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Why Supernatural’s Bloodlines Got Called Off

In Movies/TV, Pop Culture! on May 14, 2014 at 9:51 am

CW’s planned spinoff of Supernatural is officially dead in the water.  Bloodlines, which entered the picture during Supernatural’s season 9 episode (9×20), felt too much like The Originals for many longterm Supernatural fans to stomach.  The backdoor pilot episode earned a slew of negative reviews on Tumblr that outweighed the positive response and killed its future.

Bloodlines wasn’t a bad show.  It wasn’t even a bad concept.  Many fans miss the “good ol’ days” of monster hunting before Supernatural began using the Bible as a reference book.  Setting up a monster mafia in one of America’s most historically corrupt cities was a stroke of genius, and writers could have explored Chicago’s mafia-ridden roots.

But the CW pilot failed in several key points, which they should acknowledge if they expect to keep the Supernatural giant from sinking after season 10.

Upper class, white monsters

Margo Lassiter, shape-shifter family, lassiter shapeshifter, spn bloodlines familiesThe CW hosts slew of glamorous shows about betrayal, monsters and fashion trends.  And they could have continued the run with Bloodlines but for one worrisome fact:  upper class white monsters.

Spinoffs aren’t expected to be identical to their origin material, but Bloodlines proved too jarring a transition for many fans.  While Supernatural chronicles migratory life of blue collar roots, home town cops and your small town Everyman, Bloodlines set its eyes on a more glamorous life.

The pilot split the story between Ennis Roth, the urban man with more traditionally Supernatural roots, and the posh world of monsters.  After giving a courteous head nod to other monster families, Bloodlines focused in on the very wealth – very white – shapeshifter and werewolf families.

I hope the writers planned to expand the story in future episodes, but I was left miffed by how they handled race and class.  Surely the Lassiter family, pure-born shapeshifters, didn’t need to be white – or at least not entirely white.  And where are the other factions, the Djinn and ghouls, who could be cast with more diversity?  Why is Ennis, the protagonist and only minority character, simultaneously given blue collar roots and the less captivating storyline?

Man Pain and Women in Refrigerators

Supernatural has the dubious legacy of beginning its nine season run by killing Sam Winchester’s girlfriend, Jess, and setting a long precedent for killing off the show’s female characters as a plot device.  Bloodlines had the misfortune of mimicking the trope and doing so clumsily.  Not only have audiences become more aware of Women in Refrigerators – when TV shows, movies and video games kill off the main character’s significant other as a motivating plot device for the male protagonist – but they know when it’s not done well.

supernatural man pain, Spn Bloodlines, Ennis Roth spn, women in refrigerators, sexist tv tropes

Ennis’s story is fueled by the death of his girlfriend.  David Lassiter spends the pilot grieving his lost relationship with Violet, which is dead in another sense.  The villain is a grieving man, driven crazy by victimization at the hands of monsters.  Even Sal, who departed within minutes of the show’s opening, died grieving and remorseful.

Too close to the Supernatural pilot

A successful, independent young man is called back home by his sibling to take care of family matters.  He struggles to reconcile the loss of his girlfriend while taking care of the job, eventually deciding to stay on with the family business.  Surprise!  I’m talking about David Lassiter, not Sam Winchester.

Jessica Moore, women in refrigerators, tropes in TV shows, women representation in Supernatural

A hot-headed young man takes up hunting to seek revenge following the brutal death of his girlfriend, but things are more complicated than they seemed.  Then he receives a surprise call from his “dead” father telling him not to get involved with affairs in Chicago’s underworld.  No, I’m not talking about the Winchesters.  I’m talking about Ennis.

I enjoyed the clever characters in Bloodlines, but witty banter and brotherhood forged in loss couldn’t save the show.  Maybe the Winchesters will return to Chicago in season 10 so we can get some closure – and the spinoff that longtime fans deserve.

Waterworld: Becoming the Kevin Costner Movie We Didn’t Know We Could Be

In Creative, Movies/TV, Pop Culture!, Sci-Fi, The Great Outdoors on April 10, 2014 at 4:05 pm

Why Sea Level Matters – Even if We’re Not Waterworld

Environmental textbooks like to emphasize that ours is a water world, driven by a complex hydrological system that both regulates global temperatures and nourishes the land.  But that’s not the kind of water world I’m talking about.

I’m talking about Waterworld, the 1995 post-apocalyptic sci-fi movie starring Kevin Costner.  It’s a bizarre film – and not just because its eco-friendly protagonist sports webbed toes and gills.  Waterworld’s western parallels play out on a vast, post-apocalyptic ocean where the desert is made of water and all the horses are boats.

Costner plays The Mariner, a drifter whose very nature makes him unsuited for civilized life.  The gruff nomad finds himself drawn into a woman’s quest to find Dryland, a mythic place in this distant future where the polar ice caps have melted and drowned all dry land.

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Check out what the world will look like after the ice melts!

The good news is that scientists think it will take up to 5,000 years for all the ice on Earth to melt – not the mere 500 years it took in the movie universe.

The mechanics of sea level rise are fairly simple.  Heat absorbed from the sun is warming ocean water.  Warming water expands, its extra space contributing to higher sea levels while its heat melts smaller ice caps and glaciers.

Most of the Earth’s warming over the past 40 years has been hidden in the ocean, and that’s unsettling because it took scientists almost as long to figure that out. Meanwhile, the combination of atmospheric warming and ocean warming has helped global sea levels rise 1.0 – 2.5 millimeters per year over the last century.

At the same time, global warming patterns are expected to speed glacial melt and increase tropical sea temperatures.  Sea levels are difficult to predict but could rise between 6 – 37 inches by 2100 … if Antarctica holds.

WAIS, antarctic ice sheets, map of antarctic ice sheetsThere’s a reason most research on sea level rise leads to the Antarctic.  The continent, which is covered in snow and glacial ice, holds more than 800,000 years of climate history in its ice.  With ice shelves extending off 75 percent of its coastline, Antarctica is the Big Boss for climate change.

Glaciologists agree that the Come-to-Jesus moment for sea level rise will happen when and if the West Antarctic Ice Sheet (WAIS) collapses.  A marine ice sheet, the WAIS could become unstable if ocean warming trends continue.  If this one ice sheet melts, it could raise sea levels more than three meters (about 10 feet).

Evidence from sediment samples in ice cores suggests the WAIS melted in previous interglacial periods.  Keeping a watchful eye is not unreasonable, especially after the recent collapses of two major Antarctic ice shelves:  The Larsen A in 1995 and the Larsen B in 2002.  While studies have since shown the Larsen A previously melted and returned, they also concluded that the Larsen B Ice Shelf was a permanent fixture during previous warming cycles.

This begs the question:  Is Waterworld even possible?

Nope!  Melting polar ice caps will not drown the entire known world – but they would rewrite it. If the polar ice caps, land ice and glaciers all melted, the Earth’s sea level would rise more than 200 feet. Swaths of North America would disappear into the Atlantic and whole countries erased, but there would still be land.

While this isn’t exactly Waterworld-type ocean rise, it would devastate already at- risk coastal cities and upend today’s geopolitical structure.

And that’s kinda the point of the film.

For a film that doesn’t openly discuss ecology, Waterworld is surprisingly preachy.  The reluctant hero is a man whose mutations enable him to live in harmony with the environment.  The antagonists, pirates who cobbled together smoke-belching combustion engines, terrorize society from an old oil tanker called Exxon Valdez.  Even its premise evolved with the idea that humans created ecological factors resulting in their own destruction.

“What was different about [Waterworld] was that it had to do with an ecological conflagration, a whole world covered in water because of human stupidity and greed,” said director Kevin Reynolds in a 1995 interview.

the mariner boat, exxon valdez waterworld,

Scientists don’t expect Antarctica to melt any time soon.  The continent, which is buried beneath feet of ice sheets, can survive warmer climates for some time before it gives way.

For now, Antarctica’s western ice sheet is safe.  But should it fail in the future, we may well be on our way to the water world Kevin Reynolds and Peter Rader envisioned.  And, as in the movie, it would be society’s destructive practices that caused it.

The 100: 1×03 “Earth Kills” (EPISODE REVIEW)

In Movies/TV, Pop Culture! on April 9, 2014 at 3:52 pm

My initial skepticism for “The 100” was entirely to do with the premise (If nuclear warfare devastated the planet, it would not be hospitable in just three generations). Nevertheless, I watched and was surprised.

Unlike “Star-Crossed,” which began with an interesting premise and is threatening to become a romance-driven story, “The 100” really a better job of keeping your attention on its gritty story line. The friendships forged in this bleak future seem more complex and more challenging than your average CW show. With main characters who are interesting in and of themselves, I foresee future romantic plots acting as a respite from the harsher realities of life on Earth.

If the show’s quality continues building, consider me in for the long haul.

Geekritique

Surprising everyone, this show continues to get better and better. Although not emotionally attached to the characters and storyline yet, the episode does an extremely well job to engage even distracted viewers. While I was watching ‘Earth Kills’ my family was passing in and out of the room (annoying, yes), but occasionally they’d have to stop and watch because it just held a certain amount of gravitas that didn’t exist in previous episodes. I was planing on dropping the show after this episode if it didn’t pick up. If this episode is any indication, the 100 might actually be a decent series, guys.

The pilot was riddled with average primetime television writing, leaving me with a bad taste in my mouth. The second episode was only slightly better, removing most of the terrible one-liners while introducing us to the typical young adult dystopian terminology you can expect from the…

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