Posts Tagged ‘Under the Dome’

You ever read a book that came out well before you were born, or a book that came out a few years ago but set well before you were born, and throughout the book a character or even the author expresses viewpoints that, if expressed today, would not go over well? The sort of views that would make you go, “Anyone who says that today would only be applauded by the lowest dregs of society. The rest would villify them.”

It’s an unfortunate part of the writing process, but sometimes writers will have to write stories where those sorts of views are expressed, even if not their own. I’ve had to do it several times over the course of my writing career, usually from the POV of a neo-Nazi or a white supremacist. It’s necessary, but it’s always a trial to do it. God help me if I ever have to read something like that out loud.

I bring this up because as I said in a previous post, I’m busy doing research for a story to go into the short story collection I’ve been putting together. That story is set in Victorian England, an age that, as many of you know, I’m a big fan of. You guessed it, I bought a bunch of new books to better understand that age. And this week, while I was reading one book and seeing information I’d previously learned in another volume repeated here, I realized that, to a certain extent, I will be putting these attitudes of the age into the story.

Including the ones I find reprehensible.

There are generally four ways writers include these sorts of ideas and beliefs into their stories. An author may include a character who’s already very forward-thinking or contrarian, taking on viewpoints which their peers will not get or abhor, but the audience will sympathize with and allow them to pity the characters who don’t think like that (think Wonder Woman’s attitudes regarding WWI-era norms and gender roles in her movie). Other times, characters may start with one attitude and then evolve to a different one over the course of the story as part of a character arc (Villetta Nu’s arc in the anime Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion towards non-Britannians). There are characters whose whole point in existing are to present a contrasting view, usually as something for a protagonist to work off of or a driver of the plot (think Big Jim Rennie in Stephen King’s Under the Dome).

And then there are times when the author says, “Screw it, there’s no way around this,” and just portrays those attitudes as authentically as possible. I have a feeling with this story, I’m going to have to go with this route.

The books I’m using as research. I think they’ll be quite helpful in creating the level of detail I’m looking for.

I still haven’t worked out the details of this story, other than the time period and certain elements/characters. I don’t know how much of the Victorians’ beliefs and attitudes will make it into the story, or which ones for that matter.* Still, they’ll be there throughout the story for the sake of authenticity. It’ll be weird writing them into a story when they may go against everything I stand for. But for the characters, they’ll be the norm, and as true as the fact that the sun rises in the east and sets in the west.

The cognitive dissonance will be a mind-fuck.

But if the dedication to authenticity helps make the story good, then I won’t have any complaints. That’s what’s important in the end, isn’t it? Even if I have to write in a discussion on how chloroform subverts God’s commands on childbirth.**

What are your thoughts on including attitudes and beliefs that you don’t agree with in your story? Any fun reminiscences on the subject?

*Did you know that it was considered dangerous to give children fruit while they were young? It was believed the sweet taste would excite them and lead to delinquent behaviors. Also, while germ theory was starting to enter public consciousness, it was a slow process. In 1865, the Female Medical Society published statements asking doctors to take more steps to decrease death in women by childbirth. The medical journal The Lancet responded by calling their suggestions for cleanliness “erroneous,” and asserted that these deaths were caused by women leading immoral lives, which could mean anything from engaging in prostitution, feeling sexual desire, or enjoying pickles too much.

**Yeah, that was a debate in the 19th century. Did chloroform, when used in childbirth, prevent women from feeling the pain God ordained for women? What an age!

Two reviews in one post. That’s a new one for me. But what do you expect from me? Two very interesting series having two significant events on the same night, one after the other? Of course I’m going to do a double review! So without further ado, let’s start the analysis and reviews:

Now that’s what I call graphics.

Sleepy Hollow
Based on the famous short story by Washington Irving, Sleepy Hollow is an updated version of the classic tale, where Ichabod Crane is a Revolutionary War hero instead of a teacher. Get this: he’s the one who beheaded the famous Headless Horseman. Now the Horseman’s back, and Ichabod’s returned from the grave to stop him…and whoever’s controlling him. With some Biblical themes mixed in, some good ol’ fashioned American legend and folklore, and some superb acting, I think this could be the start of a great series.

So far I have only two complaints: one is that Ichabod, played by actor Tom Milson, seems not as culture-shocked as you’d expect for an 18th century man finding himself in the year 2013…or as torn up over the death of his wife Katrina, who appears to him in a ghostly dream. Also, I have a feeling that the series’ producers are trying to create a mythology from the first episode. While I admire that, let’s hope they don’t shove it down our throats. Give us the mythology too quickly and viewers may be turned off from it.

Other than that, the show seems really great. The characters seem very real to me, and the chemistry between Ichabod and Sheriff Abbie Mills (Nicole Beharie) is already strong, like Mulder and Scully in some ways. Also the cast is very diverse, which both brings a little humor to the show (Ichabod is surprised that Abbie, who is a woman and African American, isn’t a slave and is instead a lieutenant, making everyone rolls their eyes or laugh with a knowing smile) and makes me think we’re actually making some progress in terms of race relations. Not much, but some. And the show is filmed in the actual town of Sleepy Hollow, New York. Yes, there’s an actual Sleepy Hollow. It changed its name from Tarrytown a few years back to honor the original Irving story, in which Sleepy Hollow is a part of the Tarrytown township or district or whatever. Who knew!

All in all, I’m giving Sleepy Hollow a 4.6 out of 5. I’m looking forward to the rest of the season, and seeing whether this show can keep up the momentum or…you know what, I’m not even going to finish that sentence lest I jinx it. Let’s hope for the best.

Purists hate this show, but most seem to love it.

Under the Dome
In so many ways this show, based on the uber-long novel by Stephen King, who executive produced the show, departs from the original story. And as we saw tonight, it can sometimes stay true to the original tale. In the meantime, we’ve seen an incredible season. I was skeptical when I saw the first episode this summer (see the review here), but the story got better and better with every episode, taking the story in new directions, developing very real characters, and throwing in as many mysteries as it could without overwhelming viewers.

In a way, it’s really amazing how the show weaves in so many ideas and subplots and characters in a coherent narrative. That’s something I’d like to be able to do someday, and do it with ease as well. In any case, I’m not surprised that Under the Dome will be returning next summer for a second season, especially based on that very strange cliff-hanger of a season finale. If you haven’t gotten into the show yet, I suggest you look it up. Dean Norris from Breaking Bad could easily win an Emmy for his work on the show as town councilman James “Big Jim” Rennie, especially now that Bad‘s over and done with (at least I think it is. The series ended, right?). And Dale “Barbie” Barbara, the show’s lead played by Mike Vogel, looks underdeveloped as a character at first glance, but you find this bad-ass charm, mystery, and kindness on the second. I think it’ll be interesting to see what they do with him in the second season.

For the season finale, I give UTD a well deserved 4.6 out of 5. And for the entire first season…I’m awarding it a 4.8 out of 5, for taking a complicated story and a not-so-good start and making it one of the TV¬†events of the summer. Yeah, I said that. Weep, Miley Cyrus. Your little freak-out on MTV didn’t hit my radar.

Expect more TV show reviews as new and exciting series, like Dracula or Marvel: Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. begin this fall, and a few movies such as Carrie and Catching Fire come out. Not to mention the Doctor Who 50th anniversary special, The Day of the Doctor, comes out this November. I cannot wait!

Well, that’s all for now. Hope to do my weekly exercises tomorrow. Good night everybody!