Deprecated: Assigning the return value of new by reference is deprecated in /home/xemnu/thepostgameshow.com/wp-settings.php on line 512

Deprecated: Assigning the return value of new by reference is deprecated in /home/xemnu/thepostgameshow.com/wp-settings.php on line 527

Deprecated: Assigning the return value of new by reference is deprecated in /home/xemnu/thepostgameshow.com/wp-settings.php on line 534

Deprecated: Assigning the return value of new by reference is deprecated in /home/xemnu/thepostgameshow.com/wp-settings.php on line 570

Strict Standards: Declaration of Walker_Page::start_lvl() should be compatible with Walker::start_lvl(&$output) in /home/xemnu/thepostgameshow.com/wp-includes/classes.php on line 1199

Strict Standards: Declaration of Walker_Page::end_lvl() should be compatible with Walker::end_lvl(&$output) in /home/xemnu/thepostgameshow.com/wp-includes/classes.php on line 1199

Strict Standards: Declaration of Walker_Page::start_el() should be compatible with Walker::start_el(&$output) in /home/xemnu/thepostgameshow.com/wp-includes/classes.php on line 1199

Strict Standards: Declaration of Walker_Page::end_el() should be compatible with Walker::end_el(&$output) in /home/xemnu/thepostgameshow.com/wp-includes/classes.php on line 1199

Strict Standards: Declaration of Walker_PageDropdown::start_el() should be compatible with Walker::start_el(&$output) in /home/xemnu/thepostgameshow.com/wp-includes/classes.php on line 1244

Strict Standards: Declaration of Walker_Category::start_lvl() should be compatible with Walker::start_lvl(&$output) in /home/xemnu/thepostgameshow.com/wp-includes/classes.php on line 1391

Strict Standards: Declaration of Walker_Category::end_lvl() should be compatible with Walker::end_lvl(&$output) in /home/xemnu/thepostgameshow.com/wp-includes/classes.php on line 1391

Strict Standards: Declaration of Walker_Category::start_el() should be compatible with Walker::start_el(&$output) in /home/xemnu/thepostgameshow.com/wp-includes/classes.php on line 1391

Strict Standards: Declaration of Walker_Category::end_el() should be compatible with Walker::end_el(&$output) in /home/xemnu/thepostgameshow.com/wp-includes/classes.php on line 1391

Strict Standards: Declaration of Walker_CategoryDropdown::start_el() should be compatible with Walker::start_el(&$output) in /home/xemnu/thepostgameshow.com/wp-includes/classes.php on line 1442

Strict Standards: Redefining already defined constructor for class wpdb in /home/xemnu/thepostgameshow.com/wp-includes/wp-db.php on line 306

Deprecated: Assigning the return value of new by reference is deprecated in /home/xemnu/thepostgameshow.com/wp-includes/cache.php on line 103

Strict Standards: Redefining already defined constructor for class WP_Object_Cache in /home/xemnu/thepostgameshow.com/wp-includes/cache.php on line 431

Deprecated: Assigning the return value of new by reference is deprecated in /home/xemnu/thepostgameshow.com/wp-includes/query.php on line 61

Deprecated: Assigning the return value of new by reference is deprecated in /home/xemnu/thepostgameshow.com/wp-includes/theme.php on line 1109

Strict Standards: Declaration of Walker_Comment::start_lvl() should be compatible with Walker::start_lvl(&$output) in /home/xemnu/thepostgameshow.com/wp-includes/comment-template.php on line 1266

Strict Standards: Declaration of Walker_Comment::end_lvl() should be compatible with Walker::end_lvl(&$output) in /home/xemnu/thepostgameshow.com/wp-includes/comment-template.php on line 1266

Strict Standards: Declaration of Walker_Comment::start_el() should be compatible with Walker::start_el(&$output) in /home/xemnu/thepostgameshow.com/wp-includes/comment-template.php on line 1266

Strict Standards: Declaration of Walker_Comment::end_el() should be compatible with Walker::end_el(&$output) in /home/xemnu/thepostgameshow.com/wp-includes/comment-template.php on line 1266

Strict Standards: Redefining already defined constructor for class WP_Dependencies in /home/xemnu/thepostgameshow.com/wp-includes/class.wp-dependencies.php on line 31

Strict Standards: Redefining already defined constructor for class WP_Http in /home/xemnu/thepostgameshow.com/wp-includes/http.php on line 61
The Post-Game Show » torchwood

Posts Tagged ‘torchwood’

Are We Being Served? Gays on TV

Monday, March 15th, 2010

AfterElton has a rundown today of the top 50 gay and bisexual male characters on TV, as voted for by the site’s readers (who are mostly gay men).

I’ll let you go over there to read the list, but I had some observations I wanted to share. The main thing to notice is that the vast majority of these characters debuted in the last decade; 41 of them, in fact. Of those, 28 debuted in the last five years (with a further three debuting before 2005, but coming out after).

gaysontvGlee, Southland, True Blood.

Memories are short, of course, and recent characters are always likely to have an advantage in a popular vote. Controversial early groundbreakers like Mr Humphries and Steven Carrington clearly weren’t popular enough to make the cut, but there is good reason for them to be unpopular. There clearly aren’t a lot of missing characters from before 2000. When AfterElton did the same poll in 2007, they only offered a top 25 - there probably weren’t enough popular gay characters of note to fill a top 50.

There are now, though they come from just 29 shows, of which 19 are still airing (though two of these are on their way out). It’s notable that sister site AfterEllen compiled its own list and had to allow characters from movies to get to a list of 50 gay and bisexual female characters.

Some other breakdowns for your consideration. Only 14 of the characters come from US primetime network TV. Nineteen are from cable shows. There are four from daytime soaps (two couples). Thirteen characters are from outside the US; eight from the UK, four from Germany and one from Canada.

Twelve characters come from soaps, and eleven from three queer dramas - six from Queer as Folk USA, one from the UK original, and four from the short-lived black gay drama Noah’s Arc. Of the remainder, three characters come from sci-fi, five from sitcoms, four from comedy dramas and five from teen dramas.

jackontvTorchwood

Eight of the characters are black, and four of these are from one show aimed at a black gay audience. Two are Latino. Only one is South Asian and none are East Asian. None of the characters identify as bisexual. Captain Jack Harkness is ‘omnisexual’; four characters fell in love with men but didn’t otherwise identify as gay; two are still in denial (Ugly Betty’s Justin and EastEnders’ Syed).

More than half the list is comprised of couples, albeit not always model couples. Only two of the couples come from US primetime shows - Brothers & Sisters and Modern Family, both of which are ensemble shows about extended families with gay members. All the other primetime gays are usually single.

What can we learn from all this? This isn’t a survey of all the gay characters on TV, but it does represent the gay characters that gay audiences actually like, and there is the suggestion of a positive trend here. There appears to have been a rise in positive gay representation on TV in the last few years, thanks to shows like Ugly Betty, Modern Family, Glee and Brothers & Sisters on network, and shows like Caprica, True Blood, United States of Tara and Greek on cable.

But that still isn’t a lot of gays, and that isn’t a lot of shows. Only 24 of these characters are on air now, and at least six of them won’t be by year’s end. (Oliver and Kyle, the gay couple from One Life To Live, who had US TV’s first male/male love scene, have now been dropped from that show.)

willontvThe Gold Standard?

It’s also noteworthy that all the gay characters currently on air are supporting characters in ensemble shows. There hasn’t been a gay leading man on US primetime since Will Truman on Will & Grace, and he was famously sexless for years and years. Outside the US, the only leading man is Captain Jack. Of course, this is not the least bit surprising. That there was ever a Will Truman is the real surprise.

In terms of diversity, more gays of colour would be nice, but when there are neither enough gay characters nor enough characters of colour on TV, that seems like a hopelessly optimistic wish. Bisexuality could clearly be a lot better represented - self-identified gays who dabble with women seem more common than self-identified bisexuals, and self-identified straight men who dabble with men are completely unheard of. While we’re on a diversity tip, one might argue that fabulous bitchy comedy gays with an idiosyncratic fashion sense are a little overrepresented, but characters like Greek’s frat jock Calvin and Southland’s bearish cop John Cooper are finally providing some balance in that regard.

The most interesting element of this list is that many of these characters have actually had storylines. To the best of my knowledge, only about a third of the characters have had ‘coming out’ storylines, which is nothing short of a miracle, and very few of them have been violently attacked by homophobes. Remarkably, some of these characters have been involved in love stories. Even more remarkably, some of these characters have been involved in stories that have nothing to do with their sexuality. Soap operas are both the best and worst in this regard; they frequently have coming out and gay-bashing stories, but they’re also more likely to do other things with their gay characters.

We’re approaching level three here, people. Level one is when gay characters appear. Level two is when gay characters appear, do gay storylines, and then disappear. Level three is when gay characters appear, have love interests and do non-gay storylines, and don’t disappear.

Level four is when we stop talking about how extraordinary it is.

Sinking Ships: Chuck Versus The Fandom

Tuesday, February 9th, 2010

I’m going to talk about this week’s Chuck, Chuck Versus the Mask, and the discussion will include spoilers, but they’re the sort of spoilers that ought not to matter to anyone. You know what comes after ‘boy meets girl’, right? Then these aren’t  really spoilers. You understand narrative momentum, don’t you? Of course you do. But you’ve been warned. Also, Torchwood spoilers, but if you’re not up-to-date on that by now, heaven help you.

brandon-routhBrandon Routh

So, this season on Chuck, they introduced a new contrivance to keep Girl and Boy apart, and they introduced the characters of Other Girl (played by a former Lana Lang), and Other Boy (played by a former Superman, above). And do you know what happens when Boy and Girl break up, and Boy meets Other Girl and Girl meets Other Boy? It’s called ‘a complication’. These are what they put in stories to keep the story interesting. These are what the put in stories to keep Boy and Girl apart so that the story can keep on going, because when Boy and Girl get together, the story is over.

You know all this. You don’t have a housekeeper who comes in and waters you twice a week. You know how this works.

And Other Boy is a guest star. And Other Girl is a guest star. And it’s a spy show, so chances are one or both of them will turn out to be a traitor, and one or both of them will end up dead, and Boy and Girl will get back together only for another complication to get in their way (or the show will get cancelled). And everyone waiting for Boy and Girl to finally get together once and for all can enjoy the long ache of deferred gratification, which is what a story is. Love stories, horror stories, adventure stories, war stories, comedies; they all rely on tension. Stories happen in the gap between expectation and fulfilment.

You know all this, because no-one sews your gloves to a long piece of string and feeds the string through the arms of your coat.

But certain fans of Chuck don’t seem to know this. TV reviewer Alan Sepinwall blogged about the latest episode, in which Chuck attempted to steal a mask of Alexander that blatantly looked like a mask of Agamemnon (travesty), and fans of the show revolted. But not about the historically  inaccurate mask, which would have been understandable; about the Other Boy and Other Girl thing.

Talk on Sepinwall’s blog is of how these plot developments have destroyed the show or torn out its heart; “that was the worst episode ever they killed the characters” (sic). One commentor (or possibly the same one - a lot of the negative comments are anonymous) even suggested a boycott, employing what must be history’s worst invocation of Howard Beale’s, “I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take it any more”. (Beale’s cry is against the complacency of comfort represented by the pablum on TV; this anonymous fan is crying out to be pandered to by his or her television set. “Let me have my toaster and my TV and my steel-belted radials and I won’t say anything.”)

howard-bealeAnonymous

The coy nickname for these people is ’shippers’, meaning cheerleaders for a specific fictional relationship. Sometimes they cheer for relationships that are unlikely to ever happen - Wilson and House in House - and sometimes for relationships that are guaranteed to happen - Boy and Girl in Chuck. Either way, they’re usually nutty fundamentalists, with the former category sometimes insisting that their imagined relationship must happen, and the latter so protective of their promised happy ending that they would rather kill the show they love - as a successful boycott would do - than let the story play out.

Take, for example, Ugly Betty. With Ugly Betty officially cancelled, some of that’s show’s fans are adamant that Betty and her boss, Daniel, absolutely have to get together. One even suggested that the characters are contractually obliged to fall in love, because it’s what happened in other versions of the show (adapted from a Colombian telenovela). It’s not impossible that the hook-up could happen in the show’s last remaining episodes, but Ugly Betty long ago abandoned any attempt to play with that relationship as a will-they-won’t-they, because the two actors clicked better as friends than as potential lovers. They are not Boy and Girl.

Then there’s Torchwood, which never quite seemed sure how it wanted to handle its Boy-Meets-Boy romance until the time came to kill off one of the characters, at which point we found out it was a tragic love story. This lead a lot of rabid fans to promise a boycott, or to campaign for the character’s ressurection, and those bruises don’t seem to have faded yet. Boy has since flirted with Some Other Boy, and fans are furious about that as well, as if the character must forever remain chaste in memory of his one lost love, who was really only ever presented as a notch on his bedpost.

Now, I grant you that the death was written in a cheap, pointless way that robbed it of any dramatic weight, but that doesn’t justify the fans’ sense of entitlement in demanding that the death be undone and the writers responsible be flogged in the streets.

I don’t know if the internet invented the feeling among fans that they ‘own’ a show and that its creators should be indebted to them, or if the internet just allowed them to converge in frightening numbers, as it has for so many other fringe fetishes. The show Chuck might actually be grateful for rabid fans, as they may have helped it get renewed when it was on the brink of cancellation - but that in turn may have increased the feeling among some fans that the show should do what they want.

Fans are entitled to have an opinion, and they’re entitled to share it, and they’re entitled to stop watching a show that they don’t like. Where they cross a line is in thinking that their opinions represent a consensus, and that this false consensus should be used as a cudgel to batter the writers. If it were up to fans, shows would all skip past all the obstacles and go straight to the happy ending. That’s not how stories work. Being a good heckler doesn’t make you a good writer. Or, to put it another way; shut up, fans.

SDCC09 Day Four: The Hangover

Monday, July 27th, 2009

It ended with a ‘pfft’. At least, that’s the impression that I get from way up here. After the Marvelman announcement on Friday, it seems the news out of San Diego dried to a trickle. What happened the rest of the weekend? Where did everyone go? Saturday was dead, and Sunday is always dead. In fact, Sunday is where publishers stick their ‘oh and also’ panels; the low priority panels that they don’t expect to draw much of a crowd.

Sunday is when Marvel closed out its schedule with its ‘Women of Marvel’ panel.

blackcatpearlnecklace

Yeah, baby. Feel the representation.

‘Women of Marvel’ is actually about women working for Marvel, rather than the female characters, which is probably just as well given how the company tends to market female-dominated books like Heroes for Hire and the horribly named Marvel Divas. It even seems somewhat remarkable that Marvel can field a six woman team for such a panel, though three of those women are colorists, and one was an editor. The only writer on the panel had proved herself as a novelist first.

Before anyone snaps at me for disparaging colorists, let me be clear; I like colorists. Some of my best friends are colorists. But where else would you see Marvel fielding a panel that’s 50% colorists, except maybe at a colorists panel? Colorists are becoming the nurses of comics. It’s a fine profession, but there are other options for women to pursue. Why can’t Marvel field a panel with at least two female writers, and at least two female pencillers? Maybe even on a panel that doesn’t have the word ‘Women’ in the title? (According to the schedule, ‘Women of Marvel’ was the only Marvel panel with more than one woman on board. Mondo Marvel, aka ‘World of Marvel’, had none.)

magnetohead

The X-Men panel was not on Sunday, but I’m just catching up on that coverage. According to Comic Book Resources: “September is when “Nation X” begins, with two other September shipping specials, ‘Dark Avengers/Uncanny X-Men: Exodus’ and ‘Dark Reign: The List - Uncanny X-Men’ laying the groundwork for the story. “They all sort of flow into each other,” Fraction told CBR News.”

I’m so confused. I miss the days when they used sequential numbers to get the flowing going. I am very much in favour of putting the crossovers in their own little mini-series, but as soon as you start needing checklists to follow a story, there’s something wrong.

In other news, Scott Pilgrim is becoming a side-scroller video game! I have nothing really to say about this; I’m just excited. If they don’t have an Honest Ed’s level, I’ll cry. (Honest Ed’s is not in the movie. I consider this a disaster.)

zquinto

Zachary Quinto is getting into comics - at last, Sylar in mylar! And when Hollywood comes to comics, you know what that means; generic ideas that the author thinks are original, presented in a style that shows no understanding of the medium, on a schedule that would try the patience of a saint. Hooray!

But, what’s this? Quinto isn’t writing comics? “We’ve talked about it. But I feel like my instincts as a writer probably lend themselves more, at this point, toward screenwriting,” said Quinto. So what is Quinto doing? His production company is teaming up with Archaia to develop new comics, and his role will be… well, it’s not clear. From the sounds of things, he may just be using his star power and geek cred to lure in talent. (When it comes to selling comics, celebrity names don’t seem to count for much.)

Reading between the lines, one suspects the aim here is to produce ‘proof of concept’ comics for potential TV and movie licenses. Let’s hope he can come up with a bigger hits than Jada Pinkett Smith’s Menace, or Rosario Dawson’s Occult Crimes Taskforce.

Finally, let’s talk Torchwood. There was a Doctor Who/Torchwood panel; it wasn’t on Sunday. But let’s talk about it here anyway, because Children of Earth finally wrapped in the US on Friday, which means it’s now safe to talk about it. Spoilers follow, of course.

torchwood-boys

Ahead of SDCC, Russell T Davies spoke to Entertainment Weekly’s Michael Ausiello about the series conclusion and the backlash over the death of Ianto. One of Ausiello’s questions was whether Davies has felt pressured to ‘de-gay’ Torchwood, and Davies’ answer infuriated me:

“I think you can forget about people picking up gay rights as an issue. It’s rather like children picking up nursery blocks and waving them in the air but having no idea what it entails. We’re talking about issues in my entire life here, not just one small television program. If they did research they’d go and look at the history of gay and lesbian characters that I have put on screen. They should simply grow up, do some research, and stop riding on a bandwagon that they actually don’t know anything about.”

There you have it, kids. Russell T Davies is the only gay in the village. He knows about the gay, and you do not. Not even if you are, say, gay media website AfterElton, where they asked this weekend, ‘Who killed the gay better, Buffy or Torchwood?‘. In poll on the same site, which has a predominantly gay readership, more than half of readers said they would not tune in to a fourth season without Ianto. But what do they know about being gay?

Was the death of Ianto homophobic? I actually don’t think so. It is another in the storied canon of ‘kill the queer’ stories, sure, but as with Joss Whedon, I think it comes down to what has the most narrative impact. It was cheap and sloppy writing, but it wasn’t a case of killing the queer because he’s queer.

That’s just my opinion, and other people read it differently, and not because they’re dabbling in arcane things they cannot understand. It is a legitimate question to raise. It is especially legitimate to wonder whether, even if Davies was not consciously being homophobic, he was subconsciously responding to certain pressures.

Russell T Davies has a deeply pompous image of himself as not just a writer, but a ‘writah-darling’, as in, ‘I am a writah, darling’, and this is a manifestation of it at its worst. At the Who panel this past weekend, Davies tried to ameliorate fan rage, saying, “I have nothing but respect for internet fandom: I understand that some things I have said have been taken the wrong way - and I understand that, and that’s OK because sometimes people will always read things the way that makes sense to them.”

So, you see, when he said, “They should simply grow up, do some research, and stop riding on a bandwagon that they actually don’t know anything about”, that was taken the wrong way. Stupid fans.

Torchwood has been confirmed for a fourth series, in which an adorable puppy will join the Torchwood team, only to be flayed alive and drowned in vinegar.

The puppy will be bisexual.

In A World Where Weevils Are Easily Recognised

Thursday, February 5th, 2009

Torchwood is back soon. Hurray! I can’t account for why I’m so fond of Torchwood when its awfulness is a truth I hold to be self-evident. I find it actually embarrasses me to think that this is one of the more widely watched examples of British TV out there in the world today. I’m also baffed to discover that a lot of the people who watch it overseas think it’s brilliant, sophisticated drama. Everything on US TV is better than Torchwood! A Shot At Love With Tila Tequila is better than Torchwood!

torchwood4

Sorry Jack. Sorry Gwen. If it’s any consolation, I’d still rather watch Torchwood. In fact I wouldn’t want to miss an episode. Partly that’s because its awfulness is frequently compelling, partly that’s because watching it is like a creative puzzle where you try to work out how a writer, a director and team of actors might have handled the same premise, and partly that’s because I keep wanting it to get better, and I’d hate to not be there when it does.

For the new series, the show has been culled from 13 episodes down to just five, broadcasting a single story across five nights, because tearing off the sticking plaster is better than peeling it off slowly. The story is called Children of Earth (other names considered were ‘Common Songs of Garden Birds’ and ‘Plant Pots of the Outer Hebrides’, but those were deemed too exciting), and the trailer has now arrived on the intertubes. Let’s take a look, shall we?

torchwood7

The hook is, ”As far as we can tell, at 8.40 this morning, every single child in the world… stopped”, and already I’m buckling in for a breakneck thrill-ride. Children standing still, you say? They haven’t quite grasped the spirit of Stephen Moffat’s trick for turning playground fears into compelling stories, have they? Children standing still is not scary; children standing still is a successful episode of Supernanny.

Still, Torchwood do investigate, because they’re interfering shits. Also, there’s some sort of worry that ‘they’ have come back. Who could ‘they’ be? What terrible and dastardly alien threat could possibly have such a hypnotic effect on an entire generation of children? I have a theory, and let’s just say the new ‘klaatu barada nikto’ may be ‘eh-oh, Tinky Winky’.

torchwood3

Half way through the trailer things kick up a gear when a black-clad bitch assassin blows up Gwen Cooper - which is all I really ask for in a quality drama, to be honest - and we get exciting scenes of Ianto running, Jack wearing a coat, Gwen hilariously doing a John Woo leap out of the back of an ambulance with two guns, and a man in a suit saying ‘we’re in deep deep shit’. Adult. Edgy. Grr. Jack and Ianto enjoy a quick snog, which is immediately followed by the sound of a man screaming in horror. Not a slasher, I take it. Oh, and someone gets smacked in the face with a piece of plywood. You don’t see that sort of action in 24, you know.

torchwood1

Yeaaaaaaargh!

Same Torchwood. Fewer episodes. Who says this show never gets any better?