|phantomas (phantomas) wrote,|
@ 2006-04-18 06:52 pm UTC
|Entry tags:||fandom meta, fandom specific, supernatural|
or why it Rocks so much and why it could really become big if the production/writers/CW don't mess it up
Buffy's writers had to come up with 'original' ideas, ie. clever reworkings of the classic Good vs. Evil fight (and ended up making it apocalyptic. A few times). SPN's writers have enough Urban Legends in the US to last for a handful of season, without mentioning all the legends available in the rest of the world. The mythology doesn't need to be made up, because it's already here, connecting the audience to the show less by way of teen angst then by the fear of the creepy things out there, or better, the creepy things that have been coming out of people's imagination since ever.
The Arch Storyline
John Winchester - reversing a cycle that has been going since the late 70's in US films and TV, that of the absent father (E.T. anyone?) - is made into a mythical figure himself. An apparently legendary hunter whose choices have shaped the boys in what they are, for good and bad, with his flaws and virtues: by choosing to hunt down and kill the Demon that murdered his wife Mary, John serves as the moving force behind the whole narrative. The story will end once the Demon is killed, I have no doubt about it, and that will happen hopefully as later as possible (I vote for five series!)
The arch narrative is threaded all throughout the first season, picked up in some episodes and just mentioned in others, but it's what gives the series a fundamental unity and reason d'eitre.
The Family Issues
Last US TV series (that I remember) that had two brothers united in a mission that would make them forget their differences was The Quest. John, Sam and Dean are a dysfunctional family, and so intriguing with it that all the exchanges they have about their family issues have us fan(girls, mostly, I think) squee in delight. They all have a definite character, differences and similarities quite cleverly written and filmed (the way Dean and John move, the way in which John and Sam say the same words, etc). The feelings implied in looking out for each other not only as fellow hunters but as a family make the tension in the fighting/dangerous scenes raise up a notch. We want to see Sam telling it all to his father, we want to see what Dean would do, who would he side with, we want to see John worried about his boys. In short, we want to see MEN EMOTE for each other, and the family ties allow for a narrative that can play with this insted of justifying it.
THE ACTORS: easy to see, they are good looking. Youngish, but not teens, with enough acting experience under their belt to be up to carry the show on their shoulders, and luckily for us, for them, for the series, they do have a certain chemistry that works well on screen. Which brings the fans minds deep in the gutter of fanfiction hell in so many ways, but hey, it's just fiction.
THE CHARACTERS: the more we get into the series, the more we come to know the different layers to each character. They are apparently opposite, but enough well matched so to cather to a wide audience. We have the more serious one, and the more laid back one. The tough one that doesn't open up much and the intellectual one that mulls over issues, and so on. The writers have already established, in Shadow, that the brothers DO want something completely different...which leaves us with a big question mark at the end, to see how this will be resolved.
Ahhhh, the music. I'd like to point everyone to this ENTRY on the music by ashmael for a clever and intriguing analysys on the songs chosen for each episode and the way in which they actually do fit the episodes themes. Apart from that...it's not POP music! Which I have nothing against, personally, but to hear rock tracks, and classic tracks at that...it makes a big difference. It impacts on the audience in a different way, and it enriches the characters and the scenes, it gives the whole a rhythm and a edge definitely lacking in (most of) contemporary pop music. Great choice and kudos to Mr. Kripke
The Gadgets and Cars
Well, like any crime/thrilling TV series that wants to be remembered, they have a distinctive car: the Impala. Who isn't in love with the Impala, raise their hand! (think of the Striped Tomato for S&H, the Capris for The Professionals, Bond's car, etc etc. Sometimes it's not a car, ie. Kojac's lollipop...but thanks the skies they didn't give Jensen Ackles a lollipop to suck on, or there would be dead fangirls left and right, methinks). And not only the Impala, which is more than just a car but signficant in Dean's relationship with the world, but we also had a glimpse of Papa Winchester's truck (disanddat named it Truckzilla and I'm sticking to that, because I love it).
Plus, we have the EMF, beeping and crackling its way around haunted houses, a box choc-full of fake IDs, the Impala's trunk filled with weapons of all kinds, blades and ammo and guns and what have you, and last but not least, the boys 'dressing up' as rangers, feds, security servces and who knows what else :)
The Iconography and the Libraries
Strictly connected with the mythology, knowledge is really important in this show (as already purported in Buffy), and brought to a whole new level, where geekitude and libraries' frequentation is not just funny, but where obsessive research and the knowledge of useless trivia can save the day...what fan isn't obsessive in that way? The iconography of the sygils, spells, symbols, monsters (and I include here the old newspapers clips, the drawings on the walls, the ugly paintings, the mirrors, etc etc) enriches the visuals and aesthetics of the knowledge the characters and the audience get to know, making it more complete.
ETA: and I SO hope they'll do something more with the hotel rooms as they have done in Provenance!
The Net and Cell phones
Cell phones made legendary by the eternal 'Scully?' 'Mulder?' 'Where are you' are back with a vengeance, complete with email and incredible powerful satellites, since they almost always pick up...plus they double up as paranormal activity revealers, which is always useful. Along with the use of a laptop, these two elements alone turn part of the show into something we can all experience, therfore making a bigger connection with the audience, with them just being daily objects for most of us, and by the clever use of interactive narrative, ie, the Hellhounds website, mentioned in the series and being an actual website that we can browse, thus allowing the audience to identify with Sam and Dean and their research.
Will they reappear? I think so. A self-aware wink at Buffy, at fans, at that televisual (and not only) popular culture that surrounds us - like the mention of the Da Vinci Code (book and film) in Provenance, which again tries to strenghten the illusion of reality the show looks for, just like the use of real Urban Legends.
Sex and Love and Action
Ah, well...we get a little or a lot of both. Again, since the characters ages are past their 20s, we are spared the constant teenangst, but it doesn't mean we don't get to see our heroes deal with its slightly more adult equivalent: Dean calls it fun, and then we discover he fell for Cassie, Sam lost Jessica and opened up his heart to Sara, John...John still wears Mary's wedding ring, and I just can't imagine what love means to him anymore, apart from the love he has for his boys. So, we get lots of action, killer trucks racing the Impala, fighting against monsters and ghosts in various ways, B&E, Sam in a cage, Dean tied up, bars with to-be-picked-up girls, love stories - although pay attention to the classic 'a woman around makes the man grow up and stop playing, so they can't stop with anyone, really, and all women in their life will have to stand apart or die' for the sake of the narrative. We get glimspes of Dean making love too, which is gooood. But, the heroes stay available for the audience's fantasies.
At the same time, there's enough fighting and goryness and running around that the male part of the audience should be satisfied (I'm hereby reporting what are the usual cliches/beliefs re: audience most common in Hollywood. I have no doubts that girls like action as much as boys, myself).
The Mythology II
Not only the show has a mythology in the monsters, but we've been given glimpses into the Winchesters mythology, too. John Winchester has friends who are aware of what he does and why, so there is a network of hunters, even if not yet explicity identified as that (but several fan writers have already done that leap). Dean and Sam are too leaving behind them people that 'know' what really goes on in the dark, and that means a wealth of characters and informations and safe houses, resources in the making. It means a wider background story for the family; some of it we've been seeing in the flashbacks, which is something rarely done in TV series, not at this level of importance, ie. Something Wicked. There are important events that have shaped our heroes, and the show is giving us those as well.
Well, that's kind of obvious, but....why the Demon killed Mary? And Jess? In that way? It was because of Sam? What are Sam's powers about? We all want to know these answers, and that it's one of the reasons we keep watching :) I think that they have a nice balance between the MoW and the overall mythology, there isn't a single episode (no, not even Bugs!) that doesn't give us some little information more, either about the family dynamic, or the relationship between the brothers, what they feel about themselves, about John, about this life and the future, or about the main storyline.
I for one am hoping that we will get little models of the Impala, action figures of the Winchesters, a Monster Mythology Book Companion, DVDs bloopers and extras and commentaries and all the usual horrible!Horrible! consumistic and commercial merchandise. Oh, Hell, why not? I'll never be too old to play *G*
ETA: *smacks head* I forgot one other important element, terribly 'mythological' in itself and culturally significant for the States.
In the best tradition, literary and film-wise, our heroes travel all across the States, and the travelling itself becomes a metaphore/can be read as a metaphore, of the search for justice, for balance, for identity (who will tehy be once this is all over?).
I'm sure I'm forgetting something, and I may come back to this to expand a few points...but that's all for now.