show me your passion

Benedict Cumberbatch just became the new president of LAMDA(London Academy of Music & Dramatic Art). that’s an impressive accomplishment, congrats! how do I know this, since I’m not really a Cumberbatch fan? because I follow someone on Twitter who is. why do I follow a fan account of an actor I’m not interested in? because I enjoy her passion.

this is not the Benedict that I know. show me more!

Once upon a time, when I was active on a Christian Bale forum, I became friendly with a fellow fan who adored the actor William Fichtner. he acted alongside Christian in ‘Equilibrium’ and also had a bit part in ‘The Dark Knight’. this fan loved to make manips/signatures/avatars of both Christian and William, so she started her own thread in the art area of the forum. it tended to be heavy on the Bill and light on the Chris, but I didn’t mind. I liked seeing the different ideas that she came up with and how she applied them.

Wm. Fichtner aka Badass Bank Manager, The Dark Knight:

 

On the Twilight fan forum, we had a chat area where we would talk about anything and everything, from Robert Pattinson’s button fly jeans

or just post pics when we couldn’t form words.

to how annoying our coworkers were. if any of us were following other actors alongside Rob & the Twilight gang, we’d routinely discuss them too. that’s how I found Richard Armitage. come to think of it, Matthew Crawley was sometimes mentioned as well, but I scrolled past him. sorry, Dan! I just wasn’t ready for you yet.

I’m here now. 5 years late.

 

I like when fellow fans expose me to things I may not be familiar with, be that movies, television shows, books, music, or actors. I also find it insightful to read about fan experiences in other fandoms. The Lost fandom was constantly divided among Jack and Sawyer fans, much like Twilight and ‘Team Edward vs Team Jacob’. Outlander and Twilight share their zealot shipper wars, though Outlander has William Shatner fighting with them in their ring! Jamie Dornan fandom seems to get wrapped up in what is and is not acceptable content to post, often using the phrase ‘true fan’ to shame each other (I despise that phrase, I absolutely loathe it). Richard Armitage fandom shares many of these as well. each fandom likes to think they’re different, and they are to some extent, but we’re more the same than not.

So the Benedict Cumberbatch fan I follow on Twitter, or the Robert Downey Jr. fan I sometimes peek in on, or the former Robert Pattinson fan who is now all about Chris Evans, and the Dan Stevens fan who knows all the ins and outs of Star Wars, and that other one who idolizes Michelle Dockery, or the one who swoons over Jared Leto… thank you for sharing your passion with me. I hope no one ever dulls your shine.

*~*~*~

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I Pledge Myself to Thee…sort of

Loyalty, book adaptations. How far do you support something based on it’s origins, rather than it’s own merits? Ideally I think most of us would say that we wouldn’t do that, we either like something or we don’t–not because of any prior bias. For myself, I can admit that I do give weight to that bias and it makes me feel guilty, twofold: If I’m giving the project more leeway than I normally would because of the story it was adapted from, that’s not a fair judgement. By the same token, if I don’t like it as much as I feel that I should, that somehow feels disloyal to the original story. Sometimes the differences between “original” and “adapted” bother me, while other times they don’t. I guess it depends on whether I think they’ve improved upon the original story or even branched off far enough that it’s become it’s own unique telling. What has me in this particular frame of mind currently is the Starz television drama Outlander.

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As I’ve stated previously in former posts, I’m a long-time fan of the Outlander novels. Yet, I’ve struggled with my impressions of the television version. Character portrayals, plot changes, and even minor historical or logistical differences have stood out to me like a sore thumb. I want to over look them, just go with the flow and enjoy seeing my beloved story on screen…but I can’t. It’s not that I hate the show, I would probably really enjoy it if I had no prior Outlander knowledge; I hate being one of those “in the book” people but in this case I am. I think it’s time to own that for myself.

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There were many “in the book” people who didn’t like The Hobbit movies. I could understand their complaints but I had no problem enjoying the movies on their own merit…sort of. I really liked the first movie, An Unexpected Journey. And it was through my love of that movie that I became enamored with one of it’s leading men, Richard Armitage. The second movie in the trilogy, The Desolation of Smaug, had a different tone to it than the first but I liked it well enough. By the third and final film, The Battle of the Five Armies, I was left questioning how deep my bias might actually be. Looking back, I’m thinking that it was my investment in certain characters that pulled me along, instead of an overall affinity for the films themselves. The second series of the Star Wars films can fit into this category as well. The original three were, and still are, a nostalgic part of my childhood. The last three were only watched for Ewan McGregor–and by the third film, even he could hardly get me through it.

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I always carry some kind of bias with me in regards to book and film series, tending to see them as a whole instead of their individual parts. I can’t help but have positive (or negative) slants regarding actors, directors, screenwriters, etc. before I even view a film for the first time; it’s unavoidable, really. Sometimes that bias helps and sometimes it hinders but most of the time I can see the forest for the trees. On the occasions that I can’t though, do I keep trying in hopes that some switch will suddenly be flipped, or just bow out while I’m ahead?

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I’ve pretty much bowed out with the continuing book series of Outlander, for instance (I adore volumes 1-4 but I gave up after number 6) but I think it’s easier to let go of a book series than a television one, for some reason. It’s so easy to binge watch things these days, which can be an entirely different experience than hanging on week to week. I’m a big fan of the television series Lost but was not an original watcher. I binge watched the series during the summer before the final season aired, and fell in love with it. Waiting week to week during that last season though was torture! Considering how different some of the seasons were from each other, and how many of the storylines never came to fruition, I probably wouldn’t have stuck with it if I had watched in real time.

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I think I’ve hung on this long with the Starz version of Outlander out of obligation: so many of my family and friends know my love for the story and look to me for opinions about it. so much so that I think some of them were surprised that I didn’t visit the real life sites when I went to Scotland last summer. I won’t say the characters and situations didn’t cross my mind on my travels but Scotland isn’t Jamie Fraser to me. I guess the question is: how much of Outlander-Starz, is?

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Keeping Me on My Toes

Outlander: The Garrison Commander

Who is this version of Black Jack Randall? This is not the version from the book (I know, I’m starting to sound like a broken record) BUT I think I like this one better. At first I was thinking “what the hell is going on? why is Claire trying to humanize our villain? don’t do that!!” but then seeing the excellent way Tobias Menzies played the sympathy card and then turned it on it’s head in the blink of an eye, was impressive. I liked that Black Jack wasn’t the authority in the room when he first entered the dinner party too, that added dimension to his character, making him appear more the rogue. In the book he’s dolling out punishments left and right at his leisure but now he’s rebelling against the hierarchy.

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I could have done without the extended edition of seeing the flesh literally flayed from Jamie’s back *ick* very well done scene though. the way that Jack was psyching himself up like he was in a boxing ring, and the way that Jamie slipped in his own blood and then hung limply in the shackles at the end. very hard to watch but it brought home not only the cruelty of Captain Randall himself, but the reality of the time period.

Jamie's father was there! Diana pointed this out
Jamie’s father was there! 

 

So although I initially wondered why a whole episode was spent on this series of events that could have been covered in half the time, I liked that they were establishing this alternate version of Captain Randall. I’m intrigued to see where they will go with him next, as opposed to what I “know” from the book.

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Just don’t mess with Jamie. “tweak” any other character but him, and we’ll be okay.

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Third Times a Charm

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I was skeptical on whether I could grow to respect Outlander the television series, let alone love it, like I do the book. These characters are solidly established in my heart already; would the changes I was seeing in the first two episodes be too much to overcome? I was seriously worried. but as Jamie is wont to say “dinna fash”. The third times a charm it seems, because episode three has won me over!

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Adding new plot points in order to sew together the time jumps worked really well in this episode. Though that bit about Mrs. Fitz almost had me flouncing the whole thing. That was a close one! The humor of both Jamie and Geillis transferred wonderfully, as did the growing chemistry between Jamie and Claire,

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helped along by their playful teasing during the dinner scene. Jamie taking no notice of Laoghaire was classic (oh, burn!) and the way their scene together just moments later was used in a slightly different way from the book, I really liked. So too the scene between Claire and Colum. I miss Old Alec but like how his situation was used to offer a better understanding of Colum and his ways.

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I did not think that I could love this Jamie like I do his book form but Sam Heughan is working towards changing that. And the accents? Much better this episode, all the way around. Damn it, Outlander! I’m hooked on you all over again!

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The Bad, the Good and the Accents

Outlander, the new Starz television series that premiers tomorrow night (August 9), is based on my favorite book. I have been reading and rereading this series since about 1997, so needless to say, I’m close to the characters. I was delighted when it was announced that the first book was being made into a television show, but I was nervous as well. The fans had been casting future film portrayals for years, some suggestions were exciting to imagine, others- not so much. Now that it was really happening though, who would end up playing my “friends” and how much would the plot be changed or watered down to meet the demands of the venue?

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After watching the sneak-peak preview of the first episode I was impressed in some areas (photography and costume design) but disappointed in others (characterization and accents). It seems that the majority of fans love this first episode to pieces. Hmm. Well, here are my thoughts:

 

SPOILERS AHEAD

 

Frank Randall: Throughout the series Frank is often thought of as the wrench that gets thrown into Claire and Jamie’s epic romance. why can’t Claire just forget about him and move on? who could possibly choose Frank over Jamie, it’s ridiculous! I’d choose Jamie every time but Claire’s reluctance is not ridiculous. Book-Frank is likable, playful even. Although the problems that are awaiting Frank and Claire’s marriage are foreshadowed, they were happily in love on their second Honeymoon that opens the story. The playfulness is taken away from TV-Frank though and given to Claire instead. What’s left in it’s place is the inference that Frank is fighting inner demons from his time in the war. So Book-Frank, the passionate professor, is now TV-Frank: the vulnerable survivor.

Claire Randall: Claire is sassy and cynical, but most of that stays in Book-Claire’s head. On the outside she appears more stoic and practical, due to her experiences as a combat nurse and being raised by an archeologist uncle. Book-Claire defers when she needs to meet society’s demands but she doesn’t rein in her forward thinking words and actions completely. TV-Claire, on the other hand, seems to be the opposite. I did not like 1940’s Claire much, she seemed like a Hollywood cliche of that time period. I hope my opinion improves when I meet the 1740’s version.

Black Jack Randall: The villain of this story has a very acute first meeting with Claire, right after she unexpectedly travels through the magical Standing Stones. In the book we’re given a teasing glimpse of Jonathon Randall’s personal blend of charisma and sadism. TV-Jack just seems like an entitled military man, now you see him- now you don’t; very disappointing.

Jamie Fraser: Ah, Jamie. The biggest shoes to fill in this story.

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As the writer of the book, Diana Gabaldon, warned early on in regards to casting: expecting to see my Jamie- the one inside my head, was not realistic or fair to the actor chosen to portray him. But while this is not my Jamie, he’s an enjoyable substitute. The look and demeanor of this Jamie differs from my Jamie in that he’s not as rugged and has a less natural sounding accent.

Speaking of accents, I’m finding these ones kind of distracting. (I’m particular about accents) The actor who plays Jamie is native to Scotland himself, so while his accent is a bit softer than a Highland one, I think I would have preferred it (book Jamie had traveled a good bit, so not having a strong accent would have still fit into the storyline). The actress who plays Claire is Irish, so her attempt at an English accent is commendable, I’m just being picky. Mrs. Graham’s mishmash of every cartoon Scot though, is a different story altogether…

The photography for this series is beautiful, it really does help to set the tone for the story, like it does in the book. Having just visited Scotland myself a few weeks ago, I can say that the scenery really is that stunning in real life. The care and research taken with costumes is something that needs to be praised as well. It’s so easy to fall into stereotypes when dealing with period dress, let alone when you’re dealing with kilted clansmen. I felt that they stuck to what was appropriate for the time and region rather well.

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I’m going to have to put my love for the book aside while watching this series and give it a chance to stand alone. Watching the sneak peak premier episode a second time and doing just that, I was able to see that it is a good set up for the story ahead. We see that Claire really did have a loving husband and so it will be understandable when she goes to the lengths that she does to try and get back to him. But we also felt the chemistry between Claire and Jamie. We witness Jamie’s protective and caring nature that he keeps hidden just under the warrior surface. We see how Claire will use her medical knowledge to remain useful but also as a shield to hide her fear.

So even though I have complaints, I did enjoy this first episode. I didn’t squeal with fangirl glee and faint, like I’ve seen others doing, but I’m not sure I’m really the squealing fainting type to begin with.