Confessions a 20th century ne'er do well: Drinking, fighting, stealing and other things one generally ought not do

Saturday, May 31, 2008

Trends in British fantasy adventure stories

I always knew my man Walt was the real life Indiana Jones. And that is why I like being under his tutalage in the blogosphere. Which leads me to my trends-in-literature observation of the week. This week, I have observed that our favorite time traveling clinician, Doctor Who, borrows a charming plot device from another paragon of British scifi/fantasy.

My favorite part of the Lord of the Rings books is the very end where the hobbits return to the shire. (this scene was unfortunately omitted from the movie in favor of really long boring scenes with the likes of Kate Blanchette and a bunch of other characters who are never developed enough to warrant so much screen time. It's almost as though that series would have needed to be longer for them to work!) The peaceful hobbits had been overrun by evil men. Having fought along side with Middle Earth's finest warriors and generals, Frodo et al are easily able to mobilize the hobbits in a way that swiftly dispatches of the ruffians. It is an inspiring moment. One of the charms of Lord of the Rings is that the heros are not the main actors in the battles. They are like children allowed to accompany grown ups on a great adventure. This of course makes the books easy to relate to for average readers. Who wouldn't want to be allowed to accompany and assist great men doing something great? And who wouldn't like to believe that they'd be changed to reach a potential they only dreamed of in their own lives for having done so?

I just saw the preview for next week's Doctor Who. Apparently, Rose has, since leaving the Doctor, become the leader of some world saving fighting force. Martha Jones, upon leaving the Doctor's service, moves on to lead Torchwood. And of course, Sarah Jane Smith is leading her own team of Earth saving adventurers.

On another note, I actually like what they're doing on earth. It's actually reminiscent of future earth stories, only they're present day. But, they've already introduced the idea of alternative realities - such as the one Rose is in - so it need not contradict our own experience.


Anonymous Wes said...

Waitasec, what episode is this? They should be several episodes ahead in the UK (unless they decide to air them out of order or skip episodes in the US for some reason), but I've seen nothing of Rose except for a few quick blips and nothing of Sarah Jane at all. Martha's been around, but she really hasn't done much of anything. (Though with 2/5 members of Torchwood getting killed in the Series 2 finale, it would make sense that they're hiring.) I totally need to see this trailer you're talking about!

In any case, the original ending to Lord of the Rings does sound pretty cool. I do like the idea of Frodo and Bilbo getting to leave behind this world of woe and ascend to the super happy fun world of the elves, but the ending you describe is much more triumphant in an active sense.

6:55 AM, June 01, 2008

Blogger Walt said...

Ha ha, I love you brother!
I did at one time, have a Blacksnake whip: These are similar to Bull whips, except that the handle is made of rawhide instead of wood. Typified by the handle and thong made out of the same plait and makes the handle much more flexible. Don't ask me how I got it. It is true, although I'm a little better looking; Indiana Jones is a good copy of myself. The S.O.B even has the same type M-1943 military shoulder bag, that I've so often carried into the wild, on countless expeditions.
Ah, but there is more, I should tell you sometime, about being a teenage Marlon Brando, and the fashion trend that made me quit. Indeed, I was a wee bit of a copycat back then.

12:56 PM, June 01, 2008

Blogger NJWT said...

I may have misinterpreted the previews, but it looked like the there was some kind of war going on and that Rose had some kind of leadership role.

One thing I like about Donna and Rose is that both complain about mundane things. That, along with the quote from the Sarah Jane ads, "Life on Earth can be an adventure too," get me excited to go out and do things.... except for the fact that Sarah Jane meant life on Earth can be an adventure because of all the aliens among us, as opposed to because we can explore meet interesting people people etc.

I think the ending of both the movie and book might have included them leaving behind the world of woe, but in the book this happened after they retook the Shire. Either way, they're not mutually exclusive. I think it was something like Samwise came back and became the big man on campus while Frodo and Bolbo, or just Bilbo went on.

I actually think this is why Samwise is really the star of the story. Frodo had royal blood, which Tolkien is obsessed with, and thus was meant for great things, given the right circumstances. Samwise was a normal guy who stepped up for the occasion, thus more like us.

Walt, that is pretty awesome. Why did you have a whip, and what did you do with it? Is there any reason or excuse you can suggest to justify my acquiring one?

4:16 PM, June 01, 2008

Blogger Walt said...

Whips in Combat.
I thought I said, don't ask me about the whip. Ok dude, if you really must know. I was married for a few years to a girl named Eva.
A very bright impressive young lady. She could be sweet,and at the same time crafty. A little like our Sarah, only much more intuitive, and a whole lot more crazy. I did not know at the time, that my genius bride, would later prove to be extremely bipolar, and would one day try to kill me. No it was not just a bad case of PMS. I never talk about this stuff, I got to be Mr. Sunshine for all the other poor down and out's. Anyway back to the whip. One Summer while we were on vacation, we went out shopping for souvenirs. Eva becomes fascinated with this big black whip. So I buy it for her, in a few hours time, she was cracking that whip like she had been doing it all her life. A year later, when she divorced me for another man, I got to keep whip and her only son.

11:36 PM, June 01, 2008

Blogger T.A.B. said...

The real question is: have you figured out who this season's big bad is? I have. Wes should be excited.

3:20 AM, June 02, 2008

Anonymous Wes said...

Dave: Are you talking about this trailer, or another one?

Anyway, I agree that the retaking of the Shire and Frodo and Bilbo's ascension aren't mutually exclusive, though it does sound like having both would overcomplicate the ending a bit. With both involved, the former seems more like an ending whereas the latter would be epilogue material. ;)

Interesting thoughts on Samwise, btw, though I'm not entirely willing to concede the point because I completely hated Samwise in the films. Samwise's constant, vicious treatment of Gollum (at one point even Frodo took notice of it and told him to lay off) hit a little too close to home for me.

TAB: Figured it out? This season's big bad has been more/less common knowledge since... last season. (We've talked about this, haven't we Dave?) Unless, of course, the rumors are false (and the trailer is intentionally misleading), in which case I won't be very excited at all.

That said, I haven't noticed any hints or any threat continuity between episodes that would enable a viewer to effectively guess who the villain is. Are the episodes following some sort of historical precedent where (for example) Sontaran episodes are always distanced from episodes featuring other villains by a specific amount of serials?

10:38 AM, June 02, 2008

Blogger NJWT said...

That wasn't it. The one I saw didn't have any Daleks in it. I don't think.

I thought the Sontarans episode was pretty good. I did think the big bad this year was common knowledge (if you define common knowledge as 'things TAB and Wes have told you').

5:21 PM, June 02, 2008

Blogger NJWT said...

That wasn't Rose, obviously, although I think you were meant to think it was during the previews. she was created to fight some fish like creature called "the Hoff".

10:49 PM, June 06, 2008


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