Bright and Cloudy Aprils

Which means it’s time for a video!

The link for Monsters and Critics. Look for my name to find my articles.

And if you want to see what the Thetan from the episode Architects of Fear looked like, here’s a photo taken of how it looked in the episode:

There’s actually a guy in the body walking on stilts, which are the legs.

And how it would look as a model:

“Sense8”, Season 2, Episode 2, “Who Am I?”

Just when you thought it was safe to stop hiding from people who want to cut up your brain, it’s time once more to hunker down with the cluster–

The Snarking Dead TV Recaps

[Image via Netflix] It seems like only last Friday, 5 May, has spent over ten hours watching Season 2 of Sense8. And now that I have that binge out of the way, I guess that means it’s time for me to get down to business and start bringing you the recaps of Episodes 2 through 11.

So why wait? Let’s get down to business.

Who Am I?

Written by Lana Wachowski and J. Michael Straczynski
Directed by Lana Wachowski

Transition moment:

Will (Brian J. Smith) and Riley (Tuppence Middleton) are resting in their hidden abode. But Will’s picking up on something: Whispers (Terrence Mann) is doing another one of his zombie acts with a lobotomized patient, this time performing for group of men in classic black tuxes and ties. Angelica (Daryl Hannah) is trying to get Will to stop what is happening, but he can’t, he’s not strong enough…

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Quick and Dirty Saturdays

If it’s Saturday it must be time for a video recap.  And here I cover some other writing I’d love to publish plus–something completely different:

 

The Last Laps: Underground Tenderness

It’s a lovely Sunday morning, and it seems as if the weather is finally turning into something good.  Yesterday and today I’ve even broken out the maxi skirts, and odds are good since it’s going to be  80 F/27 C tomorrow, I’ll likely be in my long skirt and sandals at work.

And two weeks ago I was standing in this same spot in a winter coat.

Just think:  two weeks ago I was standing in this same spot wearing a winter coat.

There’s something else of which I must brag:  I am now a Wikipedia citation.  How did this happen?  Not by my doing, I assure you.  It’s all due to those television recaps I’ve been writing.  One of them concerned predictions I had for the show Orphan Black, and I mentioned in those prediction that I had not only discovered the titles, but I knew where they were from.  So imagine my surprise when my Partner in Snarking Dead Crime, Rachel, told me she’d discovered that my post was now the citation on Wikipedia for the Orphan Black Season 4 episode titles and attribution–

I'm bad: I'm Wiki Wide.

Yep, I’m bad: I’m Wiki Wide.

I have since discovered that the same post is used as a citation on the Orphan Black Wiki for Season 4.  So there.

But what about your novel, Cassie?  Never fear:  three hundred and forty words last night, nine hundred and fifty-four this morning, and you’re getting them all.  Let’s not wait:

 

(All excerpts from The Foundation Chronicles, Book Two: B For Bewitching, copyright 2015, 2016 by Cassidy Frazee)

Kerry stood before the bathroom mirror and stared into his reflection for a few moments before stepping over to the dryer. A few waves of his hands over the enchanted device to remove all moisture, then he was out the door and into the West Hall of the Great Hall. Annie was leaning against the opposite wall, waiting. “You didn’t take long.”

“I didn’t have to go as bad as I thought.” He stood looking up and down the hallway as if he were unsure where to go.

Annie watched his confusion for a few seconds before taking his hand. “My love?”

He turned to her. “Yes?”

“Would you like to visit the hospital?”

His brow scrunched up. “Why?”

“Because Coraline may be able to give you something for your nerves.” She leaned in and kissed him lightly on the lips. “I haven’t seen you like this since the first time.”

“First time what?”

Annie rolled her eyes. “Your first race on the A Team.” She wrapped her arm around his and led him towards the Atrium. “You need some relaxation.”

Kerry released a long, sad sigh. “I guess.” He looked ahead to the Great Hall’s open entry area and exhaled loudly one more. “It’s this weather. May’s almost here and it’s still so wet and gray.”

During the time since her solo flight Annie noticed a slow change that had begun nearly a week before. April has turned out chilly, rainy, and overcast, more so than the year before, and most of the students appeared ready for sunshine and warmer days. She wondered if Kerry perhaps suffered from one of those disorders where, if they don’t get enough bright light, they become depressed. “It’ll be hot soon enough, my love. And then you can feel better.” She nodded towards the staircase. “Why don’t we head down into the lower levels? It’s better than being in the cold and gloom.”

 

This is the first indication where someone wonders if perhaps Kerry might have–issues.  Given his home life and some of the crap he’s grown up with, it wouldn’t be unusual for him to suffer from depression–and all the gray and gloom that the school has seen of late would go a ways towards triggering that.  And while Coraline could fix him up with something that would calm him right down, there’s no way in hell Kerry would take something before heading on to the track.

Annie has something else in mind:

 

“At least it’s well lit down there.” He chuckled and gave her a peck on the cheek. “Lead on, Darling.”

They headed down the stairs into the lower levels of the Great Hall and found their way to the access tunnels leading to The Chunnel. Along the way they passed a few students coming from the south Pentagram covers—Blodeuwedd and Ceridwen—who were on their way to the dining hall, the library, or one of the various Saturday morning activities held by students throughout the day.

They were in the Pentagram Wall tunnel and nearing the cut-off passage to the Chunnel when Kerry finally spoke. “I’m worried about the race.”

Annie pressed lightly against his arm. “Why?”

“For one, it’s the last of the season. For another, I have to be down there at noon for a special preflight briefing.” He glanced at Annie out of the corner of his eyes. “Emphases on special.”

“Oh, that—” She nodded to the tunnel opening about a dozen meters ahead. “Let’s wait until were there and I’ll tell you.”

The Chunnel was fairly deserted: Annie spotted a couple of students walking towards them, maybe thirty meters distant, but the rest of the wide, well-lit tunnel was deserted. She tugged Kerry to her left, towards the south. “We can find some privacy down this way.”

Kerry’s mind was already focused on something particular. “If we want to be back in time for lunch we won’t be able to get to our hidey-hole.”

“I know that.” She winked. “Doesn’t mean there aren’t other areas besides out private universe.”

 

The kids have made their way into the tunnels more than a few times this novel, and now we see them heading downward once more.

That little Y in the upper left hand corner is where my kids are--you'll see them if you look hard enough.

Remember these?  You should.

The big rectangle at the bottom is the Great Hall, and the long tunnel in the middle of the picture is The Chunnel, which means that one tunnel that juts out at an angle from the Great Hall to The Chunnel is the cut-off Annie took.  The three squares near the middle represent the science centers, and the big rectangle in the middle is the Aerodrome.  The tiny rectangle in the upper right is the Flight School, in case you were wondering.

The interesting thing here is Kerry instantly thinking they’re off to their underground hiding place, aka their “secret universe”.  Hummm . . . what are you thinking about, young man?  Don’t answer that.

But Annie does have one answer for him–

 

He nodded. “What did you want to tell me?”

“About your meeting at noon.” She gripped his hand tight and slowly swung their arms back and forth as they slowed their pace. “You have several people in a tight race for the top podium positions, and three covens in a tight race for the team podium positions. I imagine that this meeting is meant to let everyone know there’ll be a lot of eyes on the course today.” Annie smiled as she turned to look at Kerry. “Papa’s been in a few meeting like this: it’s fairly common.”

Kerry didn’t seem comforted by this revelation, however. “I figured it was, it’s just—”

“Shush.” She stopped them before the entrance to a dimly lit passage. “Down here.”

Kerry followed docilely—given that Annie had a tight grip on his hand there was little else he could do—and they stopped perhaps ten meters off the off the Chunnel. He looked around. “How many of these old storage tunnels are there?”

“I told you before, dozens.” Annie slid Kerry against the wall. “I’m not here to talk about tunnels, though. Are you worried about someone in particular today?”

There were a few moments of silence before he signed. “Yeah.”

“Who?”

 

With whom is Kerry concerned?

 

“Lisa.” The strain in his face melted away as he relaxed. “She’s been pissed at me ever since I did that squeeze job on her a few weeks back—”

“You did that because she was racing like a crazy person.” Annie remembered the moment from the first race in April, where Lisa tried to force her way between Kerry and the safety barrier enchantment in Observatory Bend and his action not only stopped her, but Race Control gave her a ten second throttle back because of dangerous racing. “I think she’s gonna try an get even today—and I don’t mean with a squeeze job of her own.”

Annie didn’t require clarification. “You feel she’ll try to wreck you.”

“I think it’s likely.”

“So let her try.” Annie’s smile brightened her face. “If you’re already aware that she may try this, that means you’re ready.”

“I know. It’s just I really don’t need this BS today.”

“No one does.” She leaned against the same wall as Kerry, watching him closely. “This isn’t something you’ve worried about before, my love. What’s actually bothering you?”

 

Because you know there’s something else on Kerry’s mind–and pretty sure you know what it is . . .

 

He tossed his head to the side. “Another month and we’re out of here.”

Separation anxiety: I should have known. “Summer holiday is several weeks away: don’t let it bother what you need to do today, Darling.”

Kerry appeared almost ashamed to admit to this apprehension. “Everything coming up—revealing I’m witch; the possible transition; being away from you—I’m having trouble not thinking about this stuff.”

Annie knew it was time to reveal her own apprehensions. “I feel it, too, my love. Even though the only concern that affects me directly is being away from you, I worry about what may happen with those other things.” She placed her finger against the middle of his chest and traced over the enchanted monitor she knew was there. “To say I don’t have my own concerns over these things would be a lie.”

He caressed her cheek while looking down. “I’m sorry that you—”

She playfully slapped his arm, but her tone told him that she wasn’t entirely pleased with his comment. “You have no control over any of those things: never apologize for something that is not your fault.” Annie gave him a stare full of warning. “Don’t make me remind you again.”

Kerry finally found the ability to giggle. “Okay, I won’t.” He kissed her lightly. “Sometimes I forget the one person with whom I shouldn’t trifle is my Dark Witch.”

Annie laughed. “I’m glad you’ve learned your lesson.” She kissed him back with a touch more affection. “And now I want you to remember something else.”

“What’s that?”

“That you’ve never let a race rattle you this season, and now is not the time to break that string. Run your own race as you have before, and ignore what the others are doing.” Annie wrapped her arms around Kerry and pressed herself against him. “No matter the outcome today, you are always my champion.”

 

The last race of the season, concern about what may happen on the course, and major anxiety about this coming summer.  Needless to say Kerry’s a bit of a mess, and as Annie says he needs to get his head in the game and run his race.  Put all the other bullshit behind you, kid, ’cause you’ve done it before, so you best do it again.

And you’re about to learn one of Kerry’s concerns aren’t his alone–

Humans, Season 1, Episode 4: Sex, Lies, and Mysterious Synths

Rachel Tsoumbakos

Episode 4.Niska (Emily Berrington)

We’re at the half-way point of Humans, and things are finally starting to gel together in a way that’s bringing the separate threads together. But in order to get to that point where things feel like they’re gelling, we gotta suffer through some extremely awkward interactions—as well as answering the old questions, “What does man really want?”

Before we get to the Hawkins Family—who are still adjusting to Anita in their own ways—we get to the other threads:

First, there’s Pete, Mrs. Pete, and Simon. Pete is checking up with Karen, and he wants to look at the case files on the synth murder, which Karen is letting him know is verboten. This puts him in a bad mood, which means he’s gonna have words with his wife, Jill, and splits for a while. When he comes back Jill is giving him the bum rush out the door, and Pete…

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Humans, Season 1, Episode 2: Deep in the Motherboard

Rachel Tsoumbakos

Welcome once more to the recap of the show Humans. Notice I didn’t say “review”, because it seems the Stannis Baratheons of the Internet will correct your grammar when they’re not preoccupied by the act of burning their daughters at the stake and make you get it right. So recap it is! Shall we?

Let’s start with Hobb, who still has Fred and is doing what he can to get into his “brain”. They find a memory: Anita swimming underwater. It’s not a great leap that this go back to her flashback, which means to deal with saving a small child from a submerged car—there you go, Will Smith. These are the robots you’re looking for.

Sergeant Pete has a moment where he’s helping his not-able-to-walk wife to the loo, and he’s not that great at being a caregiver: he’s getting old and he’s not as strong as ‘ol…

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To There and Back Again

For once I was recharged and ready to go yesterday.  I mean, I was tired after work, but only because it was as long, boring day, and I wanted to get home bad.  But there were things to do:  a paper to edit (okay, I wasn’t really into that one), a novel to write, and a intro to the television reviews I’m going to do.  I got in there and did them.  Did them hard.  Got the paper out of the way, wrote up almost nine hundred words on my intro, then turned around and added another six hundred and sixty four words to the novel.  Really, I tried making it to sixty-six, but it didn’t happen.  Maybe next time.

Another goal was reached as well:  seventy thousand words passed.  And this time in twelve days instead of fifteen.  I had to make up for lost time, right?

It only seems like six weeks ago this had just become a novel.

It only seems like six weeks ago this had just become a novel.

The rate at which I’m working leads me to believe I’ll finish Act One in a couple of weeks–probably during the time when I’m back home in Indiana.  If this is true, then the first act will end up somewhere between eighty and eighty-five thousand words, and the other two acts, if the same size, will pull the novel in at a quarter of a million words.  Though that can change, because I believe Act Three might just end up a little bigger than the others.

Doesn’t matter.  At least I can release this book as one book, and not as a multi-volume encyclopedia.  It’s easier to read that way.

And what about those six hundred words?  Well, they’re right down here, and it’s a bit of a continuation for Annie . . .

 

(All excerpts from The Foundation Chronicles, Book Two: B For Bewitching, copyright 2015 by Cassidy Frazee)

Annie remembered the first time Kerry and she walked into the Dining Hall with their flight gear on and their brooms in hand—the first Saturday after the first week of classes. She’d visited Deanna in Memory’s End while Kerry was with Vicky getting checked out on an Espinoza. He later met her as she was walking back to The Pentagram and convinced her to fly around the school grounds with him.

Mid-way through their day they buzzed the Great Hall, landed in the garden, and went inside for lunch. Though Kerry didn’t seem to notice, Annie was keenly aware that at least a third of the students in the hall watched them as they walked to their then always-reserved table, set down their brooms, then unzipped their flight jackets as they sat and waited to order.

Since then they’d done the same thing many times, including twice in the last month since returning to school. Only as they entered the Dining Hall this time, Annie felt something different. It was akin to the buzz she noticed the first time the walked in like this, as if they were once more drawing attention to themselves by simply looking different.

It’s entirely possible people know something about me and my training. Most of the B Levels were aware that she was spending time with Isis in the Aerodrome, and that Kerry had been with her the first time, and today. She figured there were rumors floating about, but so far nothing had reached her ears. Whenever anyone asked either of them what she or they were doing, the answer was always the same: flying. Not that we’re misleading anyone with that answer . . .

Kerry held her seat and waited for her to get comfortable before taking the seat to her right. “You still hungry?”

“More now.” Annie unzipped her jacket, shrugged it off, and hung it on the back of her seat. “Particularly after that second flight.”

“Yeah.” Kerry retrieved the short lunch menu in the center of their table. “I wasn’t expecting a quick trip to Ipswich after getting back to the Aerodrome.”

Annie hadn’t either. Upon returning to the school they landed inside the Aerodrome—entering through the same roof entrance Annie had used the week before—and spent about twenty minutes discussing the flight. After going over a few minor issues, Isis told Kerry to saddle up once more, and motioned for Annie to follow her into the open air beyond the Aerodrome.

The moment they were outside they flew up to five hundred meters and struck out on a westerly course. They flew on a direct course for ten kilometers to the train station at Ipswich, paused there for about five minutes so everyone could get their bearings, then covered a fast five kilometers to the Crane Estate at Castle Hill. They touched down in the gardens far away from the mansion, walked around for about thirty minutes, then returned directly to the school. Isis pushed Annie on this last leg, getting her speed up to near one hundred and twenty kilometers and hour, a third more than the sixty and seventy kilometers and hour they’d flown on the first flight.

 

That route was easy to figure out–

Because you know I did.

Because you know I did.

And though not stated above, it was nearly thirty-two kilometers, or twenty miles, right on the dot.  An interesting thing here is the Castle Hill/Crane Estate area.  If you’ve seen The Witches of Eastwick or Flowers in the Attic, you’ve seen the house:  it was the estate used in both movies.  You can also do a wedding there if you have the money.

Or, if you're Annie, Kerry, and Isis, fly in and see the place from this angle.

Or, if you’re Annie, Kerry, and Isis, fly in and see the place from this angle.

Who know, there might be something important about this house–like, owned by The Foundation, or something?  Or maybe someone in the novel will get married there–

Let me see:  are there any couples in this story?

Humans: Intro to the Parallel Present of Synths.

Here’s my first guess post over on Author Rachel Tsoumbakos’ blog.  I’ll be over there for the next sixteen weeks doing reviews of two televisions shows.  Don’t worry:  I’m not going anywhere from here.  You don’t get rid of me that easy.

Here’s my intro to the AMC shows Humans.

Seven Wondering

It’s still dark outside, so no crows to welcome me as I entered Panera for my morning soufflé and coffee.  It’ll brighten in time, but for now–darkness everywhere.  Which is really sort of how I like it, strangely enough.

Wrote some last night, then watched First Men in the Moon and The Time Machine, because I cranked out a thousand words that left me crying part way through, and not because it was the most horrifying stuff I’ve ever penned, but because it was sad, and it left me sad.  So it was on to TV, and though I tried mightily, I couldn’t make out the Woody Woodpecker laugh during The Time Machine, even though I know it’s there.  This is likely due in part to being half asleep at the time, and the sound for the movie was, in a word, crap.  But if you watch the movie, any time the Eloi are taking it easy–which is most of the time–listen for Woody.

Last night I was asked if I plot out my stories, if I have an outline of where everything is headed before I start down this road of madness.  The answer is in the affirmative, because that’s how I roll.  I’m a little like Asimov–and I do mean little–in that I need to know my ending before I start writing, for one of the Good Doctor’s bits of sage advice was you need to know what lay at the end of your trip before you can start.  So I follow said advice.  (The other writing advice I follow comes from Harlan Ellison, who said that before he could write a story he needed the title of the story, and that you have to sit and write every day.  I do follow those words as well.)

This is why I’m able to do an outline for my story, because I know where I’m going, and where I’m starting.  Everything is in the meta, so I see the words on the cards and something in my head clicks.  Sometimes that click says, “What the hell did I mean here?”, but most of the time I know what I meant, and I get to meaning.

Herein lay Madness.

Herein lay Madness.

One of the conversation I had with friends, writers and non-writers alike, concerned the ending of American Horror Story: Coven on Wednesday night.  Many of my fellow Coven Followers–or is that Horror Followers?  Is there a name for us crazy people?–were, to say–what is the word . . . okay, take it away, CumberKhan–

Disapointed

I’ve seen all sorts of people saying they expected there to be some kind of video game Big Boss Battle at the end, but really, that was impossible?  Why?  Because the logic of the show wouldn’t have allowed it.  And while the writer’s logic may have been inspired by meth smoking monkeys flinging feces while listening to Aphex Twin catalog played backwards on a loop, there is some logic there.  And that logic said, “You get the Supreme we want, not the Supreme you want.  Balenciaga!”

Why did this happen?  Who know?  Maybe the cast got drunk one night and started throwing darts at the Plot Board so they could put their own ending together.  Maybe Tim Minear was distracted by the three hundred fans who text daily begging him to kidnap Joss and bring back Firefly, which could become a major plot point in Season Four of American Horror Story: Atom Bomb Fashion Crazies.  Maybe there wasn’t any money to pay the staff writers to come up with something that made sense because the budget was blown on shawl twirls.

"We have to stop; we just laid off the AD--"  "I give zero shits:  Twirl!"

“We have to stop; we just laid off the AD–” “I give zero shits.  Twirl!”

In television it isn’t unusual for a show to start off without having a single idea where it’s going.  24?  They blew up Los Angeles and then pretty much forgot all about it two episodes later, which is two hours show time.  Battlestar Galactica?  The Cylon’s plan was “Duh, okay, we got some hidden Cylons, what do we do next?”  Twin Peaks?  The bad guy came about because the set director for the show blew a shot, and boom!  He’s the demon causing all the misery, lets work from there, boys.  Lost?  No, really?  Ha ha, you ‘re serious, right?  Planned?  Ah, hahahahahahaha.

There were a few shows that were planed out from start to finish.  Babylon 5 is probably the best known of these, which was planed to run five years, no more, and ended up uneven because first there wasn’t going to be a fifth season, so adjustments were made, then there was, so adjustments were made again.  There were a few other issues with actors (Michael O’Hare’s mental illness being major among them, which required a major restructuring of the story), but as with the Good Doctor, J. Michael Straczynski knew the end before starting at the beginning.  Supernatural was originally suppose to run for three seasons, then the story was expanded to five seasons, at which point everything was tied up–save for the money that was coming into the CW faster than the execs could count it, so on it runs on beyond the end.

Television is a tough beast to write.  It’s high pressure and unforgiving, and if you’re working with a staff of writers, each with their own style, who are expected to go by the bible for the show and come up with something that’s going to fit within whatever passes for a coherent story arc, you are gonna have your hits and misses.  Sometimes the best thing to do is set one word pimp down and have them crank out the vision so it doesn’t stray.  Tim Minear did this for a big part of Angel, and Straczynski–starting with Season 2, Episode 18, Confessions and Lamentations, Michael wrote every script until Season 5, Episode 7, Secrets of the Soul.  This was back when they were producing twenty-two episodes a season, so if  you’re doing the math that’s fifty-six episodes in a row.  The next episode was Day of the Dead, written by Neil Gaiman, and then Micheal finished out the run by writing the last fourteen episodes.

And I’m going to point out here that the series finale, Sleeping in Light, was filmed during the fourth season, when it was thought the show was ending, because Sleeping in Light was always meant as the finale. And one of the episodes penned during the marathon run, A View From the Gallery, was based upon a story by Harlan Ellison.  Episode 20 of Season 5, Objects in Motion, was also based upon an Ellison story.

Now, I’m not writing for television:  I’m working on novels–in this case a big novel.  But I’ve ideas for this, and for a couple of other novels, that extend beyond this single story, and that means I need to know the end for some of the people in my stories.  For my unpublished novel Transporting I’ve plotted out a few hundred years of history; for Her Demonic Majesty, I know what happens to all the main characters over about a twenty year period of time.  And as I’ve pointed out, I know where Annie and Kerry started, I know how they live, and I know how they die.  If I ever get around to writing everything about them, there will come an end, and that’s it, story over, let’s go on to the next story.

I’m not saying that everyone should work out their stories in the sort of nutty detail that I live for.  I’m sure someday someone will read one of my stories and mutter, “Man, did that ending suck!  Bitch ran outta ideas–“, and I’m cool with that.  You aren’t going to please everyone with your work–but you do need to please yourself.  And if you’re happy with how your stories come to their conclusions, that’s all that matters.

And if you’re not, ring up the next batch of meth head monkeys and their nutty logic.

‘Cause we can always use a little of that now and then.

The World Beneath the Water

Lets roll out the new from last night, first.  It was “I’m Off Night,” last night, because after dinner and a little shopping I had zero creative energy to sit and do anything.  I knew what I wanted to write, but after a good hour of looking at the story, I finally said, “I think I’ll just sit and relax,” and did that until I started falling asleep at ten PM.  It’s not a bad thing:  sometimes you need to recharge your batteries, and if that means a night off, then take it.  I don’t have anything to do today, so it’s a good time to make up for last night’s lost time.

So what I’m going to talk about today is something completely different, and in the process of this discussion I’m going to bring up some things about a rather well known television show about zombies where no one ever says the word zombie.  There will be times when I’m gonna go all Ms. Spoilly McSpoil, so if you don’t want to read something that’s going to cause you to shake your fist at your computer screen while you scream, “Curse you, Cassie!” through clenched teeth, then read a book, listen to music, or watch some good movies–TCM will show Bonnie and Clyde, Jaws, and Alien back-to-back tonight, so you might want to keep that block open.

I have given warning–you know–

Or is that, "Don't Dead, Open Inside"?  Maybe I should check . . .

Or is that Don’t Dead, Open Inside? Maybe I should check . . .

There’s a meme that’s been rolling around Facebook of late, one that doesn’t actually involve some kid getting picked up for a DUI in Miami.  No, this is a picture of a huge iceberg, floating peacefully along while waiting for a ship to smack into it.  As you know an iceberg is pretty much under the water, a huge thing you never see, which is probably good because you’d likely get hypothermia swimming around trying to get a look-see.

The part above the water–the small part–is labeled “Movie”, while the part below the waterline is labeled “Novel”.  You know what they’re trying to say:  the parts you see in a movie are only a small part of the story that’s adapted from a novel–if, of course, the movie is adapted from a novel, and it’s not an original tale.

But this is often true.  One could point to any of the biggest movies of late–the Harry Potter films, the Lord of the Rings, the Hunger Games–had to leave out a lot of the story to get the tale up on the screen.  For some tales you need to do a four or five hour flick if you want to get everything on the screen–or do as was done with The Godfather, which took the early life of Vito Corleone and worked it up as a flash back around original material.  And in doing this, they still left out a lot of the story.  (Maybe due to threats of a lawsuit by a certain Italian-American singer and actor who’d won an Oscar who didn’t like a character in the novel who was Italian-American singer and actor who ended up winning an Oscar, all with a little help from his godfather.  Purely a coincidence, I’m sure.)

When you translate a novel to television, however, you are allowed a little more leeway, because you have, if you’re lucky, more time to develop your story.  Rich Man, Poor Man was a good example of the early television mini-series, where you could take your time moving as much of the story from the page to the screen, and stay true to the material.  Yes, some things don’t get translated well–maybe due to things that are going on inside a person’s head, or, depending on the times, there are things in the story that violate a network’s “standards and practices,” which is a fancy way of saying you’ll never get a particular scene past the censors.

This is pretty much alleviated by the advent of premium cable these days, where one can pretty much get away with showing so much that the joke has  become, “It’s not porn, it’s HBO.”  Yes, there are some things that HBO won’t show–in A Song of Ice and Fire our lovable Mother of Dragons was more like I’m Just Barely a Teen Mommy of Dragons, so she was aged up just a little for Game of Thrones.  And by “just a little,” I mean she could have appeared on 16 and Pregnant–with DRAGONS!  Which is a reality show I’d watch . . .

Basic cable has gotten into the act as well.  Breaking Bad was a true gem of drama, with a story and characters that was at both times compelling and revolting.  This was, however, an original show, and the story could develop as slowly and fully as the creator/producer liked.  And that brings us to the real iceberg of this tale, The Walking Dead.

"I don't speak with an English accent.  I'm from Kentucky; no one from the South speaks with an English accent."

“I don’t speak with an English accent. I’m from Kentucky; no one from the South speaks with an English accent.”

At the moment the AMC show is three-and-a-half seasons into a four season run, with a fifth promised.  It’s done very well in ratings and has a loyal, sometimes fanatical following, but that’s to be expected with any fandom.  The show follows this guy, Sheriff Rick Grimes, who wakes up from a gun shot-induced coma and discovers that, no, he’s not in Indiana, he’s in the middle of the Zombie Apocalypsetm, his family is missing, and everything he’s known has gone straight to hell.  In the process of the first episodes he finds his family, a group of survivors, and most of all his best-I-left-you-for-dead-and-I’m-bangin’-your-wife-friend and former partner from the force, Shane.

The show has followed the meta plot pretty closely:  they find Atlanta messed up, they find  Hershel’s Farm, they find The Prison, they find The Governor, they fight The Governor, they lose the Prison, and as of right now they’re On The Road looked for each other and safe harbor.  Since it’s been stated they run into the traveling trio of Abraham Ford, Rosita Espinosa, and mullet-sporting Eugene Porter, the metaplot will have them heading northward to the Alexandra Safe-Zone, where life won’t exactly become any easier for them.

I’ve only watched the show off and on throughout the years.  I usually haven’t had the time to watch the show, though these days I find there is more time in The Burg for relaxing, so I have watched episodes off and on.  I’ve also been an off-and-on fan of the comic, which has run since October, 2003, and is now up to Issue 120, with a confirmation of printing through Issue 132.

In terms of iceberging, this story is the perfect iceberg.  There is so much that has been set by the wayside in order to get the story on the screen.  About half of the Prison story was removed, for example, which could have been an entire season in of itself–instead of, say, a whole season of hanging out on The Farm.  That season could have seen Hershel losing two of his kids to his zombie kid in the barn, Tyreese’s daughter and boyfriend messing up their suicide pack, the beheading of Hershel’s twin daughters by crazy prisoners, Tyreese giving Rick a beatdown and throwing him off a second-story walkway, Carol deciding to do Death By Walker–

Wait, what?

Like I said, there were a lot changed to move the story from the comic to the small screen.  For one, they got rid of a few characters:  Hershel had a huge family, and he pretty much gets to watch six of them die almost right before his eyes–the last one, his son Billy, does when he takes a bullet to the head during the Woodbury assault on the prison. There are a few prisoners who make it as far at the Woodbury assault but no further, and one of two Woodbury defectors also meet their end at that point as well.  Dale–he of the famous show’s Dale Face–survives well beyond the Woodbury assault, only to be eaten by cannibals while on the road to Washington, D.C..  He is also the one who loses a leg, but since Dale was long-gone by the time of the show’s Prison Time, that leg bite went to Hershel.

Oh, and the Show Rick swears a lot less than that Comic Rick, but that’s because It’s Not HBO, It’s AMC, and while the show may be able to get away with a “shit” and “asshole” now and then, having Rick throw out the word “fucker” every so often wouldn’t go over well, and tell Michonne and Tyreese that the Woodbury folks “have fucked with the wrong people!” is pretty much HBO fodder.  And there’s a few sex scenes, because even when you’re surrounded by the undead, there’s always a moment for sexy time, right?

"This is my resting bitchy face.  I'm really not as bad as I'm made out."

“This is my resting bitchy face. I’m really not as bad as I’m made out.”

And then there is Lori.

If there is a part of this ‘Berg I find way the hell off, it’s the way a few of the women are portrayed.  In the original story, Lori is concerned, she’s protective of her family, she admits to having had sex once with Shane but no more, she makes it through Judith’s birth, becomes a protective mother–and then dies in about as gruesome a manner as one can imagine.  If it’s any consolation, her death–and the death of another–leads to the death of The Governor, but by that time Lori’s a Walker in Training and gives no shits.

The Show Lori, however . . . when your character is made out as the worst thing in a world full of undead looking to eat you and your loved ones twenty-four/seven, three hundred and sixty-five days a year, until the day you join the shambling herd, there is something seriously off.  By the end of Season Two most viewers, given the choice of having their face gnawed off by a hungry Walker, or having Lori ask them if they saw Carl in the house, would say, “Hey, Walker:  you want a side salad with my face?”  No way was she ever getting Mother of the Year awards, and given the narrowness of that field in the story, it’s a pretty damning indictment for her character.

The same thing was done with Andrea.  On the show she was something of an annoying pain in the ass who got separated from the group, was rescued by Michonne, went to Woodbury, hooked up with The Gov, waffled back and forth with the, “Is he good, is he psycho?  I can’t kill him, the sex was pretty good,” line, and ultimately ended up dead due to her own kind of stupid.

"No, I never shot a redneck by accident.  If I shoot him, he ain't gettin' up!"

“No, I never shot a redneck by accident. If I shoot him, he ain’t gettin’ up!”

This is more the way she really was:  kicking ass and forgetting the names as soon as they were dispatched.  And that scar on her face?  That’s from taking a rifle shot to the head, which sort of kinda put her out of action just a little in the final Woodbury assault.  But, in the comic story, Andrea’s still alive, still kicking ass, and pretty much Rick’s girlfriend at this point.  A lot of her personality in the original story got ported over to Carol, who, on the show, you learned not to be near if you had a bad cough.

I can understand some of the changes that were made:  it’s basic cable, you only have so many episodes in a season that can air, you wanna cut through as much of the Peyton Place stuff as possible and stick to the action, and you never know how long your actors can stay with you, so sometimes you kill off ones where they shouldn’t die, and keep around those who should have died because they’re good for the story, which is to say fans like them, and fans equal viewer, so go with that.

That, ultimately, is why you have the iceberg when you translate a story to a screen.  Reading is one thing, the visual medium another, and a lot of the people doing the viewing aren’t necessary going to be doing the reading.  There are a few exceptions to the rule–Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings instantly spring to mind, as well as a few superhero movies based upon other comics–but in the case of TV, it does seem that you have a lot more people who watch the story, and are surprised as hell when one tells them that what they’re watching was based upon a book, or in the case of TWD, a comic.

It’s an interesting thing to look at from the point of being a writer.  I’ve seen more than a few Facebook threads that go, “If your story is made into a movie, who do you want to play your characters?”  A better question may be, “If your story is made into a movie or television show, what would you be okay with getting changed or dropped?”  After all, your story would end up someone else’s iceberg.

And there’s so much water in which to hide.