Because while the Titanic and WWI pass into myth, they were making absolutely nothing to do with reality American films about WWII, pretty much before those Yanks even got into the war, and, well, I'll spare you the usual rant about American forces claiming Australian battles as their own, ditto the Brits claiming Oz victories and the Yanks claiming Brit battles, and so on and so forth. But the point is, turning recent history into fanciful myths is nothing new. Some might even call it propaganda or merchandising.
So where do you draw the line? And are the famous and infamous fair game, while the little people are incidental to anything going on anyway (chances of them featuring that guy in the same class as Doyle, or that guy firing one of the first shots at Gettysburg, have, so far, been slim to none, even in Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Slayer).
Do people care? Do relatives care? Does the Doyle estate bother about Doyle turning up in Murdoch Mysteries? Do Winston Churchill's descendants care that he apparently greenlit Daleks for the war effort? What's tongue in cheek, and what's completely tasteless? What's too soon?
Should it bother me that Reid and Bell, et al, were real people, once upon a time? Normally, not so much, but on Ripper Street, they really are skipping about the ancestral stomping ground, and, having been shown photos of actual addresses of houses and businesses (and both) that were once called home, even just for a short while), well, I guess I just pay attention more than I usually do. Because it's not just any place and time, you know? Just a stop on the way, but still, they were there, they walked those streets.
It's just fiction, but it's not. Do the ancestors of Reid, Abberline or Bell, etc, if any, ever think it's a bit weird that their ancestors are now somebody elses' sock puppets?
Still with the slim to none chances for mine, right? Well, yes, I think so, absolutely, but it was odd, yesterday, reading a section in my book on the old ancestrals, and then seeing some of the same folks pop up in an episode synopsis. I dare say they won't mention that guy, who knew that guy, but, still, it's the closest the family tree has come to having a bit of a tickle in, since I can't remember when (technically I have an ancestor who must have fought at nearly all the same battles as Sharpe, from India to Waterloo, one of the nameless many, but it's dashed confusing when fantasy meets family).
So I very, very much doubt you'll ever see my great, great uncle sharing screen time with Homer Jackson, but I'm kind of okay with that. Because it'd be weird. That's all. Just weird. Fiction meets history - I guess they call that mythology.
Where, one wonders, do history, fiction and biography overlap and diverge? I was just reading an article on how the documented history of a time and place, and the filmed versions of a time and a place are antithetical, the film relying on tropes to set the scene. The article then went on to use the example of Ripper films, seriously, the meta, as always featuring fog when, in fact, it wasn't foggy at the time. There was also a bit on the claustrophobic psychology of the maze of brick walls, but it was mainly dealing with place, rather than people.
With people, again, how soon is too soon, and how fake is too fake, and what do you do when you main character is still alive and kicking and a stroppy Australian? Sorry, Australian. Apparently, even if you've put the Cumberbatch in the worst ever white mop, or maybe because, your film tanks, and hard. There have been some articles suggesting a lack of support for the project by the subject of said project might have injured the film's perception. Or it could just be a dog. But it's an interesting example of filmed history where the main characters still have right of reply - and aren't afraid to use it.
Basically, should I worry about what Reid would think? About the show? About the fic I'm about to commit upon his good name? What do you do when they have no right of reply? Should I worry, or, ahem, plough on?
Much, much later...
What happened? Oh, the usual, did my duty, at the expense of anything I might have wanted to do, like sleep, and still got screamed at by the old sergeant major. In other words, same old. There was even a serve in the press over my diligent work (gave the appearance of priority because I was updating so fast, my bad). Just cannot win.
The smoke and fires? Close enough for choking smoke and falling ash, but still about 100+km from the front. It'd have to chew up a lot of brick and bitumen before I have to worry. I do thank my family OS for pinging me in the middle of the night, though, I really do. It's nice to know someone, somewhere, gives a damn.
Theatre? Worst night ever. Now you know I've been looking forward to seeing Toby Schmitz as Hamlet at the Belvoir for well over a year. You know it, right? It's been the star on the horizon to which I set my sail.
Well, here be dragons. First of all, it was in the middle of a really crappy week for me (doing unpaid extra hours while very unwell and being yelled at does not make me happy). And as for the trip home - well, that taxi driver needs to be reported to the police but I was too traumatised and the assault began in earnest when I tried to get his details, so, shrug, just another night in Sydney.
The play? I guess I just wasn't in the mood, having raced down as it was, and then there was the feral audience member who wandered over the stage and queried the actors. Fek knows where the dotty old dear thought she was or what she was doing but she needs to be properly supervised. That just took me out of it completely, stewing as I was over a rotten day/week and I just couldn't get into it, not even with the puppet show.
Yeah, I know, puppet show? Instead of the players, and you know what? That was the best bit in the whole damn thing. Tobes has quite a talent for it. Disturbingly so.
The rest was just Toby's Hamlet, or Toby as Hamlet, Toby doing Hamlet, I mean, Toby wasn't hidden within the role, it was Toby being Hamlet, but not Hamlet on stage, just Toby going through the motions. Or maybe that was the intent, with the usual start black then white set? To highlight the artifice? Especially with the standing around dream/nightmare like ending where TobyHamlet is haunted by all the dead people (not unlike that wonderful 1911 clip of Richard III).
It wasn't bad, though the egotism of Mr Stone improving on that hack Shakespeare, to not entirely, to my mind, sucessful results, although if you want a quickie version of Hamlet, this is it. It was like watching the Channel Ten edit - perhaps that's what set the jaw clenching - aside from the terrible day and feral audience members.
Put it this way, I love Toby, dearly, and wanted to give him and the play and myself another chance, so when I got home, and my hands stopped shaking, I booked another show. Then I get an email saying Toby has bailed and gone Hollywood. So, that's that, then.
There were only two other highlights in an otherwise dreadful week. The first was trotting off for a lecture on Richard III. I had to be up at 3 am trying to do my homework (despite not getting to bed before midnight) so I was really tired, but still enthusiastic. I'd like to say that now, finally, I have all my Richards and Edwards and Georges and Margarets and Annes sorted out but it just isn't so.
Never mind, it's such a fun period of history, from a spectator's point of view, and the lecture was a touch shambolic and fun, as there was a lot of interaction from diehard Ricardians (one refererred to Henry Tudor as 'the invader') and newbies (one asked what had happened to the Duke of Clarence as we'd skipped that bit and the tutor just said 'George passed away' to guffaws from the class).
I enjoyed it very much. Home in time to see The White Queen (which we were banned from mentioning in class), now up to Richard being crowned, the prog skipping over several acts of parliament and other machinations, and Arthur Darville popping up as Buckingham (boo! hiss!) in a wig that was so Thringy, so redolent of the essence of Thring, that every time he brooded evil thoughts in the corner, the Peanut Gallery piped up with 'I must have that kangaroo' - which'll mean nothing to you but it cracked me up, because that was totally the high camp vibe of the show.
I'm not watching it properly, but I'm watching it. Not a die hard Ricardian, but ever since that fateful rainy day in York that found me sheltering in the R3 stronghold, I've been interested.
The other small delight was a bit of high camp Victoriana that was Dracula. How and why has nobody cast young Jonathan as a vampire before. Just point that scary stare at someone, start filming and done. I kinda liked it, and I'm not surprised they mentioned Jack in an aside (the meta, the meta) because I was halfway through a piece on how the Ripper myth ticks all the boxes for your usual vampire tropes - which is what put me onto wanting to see Dracula, and now, as it happened.
Took me far too long to recognise Katie, and I like Patrick from Coupling as a moustache twirling baddie. Only from America could come the story of Dracula as rebellious anti-hero up against the establishment, big business and the press. It's all a bit clunky and standby for a message from our sponsors, but Ripper Street has been more than guilty of applying post Leveson Inquiry and Scarman Report mores to Victorian policing and reportage.
The main draw is what it's always been, young Jonathan being as sexy as sin, and the old, established and damn well classic tropes of Victorian London by gaslight, all damp cobbles and danger lurking in the misty shadows. Yes please.
Okay, the steam punky vampire hunters may be a campery too far, but I'll perservere, it's not like I haven't got The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen on my shelf next to From Hell.
I did read a review that said JRM is pretty much in the role he was Bornm To Play, it's just a pity that the rest of the shiow can't keep up with him, citing bad writing and bad acting. Yeah, well, at least it wasn't as dull as SHEILD, but tv writing has been somewhat lacklustre of late.
Yet I can't fault it for using today's issues as a stick to beat the past with, as all historical dramas do this, and I'm not just talking Ripper Street. It was pretty much Life on Mars's mission statement, and, hell, there's even an episode of Maverick that demands a deeper knowedge of Kennedy era economic policy than I currently posses to chuckle over the nuances and injokes.
Speaking of Maverick, Big Valley and Kung Fu, as I will be, very shortly, I can't believe it but the tech gods cut me a break and I saw Ripper Street last night. Swoon! Oh, my boys, how I've missed you. How I've bloody missed you!
'This is a bromance so epic it makes Watson and Sherlock's relationship seem frosty.' - The Guardian
So they were doing Chinatown last night, and, man, we were getting the Chinatown refs, big time, and a big lecture on how drugs get into London from Hong Kong (yeah well, just who started the opium wars, might I ask) and I'd had the very same lecture from Cowley in The Professionals, which, with the anvil clanging references to Kung Fu, firmly dates the age of at least one of the writers responsible - smirk.
It wasn't bad, better than most, it was just so silly I was kind of disappointed that they didn't borrow from Bart Maverick's adventures in San Francisco's Chinatown, or, indeed the Barkley boys. I love that episode where the boys get up to a bit of Chinese hoodoo with a chicken - I can totally see my H Division boys doing that, without the slightest strain, and I was always so amused that Jared seemed to know every hooker from Stockton to San Francisco, so much so that in one episode when he shows up with just some trashy widow the Peanut Gallery piped up on behalf of Ma Barkley that at least this one wasn't charging by the hour.
But I digress, but I do imagine Jared and Jackson's paths must have crossed in those seedy San Francisco bars. Oh, yes. That Jackson, he's a lover, not a fighter, as evidenced in the opening melee where the ubiquitous cigarette perpetually dangling from his lip is casually stubbed out on the brute who was throttling Drake at the time.
That's twice the cigarette was mentioned explicitly. I do hope they're not going the props as a shorthand for character as so many shows do, not to mention Jackson's indulgence and experimentation really going off to wild extremes. I hope they're not going anywhere with that. Sometimes they do, sometimes they don't. I mean, Caffrey is always hovering just one flagon shy of an AA meeting, seeing as he seems to put away more that a bored British housewife, but it's never more than a prop in that show (in lieu of good writing). But still, I evince some concern.
I mean, I know what they're doing, I'm sure it's part of their bold statement to other shows that they, Ripper Street, are not afraid of gaslight or the old seven per cent solution, but still, let's not go too far down that road, though it's hard to not seem insensitive if I were about to, and I was, embark upon a rant about how the whole junkie high flying high thinking creative type cliche is just about the trasiest trope there is, ahem, the very day/week Lou Reed died.
So I'll leave it there, and just say, as much as I appreciate the classics, in moderation, please (words entirely alien to young Captain Jackson, I fear). Not that I'm against the classics, or, indeed, trashy tropes.
In fact, as much as I loved the episode, and I did, though I'm still not sure if I'm saddened or relived over the lack of giant rats and vanishing music hall girls, or indeed the absence of Jago and Lightfoot (smirk), I'm concerned that my boys seem to be hovering dangerously on the side of becoming parodies of themselves. You know, Jackson shooting up, Reid being stoic and quietly tortured and poor old Drake being used as a battering ram while the other two stand back and finish their needlepoint (again, just like the Barkley boys).
Not that other shows don't fall into that trap of tropes. Hell, the aforementioned Sherlock would be a complete farce from start to finish it Benedict didn't know to turn it down a notch when occassion required and thus saved Sherlock from being a complete cartoon.
Yes, Ripper Street is meant to be a campy romp through Victoriana, a very British Deadwood with its stilted speech and ultraviolence, and I love it dearly. Just don't turn my boys into a series of tropes. These are the most original characters I've seen on tv in years - they deserve careful handling. Please, don't change a thing, I love them just the way they are:
Particularly, do not touch a hair on my beloved Captain's head, I love him just the way he is, the dissolute rogue. Even if he was voted by his class as most like to drown in a vat of malmsey wine (I can only assume because he has that fraternity ring macguffin that it indicates he acquired his Mary Sue like encyclopedic knowledge of everything everywhere at some reasonably posh institution, and this protracted and debauched adolescence is some sort expression of some form of rebellion or some Bryonic inclination to the artistic lifestyle?)
And, yes, it has been pointed out to me that I might just have imprinted on that certain type of raffish and reluctant hero at an early age. Not at all. As if. Not a bit of it.
Can't be helped then, I am in full fangirl flail here. I absolutely adore him.
Oh, all the Ripper Street articles are over on The Brit(ish) List post, in case you were wondering, because doubling up would be annoying to you, gentle reader, no doubt, and the mighty trio are two thirds Britishers, afterall.
Meanwhile, I'm told while I was indulging in high camp Victoriana, as is my want, I missed Himself doodling about on tv on another channel. Ooops. Will have to catch up on iView. My bad (but I had Captain Jackson ready to go, she wails in her defence, slight though it may be).
And he was papped by the Guardian as a fashionable gent strolling down Carnaby Street and now they want to use the photo. Better and better, for some.
Sigh. I'm thinking of putting together a playlist to tide me over. what do you think? Forsyte Saga, Maverick, Adam Adamant (yes, technically frozen during the Edrwardian era, but a Victorian through and through) - what else? I need my 19thC rogues and heroes, and I need them now.
Sitting at the bus stop before dawn (as I must now my commute takes four hours longer than it used to, too many people, far less trains and buses) watching the silent early morning ambulances trundle through the streets on pick up duty. There must have been a few visitations last night.
Well, it's Halloween and I'm in a filthy mood. Made myself so ill and tired last night on a job that absolutely had to be done by this morning, only to find an email telling me to trash it. This after I'd already been pushed to breaking point, as it's still October yet all the arcades I use to try and cut a few corners off my cross city commute were blasting out discordant carols at full volume and about a quarter of the way through my rat run I thought this just might be the one thing that tips me over the edge. Three quarters of the way through of running the gauntlet of enfored audic cheer, I was sure of it.
And now this. I am in desperate need of some tin cans to kick.
The sole bright spot was Grimm, finally playing out here (ok, so a week isn't as bad as the 2-5 years I used to have to wait, and still, for some shows, but still), picking up exactly where they left off, and pretty much continuing on. No radical studio retooling or fixing what ain't broke for the Grimmsters, small mercies. It's been so long it was a surprise to see James Frain pop up here, since he was last seen being properly bad in The White Queen.
Not too much to say about the plot, it was all Grimm, Grimm, who's got the Grimm, though I was somewhat amused by the whole 'I've been neatly folding his smalls for weeks, I can track my Nick for miles through deepest darkest forest' from Monroe. Who knew such domesticity would end up being so pivotal. These small asides are what make the show for me, basically (personally I think they wrapped up the odd couple subplot way too soon for my liking, but that's just me and my wrong viewing). I welcome it back into my viewing schedule.
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