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True Blood Season 5 Premiere: Turn! Turn! Turn!

15 Jun

ImageBy the time most shows make it to the fifth season, I find myself both pleased the show I like has survived but I dread that this might be the season the entire narrative falls apart. It tends to be a challenge by the time American television programs make it to the fifth season.  Part of the reason, I believe, is that the seasons are longer than in the UK and other countries and sometimes you can only drag out stories so far. Sure it is easy for me to criticize; I’m not sitting in the writer’s room struggling to see the overall season arcs and trying to keep the network executives pleased.  I felt the only redeeming element of True Blood Season 4 was the death of Tara (Rutina Wesley).  Why do I dislike the character so much?  It isn’t the actress, Rutina Wesley — she is doing the best she can with a severely flawed character.  It’s bad enough in real life when people don’t learn from their mistakes but on television shows, unless there is something extraordinary about their character that makes them a truly tragic figure (and this wasn’t the case with Tara), it is hard to keep excusing their stupidity.  Now, I will admit that Tara throwing herself between the bullet from Debbie’s gun and Sookie (Anna Paquin) did make her a hero, it also would have also potentially ended Tara’s tragic existence in Bon Temps on a high note.  And… it was time for Tara to meet her maker, so to speak.  It certainly wasn’t time for Tara to ‘meet her maker’ as the True Blood team intended for Season 5.   Thankfully, the evil Debbie Pelt had no opportunity to come back, of course, when you try to kill Sookie Stackhouse, you are almost guaranteed some sort of true death for your supernatural species.

Since I am never bowled over by the Season Premieres of True Blood, I am hoping things will pick up over the next couple of episodes.  Jason’s (Ryan Kwanten) fling with Jessica (Deborah Ann Woll) seems to be going nowhere fast and while he might be developing true feelings for her, she can’t seem to settle down with anyone.  I actually felt sorry for Jason when she kissed that loser college boy in front of him.  What is more interesting is watching Jason grow into an actual human with feelings (yes he is human but he’s growing up…finally) and resisting a quick lay with a sorority slut for revenge.  It would be a welcome change to see Jason grow as a character and develop a bit more depth.  I’m not even going to comment on the creepy Gay Vampire American scene.  It wasn’t that he was a Gay Vampire American that made it creepy.  It was that he is creepy Reverend Steve Newlin (Michael McMillian) with fangs.

While the witches might be gone this season, there will be no shortage of werewolf angst.  At the forefront of this season’s first supernatural issue is Alcide (Joe Manganiello), the reluctant werewolf leader.  He is going to go up against the evil matriarch, Marcus’ mother, Martha (Dale Dickey).  I’m beginning to wonder why there are so many middle-aged to older evil women that dominate the stories.  While the evil Russell Edgington had a somewhat strange comical edge, none of the maniacal women have any comedic outlets.  They are always a deadly threat.  Marnie, Maryann the maenad, even Bill’s maker, Lorena is an out of control harpie.  Too bad she didn’t have an “M” name as well because I could use French film critic Raymond Bellour’s obsession with women in Hitchcock films whose names begin with the letter M to discuss how these women subvert the narrative through violence, and how, like in Hitchcock’s films, they must always be contained to keep order in society.  Lucky for me, Lorena begins with an L, but it is something to think about.  The truly violent women all suffer a true death while the other women in the show are actually contained because of their subservience to their need for love.  Even Pam (Kristen Bauer van Straten), who is by far the most violent female on the show, serves Eric (Alexander Skarsgård).  Now, we get to experience a woman who is not only slighty older, she is a scorned mother.  Will there be any redeeming features in her character? I’m hoping so because it would be a welcome change to see a threatening female who goes beyond the one dimensional threat they usually represent on True Blood.

It’s amazing what Pam is sometimes willing to do to get back into Eric’s good graces.  Pam is the type of character that shows there is some hope for adding depth the the villainous females on the show.  She mixes humor, violence and anger in order to convey her emotions – and love for her maker, Eric, her true only reason for living, both figuratively and metaphorically.  In some ways, Pam is the most admirable character on the show, since she demonstrates true loyalty to Eric even when he rejects her.  The only bright spot in the premiere is the moment Pam sees the two bloody bodies of Debbie and Tara and she declares, “Color me impressed, you guys know how to party.”

Finally, Eric and Bill (Stephen Moyer), Sookie’s rejects and vampires on the lam, are quickly loosing their luster.  Although, I felt that Bill was more of a doormat all last season, at least he does show some loyalty to his feelings for Sookie even when he is dumped which is better than Eric turning to the arms of his ‘vampire sister’, Nora (Lucy Griffiths), and screwing her as soon as he gets the chance.  Both vampires must face the Authority.  Hopefully that will at least entail some excitement.  Because we are going to need some if we are dealing with Sookie’s grief over Tara seemingly turning into a killing machine and Lafayette’s (Nelsan Ellis) grief over the death of his lover.

Although the premiere ratings were down slightly from last year, True Blood was still the most watched show on cable last Sunday.  Let’s see if it can hold it’s grip or at least sink its fangs into the audience with a bit more compelling storylines as the season progresses because honestly, I don’t give a shit about Jessica’s teen angst any more.  She’s had it for a couple of years now.  Between her feeling sorry for herself, then cheating on the guys who care about her, and Tara being a victim for four seasons, sometimes it’s hard going watching these episodes.  At least Sookie killed Debbie out of hate and admits it.  That gives me a tiny ray of hope.

I’m not convinced I’m going to love this season but I’ve been a fan for the previous four, so I’m hoping I’ll at least be entertained.  And I don’t think “bad Tara” will really do it for me.  Nor will the bromance of Bill and Eric.  Maybe I’ll go ahead and order Season 2 of The Glades because I might need something else to fill up my Sunday nights.

American Horror Story: Halloween (Part 2) review

3 Dec

At this point, the show has lost me as any sort of a fan. I honestly feel like some sort of scientific observer, watching to see what they are going to do with their narrative and discovering that it seems, everything is more interesting if they just make most of their characters ghosts. There is something inherently flawed if your ghosts draw more sympathy than your protagonists. That is, after all, why they are called protagonists.

At this juncture I honestly don’t care what happens to Ben (Dylan McDermott) or Vivien (Connie Britton).  She’s the biggest whiner in the world outside of a certain former sister-in-law that I have and he is essentially a lying, cheating borderline sociopath.  And who doesn’t recognize a foreign penis inside them unless the Rubber Man’s is the exact size and shape of Ben’s which I highly doubt.  What Vivien doesn’t realize is that Hayden (Kate Mara) would be doing her a favor if she cut her fetus out).

What I find, well, ridiculous is that the dead can walk through the night on Halloween, but the dead from the house also seem to be able to walk around wherever they want as well.  It is certainly convenient that the dead can walk free on the night Violet (Taissa Farmiga) and Tate (Evan Peters) finally have a date.  SPOILER  ALERT:  That way we can confirm what we have been suspecting for awhile now – that Tate is also a ghost.  Apparently, an impotent ghost when it comes to really liking a girl.  He blames it on his meds (can meds even work on a ghost?) when they are at the beach and he can’t get it up, but it’s obvious that something else is bothering him.  I’m sure his girl/mommy issues (because there are ALWAYS mommy issues) will slowly be revealed in coming episodes.  Furthermore, while he might be impotent with his – appendage, he seemed to do fine with a substitute phallus, the gun he used to kill several of his classmates at a high school shooting over a decade before.

Speaking of phallic symbols in this episode, Ben’s phallic substitute of choice is the giant knife he keeps grabbing to not only defend himself and his house but to destroy the individual (Hayden) who he already sullied with his own phallus which has come back to — bite him in the ass.  Furthermore, the phallic symbolism continues when Hayden acquires a large piece of long broken glass to substitute for a knife to cut out Vivien’s demon seed.  A symbolic phallic abortion?  But no… Hayden does not get to do this in time.  Ben appears, mans up and confesses he cheated on poor Vivien just a bit more.   Ben is now screwed.  Vivien kicks him out of the house by the end of the episode.  Then Luke (Morris Chestnut), the security guy, takes Hayden to the local authorities only to discover she disappeared in the back of his car at sun-up.  Violet must also deal with the knowledge that Tate is not only Constance’s son (Jessica Lange), he’s a mass-murderer.  Quite a pick to lose one’s virginity with.  At least she’ll have stories to tell, if she survives the deflowering and the actual relationship.  Perhaps Tate will kill her as well and she and Tate will end up in the horror house forever.  Not my choice of destiny but I guess it works for them.

Notes From Comic Con: Locke & Key screening

19 Oct

Fox arranged a special Locke & Key screening at NYCC.  I can tell you this much:  the place was packed.  I literally had to stand against a giant cement post to watch it.  And I was one of the last few people let in, in spite of the fact there were probably at least one hundred people left behind me.  It’s no secret fans of the comic book and fantasy television shows were upset at Fox’s decision to not pick up the pilot this Fall.  But I think they made the right decision.  Now, before you get very angry at me and stop reading, take a deep breath and listen…

There are two competing fairy tale shows out there this Fall.  Grimm (NBC) and Once Upon a Time (ABC).  It is true Locke & Key isn’t a fairy tale show but any fan or reader or person with half a brain in their head has to admit it is fairy tale-ish.  I had just come from the Once Upon a Time panel to watch Locke & Key and watching them back to back, I was struck by how similar they both seemed and here’s the problem:  both shows feature a young boy who is struggling to save the world around him from being engulfed by a world of of make believe.  In Once Upon A Time, the world of make believe is reality and in Locke & Key, it’s the opposite, that reality is constantly threatened by magic and fantasy.

While Once Upon a Time has an evil Queen, Locke and Key has the (SPOILER ALERT) evil Echo.  Both females.  Maybe one is younger than the other but both females are set on destroying the world of these young boys.  The other similarity is that Locke & Key has flashbacks throughout the pilot and while I don’t know if that will be standard (but I’m guessing it probably will be because how else do you get your mythology across and explain the past’s grip on the present) on this show, it is ingrained in Once Upon a Time.  Sure the styles of the flashbacks are even different but the narrative structure itself is a bit too similar for comfort.  At least in the competing season.

Yes, the idea is neat.  There exists a set of keys that opens doors throughout the Keyhouse, a mysterious mansion in New England where the Locke family retreats after their father has been killed.  There are three siblings and each will gain a power with a specific key… The keys open doors that will transform people who walk through them.  Apparently Rendell Locke (Mark Pellegrino plays the deceased dad) used these keys copiously and his family is now paying the price.  His three children, Bode (Skylar Gaertner), Tyler (Jesse McCartney) and Kinsey (Sarah Bolger) begin to uncover the secrets and must grapple with their own issues regarding their father’s violent death.  Their mother Nina (Miranda Otto), appears to be having a nice time with their long-lost uncle, Duncan (Nick Stahl), because they spend A LOT of time together.

The family must battle their greatest known enemy, Sam Lesser (Harrison Thomas) who killed Rendell for seemingly no apparent reason until we learn in the pilot it was at the urging of Echo (Ksenia Solo).  Although the siblings battle Lesser and Echo kills him for the time being (there seems to be an implied promise she can bring him back), we know their nightmare is only just beginning.  At the end of the pilot, we go deep inside a tree and discover that is where Rendell has hidden memories kept hidden.  These memories are represented by miniature versions of people in jars and we focus on one of his wife, Nina.  Honestly, I didn’t even understand what was going on there, I had to read about the San Diego Comic Con panel to discover that’s what the jars represented.  That was not Joe Hill‘s idea or in his comic book originally, that was Josh Friedman‘s idea (who wrote the pilot).  I’m glad I found that explanation as that was completely confusing and guess what Dreamworks/Fox?  I teach film and television and have to understand strange and complicated film and television constantly and I didn’t figure that out.  How is your average viewer going to get that?

I know many fans are disappointed and I do think this show could still work.  I know that Dreamworks (who acquired rights to make the pilot after Dimension Films lost them) wants to keep it alive and I have a feeling Fox wouldn’t be opposed to it but there needs to be a little time and distance between Once Upon a Time, Grimm and Locke & Key.  They did a good job with casting Nick Stahl as Duncan who has been a favorite of mine since HBO’s Carnivale but they had him looking so geeky it took a while to recognize him.  Note to director Mark Romanek who every male reviewer seems to get very  excited over:  don’t make Nick Stahl look geeky.  You’re ruining a built in female audience.  And perhaps Steven Spiellberg, once again, can stop trying to manipulate the audience with his agenda of forcing people to identify with some cutesy, misunderstood boy.  Am I the only person on this planet who sees that we are just seeing another version of E.T. whenever we get a young boy in the lead?  Think about it:  missing father, misunderstood kids, pre-occupied mother (or dead mother, pre-occupied father), something supernatural or other-worldly.  It is the same story over and over again.

Notes From New York Comic Con: MTV’s Death Valley Panel

19 Oct

In all honesty, I kept meaning to watch MTV’s new show Death Valley but I hadn’t gotten around to it.  I even downloaded the first episode for free from iTunes a couple of months ago.  But I got busy and distracted.  Then I noticed at NYCC there was going to be a Death Valley panel so I figured, why not?  Let me just start off by saying even if this show has no class (which actually isn’t meant as a criticism or a put down, it’s just the nature of the show), MTV was kind enough to pass around very nice UTF (Undead Task Force) baseball caps.  Yes I got one.  And at some point, I plan on wearing it.

At Saturday’s panel there was a screening of an upcoming episode where zombies attack the police station.  It was quite a ride and judging from the 13 year old kid sitting next to me, pretty great in the gory department.  The kid flipped his gord every time a zombie got decapitated or sliced and diced.  Sadly, I began enjoying all the zombie violence myself.  It was such a satisfying episode I went home and promptly watched all six episodes available for viewing on MTV/Death Valley‘s website.  Yes, I know, I’m not their target audience but there are a bunch of adult females that actually do have a sick sense of humor.  Nobody appreciates us yet as an audience.  That is probably a mistake but that’s another panel that will probably not see the light of day at any Comic Con any time in the near future:  adult women and horror/comedy:  a new market.

What works about this show is the excessive comedic gory violence, the spoof of the reality show COPS, and the parodies of the many police procedurals that take themselves and their characters so seriously, along with the fact that in Los Angeles the San Fernando Valley is a sort of open joke.  It’s also well known for it’s porn industry and obviously Death Valley couldn’t pass up an opportunity to do an episode about that.  No, the show is not politically correct in the least.  And while as a female viewer, I do get sick of the lesbian kisses, etc. that guys seem to throw in for good measure whenever they can, they at least put in enough gratuitous sexual content that can offend both sexes so I feel it’s a bit more of an egalitarian show.  For instance, in the episode we watched at NYCC, Officer Rinaldi (Tania Raymonde) tells Officer “John John” Johnson (Texas Battle) that she’ll spend the night with him if he’ll kill all the zombies.  What ensues is “John John” single-handedly killing loads of zombies while the Captain (Bryan Callen) holds everyone back since he’s in “the zone.”  Obviously this zone has been induced by the promise of sex with Rinaldi and it’s an exaggeration but still an example of what men will sometimes do to get laid.  The best part of the scene, however, happens when one of his fellow officers hands him a root beer after his zombie killing spree.  I won’t ruin it.  You have to watch for yourself but it is worth the wait.

The panel itself consisted of Spider One (who conceived the show after moving to the San Fernando Valley from Hollywood), one of the Executive Producers/Writers, Eric Weinberg, and three cast members; Tania Raymonde (Officer Rinaldi), Texas Battle (Officer “John John” Johnson) and Charlie Sanders (Office Joe Stubeck).  Spider One (Rob Zombie‘s brother) shot a sample pilot on a super-low budget of $500 and took that around town, pitching it and that’s what ended up getting the show a pilot order from MTV.  Spider also discussed the fact that there has not been a lot of mythology written about the origins of the zombie virus and why there was a sudden influx of zombies, vampires and werewolves to the Valley a year before.  He and Weinberg said that some questions will be addressed in upcoming episodes but there isn’t some giant show bible like some shows create that gives a mythology/backstory to why everything is the way it is in the narrative world of a television show.

They also said that there is a bit of improv in the show since that is Charlie Sanders background (and he still does improv on a weekly basis).  Texas Battle discussed how pleased he was that he is able to appear in two television shows at once – Death Valley and Bold and the Beautiful.  Tania Raymonde had to spend a great deal of time brushing off Battle’s come-ons through the entire panel.  It looked like she had to endure a lot of bad behavior from many of the guys.  Not a great position for any female to have to deal with.  And I say that from personal experience working in the film business.  It’s a bit disheartening to see it still not only goes on but even goes on in front of an audience at Comic Con!  That seems to be a tradeoff, to get really bad humor on TV you have to deal with lots of sexist jokes.  Sometimes they are no big deal and you aren’t offended.  Most of us women do get that is part of the job but there’s a line.  Jokes are fine but when stuff gets directed at you, it feels creepy.  It’s no longer funny.   It’s just fascinating to watch how a creative environment operates because really, there aren’t any rules.  That’s not a judgement.  It’s an observation.

Death Valley: Something from MTV I can finally watch

18 Oct

I never thought I’d look forward to a horror comedy show about a bunch of police officers in the San Fernando Valley dealing with an onslaught of vampires, zombies and werewolves who must assimilate into everyday life or… die.  Well, with the zombies, they have to die as all they want to do is infect people then tear off each other’s limbs and snack.  But I finally watched an episode of Death Valley at Comic Con in New York (write up on panel to follow) last weekend and I actually liked it.  Yes, I’m shocked as well.

Spider One (brother of Rob Zombie) conceived the idea when he moved into the San Fernando Valley a few years ago.  Any person on the other side of the hill (the Westside, Hollywood, Beverly Hills, Santa Monica, the Palisades, etc.) would tell you living in the Valley could do that to you.  If you are detecting some underlying dislike of the Valley from me, you are right.  To understand my dislike, you only need to watch the episode of Gidget (the Sally Field show from the 1960s) where her father takes her to buy a used car in the Valley and they get lost.  So lost, they never find the car shop.   They can barely find their way back to Malibu.  That sums up the Valley for me.

But yes many people actually live there and like it.  Love it even.  And these are their stories.  What works about this show is that it’s a mockumentary as well as a horror comedy.  The mockumentary part is a COPS homage and immediately allows the viewer to feel somewhat familiar with an identifiable genre from television that has been around for a couple of decades now.  Although the show claims the stories are about the cops on the Undead Task Force (UTF for short) and the camera crew that follows them, we never really get to know the camera crew as well as I think we should.  Yes we get small moments from them, usually if they are attacked and have to be replaced, but the opening is misleading about that particular aspect of the show.

A zombie enjoys a donut instead of flesh for a change.

The UTF consists of a group of officers earmarked to fight supernatural forces, Captain Frank Dashell (Bryan Callen), Officer Carla Rinaldi (Tania Raymonde), Officer Joe Stubeck (Charlie Sanders), Officer Billy Pierce (Bryce Johnson), Office John “John John” Johnson (Texas Battle), and rookie Officer Kirsten Landry (Caity Lotz).  Captain Dashell’s briefings/rants tend to set the comedic tone for the show each episode.  Death Valley is violent, irreverent, sexist and completely not redeemable but it’s still a fun watch.  Maybe there is something relaxing and cathartic after a hard day when you just want to watch a mockumentary about shooting and decapitating zombies.  Or making sure that all the werewolves are following the city ordinance during each full moon and their lockdown areas are to code.  Perhaps it’s the growing problem of the “sex for blood” trade with the Valley Vampire hookers.  Or the entire episode about zombie street fighting that the officers want to go watch and enjoy before they shut it down.  All I know is I am somehow, entertained.  That works for me, even if it is illegal zombie fights.

Watch the trailer.

NBC’s Grimm: pilot preview review

18 Oct

I just saw pilots for Once Upon a Time and Locke and Key this weekend.  Now I’ve had a chance to watch the third pilot involving fantasy and fairy talesGrimm.

While both Once Upon a Time and Grimm feature fairy tale characters as real people, the similarities stop there.  In Once Upon a Time the characters don’t realize they are actually fairy tale characters due to a curse and they live normal lives, just not very happily ever after ones.  Furthermore, the entire narrative structure of Once Upon a Time mimics the Lost structure of present time and flashbacks to explain what went wrong in the characters lives.

Grimm is about as far from that as a competing fairy tale television show can get.  The show is a police procedural that features a lead character, Nick Burckhardt (David Giuntoli), a descendant of the Grimms who wrote the fairy tales.  He inherits the ability to spot fairy tale characters, hunt them down and fight them.  The fairy tale characters know exactly who they are and what they are capable of; so, if they are bad, they will most likely fulfill their destiny to be bad with the exception of one big bad wolf, Eddie Monroe (Silas Weir Mitchell), who is reformed and attempts to eschew violence as much as possible.  So far, it is the Eddie Monroe character who makes the show.  He’s just the right combination of menacing wolf and a reformed normal guy.

There is some violence so this probably isn’t a show you want any young kids watching.  It’s not too bad but still the opening of the pilot begins with a sorority girl who gets ripped up by a big bad wolf because she’s jogging in the woods wearing a red hoodie.  The investigation reveals (SPOILER ALERT) there is more than one big bad wolf in the area.  And after Nick finds out from his terminally ill Aunt Marie (Kate Burton) his is a Grimm descendant, he spends a great deal of time in her trailer trying to make sense of all the stuff she’s brought to him:  storybooks, weapons, just about anything one needs in the vanquishment of bad fairy tale characters.

In the pilot, the investigation into first, the murder of the jogger and second, the disappearance of a young girl, again wearing a red hoodie, splits into two investigations with two distinct partners for Nick.  For the regular police work, he works with his partner, Hank (Russell Hornsby), who doesn’t actually notice anything too strange with his partner, only that Nick seems to be going on wild hunches.  For the supernatural fairy tale investigation, Nick solicits Eddie’s help.  It looks like this might be the way the narrative structure will work for the foreseeable future, or, at least for the initial eight episodes.  While on one level this does work, if Hank doesn’t notice strange things are up with his partner in the near future, he is going to look like the densest detective in Portland.

Overall, the story works, and while they investigate the crimes themselves, the show could be any police procedural.  It’s only when the fantasy area bleeds into ‘reality’ that the show becomes more alive.  And the investigation and ‘happy ending’ for the younger red riding hood victim left the show with a feeling of closure with trepidation, just as any fairy tale does.

Grimm premieres on NBC Friday October 28th at 9/8c.

If you want to watch the pilot early like I did, go to this article and follow the directions.  Happy watching!

Notes from New York Comic Con: Dark Shadows Panel

16 Oct

I believe Saturday afternoon, I might have found my inner-geek.  And while I would not dress up as a character from the show (although all I’d have to do is put on a late 1960s dress), I found myself enjoying the panel for Dark Shadows as a (sshhh!  please don’t let anyone else hear this) f-a-n.  Ok, a fan but unfortunately also a trained academic and unimpressed person who has worked in film.  But as fanlike as I can probably ever be in my life.  To appreciate this fandom… you must travel back with me to around 1974.  Yes.  I’m that old.  I was a little girl.  I hated school.  I mean HATED school (ironic that I would end up teaching university courses for so many years) and I discovered one day in the summer when it was too hot to leave the house that there was this GREAT soap opera on (obviously re-runs) called Dark Shadows.  I became addicted.  I watched religiously.  It was on in late afternoons.  I planned on coming home from school every day to watch.  After the first day of school, I practically ran home to discover… cartoons.  WTF???  What happened to my show?  I went nuts.  I made my mother buy the TV Guide and combed through it.  I discovered the ultimate betrayal:  they switched the time to 12:30 p.m. on weekdays.  I knew what I had to do.  I snuck out of school at lunch and ran home to watch Dark Shadows and somehow managed to make it back everyday without being late.  This went on for about two months until they pulled it.  Before the end of the show.  Thanks a lot channel 26.  I wouldn’t see the rest of the show until I was an adult.  But that show stayed with me.  Poor Barnabus Collins, the misunderstood vampire.  It wasn’t that Barnabus was in any way hot, but there was just something appealing about him.  The threat of violence?  The fatality of his love?  I don’t know.  I was a child but even though I got a bit creeped out and scared, I had to watch.  What other show on the air had storylines about parrallel time, flashbacks, vampires, werewolves, witches, and ghost children?  Oh yes, and an evil doctor, Dr. Hoffman, hopelessly in love with Barnabus Collins while he lusted after someone else.  Even better, someone dead (alive somewhere though in a parallel time, probably).  I might not get excited about sword fights and trolls and otherworldly creatures whose names I can’t pronounce when I’m reading but apparently, I do like the supernatural stuff.   I guess it is time to admit it to myself and accept it.  I am a secret geek.  Or not so secret if you ask any of my friends.

What does all this have to do with the Dark Shadows panel at NYCC?  Everything really.  Because that is why the panels exist.  For fans like me.  I was actually excited to finally see Kathryn Leigh Scott who played Maggie Evans and Josette DePrés.  Since this was more about the publisher, Hermes Press, trying to exploit their newest re-issue of Dark Shadows comic books, only Kathryn Leigh Scott was making a personal appearance.  Lara Parker (the evil Angelique who was a witch who was in love with Barnabus in 1795 and started off the entire vampire thing) appeared on Skype.  What I began to find more interesting as I watched this panel was the power dynamics going on between these two women.  It is abundantly clear that Kathryn Leigh Scott has managed to exploit her roles as Maggie Evans/Josette DePrés/Lady Kitty Hampshire/Rachel Drummond, and milk them for everything they’re worth.  That is in no way a criticism.  I was impressed how well she’s done it.  Books, personal appearances, audio books, etc. I also notice Scott is far more able to keep everything on track than Parker.  Her adeptness at handling crowds made me think she might consider a second career as a politician.  Seriously.

All of this also made me think of Galaxy Quest, one of my favorite films of all time.  And if you have not seen Galaxy Quest, you are missing out on quite a ride.  It’s a comedy/science fiction/adventure film and if you don’t like it, then I think you might have to have your head examined.  But the dynamics of the stars of the old TV show in Galaxy Quest eerily reminded me of what I witnessed yesterday on the panel.  Ok, just Kathryn Leigh Scott but listening to her description of the reactions of the original actors to the new Tim Burton/Johnny Depp film made me think about how some characters/roles become so much of an actor’s personality that it is difficult to let them go.  So I can understand the reluctance Kathryn Leigh Scott has at relinquishing her title as Maggie Evans/Josette DePrés.  Because after this film gets released, if it is any sort of hit, Kathryn Leigh Scott will from that point forward be known as ‘the original’ Maggie Evans/Josette DePrés and that is far different from being her (Maggie Evans and company).  Yes a few others have played the role but this time it’s different.  This time it’s a major Hollywood film and suddenly I felt very bad for Kathryn Leigh Scott who was promoting her new book about the shooting of the film that just may strip away part of her being for the rest of her existence.

If you are wondering why I’m not covering what was said, that was because nothing much was said.  The original cast went to do cameo appearances in the new film.  That’s about it.  They signed non-disclosure statements so they couldn’t talk about it.  Now, this is where I think Tim Burton and Warner Bros. made a mistake.  Uh, you have a built in fan base.  Couldn’t Tim or Johnny have made an appearance at NYCC for this film?  Them talking along with Kathryn Leigh Scott would have upped the ante significantly – a combination of old and new Dark Shadows.  I’m sure the audience would have eaten the trailer up.  I’m not entirely sure what Warner Bros. was thinking but their marketing people might want to get their heads out of their asses and exploit something that is already in place.  What a wasted opportunity.  Oh, and some promo stuff would have gone a long way.  Now that I’ve experienced a Comic Con for the first time in my life, I cannot believe how short-sighted Hollywood can be.  They aren’t exploiting enough film and television panels on the East Coast.  And just an FYI, almost every single TV panel I went to was standing room only, or close to it.  Word of mouth among geeks is worth a lot more than some wasted advertising, marketing people.  Just remember that.

As for Dark Shadows, I will be going to see it next May, it’s tentative release date, but I won’t forget Warner Bros. wasted a great opportunity.  Just for that, I’ll go at the matinee price.

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