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The Operative: Joss Whedon’s most political villain?

Operative1

Warning: This month’s post spoils the shit out of 2005’s Serenity, the feature film culmination of Joss Whedon’s gone-too-soon TV space western, Firefly. So if you haven’t seen it, (a) what is the matter with you and (b) stop reading immediately.

It was Dolores Umbridge that got me thinking about the Operative. I know – because they have so much in common, right? One is a cowardly shrew of a witch with no discernible fighting ability, while the other is a mild-mannered, stone-cold killing machine. And yet they do have a lot in common, if you scratch just beneath the surface. They’re both government employees acting on behalf of something bigger and largely invisible. And they both belong to that rarest – and arguably most dangerous – species of villain, the True Believer.

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Al Swearengen - Saloonkeeper, Kingpin, and Total Cocksucker

Al Swearengen by Caspian Whistler
WARNING: This month’s post includes spoilers for HBO’s Deadwood. It also includes bad language, because Deadwood.

Let me say first that you should all be extremely proud of me for making it this far before indulging myself with my favourite villain of all time, Al Swearengen. Come to think of it, Al isn’t just my favourite villain, he’s my favourite TV character of all time, period. So the fact that I made it through five Villains of the Month before scratching that itch shows remarkable restraint, don’t you think? Yes, thank you, I think so too.

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Villain of the Month: Stringer Bell

Stringer revisedWARNING: This month’s post contains spoilers for The Wire.

Ah, String. Easily one of my favourite TV characters of all time, from one of the greatest television shows ever made, HBO’s The Wire. Amid a large and stellar cast of characters, String stands out; only Omar Little gives him any real competition for Best in Show. This is down in part to the suave, physically imposing presence of Idris Elba; he literally towers over nearly everyone else. But it’s also because, like Omar, Stringer Bell is textured and sympathetic enough that you’re almost tempted to consider him an antihero, in spite of his – uh, let’s say casual – regard for human life.

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Villain of the Month: Cersei Lannister

Cersei Lannister by Caspian WhistlerAll right, let’s get the ritual caveat out of the way: the Cersei Lannister we’re looking at today is the version from George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire, as opposed to HBO’s Game of Thrones. Admittedly, this distinction gets a little messy now that the show has overtaken the books. I’m going to shamelessly take advantage of that by using the show as a sort of bonus reel of material, but in cases where the two sources diverge, the books will always trump. Clear? Good. On with the fun.

And Cersei is loads of fun – if you consider murder, treason, incest, and child-maiming fun. Yes indeed, Cersei’s list of crimes is long, and she shows no sign of slowing down. But for all the ghastliness of her deeds, she’s one of the subtlest, most textured, and in many ways the most believable villains I’ve come across. Not because of what she does, but why she does it.

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Who wanted to #SaveAgentCarter and #SaveNashville?

AgentCarter-101-02

Last month, several popular TV shows got the axe - including Nashville, Agent Carter and Castle. Fans were outraged, and when outrage and fans come together, you get hashtags.

But which of these cancellations triggered the most outrage? And where? And with whom?

I was curious, I used social media monitoring tool Audiense to answer these burning questions. 

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Minal and Kuzhali Watch TV!: Sense8

Sense8
 
'Limbic Resonance': the pilot episode of Sense8

We are excited to watch this because...

Minal: I like psychic powers and hot, powerful women of color. I really like watching or reading stuff without too much information, so all I know is that it's some sort of speculative fiction show that is probably science fiction but possibly also fantasy (magic?) and that it has some diversity to it, i.e. characters all over the world. As an American writer who has been fairly preoccupied with questions of diversity, multiculturalism, and globalization of culture for 20+ years, and also as a lover of SFF, I'm curious to see how they do it. Will the story be engaging? Will the characters ring true or will they be multiculti shells that are like demographic tickboxes (like ‘Quantico’ - here's the hot brown babe, here’s the gay dude, here’s the token straight white guy for all the “normal” viewers out there).

Kuzhali: I’m actually so excited for this I can’t even tell you. Even though I’ve been threatened by a certain acquaintance with “the Ganesha clip”, even though I’ve read waaaay too much about how the show is so great, how it is not so great, even though I don’t really know what 'sensate', 'limbic' or 'resonance' really mean, I don’t care, EXCITED AS FUCK TO SEE THIS OMG

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Weirdness Rodeo: Reboots, Adaptations and Neko Atsume

Gilmore Girls

"Why are there so many cult TV reboots?!", via the Washington Post:

But in TV, a land where every meager success is formulized, the reboots are seen as cheap bets, with often low-risk premises, washed-up stars and built-in cores of superfans.

For networks struggling to hold onto cord-cutters, and streaming upstarts pushing to prove themselves, the ‘90s reboots offer another prize: The viewers who grew up on these shows are now, a few decades later, making the decisions on cable budgets of their own.

The article notes that there are 400 original scripted series set to air this year. Any reboot - even a cult one - starts with an audience of greater than zero. Which is already a slim lead in the race for survival. (Although for many, that still isn't enough.)

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