Tuesday, May 20, 2014
By MICHAEL WALSH
In addition to news shows, it turns out that I've been a regular viewer of a whole lot of fictional series. Six of them recently wrapped.
Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. ended its first season with a comic-book cliffhanger. The fact that it's a Joss Whedon show (and offers regular doses of Whedon wit) is the only reason that I even bother with it. To hell with Hydra.
Castle ended its sixth season with a dire cliffhanger. A combination of Canadian connections (stars Nathan Fillion and Stana Katic are both native born) and Joss cred (Fillion is a member of the Whedon stock company) drew us to the show initially. Clever writing, wit and a "meta" sensibility kept us coming back. In the season ender, the Richard-Kate nuptials are on hold pending location of the bridegroom.
Blacklist ended its first season with a possible reveal. We sampled the show because of the ever-entertaining James Spader, and stayed with it for the apparent father-daughter story. Basically a bad-guys-versus-worse-guys show, it draws on our growing suspicion that big criminal enterprises and big governmental agencies exist in a Janus-like relationship with one another. Plus we love the love-hate attitude that TV has had toward the FBI ever since The X-Files.
Grimm ended its third season with a dire cliffhanger. A fantasy-drama featuring cops and creatures, it was created by Whedon associate David Greenwalt. It's set (and shot) in Portland, which makes it practically local. In the season ender, the Monroe-Rosalee nuptials ended in chaos, and a serious shift in the series's power balance.
Person of Interest ended its third season with an absolute game changer. A tale of cyber-vigilantes attempting to do good within our 21st century surveillance society, the show's subtle wit and Whedonesque appreciation of strong women proved irresistible. The season ended with its core characters apparently defeated in their mission, scattered, and running for their lives.
Once Upon a Time ended its third season with a compromised happily ever after. An increasingly complex family fantasy, this multi-world re-imagining of Disney-franchise fairy tales boasts the participation of Whedon associate Jane Espenson and is shot here in B.C. Among the many things that happened in the two-hour season finale, Regina (my favourite character) had her recently restored heart broken. Now, that's going to have consequences.
Two further finales that are coming right up: Supernatural, wrapping its ninth made-in-Vancouver season, and Warehouse 13, ending its fifth and last season.
In between all this televiewing, I've managed to continue building the Reeling Back archive. The ten most recent postings were:
THE ADVENTURE OF SHERLOCK HOLMES' SMARTER BROTHER — That uniquely Canadian holiday, Victoria Day, seemed appropriate for this look at a 1975 comedy in which Her Majesty seeks the help of the consulting detective created by her loyal subject, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. (Posted May 19)
BRIMSTONE AND TREACLE — To mark the anniversary of British screenwriter and social advocate Dennis Potter's birth, Reeling Back recalled the 1982 film based on what was, at the time, a produced-but-not-broadcast BBC-TV drama. (Posted May 17)
GODZILLA — Since he first rose from Tokyo Bay in 1954, nuclear warfare's most monstrous metaphor has starred in 30 feature films, the most recent filmed last year in Vancouver. Reeling Back recalls the first remake, released in 1985. (Posted May 15)
PIRATES OF PENZANCE — To mark the anniversary of Sir Arthur Sullivan's birth, Reeling Back recalled the smart screen adaptation of his fifth collaboration with Sir William Gilbert, the inspired bit of musical nonsense that they subtitled The Slave of Duty. (Posted May 13)
MOTHER'S BOYS — Anna Jarvis (1864-1948), who campaigned for the creation of Mother's Day, spent much her life denouncing its commercial abuse. Filmmakers, too, have conflicted feelings about motherhood, noted in Canadian director Yves Simoneau's 1994 thriller. (Posted May 11)
NEVER CRY WOLF — Of the many tributes to the life and work of author Farley Mowat (who died Tuesday, May 6), few matched the simple eloquence of actor Charles Martin Smith's portrayal of the young biologist in this 1983 feature film. (Posted May 8)
GARY KURTZ interview — In 1980 the producer of The Empire Strikes back paid a visit to Vancouver to promote its release. We discussed his role as a producer and his own plans for a post-Star Wars future. (Posted May 7)
STAR WARS: EPISODE VI - RETURN OF THE JEDI — In for a penny, in for a pound (as people used to say before there were no more pennies), we ended three days of Jedi-mania with the final instalment of the first (or, as the episode numbers would have it, second) trilogy. (Posted May 6)
STAR WARS: EPISODE V - THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK — Unable to resist the power of the Force, Reeling Back continued the celebration for one more day with the second movie/fifth episode in the series. (Posted May 5)
STAR WARS: EPISODE VI - A NEW HOPE — Now that Disney owns Lucasfilm, the full resources of the media corporation are behind the promotion of May the Fourth as the official Star Wars Day. (Posted May 4)