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Erin Rewatches: Enterprise s4, plus wrap-up thoughts April 19, 2017

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Had very little to say about most of this season. But it did have four really good episodes, so there’s that! And there’s a full How Much Of The Show To Watch guide at the end of the post.

I might post a T’Pol Appreciation Watching Guide later. With screencaps.

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Erin Watches: Enterprise season 3 April 15, 2017

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Still watching, still liveblogging.

As of this posting I’m a little way into s4, and it has some eps I’d recommend, but part of my prediction was right: you could reasonably skip this entire season, minus “Twilight.”

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Erin Watches: Star Trek Enterprise, season 2 April 2, 2017

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Second verse, same as the first! Which means lots of good episodes, some fun aliens and wibbly space things, a running theme of the writers being extremely straight dudes, T’Pol being consistently amazing, and the T’Pol-Archer friendship getting ever stronger via the magic of good writing and character development.

The first episode concludes with Archer showing up in T’Pol’s quarters, to thank her for defending them to the Vulcan High Command. They’re BOTH in pajamas. Not even in a sexual-tension way, just a “we have such a level of mutual comfort and respect that we can have a chat in our jammies without any self-consicousness about our professional relationship” way.

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Multifandom Recommendations, 3/29/17 March 29, 2017

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Sailor Moon | Minako, Setsuna | G | Operation FMD
http://archiveofourown.org/works/3629322

Setsuna’s been single for a long time, and Minako just wants to help out. Setsuna and Minako friendship.
The Hobbit | Bard/Thranduil | T | The latest dream I ever dreamed on the cold hill’s side
http://archiveofourown.org/works/3177055

“I like the idea of Thranduil courting Bard, like a lot. But I imagine being old as dirt, the sass king’s idea of flirting has been out of style for centuries.”
Homestuck | Roxy/Calliope | M | big mating party
http://archiveofourown.org/works/716081

TG: callie callie callie
TG: i WILL be satisfied
TG: no matter what!
Hellsing | Integra/Alucard | M | Rules and Restrictions
http://archiveofourown.org/works/10460643

Integra Fairbrook Wingates Hellsing shares an intimate moment with her vampire. If only it were intimate enough…
Hellsing | Heinkel/Yumiko | G | Proposal
http://archiveofourown.org/works/9660665

Yumiko makes an observation.
Hellsing | Alucard/Integra | M | Naptime
http://archiveofourown.org/works/9494999

Integra Fairbrook Wingates Hellsing rarely took naps, but when she did, she preferred the couch in the main drawing room instead of the bed. Reason being that if an emergency required her—which happened often, much to her annoyance—she could immediately be ready for action and retaliation. Plus, this room had an enormous fireplace and she loved to read by firelight before slipping off into slumber.
Hellsing | Heinkel/Yumiko | G | Home
http://archiveofourown.org/works/9914174

Heinkel and Yumiko stay at the orphanage, prompting Heinkel to think of their relationship.
Phineas and Ferb | Perry/Doof | M | Teil das Bett mit mir (das ich nicht so frier)
http://archiveofourown.org/works/9712931

Doofenshmirtz is transformed into a stunningly handsome platypus and Perry can’t resist taking him home.
DCU | Clark/Lois, Bruce/Lois | M | Third Wheel
http://archiveofourown.org/works/6918955/chapters/15784000

It isn’t quite a love triangle. For one thing, Clark’s the only one romantic enough to even think the word ‘love’. For another, Clark and Bruce would be beating the holy hell out of each other even without Lois’ involvement. And if Lois was aware of the secrets they were keeping, she’d be beating the holy hell out of the both of them. Overall, Bruce’s visit to Metropolis has been a mixed bag for everyone involved.
DCU | Bruce, Diana, Clark, the Kents | T | Christmas in Kansas
http://archiveofourown.org/works/6663184/chapters/15238855

Clark Kent invites Bruce Wayne and Diana of Themyscira to his parents’ house for Christmas. It goes, in general, pretty okay.
Batman | Bruce, Tim Drake, other Robins | G | Anti-Social
http://archiveofourown.org/works/8019937/chapters/18361021

Batman needs a Robin. (trans!Tim, told in texts/tweets)
Don’t Trust the B—- | Chloe/June | M | Don’t Trust The Oui
http://archiveofourown.org/works/5680069

“Wait, you’re saying you want to use our fake marriage to pick people up?”
Don’t Trust the B—- | Chloe/June, Ellen Page | T | ‘Til You Make It
http://archiveofourown.org/works/9615839

“I ran into Ellen Page yesterday in a Duane Reade condiments aisle,” Chloe says. “Gave her this long sob story about my girlfriend and her tragic medical condition that makes her eyes really big and forces her to wear ugly sweaters, and she invited me to her birthday party.”
Puella Magi Madoka Magica, House | Wilson, Madoka, House | G | Drops of Jupiter
http://archiveofourown.org/works/10460379/

Of all the medical mysteries he’s dealt with, the mystery of the girl with pink hair and gold eyes who appears in the hospital on two separate occasions right before a patient dies might be the toughest one yet, or three times Dr. James Wilson meets with Madoka Kaname.
Sailor Moon | Prof. Tomoe, ensemble | T | Forgotten
https://www.fanfiction.net/s/43661/1/Forgotten

Whatever happened to Souichi Tomoe after Setsuna/SailorPluto took Hotaru away at the beginning of SailorStars?
Good Omens | Horsepersons | G | Repeal and Replace
http://go-exchange.livejournal.com/204326.html

When one of the Four Horsepersons of the Apocalypse decides to retire early, the other three find it difficult to accept, and are a little miffed at having their fortnightly brunch-drinks-and-trivia-games disrupted by the weird newcomer.
Good Omens | Aziraphale/Crowley, Horsepersons, humans | PG | Apocaparty
http://go-exchange.livejournal.com/201321.html

Five years have passed since the Earth’s Close Call, and Adam is hosting a party to catch up with everyone. Everyone involved was invited…well, almost everyone….When the Horsepersons gatecrash, things get a bit messy.
Jeeves & Wooster | Jeeves/Bertie | M | A Little Light Reading
http://archiveofourown.org/works/8504365/chapters/19489498

Jeeves has an unfortunate accident which leaves him bedbound . . . and unable to read to himself. Bertie, as always, comes to the aid of the party.
Harry Potter | Harry, Dumbledore | PG | A Little Behind the Times
http://www.fictionalley.org/authors/akissinacrisis/ALBTT01.html

A foray back in time to retrieve a Horcrux means that Harry has an unexpected encounter with someone he didn’t intend on seeing. Suddenly, Hermione’s rules about not meddling with the past become a lot harder to keep.
Sailor Moon | OCs | G | Negaverse Plumbing
http://saintseiyafan.com/stayka/dkhome/eliddell/elid-div/dko-plum.html

Anyway, it *really* all started at the Negaverse immigration offices.
Sailor Moon | Mimete, team | G | Mimete Steps Out!
http://www.oocities.org/tokyo/courtyard/3008/counterclockwork.htm

A Counterclockwork Orange, being the story of a day in the life of a professional agent of pure otherworldly evil and her complete and utter lack of interpersonal skills.

Erin Listens: the Magic Tavern and other podcasts March 28, 2017

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Hello From The Magic Tavern just got so intense. There was an epic battle in episode 100…then a bunch of interludes, including one from the Cowboy Dimension that had me dying of muffled laughter at work…and now it’s officially designated Season 2, and, yowza.

If you’re not already listening (and if you’re not allergic to shows with a whole lot of butt jokes), you should start.

***

Deep into the backlog of Love and Justice. It’s kind of…uplifting?…to hear about how much they love Crystal. Like, I can listen to them gush about the things that were emotionally affecting, and don’t have to see the actual animation, so I can imagine they’re podcasting from an alternate dimension where it didn’t make me sad.

They’re too hard on the ’92 anime — by which I mean, they complain about things it objectively can’t help. Of course the first season doesn’t have much sense of “shared past” between the senshi and the Dark Kingdom. The animators didn’t know about it! Naoko hadn’t written it yet!

On the other hand, I regularly feel like Sailor Business (which I’m all caught up with now) is too easy on the ’92 anime. So it kinda balances out nicely.

***

I’m listening to both of those at 1.2x speed, because the hosts tend to meander. Same with Yo, Is This Racist? — it’s just too slow otherwise.

…also, it talks a lot about the awfulness of current politics. I kinda have to psych myself up before listening. And/or say something like “once I get through one of these, I’ll reward myself with the next Magic Tavern episode.”

More-polished and better-edited regulars on my MP3 player: the Savage Lovecast, and The West Wing Weekly. Those get played at regular speed. Both make references to the political awfulness — it’s an inherent side effect of their premises — but in measured and relatively-contained doses.

***

Still listening to Illusionoid, and Kakos Industries, although I stopped saving the episodes afterward. Neither one is so absorbing that I’d want to do a re-listen.

…in fact, the only series on this list where I’m holding onto the episodes is Magic Tavern. Did a re-listen just a few months ago, in preparation for Yuletide fic. It’s highly re-listenable.

Related, a couple anons on FFA were talking about Republic of Heaven Community Radio, and one mentioned the weaknesses in book 2. I stepped in with this:

Honestly, I’d go back and give it a full-body rewrite if canon hadn’t been such a painful kick in the teeth.

I can see the soft spots, can feel when the pacing sputters, I know there are ways it could have more consistency and stronger throughlines. I just…don’t have the stomach to go near it.

That’s not an empty promise — anyone who knew me from fake-news fandom might remember that I did a full-body rewrite on a longfic there. But, yeah. Not in the cards, not this time.

Erin Rewatches: Star Trek: Enterprise (season 1) March 22, 2017

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I’m rewatching Enterprise for the first time since its original run. Have some liveblogged reactions.

T’Pol was my first One True Character — followed very shortly by Integra Hellsing, who I discovered about a year later — and T’Pol/Archer may have been the first ship I had serious Feelings about. (There are other pairings, like Dorothy/Ozma or anything in Sailor Moon, where I was already familiar with the characters by then, but didn’t start actively shipping them until later.) So this is a pretty big milestone in Personal Fandom History.

(Content note: talks about the canon mindrape, and other sexual skeeviness.)

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In which I have a lot of thoughts about Michiru March 7, 2017

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All caught up with the Sailor Business podcast. They get better about doing research as it goes on! Plus, by now they have a large-enough listener base that a lot of solid, deep information is being called/sent in. Good stuff. Very listenable.

Followed a rec from one of their episodes to the Love and Justice podcast, where the shtick is that they compare plots across all the different versions. Starting with the Crystal episodes.

I did wince when they got to Ami’s introduction, and were confused that the manga was “more modern” than the ’92 anime, because she uses a CD instead of a floppy. Guys, your whole thing is comparing different versions, and you don’t realize the manga had two different releases? (Well, three at this point, but the uber-high-quality edition hasn’t been released stateside.) The version used for the Kodansha translations has a whole lot of updated art, most of which involves fixing wonky figures and adding more details, some of which involves the Dark Kingdom tech getting an upgrade.

Again, it’s still early episodes, and fun enough that I’m sticking with it. Hopefully someone eventually clues them in.

***

I ended up writing a long thing to Sailor Business, because they’ve been really doing a disservice to Michiru’s character. And apparently I have a lot more Feelings about her than I realized.

Context: They just passed the two-parter where Usagi is a daimon target. Before Uranus and Neptune arrive on-scene, Michiru asks Haruka if she’s really okay with the possibility of that cute girl being sacrificed. Haruka, stoically, insists that she’s fine. They gotta do what they gotta do.

…So our hosts keep saying Michiru is “passive” or “go along to get along.” Because Haruka is the more overtly loud and confrontational one…and that means Michiru is just following her lead, taking cues from her.

But now they’ve seen Michiru’s episode with Ami — she didn’t waver or wait for direction, she went straight for the jugular. And that’s a microcosm of how she’s approaching the whole quest: do something ruthless and cruel in the short term (pulling no punches with Ami/killing the Talisman holders) for the sake of a greater good in the long term (making Ami stronger/saving the world).

There’s an old butch-femme trope/cliche, that femmes are “steel wrapped in velvet,” and that’s Michiru. On the surface she’s all soft graceful feminine hobbies, but underneath she’s perfectly capable of knifing you in your sleep.

The flip side of the trope is that butches are “velvet wrapped in steel,” i.e. Haruka has a tough exterior but is a marshmallow underneath. Which lines right up with the podcast’s favorite relationship trope — “which of these people is the dog, and which is the cat?” Haruka is the dog! She barks really loud, but she’s a sucker for belly rubs. She yells a lot about how they have to kill the Talisman holders, to cover the fact that she’s the one who wrestles with it most in private.

Michiru handles the idea much better. Michiru is the cat who will knock all your stuff onto the floor, and look you in the eye while she’s doing it, with zero remorse. Michiru is the senshi who would win Most Likely To Become A Supervillain — not from brainwashing/hypnosis, we already know who’s most likely to go through that, but based on her own personality and for her own reasons.

So when Michiru asks Haruka if she’s okay with killing that cute innocent Usagi to save the world, there are two things going on here.

First is basically a supervillainy spot-check. Michiru knows it makes sense to her to kill a few people for the Greater Good, but is that really the moral strategy, or just the most coldly efficient one? Well, Haruka wouldn’t be capable of doing this for the sake of cold efficiency alone. So Michiru can reliably calibrate her moral compass by Haruka.

The second angle is Michiru being a concerned girlfriend. What if they get the Talismans and save the world, but afterward Haruka can’t handle the guilt? What if she has lifelong nightmares about Usagi’s death?

We don’t see what would have happened if Haruka had broken down and said “no, I’m sorry, this is too much, I can’t go through with it.” So different viewers can have different interpretations. My guess is that Michiru would say “it’s okay, sweetie, you don’t have to, we’ll find another way”…and then send Haruka home and go to Tokyo Tower on her own, making herself solely responsible for whatever happens to any Talisman-holders who show up.

Because sacrificing three lives for the sake of the world is one thing, but making Haruka feel bad about herself? That’s a bridge too far.

So, yeah, ruthless…but also, to be fair, a teenage girl in a traumatic situation. Part of the way she’s handling it is by telling herself, “look, I know I’m not a Good Person. A good person wouldn’t be this resigned to murdering three innocent people. But at least I can protect Haruka’s soul from being crushed along the way. I still get to draw the line somewhere, and I choose here.”

It takes another level in heart-rending when (and wow, I am looking forward to these episodes) you find out that Haruka got into the senshi game for Michiru. She told Haruka not to do it — trying to protect her, although at that point it was in an impersonal, “nobody should have to deal with this stress” way — and maybe Haruka would’ve listened, except then Sailor Neptune got in a monster fight she was going to lose without Sailor Uranus as backup.

So on some level Michiru is trying to atone for not being strong enough to keep this cute girl out of the fight.

 

…and you know, this makes it all the more satisfying when we get to that one SuperS special. A minor antagonist claims he has world-destroying powers, but Uranus and Neptune aren’t intimidated by that threat anymore. And Neptune cheerfully leans into her ruthlessness — she’s 100% bluffing, but she’s very good. Terrifies the pants off the guy. She has the power to simultaneously be a Big Damn Hero and out-villain the villains.

(Would you believe it, when I was a teenager, Michiru was the senshi I was least interested in? No, really. Even accounting for the context of her relationship with Haruka, who is probably my team-wide fave, I was not expecting to have this many Michiru feelings. But someone was Wrong On The Internet, and bam, here we are.)

Erin Watches: Home, Season 2, the thrilling conclusion March 3, 2017

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Wow, the back half of this season is loaded with gender stuff.

So many references to specific Boov characters being not-male-or-female! Sharzod being a boyboygirl keeps getting referenced. A giant greenish-teal Boov we’ve seen a couple times, Traffic Cone Larry, is identified as a boyboyboyboy. Krunkle’s gender still isn’t specified, but when they reappear in 10B, Tip congratulates them with “You go, girl!” — and then remembers, and self-corrects: “Or whatever gender you are.”

Episode 9A is Sharzod-centric. Pronouns (in Boov-to-English translation) confirmed as “himhimher.” (When the writers remember, at least. In 10A, Kyle use both “heheshe” and “she” two minutes apart.)

…btw, Larry thinks Tip’s pronouns are “it.” Although that was a Boov-only conversation, meaning he could’ve been using a Boov pronoun for Things Without Genders. I bet there are a lot of traditional Boov who think only magnificent genders “count.”

The Seven Magnificent Boov Genders appear to be a septinary system, so I dither about how to frame all this in human terms. Trans readers, what would you go with? All these are technically canon nonbinary characters, but not necessarily trans characters, because it’s easy for Boov to be nonbinary-cis.

Still! Just going by what’s confirmed so far, it’s cool.

And Krunkle’s ambiguity leaves the door open for them to be non-septinary trans, which, uh, might be my new headcanon. (Oh did say Krunkle’s gender is “the rarest”….)

Sidebar: Sharzod has been gendering Tip as a boy (did we know this already?), not like an insult or anything, but like a sincere belief. The joke plays as Wacky Misunderstanding via Clashing Cultural Gender Norms…until Sharzod makes a statue of Tip (for important plot reasons) and the statue is not “Tip’s normal appearance, which Sharzod perceives as male.” It’s “Rule 63 Tip.” It was sculpted with masculine-by-human-standards features that the actual Tip does not have.

The Doylist explanation is that the writers were poking fun at Tip not performing her gender to Earth-US-human standards, and didn’t consider that this makes no sense coming from a septinary-gendered alien. I…may have to write a fixit for that.

And finally: episode 8A opens with a game, where Oh is playing a human woman (we know “human” because of the balloons stuffed in his dress) and Tip is playing as a Boov gender (“I bet you say that to all the boyboygirls”).

It’s not something the show is likely to go anywhere with, but I could get kinda attached to a nonbinary!Tip headcanon. I’ve talked before about wanting fic that explores how the human trans community interacts with the seven magnificent Boov genders…wasn’t thinking of Tip specifically coming to identify with one of them, but now? Bring on the boyboygirl!Tip.

In non-gender observations….

There’s a “we bought a pet without reading the fine print, and it turned into Little Shop of Horrors” storyline in 8B. It’s executed really well for something so tropey…but one of the tropes it invokes is a Mysterious Old Blind Chinese Salesman stereotype. No, show! Bad! They’re aliens, you don’t have to racialize them at all, and you definitely don’t have to do it for things like this.

Two separate incidents of humans crashing their cars, nearly injuring Boov, because they were watching cat videos on their phones. Is that a thing now?

Along with the episodes that focus on Sharzod and Krunkle, there’s a Kyle-centric film-noir parody, and a Smek-centric quest for friendship in which he gets a whole song. Solid material for fans of everyone in the beta cast.

Episode 13A reveals that the Boov have invented hammerspace. Tip runs around stuffing random things into Oh’s “cloud storage,” starting with the junk in her room and escalating all the way to a shuttered building.

It’s all very Homura. (Until she breaks hammmerspace, anyway.) Who wants to write me that crossover?

Disappointed in 13B. The theme is one we’ve seen before — Oh going through some alien life change (meeting “the one”, getting the flu, etc) that threatens to displace his friendship with Tip — so obviously at the end of the episode it turns out nothing changed. Not that you can’t repeat themes, and a fresh twist on this one would’ve been a worthy season finale…but instead Oh is going through “booverty,” and they blow the whole thing on icky puberty jokes.

Overall: happy with season 2! Would mostly rewatch. Especially the one with DieAnne.

Burns & Allen Transcript: Gracie Adopts Mickey Rooney (1949-05-19) February 26, 2017

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The year is 1949. The Republicans are the left-wing party; Hialeah Park is doing a booming horse-racing business; and Mickey Rooney is best known as the adorable fresh-faced star of the Andy Hardy movies.

Also, Gracie Allen is Tumblr. This adult male actor is her son now. She adopted him, he is her child, sorry folks but she doesn’t make the rules.

Download the episode here, and read the transcript below.
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Home: Adventures with Tip & Oh s2 is out! February 11, 2017

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I’m torn between wanting to binge the whole season overnight, and wanting to savor it one episode at a time. At this point I’m halfway through.

The good: References to book continuity. References to season 1. DieAnne is back! The Tip-Oh friendship is strong as ever, shattering some egregious tropes along the way. Lots of good lines, and the occasional bursting into song.

The bad: Some wince-worthy gender politics. Lots of bodily-function jokes. I can’t tell if there have been more in general this season, or if I just blanked the last round from memory. In specific, all of episode s04B is an extended fart joke. Was that necessary, show?

Any reference to the seven glorious Boov genders is catnip to me, and episode 01A gets right to it: Boy Boy Girl Band, featuring a singer named Boy Boy George.

“Their Boov hearts are breaking from disappointment!” “That’s a THING?!” “Yes! It totally is.”

In other noncishetero news, Oh gets a crush on a human boy in 02A (in the process of trying to flirt on Tip’s behalf). The boy doesn’t return it, and is pretty weirded out, but it feels like that’s because Oh is an alien — there’s no reference to gender being the weird part. I mean, very likely they kept it vague for the sake of plausible deniability, but. The lack of no-homo’ing is nice.

Oh’s impression of Tip with a crush: “I am going through human puberty emotions!”

When it turns out the boy only likes Tip because she’s cute, she gets a great outburst: “Cute is an accident! Personality is hard!”

I think the animators have gotten bored with drawing the standard Boov shape all the time. They’re going really wild with exaggerated body shapes, nostricle styles, and random colors and features.

Time loop in 02B! With bonus rips in the fabric of spacetime, temporarily fixed with duct tape.

Okay, background: the original novel has a sequel, in which Tip sneaks off to visit the Boov colony on a moon of Jupiter, and Oh struggles to invent a time machine which can retcon all his mistakes from the Gorg invasion. Here, there’s a time machine, but it doesn’t reference anything else in the books — Oh whips it up overnight when Tip has a bad day.

Lovely continuity with s1 in 03A. PomPom the pageant contestant reappears, as does the magnificent DieAnne from the Angerdome, with more muscles than ever. Tip becomes DieAnne’s peace mentor! It’s a tough job! DieAnne still tries to solve everything with punching! This is 100% going to be Jasper in a few seasons of Steven Universe, you watch.

Bodyswapping in 03B, with an impressively solid plot reason why it takes ages for people to notice that a cat brain is in Tip’s body. And then it plunges into horrifying chimera territory when the cat starts talking. Not okay!

More book-references in 05B, which features a group of Boov-hating preteen boys. Softened from the original, though. Instead of being an angry resistance in an underground hideout because the Boov invaded their planet and kidnapped their families, this is far post-invasion, and they’re mad because a Boov broke one kid’s bike.

Okay, you know the trope where a villain tries to sabotage a friendship by telling the people lies about each other, and it drives a wedge between them for long-term angst, even though the whole plan would fall apart if the friends just had a five-minute conversation about what was going on?

The boys try that on Tip and Oh. And it fails miserably, because they always talk to each other, and sort out the problem within like thirty seconds. This is great.

“Slushious is kind. She would never use baby ducks for evil!”

Slushious gets an AI voice in 07B. Cool! …It’s a female voice, and it exists for the sake of a plot about her becoming murderously jealous of Tip’s friendship with Oh. Less cool.

So it has a couple episodes that are incredibly skippable, but the good bits are excellent, and I’m excited to binge and/or savor the rest of the season.