Saturday, January 21, 2012

Eternal Law, Season 1, Episode 3

This week we have a complicated case.

Mack is an old man living in a care home – that is being sold. And as it is sold, the elderly residents will be moved to other care homes – whether they like it or not. Mack takes exception to this and puts his medicine in Keith, the manager’s food – and punches a policeman.

It seems a simple case of ABH, but the prosecution, leader by the fallen angel Richard seeks a charge of attempted murder. A sentence that would naturally kill an 82 year old. But then there’s the question of whether the law fails to apply simply because the perpetrator is old?

Joe a friend of Mack, another resident of the home with advanced Alzheimers and to control Mack, Keith threatens to separate Mack from Joe if he doesn’t do what Keith wants – and this is what prompts the poisoning

 But even that is not simple – as Joe is very much in thrall of Mack as well in his easily exploited state. Especially since it’s clear that Mack wasn’t a great friend of Joe’s once – and once ran off with his wife. Of course, then we have a new twist and Mrs. Sherringham sees his friendship with Joe in his vulnerable state as a kind of penance for what he did.

And if that weren’t enough, Keith clearly has his own demons with an overbearing and cruel father and how Mack was involved with his father’s bullying cruelty.

The ending… was a trifle twee. Guy overcomes decades of issues to have a sudden and miraculous change of heart? I suppose a show about angels is allowed a certain twee level but still, it felt clumsily cobbled together at the end.

The Vampire Diaries Season Three: Episode Twelve: The Ties That Bind

Since Stefan stole the coffins from Klaus, Bonnie has been having terrible dreams.  Her latest dreams lead her to believe that the key to opening the mystery fourth coffin lies with Abbey her long absent mother. This leads to an all girl road trip, though Damon does initially try to tag along.   Once there they learn that Abbey has raised the son of one of her lovers, though she had no problem walking out on Bonnie.  It seems that Abby was the one who initially imprisoned Micheal to save Elena at the behest of her best friend, Elena's mother.  Alright taking a pause to point out that for as strong as the Bennett line supposedly is, they spend all their time serving the White women that they are friends with.  Even Emily the strongest of them all served Katherine.  Would it really be so hard to have one strong independent Black female character on this show? As it is, I already believe that Abby is dead witch walking because it seems that the CW has a problem with allowing more than one Black female witch to be a part of the cast for any extended period of time. In fact, Abby will be lucky if she avoids becoming snack food for Caroline.

Speaking of Caroline, Tyler still feels that he has the power to make things work between them and so he shows up at her home to apologize.  Unlike Elena, Caroline does not go into immediate forgiveness mode.  When Caroline expresses disbelief in his ability to change, Bill Forbes enters the room and shares his plan to do yet another round of aversion therapy.  I don't understand why the writers don't understand how gross it is to have a gay man suggest, let alone participate in leading an aversion therapy session. It's Bill's contention that if Tyler can change forms at will painlessly, he will have broken his sire bond with Klaus.  He believes the fact that Tyler feels beholden to Klaus for taking the pain away of transition.

Tyler, Bill and Caroline head over to the old Lockwood plantation where Tyler is secured to the bars by metal chains, shirtless (yes, that's one thing I can thank the CW for)  Tyler says that he has to break every bone in his body in order to shift and he is reluctant to face the pain.  When Caroline begins to protest as he screams in pain, they both order her out of the room. Sure enough, Tyler does shift, breaks his bonds and ends up mauling Bill almost to death.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Review: One Grave at a Time by Jeaniene Frost, Book 6 of the Night Huntress Series

Cat and Bones have finally settled many things in their lives. The ghoul uprising is over, Cat is settling into her new life as a vampire, the lines are secure and all is peaceful in life.

Of course, that can’t last. And they are approached by a friend of Fabian, their friendly ghostly ally, called Elisabeth. Elisabeth is an ancient ghost with a mission – to kill her murderer. Which she achieved soon after death

Unfortunately, her murderer became a ghost. And Elisabeth wants to kill him again. Especially since her murderer, Kramer, was an evil, misogynist witch hunter who not only tortured and killed women in life, but has continued to do so in death. As an extremely powerful ghost, Kramer can manifest on Hallowe’en and during that time he tortures, rapes and murders women with the help of an accomplice.

Cat and Bones most certainly are not going to stand for that. But exactly how can one kill a ghost? How can you even fight a ghost that you can’t touch –and is capable or throwing rocks, boards and cars at you with enough force to crack skulls and shatter limbs? And how do you keep the ghost’s victims alive against such a force?

This story is interesting because the great and vast powers Cat and Bones have acquired are so utterly useless against a spectral foe. It’s actually interesting to see the protagonists so helpless when they’re so powerful without a convoluted reason for it.

At the same time, the ghost can’t realistically kill a vampire, at least, not easily. It actually makes for an interesting and quite a novel book – more an active game of chess or cat and mouse rather than a full on physical confrontation as each are forced to deal with their own limitations in order to actually face the other.

Of course, this does have a trade off with frustration. Frustration while they are unable it fight, frustration that more can’t be done. Frustration that neither side seems to be getting anywhere. I’m not sure if this is a bad thing of the book –because I think we’re supposed to see the frustration of the situation. It’s frustrating but probably meant to be – there’s a horrendously evil force doing evil things right there that we’re powerless to stop.

While the enemy is a horrendous misogynist evil rapist and there is some appropriation of the witch trials in including him, at the same time it is done that expresses much of the misogyny of those trials and it is deeply satisfying to have Kramer smacked around on a regular basis and eventually thwarted by Cat, yes yes it is. However, I am noticing that as Cat has become a touch vampire, her injury level in these books has gone up considerably though what that injury actually means has gone down.

The Friday Discussion: The Mary Sue

'Ariel at Disney Princess Fantasy Faire' photo (c) 2009, Loren Javier - license:

The term Mary Sue is quite common in discussions of urban fantasy. It has become so ubiquitous that  I often wonder if everyone is truly aware of not only what the term means, but how it effects historically marginalised women.  A Mary Sue is a character who is perfect, flawless or only having very cutesy flaws (cute non flaws), and who is instantly adored by all of the cast.  If someone is not instantly enthralled with a Mary Sue, it is because they are jealous and or evil, and sometimes even both. 

Sookie Stackhouse from True Blood,  Elena Gilbert from the Vampire Diaries, Clary Fray from The Mortal Instruments Series, Tessa Grey from the Infernal Devices series, Elena from Kelly Armstrong's Otherword Series, Clare from the Morganville Vampires, Abby Corrigan from Sanctuary, Bella Swan from Twilight, are just a few examples of the Mary Sue phenomenon from books, movies and television.  Each one of these characters is beloved for absolutely no reason. The people around them follow them without question and without cause quite frankly (especially considering that these women have the sense of a concussed penguin), even in cases when doing so places themselves in jeopardy. This is exacerbated by the Mary Sue usually representing the most privileged form of femininity in that she is normally straight, cis gendered and White. 

It is rare to see a protagonist of colour in this genre and they never ever fulfill the role of Mary Sue. (In fact, when “Mary Sue” or “self insert” as a criticism is levelled at authors of colour and other marginalised authors, it is usually because the mere presence of a POC character that is capable and not a side-kick is considered “overly perfect” in a genre that frequently prevents POC from being main characters) Mary Sue then on some level relates to the perfection of White womanhood and marking it as superior to women of colour.  In many ways, it reminds me of the faux pedestal that White women have historically been placed upon.  This pedestal exists solely to give them race privilege and certainly does not apply to equality with White men.  

Even as it works to oppress in terms of race, it is also extremely sexist as it leaves no room to appreciate strengths based in intelligence, loyalty, speed, humor or strength.  It tells women that they must perform womanhood in a very specific manner to be considered truly feminine. Mary Sue is not complimentary to women, and in fact acts as a sort of literary corset, restricting individuality even as it promotes a false form of agency.  Real women are not made of sugar and spice and all that’s nice.  

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Jon Bernthal (AKA Shane from The Walking Dead) on Jimmy Kimmel Live PART 1

Review: Skinwalker by Faith Hunter, book 1 of the Jane Yellowrock series

Jane Yellowrock is a skinwalker, the only one she knows. Of course, she doesn’t know much about being a skinwalker or her past - having been found in the woods as a child with no memory of her life beforehand.

She’s also a vampire hunter, and an extremely good one. Now she has made a name for herself, the vampires of New Orleans have called her in to hunt down a rogue that is slaughtering the tourists and the police force - and making the vampires look bad.

Jane has to hunt down the rogue, but in the process she learns far more about her past and her Cherokee heritage, as well as some disturbing things about her history as a skinwalker - and the history of Beast, the great Puma spirit that shares her body. And then she learns things about the rogue that make him more terrifying and more powerful than she had ever imagined.

And, of course, working with vampires is never simple, with their politics and machinations and endless secrets, it can be hard to say the least to decide who to trust and whether you have all the information you need.

I was originally attracted to this book because the protagonist is not only a woman of colour, she is an indigenous woman. The Mercy Thompson series by Patricia Briggs is the only other series that I am aware of with a Native American character. From the onset, I was prepared to have the protagonist be indigenous in name only, but I was present surprised to see that this is not the case. That being said, I must preface this support by saying that though the book included extensive reference to Cherokee culture, and the language, as someone not intimately familiar with said culture, I am not sure how accurate the inclusion was.

Jane Yellowrock is a Cherokee Skinwalker, who was raised in an orphanage from the age of 13 when she was discovered. It is assumed that she was raised by wolves because when found she did not know how to speak or have mastered even the smallest rules for human interaction. Urban fantasy readers are well aware of the fact that dead parents is quite the trope in the genre however in the case, there is clearly more to the story that we are lead to believe in the beginning. Jane has lost her memories but over time some of them begin to comeback to her, and they include a very specific memory of her father.

Cover Snark: leather - the good, the bad and the unnecessarily sexy

Leather is very useful clothing. It’s tough, it’s hard-wearing, it’s very easily cleaned and it’s even a form of armour. Whether fighting badguys or riding bikes, a lair of leather can help keep your protagonist’s skin whole. So, it’s not surpise that no small number of Urban Fantasy heroines clad themselves in leather. Of course they do it to different levels of well done.  I suppose it all depends upon how much the publisher is depending on the sexay to sell the book.  

Here we have half-fae and private investigator October Daye. She’s tough, capable, crafty and clever. And here she is using leather - keeps her safe, keeps her hidden. It’s a tool, armour that may help her in her very very dangerous profession and situation.

And here we have Jane Yellowrock. Again she uses leather practically - it’s armour, it’s practical when riding a bike - let alone when hunting vampires. It’s very sensible, very practical clothing - and then the boobies escape. The breasts just had to make a showing and suddenly low cut cleavage just had to be included. It specifically does not make sense because when Jane goes vampire hunting in her human body, she makes sure that she is covered from head to toe.  What is the point of making sure that your body is covered only to have breasts hanging out for a vampire to snack on?

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

The Walking Dead - Interview with Norman Reedus & Sarah Wayne Callies

Betrayed by Morgan Rice, Book 3 of the Vampire Journals series

After the last book, Caitlin wakes up as a vampire half way through her change. But the world has no time to wait for her to adapt to her new state. The evil vampire Kyle has the Sword of power they had fought so hard for. With this sword he can take over the Blacktide coven and from there expand his war against all humanity and the benevolent vampires. Already, thousands of vampires rage through the plagued streets of New York.

Caleb cannot afford to wait for Caitlin and has to leave her with friends while he goes to try and protect his home and the White coven –but they cannot part on easy terms as Sera, Caleb’s ex-wife, is determined to drive a wedge between them.

While Caitlin learns to adapt to her new form while at the same time mastering her painful emotions over Caleb, Caleb is faced with the suicidal task of stopping the Blacktide Coven

Meanwhile, Sam, Caitlin’s brother  is still with Samantha, a vampire of the Blacktide Coven. Still trying to redeem herself from her failure, Samantha is forced to turn Sam into a vampire – and they both most work at surviving as members of the Blacktide Coven in less than good standing

I have to say that the writing of this book was such a barrier to any kind of enjoyment. People don’t speak, they have speeches – seriously, people can’t have a conversation they have to take it in terms to declaim several paragraphs at each other. It’s like a series of monologues. The writing itself is very very overwritten, exacerbated by Caitlin’s habit of having epicly long emotional  internal monologues that we are treated to constantly to a point where I either wish Caitlin would just go get drunk or I could. The writing is florid, purple and horribly over-written and this already short book could have been much much shorter if the excess description, excess “plot” points, the cumbersome dialogue and the endless emotional maundering were curbed.

And the characters? So much melodrama! So much angst!  The bad guy virtually twirls his moustache and ties young women to train tracks – he spreads plague! He cements his minion’s loyalty by making them kill their loved ones (is that supposed to work?). The good guys are so pure and noble – Caleb and Samuel are willing to sacrifice themselves like the noble good warriors they are! The staid leaders of the White Coven are so conservative and inactive they may as well be statues buried upside down so their heads are in the sand. New York is being ripped apart by the Blacktide Coven and their plan is to pretend it isn’t happening.

On Vampire High School (Pollopel Island, but, really Vampire Highschool is easier and sums up everything you need to know about the place without me having to describe it), where Caitlin goes to hang out we have a selection of non-entities who do nothing except love and adore Caitlin. Oh and Polly, who exists to provide pointlessly long exposition. Seriously, she’s like a walking Wikipedia that won’t shut up and is extra extra perky. She lives to info-dump.

Being Humans U.S., Season Two, Episode One: Turn This Mother Out

It's been a month since Sally missed her door, Aiden killed Bishop, and Josh scratched Nora. With the gap in power, Aidan is forced to step in and try to control the vampires that Bishop left behind.  He is trying to get the vampires to go clean, but they are finding the hunger difficult to fight.  Sally is having difficulty with simple tasks like holding a pencil, and Josh is trying to move on and re-apply for medical school. In the interim, we have learned that Nora had a miscarriage.  I was disappointed with this choice.  Miscarriage is far too often how writers deal with an unwanted pregnancy, rather than have the character make the decision to have an abortion.  In the real world, miscarriages just don't happen because a woman decides that she does not want the child. As a plot device miscarriage has become a clean easy tool for dealing with an unwanted pregnancy because it does not assert a position one way or another on the reproductive rights debate, even as it removes agency from female characters.

We learn that an ancient vampire known only as Mother is coming to town to deal with the void that Bishop's death has created.  Nora has moved into the house and she encourages Sally to get out explore the world. When she finds a paper about Sally's highschool reunion, Nora encourages her to attend. When Nora is finally left alone in the kitchen, she examines the scars on her arm from where Josh scratched her.  Clearly she is terrified of what she will become, but she has still not shared what happened with anyone. 

At the hospital, Tommy attacks a patient rather than waiting for Aidan to give him a bag of blood.  We learn that the arrival of Mother will mean a culling - the death of the vampires Bishop made without permission to protect the other families. This leaves Aidan to clean up the mess, after Josh bows out, because there are too many things he is trying to accomplish to get involved in vampire politics.

When Sally shows up at her reunion she meets Stevie, a ghost that killed himself at the age of 16.  She is excited to see him, and quickly announces that she will steal his thunder this year, until Stevie tells her that Diana Alcott died from malaria.  It seems that Diana was the most popular girl in their class.  When Diana shows up at the reunion, we learn that she has no memory of Stevie of Sally.

When Aidan arrives at the hotel to meet Mother, he sees Hegemen waiting for him.  Hegemen believes that Mother is in town to offer Aidan Boston, and that it is his duty to accept the responsibility without any question, because this is the traditional way. Hegemen recommends culling, but when asked by Mother, Aidan recommends mercy, in the belief that these vampires are being painted in the same brush that they painted Bishop with.  Mother simply brushes aside Aidan's opinion, and announces that her daughter will lead Boston. This causes some reservation from the council, and Hegemen questions her fitness to lead, and implies that she is not stable. Mother promises that if her daughter succeeds, that she will grant Aidan true release from all of this and to ignore his heresy (by this assume she means Aidan's desire to go clean)

Wednesday Reboot: Rise of the Lycans

The Rise of the Lycans begins with a flashback to the creation of both species.  We learn that originally once someone became a Lycan that there were unable to ever take human form again until the birth of Lucian, who became known as the first lycan. Victor's initial reaction was to kill the child after slaying his mother, but the decided that he could use Lucian to his advantage.  He began throwing in human slaves in with Lucian when he was hungry and driven by the need to feed, Lucian bit them, thus creating the first in a series of sentient lycans.

Those who are familiar with the series, would find much of this movie to be repetitive. In Underworld we learned that Victor had his daughter killed when she revealed that she was pregnant with Lucian's child.  Lucian made it clear that this was the start of the war between Lycans and vampires.  This means that there were absolutely no surprises in Rise of the Lycans, and yet I can easily say that it was better than Underworld Evolution. I will however acknowledge that at least in part my feelings on this is because Underworld Evolution was a horribly bad movie filmed by a director who seemed to have no idea what to do with this story. Essentially, Rise of the Lycans is Romeo and Juliet with vamps and were thrown in for fun.

Rise of the Lycans continues to the trends of having screen after screen filled with White characters, though we did get to see how Lucian formed his friendship with Raze played by Kevin Grevioux.  Unfortunately, I cannot be excited at seeing the origins of yet another Black sidekick role.  Once again the chosen one, which is the only apt way to describe Lucian, is a White man.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Sneak Peak of Being Human Season 2, Episode 2

The nice people at Syfy have sent us this preview of the next episode of Being Human (US) - Do You Really Want to Hurt Me.

It will air Monday at 10:00pm EST and we will have our review up on Wednesday.

Fangs for the Fantasy podcast, episode 48

Today we discuss our usual shows - Vampire Diaries, Secret Circle, Once Upon a Time, Grimm

We also discuss our weekly book Skinwalker by Faith Hunter

Joseph Morgan Talks About The Vampire Diaries and What's Coming Up for Klaus

Once Upon a Time, Season 1, Episode 9: True North

This week we have the story of Hansel and Gretel and in a twist in the tale they are lost in the woods and separated from their father and they quickly fall into the snare of the Wicked Witch (Regina)., breakling the compass that’s supposed to find their father in the process. Regina plans to use them to steal something from a blind witch since children are immune to her magic.

Unfortunately, Hansel is tempted by the sweets and cakes and eats something in her house – revealing them to the Blind Witch who intends to eat them. But, really blind Witch, gravy or butter? Children should always be wrapped in bacon! Of course the Blind Witch is roasted and we learn that the Wicked Witch is gravy fan.

The kids recover the magical apple for the Wicked Witch and the Wicked Witch decides to reward them by letting them live with her in a castle with all their whims catered for. But Gretel wants her family – not the wealth and luxury that the Queen can give. The queen cannot understand why they could refuse her for him – not knowing the power of family.

We begin with poor Henry being tricked by Josef and Ara (Hansel and Gretel) so it looks like he has stolen from the local shop (and we also have that wonderful parts of this show of trying to guess the identity of the townsfolk. Is the sneezing shop keeper Sneezy of the 7 dwarfs perhaps?). But when Emma arrives it’s clear they’re not just kids stealing sweets – but kids trying to help their impoverished family. Emma believes this and takes them home with their supplies.

Except they have no parents and live in an abandoned house – and Emma is very very good at spotting people who lie to her – she brings them home and consults Mary Magdalen (the school teacher who I’d have thought may have noticed? But then the effects of the curse have many consequences). Mary mentions social services, but Emma lived through being in care and knows it is far from an ideal situation for children – and is determined to find their father rather than see them separated or bounced from home to home.

Of course, Regina has to be involved, takes their birth certificates and is determined to put them into the foster system where they will split up into 2 homes in Boston. 

Review: Kitty and the Dead Man's Hand, by Carrie Vaughn, Book 5 of the Kitty Norville Series

Kitty is getting married and the plans are consuming her life. Wouldn’t it be relaxing if she and Ben could just elope? And if you’re going to Elope, why not do it properly and head for Vegas?

Of course, what should have been the simple option quickly becomes much much more complex. First there’s her producer who thinks Vegas would be the perfect opportunity for her to have her first real television show, which takes a lot of preparation

Then she finds out there’s a gun show full of werewolf hunters with silver bullets in her hotel.

Then there’s the poker tournament and mob plot that ben gets himself involved in.

Meanwhile , Kitty finds herself investigating the Master of the City, lycanthrope animal acts and a magician who may actually be the real thing.

And then Tiamat, goddess of chaos gets involved and it gets really exciting.

What was the point of that?

I’m sorry, but that’s my main response to this book. At the end of the last book I was on a bhigh, Kitty was the new alpha, she was developing a relationship with Ben and she was dealing with a major family issue of her mother’s cancer. She also has to sort out her new pack which is bound to have teething troubles as well as consider where she stands with Rick as the new Master Vampire of Denver and what that entails. And, of course, Cormac is still in gaol. Sounds like a great story, right?

So instead we went to Vegas so they could elope. Left all of that behind – the pause button has been pressed, it’s time for an intermission, it seems.

And then there follows a huge long series of irrelevancies and things that just don’t make a lot of sense. Kitty decides that it’s a great chance to have her first televised show in front of a live audience while she’s getting married (rather than having it at another time, y’know as would make sense).

Monday, January 16, 2012

Grimm stars David Giuntoli and Silas Weir Mitchell Talk About Interacting With Fans and What to Expect in Upcoming Episodes

Review of The Sanctuary Season Two

The best episodes of season two were the first two.  I am not saying that it was all downhill from there, just that it was hard to top the emotion that the scooby gang, yes that's what I am calling them went through with Ashley's death.  It really humanized Magnus to watch as she searched for any clue that her daughter might possibly be alive.  I could really feel her pain as a mother, and I loved watching Will turn from just another sidekick into a true anchor for her. In the end, I think that Ashley died so that the audience could get a sense of jeopardy from the show.  If week after week the scooby gang fights impossible odds and survives then there is no real tension. With Ashley dead they created the possibility that a cast member that we have grown to care about could actually die at some point.

I don't think that Magnus becomes any less irritating this season.  This in part is because the writers insist on inserting her in history to validate the fact that she is 158 years old. Did you know that she was even on the Titanic and was saved by the unsinkable Molly Brown? I have to admit I rolled my eyes at that one.  Who is this woman, Forest Gump? I know, I know, Momma always said that life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you're going to get.   Is it possible that there is a historical moment in which she did not participate, or a historical person that she did not meet? 

This season we finally got the introduction of a regular character of colour.  Kate Freelander who is played by Agam Darshi is forced to turn to the Sanctuary after being captured by the scooby gang and she is deemed compromised by the cabal. At first she is resistant to becoming a part of the sanctuary but she eventually takes Ashley's place.  Her loyalty is tested twice with the most obvious being the episode in which she meets Jimmy, a former gang member that Magnus is trying to help.  Jimmy as it turns out, is the man that killed her father.  This is a growth episode for Kate, as she realizes that she could have been Jimmy and that she alone is responsible for how her life turned out. In typical paternalistic fashion, Magnus reminds her that she still has her whole life in front of her.

One of the more touching episodes this season is Fragments.  An abnormal named Jack who communicates with sign language attacks Rachel, the woman that Henry loves.  Jack's food is poisoned to encourage him to kill Henry because Gerald rightfully believes that Henry has become the third wheel in his marriage.  This episode is all about accepting ourselves for who we are and believing that we are worthy of love.  In the end, Henry lets Rachel go, though she professes her love for him, because he fears that it will hurt his friend Gerald. One thing I am confused about, as a far Henry's characters goes, is the idea that he would never be able to be human again if he transforms to a wolf.  

Review: Sins of the Night by Sherrilyn Kenyon, book 6 of the Dark Hunter Series

Discontent is brewing among the Dark Hunters of Mississippi, Stryker, leader of the Spathi, an ancient order of warrior Daimons, is stirring up discontent against Acheron.

And Acheron looks on in sadness, not because the Dark hunters can rise up against him, but because he cannot risk the powerful Dark Hunters abusing humanity; already some of them have taken to feeding on humans and working with Daimons rather than against them. Acheron sends the Alexion, his right hand, to give them a last chance to turn away from rebellion and Stryker’s lies. Not for Acheron’s sake – but so Acheron is spared from having to kill them. Doubly important for Alexion – because the leader of the rebellion is a man he once considered a brother

But Stryker has another plot – while destroying the Dark Hunters is always a goal, he also seeks revenge for the death of his son – a revenge that will be paid in Acheron’s pain. And Alexion, who has been his right hand for 9,000 years, is a perfect target for this.

And in the middle of this conflict is the Dark Huntress, Danger. Approached by the rebels, she doesn’t know what to think and having Alexion taking up residence in her house doesn’t make things easier – not least of which because of the spark of attraction that fired between them.

So we’re following Danger… Danger? Really, Danger? What, was this book co-written by JR Ward? Couldn’t it at least be Dhanger? Anyway, Danger is supposed to be French and occasionally drops French in her dialogue. I don’t know what it is about the character, but she didn’t feel authentic, to such a degree that I was confused by the sudden inclusion of French, having forgotten her nationality. But we had enough musings about the French revolution for me to be rather irritated in the revisionism of aristocrat abuses, but that’s reasonable considering that Danger was from one of those guillotined families.

Plotwise… I’m not entirely sure what the point of this book was. We’ve left New Orleans behind and moved to a new group of Dark Hunters in Mississippi, but we don’t really even establish a new cast there, maybe a few names here and there but the area hasn’t been established sufficiently to make me think this going to be a new “hub” for stories, especially since Danger (oh dear gods that name. was Dangereuse really a name for a girl in pre-revolution France, really?) is no longer in the picture. So we left our old cast, didn’t really develop a new one and all that’s really been shown is – zomg look how powerful Acheron is. Which, well, we kind of knew. There were some hints and tips along the way to fill in a few gaps, but on the whole this book felt like a big “let’s make it clear how awesome Acheron is.” Maybe Alexion and Danger will become more established characters and this is their introduction.

So I can’t say the plot enthralled me a great deal because, at book 7 in the series (or more depending on how you count, the Dark Hunter series being a little tangled) I expect the plot to fit in somewhere with the larger ongoing story and instead this seems vaguely clung to the side. I also don’t see the characters actually driving the plot. Alexion is here to convince the Dark Hunters to mend their ways or be smote most viciously. And that’s pretty much how he does it as well “cut it out or there will be smiting!” he doesn’t particularly spend time convincing people, relaxing Acheron’s secrecy or anything that might diffuse the situation. Nope, it’s wander around delivering smiting threats and having sex with Danger. They don't do enough - they have a time limit in which to try and save these Dark Hunters from themselves and they spend most of their time twiddling their thumbs - where's the action and the urgency?

Being Human Q&A With Sam Witwer, Sam Huntington and Meaghan Rath

Hello everyone, this week we had a chance to participate in a tele conference with the start of Being Human U.S.  Unfortunately, the transcript of the call is really quite long and we aren't able to share all of it with you.  Below you will find a few what we deem to be the best questions and responses.

Bill Brennan: Hi everyone, thanks so much for joining us today, we’re very excited with the season two premiere of Being Human, it’s this Monday, January 16 at 9:00 Eastern Pacific.

And we’ve got Sam Witwer, Sam Huntington and Meaghan Rath with us today. So with that I’ll turn it over to the Q&A with Sam, Sam and Meaghan.      

Renee Martin: Being Human was originally a British show, Being Human UK so I was wondering if any of you have watched it and do you feel this coming season is a chance to break away from the original because I do know that the first season very closely matched the first season of Being Human UK.

Sam Witwer:
Well this season - sorry, Meaghan you want to go?

Meaghan Rath: No, go ahead.

Sam Witwer: We as actors we didn’t watch the British series when we were shooting our first season because we wanted to do our own thing. We wanted to make sure that ours was its own animal.

And then afterward we watched it. We watched everything. I love their show and I truly dig on it and I got Sammy and Meaghan started by buying them the box sets for season one and they watched it since then, watched more of it since then.

And you know we’re all into it, but the writers, our writers hate it. No just kidding. Our writers, no our writers for the same reason that we avoided watching season one, they’ve avoided watching season two because they want season two to be its own animal.

So any - there is a little bit of cross over here and there in terms of things happening sometimes in similar ways. But it’s really coincidental considering our writers didn’t even know. So it’s interesting, whenever something would happen that was similar I’d read it in the script and kind of laugh.

Because they have no idea, but you know it’s for the most part extremely different.

Renee Martin: Okay so do you think then this difference will stop the ongoing comparisons between the two shows because right now there’s currently a lot of online talk about which version is better.

Sam Witwer: No, it won’t stop it.

Meaghan Rath: I don’t think it will stop, no, because it is the - founded on the same situations, they’re both the same show. But I mean that’s okay with me, I don’t mind that because I also like Sam was saying I’m a huge fan of the British one.

And I’m very positive in the second season that it does differ in a huge way. And you know and I’m - we’re the same family but different kind of - we’re different cultures and I don’t know, I’m happy to be associated with them and I’m excited for the day that we actually meet.
Sam Huntington: Yeah me too, I really want to meet them. I think also we’d probably be singing a different tune if it was more negative. To be honest I think they’ve been so kind to us, you know primarily.

The people who are fans of the BBC series or were first fans of the BBC series have really embraced our show and I think if they were really hating on it we’d be ready for them to be like uh guys, you know what we are our own thing.

And like listen, we embrace that, the fact that this season we are like Sam said like there’s some small cross overs but for the most part we are - and they are unintentional. We are our own beast.

And - but yeah, I think we’d be a lot more eager to have the comparisons cease if they were negative comparisons. Right?

Sam Witwer: No, absolutely. I think that people have their preferences and it isn’t - for example if someone says hey I like the British version better, I’m not going to sit there and go whoa you’re wrong.

I’ll be like no, I see why, it’s different, there are different things. Personally when I watched the two shows, when I was watching you know just going through theirs and watching our season one versus their season one.

And I was kind of torn because I’d see stuff and I’d go oh they really nailed that moment in a way that we didn’t’. They - yeah, that’s better.

Oh I like this better about theirs, and then I’d see other stuff and go oh but you know what, I like ours better on this, or we had a better take on this, and so I personally I mean considering I’m so close to it I could never say which is objectively better.

And frankly I don’t know that most people could objectively say that, I think it’s more of a taste thing.

Sam Huntington: I think one of the reasons is because you watch them at the exact same time on two different televisions.

Sam Witwer: Very strange, it was like stereo but I found a way to actually lock one of my eyes on one television and one of my eyes on the other.

Sam Huntington: Is that why you look like some kind of platypus this year, it’s bizarre.

Sam Witwer: I look the guy from Young Frankenstein, I look like Igor.

Sam Huntington: That’s exactly right.

Sam Witwer: But - and that’s also why I was vomiting that day because it really had...

Sam Huntington:
A really negative effect physically.

Sam Witwer: Yeah.

Sam Huntington: Sorry, are you still there?

Renee Martin: Thank you.

Sam Huntington:
There you are.

Renee Martin: Thank you very much.

Sam Witwer:
Thank you.

Meaghan Rath: Thank you.

Curt Wagner: Sam hello from Chicago.

Sam Huntington: Hey what’s up Curt?

Meaghan Rath: Hello.

Curt Wagner: I was wondering, it seems like your characters this season are sort of tempted by the darker parts of their natures. And are put in situations where that comes out.

I was wondering how you maintain sort of their humanity when playing the dark parts and what kind of challenges there are in doing that.

Sam Witwer: Well Sam - Meg go for it.

Meaghan Rath: I was going to say I mean it’s - I think for me it’s important to keep in mind that these are real people and not to get sucked into the supernatural element of the whole thing.

What makes the show different is that we’re playing into the supernatural stereotypes, we are trying to play these as regular people.

So for me it’s a lot about just keeping in mind what I would do in this kind of situation and what’s great about the show is that it’s really acting, what would you do if you were put in this situation.

And so I think that’s where the humanity comes from, just being a good person and being with these challenges that sort of question your morality and your values.

Sam Witwer: Yeah I think Meaghan is absolutely right with that. For example in television we’ve kind of seen everything including vampires, werewolves and ghosts and we’ve seen people get killed and all kinds of crazy stuff.

What we’re trying to do as three actors is we’re trying to bring as much humanity into those events as possible. For example if someone dies, we’re going to show you - hopefully we’re going to tell a story where you realize that that is an awful sacrifice or that something has happened that is really, really terrible.

It’s all about the character’s reactions and I mean these three characters are the eyes through which the audience watches the show.

So we’re really trying to keep our reactions to all this giant supernatural stuff very grounded. And in terms of the dark stuff that comes up, I mean the messed up thing is that at first you’ll see our characters react with horror and shame and all this awful stuff.

And then as time goes on you might see them kind of get used to it and that hopefully will be a very sad thing to watch.

Sam Huntington: Yeah, I think you just kind of hit the nail on the head. I mean a lot of times on the show I can say I think the characters are almost seeing these horrible things happen for the first time, so they’re almost like the audience.

You know they’re viewing these things and so hopefully that’s what the audience can kind of grasp on to and also it helps as an actor it helps in form what you do.

Because you’re like okay well what if this person was killed, what would the ramifications, what emotionally what would that mean to me and how would that affect me and how would that affect every aspect of my life.

And so it’s cool. It sets the show aside, we don’t just roll over these issues, we actually tackle them.

Curt Wagner: All right, thanks, and then Sam Witwer I was going to ask you if you - what did you do or what did you experience growing up in the Chicago area that prepared you to live the life of an undead vampire?

Sam Huntington: It was the pizza, is that...?

Sam Witwer: Yeah, I ate a lot of Chicago pizza. I hid out in my basement with my band so I didn’t see the light a lot. There it is. You know everyone wonders why the hell he’s so pale, well it’s because I’ve been training myself to be this pale.

Sam Huntington: You literally can’t get a tan now.

Sam Witwer: No, I can’t. I think I’ve lost the ability. Yeah, my skin has lost the ability to create melanin. No, I actually am telling a little bit of the truth in that me and my friends were all night people.

And we wouldn’t wake up if we didn’t have to for school or something we wouldn’t wake up till noon or one.

And we all knew, don’t call your buddy before noon, that’s rude, that’s not cool. So there’s my vampire training right there.

Curt Wagner: All right cool.

Sam Huntington: And you’re still kind of like that when you’re not working, you know what I mean? Like I’m afraid to call you.

Meaghan Rath: Still hiding out in your parent’s basement.

Sam Witwer: Yep.

Curt Wagner: Awesome. All right, thanks guys.

Sam Witwer: Thanks sir.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Turn This Mother Out - Sneak Peek - Being Human : Episode 201

Grimm, Season 1, Episode 8: Game Ogre

“Fee fi fo fum, I smell the blood of an Englishman”

Or so starts this week’s Grimm after a long hiatus. So giants, eating people and possibly dodgy British accents? 

So we have a bloke in his rather nice study when another not-nice man breaks through the window and starts beating him up pretty badly – and the assailant is damn tough judging by the bullet he took that didn’t phase him and the repeated blows to the head.

Very messy – and the man, judge Logan Pattinson, is found by Sergeant Wu and his partner while in his car the attacker goes all monstery patching up his wounds, taking out the bullet and throwing away a hand – as you do. In comes Nick and Hank. And because it’s a judge who died, the police chief (bad monster police chief) turns out as well. Apparently he was a good judge, we know this because we’re told so repeatedly, so I thought it worth mentioning (every character on the show did, after all).

Fingerprint on the gavel leads Hank and Chief to a man’s body with one hand and a woman’s watch. It’s beginning to look like some kind of murder trail – puzzles on puzzles! But Nick calls Eddie his Grimopedia because he is, actually, a clockmaker! Yes they are calling him for what he does rather than what he is. I think this is the first time Hank has met Eddie since Nick tried to have him arrested – Hank doesn’t remember that apparently. The time and date has been glued in place – ohhh great big clue in the chain. Eddie is just adorkably nervous. He makes this show.

The clue leads to a Mary Robinson – assistant DA who Hank knows. Next step in the chain is, yes a dead Assistant DA. It’s like a party game! But with more bodies. At the end you’ll probably find Miss Marple looking all smug. Her tongue has been cut out and put on a scale (that’s Mary Robinson’s tongue, not Miss Marple’s) which is imaginatively gruesome. But it’s Hank who figures out the clues.
The victims are the judge, jury foreman and ADA who sent a very unpleasant murderer to prison – a case that Hank worked on. And that makes Hank the next victim – and Hank very reluctantly pushed into protective custody.

The Secret Circle, Season 1, Episode 11: Fire/Ice

Hone your teen angst, be prepared for love triangles, top up the whiskey glass, it’s time for another Secret Circle.

We open with Cassie having a sleep over at Chief Scooby Diana’s and Cassie starts us off by showing her usual skilful decision making. Firstly because she wants to experiment more with the super dark, scary dark magic and secondly by wishing Jake – yes, the witch hunting witch – were back and worrying that he’s not in town. Remind me again why Jake not coming back is a bad thing? But Cassie is worried because it weakens the Circle not having him

Ok, why why why does the Circle need more power? I mean, the only established antagonists we have seen that Cassie & Co are even aware of in this series have been the witch hunters (Jake’s buddies). They know nothing about the nefarious actions of the evil parents and the only other threat they’ve faced has been the demon that they, themselves, released. So why the need for a complete circle and more power? They have no enemies – the enemy to show her head has been Kate, Diana’s grandmother and Cassie was already strong enough to thwart her. It’s one of the weakest points of Secret Circle is that all the magic they do is a matter of curiosity yet they continually treat it as desperate life and death. If the protagonists are going to have this “under siege” mentality then they need to be, y’know, actually sieged. Or have a nemesis, an enemy, gods someone who looks at them funny and says mean things! Something.

Anyway, I digress, Diana actually talks sense to Cassie about how wanting the witch hunters to come back is a bad idea and they decide to spell their clothes for a school dance (oh dear, highschool drama incoming) instead. Y’know at least Charm’s spells rhymed. Would it have killed them to rhyme? When it’s just a random sentence why don’t they just say “Red! Be red!” Why even have spell books if these are your spells?

Wow, I’m not 5 minutes in and I’m already poking holes. Or poking at holes, rather.
Anyway, the spell didn’t work and Cassie burned the dress instead. Well, we assume it’s Cassie, since her dark magic raised its head she’s kind of on a self-blame for everything kick. Rains tomorrow? Cassie’s fault. Car won’t start? Totally Cassie’s fault. And yes – Cassie angst kicks in!
Meanwhile Adam and his father are having a heart-to-heart about Adam’s lovelife. Uh-huh because that’s not odd. And Adam’s father, the alcoholic, hasn’t had a drink in 2 weeks and seems to have no signs of withdrawal at all?

And Melissa needs to spend some time helping Diana since she’s not helping Faye any more. She’s a helper, guys! And totally not a character-less side-kick looking for a boss to serve to justify 3 seconds of token screen time! So  she’s here to help Chief Scooby with the Dance – oh and Holden? Who appeared for like 5 minutes before the hiatus? He’s gone away again – what did they just change their mind on that storyline? Or are they so used to POC being token inclusions that the idea of having 2 of them on screen at the same time just made no sense? Anyway, all 3 of them can now play dance organisers and for some unknown reason Faye is dragged into it as well. 

Speaking of Faye, White Voodoo boy of the completely unnecessary storyline is still hanging around – and Faye is still a Mean Girl. This character is becoming nearly as pointless as Melissa, and much more annoying. Perhaps in an attempt to make her relevant again, Faye takes the next step from Mean Girl to Bad Guy when Voodoo guy says the spell they have will drain Cassie’s black magic and put it in Faye – because that’s not a bad idea.

Meanwhile Cassie is still pining after the Evil Sexy One, Jake, and she and Adam oh the puppy dog eyes and wet lettuceness are researching Cassie’s dad – and rather than get her birth certificate so they can do it legally, instead they decide to distract the nice clerk and do it clandestinely. Thankfully, said clerk is a fool. And they find out that the Scooby Shack actually belonged to Cassie’s dad at one time – and the Scooby Shack is on a powerful magical place. And Adam of the Wet Lettuce keeps trying to flirt with Cassie, but Cassie isn’t willing to swoop on Chief Scooby Diana’s ex – teen angst time! But at the dance we have Melissa playing supporter to Diana as she leaps back into the dating scene so we can have another love triangle as she dances with a guy and Wet Lettuce Adam watches. And then Adam and Diana get to mope at each other. Mooooare angst! MOOOOAR!