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#SundayReview Cancelled Shows and Dominion

Frankie Av

It appears that today, the-powers-that-be in the television industry have such small attention spans they can’t always guarantee to produce more than two seasons of a show. Of course, I know all about the Nielsen boxes in America, the viewer ratings and how they govern which shows continue and which shows die into obscurity. But these days, it appears to be more than just ratings which are affecting shows. Perhaps they just want to make everything and so only allow a short run for each show, or maybe they just expect too much from fans and viewers.

In any case, that a show is cancelled is not the issue which annoys me, it’s that a show is ended before the story ends. Now, how hard would it be for producers to say “Hey, I love your idea for a tv show, but I can’t give you five seasons to create it. I can give you two? Maybe three? But you need to end the story arc within that time.”
Equally as easy is letting the show creators know when their work is under review for axing. Not waiting until months after the season ends on a cliffhanger or an unfinished story line. Like this: “Hey guys, the show ratings have dropped, you have the rest of this season to wrap up the story, otherwise the show will be canned without an ending.”

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Or maybe the show creators are just too blind and love their work so much they don’t think it will ever be axed. Because of this, they might not think to wrap a story arc up in a timely fashion and so their show is axed without any real satisfactory ending. SyFy is particularly guilty of axing shows before their time, to the point I just can’t and won’t invest myself in anything before it is ended or cancelled. I wait for the end then watch on catch-up. Perhaps by doing this I’m contributing to the likelihood of a show being cancelled. But when I invest in a show, I invest in it hard. I don’t want to fall in love with characters and get to the end of the show to find out it was never finished. That’s like reading a book which final pages have been ripped out!

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As a fan, the cancelling of a show is awful and something I’ve seen too many times before. Stargate Atlantis was axed at the end of its fifth season. A good run, yes, but without an ending. Firefly, such a short run and axed way before its time. Defiance, three season run was good, and thankfully, the writers had the foresight to have an ending in place for the third series which gave a somewhat good ending to the show. Constantine, wow, what were they thinking cancelling it?! Dominion, cancelled at the end of season two and on the MOTHER of all cliffhangers!

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These days shows are lucky to make it past the starting point before they are replaced. I see so many shows being made and advertised, only to wonder what the hell happened to them a few weeks or months later. SyFy makes and funds so much rubbish viewing material, the expense of which could be used to maintain the shows that people actually love. I mean, I would watch and support SyFy every DAY if “Attack of the Tentacled-Shark-terrasaur in Manhattan” were not on the channel or books. I would avidly commit myself to their shows if they pulled the money from “Square-Faced-Squid Attacks Downtown New York with a Pillow” and put it into actually finishing story arcs. Even if they said to the creators “Guys, we are pulling the show. But, you have the funding for three eps to finish up,” I would make sure the channel was in my faves menu!

But no. These days I don’t find myself getting excited over new shows. I see them advertised and the first thing I think is; “Looks good, but it will get canned in a few weeks. So…nope.”
I don’t pretend to know how the ins-and-outs of tv production works, but from a viewers standpoint, surely finishing a tale and show properly is more important to future business than axing and producing as many as possible?

So I guess I should speak about the show which cancellation I am currently feeling sore over: Dominion. Yes I have mentioned it before, but I just did a complete re-watch of it and am all hurt over its ending again. Dominion sadly ended on the build up to the most epic of story arcs. It ended on the mother of all cliffhangers and it promised that season three would be spectacular. It ended way too soon. There was no closure. We have no idea what happened to the majority of the characters. It just ended, another ruined story to place on a shelf of books with ripped out final chapters.

Dominion was not your everyday sci-fi/fantasy show. Sure there was apocalyptic undertones, angels and human suffering, but Dominion was more than your average run-of-the-mill goodies-fight-baddies story. Dominion was different enough to grab my attention and pulled me into watching it live for the first season-something I haven’t done since Atlantis was cancelled.

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Dominion follows on from the 2010 movie; Legion, starring Paul Bettany as the Archangel Michael. Now, Legion wasn’t a huge hit, but I really enjoyed it. God has disappeared and the angels are so angry, blaming humans for their father’s disappearance that they wreak havoc on the earth and slay humans without mercy in revenge. Mankind’s only saviour will be a chosen one, an unborn baby boy whose mother is holed up in a diner as the angels attack. Michael knows the child she is carrying is the Chosen One and protects her and her partner at all costs.

Dominion is set twenty-five years later, in a world far different from the movie. The world is overrun with angels who take over human bodies and kill indiscriminately to the point that the last of humanity is holed up in walled cities. One such city-Vega-is where the Chosen one, Alex, is grown up and playing soldier. The Archangel Michael protects Vega and watches over Alex as other angels -namely the Archangel Gabriel and his minions- try to destroy the rest of humanity in an attempt to wipe the earth of humans and bring their father back.

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The thing I loved about Dominion was the stories within many varied stories, tales interwoven into one solid and compelling show. There was the story of the angels, their reasoning and why they fought so hard to bring God back. The story of Michael and his transition from a slayer of worlds to a protector of humanity. There was the story of Vega, how it was built and why. The story of its citizens, and their role in Vega. There was the story of the Chosen one, Alex, and the strange tattoos upon his body which were said to contain the key to saving the human race. Okay, many shows have lots of stories, but usually each bit-story is episodic in nature. With Dominion, all the stories were the main story, all of them contributed to the entire show and all were important. The storylines were thought provoking, endearing, awful, heartbreaking, scary and deceitful, so there was plenty to enjoy throughout the show.

The actors were strong, with the lovely Tom Wisdom playing Michael and well known sci-fi and fantasy actor Anthony Head playing a lead role in Vega. Alan Dale played the general of Vega, Carl Beukes the Archangel Gabriel. Roxanne McKee and Shivani Ghai took the lead female parts, with the lovely Kim Engelbrecht playing a higher angel hidden in Vega. It was a strong cast, and each actor played great roles and played them well.

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The show looked good, with opulent sets and well detailed scenes. The special effects were of a great standard, I don’t suppose it’s easy animating wings like the did. Fight scenes were well choreographed and convincing.

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The first season set the scene and back story. The second season was fantastic, building on the original narrative and further delving into the mythical tale. It ramped up the storylines, I began to crave what was going to happen next. A big player was about to enter the fight, and I mean a HUGE player. It was a game changer, it would have thrown a third series into a frenzy.

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Then it ended.

It was clear the writers had no idea it was going to be axed; I doubt they would have left it the way they did had they known.  This is the thing that bothers me the most about cancelled shows. They never get to the chance to end the tale and fans are left wishing for closure. Why creative teams can’t be given set episodes to finish up is beyond me. It seems that tv producers just jump from one show to another in a never ending cycle of broken stories. It would make more sense to bring a conclusion and allow for such a conclusion to be discussed prior to just axing a show.

I know it’s never going to happen. I know that there are many who do not understand what it is to be a fan and how frustrating this cancelling of shows can feel. I just think more thought would be put into–not only the creative team’s hard work and need to finish–but to the fans who take these tv shows and fall in love with them and the characters. We made the big corporations with our loyalty and money, our time and energy. If it wasn’t for the viewers and fans, they wouldn’t even have a product to make money from!

As I say, I am reluctant to give any new show a chance these days. My heart has been broken way too many times to count and I won’t keep falling for this show-and-destroy type of broadcasting. For most of these shows, the time has gone. Sets have been broken up and actors are working on different things. Is it too late to save Dominion by getting the likes of Netflix to perhaps pick it up? Maybe. But I hope not.

 

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No matter if you watched Dominion or not, like the idea or not or just think I am plain crazy for wanting something so bad, please, sign this petition and share it to everyone you know. Share it with everyone and get them to sign it and share it too. Even if you have to say this crazy woman from Scotland told you to do it! Help make one of my fave shows get a proper ending!

I can but dream….

F.R. Donaldson lives in scenic Scotland. She is the author of the psychological sci-fi MALEVOLENCE

 

 

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#WeCreate The Lament for Icarus

Frankie Av

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The Lament for Icarus (1898) by Herbert James Draper has been one of my favourite paintings since I was at school. The first time I saw it I was shocked by how absolutely beautiful it is, while also managing to be so desperately sad and hopeless.

Icarus lies dead upon the rocks, his magnificent wings open and useless. He is surrounded by water nymphs who gaze sorrowfully at his broken body. The reds and browns give the impression that he lies in shadow at dusk, and you can see the light of a setting sun on the cliff face behind. This lends to the overall feel of the painting; it is darker in the vicinity of death while the rest of the world carries on. This allows us to experience the tragedy more realistically. Strangely though, his wings are intact, not melted away as in the original tale. This lends to the notion that this man was indeed a winged creature which fell to its death, making it even more heartbreaking.

The wings are gorgeously painted, almost look real enough to touch and feel something soft and fluffy beneath your fingertips. The top nymph’s face is painted in such a way that you can almost hear her sigh as she looks sadly down at Icarus. The left hand of the lower nymph is positioned in a convincingly  lifelike way as she leans on a rocky surface. It’s just so beautiful, so tragic and will remain one of my most favourite paintings of all time.

F.R. Donaldson lives in scenic Scotland. She is the author of the psychological sci-fi MALEVOLENCE

 

Frankie Av

I know, I’m late again, but it is the entire house we are refurbishing! If I could write at the same time as I stripped wallpaper or painted walls, I would! To top it all off, my laptop died yesterday. Posting and writing is difficult on a mobile phone or netbook!

Anyway. My review this week is for an anime I had heard of, but knew nothing about. I was lucky enough to come across The Vision of Escaflowne anime DVD boxset for the bargain price of just £3.50. The pictures on the front looked kinda old fashioned and screamed nineties anime. My favourite anime is from the nineties, so I thought perhaps I might like this one too. I didn’t just like it, I loved it.

Escaflowne tells the story of a young schoolgirl and budding athlete, Hitori, in love with her track mentor, and who reads tarot cards with uncanny precision. She appears to be extremely adept at reading the future and people’s fates so everyone asks for her to read their cards. On the race track one evening, a young man appears before her in a blinding light, followed by an actual dragon. Soon after, she is whisked away to another planet, Gaea, a world from which Earth and the moon can be seen in the sky.

At first glance, it appears to be a soppy coming of age story, as we see Hiroti fall in love with just about everyone she meets. But there is so much more going on in the story that it keeps your attention. I mean, there are dragons for one thing. Men with angelic wings for another. There are even huge Mech Knights powered by the heart of dragons. There is the fact this all takes place on another world where levitating rocks power airships. And, strangely enough, Atlantis is also a key feature. To top it all off, there are two outrageously insane characters vying for the title of Top Batshit Crazy Maniac.

Don’t get me wrong, it is soppy, and cheesy and so lovely it is sickening, but there are more difficult aspects of the story which make it so great. There is a huge war going on between the different cities on Gaea. One city is burned to the ground in the first episode, the city of Fanelia from where the lead male character, Van-the king- comes from. The name of the show is actually the name of the huge Mech Knight which can only be used by the Kings of Fanelia.

The entire world of Gaea is also at the mercy of a fanatical army of powerful mech knights, the Zaibach Empire, which is led by Van’s estranged brother, Folken. So there is extreme sibling rivalry and epic fight scenes throughout. Hitomi’s fate predictions play a large part in attempts to sway the war in favour of other characters.

Van and another male character, Allen, appear to fall for Hitomi and she them, leading to her confusion as to who she loves the most. Therefore there is also a love triangle, which quickly becomes a love-pentagon with the arrival of a princess who loves Allen, and a cat-girl who loves Van.

This all sounds like a confusing mish-mash of ideas, but the story is so well written that there is not confusion other than in Hitomi’s love-struck heart. The characters, even the supporting characters were very well written. Each had a reason to be in the story, each had a background pertinent to the overall anime.

Once again, I found the soundtrack amazing. In fact, it was a complete orchestral score of epicness. No surprise that such amazing sounds were created by Yoko Kanno. Honestly, I think the woman could whistle a tune in the bathroom and it would be epic.

The one thing which grated on me to begin with was the voice of the primary baddie, Dilandau, whose voice sounded squeaky and forced. But, I found out later that there was a very good reason for this and so could forgive the initial brash tones.

There are 26 episodes to Escaflowne and I found myself wanting to watch them all in one sitting. The story demands you watch it as long as you can as each episode leads into the next–no stand alone filler eps in this series.

I also got the movie at the same time for the paltry sum of £1. Although it is very different from the tv series, I still enjoyed it. But I had to view it as a different story–unrelated to the tv series–otherwise it is just confusing. I would say the movie is darker, a little rushed, but is interesting to see the different take on the same story. The endings are different too, and I actually love them both, even though they are bittersweet.

If you can get hold of it and have a spare day or two to sit and watch it, I’d recommend Escaflowne for all its cheesiness, epic fight scenes, and awesome musical score. It is now high up there in my fave animes!

F.R. Donaldson lives in scenic Scotland. She is the author of the psychological sci-fi  MALEVOLENCE

 

#WhateverWednesday Angels and Pharaohs

Frankie Av

I’ve been interested in world mythology for many years. I’ve researched and read about various myths, legends, ancient religion and cultural beliefs. Half of my personal library holds volumes on the subjects. Of everything I’ve read, I’ve always been most interested in Ancient Egypt and Angels. Neither should come as a surprise if you know me well enough. Both subjects have fascinated me from a young age. In fact, back in 1988 my aunt took me to the Gold of the Pharaohs exhibition in Edinburgh. I remember standing in front of Tutankhamen’s death mask, mesmerised. My aunt would take me to see other things in the exhibition but I always ended up back in front of that mask whenever there was a space for me to push my way in front. There was just something…otherworldly, about it. It was magical, steeped in something almost sensual. I understood this, yet I was only 13 years old at the time. It was almost as if the Pharaoh himself was staring at me, trying to tell me something important which I just could not comprehend. I still get shivers from the memory and hope to see the mask again some day. The only other time I felt that kind of yearning to know more, was when I researched angels.

It was while researching various religions and cultures that I became intrigued by angelic entities. There are many Gods and countless more deities and lesser gods in both ancient and current religious and cultural belief systems. Of them all, angels just appeal to me. People with wings who can fly! But then, they are not people. They are God’s weapons. The duality of angels is hard to reconcile but fascinates me. On one hand they are utterly perfect beings, romanticised as being large winged protectors with flowing robes and long hair. On the other, they are also God’s warriors, holy weapons who will slaughter if commanded. Cruel and relentless, they will stop at nothing and will slaughter innocents to carry out that which their Father commands. As I say, I find it fascinating. Do I believe they are real? Do I believe that the Gods of ancient Egypt were real? Well, it depends how you ask me the question.

You see, I believe in the multiverse theory. I believe that there is an Earth on which angels do indeed exist. Another where the Egyptian pharaohs and their Gods reign supreme. There are also worlds on which dragons exist, and ghosts and one in which the loch ness monster belongs to the dominant species. Because I often like to believe that if it can be imagined, it is because the knowledge of one reality slips into another and thus myths and legend are born. Fanciful? Yes. Does it surprise you that I have two books in the pipeline after Emergence; one about angels and one about the multiverse? Probably not. My imagination is big enough to imagine such things and allows me to bring them into existence through words and paint and digital ink.

It is my belief and knowledge framework which allows me to be creative. It allows me to question things, to muse over the deeper meaning of life and the universe. It even allows me to accept that in some reality, the answer to life and everything is in fact, 42.

The reason for this rather existential blog post is because I finally watched the last three episodes of the television show Dominion. A television show about angels, the end of days and a chosen one–of course it intrigued me. With strong characters, enjoyable story-lines, fantastic sets and effects and mostly awesome acting, Dominion was one of my favourite shows. Then it was cancelled after only two seasons. Having watched and fallen in love with many television shows cancelled before their time, I know only too well how awful it is for a show to be ended on a cliffhanger, never to be concluded. I feared this for Dominion and so refused to watch the final episodes. I decided to watch them yesterday and was as disappointed as I knew I would be. It didn’t just end on a cliffhanger, it ended on the mother of all cliffhangers. I just can not get my head around how such a great show with obvious reams of potential for a third season could be cut from the fans and viewers the way it was. I really should have known, I have experienced it before and it tears the geek heart from me.

But, what I have that others might not, is the ability to end the story myself in a way I find pleasing. I’ve done it before. I’ve made animations to finish off an unfinished television story. Written fan fiction just to get some closure on a show I have fallen in love with. Why? Because then my story-ending becomes a piece of the multiverse, therefore somewhere in the universe the characters and their stories continue, on another world where Michael and Gabriel and Alex continue to exist. It is most likely the same world from which the story originated, pieces of which slipped into our own reality to become the idea for a television show. A big huge circle of creation through the multiverse in which angels and demons exist.

Now, did I just write you all a strange short story for Whatever Wednesday? Or did I just tell you the absolute truth? Well, there are two dimensions where both are true. But in which reality do you currently exist? 😉

https://www.change.org/p/netflix-save-dominion

F.R. Donaldson lives in scenic Scotland. She is the author of the psychological sci-fi MALEVOLENCE

 

#WeCreate Seraphina: Digital Painting

Frankie Av

A short video showing the drawing process on my latest digital painting; Seraphina.

Full drawing below video 😉

F.R. Donaldson lives in scenic Scotland. She is the author of the psychological sci-fi MALEVOLENCE