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I saw the first episode last night and was impressed. I thought I'd read the original short story, but I hadn't. I'd love to know what others think about this production. My biggest issue is that, in spite of one character who looks to become more major in the other two episodes, it's very, very pale. I also hope the women have more to do in the next episodes.

The story though is really intriguing. And Charles Dance's voice acting is tremendous.
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I saw this movie as part of the DC Docs festival last summer. (My thanks again to [livejournal.com profile] neotoma for attending it with me.) My original, brief, review is behind this sentence.

It was not a great movie, but it is important. It covers a part of the war that we, as Americans, tend to paper over.

If you do watch it, let me know what you thought in comments.
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I have been tremendously moved by many different pieces of art in many media.

Only 4 have made me cry (and by that, I don't mean tear up, I mean weep)

  1. Porgy and Bess -- Serena (Wilma Shakesnider) singing "My Man's Gone Now" with that great keening wail at the end and Porgy (Donnie Ray Albert) going after Bess with "Oh, Lord, I'm on my Way" both wiped me out.

  2. Cyrano de Bergerac -- the end of the third act (of four) when he and his group are made the front lines and Cyrano rushes forward reciting "We are the Gascony Cadets."  (Derek Jacobi played the role in a translation by Anthony Burgess)

  3. The men marching to their deaths in <a href="http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0097441/?ref_=fn_al_tt_1">Glory</a>.

  4. <a href="http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2779318/">The Day of the Doctor.</a>

{sorry about the links being bollixed.  I'll try to fix it again later.}
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I know I've missed a few days.

I didn't see the pilots to many of "my" shows until well after I started watching the series. This is certainly true for Beauty and the Beast, Wiseguy, Smallville, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, The X Files, Stargate SG-1, Criminal Minds, and Forever Knight.

VR.5, as preposterous as the premise was, the pilot captured me. I felt like I'd seen a movie instead of the forty-five minutes of an "hour" of television.

The 4400 was a little different. I saw it from the very beginning, but it was during the intense one day marathon leading up to the premier of the second season. I think being able to mainline a show through a marathon or borrowed DVDs or Hulu gives a person a different idea of a series and the impact of the pilot is diminished.
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The Golden Hind?

Look, if I want a couple to get together on a show, I write the fanfiction.

CLex. That one really should have happened onscreen.

I liked Marco/Diana. I think Vincent/Catherine could have shown more than CBS allowed, but relationships that are canon are great and relationships that aren't can still sail in transformative works.

edited to add: Based on [livejournal.com profile] riverfox's answer to this, there seems to be an implication that not all relationships are considered equal for this question. Most of my slash relationships (Jack/Daniel or the Petrellis) are such that I would have been appalled if they became canon -- working together in a military setting for Jack/Daniel and they're brothers, for heaven's sake, for the Petrellis. This doesn't mean that I think the term 'ship is exclusively held by hetero couples. And for the record, I was equally appalled when it was implied that Jack/Samantha was canon. It's wrong for exactly the same reasons as Jack/Daniel with an extra fillip of superior and subordinate for that extra ickiness.
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I'll keep it to the top five. Seriously, ONE Favorite character of either sex? The person who came up with this meme obviously wasn't a Gemini.

5) Frank McPike -- Wiseguy
He was described by other characters as scrawny, wimpy-looking, and unfeeling. In reality, he was stalwart, loyal, and terrifying when pissed. There was a scene during the garment district arc when a six-foot four mook with a law degree grabs his arm and tries to threaten him subtly. McPike pulls himself up to his full five-foot eight-ish and says quietly, "Do you know you have your hand on me?" Mook backs off, smartly.

He's a bureaucrat who believes in the system, but doesn't always respect the men who've been made his bosses. He finds lying painful, but will do it, mostly by omission, if it's necessary. Between them, McPike and the Lifeguard, make life bearable for the men undercover. He's a remarkable character, even if he does buy his clothes at "Sid's Suit Shack."

4) Marco Pacella -- The 4400
We meet him in the second episode. He's young, but he's in charge of the the Theory Department, a small group in the basement whose office is nerd central. He has a crush on Diana, but as we get to know both characters, it's clear that he has no illusions about her. He breaks the law for her because she's convinced it's a higher moral right to do so. All of that makes him sound like a doormat, but he isn't. He's more like an old-fashioned Lancelot for whom love is the greatest duty of all. There's a dream sequence where he thinks he's dying and his last act on Earth is to drag himself closer to Diana and her daughter; the posture is protective of them. I really adore Marco.

3) Vincent -- Beauty and the Beast
He understands pain. He's mature and wise, loves poetry. If he laughed more, he'd be higher on the list. The fact that he's not fully human is a mere incidental, honestly. He's the protector writ large, but I respect the fact that he respects Catherine. If she asks for his advice, he'll give it, but there's never any assumption that she'll take it.

2) Doctor Spencer Reid -- Criminal Minds
Yes, I have a crush on the actor. And somewhere along the line, Doctor Reid acquired some of his actor's talents -- like sleight of hand -- but Reid is a performance and a really wonderful one considering it's the actor's first major role. It says something about the character and the man who plays him that we can believe he had multiple Ph.D.s before the age of twenty-one. He's able to empathize with others to a startling degree, although all the characters on Criminal Minds seem to share that trait.

Reid's the designated whump character, but the character rises above it.

1) Doctor Daniel Jackson -- The various Stargate iterations
I'm in love with Daniel Jackson. I've never been able to stand James Spader, but I loved Daniel Jackson in the movie. I squeed a lot during the film, which I saw on the opening night in the theater. My sister was less enamored.

Nearly a decade later, I find the show on Sci-Fi. And it's a different actor, but Daniel is Daniel. I think Shanks is a fine actor. I enjoy him in most things I've seen, even some of the cheesier "the-kids-need-new-shoes" cheap made for Sci-Fi movies he's done. But while I could see spending an evening shooting the breeze with Shanks, I could see spending a lifetime learning with Daniel. The character is good. Like Spencer Reid, we have to believe he has more than average brilliance, and Shanks makes it credible.

Daniel's never been a coward or a wimp, though I'm always amazed at the directors and producers who think he is. I can only assume they've never actually seen the show they work for.
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There are so many. Seriously.

"Two Cathedrals" from The West Wing still gives me a visceral thrill when Bartlett yells at God in National Cathedral... in Latin. It's probably wrong that I think it's sexy.

The final three episodes of season 2 of The 4400 where Diana and Tom rope Marco in to take out a government conspiracy that's killing The 4400. Even as I understand the "threat to national security" that makes it possible, I am deeply liberal and these people are still citizens with full rights until or unless they commit a crime. There are other shades in there, of course. Each of them is making the choice for a different reason and the interpersonal relationships of those three characters are a huge part of it. Tom's nephew and his son are effected by the plot, in the case of his son tangentially; Diana's daughter is a trigger for much of what happens. I love those episodes. They're political and emotional comfort food.

Stargate SG-1... "The Serpent's Lair," "Secrets," "A Matter of Time" (that one just makes me tingle with the black hole time distortion actually being a key plot point), "Serpent's Song" and that's just season 2. My two favorites are "Scorched Earth," which prompted an essay on military ethics from me, and "The First Ones" which actually has Daniel being a linguist ("Don't say 'ka' till you've tried it."). I know there are others I've seen multiple times and there are always nuances that I missed on prior viewings. Of course, there are also parts I fast forward through, too. *G*

I would say my very favorite episodes, the ones I'm afraid I might wear out in the DVD player are from Criminal Minds. They are all Reid-centric to a greater or lesser extent. "Derailed" which was the first "show not tell" example of his genius for me was an early favorite. It made meeting his mother in "The Fisher King" episodes resonate. I felt the hair on the back of my neck rise as I made the connection when he drops off the book for her in "The Fisher King, part 1." Those two, I'll throw in occasionally as well. "Sex, Birth, and Death," "The Big Game," "Revelations," and "Elephant's Memory" are biggies. "Empty Planet." "Elephant's Memory." "Minimal Loss," "The Instincts," "Memoriam," and "Amplification" are all episodes I revel in. There are others. I love this show and this character. (Okay, there's also lots of hotness in the cast.)
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Heroes, a thousand times over.

I stopped watching near the beginning of the third season. When the third season came around, I don't know what happened, but I really wasn't enjoying the show and halfway through the two-part eclipse episode, I thought, "I don't need this." I never watched another episode.

The first season, I absolutely could not miss an episode. Some were less good, but none were outright bad. Moreover, they'd plotted out their online content so it truly complemented the episodes without being necessary for the fans who weren't as involved. When Nathan swooped down to save the day in "How to Stop an Exploding Man" it was the culmination of all 22 episodes. It was the perfect bookend to his flying up to keep Peter from dying in the first episode. Had Tim Kring had the guts to follow through on his original idea -- that each season of Heroes be newly cast with one or two characters (probably Sylar and Mohinder the most) from earlier seasons crossing in and out occasionally -- I think the series could have been great. Instead, it became a watered down soap opera with superpowers.

In its own way, as satisfying as it was to open Season 2 with Peter rescuing Nathan, the mistake came when their sacrifice became something they could recover from. I love Pasdar. He tried to make sense of some inherently nonsensical scenes and dialogue and succeeded more often than failed, but magic blood and the writer's attempts to recapture the lightning in the bottle of the first season meant that his talent, and that of everyone else, was ultimately wasted.
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Criminal Minds.

I love the show quite unreasonably (or have through the first five seasons), but when the ads began appearing around Los Angeles while I was living there, I determined that I wasn't interested.

Part of it was that I HATE a "daily drive" type of commute. Commuting is for reading or walking or both. Having to get behind the wheel of a car and concentrate on the road rather than either reading or using my body does not make Fabi a happy girl. So my daily 16 mile each way commute was not something I enjoyed. For several months it was made worse by the fact that no matter what route I took (I varied it as much as I could, especially on the way home) there was Mandy Patinkin's face with other people behind it.

I don't particularly care for Patinkin, I find him a showboat whose process is out in the open for everyone to see. I'd also over the previous year or so given up on every cop/procedural show I watched. None of the Laws and Orders were appealing anymore, and the CSI franchise had gone so over the top icky (live rat coming out of a dead person's mouth) that I couldn't watch.

My sister watched Lost which didn't appeal to me from the few episodes I'd tried to watch.

And then early in the new season, but not too early for reruns, I flipped through channels while trying to decide whether to read a book instead when a scene from the episode "Plain Sight" caught my eye. Sis sat and watched with me, since Lost was a rerun too. The following week was also a repeat -- "L.D.S.K." -- and I was hooked on Reid, on Hotch, on Garcia, on the team, and on the plots.

I love many of the episodes from first and second season, but I still don't care much for Patinkin -- other than in Yentl. His unprofessional departure at the beginning of season three certainly hasn't endeared him to me, but the team endures.
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For me, the scenes that work as "Best" for television are the ones that pay off the investment in time and mythology building. Joss has some excellent ones in Buffy the Vampire Slayer, including Xander's Dream sequence in Restless, but the sense of satisfaction is very complex.

The first scene like that I remember is from Beauty and the Beast and involves Paracelsus, the hero's journey Vincent is on, and a lot of Freud. Really, without context, I can't explain the emotional thrill this moment of nearly pure evil gave me.

So, instead, I'm going to talk about two scenes that were the best ever because they sucked me into a new show and in one case, led me to good friends and the freedom of fandom.

I love The 4400. It was everything Heroes wanted to be and did it on half the budget. I never planned to watch it, but the opening scene has a bunch of people in a government research area panicking over a comet that's just appeared and is about to collide with the Earth. A woman comes in as random techie says, "The comet just changed course."

The woman, Diana Skouris, answers, "If it changed course, it isn't a comet."

I was hooked for several reasons. One is, even though the exchange is moderately predictable, many scripts would have let the dramatic idea of the comet changing course either stand or take them to commercial for added impact. Too many people don't understand even the basics of how heavenly bodies work, and the writer could have given us bad science. The second reason is the fact that the person making the correction -- the scientist -- is a woman. It's hard to find women scientists who aren't medical doctors, and, while we find out Diana is a biologist, she's a researcher with the CDC who has been pulled into the enforcement/administrative side of things.

The other... after Buffy one night, there was nothing on. I forget why or what we didn't like on the WB, but Lucy and I (and possibly the professor) flipped through channels and were caught by a bald young man with an apple in his hand talking to a very healthy looking even younger man. It was the second episode of Smallville, and Omar G. at TWoP described it as the "Gayest Look Ever." Lucy, I, and the rest of the household made it appointment television. When Lucy and the Professor left the household, one of our new housemates was [livejournal.com profile] jerminating whom I'd met through fandom. When the house was sold a couple of years later, I ended up living with [livejournal.com profile] eanja whom I met through the fandom.

How many of you on my friends' list are people I know through Smallville? I love you all and I know you because Lex and an apple captured me in a "Best Scene (to hook someone) Ever."

Two quick PS
The first: If you haven't heard about [livejournal.com profile] perclexed and you're an old Smallville buddy, well, a fire, a job loss and some other things mean she's in need right now. Find out more: http://littledrop.livejournal.com/531521.html

The second: I know I'm a day behind on this. I was at work until 10 last night. 9 tonight. Tomorrow may be the same. I'll catch up over the weekend.
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I don't think there is such a thing. Chacun a son gout and all that. (Yeah, I know that's not the proper spelling, but I don't know how to get accents and circumflexes.)

It would be nice if more people watched Nova and science based shows.

I love Fringe, and I hope more people will watch it next year, but I know it's a bit "caviar to the general."
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Beauty and the Beast -- "Though Lovers Be Lost"

This two parter evolved from the opposite situation of AJ Cook. The fans saved the show, but Linda Hamilton, who was pregnant, did not want to return. Her departure set up the arc for season 3, which was never completed. The death they gave her was bad. The implication that Vincent might have raped her was bad, though that was clarified as the episode went on.

I'm rare. I actually liked season 3. No one forgot about Catherine. Her death made the three men who loved her work together to try to find her killer and get back her child. That theme of Catherine, even in death, bringing out the best in people was a lovely coda. And the scenes with Joe, Vincent, and Elliott working together, however brief they ended up being, moved me.

But this episode nearly made me quit watching, not because I was mad about Linda Hamilton's departure, as so many fans of the series were, but because I found her kidnapping and execution after her child's birth to be so triggery. This show never flinched from the violence of city life, but this was both fantasy violence and realistic violence at the same time -- and it was too much.
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I disagree with this one a bit. Since those of us who are participating in the meme have already told everyone all and sundry which was our favorite show, the chances are good we've already mentioned our favorite episodes of that show. In my case, that's certainly true. My two favorite episodes of Beauty and the Beast were "Dead of Winter" and "Ozymandias" in that order.

My favorite episode of television ever is not from Beauty and the Beast, but from Wiseguy -- a show about an undercover operative with the FBI's Organized Crime Bureau that was heavily arced. The episode is not from the Garment District arc, which is still my favorite, with the Washington arc coming in a close second.

It's from the Lococco/Profitt arc and it's called "Smokey Mountain Requiem." It's available on Hulu, and it's the third episode in the arc that begins with "Independent Operator." It can stand on its own. All you need to know is that Vinnie Terranova is the undercover agent, and Roger Lococco is a hitman for hire.

I also love the episode "Three Stories" from House. If the rest of that series lived up to that one episode it would be fantastic.
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Seinfeld.

I saw one episode, or at least a major part of one, sometime in the first season. I thought I wouldn't invite these people into my living room in real life, why would I want to see them on my TV screen.

A couple of years later, it's a phenomenon. Everyone I know watches it (obviously pre-SCA where few people I know even own TVs) and I try again. George's fiancee dies and everyone thinks it's funny. I threw up in my mouth a little.

Anyway, I remember going to Waterstone's Bookstore in Boston before it burned down -- and someday I'll have to think through the whole "why I might not use Amazon as much if there were still Waterstone's in the US" thing -- and being shocked at how deserted it and all of Newbury Street were. It wasn't until I got home that I realized the series finale of Seinfeld was on, so no one was out.
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This one is tough in some ways. Ultimately, I have to go with Beauty and the Beast.

I don't think Linda Hamilton is or was a great actress, but Catherine was less important in many ways.

Vincent was a unique creation. Ron Perlman has said that much of Vincent's appeal was that people could see he was already the Prince whatever his exterior.

It was the first show I fought for. I wrote letters to CBS (hmm, that feels horribly familiar), and I bugged my friends to do the same. If I'd known about fanfiction back in the dark ages, I'd have written it.

My sister loved Catherine. The episode titled "A Happy Life" inspired her to go back to school, get her degree in film, and become a film editor. It hasn't been a smooth ride for her, that profession, but she loves what she does and is truly excellent at it. I just wish TV showrunners and movie producers recognized her talent.

My first episode was "Dead of Winter" which I still think is one of its best. The creation of the underground world was so detailed, and this mid winter festival of theirs with all the helpers invited was a stunning introduction. Beyond that, the use of quotations, always a feature of this show, was very intricate. I've never checked it, but I remember at the time telling my sister that not only had all the quotes come from Hamlet, I was pretty sure they were used in order.

Other than Vincent, the two best characters for me were the villains.

The mundane villain was Elliott Burch, and I cried when Edward Albert died because I remembered how much detail he'd brought to a character who was never going to be anything more than second best to Vincent, even if he hadn't started out as a ruthless millionaire.

Tony Jay's Paracelsus was the villain of the world below, and just as the underworld held fairy tale magic, so did Paracelsus -- of the Maleficent variety. (By the way, I thought it was hilarious that he also voiced one of the villains (Monsieur D'Arque) in the animated Beauty and the Beast.) His powers were legendary. A scientist who pursued the mystical arts of alchemy as well as being one of the founders of the world below, Paracelsus had a chilling voice and a knack for mythmaking that made him a formidable opponent.

George R.R. Martin was a producer and writer for the series. Two of my favorite episodes, the aforementioned "Dead of Winter" and "Ozymandias" which introduced the character of Elliott Burch (n.b. there were actually two prior Elliot Burch episodes, both of which I loved, but had forgotten about, "Siege" and "Shades of Gray") were his. He also wrote the pivotal Paracelsus episode, "Ceremony of Innocence."

These days one of the biggest moments of magic in watching the episodes on DVD are the shots of Manhattan with the twin towers shimmering in all the different lights at all the different times of day.
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I don't have one. I enjoyed White Collar, but if I missed it, I wasn't bothered. Fringe, which I adore with an unreasoning passion, started the year before, so it doesn't count.
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Until, oh, about a week ago, I'd have said Criminal Minds. I love that it's an ensemble show. I love that it's a procedural that seems to be more about the procedure. I love that it respects the victims. (Yes, I'm looking at you CSI franchise with your tasteless quips. They aren't MASH quality black humor; they're tacky.)

Moreover, there were three women on the show, none of whom was an appendage to a man, though two are in relationships, and each with distinctive personalities and job roles.

Last week, one had her option dropped and one is now in negotiations for a severely reduced role. While I love the third character, a hacker named Garcia, to pieces, she's the most conventionally girly of the three.

The thing is, there are other shows I like, but I don't care enough to proselytize for them. I think the last show I really did that for was Smallville back in the early days when it was so sparkly it broke people's gaydar.

*sigh*
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I saw this first at [livejournal.com profile] madlori's Journal, but several people have picked it up since then. I'm not sure I'll make it through all thirty days, but my answer to this one is sufficiently different that I'm going to start the calendar.

See here for VR.5 )

meme

Feb. 11th, 2010 04:42 pm
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This is a five words meme that I got from [livejournal.com profile] severity_softly.

If you want to play, I'll give you five words, but it's not required.

Since [livejournal.com profile] severity_softly and I know each other originally through a fandom, Criminal Minds for those playing along, two of the prompts are related to it.

Read more... )
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I have said that cookery is my art. It becomes an art through belief in yourself and experimentation. There's a certain fearlessness required.

That means you will make bad food. If you use good ingredients and pay attention to cooking time, it probably won't be terrible or inedible. But at some point you're going to make a meal where you take a bite and look at your fork and say, "what hath I wrought?"

This is fine. It will happen less and less as you learn just why soy sauce and vanilla aren't usually used in the same dish. A new stove will probably bring a two week streak of over, under, or oddly cooked food, but, once you adapt to each other, chances are it won't happen again.

There will be the occasional recipe that reads well but tastes wrong. Toss the recipe or adapt it. With experience your mistakes will be fewer and fewer.

What does one do about the ego hit, though? How does a person who has just burned water recover?

I watch "Semi-Homemade With Sandra Lee" on the Food Network.

I don't usually make fun of the afflicted; it's a low form of humor. But this woman is trying to give advice on cooking and clearly has no idea what she's doing.

There is comfort in the idea that no matter how bad my meal accidentally turned out, it's no where near what Sandra Lee has done on purpose. Seriously, I think one of her recipes involving frozen meatballs contravenes the Geneva Convention.

I have laughed harder at her show than at most comedies. Over at TWoP, if you go to the early days of the thread called "Open Letter to Sandra Lee" you can find the restraining order I took out on behalf of the French government for creating a souffle with no eggs. Her "French Pastry" dessert began with pound cake and instant custard mix.

[livejournal.com profile] gileswench can testify to the Christmas episode that I made her watch and the scary, scary cocktails.

As a matter of fact, Sandra Lee's presentations make me feel better about mine. Mine are basic, but they're about the food. Hers are fancy, themed, and over the top.

An example: In the aforementioned Christmas episode, she prepares a snowball cocktail. It uses blue brandy, which I understand as the shadows on snow have a distinctly bluish cast. However, the blue brandy isn't diluted much giving it a definite Tidy Bowl hue. She pours it in a glass rimmed with flaked coconut giving the overall drink a disconcerting aura of flecks of toilet paper around the bowl.

edited to add: I found the recipe at Food Network and there's a picture!

No one can top that.

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