shit not that prolific.  These writer are juggling an ensemble cast and at this point, over 30 years of back-story.  Creatively, that’s just fuckin’ impressive.  And for the actors?  Amazing.  I’m not going to claim that all soap actors are great (ZOMG, I have seen some seriously painful scenes in my channel surfing times), but when you pause to consider that these people are memorizing and performing a different script every week day of every week, year in and year out?  I can’t memorize a 6 item grocery list.  It took honest and painful effort to get myself off-book when I was playing a teensy little roll in Julius Caesar (Kristy’s fault) with maybe 5 lines, let alone entire scenes.  These people are acting machines!  In high school I got sent to a summer nerd camp for humanities and  arts.  One of the girls attending for drama was telling me how she really wanted to go into soaps.  She liked the idea of getting to play one role, but having new material every day and not spending a lot of time on that material.  She memorized quickly and liked to play the scene and move on to something else, so the world of soaps seemed to fit like nothing else.  Until then, I’d not really thought of the unique work this kind of programming offered for actors.  Now what will fill that creative-style void?

And the real shit of it is that through Kristy’s tweets and re-tweets about the end of the series, I was more intrigued than I’ve ever been before (even more than when Kristy was telling me about how someone had a sassy black woman in their head–honestly, how can you not have your interest piqued by that?).  A little activity like that on the part of the damn network would probably have resulted in drawing in more viewers like me and–with only minimal cost to capitalize on the power of social media–tipped that scale to a point where reality TV would be way less of a bargain that it is alleged to be.

But they didn’t, and now it’s just a sad day for a large fandom.  I’m truly sorry.

MTVMPB Designs Hell: Can’t Cancel This

Due to our hiatus, writing about other things, and complete oversight on my part, very little construction has taken place on our particular version of Hell. 

Tonight we are adding:  People who cancel television shows prematurely/for stupid reasons/at stupid times.

Before you think this is nothing but a veiled reference to the cancelation of One Life to Live while it was the only soap opera whose ratings had been steadily climbing over the past year let me explain:  This is absolutely a veiled reference to the cancelation of One Life to Live while it was the only soap opera whose ratings had been steadily climbing over the past year.  But it’s about more than that.  It’s about the people who put Firefly in a craptastic time slot and canceled it after half a season¹.  It’s about those who canceled Farscape when it was the highest rated show on its channel.  It’s about the assholes who canceled Veronica Mars (which I will admit had gone downhill) on a cliffhanger in order to bring us whatever crap it is that the CW brings us.  It’s about asshats who canceled Remember WENN because even though it had viewers it didn’t have the viewers they wanted it to have².

Oh yes, Brian Frons will have company in this layer of Hell. 

For their heinous acts against fandom I place these sinners in the seventh layer of Hell, where I am devising very fitting punishments for them.  They shall be strapped to uncomfortable chairs and forced to watch episodes of Two and a Half Men, Corner Gas, episodes of The X-Files featuring Agent Reyes, and the one bad episode of Battlestar Galactica (Yes, there was one though I think most of us choose to pretend it never happened) while Taylor Swift music plays and someone reads aloud the last chapter of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.  And if they keep putting crap on my television I will simply add it to their eternal torments³.  Because I feel it would be wrong to wish actual physical harm to any of these people, but for some reason I find no conflict in wishing an eternity of suffering upon them in the afterlife of my own little universe.

¹Cammy Footnote:  What happened to Firefly is one of the most heinous travesties of TV programming history.
²Cammy Footnote: SCREW YOU AMC!  No resolution to the Victor vs. Scubby debate.  Total cliffhanger.  AND NOT EVEN THE DECENCY TO RELEASE THE SHOW ON DVD.  FUCK YOU, FUCK YOUR CHANNEL and I AM STILL BOYCOTTING YOU MORE THAN 10 YEARS LATER!
³Cammy Footnote:  I’m thinking heads on pikes as a warning to the next 10 generations that some actions come at too high a price, or perhaps turning their bones into flutes for little children to play…..my apologies to JMS for bastardizing B5 there.  At least THAT didn’t get totally shit-canned.