Once Upon A Time: How The Dark Curse Made Everyone’s Lives Better

WARNING: THE FOLLOWING CONTAINS MILD SPOILERS FOR ABC’S ONCE UPON A TIME. 

Ah…Once Upon a Time….a show once so wondrous and imaginative now a collection of overused tropes and timeline retcons.

I remember back in the day when I was first introduced to this show and how much I enjoyed the colorful characters, the intriguing plot lines, and the level of heart that went into the making of this show.

However, now that I look back on it there is something that wasn’t quite right with the premise from the off.

For those of you who don’t know, Once Upon A Time is about story-book characters who are ripped from the pages of their fairytales by the Evil Queen from Snow White and placed into “our world” where they live in complete obliviousness as to whom they used to be. Only the world-weary daughter of Snow White and Prince Charming can break the curse and restore everyone’s memories.

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Now, it’s an interesting concept and, arguably, season 1 has the best plot. However, there is one issue with it that has bugged me about it for years: The curse itself.

Taking into account nobody remembers their past triumphs this seems like a good curse, right? Regina is large and in charge with everyone under her thumb and the Charmings are kept apart.

This was totally a good plan, wasn’t it?

Uh…..no…..not really.

Here’s the thing: While Regina took away a lot of things, she gave them so much more.

1. The townsfolk now have access to modern medicine. From what little we’ve seen of The Enchanted Forest, it seems like they were mostly dependent upon shamans and midwives for their healthcare. Sure, some of the higher-born characters likely had physicians to attend to them but the peasants would have appealed to someone like Rumplestiltskin to end their suffering, and, as the imp is fond of saying “magic always comes with a price.” Even if he did end their woes temporarily it is very likely it would come at the cost of something (or someone) very valuable to them.

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Without the curse many townsfolk would have died in childbirth or any other illness but now that they live in a modern world with a fully-operational hospital that likelihood has been drastically reduced. Thanks, Regina.

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2. Electricity and other modern appliances. No more chopping down firewood in the dead of winter or broiling in the summer heat. I can’t even imagine how many house fires have been avoided because of the lack of unattended candles or poorly doused furnaces.

Electricity allows for so much like communication, entertainment that doesn’t involve watching people being executed, and much faster methods of producing food.

That’s only the tip of the iceberg. Activities that used to take people weeks to do now take a matter of hours or even minutes. They now have machines that do the clothes washing for them. They have horseless carriages to tote them around. They have leisure time which, back in the middle ages, was considered unheard of.

Also, indoor plumbing.

Need I say more?

3. Access to supermarkets and fresh food. Hunting can result in a lot of deaths. Back in the day you often ran the risk of becoming lost, being shot by an errant arrow, or even being gored by the very creature you were hoping to make your prey. However, thanks to Regina, the townsfolk no longer have to concern themselves with this. Now they can simply go to the store and purchase it at a reasonable price. As an added bonus, they no longer have to worry about famine or plague destroying their crops which would have lead to their deaths in The Enchanted Forest.

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4. They have free public education. There’s no question that public education has it’s foibles, but just consider how much of a boon it is for society. It’s difficult for us to comprehend now, but there was a time when more than half of the population couldn’t even read and that was considered the norm. Without Regina’s curse, most of these people probably wouldn’t have had anything more than a first grade education, if that. Most of them would have been relegated to working on the farm/mill/shop until the day they dropped with no hope of bettering their circumstances without the aid of magic.

That brings us to our final point.

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5. No more magic. Emma can attest to the fact that the world is a hard and painful place even without spells or cantrips. However, once you add magic into the equation, the amount of suffering you can put someone through is limited only by your imagination. Ruby murdered her own boyfriend as a result of her magical condition that turns her into a werewolf, Geppetto’s parents were turned into puppets, Ursula had her singing voice taken away, Merlin was stuck as a tree for hundreds of years, and these are only a handful of examples. Magic seems to be the main cause of strife for many of our protagonists and Regina essentially “trapped” them in a world without it. How is that bad for anyone besides Regina?

I know some people may argue that Regina made them forget their loved ones, which is obviously a bad thing, but here’s the issue: they didn’t know they had forgotten them. It’s like torturing someone but then having them drink a memory potion to forget what they have been through. What is the point?

She didn’t curse them.

She gave them 1st world problems.

Honestly, I could go on and on about all the benefits that come with living in a modern society, nevertheless, I think I’ve made my point.

Regina is officially the unsung hero of Once Upon A Time and may have saved everyone’s lives long before she made the journey to the good side.

So bow down, peasants, before your true Savior.

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And don’t forget to eat your apples.

Kris Marshall is The Doctor?

So rumors have been floating around that Death in Paradise’s Kris Marshall may be taking up the mantle of The Doctor following Capaldi’s departure.

And, of course, you realize what this means….

THE DOCTOR WILL FINALLY BE GINGER!!!

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I thought this would be the main topic of discussion when it came to his potential role. However, this was what most people had to say about the matter:

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My questions is why are people so adverse to him playing The Doctor? I’ve read quite a few tweets and I’ve been able to determine two reasons for the wave of haters:

  1. They don’t like him because he was in that one thing that they didn’t like so that automatically means he’ll be crap at being The Doctor because reasons, I guess.
  2. He’s a straight white male.

If your reason for not liking him being The Doctor is reason #1, give him a break. Sometimes actors get cast in crappy roles in crappy movies/tv shows. It happens. There are a lot of factors that go into making a production. Sometimes actors have poor direction or the writing is bad. Even the best actors can’t turn straw into gold.

If your reason for being up in arms is #2, well, I suggest you listen to this on full blast.

Okay, perhaps a bit harsh.

All the same, I think it’s a dumb reason to be upset. Yes, I’ve said in a post before that it would be cool if The Doctor was a woman. Nevertheless, I’m not up in arms that he’s not. I just want the show to improve and I thought him being a woman would give us a new dynamic to work with. However, I think we’re going to see plenty of different now that we’re getting a new head writer AND he’s bringing in a whole new group of writers.

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Of course, it’s only a rumor that he’ll be the 13th Doctor. Still, I’m actually really hoping it’s true (and it seems to be since nobody from BBC has denied it).

I know from Death in Paradise that he does socially awkward and smart well so he seems like he’d be a perfect fit.

As most people have pointed out, people usually hate the guy that’s replacing the old Doctor, only to fall in love with the new one. That didn’t necessarily happen to me with Capaldi, but I know where they are coming from and have experienced it myself when Tennant became Smith.

So, if he truly is the Ginger Doctor, we should all give him a chance.

Who knows? Maybe he’ll become your favorite Doctor.

Should the 13th Doctor be a Woman?

Unless you’ve given up on Doctor Who and unliked all the DW-related Facebook pages as I should have done long ago, you’ve likely heard everyone screaming from the ether: THE NEXT DOCTOR HAS TO BE A WOMAN!!

Now in the past, my opinion on a female playing The Doctor has been-

However, now that Moffat is on his way out and a much better character writer is slated to be the next show-runner, my opinion on the subject has changed slightly.

I can’t say I’d be over the moon about The Doctor being a woman, but, let’s face it, Doctor Who needs a change. Fast.

Theoretically this show could go on forever. Since it has a continually revolving cast that changes every few years or so, there’s no reason for it to stop even if actors or producers quit.

But that doesn’t necessarily mean it doesn’t get formulaic and predictable after a while.

If you have played a Doctor Who drinking game in the last four years or so, then you’re probably reading this post from a coffin. How’s the wifi down there, by the way?

No one I know watches Doctor Who casually anymore. Or at all, actually.

Most of them stopped watching after Matt Smith left, or even before the baby-faced wonder bid us adeu.

And I think the reason why is obvious: the writing got boring.

It’s the same shtick over and over.

First act: The Doctor, meaning to take companions one place, ends up taking them to another place. They are then confronted with a deadly danger/dangerous mystery/deady dangerous mystery and are forced to run from alien monsters of some description.

Second act: The Doctor becomes discouraged, but then the companion needlessly reminds him that he’s “The Doctor” and he’s amazing and stuff. The companion is usually captured and The Doctor is forced to contend with seemingly impossible odds. He does a thing and confronts the big bad.

Third act: The Doctor performs a now paint-by-numbers speech about how awesome he is, defeats the villain, then sods off with his companion who usually has a witty quip or two to offer about the whole situation. They then pop into the TARDIS and all is well. Cue end credits.

See what I mean?

So…perhaps…just perhaps…changing The Doctor into a woman wouldn’t be the worst idea? For one thing, it would give us an opportunity to explore The Doctor’s character on a level we never have before. We’ve already done the “am I actually a good guy?” thing a million times by this point. Changing him into a woman would give us a whole new dynamic to work with. And if he had a male companion we wouldn’t have to watch them constantly measuring dicks all the time. That’d be a nice change of pace.

I envision a female Doctor as like a Romana/10th Doctor hybrid.

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Only not a colossal disappointment. Damn you Hell Bent. The fandom will never recover.

Realistically, however, it’s very likely that they will cast another man. Because safety is better than creative risks when it comes to television. At least that’s what most people in the biz seem to believe.

However, if they cast Eddie Redmayne all would be forgiven.

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The Doctor would finally be ginger. And adorable.

Regardless, I swear to Cthulu, if this show disappoints me again once Chibnail takes the lead, I am leaving!

FemmeDoctor or no FemmeDoctor.

Opinion: Peter Capaldi is Leaving Doctor Who and That’s a Good Thing

As crappy as it is that Peter didn’t get a fair shake at being The Doctor, this decision to leave is for the show’s benefit.

Doctor Who has been in dire need of a direction change for years now and I think it would really benefit from a clean slate. Many people are complaining that ageism is somehow responsible. That the reason people haven’t been tuning in is because Capaldi is an older gentlemen and not a handsome hero like Tennant or Smith.

“Go back to your Twilight fanfictions!” they cry.

However, it’s pretty clear that’s not the case. The reason I don’t care about the show anymore isn’t because the actor playing The Doctor is older. I don’t care about the show anymore because The 12th Doctor is…kind of annoying. Sometimes he can be funny and, in rare moments, charming. But his character went from being this dark, almost Valeyardish Doctor to just being a grumpy curmudgeon that wants everyone to get off of his lawn.

I really wanted to see how dark The Doctor could be, but it seems like the writers were too scared to go all in. To make matters worse, the humor they used for Capaldi’s Doctor just…didn’t work. It’s like Steven was still trying to write lines for the 11th Doctor. It was cringey. Seriously cringey.

Also his character hasn’t really gone through a compelling metamorphosis like The Doctors past. He just essentially became another character entirely with no hint of natural progression.

Capaldi’s a good actor, but a good actor can only do so much. If a line sucks, a line sucks. It doesn’t matter how much passion you put behind it.

If I had to sum up Capaldi’s tenure as The Doctor, I would say “wasted opportunity.” And that’s if I were being charitable. If I wasn’t, I would call it….well…”dull.” There were moments where I thought this Doctor was beginning to come into his own, but then he would almost immediately retreat back into his veneer of grumpiness.

I don’t wish Capaldi any ill will and I don’t blame him for the show’s downfall. However, I think his leaving is best for the show.

Here’s to hoping Chibnall can give Doctor Who the kiss of life and make it the hearts-stopping, family show that it used to be.

Fingers crossed.

Doctor Who Christmas Special: I’m Cautiously Optimistic

After the dreaded Hell Bent, I considered myself done with Doctor Who.

I still watch reruns, read books featuring past Doctors, and listen to Big Finish audiodramas. But that thirst to see more? That urgency to find out what is in store for one of the best characters in science fiction? That is gone.

Hell Bent was an amalgamation of everything wrong with Doctor Who, even more so than The Time of the Doctor, which I maintain is the worst of the worst when it comes to spitting in the face of continuity.

The trailer released five months ago that featured the new companion, asBill, did nothing to inspire confidence in the show’s future either. As usual, it promised only more of the same: a London girl from present-day Earth who makes snippy remarks about everything.

Yawn.

More Daleks who potter around and do nothing of actual consequence!

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Yawn.

Even the creative team didn’t seem to care seeing as they couldn’t be bothered to proofread the graphics before they went on-air.

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asBill.”

Like…what do you say to that?

I have had zero incentive to stick around and it seems as if a good chunk of the fanbase is singing the same tune.

But when I heard that the Doctor Who Christmas Special would be featuring a superhero I did a double take.

On its face this seems like a stupid idea. A stupid idea that sounds like fanfiction made flesh (not that all fanfiction is bad).

However, maybe this is what Doctor Who needs.

Right now, more than any other time in Doctor Who‘s history, we need something different.

We need experimental. We need to break the mold Doctor Who has created for itself.

For too long we’ve just had more of the same. Same base-under-siege stories, same character archetypes, same types of monsters (seriously, if I see the Weeping Angels one more time I will snap my own neck), same two-dimensional side characters that only exist so they can be killed off by the monster, same lessons that the Doctor keeps forgetting, same jokes, same heavy-handed morals.

For years, DW has just been marinating in a broth of sameness.

Yes, this story could completely fall on its face. Yes, it could just be a dumb gimmick to encourage wayward fans to tune in.

But it’s doing one thing that Doctor Who hasn’t done in quite a while: it’s taking a risk.

That’s what good writing is supposed to do. You’re supposed to keep pushing the envelope. As of late, DW has become too comfortable with its formulaic style. Maybe this is a sign that things will improve?

I could be reading too much into this. I do that often when it comes to Doctor Who. Maybe this time will be different. Maybe this time Steven Moffat won’t give my brain the finger.

But at least this is something new.

And if there’s a chance, however slight, that the show could return to its former glory I’m going to give it a go.

So The Doctor fighting alongside a superhero?

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Maybe we could also develop Peter Capaldi’s Doctor beyond grumpy-old man while we’re at it? Please?

Opinion: Comedies Are Terrible Now

A friend of mine recently introduced me to British comedy, Black Books, which stars Irish comedian Dylan Moran. It’s a show about a combative and anti-social bookstore owner in England and the strange adventures he gets into with his posse of misfits.

As a fan of English comedy, I fell head over heels in love with Black Books. How could I not? After all, it had the key ingredient that makes every comedy worthwhile: ridiculousness.

In one of my favorite episodes, “Travel Writer,” Bernard discovers his landlord has died and bequeathed her ownership of the building to her cat (Mr. Benson). Bernard then hires an exterminator to turn hitman so he can put an end to the kitty’s rein of tyranny.

I wish more comedies could be like this. Don’t get me wrong, comedy is stupid nowadays, but it’s not that special kind of stupid.

I miss the shows like Monty Python and Seinfeld. They embraced absurdity in their great hairy arms and didn’t give a crap what the critics thought.

Now it seems like comedy resides in one of three camps:

In one camp, you have the Dude-Bro-Comedy wherein the only jokes that are told apply to the lowest common denominator. These comedies include jokes about boobs, sex, weed or other drugs, and gratuitous amounts of body humor.

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A.KA. every Seth Rogen film ever

In another camp, you have the Safe-Comedy wherein you simply tell jokes and plots that have been done so many times before it’s like trying to wear a pair of 30 year-old underpants and pass them off as new.

Finally, you have Societal-Outrage-Comedy, where every joke you tell has to be a way to stick it to The Man (a.k.a old, white, conservative men) or some other sort of issue that people believe needs addressing. The problem with these sorts of comedies is the shelf-life on them is awful. In a mere three years, most of them will be become dated and forgotten.

What happened to comedy for comedy’s sake?

You know, you can be funny without being wildly offensive or resorting to 5th grade humor. It is possible. We have the technology.

You can laugh at something that has nothing to do with politics or the current state of society. Hell, it doesn’t even have to be relatable. It could be wildly ridiculous like a man paying to have an argument with someone:

While many of the jokes used in these shows and movies are ridiculous, they’re also extremely clever in their own right. Unlike some comedies which think their audience is largely comprised of lobotomized baby seals.

Am I an outlier here? Am I the only one that thinks the viewing public deserves something better? Should I just shut up and drink my diet soda?

All I can say is if Netflix removes this British gem, I may  lose my mind. Dammit, Netflix, You can take Airplane! by don’t you dare touch my Black Books.

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Nostalgia Goggles: Torchwood

Have you ever looked back on a series you used to love and finally see all the problems it had? Well, recently this happened to me with a little BBC program called Torchwood.

When I was in my teens, this show was my jam. It was dark, gritty, and way more mature than Doctor Who. Or…so I thought.

Here are some of the things I discovered upon revisiting this show from my teenage years:

Everyone is incompetent. You would think earth’s last line of defense from alien menaces would be…I don’t know…not completely useless. Nonetheless, the Torchwood gang feel that the best strategy is no strategy whatsoever. There is no protocol, no planned course of action. They simply rush into the situation half-cocked and lose their every-loving minds when something goes wrong.

Seriously, freaking Paw Patrol is better organized than Torchwood.

Also….

 

That’s not how you shoot a gun…that’s not even close to how you shoot a gun. I get that the UK is more ignorant when it comes to firearms because they aren’t used as often, but would it have killed the BBC to google?

An adult wrote this? I don’t mean to offend teenagers with this, but it’s an inevitability. The truth is, nobody in Torchwood acts like an adult. They act how teenagers think adults act. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if this series was ghost written by a moody adolescent.

It would explain everything: why the characters have sex all the time, why everyone is a complete jerk for no reason, why there’s such a grim outlook on life, why nobody ever plans out anything in advance and completely falls apart when the slightest thing goes wrong.

Wow. It all makes sense now. Maybe Torchwood was originally meant to star teenagers and the casting director didn’t get the memo.

That probably would have made this show infinitely better. If for no other reason than to justify the agents’ juvenile behavior.

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All of the angst.

Overuse of nihilismOkay, I like a heathy dose of grim and angst. However, Torchwood takes it…well…not a step too far, more like a 4K and a walk home too far.

In every episode we must be reminded there is no God, or afterlife, and everything is pointless. Well, actually, the narrative is a bit inconsistent on this point. See They Keep Killing Suzie.

There is virtually no break from the overblown angst. It’s constant pain and suffering to the point of being a self-parody.

I remember one episode where Gwen tried to reunite a mother with a son she lost and she actually wound up making things worse by doing so. The mother actually told her she would rather believe her son is dead than have him as the broken shell she was presented with.

Well…damn.

What’s the message of this episode? Don’t bother? If so that leads me to my next point:

What is the incentive to work for Torchwood?  I’ve rattled my brain for an explanation, but nothing comes to mind.

Why would you constantly dangle yourself in harm’s way if everything is pointless? Especially when there’s a drug you could take that would make you forget all the horrible things that have happened to you while on the job, no strings attached.

It’s like when Gwen started sleeping with Owen because what she saw at work was just too horrible to comprehend and she couldn’t tell Rhys. The whole time I just thought, Woman…just quit! They aren’t holding you hostage. You can leave anytime you want to. Why are you still there?!

Suzie blathered on about how much she loved this job, yet we haven’t seen a convincing reason why.

It would make sense if most of them felt a strong duty towards the rest of the humanity, but for the most part, they’re narcissistic jerkwads that don’t seem to care about anyone else. Only Gwen gives a crap about people, and even she is a terrible person for running around on her fiancé.

Thanks for the memories, Torchwood, but I don’t think I’ll be buying any of your Bluerays anytime soon.