Monday, December 5, 2011

Handcuffs, Tigers, Rusted Knives and... Yeah, I'm Bored

Ok, I hate this. I hate that we've come to this place now. After loving something so much for so long, looking forward to each time you see it, to get to a point where the magic is gone... You just never want that from your TV show. But here we are, "Castle." I'm told by the TV guide that you're handcuffing our lovelorn duo to a bed this episode and keeping them that way the whole time. And you know what? I don't care. Because I know nothing's going to happen.

A few episodes back, Beckett pretty much confessed as much, saying that she couldn't get close to anybody until she solved her mother's murder. Which pretty much takes all of the wind out of one's sails. The guesswork is gone. The "will they, won't they"? Because, guess what. They aren't even looking into her mother's murder anymore. And we all know damn good and well that the show can't go there until really close to the end. So what started out as a hot and heavy flirtation has become the TV equivalent of jilted, painful blue balls.

I watched five minutes of Castle and Beckett being handcuffed to a bed tonight. Five minutes. Then I muted it and went to listen to music on my ipod. Even when a freaking tiger popped out of the wall in some plot twist I could no longer even remotely follow, I thought to myself, "Meh. Silly rabbit. Tricks are for... well, TV shows in danger of jumping the shark." And I turned up my Rob Zombie and poured myself a glass of tea. Because after so much intensity for three or four seasons, at this point, I want to sit down with the TV show "Castle" and have that pre-break-up conversation you have when you really want to make a last ditch effort to save the relationship, but you kinda think deep down it's just not going to work out.

"Listen," I'd say, "I wasn't sure this was gonna work from the get go. I felt like it was just one of those... physical attraction things. You had the pretty people: Nathan Fillion, who had me back when he was a space cowboy spewing witticisms and shooting bad guys, and Stana Katic, who makes me hate myself a little bit while, at the same time, kinda wanting to brush her hair and feed her grapes. And Hell, I'll even admit it was a little bold to start ladelling on the sexual tension from the get-go. Because the thicker you pour it on, the faster it feels like it's gotta to lead somewhere, and everybody knows as soon as they boink, the show's over. But after a while, you had to know I was going to get reeeaaaaal tired of the games. The coy looks. The flirting. The come-hither stares across dead bodies. Those profound moments when you know one of them just realized they are really digging on the other. Then suddenly she's mad at him because he tried to get her to investigate her mother's murder. Or she's dating the rebound guy from Battlestar Galactica and he's vacationing with an ex-wife. We all knew that if the relationship didn't progress, and the writers kept stonewalling, I was gonna start thinking it was a 'just friends' thing and give up. Cause let's face it, I get the 'just friends' thing enough when I'm looking for a little flirty-flirty in real life, thank you very much. I don't need that crap on my TV."

At this point, I can see the show starting to protest. Castle looks charmingly befuddled. Beckett has a smooth comeback all prepared as she tosses her perfect hair over her shoulder. But I'd hold up a hand and say, "No, let me finish. It's not that I don't care. I do. And you know, maybe someday, when I see your faces looking at me from the cover of the Season Eight dvd, I'll get nostalgic and pick it up. But for now, I'm gonna have to take some time and think things through. Because I don't want to go through the motions and try to feel invested when I'm just not feeling it anymore."

And that will be that. My dvr will be a little lighter. I'll have more time to go out and hang out with  my friends, and I'll try to throw myself into other diversions to keep from mourning the loss. But it will always break my heart a little that "Castle" let me down.

I'm trying not to give up on it. Nathan Fillion's so damn charming I can't stand it. I can never decide if I want to pat him on the head and give him a hug or marry him and bear him many fine sons. And I have always been a sucker for a witty crime show which could combine gravity and levity with enough balance such that I literally laugh and cry in the same episode. But it's been a while since I've done either. And when I do nowadays, I'm just faking it.

So now my eyes are starting to wander, and I might be looking for something new to love on Mondays, say around 10 p.m... If you know any TV show that's interested...

Sunday, December 4, 2011

From Elves to Zombies in Just Three Easy Steps!

Once upon a time, my sister started bugging me about watching a show on AMC called "The Walking Dead." "It's awesome," she insisted. "Seriously, you have to watch it."

"I don't know," I replied, skepticism lacing my voice like a poison for her enthusiasm. "Zombies are really more your thing than mine. Me, I'm strictly elves and vampires."

"Come on, Manda, it's badass," she said, undeterred. She was used to me being hard-headed about jumping on a trend, and had learned to ignore my sourpuss response. "Just watch an episode."

I did not watch an episode. Not a single one for the whole first season. Even when my facebook newsfeed was starting to look like a "Walking Dead" fan site, my reaction remained a vehement, "So what?"

Then, the summer after my big move from Tampa to Fort Lauderdale, while I was hiding in my apartment out of cultureshock and a subdued horror at the way people in South Florida drive, my boyfriend downloaded all of season one and suggested we have a marathon.

I finally caved. Sure, whatever, I thought. It's not like I have anything else to do.

The rest is history. Or, at least, it's becoming an integral part of the history of how I lost that last shred of self-respect I'd been clinging to after previously succumbing to the seedy underbelly of the Tolkien world.

You see, circa 2001, "The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring" changed my life. I have been an avid reader of fantasy and science fiction novels since I learned to read in the first place. However, the dearth of good fantasy movies made me feel like I still lived in a world where my kind were relegated to the back of the literary bus, somewhere behind "serious" literature, crime dramas, chick lit, and books written by celebrities. Then I heard a rumor that someone finally made a well-budgeted, well-written adaptation of a fantasy novel. I went to the movie theater with cash and a healthy skepticism in hand and I walked out feeling like I'd just woken up from a beautiful dream. It was perfect. I felt like I'd been transported to another world for the low low price of $6.50 a ticket, inhabiting a vivid, frightening place where elves with flowing hair and gorgeous cheekbones floated around ethereally, ringwraiths lurked in shadows waiting to snatch at the passerby with  ghoulish fingers, and a wide-eyed hobbit who looked like a Precious Moment was the key to defending life, liberty, and the pursuit of Old Toby. Because it was the first movie in a long time to make me feel like fantasy geeks were recognized as a class which deserved recognition, it has always been my favorite of the trilogy, despite the poo-pooing of other fans at this notion. And it set me off on a path into messageboards and fan fiction and joining a group of women called "The Elf Huntresses" for a series of merry and sometimes risque conversations and imaginary adventures through Middle Earth.

I learned that I was a "Pervy Elf Fancier," and gradually became proud of that fact. I bought merchandise: rings and posters and an action figure. I wrote fan fiction, and actually went to the MTV Movie Awards in L.A. with a group of "Huntresses" to try and give Orlando Bloom and Elijah Wood funny t-shirts we'd made them. This, of course, was a wildly unsuccessful trip in terms of actually giving them the t-shirts, but was quite successful in the nerd-bonding, frolicking, and consuming-of-mashmallow-fluff sense.

When the whole crazy Tolkien ride ended, I told myself that was it. I mean, eventually, the third movie came and went, and the craze died down. There was much talk on the message boards of this being fine, no big deal, it just would take away all the fad-based fans and the true blue Ringers would be left holding the fort. This turned out to be more bravado than anything else, as interest dwindled all around, the conversations became less enthusiastic and diverse, and people just stopped coming back. It was the end of an era, a period in my life where I never felt like more of a dork, but was never so accepted for the quirky, dorky girl I was. It was difficult, and I still miss my huntresses, and the silly fun I had with them when it was all new and exciting. But it was over, and I had to move on with my life.

So I went back to "real life." Went to law school. Graduated. Moved back to Jacksonville. Got a job in Tampa and moved to Tampa. Somewhere in there, I lost a lot of weight, but never quite learned to stop trying to make people laugh so they wouldn't beat me up and take my lunch money. Then moved to Fort Lauderdale for work with my boyfriend and fellow nerd, and tried to make a go of it in South Florida.

Then, in one night of watching "The Walking Dead," suddenly, I'm a big dork again. I ordered an action figure. I have wiki'ed several of the actors because I somehow got interested in who they are as people, which is never a good sign for me. Having become a bit smitten with the character of Daryl Dixon in the Season Two episode entitled "Chupacabra" and having watched that episode about seven times the week it aired, alone, I ended up going on this obsessive quest to track down another movie featuring the same actor, "The Boondock Saints." People had been telling me it was awesome for years, but my snotty "just 'cause everyone else is jumping off a bridge" mentality kicked in and I resisted. But Daryl Dixon was now my hero, and Norman Reedus was my hero by association. And, consequently, the man was kinda hot, even without the crossbow. So on Black Friday this year, I went to four different stores until I found the movie and its sequel, and I bought them both, sight unseen.

This subsequently led to the purchase of another action figure. For which I could not help but judge myself.

The culmination of my nerd yearning for the company of other fangirls led me, most recently, to send an inquiry to a group mentioned in an episode of "The Talking Dead" who were like-minded fans of my man, Daryl: the Dixon's Vixens. I'm still waiting to hear back on that one, but I've got my fingers crossed. When I get to the fan fiction stage, I'll know that, no matter how old I get, or what size I wear, or how much I try to involve myself in the high-fallooting lifestyle of the city around me, I'm still the same nerdy girl who hid in the library in middle school reading Dragonlance novels and daydreaming about what kind of weapons I'd use if I was an elven warrior living in Krynn.

I like to think it's part of my charm.

So to recap, and give the title of this article any meaning whatsoever, here is how to transform a typical elf-fancying Ringer into a Zombie freak/ Dixon's Vixen- hopeful:

STEP ONE- Corner her with a copy of Season One of "The Walking Dead." Duct tape and a length of rope shouldn't be necessary. Just catch her when she's bored and too tired to argue.

STEP TWO- Once Season One has her sitting there going, "Oh my God, now what? No more CDC?!?", capitalize on the interest stimulated by the action and intensity of the first season by queuing up the first half of Season Two On Demand.

STEP THREE- Now this is important here, so please pay attentionYou must make sure your "victim" gets to episode five. You can run out of time getting to episodes six and seven, that's fine. She'll be back for more of her own accord, no carrot or stick needed. But the ace in the hole in turning the head of your elf-fancier away from longbows and nice cheekbones to the grit and hidden vulnerability of Daryl Dixon lies in getting her to the ep where Daryl's insecurities and toughness get played up to full advantage. Where the man pulls an arrow out of his body and shoots it into the face of his enemy. Where squirrel sushi is eaten to triumphant blue-grassy music in the background, and the "redneck ninja," as my favorite recap calls him, emerges victorious against the forces of Zombiedom.

Once you've completed step three, it's over. Go ahead and have her copy of "Boondock Saints" waiting, with links to AMC's online store marked as a favorite on her computer so she can order her Daryl Dixon action figure. Your elf fancier doesn't have a prayer.