Tuesday, January 01, 2008

I'm caught up with the Verse

I rarely watch TV.

When I do, it's usually HGTV (because interior design is a spectator sport, I swear) or a specific show.

There are only three shows that move me, past and present: Northern Exposure, Firefly, and Avatar: The Last Airbender.

Northern Exposure is a classic TV show (originally a take on David Lynch's groundbreaking series, Twin Peaks) about quirky outsiders who have a community where everyone is welcome (gee, why would that touch a chord?). They were the first two have two simultaneous plots in a show which reflected off of each other, but weren't necessarily connected. It's brilliantly written and acted and while watching it, I felt at home. It may be funny, even sad, to some people that I would say that of a television show, but it's not. I'm saying this about a story, and stories are what realities are made of. Ask anybody who reads The Bible, or believes that they deserve to be in a bad relationship, or loves life. What story did they hear, do they study or tell themselves, that makes them feel at home?

Firefly is pure genius. It's not that I'm a Joss Whedon fan and will watch anything he does--I can watch a bit of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, even Angel if I happen to catch it--but his stories never really caught me (Buffy being purposefully analogous to the high school experience, something I'd sooner forget than remember). However, with Firefly, which I found on the Internet years ago before the DVD collection came out (do it now: get the collection), I fell in love. The characters, the dialogue, the stories, the language, the set design, the spaceship--the (uni)verse of Firefly, was home. Five-hundred-years-into-the-future home, but home nonetheless where the U.S. and China had merged into one superpower (the Alliance) and culture reflects the influences (their clothing, bits of Chinese phrases in their speech, etc. For translations, please visit http://www.fireflyfans.net/, where I've also posted translations as Quixote13 along with some very capable and passionate fans). As a story about a group of smugglers and fugitives on the run, living by their wits on the outskirts of civilized space, I find it comforting. No surprise there, either. Regarding the title of my post, I've just finished the complete series (and a couple of the unaired episodes I hadn't seen before; the show was cancelled after only 11 episodes ridiculously enough--and after you watch this show, you will understand why I think its cancellation is worth ridicule!) and watched the movie, Serenity, again. My heart aches a little, but it's good. Thank you, Joss and crew, for telling a good story.

Lastly, Avatar: The Last Airbender, which is an award-winning cartoon series from Nickelodeon, now in production for a live action movie with M. Night Shymalan directing. It's set in an alternate reality where there are four nations in a mythical Asian world. Each nation specializes in an element, of which some of their populace can "bend" or control. The Air Nomads (based off of Tibetan monks) can all bend air, as bending is related to spirituality and they're devoted to the spirit. Sadly, Aang, the Avatar, is the last one due to genocide committed by the Fire Nation (patterned after the Japanese). Joining Aang on his quest to master all the elements (as only the Avatar can, and then afterwards, to bring balance to the world because the Fire Nation decided to conquer everybody) is Katara and Sokka of the Souther Water Tribe (based off of Inuits) and Toph of the Earth Kingdom (inspired by China). All language in this world is written in Chinese--which is created by a calligraphy expert (THANK YOU to the creators for respecting another culture enough not merely to borrow it, but to treat it with intelligence; I've seen poor writing or worse, made up writing, when it comes to other people's use of another culture in the service of their entertainment). What do I love about this show? The fusion of East and West obviously strikes deeply. The fact that these talented kids are resourceful and surviving outside of the norm rings a bell, too. Besides the above, it's again a brilliantly written show.

However, I'm not the only person who loves these shows (psychologically or otherwise). They've all won awards and interviews with the people who made or make these shows reveal a passion for telling the compassionate truth of what it means to be human.

Take care,

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