Tuesday, April 05, 2005

My First True Love and Other Mary Sue Moments

I did watch Episode 4 of Mr. Romance last night, but since the recap takes a good couple of hours (which I sadly won’t have until at least tonight), this is kind of a fill-in until I can get it done. Hope you don’t mind. It’ll be worth it, I promise, because last night’s epi was actually not too bad.

The other day I was watching one of those “50 Greatest…” TV shows. You know, the ones on Bravo Network and VH1 that list the 50 Greatest Awesomely Bad Love Songs or the 50 Funniest Movie Moments. I absolutely love these types of retrospectives. I’m a complete junkie for all things nostalgic, even the stuff that is technically not even close to history yet (such as VH1’s “I Love the 90s” show which caused the DH to roll his eyes and ask if it still wasn’t the nineties).

Anyway, this particular show (and my point) was the 100 Greatest Television Characters. I only caught the top 40 (at an hour per 20, I didn’t have five free hours to devote) which is kind of regrettable because I see on Bravo’s Website that Doug Ross from ER is number 95 (George Clooney - *sigh* - now there’s a man who gives aging well a good name) and Maddie Hayes/David Addison are number 69 (and I’ve been on a Moonlighting kick of late). Oh, and I see Dr. Johnny Fever (WKRP in Cincinnati/Howard Hesseman) is #73 and Capt. Jean Luc Picard is 55…maybe I should see about renting this…

Back to my point, the number 9 Greatest TV Character is none other than Capt. James T. Kirk of the U.S.S. Enterprise. And as these shows do, they hobbled together interview snippets with an aging (but not nearly as nicely as George Clooney) William Shatner and his partner in crime Leonard Nimoy/Spock along with clips from Star Trek. Watching those clips I was really struck by how dashing Capt. Kirk was in his skin tight Star Fleet uniform with his blond lock of hair tumbling rakishly over his forehead, hazel eyes twinkling and that knowing, confident smirk firmly in place. Yes, I can see why he was selected as one of the top 10 Greatest TV Characters. Here was a real hero in the old school tradition, when men used phasers and technically-savvy women wore go-go boots with their micro minis.

I was so intrigued by how different William Shatner looks now with how great he looked back in the day, I got a hankering to watch an episode or two of Star Trek. Gotta love TiVo which indicated some 257 upcoming episodes, and last night I watched “Of Bread and Circuses”.

Dang, that show was cheesy.

I suppose I’m not being fair because I’m a child of The Matrix. Plus my professional life is rooted in CGI wizardry, and I’ve worked with some of the best in the industry. So my expectations for coolness in Science Fiction is very, very high.

Even so, it’s not just the consoles of randomly blinking lights and that funky silver antenna/radar plug Lt. Uhura had sticking out of her ear that gave Star Trek the swiss cheese factor. It’s the really stupid stories. Or rather, the gaping plot holes, the complete implausibility of the situations Capt. Kirk and his cohorts find themselves in (last night happened to put our heroes into a modern day Roman Coliseum-like situation where they had to gladiate themselves to save their own hides), and the fact that Capt. Kirk always kisses the girl, no matter how ridiculous the nature of their meeting (last night’s girl was a slave, sent to meet Capt. Kirk’s every need).

But you just have to love that show!!

It’s pure camp. It’s a training ground for the future snark-masters of the entertainment world. And watching Capt. James T. Kirk be Capt. Kirk is pure fluffy joy. You have to love it because it’s all the fun without any of the real angst. You know the ending will be happy. You know that Kirk will always get the girl. No one really important will die (unless he happens to get assigned the dreaded red shirt in costuming) and the bad guys/aliens will be vanquished. It’s a romance novel lite.

Before I’d ever heard of the term Mary Sue or had any idea what it meant, I followed in the footsteps of innumerous Star Trek fanfic writers without even knowing it. My very first fantasies (of a highly innocent variety given I was probably all of 10 when I conceived them) involved myself as the newest darling on the U.S.S. Enterprise. Of course I could do it all. My perfect little character-self had the ability to evoke deep emotion in the ever-stoic Spock, a gentle humor out of the sarcastic Dr. McCoy, and complete and utter devotion from the womanizing Capt. Kirk. Once he laid eyes on me, all other women in the entire cosmos ceased to exist.

Plus I solved all the crises that occurred on every mission, spoke every known language in Uhura’s database, all before contracting a near-fatal illness or two so everyone could wail about in abject misery, only to emerge healed and luminous to play chess with Spock and mack with an eternally grateful Kirk. *Sigh*

All by myself I invented the Mary Sue! Didn’t have a clue that’s what I was doing, but now that I’ve become oh-so-wise, I just marvel at the boring-ness of my own experience. Dang if I didn’t actually follow some kind of text-book to get it exactly right. And I even used Star Trek – the very show which launched a million Mary Sues (and Gary Stus).

At least I can say that I never actually wrote one of my fantasies down to show to countless anonymous people out there in cyberspace. Talk about feeling unoriginal.

But taking that walk down the Star Trek memory lane is very sweet. How close to the surface those old fantasies are, and since they remain (and always will) firmly within the safety of my own brain, I can Mary Sue all I want with Capt. Kirk and Spock.

Plus I see on the TiVo that my most favorite episode is coming up soon – "Spock’s Brain". How can you not love a show when someone’s brain can be physically removed from his head and put in a glass jar? Although, my favorite episode is "Amok Time" when Spock must undergo the ancient Vulcan mating ritual time and fights Capt. Kirk, and McCoy slips Kirk a mickey to simulate his death...

Man. Classic.


Wendy said...

I had a professor in college who brought the episode "Spock's Brain" to class for all the students to watch. He was a philosophy teacher and he believed that episode demonstrated Descartes theory, 'I think therefore I am,' rather nicely. That particular professor went on to invite porn actors to speak to our class. I don't remember what he was trying to demonstrate that time. Other than he wasn't interested in tenure.

Larissa said...

Amok Time is one of my very favorite Star Trek episodes! And, of course, The Trouble With Tribbles! *g*

Larissa, who actually has a Star Trek tattoo...

Anonymous said...

Certified Trekkie speaking, but I also miss the Mr. Romance recap! They make me laugh so hard, and I've been anxiously awaiting it! I do hope it is soon in coming. Lynn, you're just an incredible writer, and I can't wait to read more!

GutterBall said...

Ah, the infamous Mary Sue. *laughs* I could go on about her for hours. Luckily, I found out about her before I committed her to paper.


We could probably write a thesis on the scary genesis of She Who Can Do No Wrong. And she's so insidious -- sneaking into the most well-thought-out plots and casting her beautiful, flawless shadow over even the best intentions.

While technically a product of fanfiction, she's flashed her lovely mug in everything from classic literature to "Alien vs. Predator". Scary stuff, but kinda fun to play with. Especially running original characters through the Mary Sue Litmus Test. *snickers*

And I have to agree with Larissa -- I loooove "The Trouble with Tribbles"!