Sunday, February 11, 2007

Some Happy Thoughts

I don't often post anywhere about stuff that I liked--I'm a bit of a curmudgeon that way, I guess. But I watched this week's episodes of Heroes, Veronica Mars and half of House (I fell asleep), and was pretty happy about some elements of all of them.

I want to talk about VM in particular, which I have been hard on lately, and which has received some related criticism for the episode in question. The salon article that linked me, among others, feels that it irresponsibly suggested that RU-486 and the "morning after pill" or "Plan B" are the same thing, and was misleading about the availability of the former. That's not wrong, and the author is right that it's damn important for a show that has a very wide appeal among young women to provide accurate information about a volatile and much-misunderstood issue such as this. But then, that's back in the category of "Should I really expect, nay, dare to even hope, that television writers would consider the social import of the lines they write?"

What I did like is the way the evangelical Christian preacher comes off. Much as my feminism has been on display lately, I do also notice the fact that Christians are rarely well-portrayed on television either. This week's Law & Order did a take-off on the Ted Haggard story that also included the Reverand's devoted wife (played by Julie Benz!) having been a prostitute before marrying him, and hiding this fact from the congregation for the sake of not pissing off their conservative pocketbooks. We see a lot of pedophile priests, abortion-clinic bombers, and on the non-criminal side, hypocritical, judgmental, exceptionally non-loving people. Occasionally we see someone like B.D. Wong's character on Oz, who's at least not crazy, but who is kind of a powerless pushover and not exactly a beacon of hope.

In this week's VM, the mystery of the week revolves around a girl who discovered that she was pregnant, considered an abortion, changed her mind, and was subsequently drugged with RU-486 against her will, leading to a miscarriage. She has been previously established as sexually active with more than one partner. Her father is also a conservative television evangelist. He finds out from the family doctor that his daughter is pregnant (yes, the fact that that is supremely uncool is acknolwedged) and immediately sends her a balloon bouquet letting her know that he and her mother are happy to welcome a grandchild. Veronica goes to check him out later, pretending to be pregnant, and drops the "I bet you'd kick your daughter out of the house if she came home pregnant". He responds by getting teary-eyed and revealing that regardless of the circumstances, he would be very happy to have a grandchild to love, and show his daughter all the support that she could possibly require in raising the child. He was, of course, pro-life, a position I do not share, but which can actually be held by individuals who are not crazy, not hypocritical, and are willing to talk about it from a loving and caring perspective with, say, young pregnant teenage girls, contrary to what we usually see on television (including other characters in this episode). He is in the room when the culprit is discovered, and his daughter gets extremely angry and she moves in a way that suggests that she might get violent, or at least start screaming at that person. He stops her, takes her into his arms and comforts her in such a way that it's obvious he's trying to control his own immediate knee-jerk tendency toward anger as well as hers. He tells her that the person in question did not want to hurt her (she didn't), that she was misguided but acting out of love, and that anger ultimately hurts the person who feels it more than the person it's directed towards. He quotes Jesus' words. Typed out, it kind of sounds like platitudes, but the way it was phrased and acted, including the element that he was clearly making some effort to convince himself at the same time, made it very genuine, and the idea that it would have an impact on the anger Veronica herself was feeling toward someone else did not come off as forced or unrealistic.

I know that this guy came off well precisely because it goes against the predominant expectation of a conservative megachurch--let's not forget television--evangelist. I know the writers weren't really going for the message that some Christians are actually nice, but rather simply the plot twist, primarily. But I'm glad it came in anyway, because Christians, even evangelical ones, even ones who hold some right-wing positions, even television preachers, can in fact be loving, caring parents and people who actually read the parts of the Bible where Jesus speaks and live their lives based on His primary messages. Maybe next time we'll even see a sympathetic feminist--hey, maybe even a Christian one! A girl can dream, can't she?

Saturday, February 10, 2007

What IS Sarah watching anyway?

I've been struggling to keep up with actually watching the shows that I like, let alone writing posts on them, and my TV-related thoughts have been directed toward my scheduled and subject-to-deadline posts over at The Hathor Legacy...apparently, that was a good move, if my goal is getting myself some attention, because wrote an article on Veronica Mars (scroll down), and of all the places they could link to on the internet to suggest that the show has come under fire for its portrayal of the serial rapist arc, they posts. Sarah says: buh?

Anyway, here's a TV-related thought that doesn't fit with the Hathor theme (or, really, with the fact that I have to be smart at Hathor, cause I might get linked by salon or something ludicrous like that):

I've fallen in love with the rather intricate web of crossover-ism on geek TV. It seems natural that genre writers/directors like Ronald Moore would hire other proven genre writers/directors like Jane Espenson, or whatever, but the way the same actors seem to be appearing in all the geeky TV shows is a little less natural. Other than the fact that the casting directors are likely to see them and see their ability to do sci-fi/fantasy type work (not to mention recognize their audience appeal), there's nothing that says a good actor for a sci-fi show has to come from another sci-fi show, but it happens all the freaking time. On Battlestar Galactica, we have (or, sniff, had) Lucy Lawless, Sam from Quantum Leap, Ensign Ro Laren, the original Apollo as Tom Zarek, and probably some more that I can't think of right now. On Veronica Mars, the Buffy-connected guest stars extended as far as Joss himself (being admittedly boring, of course). An old (well, obviously) episode of Babylon 5 I saw featured Majel Barrett, which is like the crown jewel of actors who will officially geek-sanction your show. And being the geek that I am, and given the fact that I watch the geek shows and follow the geek actors, I'm fallilng hook, line and sinker for their every marketing ploy and accepting the knighthood bestowed upon the shows through the sword of Xena, or whatever. The current show doing best at this? Unquestionably Heroes. Christopher Eccleston rocks--I'm really, really sad that he bowed out of the new Doctor Who after one season, because I actually can't watch it anymore because the new doctor pisses me off, and I was completely empassioned with Eccleston. I admit I get a little tickle every time I see even the most minor of Buffy guest stars on a show, so Leonard Roberts (Forrest) is points too. But what drives it over the edge? George FREAKIN Takei. I haven't watched last Monday's episode yet, so I've only seen him appear out of the shadows all imposing-like at the end of the previous episode, but that rocked so damn hard I can't even stand it.

While I'm on the track of not being smart and just geeking out for a while, can I also just acknowledge that the exchange between Pasdar and Masi Oka a couple of episodes ago (rumoured to have been ad-libbed) was completely unbearably awesome? From the moment Hiro yells "Frying man!" to Petrelli's surprised face, to the "But you fry! WOOSH!" [hand motion]/"Keep it down"/"woosh?" [smaller hand motion, very cute face], to the "Bad guy, like, birran?" exchange with Masi exaggerating his attempts to pronounce the "v", everything about it just absolutely killed me. I bust up a little every time I think about it.