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Living Loz
And in another installment of 'you take this all waaaaay too seriously'... 
16th-Dec-2010 05:57 am
Life on Mars (Sam & Gene are amusing)
It is ridiculous-o-clock in the morning and I am awake because I have a tooth that decided, 'hey, what Loz needs for her birthday and Christmas is me making my presence known in a spectacularly painful way --- waheeeeeeey!' And so... onto the rambling.



I think many people assume that because I say Sam and Gene are my OTP and because the past, oh, two years I've been a little single-minded in this regard, this means I am automatically anti-any-other-ship that may involve them --- but I don't use the term for 'the only two people who should ever be together, ever'/'they can never, ever be with or love anyone else'. I have never been that person. OTP, for me, in this instance and every other I may use it roughly translates to, 'my favourite!', 'the coupling that gets me right there!', 'everything about them interests me --- everything!'

This shouldn't feel like some weird sort of confession, and I understand all of the people who didn't --- but I grew to really like Alex Drake. Even love her. Flaws and all. She became a character I became interested in and emotionally invested with. From series two onwards my issues with Ashes to Ashes were, for the most part, not Alex-related. And it does, it actually does, give me a sad when people hate her with the passion of a thousand suns, because I think it was bad, bad, bad writing and some bad direction-giving that got us to this point, and that, actually, the writers and directors pulled it together in the end (or, even, by A2A 1.08.) It took more time than it should have for me, perhaps, but I do think it happened. I never, ever had a problem with Keeley who I think is delightful and a fantastic actress and is, all in all, one of the women I have a crush on despite being ostensibly for the men.

In the name of full disclosure, I admit I still sorta wish A2A had never been made, or at least, if it had to have been made, been made after at least a year where Matt and Ash could get their shit together, but I do not think the show was without merits.

And so, even though, as I said the other day, I don't actively ship it, I don't have a problem with Alex/Gene, or Gene/Alex (I do have a problem with the term 'Galex', because I am singularly WITHOUT HUMOUR about aaaaaall pairing smush names. Every last one. Even Shassie, which is now Psych-canon.) You cannot convince me that Gene never loved Sam, but I do not subscribe to the theory that it's impossible to have loved deeply and then love someone else. I, personally, don't think Gene ever quite got to devotion with Alex, but I do not have rage for the concept that he did. And their friendship, in the end, charmed me.

The reason A2A isn't my canon isn't because I hate Alex, because there's no Sam (although. guys. there's no Sam :(), because it's got het ewwww. It's because it's so damn restrictive. I can happily fanwank and wave away the contradictory elements of Life on Mars that do not conform to whatever theory I am choosing to apply to a story. To me, there is nothing definitive that says 'this is the answer'. I do see ambiguity. I think there's really only ever one element you need to ignore or discount in order to get to anything you want to, really, within, you know, limits. But because I am a 'yay canon' writer, I find that very, very hard to do with A2A and chose, for the most part, not to use A2A canon as the show was running because we didn't know the Grand Mystery. Now we do know the Grand Mystery, it's actually super interesting and rife with awesome possibilities which were not always brilliantly executed yet do have miles of potential, but, as I said, it's so damn restrictive.

Also, there's no Sam. SORRY! It's a thing.

So. Um. In the end? Sam/Gene makes me happy in my heart, but isn't the sole reason I am ever 'BOO, HISS' about A2A. Or even the reason at all. And, in fact, all 'boo, hiss'ing has to be tempered by the fact I did actually enjoy a lot about A2A all the way through.


... I am feeling like sufficient time has passed that I can now rewatch A2A and make icons, even. I think I've got over my damage. Guuuuys, I may be Growing Up. Hold me. :(

Comments 
15th-Dec-2010 07:43 pm (UTC)

Sorry about your tooth.

This all seems perfectly reasonable to me... but then my complete lack of interest in A2A has nothing to do with my Sam/Gene OTP or even my dislike for Alex. Quite simply, it has to do with the fact that I watched the first four episodes, FOUR hours all told and they couldn't keep my interest. I've never been one of those people who rejects a show out of hand after the first episode, not unless it's really, really bad, but I'm also not going to sit through an entire season of crap to get to the next one. That's just bad work, pure and simple. It particularly doesn't work for me when I was disposed to like the bloody thing and it *still* couldn't keep my attention.

Yes, I have OTPs but I've never managed to have one for a show/film/book where I didn't love the canon too so I was excited about more Gene Hunt, more Ray and Chris and LONDON, my beloved London.

I can honestly say, hand on heart, that my dislike for it is NOT because of the Sam/Gene 'shipping, I just feel it was an inferior knock-off product designed to cash-in on an unexpected success. <--- No Drayce, tell us what you really think.

To be clear, anyone who enjoyed/loved A2A? More power to them but it's not for me.
15th-Dec-2010 07:55 pm (UTC)
I once watched two series worth of The Jamie Foxx Show to catch a 2 minute cameo of my favourite actor at the time, even though I hated every second and hoped never to see Jamie Foxx ever again.

:D

I also have watched an inordinate amount of sketch comedy for the one or two sketches that are win. Half a series of Veronica Mars before I got to liking it. Half a series of How I Met Your Mother before the same.

I make the time to give tv a try, if I feel I have to.

I just feel it was an inferior knock-off product designed to cash-in on an unexpected success.

I would say that at first this was possibly true. Matt and Ash had no time. none at all to sort out what they were going to do, and I will still happily argue they wrote a big list of things they felt should work without really thinking much about them or how their audience would react, and then tried to tick all the boxes, wildly stabbing in the dark. But I do think it became more than that. And I have always maintained that, despite what he may say, for Matthew Graham, this whole thing has always been more than work. Because he seems to be a fanboy of his own brain. :D

(I do not see what he does as being much different to what fans do, except there is money involved. And while, yeah, woooo money, sell sell sell --- there is always something more than that. Or maybe I am being overly generous. I hope not.)

Thank you about the tooth commiseration. This is really just my years of waaaay too much sugar coming back to torture me. Self-inflicted, all the way.
15th-Dec-2010 08:30 pm (UTC)

Your endurance levels are far greater than mine. :D

If I can't be hooked in four hours of a show or three-four chapters of a book I'm just going to move on to something else and there's always something else.

LoM still rates as one of my favourite pieces of television ever. A2A seeks to answer questions I didn't need answering... or at least did once they decided they better do "something" with it. As to the "no time" then don't do it. Money... yep.
15th-Dec-2010 08:05 pm (UTC)
Right at the start of A2A I read a review that stated something along the lines of, "...for some fans, Sam's absence will be too unbearable."

I stopped watching after S1E1 as soon as the news of Sam's death came out, because I felt like they were denying LoM, and that series became very important to me as a fan. I never watched S2 but I'm glad I watched S3. Having said that, I would be happier if A2A hadn't been made and those questions hadn't been answered. I didn't need any of the LoM questions answered, I'm not that type of person.
15th-Dec-2010 08:11 pm (UTC)
Apart from how the situation with Viv went down (which, I shall admit, was very powerful, but just riles me in the way I suspect it was probably meant to), I felt S3 of A2A was kind of excellent. I mean, excellent in concept, not always in execution.

For me, Life on Mars was always about questions. A great deal of the joy was in the questions it asked and never answered. That aspect of it pleased me.
15th-Dec-2010 08:54 pm (UTC)
If Life on Mars had never been made, Ashes to Ashes would have been a really great series. Unfortunately it didn't live up to its predecessor and while I wouldn't go so far as to say it shouldn't have been made, I would rather have had more episodes with the original characters ... as I'm sure most people would. But there was good stuff in A2A ... mainly Shazz, SuperMac and Keats.

OTOH I will say that given the mess the BBC so often makes of recasting/revamping/rebranding shows out of existence (at which they have a track record dating back at least as far as Softly, Softly) it could all have been quite a lot worse and I'm very glad it wasn't; a strong cast held that show together very much longer than would have been possible with other shows. Whether it was worth doing, of course, must be a subjective judgement ...
15th-Dec-2010 09:21 pm (UTC)
Shaz. Much, much love for Shaz.

And Alex + Shaz? Wonderful.

It could have been much, much worse, couldn't it?
15th-Dec-2010 08:56 pm (UTC)
Owie on the tooth. That Is So Not Fair.

I watched all of A2A S1... and found it fun, but horribly derivative and did not like the way Gene had been turned into a cartoon character. I was all excited for the start of S2 and then simply could not manage to finish the first episode. I were boreded.

Putting S2 on a DVD for a Yank friend who does not have the brilliant contacts I do, I basically watched the "last time" scenes at the start of each ep for S2, and really felt meh about the whole season then. I dunno. *shrugs* I never even messed with S3.

And bravo to you for the good and proper definition of OTP. I've never understood folks who declare an OTP and then refuse to consider any other pairings, or worse yet bash them. They're missing out on a lot of good fic.
15th-Dec-2010 09:24 pm (UTC)
I do not understand people who have shipwars because of OTPs, I really don't.

Whilst they always kept up the Gene-glorification in A2A, he did get to be human, after a while; with layers and everything.
15th-Dec-2010 09:22 pm (UTC)
First of all my obligatory support of smushname hatred. A POX UPON THEM ALL!!!

I really feel bad for Keeley and to some extent the character of Alex because I spent 2 1/2 series screaming STFU ALEX at the screen for pretty much every episode and honestly loathing her in the first series. But you're right...they did finally get to place where I cared about and the fact is, there was some pretty compelling Gene/Alex chemistry all the way through, even though about 90% of it was (IMAO) for potential hate!sex.

I still tend to write my LoM fic as though A2A doesn't exist, but I'm fully capable of writing canon-compliant A2A fic as well.

My one quibble is the idea that there's "no Sam" in A2A. I disagree. I think he IS there, from the first episode through the last, and that's part of what makes Glenister's performance so poignant.
15th-Dec-2010 09:28 pm (UTC)
My one quibble is the idea that there's "no Sam" in A2A. I disagree. I think he IS there, from the first episode through the last, and that's part of what makes Glenister's performance so poignant.

Too heartbreaking.

I mean, I agree, but it is too heartbreaking for me, and I am not, I am really not, despite everything I have written, on the side of tragedy, unhappy endings and an unerring sense of loss.

I want fiction to be what real life is not, in that regard. Complicated? Sure. Miserable to the end? Please no.

Though a version of A2A where Sam is actually always there as a ghost would be amazing. His snide little comments. Gene having to try and appear sane.

15th-Dec-2010 09:32 pm (UTC)
Though a version of A2A where Sam is actually always there as a ghost would be amazing. His snide little comments. Gene having to try and appear sane.

Which would be the ultimate payback for all the times Sam was called a nutter.

I'm an angst-bunny so things can get pretty bleak before I cry uncle. I LOVED seeing the "Sam/Gene" moments that permeated A2A, even (especially) when I was feeling the pain of Gene's loss.






15th-Dec-2010 09:38 pm (UTC)
I was up last night with my own achey tooth - there's a hole that really shouldn't be there. :P I suspect I rather exacerbated the problem by finishing off one of those chocolate reindeer thingies before bed, lol. Feeling your pain! *hugs*

Your birthday's the day after mine! :D

Oh, Keeley Hawes. *sighs happily* ;) Here, have a mini picspam.

I loved Alex in S1-3. I was sad that her story got sidelined a bit in S3 in favour of THE BIG MYSTERY. In S1 I found her story genuinely moving, especially that desperation in trying so hard to save her parents even though we know - and Alex knows and chooses to ignore - that if it didn't work for Sam...

As for Gene/Alex, I quite like it. And yes I suffer from the same 'But...Sam!' problem, and I feel terrible for Molly, but you know what? In A2A 3x08, Gene is slumped on the floor, Keats has just turned his world upside down, my heart is shattered into a million little pieces for him, and then Alex comes along. And she sits down with him, and she talks him out of it, and gets him thinking like a copper again. Gets him to call Chris and Ray back from the brink of hell and start acting like the same old Gene. I love her for that, so much. SO, so much.

Agreeing with your definition of OTP, too. I'll ship anyone with anyone, but there are certain pairings that will just work, always.
15th-Dec-2010 10:48 pm (UTC)
It was how Alex treated Ray that got to me. She afforded him the understanding that Sam was never willing to give. And, okay, so A2A Ray is a wiser, less boorish version of LoM Ray in many ways --- but she still gave him the time of day. She didn't goad him into getting himself blown up, at any rate, which is a big plus.

And she stood by Gene, until the end. She finally learnt to trust him. There was some good relationship development through S2 and 3 that really worked.

Thank you for the link to the picspam. She is so gorgeous.

15th-Dec-2010 10:07 pm (UTC)
I'm very sorry about your tooth. I know that pain. I hope you can see a dentist soon. *hugs*

And yes, although A2A S1 made me violent after I sat through the first few episodes, I was mostly OK with S3. Even though I never properly saw S2. A large part of it was that yes, Alex was much more sympathetic...and also, <3s for Shaz. Actually, the whole reason I considered watching S2 at all after that was to see the Chris/Shaz cuteness, because ♥ *smooshieface*
15th-Dec-2010 10:49 pm (UTC)
I have missed one episode of A2A --- 2.06. I'll have to dig out my DVDs and watch it one day.

Shaaaaaaz. Although her and Chris make me sad, sad, sad.
15th-Dec-2010 11:01 pm (UTC)
For what reason? Because apparently they broke up, and S3 was really sad for them?

Or did something happen in S2?
15th-Dec-2010 11:03 pm (UTC)
S3

:( :( :(
17th-Dec-2010 04:39 pm (UTC)
I will come right out and say it - I do not understand people who hate Ashes, or Alex. Not even a little bit.

I mean, when the show first aired I rolled my eyes at her along with everyone else and I saw the flaws in the story and nodded with the writers when they said they overplayed it for laughs in S1. I cringed when she acted as arrogantly as she did (but then, so did Sam fairly often) and screamed a lot and got pissed and acted like Gene and his world weren't important, or real.

But then I asked myself - well, what would I do if I suddenly went back twenty-five years in the past? I mean, I like to think I wouldn't have treated people so badly but I sure as hell would've drunk a lot and been a bit more reckless than I can be in my normal life these days. So I don't hold that against her. And she did grow up, and she did make a massive difference to them.

As to Gene/Alex - well, to me, its there and more obvious than anything they've ever written in these shows; from the looks, the unspoken things, the things that were spoken and the music choices that complimented it brilliantly. And I love it to the degree that I feel actually guilty about loving Gene/Sam as well, but that's beside the point.

When it comes to writing this stuff, my view is the complete opposite of yours. For one thing, I love that the Grand Mystery sets limits because I feel like it gives a whole basis for the 'awesome possibilities' you mentioned. I also like the restriction in writing because I feel like I have to make the most of the bit I've chosen to write about. There are so many layers, when you figure the big picture in, so much pain mixed with joy and heartbreak mixed with love and friendship. I feel it's a fantastic easel that can be used to create something amazing. If you've got totally free rein then it's easier to make them into something that's unrecognisable from what canon gave us. And I am unashamed in my canon-whoreness. If I can't relate a piece of fanfic to the characterisations we were orignally given, then I'm not interested.

And...yeah. Just my two cents.
18th-Dec-2010 12:21 am (UTC)
I imagine your, 'how can you not like A2A?' is much like my 'how can you not like LoM?' Even if someone listed all the reasons, you'd frown and think, "well, that's just you, and clearly you don't know genius!"

I am not going to list the many, many things that annoyed me about Ashes, just where those things came from. Some of it was a case of being 'that fan'. More than some of it was a case of literary snobbery --- which on reflection, was D U M dumb, but somehow remains. (Things like 'arrrrgh, you don't put plot points in a story just to make an audience react, they have to serve a purpose in the plot' go here.) There were elements relating to various issues that fucked me off, and to be fair those issues were explored in Life on Mars inexpertly too, but because I wasn't so starry-eyed I found it easier to be critical.

Once again, I think Alex got a raw deal. I think she got a raw deal because she really is compassionate and caring, but it was IMPOSSIBLE to tell in the first few episodes of Ashes to Ashes and this was kind of the main difference between her and Sam (and despite all the good intentions in the world, people shall compare the new character to the old.) Sam said he didn't believe the word was real, but always acted like he did. And sure, he could be a prick, one of my favourite things about Sam is how prickish he is, but the fact he cried over June, for instance, is a big deal. That he visited her in hospital. In the second episode of A2A, Alex unwittingly drives a kid to blow himself up, and she's a bit shocked, but that's sort of it.

Alex said she didn't, acted like it didn't believe in everything around her, and if she hadn't also been showing her smug condescending side, this might have been bearable, but that didn't happen. On top of that, as an audience, we were automatically not as invested in Alex's story, because we'd seen it all before... if someone had given up on Alex after episode three of Ashes to Ashes, I can see why they didn't like her. I gave her time to grow, and she did and this pleased me. Compared, once again, to Sam, she actually had quite a bit of character development, which is refreshing.

As for limits in fiction --- some limits are good, I agree. I am not usually a radical AU writer for the very fact I like limits. Buuuuut, having said that, the limits of coma, mad or back in time suit my nefarious ficcing purposes a lot better than the rigidness of limbo-land. I can write time-travel hijinks! I can play with what constitutes reality. Plotwise, I can explore all kinds of things, still within the limits of LoM canon. I loooove that. And it is about intention, because, 'make them into something that's unrecognisable from what canon gave us' is never, ever, ever going to be my intention. I always seek to make implausible things plausible. Character-wise, I want my fanfic reading audience to be thinking, 'yes, yes, in that specific circumstance, that character would behave that way.' And it's super easy to write characters in a rigidly canon-based story plotwise completely out of character.

I did and still can use the idea of limbo-land as my basis for a story, and I am sure I will in the future, but being able to say, "I think I'll go with madness today" is really freeing. Being able to make teeny-tiny changes to canon to get these results is awesome. I am not a natural world-builder, so having more than one world at my fingertips means I get to explore all kinds of things I wouldn't be able to otherwise (well. I could. but, eeeehhhh lazy.)
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