|Willow (the_willow) wrote,|
@ 2008-08-23 22:04:00
|Current mood:||mentally tired|
|Entry tags:||#race issues: fandom, fandom: culture, fandom: is, fannish: activity, meta|
Watching The Show In Your Head (Pt 2): When You Can't
This post was actually started sometime last year, but I don't think I ever went through and posted it and on finding it I realize it was a perfect part two of the query and discussion I started here; Watching The Show In Your Head.
I had wanted to write about the tv show Monk. Then I had wanted to write about all the tv shows I'd liked and or dropped and how lately I'd realized that the tv show I liked, was NOT the tv show the executives inevitably decided to push. And so past the 1st season (or the season that caught my eye) - I simply didn't watch tv anymore. At least not on my own, without someone watching with me ie, bugging me and cajoling me to watch with them or keep them company.
Then later on I'd ended up thinking out and talking about the subject with a friend, (I believe it was kdorian). I realized there's so much more with Monk that I'd found disappointing. I found it the waste of a good actor. I found it a waste of a good premise...
I started watching a show about a man who'd been so traumatized by the loss/murder of his wife than his OCD went mega - total overddrive. He wasn't functional. But he was still a brilliant mystery solver. Solving mysteries was a way to make the world right and a way to hone his skills so he could track down the person who'd taken his wife away from him.
I loved that show. Yes it had silly moments and yes sometimes it also made me cringe. But I loved the show. It was about survival and growth and trauma and recovery and yes, I know I can take those themes very personally. But I was so happy with it. I wanted to buy the DVD when it came out. I couldn't wait for where they'd pick up in the next season to move along the arc involving his wife's killer. And where they would go with the friendship he was developing with his assistant's son.
And then I saw the Season 2 trailers. And it was all "Crazy man is afraid of germs. Watch him dodge monkey poop and try to solve crime!".
I was aghast. But the commercial played over and over again. Despite where the last season's arc had ended they were going to play up the disease/ the illness as a JOKE. They were going to play up the mental health issue and the trauma AS A FUCKING JOKE.
What whacky things will freak him out this season!"
Shock became disgust and I never went back. I even changed the channel when previews and ads came on. I still do. There was nothing I could salvage to continue to watch. There was no mental re-writing I could do. The ads made me afraid to go back and watch the first season, for fear I'd suddenly realize how exploitative it had always been.
SGA is another similar show. (To those currently mourning I suggest you skip. I'm not aiming to be particularly reverent).
In Stargate Atlantis, I thought I was going to watch a show about a female commander exploring galactic options for earth in a combination colony and embassy. Maybe it was too much to expect something reminiscent of DS9 or B5. But I hoped.
It was a bit of a shock at the changed actress for the show. Jessica Steen had portrayed a kind of internal intensity and inner life that seemed perfect for the head of a space colony to the stars. Tori Higginson seemed less intense; she seemed more school teacher to the stars than Commander. Maybe I was judging things on some internal Star Trek scale of what makes a good commander. But to me she wasn't it. To this day I'm not sure if that's a factor of personality and interpretation from the actress or if the writers who gave Sheen her dialogue were not the same who gave Higginson hers. There were occasions where with a look, or a shift of body language by Higginson I saw 'the Captain, my Captain' I'd been craving. But without that in every scene of every episode she was in - I wasn't interested. So that left me focusing on the other characters even though Elizabeth Weir as character and concept was what had me excited about a spin off in the first place.
John seemed like an O'Neil clone and I could only take O'Neil in doses, not all the time. A copy-cat O'Neil seemed unbearable. And Aiden was an unknown. So I pinned my hopes on Rodney.
Dear egolicious, fantastic and fabulous Dr. Rodney McKay. I have to admit to sometimes feeling that all the current SGA Rodney lovers are nothing but n00bs because I loved Rodney back when he was elbows and knees and an extremely prickly, egotistical balloon that was forever being popped by Samantha Carter's intuitive leaps.The thought of that character being pulled into a major role reminded me of my love of Miles O'Brien on Star Trek:TNG and how much I adored him getting spotlight in Deep Space 9.
But that also didn't happen. Rodney seemed a caricature of himself and at first I put that down to introducing a whole new audience to where he was and how he came to be, before they began to flesh him out. So I waited and I waited and I waited. And I waited.
And I waited.
What followed was a parade of episodic plot choices and character spotlights that simply made it harder and harder for me to buy what the SGA creators/producers were selling. They weren't going anywhere new and that was a problem for me. I'd been following SGA for years, since highschool in fact. What I needed were new plots, new twists, new aspects to the universe. What they seemed to be giving me was SG1 -The New Cast. The sets were different, and the actors were different but their roles were all the same.
(---- I was actually just waiting for Aiden Ford to be alienized somehow for him and Teyla to combine role functions. Dropping Aiden was the one big surprise SGA actually managed for me. It hadn't yet occurred to me that in order to fulfill their static roles they might hire on a completely new actor/create a new role. But Ronon as a character wasn't a surprise at.all. -----)
They treated the stresses of a lost colony of the stars, facing unknown enemies of unknown strength and powers as just - another day in the life of anyone involved with a Stargate. They made the gate itself boring to me. It took me a little while to understand why and then I realized it was because so much of those season 1 episodes were rehashes from before SG1 began doing the big arcs in earnest. Given SGA's premise, I was expecting allusions to the bigger arc all the time, especially if the behind the scenes production now had the experience to do so.
But no, what I got was one or two ups, a down or two showing floundering to find their feet and then it abruptly became 'When White Folk Colonize Space; They're Always Right.' (There's a reason I stopped watching SG1, there began to be nothing there either, to enable me to watch the show in my head)
I started off both of my posts not sure why I mentally re-wrote on the fly and what prompted it, and what differentiated it from privilege. And the few responses I got back seemed to agree that privilege was denying that problems caused the need to re-write, vs just an active imagination.
So if there are other things that interest me(in a given media) then I have something to lose; I've been captivated and I don't want to have to come down from that experience. So in order to make the media palatable to me I have to work around/re-write/re-think the scuzzy parts - that is the problems.
But if the loss is far too big; if the scuzzy parts take over something conceptual I was waiting for, along with taking over too many other parts of the show/book, then there's no point in re-writing, because that'd be basically doing it all over from scratch - not imagining if this or that pitfall had been avoided / could be reinterpreted as something else.
This hints at a continuum for me and reminds me of when zvi-likes-tv.livejournal.com wrote a post asking and eventually describing the attributes that make a show fannish. (I can't find said post now, so Zvi if you're reading and you remember what I'm talking about could you drop a line? I think you did tables and it had something to do with less content = more fandom filling)
Even without checking Zvi's post though, I think it's safe to say for me there does seem to be a continuum. If I place Memoirs of a Geisha on one end and SGA on the other, it feels Smallville is an example of a show that started somewhat near the middle and eventually drifted right into SGA's side of the fence and thus I dropped it completely.
(odd aside: I dropped Smallville before I dropped SGA I think. And yet SGA definitely feels like the best marker for the disappointed side of the spectrum. Maybe because the moment they changed Elizabeth I immediately started watching the show in my head, whereas that was something I turned to in Smallville until I couldn't anymore)