Saturday, February 4, 2012

Creator Robert Kirkman and Producer/Showrunner Glen Mazzara Talk About What’s Coming Up on Season 2 of THE WALKING DEAD

On February 12th, the hit zombie series The Walking Dead returns to AMC. Picking up just where the last episode and big reveal left off, that huge event rocks all of the characters to their core, leading some of them down surprising paths in the last six episodes of Season 2. While zombies are always a terrifying threat, a new human threat is looming, as the capacity for humans to hurt each other proves infinite.

While at the TCA Winter Press Tour, executive producer/writer/comic book creator Robert Kirkman and executive producer/showrunner Glen Mazzara talked about the slow build-up during the first half of the season, how the second half will accelerate the storytelling, the decision to introduce a new human threat, fan favorite characters from the comics who will likely appear sooner rather than later, the hope to bring Lennie James back at some point, and whether the possible concept ideas that former showrunner Frank Darabont had for Season 2 could ever have happened. Kirkman also talked about where the comic book series is headed, and the types of comic book titles he’s looking to release through his publishing label. Check out what they had to say after the jump, and be aware that there are some spoilers:

Question: Where does the first episode back pick up?

GLEN MAZZARA: Five seconds later. After the finale, finding Sophia in the barn is just a huge event that rocks our characters and changes everything on the farm. So, I think the stakes are much higher and people are dealing with a lot more. The storytelling becomes denser and just brings everything to a full boil. 

Looking back, do you regret taking several episodes to look for Sophia?

ROBERT KIRKMAN: I think it was important to take the time to get to know our characters. It’s a good thing to lull people into a false sense of security, when the characters are experiencing a false sense of security. I think their time spent on the farm made the Sophia reveal that much bigger of a payoff, but is also going to inform just how the last six episodes are interpreted. I think, if they didn’t have that moment of calm, where we got to know our characters a little bit better and we got a sense that things were looking pretty good for them, this farm would have been a great place for them to be. In the next half of the episodes, we’re going to see that the farm isn’t that great a place. You have to build up what they have, before you can take it away. That’s really what makes the story more interesting. 

MAZZARA: Yeah, I think we have a story that we’re telling over 13 episodes. That first half had a great payoff, and the second half accelerates the storytelling. I don’t know if we’d say that we regret any of the episodes that we did. I’m proud of those episodes and, if some people feel that some of those episodes were slower than others, I could argue that we were spending time with our characters. 

Were you surprised that audiences had a hard time with the slow build?

MAZZARA: Well, I could make the case that that’s true for a certain segment of the audience. People have expectations about the show, and the show is a difficult show to write because, if we have a zombie attack every week, people say it’s the zombie-of-the-week. And, if we don’t have zombies, people say there are no zombies. So, it’s a challenging situation. I think that we’ve looked at making each episode as interesting and as compelling as possible. I think we get better at that, as it goes on. There might be some folks who would love for the show to be more of a video game. I’ll say this: the show is improving. If there were episodes that felt as if they were stalling, or that they weren’t under threat, and that perhaps the farm felt too safe and the threats were outside off the farm, a lot of that changes, in the back part of the season. I think that things pick up. It just becomes more accelerated. The stakes are higher, it’s more action-packed and it’s more interesting. By the end of these six episodes, hopefully those fans will agree that this is a thrill ride because we really do feel there are huge pay-offs, coming up in each episode. You won’t have to wait for just the last episode. Maybe there weren’t pay-offs, along the way.

KIRKMAN: I think that building to that reveal of Sophia was a pay-off that we were working towards, and I think we did a good job of working towards it. I would also like to say that the Sophia reveal is really the beginning of an escalation that takes us all the way through to the end of our season. We started out searching for Sophia, and then things got a little bit heightened, when we found her in the barn. That’s going to lead to a lot of conflict. That’s going to lead to a new threat on the horizon, that you’ll see in our first episode back, which is really going to dovetail into a big series of events that’s going to lead us to our finale. So, having that big escalation would not work as well, we feel, if we didn’t have those episodes. We recognize this criticism, and it is valid, but we are working on a 13-piece puzzle that, as a whole, should be seen in a different light. We’re hoping that, when it’s all put together, people will see that it all came together in a good way. 

MAZZARA: I think people will be satisfied, by the end of this run. You learn how to do a show, as you’re writing it. The story material reveals itself, so if there’s a way to break down that criticism and look at it moving forward, that’s valid. 

Read the rest of the interview here.

The Secret Circle, Season 1, Episode 13: Medallion

So, after completely destroying its canon in the last episode, Secret Circle went on hiatus for a week. Now it’s time to catch up and see if they can put the pieces back together again.

And we begin with teen angst. Adam just can’t believe Cassie dug up her father with Jake. I mean with Jake – how could she! And just when the sad Wed Lettuce eyes were finally starting to take effect, that’s so sad and mean! How could you not have invited Adam to your grave desecration! (Exhumation of her father’s corpse is less important than the fact she did it with Jake.) Adam continues to have a little pout about the big bad Jake.

I could almost, ALMOST, see Adam, the Wet Lettuce, as having a point by saying that she’s going really fast to find out about her power, taking risks, for no good reasons. Except he made common sense all about jealousy because the Wet Lettuce doesn’t want Jake coming between them (because they kissed once and now they’re fiiiiinnnnalllllyy together. One kiss man. One. I know it’s been a while for you since you broke up with Diana, Chief Scooby, but seriously, one kiss. Does that even count as an “us” for Jake to get between?) Never mind that there’s no real reason to be hurried here, never mind that there’s actually. Never mind that the Witch Hunter rituals are about 8,000 times less threatening than a guy just stabbing you with a nice, common knife.

Ok rant over. On with what I will call (with deep reservations) the plot.

Cassie meets Lucy Gibbons, a psychic who was on the boat during the big witch hunter fire. As a younger woman, she saw Cassie’s spectral self visiting Jake’s memory and told Cassie to get out – she’s not tracked Cassie down since her memory of that fire has changed to include meeting Cassie. And she’s here to warn Cassie about the Witch Hunters (the guys who really need to just get a gun). Then she disappears again.

This causes Cassie and Jake to do some unwise experimenting with dark magic, as you do, which ends up with them in awkward, accidental sexy hold while Adam comes and catches them. Angst and jealousy, yay. And Adam is again using Common Sense because they have a whole circle of magic to protect themselves – they should be playing with THAT magic that they don’t understand rather than Cassie’s magic that they don’t understand. What a choice!  

Cassie, naturally, chooses dark magic because Sexy!Evil Jake says so and they go tracking down Lucy who has a ritual to open up the Blacoin amulet to allow more lovely dark magic they can’t control. Sadly, Adam has decided he needs to protect Cassie from herself by stealing her amulet! Go go patriarchal, patronising control! Though Adam does redeem somewhat by giving it back and saying he has no right to make decisions for her. See, this is the problem with Spunky Agency, because while I think Adam is grossly out of line and patronising to try and make this decision for Cassie, Cassie’s own awful decision making makes me think someone has to! Also, again with Adam’s opposition being all about jealousy when there are perfectly sensible reasons to oppose Cassie’s black magic palooza.

The Vampire Diaries Season Three: Episode Thirteen: Bringing Out the Dead

When I reached the end of this episode, I kept thinking that the writers probably saw this episode as a real game changer, and then proceeded to laugh my ever lovin' ass off.  I don't even know where to begin talking about it.
Last episode, Damon finally got smart and pulled the dagger from Elijah's body, and sent him back to Klaus, with a note in his pocket informing him that they needed to have a chat.  This is exactly what Elena should have done when she returned the vampire cheerleader known as Rebekah to Klaus.  Elijah comes out of his coffin swinging, but then Klaus promises to tell him everything, and reminds him of his oath of loyalty to him. 

Before going off to meet with Klaus, Damon and Stefan have yet another spat, in which they both agree that they don't trust each other.  This of course has everything to do with Elena, because clearly they have both acted numerous times to protect each other from the threat of other vampires.  Beyond being a beautiful young woman, I simply don't understand the fascination with her.

This week, sheriff Liz got pulled out of the plot box long enough to tell Elena that the dagger they found in the dead man, only has her fingerprints on it.  Suspicion is immediately placed on Meredith, but Elena casts that aside, simply stating that she does not believe that Alaric can have that kind of bad luck with women.  Yeah logic, she has none.

In the meantime, it seems that Bill Forbes was attacked and killed when he was in the hospital, but because Dr. Fell had injected him with vampire blood to cure his wounds, he is now essentially a vampire.  All he needs to do to complete the process is to consume human blood. The ever so noble Bill decides that he would rather die than become a vampire.  Don't you love how self preservation instincts just flew out the window there.  I have never liked Bill and his aversion therapy, but he is the only gay character on the show, and I am disgusted that the writers so easily killed him off.  I am further disgusted that he choose suicide, because  he couldn't live with what he had become, in a culture in which gay teens are committing suicide. Is anyone who isn't a minority ever going to be in threat of dying on The Vampire Diaries?

Caroline decides that she is going to force Bill to drink blood, but Elena intervenes to lecture her about respecting Bill's choices.  Really?  Is this woman for real?  Since when does she support a policy of non interference? This is a woman who has had Jeremy's mind cleared out, and his memories erased on more than one occasion, though she knows that he is specifically against this.  All of a sudden she is advocating for the bodily autonomy of another.  I suppose that because this didn't effect her, and the people that she supposedly loves, allowing them to choose is no big deal. Hypocrisy much? Elena does take care to point out that she knows what Caroline is feeling, because her father is also dead. Funny, I don't remember Elena having to watch as her father chose to die, but yeah, she can empathize with everyone.

Caroline stays with Bill and he comforts her by saying that no parent is supposed to outlive a child, and that this is what it means to be human. Oh Bill, so noble until the very end.  He dies as Caroline holds his hand, and Liz watches with tears in her eyes.

In the meantime, who should show up but Matt.  They really need to give his character his own storyline or get rid of him.  What purpose does he serve?  At Elena's house they walk in and find that Alaric has been attacked and there is blood all over the house. Elena begins to cry and is upset because she can't lose anymore family.  She asks Matt to wait with her for Alaric to wake up. Question, how come the magical ring worked this time, but the last time it failed and Alaric had to have some of Damon's blood to live?  I suppose consistency is not something the writers are big on.  It turns out that the good doctor was in surgery at the time of Alaric's assault, and is now officially cleared of attempting to murder the council members. Ooooh the smell of more mystery and yet another bad guy.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Review of Blood Cross by Faith Hunter: Book 2 of the Jane Yellowrock Series

Blood Cross is the second book in the Jane Yellowrock series.  When we last left Jane, though she had saved the day, Leo, the master of the New Orleans was not pleased, believing that she had killed his son, rather than killing the killer of his son.  In Blood Cross, Jane must hunt a dangerous rogue who is creating vampires and killing witches. 

But things are far from that simple - with witch magic and vampire powers coming together to try and overcome the ancient curse of the vampires - the fighting of reveals far more about the history of vampire kind

Beast is still pushing Jane and we learn that any maternal feelings Jane has actually belong to beast who refers to children as kits.  I really like this division as socially it is falsely constructed that all women love children and feel protective and loving around them.  Beast also wants to mate, and Jane is worried that the closer they get to the new moon, the more likely that Beast will choose one from her two suitors.  I love that Beast showed no shame in her sexual desires, though did find it problematic that this suggested mated was meant to be a sort of completion of Jane.

Jane herself is a wonderfully strong character. She's driven, arse kicking, completely lacking in spunky agency, capable of looking after herself but not ridiculously over perfect. She has doubts and concerns but she is never weak with them. She sets her own agenda, and covers it in a lovely lashing of snark and defiance that never drops into ridiculous Keillie Independence. About the only thing I didn't like over much beyond the mated=completion was the age-old trope of the protagonist blaming themselves for things that are not their fault and beyond their control.

In this novel we are introduced to our first gay token however he has no role beyond a 2 second reference. His name is Deon and he is the new cook over at Katies.
On the monitor, I watched Deon, who was slight of form, about five-seven, and gayer than a nineteen fifties chorus-line dancer, as he washed his hands before tackling sushi. (pg 173)
We don't anything about him beyond that fact that he is gay and chef. The rest of the novel is largely spent on heterosexual and cisgender characters; however, there is still plenty of appropriation going on:
Bliss was still in the witch closet (or maybe she didn't know she was a witch?) and any mention of magic use made her uncomfortable. (pg 60-61)
This is but one instance of many in which Hunter uses terms like coming out, or closeted to talk about a supernatural creature revealing its identity publicly.  This language is appropriation and does not consider the harm that the phenomenon of the closet causes to GLBT people.

Hunter also through in some transphobia for fun:

Existence is not Entitlement, Erasure is not Acceptable

'Right Through The Invisible Man' photo (c) 2011, Matthew - license:

As we have often made note of in this space, Urban Fantasy, Dystopian, Horror, and Steampunk is often filled with the erasure of GLBT people (note: a universal erasure applies to trans people) disabled people and people of colour.  The default as with all forms of media is to fall back on the most privileged bodies at all times. And it’s wall to wall - not only will the protagonist always be as privileged as possible, but so will most of the people who surround them as well.

And in the few cases were marginalised characters do exist, all is not rosy. It’s very rare for us to get more than a single token character; in fact, sometimes we’re lucky to get that - often we will see the odd marginalised face in a crowd scene, or someone referred to in passing without any real ‘screen’ time at all. When we do have them, the characters are often hollow. They have no real traits or personalities, no goals, no personhood - they’re just a placeholder for the necessary inclusion cookies. And, were that not problematic enough, usually they exist to serve the privileged protagonists - side-kicks, best friends, entourage, never people in their own right.

Of course, in the few occasions when they do have some traits, they normally fall into ridiculous, stereotyped tropes that are hardly progressive and serve to further “other” them while maintaining the supremacy of privileged people.

As we have mentioned in the past, gatekeepers do effect the ability of writers to include historically marginalized characters; however, they are not solely responsible for the dearth of representation.  Just like everyone else, writers are born into a discourse that privileges certain bodies and unless they have made a conscious effort to decolonize their minds and consider a world which may be outside of their lived experience, the tendency to repeat dominant social narratives becomes normalised. Even with writers who are aware of this phenomenon, they often fall into the trap of hunting for inclusion points by introducing the gay uncle or a wise negro to fulfill what they deem to be a quota rather than investing in these marginalized characters to the same degree that they invest in characters that come from a dominant sub group.

And this erasure costs. Our children grow up forever seeing themselves as not worth talking about, their stories not worth telling. And when they see themselves? They see themselves as less, or they see some caricature that’s supposed to be them but is barely human. This is why even today when Black children are asked to take the “doll test” they routinely invest the White doll with all positive traits and the Black doll with negative traits. Children learn at an early age to internalize the negative images and messages created by media, and this inevitably follows them all the days of their lives.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Review: Dark Side of the Moon by Sherrilyn Kenyon, Book 7 of the Dark Hunter Series

Susan is a journalist. An investigative reporter. Or she was before she lost everything when one story blew up in her face. The scandal of her mistake brought her down and stripped her of everything, her job, her boyfriend, her reputation, her home and everything she owned. Now in Seattle, she’s reduced to writing shock headlines for a dreadful supermarket tabloid – bat boy and Elvis sightings.

And then her whole world is so turned upside down that it makes her paper’s convoluted headlines seem almost sensible. Her best friends are talking about vampires in the police department, she brings home a cat that turns into a gorgeous naked guy – that she’s allergic too. And police are battering down her door and accusing her of murder. 

Ravyn, the former Arcadian Dark Hunter, has his own problems. The Daimons have allied with the mortal authorities in an effort to bring down all of Seattle’s Dark Hunters. Already one of them has fallen, arrested and left in a daylit cell and he himself was captured by animal control in his cat form. Rescued by Susan, he drags her into a world where the Daimons have changed all the rules and the only safety he can find is in his family’s sanctuary – a family that loathes him and blames him for so many of their loved one’s deaths centuries ago.

Now they have to save the city from the Daimons, try to keep the Dark Hunters alive and deal with the added complication of familial angst, were-hunter bonding and Savitar dropping the enraged and troubled Nick Gautier in their laps.

And, of course, Acheron is never around when you need him

Ok I’m going to start with some social justice issues then come back to the plot.

We do have some POC Dark Hunters in what is becoming a habit – whenever you have group scenes of Dark Hunters you will get the odd few who are POC. They show up, we’re given quick introductions showing they’re from Egypt/Japan/Sudan and then, of course, they have to leave because Dark Hunters can’t spend too much time together without draining each other – which is great and has good storylines, but we end up following the Nordic Greeks and other European Dark hunters
And yes, I put in the Nordic there for a reason – I’m no expert and please correct me if I’m wrong, but these extremely tall, pale folks aren’t what I picture when I think of Ancient Greeks and Romans.

We has some GBLT-ish inclusion here. In that Stryker – yes the big big bad guy, the leader of the Daimons, the ultimate evil guy, was in an orgy of men and women, showing what a perverse evil bad guy he was. But the orgy may have just been for blood (Daimons and Apollites must drink each other’s blood).

And we saw Zoe (briefly, for about 10 seconds). The Amazon. The man hating Amazon. The man hating Amazon with a sharp tongue who gives Acheron grief. Guess what? She’s a lesbian! I tell you I am shocked, shocked by this revelation.

Right – y’know erasure was good. Let’s go back to the erasure.

As to Susan, the lead female character – I have to say I love her. She’s prickly, she’s snarky, she’s strong and tough. She has been thrown up to her neck in the supernatural but neither falls apart in a sobbing mess nor does she completely take it in her stride (which would be unrealistic). She can kick arse (albeit a little convolutedly) she’s sensible and she’s generally a character I love. And, unlike previous books, the love is fast but not ultra fast and they have a little time for lust and spending time with each other before the twu luv woo-woo comes down.

Cover Snark: Bring on the Mantitteh!

We have done several cover snarks now that show endless depictions of women in body twisted, leg cramping positions to show their spilling cleavage and asses firmly held in extra-tight leather.

After so many sexualised images of women in these ridiculous poses, we feel the need to balance a little: BRING ON THE MANTITTEH!

It may tell you nothing about the book, nothing about the plot and nothing about the characters but ripple, waxed torsos decorate many a cover and sell many a book. And, of course they’re wonderful code for the steamy content within. (Actually, since we’re not the biggest fans of Paranormal Romance compared to Urban Fantasy, we often regard the Mantitteh as a warning sign for a book we won’t enjoy that much - MANTTITEH! Be warned, humping lies within!)

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Review Being Human, Season Two, Episode Three: All Out of Blood

Things continue to escalate for the worst with the three roommates.  After what can only be deemed a nightmare, a dark shadowy figure seems to be following Sally and she feels that it is out to get her in someway.  She is absolutely desperate for escape and when she learns that nurse Zoe Gonzales helps people to reincarnate into babies that are dying, Sally sees this as her chance not only to escape but to have a new life.  Neither Josh or Aidan are particularly supportive of the idea but do agree to sit down with Zoe to discuss Sally's potential.  Unfortunately for Sally, Zoe determines that she is too angry due to her attempt to kill her ex boyfriend.  In desperation Sally tells her that she is being stalked by a dark creature, but instead of softening Zoe's resolve this hardens it because in the body of a baby Sally would be completely defenseless. 

Taking things into her own hands, Sally enters the nursery when Zoe is not there.  She finds a little boy that is not disturbed by her presence and contemplates entering the child when the dark figure appears behind her, terrifying the child.  Sally screams for the dark figure to leave the child alone and pops out of the nursery.  When Zoe finds her, she is initially upset with Sally because of her initial intentions but agrees to help her because she chose to leave the child alone.

I decided to talk about Sally first mainly because Josh, Aidan and Nora's stories are interlaced to a large degree this week.  Josh rents two storage containers and buys a camera in order to record their change, but Nora is not enthused by the idea at all.  She wants to change with Josh, but he is adamant that this is dangerous. 

At the hospital, Aidan goes to use his key card to get some bagged blood only to discover that he has been locked out.  It seems that  the administration believes that the blood is being taken so that junkies can test clean on their blood tests.  This means that Aidan has lost his blood supply. For someone who is so determined to go clean, how is it that he didn't develop a back up plan? It's ridiculous because he has always known the repercussions of not being able to get blood when needed.

Review: An Artifical Night by Seanan Mcguire, book 3 of the October Daye Series

The Hunt is riding again. His hunt rides forth every 100 years and before it does it gathers new riders and steeds into the fold. But the source for these new recruits are children – fae children to ride, mortal children for horses and the nights before Samhain Michael recruits new steeds and riders from their homes.

And in comes October Daye. Her best friends have lost their children, the Court of Cats have lost children and her friend Quentin has lost his girlfriend to the Hunt and October, as a hero, isn’t going to let that happen. Even if her Fetch has arrived, predicting her imminent demise.

With the help of Luna, the Duchess of the Shadowed Halls and the ancient fae, the Luidaeg, she has to enter the lands of the hunt and retrieve the children. But she is entering a new world with this quest, playing by the rules of children’s games and songs, fighting with rhymes and half remembered rules of fairness in a world that isn’t bound to reality. 

And, of course, even if you manage to save people from the Huntsman, how do you stop him turning his eyes upon you?

I think in this book we had the most powerful feeling of what it means to be fae –not just in the series but perhaps in Urban Fantasy in general. The surreal, malleable world, the shifting reality and the low grade3, unnerving terror was powerful. But more so was the simple use of children’s stories, of fairness and of arcane rules to the games. It added to the surreality and the alienness of the world, even told through the familiarity of children’s rhymes. In a way it adds to the terror of it – because these aren’t creatures that follow the rules and mores of adult society – not even of adult thinking – they are literally creatures of nightmares and as alien and incomprehensible as those nightmares.

This links with the huge richness of the world here to make something which is both epic and wondrous with lots of shinies and lots of surreal terrors.

The plot has an interesting element in that you think it’s solved and then realise – wait, I’m only half way through. And then we’d have a new chapter, a new start, a new twist. And then you think it’s resolved a second time, but again there’s a new chapter, a new twist to the tale. In other books I’ve found that irritating – but largely because there hasn’t been enough coherence between the stages. In this book each section of the tale naturally leads into the next. I also like it because we’re very much reading things through an almost fairy tale lens – and fairy tales end far too neatly with their “happy ever after”. Each “ending” would have been a great fairy tale ending – and then they all lived happily ever after, but what about the consequences? Does the story really end there? Are there no loose ends? So I quite liked it, I felt it was  rejection of the simple, pat ending.

Wednesday Reboot: Vampires Suck

Vampires Suck was released in 2010 and stars Jenn Proske, Matt Lanter and Diedrich Bader.  This movie is essentially a spoof of the Twilight saga in which, Rebecca must choose between Edward Sullen a vampire and Jacob White a werewolf.  Many of the scenes thave have become iconic in the series have been recreated with a huge spin.

Jenn Proske who plays Becca does a wonderful job of mimicking Kristen Stewart's portrayal of  Bella Swan.  From the constant lip biting, incoherent mumbling and blank meaningless stares, Proske has her down cold.  For his part Lanter who plays Edward does a passable job mocking Edward while proving just how emo his character truly is.

The movie opens with a brawl between team Eward and Team Jacob fans as Bella rushes to stop Edward from exposing himself.  Of course this was meant specifically attack the large female teenage audience of the series and construct them as gullible and angst ridden.  This in and of itself is almost paternalistic in its desire to control the viewing of young women.  To be sure, there are certainly problems with Twilight but critique based simply in the gender of those who are fans of the series is wrong.

The entire aim of Vampires Suck, is to skewer many of the negative images in the original text. It attacks the abstinence message by having  Rebecca bite Edward's abstinence ring from his finger. Rebecca pushes Edward forcefully and he is forced to slam her head with a lamp in order to fight off her advances. Of course he swears he is never going to hurt her, and then promptly throws a leather clad Rebecca through a ceiling. All of this is a very obvious way of pointing out Eward's abusive behaviour in the original text.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Sneak Peek at the First 3 Minutes of the Next Walking Dead Episode

Okay, if you don't like spoilers, don't watch the video. You have been warned.

Review of Autumn by David Moody: Book One of the Autumn Series

Suddenly, some sort of virus attacks and 95% of the earth's population drops dead.  There are a handful of survivors, and they must deal with the fact that everything that they know is gone forever.  The entire novel actually spans the first week and a half after the disaster. Unfortunately, as with many dystopian books, Autumn is absent GLBT people, people of colour and disabled people.  Though this is a common trend, it still reads as genocide of historically marginalized people.  How is it that historically marginalized people are always the first to go? It is particularly alarming because in a dystopian setting, the author has the ability to completely remake the world and to fall back into a position where only privileged people survive chooses an extreme lack of imagination and a wallowing in self privilege.

The suriviors must first come to terms with the fact that they somehow were not infected by whatever virus attacked the dead.  Everywhere they turn are the bodies of the dead, and they serve to remind them of everything that is gone. The survivors are barely accustomed to the change, when the unspeakable happens - the dead begin to rise and walk.  At first they are harmless and unaware of their environment, but that does not last long.

Autumn is about how one survives, when the world as you know it is gone.  Can you deal with the loss of everyone that you loved, and is life even still worth living?  Even conversation becomes a struggle, because everything always leads back to the fact that the world is gone. Even though the book covers such a short time period, the characters are so clearly damaged.  Each breathe the survivors take is an absolute struggle. Though everything is free for the taking now that society has crumbled, getting food is a danger because of the threat of the zombies. Even everyday necessities like hydro, running water and heat become luxuries. The survivors quickly learn that the things once prized are worthless now, because they do nothing to aid in subsistence.

Review of Lost Girl Season Two, Episode Fifteen: Table for Fae

Thank goodness that Nate's tour only lasted one episode and Kenzi returned to Lost Girl this week.  The show begins with Kenzi and Nate returning home, only to hear Bo and Ryan having sex. When Kenzi asks Bo about Ryan, Bo stumbles on her words and suggests they do lunch.When Bo brings the matter of a double date up to Ryan, he suggests Nappa Valley.  Throughout the episode, Ryan is pretentious, and makes sure that all around him are aware of his wealth.

Since Ciara got smart and left him, Dyson is on a rampage. He roughs up the mayor's friend, after the gentleman makes the mistake of laying hands on him. Technically, Dyson is right, you cannot just lay hands on a cop to get attention.  Hale tries to tell Dyson to calm down, but Dyson doesn't want to hear a word he's saying.  When the conversation switches, and Hale tells him about a murder downtown that looks like it has fae involvement, Dyson is clearly uninterested, leaving Hale to approach Trick by himself. 

When Hale finds Trick, he is deep in conversation with Bo.  Hale relates the issue of a 22 year old found dead with the body of an old man.  Before we go any further, I feel it is important to say that Hale is the one with the badge, but Trick hands the case over to Bo, saying that she is better suited.  Say what?  What case has Bo been on that she has not bungled in someway?  This is yet another example of Hale being dismissed and reduced to a ridiculous sidekick. 

Once Upon a Time, Season 1, Episode 11: Fruit of the Poisonous Tree

So we begin with Regina being, well Regina. Snarking and nasty she goes on to destroy Henry’s castle (on the excuse that it’s unsafe) and stealing his book and generally being mean and unpleasant and, well Regina

She’s also apparently cast aside Sydney, the ex-head of the paper – and he’s turned on her. He wants to work with Emma to expose Regina – and the $50,000 that is apparently missing. But while Emma will investigate her, she refuses to break her ethics as sheriff. But Sidney and Snow are both quick to play the “ends justifies the means” card. Oh dear, I sense high handed moral lessons incoming no doubt.

Emma succumbs to the temptation and bugs the mayor’s phone so they can go gatecrash the Mayor’s secret meeting where the mayor is buying land from Gold. Emma promptly leaps off in the deep end and starts breaking into the mayor’s home, hacking her computer

Emma then starts having doubts about her methods – but Sidney is driven and determined to destroy Regina. Of course the naughty bad wrong methods blow up in their faces. Because evil never prospers! Regina looks like a saint and is applauded. And in the aftermath, Regina now has power over Emma and forces her to stay away from Henry – see, the consequences of awful actions!

Except, of course, Sidney is still in Regina’s pocket and being used as a puppet against Emma. He’s still a fawning tool.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Fangs for the Fantasy podcast, episode 50

This week many of our shwos are on hiatus but we still discuss Being Human (US): Season 2, Episode 2.

We also discuss several books - our book of the week Mark of the Demon by Diana Rowland, Book 1 of the Kara Gillian series as well as Dan Water's Generation Dead, Kelley Armstrongs Otherworld series and Autumn by David Moody

Face Off: Elena vs Sookie, Battle of the Spunky Agents

And this week we look at protagonists we’ve come to dislike in so many ways - Sookie from True Blood and Elena from The Vampire Diaries. Oh the many ways that these 2 champions of Spunky Agency need to face off against each other so we can see which Mary Sue is the Spunkiest of them All.

Let’s look at the criteria

Shoddiest Treatment of Friends and Family!
You can’t be a proper Spunky Agent unless you have a friend to use and abuse

Sookie: Tara. Enough said. Sookie’s treatment of Tara is legendary in its awfulness. When Tara was kidnapped and raped by Franklin, Sookie spared all of two seconds attention. Lafayette traumatised and tortured by Eric? Sookie didn’t even know. Even her own brother went through hell in Hotshot, and Sookie could hardly wait to get back to herself. Of course, when Sookie needs help, who is there to help carry her?

Elena: Bonnie is a servant who is continually dragged into situations she wants no part in because of Elena’s demands. For that matter, look at what Caroline went through with barely a spec of Elena’s attention. And do we even have to mention Jeremy? Her little brother went through at least as much as she did, and only received attention when she wanted to nag him.

Assumption of authority despite more experienced people present
A Spooky Agent has utter confidence in her abilities. She never lets a little thing like not having a clue what she’s doing stop her from taking charge and taking control!

Sookie: When Bill first turns Jessica, the two are having trouble relating to each other. Sookie in all her wisdom decides to take Jessica to see her parents, despite Bill telling her that he had control of the situation and it turns into a disaster.  Yes, Sookie may know teenage girls having been one herself, but she has no idea of what it is like to be a newborn baby vampire, yet still had the nerve to lecture Bill.

Elena: Do I have to write a list? The plot to kill Elijah? Elena took it over and changed it. Letting Katherine out of the nice locked cave when Katherine was the big bad. Giving herself to Klaus And how many times has she decided to throw away all their plans so she can nobly sacrifice herself?

Shamefully Ignored/Excused Crimes of Love Interest
Of course, we’re talking about love stories here, so true love conquers all - and excuses all!

Sookie: Bill told Sookie he had killed people almost from the very moment they met. Eric has not only killed and tortured people - even her friend Lafayette. Bill left Tara at the mercy of Franklin and it barely caused Sookie to hesitate in her professed love. I think Eric and Bill could do anything to her loved ones and she wouldn’t blink.

Elena: Despite seeing a list of the number of people that Stefan has killed, Elena still sees him a good person and actively tries to get him back.  She has seen absolutely blood drunk and just treats him like he is an alcoholic rather than a mass murderer. His name is after all “the ripper”, but somehow Elena’s love is magical enough to cure him from being what he is.

Review: Mark of the Demon by Diana Rowland, Book 1 of the Kara Gillian series

Kara Gillian is a police detective in Beaulac, Louisiana and has finally had her big break - she’s moving from property crimes to homicide - and her first case is a doozey - the Symbol Man, a serial killer who has been inactive for years has restarted his killings. And Kara is in charge of solving the case - not bad for her first murder case.

Of course, she has advantages. Not only has she read all the files on the Symbol Man killings, but she also has her own Arcane connections. Kara Gillian is a summoner - as in, she summons demons. of course that doesn’t simplify anything, especially when she comes to the attention of the Demon Lord Rhyzkahl.

But then, it seems there is something arcane behind the killings and she has to tread the delicate balance between using her magic to discover the killer and what he’s up to, while at the same time keeping her case reality-based enough not to alert the police.

Reading this book, it is really clear that Rowland has a background in policing.  The victims of the Symbol Man are drug addicts, drunks and homeless.  This means they constitute a class of citizenry that are oft overlooked. Rowland makes it a point of saying repeatedly that this is why they were chosen and had the Symbol Man chosen someone from a different class location, that this case would be getting a lot more attention from both the higher up and the media. It is one of the better comments we have seen about class, with society’s callous contempt being starkly and unmercifully underlined. And, as in My Life as a White Trash Zombie, these issues are presented clearly and starkly, but without lecturing. It is however, disturbing that when questioned by Lord Rhyzkahl as to why she is working so hard to save people that she would not invite into her home, her only response is that this is the right thing to do.  It troubles me that Rowland went to such great lengths to affirm the neglect of the police department but did not take this opportunity to affirm the humanity and self worth of those who were essentially the prey of the Symbol Man.

This story takes place in Louisiana and as such the population demographics necessitates the inclusion of people of colour.  Rowland does take care to do so but unfortunately they only appear as the victims of the Symbol Man, which makes them, prostitutes, homeless, drug addicts etc,. This does not count as inclusion and in fact works to further stigmatize people of colour.  

SYFY LOST GIRL Q&A with Anna Silk & Ksenia Solo

We recently had the opportunity to participate in a teleconference with Ksenia Solo and Anna Silk from Lost Girl.  The entire transcript of the call is far too long, and so we will only be sharing with you what we deem to be the best questions and answers.

Renee Martin: Hi. Thanks so much for talking to us today guys.

Anna Silk: Yes, you're welcome.

Renee Martin: Ksenia, you get to say the most awesome lines, like “Dude, your junk could totally cure cancer.” So what I want to know - yes, I love that line. What I want to know is how much of your own personality do you bring into the role of Kenzi? And do you have any input in some of the great comedic lines that you get to say? 

Ksenia Solo: Yes. We have this amazing woman, her name is Michelle Lovretta, who created these characters. This Kenzi - just the role you know is the first thing that really attracted me to this project. And our writers are really fantastic. It’s definitely - we collaborate and we talk about everything, and we really have a say in our characters and who we are and what happens.

I’m not a brilliant writer. I wish I was. So I can’t take credit for these incredibly funny lines. But you know of course, I am involved and the writers listen, and I think that’s incredibly important.

And yes, I have a lot of fun. Kenzi’s definitely - I look up to her. I respect her. I learn from her all the time because she’s braver than anybody I’ve ever played. Her sense of humor is out of this world. And I wish I was as cool as her sometimes.

But I definitely have a ball with her because I get to come in to work and I really get to play. And it’s really not that often that you get to do that. You get to just kind of go as outside-the-box as you want. And with her I can really do that, so it’s a joy for me. 

Renee Martin: Thank you.


Anna Silk: Yes?

Renee Martin: You often play straight man to Kenzi’s sort of wacky nature. Is there a chance in the future we’re going to see a little bit of that moving into your character? Because of circumstance, you always have to be so serious and the big, tough succubus.

So, I’m wondering if we’re ever going to see a lighter side?

Anna Silk: Tough succubus.

Renee Martin: Yes. That’s the way I think of your character as a big, tough succubus. Are we ever going to see a lighter side to Bo?

Anna Silk: We definitely a - yes. Definitely. I mean you know particularly towards the end of first season and going into second season. Bo is pretty new to this world. the fact that at the beginning of the series she finds out she’s not human. She’s a succubus. She’s part of a fae underworld. That’s a lot to take in.

So - and she’s pretty young in terms of her life experience, particularly in this world. She’s never really had a relationship before. There’s a lot of growth for Bo, and that’s one of the things that drew me to the role is that I knew that over the course of the series there would be so much room for growth, and that’s definitely something you see.

You definitely start to see Bo’s own sense of humor develop. More so in second season, but definitely over the course of the first as well because she’s getting a little bit more comfortable in that world and starting to understand her place in it. So you definitely see her start to enjoy herself a little bit more as well.

Ksenia Solo: And for all the people that don’t have the pleasure of knowing Anna Silk, I can say that she’s actually one of the funniest people I have ever met.

Anna Silk: Well, thank you Ksenia.

Ksenia Solo: So that will definitely come through and people will definitely enjoy it.

Renee Martin: I was wondering, with the way that urban fantasies - say ten years ago, there was really nothing on television, and today there is - you know there’s you, and there’s Being Human, and The Walking Dead. I was wondering what do you think there is about Lost Girl that makes it stand out from the competition, because it’s -  there’s just so much today.

Ksenia Solo: Well, I think...

Anna Silk: Well, I don’t - oh, go ahead Ksenia.

Ksenia Solo: No. No. Go ahead.

Anna Silk: No, you go.

Ksenia Solo: I basically...

Renee Martin: Like basically the one element we should all like focus on that would be the drive?

Anna Silk: Right. Right.

Ksenia Solo: I think Lost Girl is really a cocktail of many genres. I think that’s what makes it so cool. Because on TV you have like the cop shows, and then you have the doctor shows, and then you know whatever else. Usually it’s just one genre.

I think that the cool thing about us is that we kind of have all the best elements of TV in one. We have cops. We have doctors. We have drama. We have comedy. We have complicated relationships. We have sexuality. all these kind of...

Anna Silk: We have action.

Ksenia Solo: And action. That’s right. Yes. So it’s really just - it kind of satisfies all your senses at once, and I think that’s what really makes it stand out from the rest.

Anna Silk: It totally does. And I also think that - I don’t think I’ve ever seen a fae world or fairy world explored in this way on TV. all of our mythology is based in real mythology and real folk lore, and it’s an endless world.

So when we get new scripts every episode, we’re just like -  we’re learning something new and we’re just amazed at the new kind of fae we’re going to meet or how it’s going to you know effect our world.

And I think that for an audience to see that on TV is definitely something that really people gravitate towards and it’s definitely unique.

Renee Martin: Okay, thank you.

Anna Silk: Thank you.

Ksenia Solo: Thank you.

Anna Silk: Thank you.