Musing about “Constantine” (the TV show)

Spoiler-free.

Have you ever seen something which resembles a thing you like very much, but the details are all slightly wrong, and it makes you dislike the thing?  When I was a kid, a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away (also known as the 1970s), I wanted a black leather jacket just like the one worn by The Fonz.  I asked for it as a Christmas present.  My parents got me a brown faux-leather jacket in a sportscoat style rather than the black motorcycle jacket Fonzie wore.  “It’s just as good,” they said.  While it was a very good brown faux-leather sportscoat style jacket, quite stylish and durable, it was not a black jacket like Fonzie wore, and I was never able to forget that while wearing it.

Constantine” is very close to its source material, “Hellblazer.”  They did get some of the surface details right (the trenchcoat, Newcastle, dislike of angels).  Of course, they had to change things, tone it down in many ways, due to it being on a broadcast network rather than HBO or Showtime or one of those channels (the smoking, the swearing, the amorality).  As for the pilot story, it didn’t end the way I thought it should end, based on my reading of the comic books, and that was the most glaring problem of all, for me.

“Constantine” is not “Hellblazer” but it’s just as good … as long as you can forget the original while watching it.

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Musing about River Song and Jack Harkness

No more spoiler warnings.  You’re on your own.

Someone pointed this out (cannot remember who) and I wanted to work it out in a bit more detail.

Captain Jack Harkness had a Vortex Manipulator.
River Song acquired a Vortex Manipulator from Dorium Maldovar in 5145.
Dorium Maldovar acquired it from the wrist of a Time Agent.
Jack was a time agent in 51st century and could have slipped into that life again when he reached that point in the timeline.
At some point, Jack becomes the Face of Boe (a living head in a jar).
Dorium Maldovar is/was a friend of The Headless Monks.
The Headless Monks behead you alive and both the body and the head continue to live.
So …

What if the Vortex Manipulator which River acquired is actually the one that used to belong to Jack, which Dorium acquired when he arranged for the Headless Monks to behead Jack, thus creating The Face of Boe?

Bearing in mind that Moffat created all of the above characters, and his fondness for folding in his characters’ lives over and through each other, this is the kind of thing that makes an odd sort of sense.

(And yes, this scenario also has several “Rule 34″ possibilities, but I’ll leave those as an exercise for the reader.)

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A Note on River Song

In the words of River Song,

S
P
O
I
L
E
R
S

Something I just noticed after rewatching the “Doctor Who” episodes “Silence in The Library”/”Forest of the Dead” …..

Okay. I’ve read articles about how Steven Moffat effectively stripped away any power that River Song was reputed to have had, by the way in which he altered her apparent characterization from a powerful woman who stands up to the Doctor to an abused girl who lives her life around the Doctor’s.  There is a point to those articles.

What’s worse is that, in an episode which didn’t even feature River Song at all, “The Time of the Doctor,” Moffat managed to completely undercut the meaning and sense of sacrifice in River’s actions in The Library.  I’m talking about that scene at the end, in which River knocks out the Doctor and takes his place, sacrificing her life to save those people and save the Doctor.  The thing is, it’s not really a sacrifice.  Follow:

In “Forest of the Dead,” The Doctor wants to be the one who dies, to save River.

But from “A Good Man Goes to War,” we know River was kidnapped and held by Madam Kovarian, becoming who she was by dint of Kovarian’s actions.

But from “The Time of the Doctor,” we know that Kovarian only acted because the Doctor was on Trenzalore, traveling back along the Doctor’s timeline.

Therefore, River is who she is only because the Doctor reached Trenzalore.

If The Doctor dies at The Library, River ceases to exist as she had been.

Therefore, River’s sacrifice is less about saving the Doctor (although I’m sure that’s a part of it) and more about ensuring that she exists within the existing timeline.  If the Doctor dies, River is an ordinary girl growing up in Leadworth … if she is born at all.

Therefore, Moffat either planned this all along … or he retconned River’s story, removing the most heroic thing she did for love of the Doctor, leaving her just a pawn of destiny.

What do you think?

In the words of Daniel Keys Moran, who wrote several books with time travelers as characters, “When one travels time, free will is often moot.”  I just never really expected those words to apply to “Doctor Who” except for those so-called Fixed Points.

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A Note on “The Prisoner” (2009)

CONTAINS

SPOILERS -

YOU’VE

BEEN

WARNED

 

This reimagining of the classic 1960s cult TV show has mostly gotten bad press, from what I’ve seen.  I think it’s because people wanted it to be like the original.  People can dress up like the characters in the original and pretend that they are in the original Village.  The original Village was a real place, now operated mostly as a “Prisoner” tourist attraction.  It was the kind of show you could touch and feel and experience.  I even attended a science fiction convention, once, where The Prisoner was the theme, and the con badges were actually buttons with a pennyfarthing bicycle and a number on them.

The reimagined “Prisoner” is much more subtle than the original.  It took me several rewatchings to be sure I understood the full story of the show and I’m still not sure about parts of it.  The idea is a fascinating one, not executed as effectively as it might have been (hence the multiple rewatchings) but with a lot of potential.  What it does NOT have the potential for is creating the kind of fan/cult behavior which can turn a modest science fiction-edged show into a cultural treasure.  This, in spite of having Jim Caviezel, Ian McKellan, and a host of wonderful supporting actors.  This is a show where The Village is an altered level of consciousness rather than a real place.  How the hell are we supposed to cosplay an altered consciousness?  The brilliantly subtle idea of what The Village actually is, is what prevents the show from ever being adopted by the fans in the way the original was.

Thus, I can admire this new “The Prisoner” for what it tried to achieve and for the daring story risks it took, but when I call myself JMnumber6, it will be because of the original series and not the remake.

Submitted, with fondness, for the consideration of the next group of producers who decide to try to remake the series.

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For April Fool’s Day

What do I think is the best movie to watch on April Fool’s Day?

F for Fake – Orson Welles being his most roguish

Happy April Fool’s Day

 

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Sky-Iron

Here’s an interesting piece of the Higgins Armory collection.  It’s a meteorite of nearly pure iron which was found in Australia in 1931.  When John Higgins acquired it in 1934, he had it partially forged into a blade shape.  Is it any wonder that sky iron was believed to have magical properties, to be the work of the gods, and that it was forged into weapons and religious items across the world?

Or that Sir Terry Pratchett included meteorites in the sword he had made for himself after he was knighted?
http://gizmodo.com/5643189/sir-terry-pratchetts-meteorite-sword-is-the-closest-we-get-to-excaliber

Photo Credit: JM6

Photo Credit: JM6

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Celtic Jewelry – The Early Years

Today’s bit of art from the Higgins Armory is an arm ring made of bronze, ca. 1300 BCE.  It’s from northern France or southern Britain which means it’s probably Celtic from the earliest days of Celtic occupation of the region.  The info card didn’t indicate if it was worn by men, women or both, or what it might have signified.  Unfortunately, the Celts in BCE weren’t a literate people and very little about them exists except what can be gleaned from their artifacts and what their later enemies, like Julius Caesar, wrote about them.

Photo Credit: JM6

Photo Credit: JM6

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Celtic Axe is the name of my next band

The Iberian Celts had their own bronze technology.  This axe head is from ca. 500 BCE +/- 500 years, getting near the end of the bronze age.  The problem with bronze, of course, is that it simply can’t keep up with iron or steel.  Either the bronze is soft (I’ve heard that warriors sometimes straightened their bronze swords by hand after a battle) or brittle, breaking when it encountered an iron weapon.  Axe heads of bronze were still useful in war because their compact, heavy form withstood battle better than swords.

Photo Credit: JM6

Photo Credit: JM6

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