Sunday, January 13, 2013

Week Seventeen

Lundy Watches...
The theme of the week is becoming something that's expected of you, or to abandon those expectations in favor of your own desires. For some this could mean anything as simple as a costume change, while for others it could be the catalyst to an entirely different way of life.

Secret Diary of a Call GirlPlaying Into Fantasy [3.5]

There are many roles that Hannah/Belle (Billie Piper) is made to play throughout the day: daughter, sister, friend, call girl, author, and rarely is there an opportunity wherein they can mingle. The key to playing into a fantasy, as Belle explains, is to know when you're in one, allowing you to carefully choose the right words, the right actions, to please the owner of the dream.

While Hannah/Belle is expected to be so many things to so many people, it's her sister Jackie (Joanna Bobin), who has been stuck in one role for so long, who lets loose and tries on a new hat. In Ben (Iddo Goldberg) Jackie has the chance to explore a sexual side of herself that's been denied ever since she gave birth, and it's the comfort of having known Ben for so long, coupled with the availability of Belle's erotic book, that gives her the confidence to shirk the woman she previously was in favor of someone entirely different.

Bambi (Ashley Madekwe) is made aware of the fact that she's paid less money for the same work, simply because she's not white, and it quickly takes her to her breaking point. In order to earn the extra pay, Bambi begins acting far more posh than she has thus far, only to learn from her client Byron (David Dawson) that she needn't be anything that she's not, his fantasy being exactly who she's been all along.

DariaThat Was Then, This is Dumb [3.5]

With their old friends coming to town, Helen (Wendy Hoopes) and Jake (Julián Rebolledo) both struggle to maintain their current lives while also adopting the facades of who they used to be. In realizing just how much they've changed over the years, both of them work to reclaim their youth by reverting to their college personas, but in the process they learn that they can no longer be the people they once were. Both Helen and Jake have come too far in their lives to give up their progress, and it would be disingenuous for them to imagine that they still can be the peace-loving children of their past when they've worked so hard to become who they are today.

As for the Yeagers, both Willow (Cookie Rufino) and husband Coyote (Frankie Dell) have stayed true to the people they were long ago, and are shocked to see how different the Morgendorffers have become. While the core values that the Yaegers live by are certainly something that they believe in, through their time with Helen and Jake they come to admit that they aren't as satisfied with their lives as they once were, hoping that they, too, can move on in some way.

Both couples are, at first, determined to show that they haven't changed, that they found their true identities as young adults and have had no reason to adapt to the world around them, but the truth is that time changes people and values evolve. Both the Morgendorffers and the Yeagers have things to learn from one another, but neither is living a life that isn't true to who they are.

Buffy the Vampire SlayerHalloween [4]

A night where people are encouraged to "come as they aren't" provides the characters here an opportunity to really explore the people that they want to be without risking the judgement of those around them. For Buffy (Sarah Michelle Gellar) this means donning the guise of a noble woman from the 18th century, in part to impress Angel (David Boreanaz). It's only later, as the two discuss her choice of costume, that Angel admits that he had hated the women of his day, much preferring the person that Buffy is to the person she tried to be for him.

Xander (Nicholas Brendon) adopts army fatigues and plays the role of the tough guy, hoping to experience what it is to be the confident hero after his recent humiliation at the hands of Larry (Larry Bagby III). What happens is that Xander does play the hero, even beating Larry in order to save Buffy, and has the chance to save the day in a way that he never before thought possible.

The bulk of the experience falls to Willow (Alyson Hannigan), who is, at first, given a sexy makeover by Buffy despite her tendency to play the wall flower. Though she appreciates the effort that Buffy puts in to have her grow more comfortable as a person, Willow instead chooses to wear a ghost costume over top of her clothes to hide from the potential stares of those around her. Because of the nature of this story, Willow is then made to wander through most of the episode as Buffy had made her, slowly coming to accept that the people she knows appreciate her undiscovered beauty and that she can be the person she wants to be despite the preconceived notions that people may have of her. In the end, as she returns to her body, she briefly considers taking her ghost costume with her once again, but instead chooses to throw it out and walk home as a free woman.

Life on MarsAshes to Ashes [4.5]

The story of Alex (Keeley Hawes) is an interesting one, as it's one that not only have we seen before, but that she's studied extensively. Though she couldn't fully grasp the situation that Sam Tyler (John Simm) had previously found himself in, she did know quite a bit about it, and in finding herself face to face with Gene Hunt (Philip Glenister) and the other figments of Sam's imagination, she comes to an understanding of what she needs to do.

Throughout the bulk of the story Alex is taking charge of the situation, playing things out as she imagines Sam previously did, assuming that every ringing phone is a conduit to the real world, that every action taken by the people in her head will greatly affect the likelihood of her waking up. Alex has a part to play, and she decides her part is to do what Sam had done to wake up, which is to track down the man that shot her in the future and bring him to justice in the past, effectively altering the course of history and setting her free from the confines of her comatose state.

It's only when this doesn't work that she realizes she'll have to play things out much like Sam did, though in hearing that he had ended up spending another seven years with these people, her heart sinks a little. Willing to play her mind's games she interacts fairly regularly with most around her, and it's only Gene that she treats overtly as a fictitious being.

Better Off TedThe Great Repression [3.5]

Due to the over-sensitivity of Sheila (Merrin Dungey), Linda (Andrea Anders) is accused of sexual harassment, leading Ted (Jay Harrington) to get himself in a situation where he's accused of the same. In a normal office this would put any number of restrictions on workplace interaction, but through the intervention of Veronica (Portia de Rossi) they are labeled as having a disease and made to attend harassment seminars.

Due to the fact that her employees can no longer be fired for overt sexual advances, the office becomes something of a mating ground, everyone making sexual remarks to one another and punctuating them by saying they have a disease and can't be punished for it. Though she's initially expected to simply accept that this is the way of the office now, Linda instead chooses to turn things against those harassing women, mocking them in order to belittle their sexual prowess and deter them from continuing their actions.

In much the same manner Ted and Veronica are made to feel that they are not playing to their sexual tension as much as they could, nearly having sex in his office. It's only when they realize that they're playing into the game created by Veronica's poorly thought-out policy that they stop and decide to make yet another change in the office to set things right.

FireflyThe Other Half [3]

Everyone aboard Serenity has a very crucial part to play when it comes to missions, and while River's role is never explicitly stated, it's made clear that Mal had a very specific idea in mind for her, to which she fits perfectly. Initially it may seem odd that both Simon and River are made to participate in a mission so dangerous when instead they could have stayed aboard the Serenity with Wash and Kaylee, it's understandable, given that Mal wanted to use River, that he would have asked Simon to come along in order to quell any reservations he might have had.

River's ability to understand what people are thinking, to know things before they happen, was never fully expanded upon within the confines of the series, but the crew is, at this point, well aware that anything they think or want may already be in her head, whether intentional or not. As such Mal puts River directly in the path of an Alliance officer with the intent to kill the crew and take River into custody, giving her the chance to really prove who she is and what she'll do to protect herself and the people around her. In killing the Alliance officer she is, in fact, saving herself and her brother from incarceration, but she's also doing exactly what Mal expected of her, and though it's a difficult role to play, she does so because she wants so desperately to be a part of his world.

Winner of the Week • Life on Mars

Technically Ashes to Ashes, but this sequel to the original series is a great follow up, having had the premise set up in the final moments of Sam Tyler and following through incredibly well. While this very well could have been the exact same story from a woman's perspective, it instead is made very different due to the approach that Alex takes to her work and her knowledge of what's happening to her.

Another level of interest is added due to the fact that the setting changes from 1973 to 1981, allowing the characters in Gene's world to have updated their looks and attitudes without seeming as though they've been altered in order to better play off of Alex. The progression that these people have made make absolute sense given their history together, the time they spent with Sam in their lives, and the changing of the times, and they feel very fresh here rather than having introducing Alex at Sam's old desk and having them all stagnating as the story tries to start.

This series is not without it's mystery, but where Sam thought he knew what was happening, Alex actually knows what's happening, and as such her dynamic with Gene is far different than Sam's was. Ashes to Ashes feels very much like a worthy successor to Life on Mars, and it should be interesting to see how things play out for Alex in the 1980s.


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