Rosetta

A few months ago I wrote a series of posts about Smallville, and in the first one, I wrote that one of my favorite things that the series did was incorporate Christopher Reeve and Dean Cain into the narrative. I forgot how intensely amazing Reeve’s role was.

His character was Dr. Virgil Swann, a communications expert who found the message that came along with Clark’s ship (and the meteor shower that devastated Smallville in this version of the story). He first appears in the season 2 episode “Rosetta,” and is the first person to tell Clark about Krypton, his real name, Kal-El, and assures him that he can make his own destiny.

I watched this episode while my mom was popping in and out of our living room and generally when I’m doing “blog research” (I love that I’ve even got my father on board that me stowing up in my room watching old WB shows is good for my future…) she ignores it and moves on to other things, but she stopped and just said, “Hey!”

I laughed and explained that yeah, this was done to be a fanboy’s wet dream. She smiled and sat down to watch with me. Because the thing is, for all that he only has like, twenty lines in the whole episode and was at that point completely paralyzed, he’s still captivating to watch.

It’s something in the eyes that does it, a commitment to what he’s saying. I never mastered that. I also can’t memorize lines, these are the two obstacles that kept me from achieving stardom. (My staggering lack of confidence on stage probably also didn’t help…) I’ve seen some of my far more talented friends do this, really believe what they’re saying.

In “Rosetta” there are a couple of things that I noticed. First of all, really great actors can even make shitty WB/CW dialog sound good. And second, after this episode there is a pronounced shift upward in the quality of Tom Welling’s performance. Almost like after meeting the real thing, he knew he needed to up his game.

The other thing actually has nothing to do with Reeve, it’s the actual message that Swann communicates to Clark.

This is Kal-El of Krypton, our infant son, our last hope. Please protect him and deliver him from evil. We will be with you, Kal-El, for all the days of your life.

OK, look, I’m a Catholic. I’m fairly serious about it. I attended nine years total of Catholic School (4 high school, 5 college), and have an active faith life. The words of this message echo with the theology I’ve spent the past 25 years internalizing.

“Deliver him from evil” is taken from The Lord’s Prayer or The Our Father. I pray this every day of my life. I’ve had a fascination with Christology, an esoteric brand of literary theology that focuses on finding patterns and characters that mirror Jesus’s life, works and teachings  in works of fiction, since high school when I took a course in Theology in Media. (I wrote a paper about Luke Skywalker that received a 98.) Superman is one of the easiest examples of Christology out there (The easiest is Aslan from The Chronicles of Narnia) so it isn’t too much of a surprise that Smallville totally embraced this.

Anyway, I may not be able to do a lot of posting this week…We’re bracing ourselves for the hurricane around here and if the power goes and doesn’t come back (last year, after the Halloween snow storm, we were out for a week and a half) blogging is obviously down the bottom on my list after things like, “find a hot shower” and “make stovetop meals” also I won’t have the internet.

XOXO

I started watching Gossip Girl about five episodes of the first season. The first episode I watched was the episode where Blair does that strip tease and then loses her virginity to Chuck in the limo.

God, remember how awesome this show was?

I was immediately hooked, watched the episodes I’d missed, started wearing headbands almost constantly (and just dressing like Blair generally. I was 23 before I decided basing all of my wardrobe choices on a fictional 16 year old was not my best bet.)

I stopped watching the show when Blair and Dan was clearly going to be a thing. (To quote my friend Crystan, “I miss the old Blair, who wouldn’t even spit on Dan Humphrey, and now she’s having sex with him? This is stupid.”) But I’d decided to watch the final season. So today, my mom and I caught up on said final season.

OK, I know that the show started out really twisted, right? I mean, the premise was initially that Serena came home from boarding school because her gay brother tried to commit suicide. (Remember when Erik was like, a character?) However, she had to deal with the fact that she deflowered Nate, her best friend Blair’s boyfriend right before she left for school. Also, Dan had a crush on her, which was complicated by the fact that her mother Lily, and his father Rufus were soulmates, and that she didn’t know he existed. Also, Chuck tried to rape Serena and Dan’s little sister Jenny.

And that was just the pilot. By the end of the first season Serena and Dan had gotten together and broken up like 7 times, Eric and Jenny had dated the same boy, Lily had married Chuck’s father Bart, and Blair had a pregnancy scare, but who was the Daddy, Chuck or Nate? As time went on things went totally bonkers, Blair had more pregnancy scares, Chuck died, but didn’t really and worked in a cafe with Fleur Delacour, and had sex with Jenny.

Anyway, currently, Nate is opening his own newspaper, (because yes, he’s just Brandon Walsh, basically) Dan has decided to take everyone down, Erik moved to the Hamptons and is straight (Revenge is the new Gossip Girl anyway, but even better!), and Serena is dating Matt Camden, who has a daughter who attends the girl’s old school and is dating Nate. Also, Chuck and Blair have some sort of pact about how they’re not going to be together until they each accomplish something, but they also aren’t going to sleep with other people. This is great, because we get all of that great Blair and Chuck sexual tension without all of the angst.

I really can’t wait for the show to end, but it’s gotten pretty stupid and diluted as time went on. I was amused by the first three episodes of this season, glad to see Nelly Yuki return and thrilled when she told Dan to give up already and just do his own thing. Years ago I said this, “You know, Gossip Girl is really easy. Serena should be with Nate, Blair should be with Chuck and Dan should be on another show.”

Anyway, you know love me.

XOXO

What is you quest?

Today my mom and I did some basement cleaning. One of the things that we did was clean out the closet where we store some (though not all) of our DVDs. It needed organizing and purging, because there were still a lot of VHS tapes down there. (We now have a single VCR in the house, and it’s in my sister’s bedroom…) We’ve been trying since the beginning of the summer to get our basement clean, and as such we’ve been discovering some strange and amazing things we have down there, as well as some bizarre doubles and triples of books and movies. (2 copies of The Jane Austen Book Club, about twenty five of The Great Gatsby, and 3 Shopaholic Ties The Knot. Not Confessions of a Shopaholic, mind you. No, no, this is the third sequel to it. Why do I have 3 copies, I could not begin to tell you.)

Today, in the entertainment cabinet I dispose of my extraneous copies of Sabrina and Breakfast At Tiffany’s, (I ❤ Audrey Hepburn, so people continually give me her movies as gifts. As if I didn’t already own them?) and discovered a few other doubles, The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe, also probably a gift, The Star Wars Trilogy, (No need to hang on to the VHS and DVD copies. We don’t quibble about the tinkering in our house. And then Monty Python and The Holy Grail.

This one surprised me. I knew we had the VHS and DVD, I did not know we had the second DVD, which is a part of a box set. And was again, probably a gift. But either way, I got to thinking about Holy Grail, and how brilliant and wonderful a movie it is.

To me it’s a tester movie, like if you quote it and the person you’re with laughs or quotes back to you, you know they’re worth spending time with. If they don’t think it’s funny, they probably don’t have a sense of humor. (I have a similar thing with people who don’t like Jimmy Buffet, but that’s more “if you don’t like Jimmy Buffet, you probably take your life way too seriously.”)

I’m sorry, but the coconuts? The knights who say “Ni!” The Black Knight. And of course the exchange that my sister and I get in to fairly frequently, “What is your name? What is your quest? What is your favorite color?” These things are just funny.

The laughs don’t stop. Of course, my musical theater obsessed family has loved Spamalot since it was mentioned once and then when we saw it, (Original Cast. Tim Curry was amazing, and he was completely dwarfed by David Hyde Pierce and Sara Ramirez.) Then I saw it again years later when a friend from high school was in it on tour. (He played Sir Bedivere, who also doubles for the black knight. Hearing the guy you went to your sophmore semiformal say “Tis a flesh wound!” will bring any girl back to her high school crush days…or maybe it was just me.)

I’m probably going to watch the movie again at some point in the next few days. I haven’t in a while, I want to laugh that hard again.

The Power and Glory

Buffy The Vampire Slayer The Rewatch: Week 7 Part 3

I told you I had a lot to say about Season 5.

Look at the perky bad guy!

Glory is possibly my favorite “big bad.” I like her because she’s so indifferent to Buffy. Buffy is an annoyance, the way an average vamp is to The Slayer. Unlike The Master and The Mayor, for whom the Slayer is a large obstacle, or Angelus for whom The Slayer is everything, and for Adam to whom the Slayer is a curiosity to Glory, The Slayer is nothing, something to be swept off to the side on her quest to go home.

That’s the other thing that I find interesting about Glory. She has a simple child’s desire, she doesn’t want to destroy this world. She doesn’t care if it does get destroyed, mind you, but she just wants to go home to her world. She’s crazy, but she’s not malevolent.

Also, just as a note, she’s the first and only female big bad. The first evil takes female form in season 7, but isn’t female per say. I guess Glory isn’t either, but she’s certainly far more gendered than The First.

Not a huge insight, but something worth looking at.

Shenanigans

Buffy The Vampire Slayer The Rewatch: Week 7 Part 2

A few months ago, as I moved through the most recent season of Doctor Who, you know, when we discovered that River Song is actually Rory and Amy’s daughter, I was really irrationally angry about it. I felt the twisty-ness of this was unnecessary and undignified in a way that didn’t match The Doctor.

My exact words were, “These kinds of Dawn Summers-esque shenanigans are beneath Doctor Who.”

Dawn is a tricky character in the Buffy-verse. She’s widely despised, due to her whining, her uselessness and the shenanigans that brought her about.

She’s annoying, but there are worse things.

See, Dawn isn’t actually a person at all. She’s “The Key,” a mystical energy source meant to unlock the doors between dimensions. The Key was guarded by a sect of monks from Hell god Glory, but as Glory got stronger, they decided to send The Key to the slayer to protect. They create Dawn and manipulate something to make everyone believe that Buffy has always had a sister. This way, Buffy would do anything to protect her.

And Buffy does, even dying for her “sister” in the end. But what’s difficult, is that even after all of the twisty turny key things are done, Dawn sticks around and no one talks about her odd existence ever again.

Like, ever again. It’s weird and a little disconcerting. Chrissy often cites her biggest Dawn issue is that she isn’t human, she doesn’t have a soul. Of course, Chrissy is coming at it from out Catholic philosophical metaphysical world view. Joss Whedon, however, subscribes to an atheist humanist metaphysical world view, which means that by virtue of Dawn’s biology and actions she is human.

Maybe that’s reading too much in to this. Once, when talking about Gilmore Girls, my friend Jenna and I were discussing April, the daughter Luke never knew he had, and Jenna said, “I really liked April the character, but I really hated April the plot device you know?” For me it’s similar with Dawn, I love Dawn the plot device. The Key storyline is brilliant, and even later on, giving Buffy a sister to take care of is great, but Dawn the character is never properly handled.

The Ironman 3 Trailer Happened

Yesterday, while I was cleaning my room and planning my 25th Birthday Party, (I turn 25 in 10 days, this is weird) the Ironman 3 trailer was released on to the internet.

A few more months!

As happens with most super hero movies, the internet exploded, but because it was a debate night, it exploded slightly less. Here are my thoughts on the explodey-ness.

  1. It appears Tony has angst over the whole “ride a nuclear missile in to a space portal full of lizard monsters” thing. Also Coulson’s death, (I’m guessing), and it appears that he’s going to push Pepper away again. Which is kind of expected and a little boring and hugely disappointing.
  2. More War Machine? Yes please. Ironman 2 did not have enough Don Cheadle.
  3. Last night on Facebook my friend Craig and I discussed The Patriot Armor, and whether this means that The Dark Avengers are coming (a set up for Avengers 2? They’d be hugely Whedon-esque choice) but I’ve determined it has to be something else, since Norman Osbourne can’t be involved. Marvel Studios still does not have control of the film rights for Spider-Man. 
  4. If we learned anything from The Avengers and the films that lead up to it, it’s that there are heroes, even if they’re sometimes kind of douchey. Are we going to have to prove this premise in every movie from now on?

Either way, I can’t wait until May 3, when this baby opens. I’m interested in the direction that the Marvel Cinematic universe is going to take now that The Avengers has happened. Will actually knowing Captain America change Tony’s perspective on heroism? Or will his budding bromance with Bruce Banner change how he experiments?

We’ll find out on May 3, but if you think I’m not going to speculate you’re clearly on the wrong blog.

Buffy Vs. Dracula

Buffy The Vampire Slayer The Rewatch: Week 7 Part 1

I love this episode so much. I forgot how much. It’s such a giddy piece of camp fun, and a neat bit of character building at that.

“Buffy Vs. Dracula,” the Season 5 premier feeds on the legend of Vlad The Impaler, Bram Stoker’s Dracula and the numerous film versions of the big bad. He brings Buffy and Xander under his thrall, Anya remember’s a school girl type crush she had on him back in her demon days, and Spike remembers that he owes him 11 quid. That this is Spike’s main motivation for hating Dracula is one of the most telling things about his state at this point in the series. He’s completely mercenary and pathetic at this point in time.

It also speaks to the strength of Buffy and Riley’s relationship here that upon finding out she let Dracula bite her, Riley gets a little freaked out, but mostly just teases her about it. Thank God that doesn’t last, because a happy Buffy is a boring Buffy.

But one of the main reasons I love this episode so much is because of Nicholas Brendan’s comic turn. As comic relief Xander is always a joy, but here, when he becomes a bug eating toady for Dracula (His Master, The Dark Prince, and all manner of other flattering nick names he sputters out.) But the real turn comes at the very end, when the spell is broken and he gives the best speech in the entire history of the show, where Xander and all the characters give amazing speeches:

I’m sick of this crap! I’m sick of being the guy who eats insects and gets the funny syphilis. As of this moment, it’s over. I’m finished being everyone’s butt monkey!

And here’s the thing, after this Xander does man up, a whole lot. His butt monkey days are over. (Until that whole manipulating him to not marry Anya thing happens.)

Way to go Xander.

Woo hoo!

Anyway, are we ready for season 5, and Dawn and all kinds of weirdness? (You should get ready. I have a lot to say about this season.)