January 10th, 2015
|11:18 pm - TV: female characters, ensemble casts, & why I'm unimpressed with Agent Carter + some stories|
I love TV shows with good ensemble casts, especially since shows with a single protagonist tend to have serious problems if this protagonist is female. This post is primarily about the Disney films Brave, Frozen, and Tangled, but expands the argument to geeky film in general – films with a single female protagonist tend to have few or no other female characters.
Of course, it's also true that geeky action films simply have very few female characters. However, that's not true for TV. There are now a number of good to excellent shows with large ensemble casts where there are almost as many female characters as male ones, and on a few occasions more female than male characters. Current shows like this include Orphan Black, Arrow, Defiance, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., and The Librarians.
However, what brought this problem to mind was watching the 2 hour premier of Agent Carter. It has two problems – the first is simply that's it’s a bit dull – like most of the first season of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., I simply don't find it all that good. Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. got better, and while I still don't care about or invest in any of the characters, it's fun and well done, although, in my opinion the least well done of the five ensemble shows I mention above. However, Agent Carter has a second problem – Peggy Carter is pretty much the only woman you see on screen.
Early on in the first episode they introduced two minor female characters, and my first thought was that if the show was any good, both of them would survive to the end of the episode – one of them died pointlessly during the first half hour.
amberite suggested that the lack of other female characters is part of the point of the show – this is an era with a level of gender segregation and gender expectations that were from a modern PoV simply hideous, and while true, that fact that this show is one of a number of other TV shows and movies with a single female protagonist and almost no other women doesn't excuse it.
Meanwhile, as I mention above the new show The Librarians is now quite good – exceptionally light, but also good. The first 3 episodes (the 2 hour premier and the next episode) were not that good, but the episode where Bruce Campbell played Santa Claus was exceedingly good, in large part due to Bruce Campbell both doing a great job and acting very well opposite Rebecca Romijn. Romijn & Chrisian Kane have both been very good from the start and the other actors are now almost as good and getting better. This is also a show with a main case of 7 characters (including the two primary villains), with 3 women. The show is total fluff, but it's well done fluff, and while Agent Carter is somewhat more serious, it's also considerably less good.
On an entirely unrelated note – fan fiction for Ann Leckie's deeply excellent Imperial Radch series (currently consisting of Ancillary Justice, & Ancillary Sword) seems to now be a thing. AO3 now has 33 stories. I haven't read them all, but most of those that I have read range from good to excellent. Soft Offering & It All Goes Around are both quite good, and A stillness full of lights is absolutely wonderful.
Actually, you're switching the subject of my sentence with something Becca was saying, which is not that surprising given you were on painkillers recovering from a tooth extraction last night. =P
My point about gender segregation was that it's shown by the juxtaposition of the male hazing and the boarding house shown in the second episode - which gives us a number of female characters who are doing their own thing and uninvolved with the world of war, mad science, torture and espionage. It seemed to me that they were making the point that the main character was exceptional not in her abilities, but in her willingness to face the male-dominated parts of the world and the hostile attitudes that confront her there.
Interesting to hear The Librarians gets better. The pilot was so silly it couldn't hold my attention.
I enjoyed Agent Carter far more than I expected to, but I went in with exceedingly low expectations because I'm not generally a fan of Marvel. I thought it was stylish and fun, and I liked the waitress character a lot. I hope she gets to play sidekick eventually.
|Date:||January 11th, 2015 10:58 pm (UTC)|| |
For the Librarians, watch the Santa episode, so far it's the show at its best, and also where it is clearest that the people who made Leverage are also making it.
I liked the waitress character a lot. I hope she gets to play sidekick eventually.
If Peggy actually gets a team, rather than just Jarvis I'll be happier with the show, and if that team includes the waitress, I'll be exceedingly pleased.
Pilots are almost always a little off with regards to their series. In the case of The Librarians, they had to explain the premise of the movies to use as a springboard to introduce the new stuff. And they had to do so in a way that explains why the cast of the movies can't stick around. The show's generally pretty light-hearted and playful, but once they start getting into focusing on the stories it's a wonderful show.
|Date:||January 12th, 2015 09:34 pm (UTC)|| |
I found And the Horns of a Dilemma (ep 3) to be no better than the first two episodes. As with the first two, the only actors who seemed to know what they were doing were Rebecca Romijn and Christian Kane. However, the show changed with And Santa's Midnight Run - I don't know if acting opposite Bruce Campbell helped or it simply took time for the other actors to find their characters, but that episode was (to me at least) both a heck of a lot of fun and far better than the previous two. We haven't watched eps 7 & 8 yet, but episodes 5 & 6 were also quite good.
I also love the connection between Jenkins & DuLaque that was first mentioned in episode 3 and has continued.
Santa's Midnight Run was also put together much later in the production cycle. According to John Rogers, putting this together has been a bit of a rush job. They had to write at least three episodes before anyone was definitively cast (I know seeing what they had to work with has had a real impact on Ezekiel and Jenkins on writing later episodes). That said, though, the ratings have been really strong so fingers crossed that they'll have a bit more room to slow down and take their time for a season 2.
|Date:||January 12th, 2015 10:39 pm (UTC)|| |
Santa's Midnight Run was also put together much later in the production cycle. According to John Rogers, putting this together has been a bit of a rush job. They had to write at least three episodes before anyone was definitively cast (I know seeing what they had to work with has had a real impact on Ezekiel and Jenkins on writing later episodes).
Interesting, I hadn't known any of that, and it definitely makes sense. Cassandra becomes a more interesting character during and after Santa's Midnight Run & both Ezekiel and Jenkins become vastly better.
That said, though, the ratings have been really strong so fingers crossed that they'll have a bit more room to slow down and take their time for a season 2.
I was surprised and pleased to see that The Librarians has had ratings that are considerably better than the first season of Leverage (which I loved), and it was renewed, so I definitely agree that we'll see a 2nd season of The Librarians and they won't be rushed. I also hope that season is longer than 10 episodes.
Yeah, regarding the time crunch, here's something John Rogers posted over on his blog that sums it up (all italics are his):
"Most shows have three or four months to get up and running. To beat Noah's deadline for returning to Falling Skies, we had five weeks from greenlight to camera roll, with nothing but the first script written. We shot out of order, on location, so the production team could buy enough time for the paint to dry on the sets. Writers were hired four weeks out, some of the actors weren't locked until the week of shoot. This was interesting, as it meant the writers were well into episode four writing dialogue for characters that we had no idea how they talked."
Also, somewhere he's posted the original intended airing order before the network said "Okay, you're premiering this close to Christmas, and we'll have to air two episodes a week in places so we don't have to worry about basketball coverage":
1/2: Crown of King Arthur and Sword in the Stone
3: Horns of a Dilemma
4: Fables of Doom (not an accident they planned an early episode where the characters might be acting out of character, since they were still sorting out casting and such)
5: Heart of Darkness (which was planned to be a big Cassandra-centric episode, which might contribute to the development you saw in Santa's Midnight Run)
6: Santa's Midnight Run
7. Apple of Discord
8. City of Light (Airing 9th)
9. Rule of Three
10. Loom of Fate (Airing 10th)
From the blog (again, italics/bold his):
"That order was what we were arc-ing off of and working with before we knew exactly when Christmas fell during the season, or that our last two weeks would be double-ups to keep us from running into TNT's basketball coverage so the intended spacing out of the stories in the audience's perception would be off.
"Now that said, once we got Bruce Campbell for Santa, hells yeah, jam that in early and the week before Christmas rather than after. And when the run of the show collapses from ten weeks to 7, you need Flynn to return to in one of the middle weeks, not necessarily one of the middle episodes. So FWIW I think broadcast order actually worked just fine for this season -- in particular, "City of Light" and "Rule of Three" flip just fine, it was more important to make sure they stayed in the back half than worry about specific order. "Heart of Darkness" in the back half also works, it was a gimme on which side of the "Apple" midpoint it fell, and it's very tonally a one-off. "Fables" is the only one I regret sliding late, particularly because it's so damn funny."
With regards to Ezekiel and Jenkins, they mention that they originally had Ezekiel planned differently in their heads (particularly with regards to the character relationships) until they saw John Kim's audition and decided he was what they wanted. And they started writing bigger and more interesting stuff for Jenkins once they got Larroquette and saw how much pathos he could bring to the character.
Oh, speaking of Jenkins and DuLaque, do you have any theories on what that connection is? There's a big one floating around out there. (I haven't had a chance to see the two episodes that aired yesterday yet so I don't know if they've developed that arc at all)
Edited at 2015-01-12 10:27 pm (UTC)
|Date:||January 12th, 2015 10:34 pm (UTC)|| |
We had Excalibur in the first two episodes, and the big bad is named DuLaque, which I presume means he's Lancelot. When the connection between him and Jenkins was first mentioned in episode 3 (Jenkins talking to Baird about how DuLaque likely wasn't dead because "we're had to kill"), I guessed Merlin, but the bit at the end of And the Apple of Discord looked far more like Lancelot & Arthur - I'm expecting we'll learn more soon.
Also, someone at the Conclave refers to DuLaque as the 'Son of Ban,' which is a pretty big check in the 'Lancelot' column. I know some folks are suspecting that Jenkins might be Gawain.
Edited at 2015-01-12 11:11 pm (UTC)
|Date:||January 13th, 2015 08:39 am (UTC)|| |
If you've seen Rule of Three, there's a quick mention that pretty much clearly lets us know that Jenkins is Galahad, which puzzles me, since Lancelot is Galahad's father, and that wasn't at all the feel I got from the scene at the end of Apple of Discord.