If you’re the kind of person inclined to believe that what I write on my blog is a full and accurate representation of my life, then you’re likely to believe that I do little else with my free time but watch television.
And you’d be wrong…mostly.
The truth is that there are reasons why I have vast amounts of time to do little else but sit in front of a screen, but the truth is also that I just love television. Good TV is a feast for the mind and the eye, and I have greatly enjoyed this summer’s banquet.
confession time: I’m not even going to attempt to fill the gaps in the previously ongoing Sanctuary reviews. Why? Because Sanctuary Season 3.5 broke my brain. Like OMGWTFBBQ.
Hannah and I have an ongoing theory in which Season 3.5 actually happened in the minds of Tesla and Biggie as they sat back at the Sanctuary waiting for everyone to return. To pass the time and keep themselves from killing each other, they drank a lot of wine (or maybe some of Biggie’s brew) and wrote a series of increasingly strange adventures.
It’s really the only explanation that we’re both happy with.
So right around the time that Sanctuary was breaking my Amanda Tapping-loving heart, a new show came in to sweep me off my feet with its cleverness and humor and general non-suckitude.
Oh, and cute boys.
Supernatural is one of those cult hits that I knew a little about and figured I would catch up on someday. Hannah was the one to finally suggest that we check it out, so we sent away for the first disc from Netflix, and before we had even finished that disc I bought the whole of Season 1 from Amazon. And within a week I had bought Seasons 2, 3, 4 and 5. Seriously. It is just that good. Within a little over a month I had watched the first five seasons twice (what? It was March in Maine. Not a whole lot else to do…)
I wrote over on LJ, “The whole family’s gotten hooked, too, which is a rare and wonderful thing. It’s certainly made this Vancouver-esque weather a lot more bearable. And we’re having real, serious discussions about heaven and hell and Western philosophy, free will and family. Our Facebook pages have been completely taken over by quotes and videos and “I ? S+D” (that from Stephen’s girlfriend, who came for the boys and stayed for the awesomeness…and the boys.) I have not been this creatively and intellectually into a show in a very long time, and I haven’t geeked out this intensely since Stargate SG:1 was on the air. I love it. All of it.” When we finally caught ourselves up with Season 6, we celebrated the season finale with a party.
With the end of the TV season came warmer weather and sunshine, so we started spending more time outside, at the beach, around the campfire. And when we watched TV we watched reruns: The X-Files, MST3K, Parks and Recreation. We made our way through most of Being Human, but getting the whole group together in one place at one time can be a bit of a logistical nightmare, so two months later we’re still two episodes from the end of Season 1. We might actually finish it by the time Season 2 is on Hulu.
Then starting in late June, I saw more and more people talking about HBO’s new series: Game of Thrones. And not just talking like, “Oh hey, this show is kind interesting”, but expounding on it with great emotion and enthusiasm. I had seen print ads and other promos for the show here and there, but was under the impression that it was a ‘historical’ drama along the lines of The Tudors, in which case…
What I didn’t know is that Game of Thrones is based on George R.R. Martin’s series of ‘epic fantasy’ novels (Wikipedia’s words, not mine): A Song of Fire and Ice.
If I must make a second confession, it’s that I had no idea these books existed at all. For all of my interest in wildly fantastical television shows I tend to shy away from reading fiction, because I’ve been burned far too many times by dreadful prose. Unlike TV shows, where I have no problem dumping them when it’s apparent that they’re – you know – awful, I tend to stick with books hoping that maybe it will get better or maybe it will just pick up after the first 100 pages. Not finishing a movie or TV series? No problem. And yet I have this terrible, terrible guilt about not finishing a book.[/end confession]
So I didn’t know much about the books aside from ‘People Really Love Them’, but what I heard from those book lovers was that they were overall very happy with how the show represented the original material. In an industry where “book adaptation” tends to be equated with “sacrilege”, you don’t get a much more glowing review than that.
Long story short: I
watched devoured those ten episodes in less than a week. Game of Thrones is expansive and richly layered, humorous, tragic, and above all incredibly compelling. I was riveted from start to finish and, not willing to wait nearly a year for the next season, picked up the book series. I’m about halfway through A Game of Thrones right now (the first season of the show covers the entirety of the first book), and even knowing what’s going to happen next has not affected my utter enjoyment of the book. The books are long – each one of the five clocks in at nearly 800 pages – and there are yet two more planned, but all that means is that I’ll be enjoying A Song of Fire and Ice for a long time to come.
Still, having just ten episodes of an excellent series does tend to whet the appetite for more. I whipped through the all-too-few episodes of Wallander with Kenneth Branagh and Tom Hiddleston. I re-watched Freaks and Geeks, and Life on Mars (because they will never get less awesome), and Hannah and I resumed our regular Buffy watching.
And then I had a nice visit with my friend Stephanie, and she told me all about one of her favorite shows. Stephanie is a lot like me, and because she’ll freely admit it herself I don’t feel bad about mentioning it here: we’re both snobs. I am very, very particular about what I watch, and feel strongly about not wasting my time on crappy media. But at the recommendation of my wonderful fellow pop culture-phile, I decided to check out this show.
Only someone like Stephanie could have urged me to watch this show, because it was really one of those things I swore that I would NEVER do, like wearing skinny jeans or voting for Palin. But it was mid-summer, and I was media starved, and I consumed True Blood like…well, like a vampire consumes the hemoglobinous synthetic Tru Blood: with a mixture of anticipation and dread.
Unlike them, however, I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed it.
Now I’ll be the first to tell you that True Blood is pure, unadulterated crack. It isn’t just silly; it’s surreal. Any normal tone or emotion is turned up to 11, and it frequently swings from gruesome to goofy in the space of .00099 seconds.
Someone on io9 said that the difference between a bad show and a show like True Blood is that the bad show has no idea how ridiculous it’s being. The thing about True Blood that many people fail to appreciate is this: they know exactly how ridiculous they are being. They don’t just swing for the fences, they swing for the freaking moon, and they have a hell of a time doing it.
It makes watching True Blood a very different experience from, say, watching Supernatural. Both shows are incredibly self-aware (which, being the post-modern young adult that I am, I adore), and both shows take huge take huge leaps in storytelling. Supernatural tackled the apocalypse. True Blood, in it’s on-again-off-again dance with the source material, went with the books and made its protagonist part-fairy. FAIRY.
But where Supernatural has always tried to maintain an honesty of experience and human emotion, True Blood has pushed the bounds of character development, and credulity. When I’m watching Supernatural, or Game of Thrones, or any of my other favorite shows, I really do care about what happens to the characters.
When I’m watching True Blood, I am just along for the ride. My lack of personal investment in the characters means that I am open to whatever the show throws at us next, which is both fun and incredibly freeing. I literally can’t wait to see what crazy thing they’re going to do. And what saves a show like True Blood from becoming a farce of itself is that the writing is brilliant, funny and biting (ha), the characters are incredibly fun, and the acting is sharp.The crappy southern accents can leave a lot to be desired, but the performances rarely do.
And every so often, all the ridiculous elements of the story will build up to a scene like this one where they whomp you right in the feelings bone.
Damn you, True Blood.
The show’s fourth season is nearly over, but thankfully, we’re less than a month away from the regular TV season. Just 28 days until Supernatural season seven.
Not that I’m counting or anything…