Friday, September 26, 2008

My Favorite Canon Pairings

Fresca asked me which canon pairings I really like. Let's see...the ones that come in just off the top of my head:

1. Jarrod/Miss Parker, The Pretender. I loved "The Pretender." It had a clear formula--super-genius Jarrod, hunted by Miss Parker from the sinister Center, travels the country avenging wrongs--and it followed it beautifully, with strong acting from all the cast. The semi-romance between Parker (who is never given a first name) and Jarrod always delighted me. Jarrod is a sweet-natured naif with a wicked streak, Parker a tough-as-nails cynic out to capture Jarrod at all costs. They rarely meet in the show, but he calls, leaves clues, sends email--their relationship is antagonistic and yet respectful and eventually sweet, as we learn that the two of them were childhood friends (Jarrod was kidnapped by the Center as a child, Parker is the daughter of the head of the Center).

2. Odo/Kira, Deep Space Nine. Maybe even more than the friendship between Garak and Bashir being disrupted, I was unhappy this romance was aborted. The two had been friends for so long, and Odo's wistful longing for Kira so subtle and well-played, that the process of them getting together was hesitant and lovely and filled with affection. They were good for each other.

3. Batman/Catwoman, Comics and Batman Returns. Really the only woman I can see with Batman, and in "Batman Returns" Pfeiffer and Keaton really hit this relationship out of the park for me--the vulnerability so carefully hidden, the complications of their many identities, the complete inability to connect combined with the passionate desire to. When Catwoman rejects Batman at the end of "Batman Returns" ("I'd love to go home with you and live with you in your castle...but I just couldn't live with myself") I wanted to cry and cheer at the same time.

4. Beauty and the Beast. The fairy tale, not the TV show, and not simply the Disney version, although I always liked that version as well. This fairy tale was always my favorite--as a child, addicted to fairy tales, I would happily skip any version of Cinderella or Sleeping Beauty for a version of Beauty and the Beast. The difference, I think, was that they spend time together and get to know each other rather than falling in love after one dance or one kiss. When Beast offers Beauty his library and she's all starry-eyed about it, that was a revelation to me--romance based on a respect for the intellect and shared interests. As you can see, I'm not much for "love at first sight" sorts of romances.

5. Noah/Cassandra Bennett, Heroes. When we first see Cassandra Bennett, she seems entirely vapid, a total fluff-head. But slowly we come to learn that her husband, who's involved in a clandestine government organization, has been mind-wiping her over and over through the years, each time she finds out about his activities. Her strength of character emerges as she re-discovers the truth and she turns out to be one of my favorite female characters on the show (which isn't saying much...I like Heroes but I find it distressingly weak with the female characters). The sense of relief that Noah displays as he begins to enter a truly honest relationship with his wife for the first time in decades is palpable and heartbreaking.

Runners-up: Han/Leia (Star Wars), Elizabeth/Darcy (Pride and Prejudice). I seem to have a fondness for either slow-blossoming friendships or relationships that follow the traditional romantic formula of the leads misunderstanding each other at first sight and slowly learning to love...

Thursday, September 18, 2008

The Standbys

What 5 series/books/movies can you rewatch/reread time and again?

Batman: The Animated Series. The pinnacle of human animation. The first three seasons were among the last cartoons to be fully non-computerized, and they're beautiful. The last season is cleaner, sharper...but it lacks something. Beautiful, Art Deco animation and set designs aside, this show is awesome. Kevin Conroy is the voice of Batman, the reason Christian Bale's attempts never quite ring true. He inhabits the role entirely. Mark Hamill (yes, Luke Skywalker) is the best Joker voice ever. The whole series is brooding, dark, thoughtful, at times utterly heartbreaking.

Galaxy Quest. Fresca reports that David Mamet declares Galaxy Quest "a perfect movie," and I agree. It sets out to tell a simple tale of humor and heroism, hits every mark along the way, and concludes sweetly and completely. The washed-up actors from an old science fiction show find out their show has been mistaken for the truth by sweet and gullible aliens who now need "them" (their characters) to save them from a terrible warlord. The show is generally taken as a spoof of Star Trek, but there are perhaps even more references to Blake's 7, and the save at the end is very clearly a bittersweet attempt to fix the end of that series.

My favorite moment: at the beginning there's a teen-aged fan who the star of the show chews out for being a clueless fanboy and basically tells to get a life. At the climax the hero contacts him on the phone to ask for help, and the boy cuts him off and says "I just want you to know, I know it's just a show. I know it's not real." "But it is real," says the captain, "It is and I need your help." With no transition at all the kid leaps from his chair: "I KNEW IT! I KNEW IT WAS ALL REAL!" he cries.

Ah, the fannish soul.

The Silmarillion, by J.R.R. Tolkien. The whole series if I could, but the Silmarillion at all costs. As majestic as the Bible without the pesky religion parts, The Silmarillion is crammed full of characters at the heroic scale--Luthien and Beren, the lovers of whom Arwen and Aragorn are just echoes; Turin Turambar the doomed, Feanor the cursed and prideful crafter, the hidden city of Gondolin (of which Gondor is but an echo). I don't think I realized until I was reading The Silmarillion that Middle Earth is meant to be our own world in an earlier time, and the shock of surprise and joy I felt on realizing the constellations were the same was immense.

Star Wars (the first trilogy). Okay, I doze off during the Ewoks, but every movie has something in that I love: the sheer massive scale and sweep of the first movie, the romance of the second (the only Lucas movie to ever have a convincing romance, mostly because he wrote none of it and the director had the good sense to overrule his attempted changes to Han and Leia's dialogue), and redemption of Anakin in the third.

The Worm Ouroboros, by E.R. Eddings. Written in 1926, Eddings' novel is epic fantasy with the dial set to 11. An envoy from the nation of Witchland arrives at the palace of the Demons and sets in motion a massive war between the two nations. Both sides are populated by characters larger than life, magnificent, glorious and terrible in their grandeur. Quests are achieved, impossible summits scaled, vile treachery and gallant deads accomplished, and in the end the Witches are defeated utterly. And then the Demons discover they're hideously bored and use their one precious wish from the gods to start the whole thing again: the book ends with the announcement of an envoy from Witchland. Eddings is desperately in love with the sound of language, and I'll pick up this book or one of his others at times just to remind myself what amazing effects can be achieved with it. He builds tapestries of words, rich and opaque and glowing. A totally random sample:

They stood at a cave's mouth on a beach of sand white and clean, that was lapped by the ripples of a sapphire lake: a great lake, sown with islets craggy and luxuriant with trees and flowering growths. Many-armed was the lake, winding everywhere in secret reaches behind promontories that were spurs of the mountains that held it in their bosom: some wooded or green with lush flower-spangled turf to the water's edge, some with bare rocks abrupt from the water, some crowned with rugged lines of crag that sent down scree-slopes into the lake below. It was mid-afternoon, sweet-aired, a day of dappled cloud-shadows and changing lights. White birds circled above the lake, and now and then a kingfisher flashed by like a streak of azure flame.

Runners-Up: The Fionavar Tapestry by Guy Gavriel Kay, The Tick, Much Ado About Nothing (the movie), The Oz series by L. Frank Baum, Tonari no Totoro.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Five Canon Romances I Do Not Like

There's a great livejournal community called fannish5, which asks a question every Friday. I've been going through some of the older ones and I figured I might as well answer some here, so without further ado:

What are your five least favorite romances, in canon?

1. Ron/Hermione, Harry Potter.
I didn't want her to end up Harry per se, but I just...kind of wanted her to not end up with Ron. Well-intentioned, doltish Ron. *sigh* I fail to see the attraction for a woman like Hermione, but maybe that's just me.

2. Worf/Deanna Troi, Star Trek: The Next Generation.
I liked Deanna's understated romance with Riker. And I really didn't like Riker and Worf bristling at each other like two dogs wrangling over a juicy bone.

3. Garak/Ziyal, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.
Aside from the fact that Garak was way too canny to get involved with the daughter of a crazy crackpot like Gul Dukat, I was annoyed because the romance seemed a deliberate attempt to de-intensify Garak's friendship with Julian Bashir.

4. Batman/Rachel Dawes, The Dark Knight
Just very unconvincing. Other than Catwoman in Batman Returns, I have yet to see a Batman movie with an even faintly believable relationship with Bruce Wayne, and yet they insist on shoehorning love stories into every one of them.

5. Sheridan/Delenn, Babylon 5.
I insist, insist, insist it was meant to be Sinclair/Delenn. It should have been! Damn it...

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