Sunday, April 15, 2012

Why I Love Korra SO DAMN MUCH

Well, first of all, duh.

Avatar: The Last Airbender is one of my three favorite TV shows of all time; to this day, despite multiple viewings of all episodes, I can still pick an episode at random and start crying -- not because it's sad or happy or whathaveyou (although there is plenty of that going on, too), but because it is just so good as a story. Every single aspect, from the animation to the voice acting to the music to the characterization to the plot to the history to the mythology to the action, is SO GOOD that you just can't handle it (well . . . maybe if you don't have a soul).

So it was a given that I would love the sequel series, too.

. . . Okay, honestly, I can't even go into detail about how much I love it yet. I am still processing. I'd like to provide full recaps of the first two episodes, but they wouldn't be very interesting to read: "So then this happens and I love it, and then Korra says something funny and I love her for it, and then there's a scene that I just absolutely love . . ."

But there is one point that I want to make:

The main thing I'm loving about Korra so far -- which should not come as a surprise at all to anyone who watched the original series* -- is that absolutely no one finds it weird or "wrong" or surprising that the Avatar, the most powerful person in the entire world, is

a girl.

*Kyoshi, Yangchen.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

My Thoughts on Once Upon a Time

Note: As of this writing, I have only seen episodes one through twelve. If any of my gripes or theories have been addressed or proven wrong since then, please don't tell me.

1. It pretty much goes without saying, but I am almost always going to love any sort of fairy tale that's not intended for children (example: Wicked). That being said, I really can't explain why it took me so long to start watching. Several people told me they just knew I would thoroughly enjoy it . . . and, what do you know, they were right.

2. Back in September or October (in other words, not long after it premiered), I read some article somewhere about how the show was drawing criticism from fans of Fables (which is about as not-intended-for-children as it is possible to be) who felt that it was a ripoff of that series.


I don't even know how to respond to that. Yes, okay, both series are about fairy tale characters living in the real world, and both series give Snow White a prominent role, buuuuuut those are the only real similarities. There are a ton of differences. Off the top of my head, these are some of the biggest ones. In Fables:

* All of the fairy tale characters remember who they are. They came to New York to escape the Adversary, who is also a fairy tale character (I won't spoil his or her identity, but it was originally going to be Peter Pan) who's been systematically killing the rest of them off for centuries.

* Snow White is the deputy mayor of Fabletown, and Old King Cole is the mayor.

* Snow White divorced Prince Charming, who went on to marry Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty (in that order?). None of them are on very good terms with him, since he's a complete jerk.

* Boy Blue is Snow's assistant; one of his first lines in the whole series is about how it's not a good idea to ask her about the dwarves. The audience doesn't find out exactly why for quite a while.

* Rose Red is a major character from word one.

* And so on and so forth.

3. Speaking of Fables, there's a scene early on where Snow White recovers from an injury that should've been fatal ("head trauma" is an understatement) and Rose Red -- who, obviously, is her twin -- complains that she can never really die because the Mundies (that's us!) keep re-telling her story over and over and over.

Once Upon a Time is an excellent example of that. Not only is the whole thing yet another retelling of "Snow White and the Seven Dwarves," it goes out of its way to turn other classic fairy tales into that story. Which is especially interesting when you consider that two different movies based on it are going to be released this year.

4. Probably my favorite thing about this show is that there's no shortage of female characters who kick ass -- Emma, Snow, Regina, and Gretel are the best examples so far, but I've been spoiled enough to know that Granny and Red Riding Hood will reveal their badassery in good time -- and absolutely NO ONE seems to think there's anything abnormal about a woman kicking ass.

5. Was "Regina" the Evil Queen's name in the Enchanted Forest, or did she adopt it upon coming to our world? If it wasn't always her name, what was her name back then? I know it's a little thing, but this really bugs me.

6. I really really like the relationship between Henry and Emma.
Sort of.

7. The Hansel & Gretel episode got on my nerves just a bit. I mean, alright, it's Hansel & Gretel, we all know exactly how that story goes. The witch tries to cook them and they cook her. The end. But here's my question:

ONE of the TWO things we got to see the Blind Witch use magic for was telekinesis* -- so how were they able to lock her in the oven? There's plenty of folklore about iron being impervious to magic, so that could've explained it . . . so how hard would it have been to include a line to, you know, explain that?

Which leads me to . . .

8. It was established in the pilot that the Evil Queen can teleport. So, other than "for dramatic effect," why is she always riding around in that pretentious carriage?

9. For that matter, why does she need guards?

10. In episode two, the Evil Queen pays a visit to Maleficent and teases her for being defeated by Sleeping Beauty. So wait, why is Maleficent still alive?

11. You know, I think it's kind of cool how they've been working other fairy tales into Snow White's story, but it's really rather pointless. We already know how her story ends. Even if we didn't, the pilot makes it clear that she and Prince Charming get married and have a baby and live happily ever after. Well, almost.

All I'm saying is, they keep throwing things like dead dwarves and emotion potions and long-lost twin brothers into the story; they're cool, but they rather lack dramatic tension.

12. The writers are clearly making an effort to populate the Enchanted Forest with people of color, and I love that a whole lot, but . . .

none of them get to do anything!

(Cinderella's fairy godmother does NOT count.)

Which really bugs me, because -- unless there's someone I'm not thinking of right now -- Snow White is just about the only fairy tale character ever who is specifically described as having white skin. Anyone else could be any ethnicity in the world, but they are all white white white.

Well. Except for the Evil Queen (her actress is Puerto Rican) and the Genie (he's half black and half Italian).

Good going, show.

13. It would be really cool if they made somebody gay.

14. It would be almost as cool if they made one of the more popular princesses totally evil. (Example: There could be a VERY GOOD REASON Maleficent is still alive . . .)

15. I'll try not to rage about this too much, but the Beauty & the Beast episode really pissed me off. I did quite like the actress they chose to play Belle, but I did not like the direction they went with for the Beast at all. (I felt a bit like the main character of Sunshine -- which, if you haven't read yet, go track it down right now -- who is annoyed that most artists in her world tend to portray him as looking like a vampire.)

16. There are quite a few questions I would really like to have answered sooner than later, such as:

* Why the hell does Regina even want Henry?

* If Regina is so hell-bent on making sure no one gets a happy ending, ever, why does she keep going around saying things like, "Miss Blanchard, stay away from Mister Nolan OR ELSE"?

* Does Regina still have her powers? If so, why doesn't she use them to keep everyone in line and deal with Emma? Is Emma's mere presence weakening her hold over the town? If so, why doesn't she realize that?

* Why didn't Regina just kill everyone? That would've been a great way to destroy their happy endings, right?

* When is Emma going to start believing Henry about the curse?
Seriously, the show can't go on like this forever.

17. This show is really really pretty to look at. Not the cast (although, um, WHAT'S UP, PRINCE THOMAS?), the backgrounds. The forests and the skies and the meadows and the lakes. Sweet God.

18. If Emma is so so so good at telling when someone is lying, how the hell does she not realize that Sidney Glass is in Regina's pocket?

19. I'm really going to be pissed if they try to portray the Evil Queen in a sympathetic light. She's one of the most evil characters I've ever encountered in any story in any medium, and I really love to hate her. It's gonna suck if I eventually have to start feeling sorry for her.

Well, okay. That would maybe make her more of a well-rounded character, but seriously. How bad can her life possibly have been so far that she had to try to murder her stepdaughter -- not to mention that whole thing where she ripped out her father's heart so she could send every fairy tale character ever to our world and mess with their memories in the process?

20. I find it very interesting that, so far, everything we've seen that's happened in Fairy Tale Land has technically been a flashback.

21. Ginnifer Goodwin and Jennifer Morrison are adorable together. I adore them both individually, and I can totally buy them as mother and daughter.

22. So far, I'm not exactly loving what the show has done with Rumpelstiltskin.

*Yes, I know that, technically, using magic to move stuff around is not exactly the same thing as "telekinesis" . . . but seriously, bite me.

Monday, April 9, 2012

"Be Your Own Hero"

Hey, remember how I originally started this blog to talk about dealing with depression?

. . . Yeah.

So today I went to the doctor (a "normal" doctor, not a "head" doctor; reasons are none of your business), which was somewhat scary -- having anything medical done at any time always seems to convince me that, whoops, I'm Patient Zero for the disease we'll discover if we ever cure cancer -- but then, once I actually got there, something wonderful happened.

You know how, any time you go to the doctor for anything, they can't get down to the reason you're actually there until they've asked a zillion and one preliminary questions about any time you've ever gone to any doctor in your entire life?

This visit was no exception!

DOCTOR: So do you have any other existing health concerns I should know about?
ME: We-ell, yes, I have been diagnosed with depression.
DOCTOR: Are you currently in treatment?
ME: Not at the moment, no, but I did go to therapy last year.

You guys, seriously, she was so proud of me for going to therapy that I half-expected her to jump out of her chair and do a happy dance. That didn't happen, but we did have a fairly excited mini-conversation about how entering therapy meant I had to stop drinking, and I decided to keep up my sobriety after therapy for a grand total of one hundred days. We talked about how I had figured out that, for me personally, not reading anything for more than two weeks is probably a sign that something bad is going on in my brain. And so on and so forth. I'm not describing this very well because I'm still excited (also, I'm so hungry I'm sort of dizzy), but . . .

. . . okay, so my point here is "just" that I'm so proud of myself. I can't even begin to wrap my head around how much my life sucked this time last year, and how awesome it is now, and how that change is entirely my fault.

Imagine how awesome my life will probably be a year from now if I keep this up.

Try not to get dizzy.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Which Witch is Best (and Why)

NOTE: This post is completely free of TVD spoilers!

So it's never been a secret that, as far back as the pilot, I have found it pretty much impossible to stop myself from comparing Bonnie Bennett of The Vampire Diaries to Willow Rosenberg of Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

Today I'd like to talk about why I think Willow is a better witch -- although, honestly, I suppose I could just say something like

Willow is not only my favorite witch in all of fiction, she's pretty much my favorite fictional character of all time. Bonnie is neither of those things.

The end.

. . . But that wouldn't be very much fun to read, would it?


To break the whole thing down in a way that's as simple as it is uncomplicated, it seems to me that Willow is a better witch for two reasons, which I will discuss "at length" (a phrase which, in this context, can be read as "until I get bored"):

1. She is occasionally given storylines that have little or nothing to do with being a witch, and that makes her a stronger character.

Which may be somewhat unfair to Bonnie, whose first line in her first scene in the first episode was, "So, Grams is telling me I'm psychic -- our ancestors were from Salem; witches and all that" (note that I am quoting from memory, so the line may not be exactly verbatim) . . . but that just reinforces the point, don'tcha think? I mean, we are almost done with season three, and what do we know about her? She's Elena's best friend in the world; they're so close that they consider each other sisters. She's a witch who comes from a family of witches. She . . . oh, wait, THAT'S IT. There is absolutely nothing else to her character: anything that we've found out about her in nearly three years has had something to do with witchcraft (example: we finally got to meet her mother, and, well, yeah).

In stark contrast, we know plenty about Willow that has absolutely NOTHING to do with witchraft. Her crush on Xander, her friendship with Buffy, her Jewish background, her status as the smartest student in school, her romance with Oz, her strained relationship with her parents. All of this was established very early on in the series, and it made her a remarkably strong character, and that made her a better witch.

2. She made her own rules about magic.

To compare each of them to other witches from different works, whereas Willow greatly resembles Granny Weatherwax (widely regarded as the most powerful witch alive; doesn't know the meaning of the word "impossible"), Bonnie is more akin to Hermione Granger (very intelligent, very powerful, but rarely uses magic for anything she hasn't read about in a book).

I mean, just think about how much Willow has accomplished with magic. She restored Angel's soul (twice!). She saved her own life by floating a pencil. She attracted the attention of D'Hoffryn, even though she had never done any vengeance. She saved Buffy from the astral realm. She hurt Glory, who was a GOD (again, twice!). She brought Buffy back to life. She broke that whole "one girl in all the world" rule.

To hammer the point home: In the final season, the Big Bad is (kind of sort of) Satan By Another Name. One of the first things he does when he comes to town? He tries to convince Willow to kill herself because his plan would be so much easier without her around to muck things up.

Now, then. Bonnie. To be clear, I don't think her by-the-book approach to magic is necessarily a bad thing. She's obviously performed some pretty extraordinary feats, and she is one of only two humans Klaus views as a threat (note that the other is also a witch). Both of which are all the more remarkable when you consider that she's known about her powers for less than TWO YEARS.

But . . . seriously, it's like she forgets how powerful she is sometimes. Most of the time. I get that Klaus is a Big Damn Deal, and without him the show wouldn't be nearly as dramatic, but she's the one character who can really hurt him without some silly Deus Ex Machina one-of-a-kind super-special weapon, and she seems to spend all her time either worrying about who he's going to hurt next or sitting on the sidelines while the rest of the heroes try to take him out. Or, worse yet, letting him manipulate her into helping him!

So I guess what I'm saying is, I'd like to see her put down her books and start using her power. Stop fretting about what magic "can" or "can't" do, and make it work for her.

Just a thought.