Friday, December 28, 2012

Meta Concepts: Storytelling Technique vs Visual Tropes

A show like Grimm covers a lot of genres, arguably related but each genre having their own separate signature body of work. The procedural drama elements are the most obvious, followed by the new trend of pastiche fairy tales as a manifestation of urban fantasy. Beneath that we have the horror genre, and finally there are occasional scenes of situational comedy or romance, depending on the writer and what is going on in the plot. Each of these genres has their own signature elements, the most common of which so far seem to be the visual signatures of the horror genre. You've already heard us refer to Dutch angles, and they also use color in the faded/saturated balance typical of more recent horror movies, as well as some lately egregious use of the unSteadiCam or the Shaky Cam or as we fondly call it, the Evil Dead cam.

These elements are familiar ones we all know from directors such as Tim Burton and Sam Raimi (or Timur Bekmambetov and Eli Roth), but they are only as recent as film. Grimm, somewhat like its counterpart Once Upon A Time and like tv shows such as 10th Kingdom and The Storyteller, takes its foundation from a media older than television which used a whole different set of tropes and devices. We've already discussed the Rule of Three in extensive detail; this was a popular device for emphasis and memory in oral traditions. Color is also used in folk stories and fairy tales, most commonly for its associations in the culture of the time. Youngest siblings traditionally have the greatest virtue or innocence, certain animals are associated with certain traits, etc. Because these are oral traditions, these also change depending on the values of the time, or most often the values of who's in charge at the time, but some core elements of each fairy tale remain. The Grimm writers and staff are now therefore tasked with conveying these memorable elements, but since we have a new medium that's sprung up so quickly they have an additional set of tools to work with, as well as balancing the expectations that those bring. 

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Women of Haven

Let's be clear about one thing at the outset: I love Haven. I do, really. I have to, or I wouldn't be blogging this. But some things about the show just make me shake my head and 'oy' at everyone. I don't know if it's a necessity of the characters they've set up or if it's supposed to reflect some initial imbalance or social dynamic (and if the latter, I do have to say kudos, because in context that could make this an impressive feat of pre-planned structure arc) or if it's just a subconscious trend. It's possible that it's just been made necessary by isolating Duke so that he has to come to grips with his destiny on his own, emphasizing the way Nathan holds himself to himself, emphasizing Audrey's isolation in a similar fashion to Duke. Lately we've been wondering if the dynamics around the core three are meant to reflect some sort of initial isolation as I mentioned a moment ago, especially given that Audrey's far older than she looks. Her lack of female friends or even other female presences in her life could be some sort of supernaturally imposed Scarlet Letter, it could be a way of forcing her to But Haven comes across, in terms of women and female presence, as being written by Henry VIII's great great many-times-great grandson. There's a saying, sort of a joke, that you can remember the history of Henry VIII's wives in this order: divorced, beheaded, died, divorced, beheaded, died. Well, in Haven, it's not quite so ordered, it's more like deported, died, deported, died, mindwiped and deported, died. And yes, we're leaving Jordan out there because her fate is yet to be determined. Except that we're pretty certain that on the axis of protagonist to antagonist, she's slipping pretty far down the antagonist line.

But I do love Haven. And so with that in mind and that intent, let's examine the women of Haven and the manner in which they are portrayed. 

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Grimm Legends: Tristan & Iseult

Well, I'm not going to manage a full reread of Malory and Knowles and the Belloc translation of Bedier's Romance of Tristan and Iseult, because nobody can be concise. You think we're wordy? Try reading medieval manuscripts for purposes of essaying. Or don't. I highly recommend don't, unless you're as much of a glutton for punishment as I am. If you want, though, you can see the links to the sections I pulled from Gutenberg up above, and feel free to play picky detail-oriented word games with the source material! THAT said, we can hit some of the highlights of the myth as it bears a passing resemblance to the Renard-Juliette-Nick arc they've so neatly set up for us. There are some very interesting aspects to this, not least in the versions that include Arthur - though the original Romance predates cramming all the legendary figures of the Isles together into one overarching story.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Schedule Update

Okay, folks, we have an airdate for the end of Haven s3, which means now we can plan our lives around the blog instead of vice versa. We are MUCH happier about this, let me tell you.

First off, don't forget that you only have 2 days to vote on our next show(s)! At the moment y'all apparently want us to skewer OUAT and watch Person of Interest, so we'll work that into our plans for the next couple months.

Second, here's what we know. Haven airs back-to-back eps on January 17th. This means that we will work both eps together, as we have been with only one currently-airing show to recaplysize, and ideally we will have Reunion up on Saturday the 18th and Thanks For The Memories up on Sunday the 19th. Grimm doesn't come back, according to all the sources we've seen, until Friday, March 8th.

Kitty just moved into her new house, and also participates in Yuletide every year. (I'm her first editor, so technically I participate too.) So between that and holidays, content's going to be pretty slim for the rest of the year. We'd like to get you the Women of Grimm and Haven posts, along with a couple other Grimm posts we've been working on for awhile now (namely, horror/fairy tale tropes and the Tristan and Iseult parallels), but we may or may not get them out before year's end. I plan to finish off the When You're At Home series before the 17th, thereby clearing my backlog of Grimm posts in time for the second half of the season. With the exception of the AudSarLu profile, we should also be able to get you the last of the Haven profiles as well - we're going to hold off on posting that until we get whatever data the finale gives us. Likewise, we should have an update to Howard's profile after the finale airs.

(By the way, if you have particular scenes you think I should focus on for the last two in that series, toss them at me in comments. I refuse to try and do ALL the scenes that take place at Monroe's or Nick and Juliette's, because I'd never finish the posts.)

Once Upon A Time skewering will happen in the weeks between now and Haven's s3 finale, at least in theory. It is, however, lowest on the priority queue, and may be preempted by actually having lives. (K: What's a lives?) (A: For you that's pronounced home renovations, precious.)

In the seven-ish weeks between Haven and Grimm, we'll work on dropping as many of the posts yet to be written as possible, though we may hold a couple in reserve for immediately before s4 of Haven premieres. We'll also watch our way through Person of Interest back-eps, unless something drastic changes with that poll between now and Friday. Assuming it doesn't, though, at this point we are not going to try and play merry buggers with catching up to where Person of Interest is as far as what's currently airing, so you'll have all the fun of watching us tear the show to shreds while you know what's coming next. Now is a good time to reiterate that we are totally okay with being spoilered, though given our workloads we're probably not going to seek them out, either. So the comments section on those posts will be completely open. In theory, we'll hammer out one PoI post a week until we finish s2... just in time for s3 to air, if our math serves us right. Hey, I never said we weren't gluttons for punishment. I'm also working on an actual calendar to help us be more organized, which should result in more regular content for you guys! Yay!

Questions, comments, concerns? Drop 'em off here.

Friday, December 14, 2012


Out of respect for the families in Newtown and SyFy's wishes we will not be posting any new content until Monday. We'll let you know if our recap schedule will be altered from next-day once Syfy releases further information.

Edit 12/15: If you need something to do this weekend that's not digging through our back archives, if you want to know how you can help, the HuffPo has collected a short list of places that could use your support.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Love Potions And You: Grimm Grail Legends

Or, How I Stopped Worrying And Learned To Love Whoever The Potion Told Me To.

We are far from done picking apart Grimm for its Arthurian and Grail parallels, but we've been waiting to get more of a mytharc for this season before combing through it again. I think, at this point, you can safely expect a flurry of Arthuriana at mid-season hiatus and/or at season finale times, followed by long stretches of accumulating data. However! We have at this point two instances of love potions used in the show, and I judge it only a matter of time before we get a third for Rule of Three reasons - though I wouldn't put it past the writers to include that in backstory rather than dropping it into a season arc. At this point I'd rather prefer it, because love potions get very old, very fast. Unless you want to count Juliette's coma and Renard's pure of heart potion as two instances, which I don't, really. We saw in SotH that Adalind's was fairly surprised that Renard took the pure of heart potion, which implies a whole lot of things, up to and including that she thought he knew more about how the potion(s) worked than he did. At any rate! Two for-sure instances of love potions, which means it's time for a brief refresher on love potions in Arthurian legends.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Qu'est_ce Que C'est Haven S3E11 Last Goodbyes

Previously on Haven: Haven had its first Troubled serial killer! *sniff* Our little town is growing up. Said serial killer took a lesson from Buffalo Bill, though I must say, he wears a better girl suit than that guy ever did. We found out from Jordan about the barn while the Bolt Gun killer found out bupkiss from the creepy brothers Teagues, like you do, and Audrey found the Bolt Gun killer's lair. Also, Claire's wardrobe took a turn for the decidedly dark and cleavagey. This Will Be Important Later, unless you've already seen the episode, in which case you probably know why.

So! Having all been refreshed on why Haven should really call in the BAU right about now, we begin. Once again, this is a joint effort, with both of us trading places in between other household chores (like cleaning my new house, I just have to throw that in there because it's awesome). So this thing is likely to be forever long, and we're still not going to play try and spot the join points.

This week on Haven: We begin with what I consider to be one of the more boneheaded maneuvers of the season, having a conference in the Bolt Gun Killer's lair! With a bunch of people you think might contain the Bolt Gun Killer. Because that won't make him wary or inclined to hurt you or piss him off in any way, of course. Brilliant job there, you two. Audrey brings in Claire and the creepy Teagues, apologizing in a very not very sincere way for them having to see this. I'm sure everyone involved has seen much worse, Audrey. The Teagues because they're up to their not-yet-bitten-out necks in all of this, and Claire because, well, a) she's [redacted] and b) she saw the former-dog-human-thing with all its limbs broken in the cage. And if that's not bad, I don't know what is. Duke seems to have an unusual capability to handle any kind of sight as long as he's not actively being threatened, so we'll go with that. And Duke is about the only person here I agree should be here, but we'll try and reign in the ranting about the difference between our concept of 'need to know' and Nathan's.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Behind the Scenes at Murderboarding: Reader Poll

Dear readers, we're rapidly approaching that time of the year when neither of the shows we're currently analyzing is on. While we have no doubt that we're capable of coming up with odds and ends of Grimm and Haven posts to fill that time, we thought now would be as good a time as any to ask you what you'd like to see us do next. We have, through careful selection and weeding out (read: watching a bunch of pilots recommended by friends and family and snarking about the ones we didn't like on Twitter), selected a number of shows that we feel capable of doing for you!

Over to your right
you will see two polls, which close at midnight PST on December 21!

 The first poll is for shows that we would analyze all of, regardless of hiatus or cancellation status. For shows that are currently airing, we might watch to catch up and begin analysis with the most recent episode, or we might start at the beginning and work through; it depends on our workload both on the blog and off of it, how many eps we have to catch up on, and what you guys have to say about it.

The second poll is a bit trickier and requires some preface. We both used to watch Once Upon a Time. We really liked it, even! And then, by a series of plot twists that weren't, wooden acting, and atrocious scripts, we fell out of love and into loathing with the show. Kitty's a few eps more up to date than A is, but neither of us finished out season 1, nor did we pick up with season 2. If we do this show, we will skewer it. We'll also, of course, call attention to the things we do like - because there were at least things in some of the eps we liked, or we wouldn't have kept watching. There's a certain kind of fun to be had from picking apart TV shows you don't enjoy and explaining in minute detail why they don't work, but if that's not something our readers would enjoy as well, we're not going to put the time into working up the posts. So, do you want to see us skewer no more than three eps of OUaT? And if you have suggestions on which eps, either in specific or in general type, please leave them in comments.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

When You're At Home: Sean Renard

At long last, it's time for the post that was the genesis of this little series. Renard started out as enough of a mystery (and still is, in so many ways) that we spent an age picking apart the set details in his condo when we first saw it. Then we started drawing diagrams of the layout. Now we bring all that information and stick it in one place, and see what we might be missing! (If anything.) Plus, going over the newly cleaned up condo scenes to see if there are any (in)significant and telling changes.

Internal Memo: Updates

To: Danielle Matheson <dmathes@[redacted]>
CC: Peter Torkarov <ptorkar@[redacted]>, Sam Connor <sconnor@[redacted]>, Eve Marlowe <emarlow@[redacted]>, Ash Dunlevy <adunlev@[redacted]>, Jared Engel <jengel@[redacted]>, Daifyn Ifans <difans@[redacted]>, Alec Cray <acray@[redacted]>, Thomas Marlowe <tmarlow@[redacted]>\
Date: 12/5/12
Re: profiles updated

Attachment: (unsub919-11312.docx) 20k
Attachment: (tbowen-eval-11312.docx) 11k
Attachment: (jmckee-eval-12312.docx) 17k
Attachment: (theguard-eval12312.docx) 18k

Quite a few new developments. We've shifted some things around from Bowen's case file to the BGK's, resent the old BGK for ease of comparison, and did a new profile working with all available data. Prelim profile only on the Guard; we expect to learn a good deal more pretty soon, but wanted to lay in the groundwork now.


Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Better the Devils You Know: Haven Profile (The Guard)

Date: 12/3/2012 (updated 1/30/13) (updated 10/22/13)
Name: The Guard
Founded: Unknown 1/30/13: est. 1970s 10/22/13: est. 1980s
Age: Unknown 1/30/13: est. minimum 30 years, maximum 50 years 10/22/13: est. 25-30 years
Place of Examination: Data compiled at Chandler/Hammett Investigations offices
Classification: Troubled cult

Observations: Though we have no direct observational evidence as to the structure and hierarchy of the group which calls itself the Guard, the indirect data available at this time merits a closer look at the attitudes and stated goals of the group. All members of the group wear the maze tattoo or a variant thereof, usually but not always on the inside upper left forearm. It is believed that while all members of the Guard have the tattoo, not all who wear the tattoo are members of the Guard, as we lack clear evidence to support the latter. (Subject PT-TR-#### may be considered an exception rather than a mark against, as he was deliberately attempting to gain membership in order to further his knowledge about the group, a member of whom was believed to have abducted Audrey Parker and killed multiple victims.) As far as known members, we have Jordan McKee (see file TR-BD-####), along with several unnamed members, all male. Max Hansen, the biological father of subject PT-TR-####, is known to have worn the Guard's tattoo, though his position within the group after over two decades in prison will never be known due to his death. Additionally, many members of the Glendower family wear the tattoo, though their Trouble prevents them from easily taking part in any meetings or discussions regarding the order of the Guard.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Putting Out Fire With Gasoline Haven S3E10 Burned

Previously on Haven: nobody quoted Pirates of Penzance, leaving us to do it for them. That goddamn gold doubloon is giving us fits of time loop confusion two weeks on. Oh, and Duke met his grandfather on the day Roy died. Also, Sarah. Also, Nathan. Look, there was a LOT in that ep. That's last week's previouslies, anyway; the ones they actually put into this go back to the beginning of this season. Just in case we missed all the implications from Twitter and the promo trailer that this ep, shit gets real.

This week on Haven: WELL THAT WAS A LOT OF METAPLOT. Excuse us while we do the oh-snap-vindicated dance for awhile and then settle down to unravel the threads, because everything we've been working on for this show ties in this week. My god. Also, just for the record, though my name may be on this as author, we swapped writer versus filler-in-of-details with abandon, so this is the first truly co-written recapalypse we've done. I suggest not trying to spot the author changeovers, because we'll probably have lost track by the time we finish. Also, for the record, this thing is huge. I mean it, this is nearing twice as long as most of our usual recaplyses, and you know how long those are. This is a veritable recapalypse. You have been warned.