Rather than give you a third post on NaNoWriMo this week, I think I’ll save it for later in the month, so I can include an update on my progress as well.
So instead let’s talk about something totally random: TV shows. I love TV shows so, so much. I might even be tempted to say that I like them more than movies. Because TV shows get me more grounded in a story. We’re able to have so many more characters (and get to know them more!) than what is possible during a 2 hour movie. We are better able to see these characters grow and develop over the different seasons. We get to see hundreds of different plotlines form. We get to spend more time with characters we love—until they’re killed off, that is. But really what I think is super awesome about TV shows is that they give me an experience close to the one I have while reading a book because both modes of entertainment are able to give me the aforementioned things.
So, on to what this post is about:
A discussion of three TV shows that use magic: Once Upon a Time, The Vampire Diaries, and Merlin.
Just from knowing this, it can be easily seen how much I enjoy fairytale retellings, hot men in leather, and bromances, respectively.
But it’s not just fairytale retellings, it’s the brilliance that Once Upon a Time uses to thread all these fairytales together and make them all a part of the same story. And I absolutely LOVE that they base them off of the Disney versions. OUaT perfectly balances the present story with flashbacks. And the flashbacks are told out of order, but it works so well. Fans can easily follow the progression of the story. And it makes it that much more exciting! (Hey look! I just started a sentence with a conjunction.)
Vampire Diaries. I think one of these days I’ll have to do an entire post on it because I love it so much. The thing is that people hate on it without watching because they think “Oh, it’s just another stupid vampire story. That story has already been told 100 times.” To you people, I say, “FALSE.” Vampire Diaries has one of the most complex and intricate and UNIQUE plotlines I have ever seen. And just when you think the danger is over, a bigger bad guy believably (and the key word is believably) comes into the picture. And a love triangle with hot vampire brothers, need I say more?
Now what can I say about Merlin? I love the stories involving King Arthur, and I especially love this retelling because it’s not about Arthur. It’s about Merlin. Sometimes the sidekick gets the shaft, okay, usually the sidekick gets the shaft. And in this show, Merlin frequently gets the shaft from others, but we, the viewers, know what really goes on. We see how Merlin saves Arthur’s life time and time again unbeknownst to any of the other characters. And Merlin and Arthur have the cutest little bromance. Their friendship is awesome, and I love the bickering.
Now, those were all examples of things that these shows did right! Now, because I can do whatever I want, I would like to discuss one common thing that each of these shows (dare I say it) does wrong. And that is the way in which they use magic.
I love magic in shows, but sometimes it frustrates me. ESPECIALLY when magic, well, when magic magically saves the day. When the magic is not fully understood by viewers, it is completely unsatisfying when it solves a problem. On the opposite end, it can be said that it’s unsatisfying to know a rule of the magic and then not see the characters utilize the magic to solve a problem.
Allow me to use an example from each of the aforementioned TV shows.
First, Once Upon a Time (sentence fragment!). During the Hansel and Gretel episode, Hansel and Gretel have bested the child-eating witch and lock her in her own oven. Once this happens, the evil Queen Regina (who also made an appearance in the Tricia’s List of Bad Guy Motivations post), who has been watching all this go down from her handy dandy mirror, throws a fireball through the mirror and burns the witch in her oven. Now I ask the obvious question: If the queen can throw fireballs through her mirror, why does she not exact vengeance on everyone in this way? The answer is simple: if she did this, OUaT would not be a very exciting story. But the point is that the creators have established a rule and then ignored it. Frustrating.
Now, Vampire Diaries. How many times does Bonnie use her witchy powers to solve a previously unsolvable problem? How convenient that when Elena or Jeremy are about to die, Bonnie has a witchy solution, but if say (*spoilers coming!) Jenna or Alaric dies, there is no such solution. Come on, Bonnie, it’s all or nothing.
And Merlin! Talk about a messed up magic system. Did we not establish in the first episode that the thing which makes Merlin unique from all other magic users is the fact that he does not have to utter a spell? Instead his eyes just do that weird light up thing. But later we see examples of other magic users not uttering spells to use magic. And now Merlin sometimes DOES have to say a spell in order to use magic.
Another example. We have seen Merlin do various things with his magic. He has caused branches on trees to break, caused various items to move around, etc. Yet, in one of the newer episodes, when Arthur and Merlin get stuck in a net made of rope, they’re helpless for some reason. I kept waiting for Merlin to simply break the rope, but he never did! And don’t you try to tell me that he couldn’t risk using magic around Arthur. We both know that he could have made it look like a stroke of luck. No, it’s clear that the thought doesn’t even cross his mind.
That being said, do I still love all of these TV shows? Absolutely. But just think about how much more awesome they could be. That’s what kills me.
But this also motivates me to write my own TV series someday. Yeah, that’s happening.
Do you have any suggestions for magic shows that do or don’t work?