Tag Archives: Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Veronica Mars Movie – Fans Rule or Do They?

17 Oct

veronica-mars

Veronica Mars stands in the company of Buffy The Vampire Slayer,  Dawson’s Creek and One Tree Hill, as the kind of show that stirs in me an obsessive mania. The kind of mania that once allowed me to put all thoughts of self preservation aside and bring a handmade Dawson’s Creek pencil case to school. The kind of mania that compelled me to collect a completely valueless Buffy The Vampire Slayer trading card collection. Yes, High School was not an easy time for me. But now we live in the age of kickstarter and obsessive fans who no longer have to papermache or collect action figures. Now they can literally buy a movie. And 6 months ago fans of Veronica Mars did just that, and so the Veronica Mars movie was born.

On our TV screens from 2004 to 2007, Veronica Mars is the story of a teenage private detective with trust issues and a Taser.  Veronica was once a normal, popular high school girl, until her life was completely upended by the murder of her best friend, Lily Kane.  Her father, Sheriff Mars, is convinced that Lily’s parents (particularly her father Jake Kane, a software billionaire) had something to do with their daughters death. And it is this conviction, along with minimal evidence, that gets him kicked out of office and gets Veronica unceremoniously dumped by her social circle. Sheriff Mars becomes Keith Mars, disgraced former Sheriff and current private detective. His wife develops a drinking problem and skips town and Veronica becomes his secretary, or, more accurately, his partner in crime.

The first season of Veronica Mars is amazing and possibly some of the greatest TV ever seen, powered by the fascinating mystery of Lily Kane’s Murder, it can’t be beat. The season spends a lot of time on Veronica’s back story, dividing itself into two, the Nior world that  Veronica now lives in,  and the sunny but  underbellied world of her past. Raking through her memories for clues as to what happened to her friend, we see the kind of girl Veronica used to be, pretty and blonde and unconcerned with the problems of her community.

I love this element of the show, because so often in teen dramas there are outsider characters that aren’t plausible. They are beautiful and sassy and one wonders how they could really be so on the outside, when good looks and personality are the most powerful currencies in high school. Veronica’s back story makes it abundantly clear why she is on the outside and why she is so angry. Rejected for supporting her father, abandoned by her mother and suffering from the devastation of the loss of a bright and powerful friend, she has experienced far to much to function in the shallow world of high school.

Another great and super sexy subplot of of the first season is the hate-turned-love relationship between Veronica and the school’s ‘obligatory psychotic jackass’, Logan. Starting out as the dickhead who smashes up Veronica’s car, Logan doesn’t seem like a potential love interest all. A tough feat in these days of Jerks-with-extremely-obvious-hearts-of-gold. Take note writers, a leather jacket and slicked back hair does not a bad boy make. Those kinds of bad boys have no impact, no danger,  and feel about as bad for you as a carob bar.

Veronica Mars lasted for only 3 seasons, a travesty in the eyes of its fans. However, when you look at the body of work, the show probably got what it deserved. The third season is very disappointing. Where the first two season long mystery arcs succeeded , the third season is made up of three separate arcs, none of which are particularly compelling. The 3rd season also suffers from getting Veronica and Logan together. When it comes to TV, nothing is more boring than a happy couple. All the spice and sizzle of the ‘will they, won’t they’ is dead and all you’re left with is minor arguments and little insecurities. They do break up mid way though the season, but in a rather uninspired way. I have to be honest, when I saw season three I remember thinking, ‘No wonder they cancelled it’. It’s still Veronica Mars, so it’s still awesome, but in comparison to season 1, it just didn’t have it.

So now in 2013 powered by obsessive fans like myself, Veronica Mars is being made into movie. A feat that wouldn’t be possible without the invention of peer funding websites like Kickstater. Based on the quality of the later seasons, I’m not really sure Veronica Mars deserved to be funded. But based on the 6 times I have seen season 1, I can totally understand how the Veronica Mars Movie made over 5 million dollars in crowd source funding.

But is this really a good thing? These websites were not made to fund commercial enterprises. These sites were intended for grassroots funding, like undiscovered bands and tiny independent films. As such, creative projects with big stars and the potential to make large amounts of money really only take advantage of fans obsession and lack of business savvy. They essentially take an investment and offer very limited return. While the real financial benefits are being reaped miles away by people who didn’t believe enough in the project to back it themselves, such as the mega corporation Warner Bros that continues to own the rights to Veronica Mars.

So, do fans really rule the world, or are we still at the bottom of the totem poll, hugging our DVDs and One Tree Hill soundtracks, happily giving away our lunch money to a bully in disguise? Are our nerdy obsessions being valued or taken advantage of?

Game of Thrones Season 2: The Problem With Adaptation

7 Aug

Now everyone knows that I loved season one of ‘Game of Throne’ but did season 2 live up to the hype. First let me say that season two is not up to the same calibre as season one but I don’t believe this has anything to do with its writers, I think the books are entirely to blame. Adaptation is always tough ask and the new trend of adapting book series into TV shows is untested and bound to hit a few hurdles. Given this would still say that adapting the 2nd book of George R. R. Martin’s Song of Ice and Fire book series is almost mission impossible. The second book ‘A Clash of Kings’ brings in a whole new set of characters, largely ignores many of the old ones and has story lines taking place in over seven locations, not exactly adaptation gold.

First off let me start by stating for the record that I haven’t read the books. I have been told that the show is a lot easier to understand if you read the books and hopefully someday I will, however I am a firm believer that an adaptation should be able to stand on it’s own. It should not act like a petulant child and keep running back to it’s source material and yelling that if you’d read it, it would make sense. It either works or it doesn’t, there is no half way.

So lets begin with problem number one, too many new characters.  While it is customary to introduce a few new characters in a second season that amount is usually limited to around 3 or 4. Look at an older program like ‘Buffy The Vampire Slayer’ new characters in season two Spike, Drusilla, Oz and maybe Kendra, clear concise easy to remember. But with HBO’s new generation of television with endless budgets and source material to keep in mind cast numbers have really started to multiply. True Blood for example introduced at least 8 or 9 new characters in its second season and the numbers are going up every year. However this year ‘Game of Thrones’ really took the crown and thanks to its insane source material was given the great task of introducing around 40 new characters. This number doesn’t include the numerous characters they put off introducing until season three since they thought it might be too much. I think it’s a little late for that.

While some of the new characters are great and well worth the introduction others I could have done without. I am sure they were vital to the source material but when if you can’t figure out what’s happening, does that really matter. It was getting particularly difficult to keep all the men of the Night’s Watch straight, yet I really enjoyed the Wildling Caster and his disturbing wives/daughters. Similarly Stannis Baratheon and his many followers were very confusing. Although the naked pregnant Red Priestess Melisaandre of Asshai was a bit of highlight even if occasionally I’d like to forget it.

While there are many many more characters the most memorable for me are Jaqen H’ghar and Brienne of Tarth. Jaqen’s  gruesome mentor relationship with my favorite character Arya was a pleasure to watch. While Brienne’s conversation in the last episode with Ser Jaime Lannister had excellent chemistry and can only mean great things for the pair in season 3. Unfortunately all the fantasy genre names don’t help matters when you are trying to remember who people are. This massive onslaught of characters made watching the program an exhausting experience and I was often only able to watch one episode before I gt tired and switched to less taxing material.

Big problem number two locations. Sewing together stories with so many locations is extremely difficult. The beautiful and mythical Quarth with Daenerys Targaryen, The Iron Islands with the very irritating Theon Greyjoy, Winterfell, King’s Landing and over The Wall in Wildling country, there are more but I can’t remember them. Again books are limitless and can tell stories from hundreds of locations but TV has a different format and the changing locations and short scenes so as to fit everyone in really got  grating.

By trying to fit all these stories in, the season never really seemed to get going, the flow was affected and the meat the story was never really gotten to. When you have too much material you spend too much time setting things up and not enough time exploring. This being said the most effective exploration of character this year was that of Tyrion Lannister his journey from a clever manipulator in season 1 into a great leader and hero in season two is the clearest and best written character arch of the season.

Ending off on a personal note I found it really hard to finish watching season two. Devouring season one is less that an week, I stopped watching season two mid way through full of confusion and irritation and couldn’t go back. Feeling lost and bored I wanted to give up, until both my brother and good friend encouraged me to keep going. I’m glad a I did and found the last couple of episodes particularly the penultimate great viewing. Keep that in mind when you feel like giving up but if you do, I don’t blame you, this adaptation is a lot to handle.

The Avengers: Truly Average

29 May

I have been looking forward to this film for quite some time. Appealing to my inner nerd and outer writer I loved the idea of characters for numerous films coming together in one film to fight the forces of evil. It sounded like an opportunity for a collection of great actors to be part of complex and epic story of what it is to be a hero. I saw The Avengers last week at the cinema and man was I disappointed.

Let me start by saying that I was pretty well prepared for this film having seen the four films that were it’s direct predecessors, Iron Man 1 and 2, Thor and Captain America. I know some would argue that the 2 Hulk films also fall into this category but considering that neither Eric Bana or Edward Norton were in The Avengers and we had to put up with Mark Ruffalo, I decided to stage a protest. One I might cave in to very shortly and watch the 2nd Edward Norton film ‘The Incredible Hulk’, since I hear it is far better than The Avengers.

This film had so much in it’s favor, not only did it have a massive budget and a great cast, it also had Joss Whedon. The writer of Buffy, Angel and Firefly, with one of the biggest cult followings in the world and one one of my favorite writers, he was great choice. And he is no stranger to comic book adaptation writing the far superior ‘X Men’ in 2000.

So what was wrong with this incredibly successful blockbuster you might ask? Well first off it had no heart. Where it’s four predecessors had journeys of character discovery, how Thor over came his ego and Captain America his weakness and Iron Man his playboy ways, all this film had to offer us was a lot of dudes with big muscles bickering. While the wit of Tony Stark embodied by the wonderful Robery Downey Jr is still a highlight, these characters inner journey is very shallow. What do they all overcome to become a team, other than their own self love? Not much.

So with very little inner journey to speak of for any of the characters, Scarlett Johansson’s Black Widow proved to be the best and even it was pretty thin, at least the plot is stellar. No it’s not, Tom Hiddleston’s Loki is no Heath Ledger’s ‘The Joker’ from ‘The Dark Knight’ by any stretch of the imagination in fact he couldn’t be less intimating or cool if he tried. With a ridiculous outfit and weak persona, I wanted to hit the fast forward button every time he came on screen. And as for the wave of demons and space monsters he released through an intergalactic portal, well shouldn’t there be more to beating the enemy that simply trying to hurt it. I like my hero’s to use their brain as well as their brawn. On top of that the science behind the portal was far too complicated and over blown and took far too long to explain. In fact the film was too long in general.

And where was the romance? While all the other films had a romance central to the story like Jane Foster and Thor or Tony Stark and Pepper Potts. This film was decidedly devoid of romance. I mean surely they could have teamed Scarlett Johansson’s character up with someone, I think they were hinting at something like that with Jeremy Renner’s Hawkeye, but I mean give me a bit of sexiness. You needed something lighter to break up the action other than just lots of banal banter. A reason for this might be that there is an Iron Man 3 film coming out next year as well as a Thor 2 and Captain America 2 so maybe they didn’t want to waste the individual character story lines. But really why do this at the expense of having nothing interesting happen to characters personally in this film.

Having said all of the above I would like to state that I am still a believer in the marvel franchise and will probably still go and see all the up coming films. But I think they missed an opportunity here, they had everything they needed to make a great film and they wasted it.

How I Met Your Mother: You’ve got to have a Plan

22 Apr

Is it just me or is HIMYM really going down hill these days. It’s kind of become the sitcom version of ‘Lost’ your always trying to get off the island or in HIMYM case your always trying to meet Ted’s wife. What is annoying in both cases, is you never succeed. There are very few times in TV history that ‘Lost’ looks well planned but standing in the company for HIMYM is one of them. This show has spent seven seasons hinting at a fictional women who so far has a calf, a yellow umbrella and a roommate.

Forgive me for judging but these things are not part of a complex story tapestry, they are just a way to lead me on. Don’t get me wrong I love the show but I was told that it was a story with a higher purpose and like I did with ‘Lost’ I’m beginning to lose faith.

I expect a lot from TV, perhaps more than it deserves. Maybe it’s because my love of TV, began with Buffy the Vampire Slayer. With Joss Whedon, you always felt like there was a plan, you felt like he was taking you on a journey and he knew exactly where it would end. I’m pretty sure he didn’t know that Willow would end up a Lesbian or Buffy would end up sleeping with Spike but you felt safe with him like everything happened for a reason and nothing was done in without thinking.

That feeling of safety, the feeling that my favourite characters are always going to be well cared for and true to themselves, it’s what keeps me watching. In “Buffy The Vampire Slayer” when a character did crazy things that I didn’t understand I had faith that it would all make sense.  I not longer have faith in HIMYM.

Now when I watch it, I sit there worried wondering what their going to do next and if they can come back from it. I’m just waiting for Carter Bays to jump the shark and for there be no way back. I hope that through some miracle Ted can meet his wife or Barney can marry Robin and Carter Bays can restore my faith. But somehow I feel the days of Slapsgiving are long gone.