Squinting at sunlight

1 Dec

I’m officially settled into my new place and life can go back to something resembling normal. Just in time for the rush of the holidays. I went to K-Mart yesterday to pick up a few odds and ends for my condo and ended up walking out empty-handed. Too many people strolling at zero miles an hour through the aisles, and let’s not even get to how many people were lined up at the check-out registers.

On the other hand, a successful change of address with Netflix brought me more Alias, 24, and Taken goodness. I got Firefly in the queue now, too, waiting for later this month, and Farscape. And somehow, Highlander season 3 came out on DVD a while back without me noticing. Amazon is already selling used copies. I have it on my wish-list pending finding out how much money I’ll have in the coming months. My old iMac computer is acting up, and I’m wondering if it might not be a good idea to get a new computer instead of getting the old one fixed.

Speaking of “Taken”, I just finished up that mini-series yesterday and really liked it. Several reviews on Netflix found it “predictable”, but I think predictability is in the eye of the Beholder. I didn’t have a clue where they were going with the three-family trajectory story, and so the whole climax leading to the life and person of Allie was an interesting surprise. I didn’t expect all the elements at the beginning and middle of the story to all end up woven together like that. I think I expected a series of semi-independent vignettes about various people’s abduction stories.

A reviewer on Amazon called Taken “Close Encounters of the Third Kind meets the Waltons”. I think this is a little simplistic. None of these families is the Waltons with their home-grown heart-warming problems. If they had been, I would have been bored. These families and the individuals in them were complex and had some serious problems and pains.

The ending was a little heart-warming I guess, and I know some people don’t like what they perceive of as too much sentimentality and heart-warmingness, but by the end of the series, I really wanted a little hope and had it given to me. Speaking against the whole predictability thing, I really worried that Allie might use her powers once too often and hurt or kill herself. I really worried that Charlie would die during the hostage situation. I really thought the Crawford family would fuck things up for everybody with their obsessive ambition. Maybe since it’s Steven Spielberg, I should have known better, but even the actual ending wasn’t that heart-warming. Just hopeful. And with the whole magic-sense-of-wonder thing that I like about Spielberg films.

I have an interest in family as a theme in stories I watch, but it can’t be just any family story. I am interested in very specific things, like special gifts/experiences being passed down through the generations, like the powers of the Clarke family or the UFO connection of the Keys family. I am interested in families that are “different”, set apart from people around them by whatever it is that makes them different–being part alien, or wizards/witches or whatever it is.

I am also interested in the “child I never knew” story where a person discovers that they had a child they never knew about or that they were separated from early in life. So of course I loved the whole Charlie Keys/Allie thing (and the way it brought all the disparate story threads together). I also like when interesting similarities between parent and child create conflict between them, as happened in the Crawford family.

So there was much coolness in this, and yet another thing to put on the Amazon wish-list for the day when DVDs actually become cheap.

Update: This just in. Of course Taken has the lovely and very human Julie Benz in it, but there is another Buffyverse alum as well. Charlie Keys is played by the actor who once embodied Parker Abrams! I knew I recognized him from somewhere, but Charlie is so much more mature-looking and sympathetic that I never made the connection with the pigprettyboy until I did a quickie imdb.com search.

4 Responses to “Squinting at sunlight”

  1. yabyumpan December 1, 2003 at 5:36 pm #

    I really liked ‘Taken’ as well, although I am one of those people who had a problem with the ending. Partly because I would have liked the family to escape and have to carry on dealing with all that had happened to them and who Allie was, but also because the ending just felt to pat and waaaay to long. They could have cut at least 10 mins off the end, cut down on all the glowing and deep looks. It got to the point where I was just shouting at the tv screen for Allie to just go already!
    It is a shame about the ending because it was a really interesting story about ‘families’ and how people interconnect. Also about fear and how we respond to that. Even without all the ‘E.T’ stuff, the stories of the Clarkes, Keys and Crawfords made for compelling viewing.
    Glad you’ve ordered ‘Farscape’. I hesitate to say you’ll love it (I don’t want to put the mockers on it) but I’ve become totally obsessed ;o) Even to the point of watching the 2 penultimate episodes on SciFi yesterday because I got so desperate for some new ‘Farscape’! I know, bad, bad me ;o) but I’ve got to say that I’m even more excited now. I’ve seen where it’s going to end up and I’m buckling my self in for one hell of a ride. I’m having to stop my self from buying all the seasons on tape, I really enjoy having that excitement everyday (except w/e’s) of discovering a new episode and I know I’d just swallow the tapes whole if I got them.
    Looking forward to discussing it with you.

  2. neshaffer December 1, 2003 at 6:01 pm #

    It got to the point where I was just shouting at the tv screen for Allie to just go already!
    No kidding. I was like, “So beam her up, already!”
    I would have liked the family to escape and have to carry on dealing with all that had happened to them and who Allie was
    I liked that there was some unhappiness at the end, that they lost their daughter, but that there was a good indication that she would return (can anyone say, “sequel”?) If they’d gotten away at the end, without the aliens or the army giving chase, it would have been too heart-warming for me.
    On Farscape–posts on the board indicate they are coming back with a movie or a few more episodes to wrap up the cliff-hanger ending. Or is that what you saw and they did that already?

  3. yabyumpan December 3, 2003 at 12:28 am #

    If they’d gotten away at the end, without the aliens or the army giving chase, it would have been too heart-warming for me.
    Oh, I wasn’t looking for a ‘happy ending’, more, the next chapter. How would the family continue to cope with having a ‘special’ child? What did it really all mean for the Crawford woman? MAybe there will be a follow up.
    Re: Farscape, it was the the end of S4 I watched. I think they go into to production for the concluding mini-series next year. Something else to look forward to :o)

  4. neshaffer December 3, 2003 at 6:14 am #

    Re: Farscape, it was the the end of S4 I watched. I think they go into to production for the concluding mini-series next year. Something else to look forward to :o)
    Cool!
    Oh, I wasn’t looking for a ‘happy ending’, more, the next chapter. How would the family continue to cope with having a ‘special’ child? What did it really all mean for the Crawford woman? MAybe there will be a follow up.
    They say the best ending to a story is one that is a surprise, and yet, when you really think about it, inevitable. I think Allie being taken fit the bill. They foreshadowed it a lot, with the little girl slowly realizing what her fate must be even as her parents were in denial.
    The Crawford woman on the other hand seemed to realize in the end that her obsession was wrong, and that they not only needed to give up on chasing Allie, but on keeping the recording artifact as well, and that seemed a rather abrupt about-face. Now I think what they were trying to do was have her realize the depth of her obsession when she killed her boyfriend over it and then realized what a horrible mistake that was when she got his recorded message, but that didn’t quite work for me.
    She has more story to tell, for sure.

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