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You get rambly thoughts. Yay!

Revenge: A bit muddled here and there, but still interesting, especially because of the extent to which (at least at the beginning) it’s framed as this faceoff between two women, both powerful in their own way. Because of the aforementioned muddling, it doesn’t quite stay that way, but it was still nifty while it lasted. And I kind of love the relationship between Emily and Nolan — all the more so because the show is unafraid to make Nolan a physical wimp. When somebody holds him at knifepoint, he gets scared. And then he turns around and calls Emily on her errors, and she generally admits he’s right.

[profile] kniedzw called it a “soap opera” at one point, which got me thinking about the extent to which a soap opera can be defined as a drama that caters to a female audience. There are other aspects, too — the daytime slot being a shallow one; the constant plot churn being a more substantial one — but “soap opera” has a connotation of “ridiculous,” and really, I don’t think Revenge (at least in its first season) is any more ridiculous than various evening dramas that cater to a male audience. So there’s that.

Lost Girl: The werewolf guy is hot, but the tone of the show really doesn’t do it for me, and I can’t help but roll my eyes at the extent to which the protagonist’s nature seems like an excuse to have her make out with people every episode. Not my cup of tea, I think.

The Vampire Diaries: Also not my cup of tea, but I watched the first two episodes out of curiosity (yay Netflix streaming!), and have to applaud the way Stefan goes against the stereotypical grain of the YA paranormal boyfriend. Which is to say, he’s not an asshole. In fact, he is an anti-asshole in some ways I can’t help but read as a deliberate response to Edward in Twilight, whether that’s the case or not. I still don’t find him that interesting, but at least I don’t want to deck him.

Coriolanus: And now for something that isn’t TV. Not one of Shakespeare’s better-known tragedies, but after watching this adaptation, I have no idea why. It’s been too long since I read the play (my sophomore year of college, I think) for me to recognize whether it’s a matter of how they edited the script, or just the bloody fantastic performances from Ralph Fiennes and Gerard Butler and Brian Cox and James Nesbitt and oh my god Vanessa Redgrave, but it fits all but seamlessly into a run-down, militarized present day, with weary politicians and some conspirators who are, when I think about it, weirdly honest. I think I may have to buy a copy of the movie and add it to my library of Good Shakespeare Adaptations.

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0 Responses to “recent media”

  1. laurelwen

    Same here. Of course, I don’t watch it for Stefan, I watch it for Damon (and a few other characters that show up down the line). For all its teenage melodrama, it is still somehow engaging. Ask Kevin if you want more of a breakdown on *why* that is.

  2. mariness

    I loved the first season of Revenge. The second season, alas, seemed to lose focus and stopped being as much about the Emanda/Victoria faceoff and instead became more about other, more boring things.

    The last episode seemed to suggest that the focus will be returning, but I have my doubts.

    Also, more Nolan, less of the very very boring Jack, please.

    • Marie Brennan

      Is “Emanda” how people have decided to refer to her, in keeping the two of them straight? I was calling her “Amandily” (and the other one “Emilanda”) but decided that would confuse people if I posted it here. πŸ™‚

      Anyway, Revenge is the sort of show I think would be improved by a willingness to tell a one-season story, rather than having to build it up into something that can roll on for years. In order to keep her quest going, they’re introducing layers that I find much less compelling, and it dilutes the laser-like focus she started with.

      I liked Jack okay, but at least a chunk of that is a comparison between him and Daniel, whom I found truly boring. <g> But Jack got a good deal more boring when he latched onto Emilanda or whatever people are calling her (Amily?) — he was stuck harping on that for quite a while, and it doesn’t help that I haaaaaaaaate the way it seems his feelings for her are really just feelings for his childhood friend rather than the woman in front of him, which of course means he doesn’t love her at all. (Not that he knows it. And any time lies like that are floating around, I really, really want them to be exposed.)

  3. wadam

    I more or less like Lost Girl. It’s deeply stupid. But if I’m looking for mindless television about the supernatural, I could think of many, many worse shows. … I guess when I put it that way, it sounds like my standards are pretty low. Which they may be.

    I’m really interested in your take on Coriolanus. It’s a play that I like, and when I saw that there was going to be an adaptation, I was really excited. In its execution, I thought that there were ways that it lived up to its potential, and ways that it didn’t. The acting was pretty amazing, and the first half worked really well. But it fell apart for me around the time that Volumnia (Redgrave’s character) came begging for Coriolanus to give up his vendetta. That scene went on too long, and everything after that was sort of a mechanical march toward the end.

    That said, it’s definitely an adaptation that I would watch again. It’s possible that I’m just disappointed that it wasn’t the adaptation that I wanted.

    • Marie Brennan

      I think I’m going to start calling things like Lost Girl “licorice.” As in, they’re candy, and that’s fine; they’re just not a type of candy I particularly like.

      Regarding Coriolanus — it’s true that Volumnia’s speech is very, very long. I think I had already decided that she was awesomesauce, though, and/or was being amazed by what I had failed to notice when I read the play, namely, that she’s basically the one who resolves the central conflict. After that, yeah, it’s pretty much just denouement.

      You could probably tighten it up by reducing her focus on things like the kid; I wouldn’t mind that.

  4. rysmiel

    Oh, I love that Coriolanus, the pacing of its movement from film-conventions to theatre-conventions is just perfect. It basically had me at “Fidelis TV”.

    My theory as to why it’s not better known is that people are leery of how virulently antidemocratic it is, fwiw. I have seen it performed only once, though that was one of the best theatre experiences I have ever had.

    • Marie Brennan

      I dunno — on the one hand it’s antidemocratic, but on the other hand the main spokesman for that point of view is Coriolanus himself, who’s really an unsympathetic jerk. I mean, maybe I’m supposed to be sympathizing with him because he’s the protagonist, but it wasn’t hard for me to read the story as being the tale of how he was wrong.

      Honestly, it’s probably less well-known at least in part because its ending isn’t as exciting as those of the better-known tragedies. It basically boils down to “Volumnia makes an awesome speech, the Volscians shiv Coriolanus for being a turncoat, the end.”

      But yes, the shifting of various elements into TV news in this adaptation was just excellently done. The bit that was the political analysts sitting around and talking had no right whatsoever to seem as natural as it did.

    • mindstalk

      Boston’s Shakespeare in the Common last year did Coriolanus. It was good but kind of disturbing. They used modern military garb and props (which made it odd when dialogue of “swords” went along people dressed like Che and the sounds of automatic gunfire.) That’s not the disturbing part. But it was cast as if it were a piece of fascist propaganda. Coriolanus himself was tall and Aryan, while the tribunes were short fat and nasal-voiced; I think the male arguably looked Jewish.

      • Marie Brennan

        That’s the same visual/temporal aesthetic this adaptation uses, but the juxtaposition felt natural to me, instead of odd. They may have cut some percentage of the sword-related lines? There were still a few left, though.

        It does not, however, have that sort of racial overtone. The major characters are all white, with some black actors mixed in among Rome’s political class — I did a terrible job of noticing most of the characters’ names, so I don’t remember which ones they were. SitC’s version sounds . . . yeah. Disturbing. (Not quite as disturbing as the production of The Merchant of Venice saw, with the straight-up evil!Shylock played by a German actor, but still.)

  5. Marie Brennan

    I’ve heard it’s fun crack, but I don’t know if I care enough to give it the chance to hook me. It will depend on the pro-TVD argument I’ve been told I must hear. πŸ™‚

  6. bookblather

    Is that version of Coriolanus on Netflix, or should I try and get it from somewhere else?

  7. tekalynn

    I’ve been watching La Patrona lately. It has absolutely everything I want in a telenovela, except crinolines.

    What I really like about La Patrona is how well it passes the Bechdel Test. The romantic male lead has almost been relegated to the B plot at this point.

  8. between4walls

    Ooh, Coriolanus. I very much liked how they used television, and Jessica Chastain did a great deal with the relatively small part of Virgilia.

  9. sandmantv

    Once HRSFA was playing Botticelli (like twenty questions, as our host knows, but with a defined person and starting letter). The guessers knew:
    Started with a C
    Title character of a Shakespearean play
    Not Cleopatra
    Not Caesar
    Not Cymbaline

    They still couldn’t figure it out.

    • Marie Brennan

      It’s not one many people have seen or read, no. I only knew it (vaguely) because I read it for a class — one of my Core courses, if memory serves.

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