Jazz Quintet with Gjallarhorn

September 12, 2013 § 39 Comments

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And so we formally meet both Heimdall and Frigg. I’m still not entirely buying into Mike’s sudden Odin ambitions but what the hell, Ragnorok is coming and I love this show.

Starting with Mike, at least we got a little backstory as to why he’s realized he can pretend to the throne. Karen’s offhanded remark has had him doing a bit of background research, and now he’s uncovered that Odin is more a title and less a specific bolt of lightning.

Even better, we got Martin’s rather unbalanced reasoning on why Mike is the wrong Odin choice: “Because you won’t do the right things, what needs to be done.” Presumably, Axl who is much more on top of this Rangnorok thing (or, Michelle!) would.

Mike is trying to fight for stability, for normalcy, and for the status quo — but sometimes what is needed is a bit of mythos. The problem is that we don’t know whether Martin is, like little boy blue, trying to blow his horn, or whether he’s trying to avert the end times.

It’s an interesting conundrum, one that’s made better by the Martin’s unreliable sanity. We know there are factions: Martin, Axl, Mike, and perhaps the lesser gods of Sjofn and her blood agreement with Bragi, but we’re not at all sure which faction is the one worth supporting.

We don’t even know if Martin is motivated by Ragnorok or simple human affection for his little sister. It was such a perfect twist that when Axl went all She-Mia last year that he, in fact, turned into his counterpart, his Frigg, not recognizing such until he finally met up with in person.

Does this mean that the two of them are destined for each other, that they are just two halves of the same person? Would this mean that their marriage would be illegal in less progressive countries? Or does it show an underlying connection that has yet to be expressed through human relationship?

Perhaps Frigg needs to go through her heavily-forshadowed Villi and Ve stages before returning to Axl. After all, Sjofn’s been working her way through the Johnsons brothers, both healing and carnally, through an alarming application of revenge relationships. Perhaps Frigg needs to make her way back to Axl through a variety of amusing and uncomfortable hookups.

Whatever happens, however, we can probably agree that Dawn has it right. Fully powered-up gods would be dangerous, boring to the story, and probably a worse danger than global warming. So at least in that regard, I’m not really hoping for an Axl/Frigg end-game. More power then to Sjofn, Bragi, and all of those minor gods and goddesses challenging the status quo. Sjofn even has her own little band of worshipers.

O’Gorman had some of the best lines of the ep, especially his ADHD moment and his recurring list of top fantasies. Langstone, however, ruled this episode as she worked through the goddess-equivalent stages of relationship emotions (anger, revenge, anger, revenge, revenge sex, anger, anger, grief). I thought the way the writers tied Michelle’s anger into Mike’s ambition quest was superb. Even Dawn was good this ep.

Thanks, too, to whomever put Mr. Turner into that muscle shirt.

  • Honestly, I think the more likely outcome is that Axl needs to find *his* Frigg, not just the goddess — the one who suits him, probably Gaia. (Alternately, Frigg should probably say “I’m not getting married based on quests.”)
  • Who doesn’t wish they could walk through doors to anywhere (see “The Lost Room”).
  • Is it me or is crazy-ass Martin far less interesting than secret-thread-pulling-mastermind Martin?
  • “Damn you, Universe, did you really have to do this to me?” What is a quest without challenges!?

Frigg and Sjofn sitting in a tree…

September 12, 2013 § Leave a comment

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This is not a full ep post. This is a “holy heavens, what the frigg” post.

First: Michelle Langstone owned this episode. From anger to vulnerability, it was brilliant. The car and the foosball table especially.

Second: Is it bad that I’m now hoping for a Sjofn/Frigg supercouple ending? It works on so many levels not the least of which is Mike revenge, a shift from being a minor goddess, and an end-point that doesn’t re-god everyone into insufferable Hoddity.

Plus Michelle’s already slept with Frigg!

Series 4: The Department of Imaginary Theophany

September 10, 2013 § 1 Comment

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A bunch of you have written about how to support a potential series 4 in the comments on other posts. It’s a hard question to deal with given that it’s unknown whether the series would even be renewed (or not!) given its awful ratings in New Zealand but its promising world wide distribution.

For those of you suffering from hyper-planning-itis, I’d recommend that you start doing a bit of research on the organization of New Zealand on Air, South Pacific Pictures, and so forth.

I also suggest you do a little bit of preparatory olive branching out to the awesome Chris Philpott (On the Box, Lesser Gods), who has done mighty work to organize support for the 3rd series being broadcast now (Thank you!), and Tim Balme (due to his SPP role) to get suggestions for organization and so forth.

A few tweets from NZ-based fans to @almightyjohnsonz probably won’t go astray. There’s also a Facebook page.

It remains unclear whether James Griffin and company will wrap up the story or leave hooks open for a further series.  I surely hope the hunt for Frigg continues.

 

Wooby wooby woo where are you?

September 6, 2013 § 27 Comments

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Dear TAJ writers,

Please would you consider keeping Dawn permanently stoned? Like, forever? Because stoned!Dawn is pretty awesome. She can become besties with Olaf, Stacey, and Ingrid until the inevitable lightning bolt smites her from the story and Ty forever.

Thank you,

The KG Blog

Seriously, there is nothing better than stoned-out-of-her-head Dawn where we finally got to see some internal character.  We still don’t know much about her beyond the fact that she likes the West Wing and rap music, but Ep 10 did more to develop her as an actual human being with flaws, fears, and dreams than the two and a half series that preceded it.

There was a lot of great stuff happening in this episode, but finally giving Dawn an actual voice and a viewpoint was pretty much its strongest element. I loved how vulnerable she was, and how she was thinking and doing her research, not just acting as a passive participant in the story.

I also loved clingy!wooby!Ty’s concern for deeply!stoned!Dawn despite his relative lack of screen time. Now, I can’t wait for the wedding and Colin’s violent revenge, which has yet to be fully expressed.  I’ll be all “Bye Dawn” but now I’ll actually miss the character.

In less drugged-out parts of the story, Axl’s quest hummed along to the point where he’s nearly found his Frigg. He, Zeb, and Ingrid track down Honir to a nearby rest home. On the one hand, the story is still being told as a three stooges episode with the typical comedy beats, and yet at the same time Skilton is doing some superb glowering, especially as he reassesses Mike.

I love the knowing looks and the sly digs, he’s delivering so Odin-ly, especially the pizza delivery scene.  Axl has just had a big wake-up call. Sadly, he’s viewing this through mythic terms instead of reaching out to Mike, who gods know, is in a particularly bad place right now.

The real weakness of this story is, sadly, Mike. We’ve had too much telling, not enough showing here. Instead of seeing Mike struggle with the Ullr-derived gameplaying and ambition, we haven’t had enough moments where the story developed his growing imbalance with his onboard god. We haven’t been getting into Mike’s head enough.

Although all the external components of his story have been going well — his conflicts with Axl, Michelle, Anders, and Ty — we really could have used some Mike time as he slowly gave into those irrational internal demands. While his break-up with Michelle worked great for her character, on his part it felt unearned.

I know that the groundwork has been laid over time, gambling with Olaf and losing control, talking with Karen about her father, that superb non-communication with Michelle a few eps back after she came back from her first healing, but the story feels incomplete to me.  It’s more a sense of “Oh, that’s where they were going” instead of being led there by what we’ve seen, what we’ve felt, what we’ve experienced.

Mike is Axl’s “real” father in most ways. Their relationship fail right now falls right into place with the Campbell Hero’s Journey, just as the goal is in sight. Yes, Axl needs to grow up and become the man, but this was too abrupt. When Axl went all one-eyed-Odin last week, he should have finally seen what we’ve all been picking up. Instead, it came as a big shock out of nowhere, and instead of empathizing with his Eureka moment, us viewers were left picking up the pieces. It’s one of the few disappointments for this year’s series, because everything else has been so strong.

Michelle is really getting her moment in the sun, though. As Anders did in earlier eps, in limited amounts, she’s growing and changing. On her part, this is a lot more profound because she’s actually trying to move past her normal cynical bitchiness to something of meaning. With the woodchipper, Mike destroyed more than a Macguffin, he attacked the one thing she found meaning and pride in. Hopefully the ripples from that unforgivable act will keep playing forward in the upcoming episodes. I’m now actually rooting (American sense, not NZ sense) for a Mike and Michelle resolution after this.

Ingrid was the “hero” of the episode with her psychic nosebleed trope and Norse-varient Sherlock visuals. It was good to see her take an active role even though we didn’t really get to see any real emotions from her — from her triumphs, from her pain and the cost of that triumph, or anything else.

So in the end, I’m giving this ep a mixed review. I think the bits I loved outweigh the bits I didn’t. There were some spectacular moments, and the shock of that ending was truly jawdropping.

Long live the Master Baker (heh).

  • I guess Rich Guy was a one-shot spot, then? Do they get to keep the 200k?
  • I hope someone had a lawn bag to pick up the Yggdrasil mulch.
  • Mike is going after Frigg on his own. Why? What is motivating him at this point?
  • I felt bad for Honir. No healing then. We need more geriatric Gods.
  • Friederic Larsen looks about 60-odd years old. It would be a hoot if Friggy Larsen is in her mid 40’s.
  • There’s a brother in that photograph. Martin aka Heimdallr? After all, his DNA sequence seemed to tie Frigg, Honir, and Heimdall together.
  • (Also, are those kids actually the children of someone in the production staff?)
  • I hate that Michelle doesn’t get custody of that cool new apartment — after all she did a lot of the work.
  • Anyone zapruder the whole Ingrid scene for funny clues and Easter Eggs?

TAJ Halftime Scores

August 30, 2013 § 6 Comments

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So, here we are a bit over half way through the third TAJ series. Time to catch up with the characters and see how they’re developing.

Axl. Despite an absolutely brilliant arc, Axl’s been sidelined away from his initial Get Gaia/Lose Gaia/Get Really Depressed/Go on Road Trip/Triumph with DERRICK! story, which concluded brilliantly but then, somewhat unsurprisingly, stalled to make room for other stories. The whole Beer!Goddess/Pizza Delivery Axl story gets a C, but that’s more than offset by the A+ for the earlier segments.

Zeb. Poor Zeb, there’s really not much room for him this year. Despite that Frost has been doing grand supporting work, so I’m splitting his score too. Zeb’s going to get a D- for story, but Frost is getting an A for best buddy comic delivery. Isn’t it time that Zeb got some front line development? Sure, he’s not a god, but as I wrote a few years ago, “All of these gods, not just Mike, really need to establish honest non-lying relationships with mortals. Week after week we’ve seen how toxic this god thing can be….These guys *need* people. Far more, I suspect, than people need them.” I’m not sure that Odin can move forward without his Zeb.

Ingrid. Like Zeb, Ingrid’s been working the sidelines this year. She had a sad, strange highlight episode last year. This series, she’s mostly been stuck doing support. She doesn’t have that relationship with Olaf to bring her forward, so it’s only through her growing friendship and business arrangement with Michelle, that we’ve seen her really at all. Essentially, Ingrid is a tragic figure and I’d love to see the writers develop that potential. Now, however, she too gets a D for character development.

Dawn. Sorry. I hate her. I see her as nothing more than a cardboard prop for Ty, who deserves a better scene partner (not the actress, the writing — please let me make that clear). Despite some really good lines in the last episode, Dawn has about as much interest for me as Ty’s Refrigerator Repair van. No wait, I like the van better. D. (Sutherland gets honorable mention, however, for the slap, and the God of Meaningless Roots delivery.)

Ty. Ty (and Hod) can do no wrong. He is simply my favorite TAJ character and has consistently had the most interesting plots, despite the eyeliner horror of early Series 2.  Now that things have been resolved and he’s ready to retire happily with Dawn, I can’t wait to see what misery the writers throw at him next. I’m really hoping we get to see a lot more Hod. A+.

Anders. I just love morally ambiguous, ethically compromised Anders. Both the actor and the character are fantastic and he too often gets shortchanged by being pigeonholed into the wiseacre role. So I’m delighted that this year, he’s been getting character development opportunities. As far as I’m concerned, Anders is another character that’s just screaming out for more major plots, and O’Gorman has the chops to handle the drama as well as the comedy. He’s only getting a B for character though, because those moments have not nearly been enough. Anders deserves more, and I’m looking forward to seeing him grab the reigns of a really juicy story.

Gaia. Remember her? I love how the writers wrapped up that storyline. It was perfect. I give her an A because it happened exactly as it had to, leaving me completely satisfied with the character resolution. Axl misses her but the storyline doesn’t.

Colin. I love me some Loki, but he’s always written as being too far over the top. I have little patience for caricature, and Colin needs to be given more humanity. C.

DERRICK! Thor, too, is a favorite, but this year we got exactly the right amount of DERRICK! and truly the  optimal use of his character. A+.

Suzy. Ditto A+.

Mike. Mike is such a hard character. He never gets enough development, never enough internal life and conflict, so he’s always going to extremes: extreme competence or extreme anger or extreme boredom. Mike deserves better, so he gets an inconsistent C.

Michelle. Michelle has gotten far more interesting, and I’m loving where her storyline is going. B+.  I honestly don’t care that she’d be long since fired from the hospital.

Karen. She was terrific, well used, and gone once that story moved on. I’d love to see her come back because she really captured my interest for the short time she was part of the plot, but she’d have to be written carefully. I’m giving her a B+, but I know that she could easily fall into the nagging Mom role too easily as a foil to Michelle, a place I don’t want to see her go.

Joe. Also terrific, Joe stayed just long enough to make us want to hit him over the head with a frying pan. I’d love to see him pop up again in the future, but not too often and for not too long. A.

Olaf. A++. Barrington deserves an Emmy (or Kiwemmy?) He can do no wrong. Perfect comic timing. Great mix of sage and fool. He’s written perfectly and I adore him and his actor.

Stacy. She’s been fantastic this year as well, as the tough-as-nails business woman, love interest, and mover of plot. She hasn’t had a lot of screen time, but when she’s there, she makes every moment count. A

Anyone I missed?

Brothers against brothers, Goddesses betraying each other, Cats and Dogs sleeping together

August 29, 2013 § 17 Comments

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“I am the living incarnation of the Norse God of all things Dark and Cold….Hodr. *beat* Look me up on Wiki.”

*Squee*.

Sorry. I’ll try to stop doing that. But…*SQUEE*. (I blame you CJ.)

Between Martin-as-Cupid, Axl going all one-eyed-All-Father, Anders jumping in feet-first to the Goddess Healer Conspiracy, to Mike having his Angry Man moment, there was plenty to love in this episode.

While I still don’t like Dawn she had quite astounding Bragi and Colin-is-a-Wanker moments that were perfect for her character. My likes and dislikes aren’t important because Ty likes Dawn and Ty is Happy.  For “Ty” levels of happiness. For now.  But whatever, because, you know, *squee*.

This week’s theme was “The Truth” (these intermingled themes have been terrific throughout the year) and Ty, pushed along by Martin, finally resolved things with Dawn. Yay Hod!

Given how very happy the two of them are, I’m hoping something utterly dire happens to her. Because Angsty Ty is seriously much more interesting. Plus, Happy Ty won’t get much screen time. And we need lots and lots of Ty.

Similarly, I love when Mike has plot — and I’m so happy that he’s starting to face the consequence of his little Ullr problem. For years he was on the wagon. He knew the basic rule. When he used his powers, bad things happened.

But over time, there were slip ups. A little bit of hardware raffle won’t hurt you, right? That is, until you wake up surrounded by toaster ovens and ill-won meat. He’s now throwing back the golf-drive-winnings before lunch.

Mike is well and truly messed up — he’s not being honest with Michelle, he’s not being honest with himself, and he’s taking his brothers for granted. It’s not a good scenario and I’m thrilled to see this develop.

Sure it’s inconsistent — just last week, he was playing Ullr hero, cleverly protecting his family, and shortly before that Karen was warning him about the Way of the Ullr — but what the hell. MIKE GOT A PLOT. Celebrate, people, celebrate.

Grandpa Olaf also developed a bit of a habit, but for him, it was sheer delight in the rise of the auto-feed golf tee. Barrington has been wonderful in his role as B-rate oracle and family sage — consistently funny, delightfully skewed, and, eye candy for the ladies and those gentlemen who swing that way. (See what I did there? Golf pun!) Plus (bonus), he can golf without needing wheels to the shore. I do intend to see him back surfing though. It is a necessary thing.

Axl despite his screen time was the one who pretty much got shafted story-wise this week. He abottcostello’ed with Zeb for a bit, lost an eye, gained some insight, and propelled the action in the final act. Beyond that though, there was little for him to do. The thing is though, that both Skilton and Frost are so very good at their comedy bits, that it doesn’t really matter that their plot was lame. They were hilarious, from beer-dream to casting-call to mirror-mirror and a pleasure to watch.

Michelle, Anders, and Ingrid provided the final plot point of the week.  Anders wants in on the action, has a devilish plan for building a Goddess Healer Empire, and (back to his Anders status quo) doesn’t care about shafting Ingrid.

Here was the surprise of the week: Michelle cared. Michelle and Anders and Colin have been drawn with similar brush strokes throughout the series, and it was Michelle’s turn this week to grow a little, defend Ingrid, and demand a tiny bit of quid pro morality from Anders. I’ll be curious to see where this ends up.

So, all in all, great ep. It may not be a DERRICK!-in-a-wedding-gown level episode (there can’t be all that many of those in any series, just for the sake of how many tissues any viewer can go through) but it was a good ‘un.

Looking forward to next week.

  • Clearly, Martin is a Ty/Dawn shipper. Who knew?
  • Zebs future is advertising copywriting. Beer!
  • Prosthetics person is getting tons of work this series. Axl’s eye, Anders’ neck.
  • Better title for this ep: “Destiny, Schmestiny”
  • There is no situation where a Life of Brian reference in TAJ isn’t hilarious. Multiple references? Well, we are all individuals after all…

In which Odin loses an eye and therein gains better sight

August 29, 2013 § 1 Comment

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Really really busy, so a delayed post again this week, but oh how I loved this episode. Reasons will follow once I get some time together, plus I really want to do both a halftime score post and one on the amazing visuals and camera work this series.

I figure if I promise this all publicly, it will force me to follow-through! Right?