Stranger to the grave //chiana606

American Being Human

      I just watched the American Being Human and I have a confession.   I liked it.  I still prefer the BBC version but I actually sort of liked the American Being Human.  If you're not familiar with it the plot of Being Human is about supernatural creatures that secretly live among us and a werewolf, vampire and ghost share a place together while trying to pass as human.  That's the plot of both the BBC version and the American  version in a nut shell.
         When it first started the voice over gave me this uneasy pseudo-intellectual impression of talking down to the viewer with simplistic while terms trying to sound deep, a major turn off for me.  But it gradually got better.  The main plot is very obviously taken from the early 2008 Being Human pilot from BBC 3, the major differences start with the character names and the supernatural powers.
            The vampires are different.  The vampire protagonist in this is named Aiden instead of Mitchell.    And unlike Mitchell Aiden can't eat human food.  Aiden also seems physically stronger than Mitchell.  Aiden's also over two-hundred-years-old where as Mitchell was only a hundred, having been made a vampire during World War 1.  He also has the power to enthrall people like the vampires of Forever Knight, a power the vampires of the original Being Human did not have.  Aiden's maker is the local vampire lord or king, Bishop, who in the original BBC version was named Herrick but otherwise serves the same exact purpose.   Aiden also lacks Michell's personality quirk of wearing hand warmers / finger-less gloves everywhere.  This character quirk was established early on in the original BBC series and does not exist in the Syfy version for Aiden. 
                 Aiden is more intellectual than Mitchell. He quotes Byron and is a fully qualified nurse.   Mitchell a janitor in the original BBC version. Both work in a hospital with the werewolf character.  One thing I don't like is the make up when he's feeding looks obnoxiously like Edward Cullen's make up in Twilight.   Please don't mix Twilight with my Being Human... I also didn't care for how the fangs looked.  The fangs look pretty bad. I guess I'll get used to them but I think the BBC version had better fangs and had really cool looking black vampire eyes which I haven't seen on this one. 
                 Even though Aiden is named after the actor currently playing Mitchell he behaves like the very first Mitchell actor from the original 2008 BBC series and not the actor who plays him for the on-going BBC show.    
             Sally is a LOT like Annie from the original Being Human. They even have the same outfit.  Where Annie was murdered by her fiance, Owen, who tried to flush evidence down the tonight (causing the house's plumbing problems) it seems Sally was killed by her fiance Danny (and behold there are plumbing problems).   However Annie had a quirk of liking to make lots of teas, coffees, and hot chocolates and leaving them around the house.  Sally (so far) can't interact with the world around her.  The supernatural creatures can see her but she can accidentally fade out of view for them too (a nice effect the BBC version does not have).  And even our Supernatural boys Josh (the werewolf) and Aiden (the vampire) can't physically touch her (yet) unlke Annie who had no trouble interacting with other supernatural creatures.  One thing I did NOT like was she made a twilight comment about the werewolf and vampire.  The original show has never done this.   Please don't mix Twilight into my Being Human...  
               Josh is the biggest change.  He's the werewolf and in the BBC version his name is George.  Before and after his werewolf transformations they do not show his behind at all but this is to be expected, somehow in the last ten or so years the butt crack has become taboo on American TV.  We USED to be able to see the butt crack. I don't know why we can't now.   There's a little joke about Josh and Aiden possibly being lovers when they first move in but it's very glossed over.  The scene is a lot funnier in the BBC version because George is a very spastic and neurotic character who babbles when he's nervous and has very geeky, intellectual nerd traits.  Josh is not a spastic nerd which takes away some of the charm.  In fact he comes off as somewhat of a jerk.  I am not too thrilled with the personality of the werewolf.  His potential love interest, a character named Kara (Nina in the original BBC version) seems to have more of the original neurotic, babbily, awkward geek personality that George originally had in the BBC version.   This is a cute character trait.  Nina was actually a little bitchy in the original series.   I feel the Josh and Kara personalities are a reversal on the George and Nina personalities.  A funny joke that was borrowed from the original series where George and Mitchell (now Josh and Aiden) are mistaken as a gay couple has lost it's edge because Josh doesn't have the spastic awkward response George had.  Blink and you'll miss it. 
          The werewolf transformations were better than the usual CGI syfy creature feature effects BUT the BBC transformation scenes are still superior for visual quality and detail.  
          Another change made was in the original pilot it was George's exfiance that showed up at the hospital and would later unfortunately follow him to where he makes his monthly transformation.   In this version it's Josh's younger lesbian sister who follows him.
           One thing I wish they had changed from the BBC version but they didn't is in both versions they have the werewolf only change one night a month.  Technically the full moon is three to four nights a month.   Also George changed at Moonrise.   The moon was already up in this and Josh hadn't changed yet.  He clearly doesn't change until the sun has gone down.
              The American version felt a little rushed, plot-wise. The time progression is uncomfortable and jerky whereas it seemed smoother in the BBC version. The British version is set in Bristol while the American version is set in Boston.  The background music was also pretty good.
               In general I still prefer the original BBC version but this was a lot better than I thought it would be.   I thought I'd hate it.  Instead I actually want to watch it and see where it goes... assuming it doesn't get canceled.
Stranger to the grave //chiana606

Dracula The udead sucks

     Okay, the gloves are off.  (Literally, I just took my gloves off that I was wearing because it's cold where I am as I write this).   This book is a pure insult to a masterpiece.   It's as if Dacre Stoker is waging war against his own ancestor. I present to you my review of Dracla The Undead.

Stranger to the grave //chiana606

(Dresden Files related) The difference between fandom and fan-dumb

This ass used MY Dresden Files fan video as reason for "proof" that the show sucked.  I have never been so angry at the book purists in my life.   Terrence Mann is one of the greatest Broadway actors alive and they use clips of HIM as reason they don't like the show?!  There's a difference between fandom and fan-dumb.   Why can't they accept a talking skull would NOT translate well on TV?!
The first wall post is the one I'm referring to.
And here's the video they used.
Stranger to the grave //chiana606

Barnabas and Angelique figures (Dark Shadows)

My review of the Angelique and Barnabas figures.
         I recently purchased two sets of Barnabas and Angelique eight inch tall Dark Shadows action figures by Spectre Toys and sold from Entertainment Earth.
             They came in two large packages.  When I opened one box the Barnabas figure's package (a card board sleeve with a plastic rectangle over the figure) looked slightly beat up.  The plastic hook on the package was folded over and on the back there was some sort of white rip (as if something had been stuck to the back of the package and pealed away with part of the picture with it).   This didn't bother me too much because I had planned to open one of the Barnabas figures to display him.  However as I looked closely I realized he did not have his cane.  The other Barnabas did have the cane directly behind him.  If you know anything about Dark Shadows you must know that this is an important accessory for the figure.  I had planned to display him holding the cane.
               The other Barnabas Figure I could distinctly see the cane directly behind him in the package.   I decided to give the one in the battered package the benefit of the doubt.  I thought perhaps he had been banged up in shipping and the cane fell behind his bulky jacket.  So I opened up the package. I saw the cane-shaped space where the cane belonged but the cane was not there at all.
                    I don't really want to return him over such a little thing as a missing cane prop (though it bothers me that he doesn't have it) but I just thought I should make you aware of a possible problem if more than one doll is like this.
                  In general he's a great doll.  The packaging is authentic sixties / seventies to the point of even looking a bit sun faded.  The illustration work on the box is also authentically vintage.   I like the novelty. He's also nicely detailed with actual layered fabric clothes as opposed to a plastic outfit or one layer made to look like several.   In general he's a great little Dark Shadows figure but I'm disappointed that one of them was without his cane.
                        Barnabas' Jacket with the built in mantle / cloak is a little bulky and crude but under that is the suit and tie he often wore on the show.  His shoes are plastic but can be removed.  One thing I take points off for is that his shirt velcros from the front which makes his chest stick out a bit.  
                          The face has his fangs beared and dark purplish rings under his eyes.  He looks a bit like a psychotic drug addict.  He's fully articulated but I am afraid he feels rather frail.
                     Angelique is also articulated.   Again it's a packaging with illustrations of the various characters drawn in sixties style (by Harold Schull).   She's definitely prettier than Barnabas.  She's wearing an orange dress that is probably meant to be period but is distinctly sixties (much like the actual wardrobe of Dark Shadows).   Her necklace is a separate fragile piece held to her chest with a thin plastic band.
                        She does not have panties or stockings yet she has a butt crack that you can actually feel through the dress.  Angelique, you naughty girl!   Her copyright is on her inner right thigh in black ink.  I'm used to seeing those on a figure's back or on the foot.   She is wearing black pixie boots and I can't tell if they're actually on her feet or are her feet and I'm a little afraid to find out for fear of breaking off one of her feet at the jointed ankle.
               Her body is hard plastic and joined but like Barnabas her head is soft rubber.   Her hair is molded to her head and not actual hair.  The physical way she's built and painted is definitely sixties.  The paint on her face almost looks faded with age.   She has a distinctly evil (or mischievous) look to her eyes and smile, very true to Angelique.  
                In general they are nice figures.  I am disappointed that one of my Barnabas figures is missing his cane but over all they are nice figures. However they feel light and fragile and I would not recommend leading a kid play with these unless you have bought more than one set and don't mind watching Angelique's foot get ripped off or Barnabas' arm ripped off.
         The picture on Entertainment Earth is misleading though.  Those are similar but definitely NOT the heads of the dolls I bought.   By far they are not as detailed as these heads and the faces are a lot smoother on the actual doll.  These pictures look like they have hard plastic heads and they don't. The heads are soft rubber.  And the paint on both Angelique faces look faded.
Stranger to the grave //chiana606

More ranting about Return to Labyrinth

About a week ago someone reminded me of David Bowie's statements about Jareth. Bowie had said that Jareth rather reluctantly inherited the position of goblin king. And he would rather be somewhere like Soho so he's making the best of things.
I think Bowie imagines Jareth as being someone who would rather live in the human world as an Avant Garde singer or something at run down obscure night clubs and happy with that humble life, but he was thrown into the role of goblin king against his will. Part of why volume 4 of Return to Labyrinth doesn't feel right, I think, is because it contradicted Bowie's statements on Jareth's back story and how Bowie saw Jareth.
It's VERY disrespectful to ignore Bowie's views of the character when he had such a huge hand in the conception of the version of Jareth we saw in the film.   Those were his songs, he improvised many of the lines.   But we're going to contradict him now in official canon in regard to why Jareth is goblin King?  This doesn't feel right to me.
Return to Labyrinth Volume 4's plot in a nutshell:
Warning: Here there be spoilers. 
(Warning, I know the plot is a little more complicated than this but I am simplifying it to reveal some of the weaker plot points).
Weak Point 1:
      It turns out Sarah was allowing her dreams to wither and die because she had been rejected from Juliard so to save Sarah's dreams and Jareth's own Labyrinth (which was crumbling) he had Mizumi create Moppet out of Sarah's dreams.  Absorb this. Sarah gave up on her dreams and was starting to let them die- the tenacious Sarah who refused to be defeated- was letting all her dreams die because of ONE rejection letter.  Terrence Mann (the Broadway star) was once quoted as saying that if you give up after the first rejection that you don't REALLY want to be an actor at all.  Surely with a Broadway star mother Sarah should have realized it wasn't all going to be easy!
            Anyway, it turns out ablations can only be made from aspects of a person that the person doesn't really want to have anymore.   So that's how Moppet came to be.  But dreams can't be held captive for long or they die.  So as an act of love Jareth released Moppet but not before erasing her memories of captivity... for some reason that has no real explanation at all...
Weak Point 2:  I have already complained about this but I'll keep it short.  A major plot point is foreshadowed through Toby saying that there are 'two types of fantasy stories.'   And it turns out Sarah told him this. To me this is contrary to the idea of a true fantasy lover.  A true fantasy lover would not generalize fantasy so far as to say 'There are two types of fantasy' which 'unintentionally' implies that there are only two types of fantasy.  He doesn't use the word only but it felt like he might as well have.
     Anyway, Jareth reveals the events to Sarah via a puppet show.   While this is going on Mizumi has taken over the Labyrinth but still cannot will Jareth's heart.
Weak Point 3: 
        We are given a weak back story on how Jareth became the goblin King.  Apparently Jareth and Mizumi were lovers but Jareth had no real interest in Mizumi because she was a passive, willing slave and that was not what Jareth really wanted.  He wasn't interested in someone who was subservient and unimaginative.  During their travels they end up in a swampy area for a while where Jareth is 'amused' by the goblins that inhabit it.   While there Mizumi pleads for the chance to win Jareth's heart so Jareth creates his Labyrinth and tells her that if she solves it she can have his heart.  Because the Labyrinth represents himself, his heart is the pathfinder (the very core of the Labyrinth).    
             The condition is if she fails to solve it she can't let any harm come to it because it IS a part of Jareth. (But... Um... wasn't she technically letting harm come to it in Volume 3?)
              Also this contradicts what David Bowie has said about Jareth, that Jareth reluctantly inherited the role of Goblin King and would rather be down in Soho somewhere. 
          Bowie didn't just say that Jareth doesn't like being Goblin King.  Bowie did use the words 'reluctantly inherited the title.' meaning he didn't become Goblin King by choice.  Until Volume 4 I thought Jake was using what everyone involved with the original film wanted as a basis, it's easy to research what they all thought because it's right on the DVD.  I can't disregard Mr. Bowie's views on his own character when he's one of the main forces behind the version of Jareth we know.       
I am sorry.  I do love the manga over all.    Please know this.   I can practically hear the melody for Shadow of a Dream and it's a beautiful song but volume 4 just didn't satisfy me for multiple reasons.  The manga's back story for Jareth didn't take into account what Bowie said.  He didn't just say that he doesn't like the role of goblin king but that he reluctantly inherited the title. 
Weak Point 4:  The lizards have almost no purpose at all.   They just leave you going 'Well, that was kind of pointless.'
           It turns out Moulin is an ablation of Mizumi's regret.  And if you make the original source of the ablation feel or gain the attribute that the ablation represented than the ablation is free to be a separate being.  Moulin forces Mizumi to feel regret without actually being a part of her so the two can exist separately however Mizumi kills her anyway in a plot point that doesn't really go anywhere except to show how cruel Mizumi can be.  But in a later scene it's like the writing is trying to force us to feel for Mizumi.  And it feels sort of bipolar.
              Sarah seems to gain new dreams but for some reason or another still rejoins with Moppet and Moppet seems happy about this even though everything she was and all her memories are gone forever.  So there was really no point at all in showing that an ablation can be made to exist as a real person away from it's host.   
             Jareth agrees to help set things right in The Labyrinth IF Sarah agrees to marry him.  She kisses his forehead.    That's the 'true loves kiss' in the prophecy, a little peck on the forehead.   
         Jareth sets things right and then reminds Sarah of her promise to marry him.
Weak Point 5:   Toby's life lesson felt like an 'I learned something today' segment from South Park.  It took up several pages and it felt sort of tacked on. Also I had thought the speech in Toby's play would prove to be important later on but it wasn't.  It didn't have any significant purpose like Sarah's 'You have no power over me.' speech.  But Toby's life lesson somehow leads to Jareth saying that everyone may go home.  
Weak Point 6: Remember how Hana was homicidal about getting her wings back?  I imagine for a pixie to lose her wings it's like a singer whose tongue has been ripped out or a dancer whose legs are chopped off.  It's rather important to them if they can get these lost and painfully removed appendages put back. 
            Hana was bitter and resentful about having lost her wings. She even poisoned the punch bowl at Jareth's ball in volume one of Return to Labyrinth.    Well, Jareth gave Toby a magical crystal orb as a reward for helping him.   So Toby goes to give Hana her wings (because he's 'learned to be responsible') but he misses and the wings end up on Stank, her small puppy-like variation on Ludo.   And she says 'Good enough!'    No, not good enough.  Was that supposed to be funny? She was devastated about her wings being ripped off but she's okay because they're now on the creature she rides?   That's like a man in a wheelchair but if the wheelchair sprouts working legs that makes it ALL better!   This scene felt like a total fail to me.    
                So Toby learns his 'lesson' and Sarah goes on to become a children's book writer instead of 'just a teacher' because apparently you can't be fulfilled teaching others...  
             But Toby's somehow (though it's not really shown, it's told) learned responsibility.   Sarah has dreams again.  Jareth is king again.   This is something I feared.  It felt like an attempt to appease everyone and it appeased almost no one.  Jareth and Sarah definitely love each other as proved by the anti-climatic true love's kiss but they didn't end up together, which was meant to appease those who didn't want them together but at the same time appease those that feel that there is true love between Jareth and Sarah.  
                 So if that was true love's kiss (as the prophecy required) that means Sarah, for no reason at all, abandoned her one true love and not only is everyone okay with that but it's the ending her 'no longer selfish brother' preferred.  Talking your sister (somehow) into leaving behind her true love seems pretty selfish if you ask me.
             I like the manga in general, particularly Shadow of a Dream in Volume 3, but I don't like Volume 4 very much.
Stranger to the grave //chiana606

Dorian Gray American DVD

       I just got my American copy of Dorian Gray starring Ben Barnes.  I like the British DVD case better so I swapped them out.  Naturally the trailers on the DVD are different (and no chocolate commercial).  And there's a slight difference in the opening credits. The Millennium pictures logo doesn't come up at the beginning. The first one to come up for us is Alliance.  I hope the running length for the film isn't different too.
           It got here extremely fast.  I got the notice from Barnes and Noble that it was shipped only yesterday morning and UPS delivered it less than an hour ago and with a BN card it was free shipping.  Not bad considering Amazon's free shipping would have required a thirty dollar purchase and had an estimated delivery date of September seventh with the free shipping.  Barnes and Noble is definitely the place to get it if you're ordering the DVD online and are in the US.

Stranger to the grave //chiana606

(no subject)

Ray Bradbury's reaction to the NSFW Ray Bradbury video.
I don't know if you're aware of this but there's a new and disturbingly catchy youtube video called f--ck me Ray Bradbury in which a Britney Spears style "school girl" talks about wanting to do naughty things to Ray Bradbury.  Ain't it Cool News got a photograph of Bradbury's reaction to seeing the video.
That's one Hell of a 90th Birthday present!  
       I hope he's not having a heart attack in that photo.
Stranger to the grave //chiana606

Return to Labyrinth Volume 4 NY Best Seller

              Despite my own dislike of certain aspects of the ending Return to Labyrinth Volume 4 made it to the 4th spot on the New York Times Best Seller List.
            Return to Labyrinth is the four part manga sequel to the fantasy film Labyrinth starring rock star David Bowie (The Hunger and The man who fell to Earth) as Jareth, The Goblin King and a young Jennifer Connelly (A Beautiful Mind) as Sarah Williams. 
             In the original film Sarah had to solve an intricate maze known as the Labyrinth in order to rescue her baby brother whom she accidentally had wished to be taken by goblins.  In the manga sequel Jareth has taken her brother, yet again (who is now a teenager).   Jareth selects Toby to be his heir in what appears to be an elaborate bid to try to claim Sarah's heart and save his kingdom from his own loss of control as well as the cruel and manipulative Queen of Cups, Mizumi.  Mizumi wants the Labyrinth and Jareth's heart for herself.     
             Volume 3 of Return to Labyrinth had also reached the New York Times Best Seller List last year.  
          Congratulations to Jake T. Forbes.   I might have disliked certain things about the ending but I am happy for you.