Wednesday, January 31, 2007

The Idiot Box

Ordinarily I don't watch too much TV; but in the last couple weeks I've had a couple of DVD-inspired epiphanies that have warmed the cockles of my heart (such as they are.) The first one occurred while hanging out with my good friend, Rat Girl. She had I have had some issues to work out lately, and they came to a head a bit a week or two ago. We had to have a long talk (at Denny's, of all places) where we sort of went around in circles, and expressed our frustration with each other, and we finally got to a place where we were both tired and a bit unhappy, but had said all we had to say. So she said, "wanna come over and watch some TV?" and I said sure, why not.... so we went to her place and (after determining that The L-Word was not an option) popped a Justice League DVD in the player. This is the recent incarnation of the old Hanna-Barbara Superfriends cartoon that I knew and loved as a kid; more edgy animation and plotting, and really overall pretty sharp looking. So we watched about 4 episodes, and about halfway through the experience she shook her head and said, "God, Green Lantern is such a choad." Which was exactly what I had been thinking at the time. I laughed, she laughed, we agreed, and I think that while we may not agree about some issues, we may have hit a rough spot, it's not insignificant that we still both firmly recognize Green Lantern to be an asshat.

Such things are geek friendship based on. Another kind of geekdom got brought back to the forefront of my mind when I went over to January Molasses' house to help her buy a new fish (HER fishbuying, unlike mine, does not end in tragedy--details forthcoming on my other blog.) After acquiring 2 new members of the Molasses household, we ended up watching some of her vast DVD collection of Xena: Warrior Princess. She wanted to show me a particular episode which I hadn't seen before, and which presented some of the frustrating lack of internal logic that got me to stop watching the show way back when it was originally airing in the late '90s. I present for you, here, the issue and my frustration:
Xena, Warrior Princess and Erstwhile Sidechick Gabrielle hook up with another woman warrior, who is an odd blend of Joan d'Arc and I Dream of Jeannie. She is fighting for light and good, because the voices in her head tell her to. She kicks ass and takes names, and kills the hell out of a lot of bad people, assisted by Xena's sword and Gabrielle's bonkin' stick. Bodies stack up like cordwood, as they do in every episode of this show, and that's fine because that's why we watch it! Combat sequences without end! RAHHH!! So after each battle, the Light Champion offers to let the survivors "turn away from the dark," in a ceremony that looks surprisingly like a cult initiation ("No, Gabrielle! Don't drink the Kool-Aid!") And then surprise surprise, it turns out that if they don't convert in 3 days, she kills 'em. Xena and Gaby are shocked and amazed, and proceed to lecture her on how these evil slavers deserve a fair trial (but slavery is technically legal in this fantasy world! so who's going to convict them of what exactly?) and then turn her in to the cops, who are probably going to kill her because she's been yomping on bad guys all over the countryside. Hmm. Nice work, guys.

I know some of my friends get frustrated with me because of my "negative attitude" about things they like, like Xena or Battlestar Galactica or CSI. But really, I get frustrated because I care--because I think Xena was such a great show when it WAS good! And then you get episodes which beat you over the head with a seemingly illogical moral point, like this one. Or are painfully badly written--don't start me on the opera episode! JM and I spent an hour trying to figure out which one that was in her vast collection of DVD's so we could watch it with actor commentary... which was, by the way, hilarious. Even a bad episode of Xena is much enhanced by hearing Lucy Lawless yelling, "Yeh, look there, I'm slipping ya the tongue! Whooooo!!" during a sensitive Xena/Gabrielle moment. Two thumbs up!

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