Thursday, July 13, 2017

In Praise of Eve Baird

When I’ve mentioned The Librarians in other posts, people seem interested, but apparently have not seen this show. I want to share one good reason you should watch The Librarians. It is called Eve Baird.

Colonel Baird is The Guardian, which means she defends and even mentors Librarians. She is the reason I decided to watch this show. That’s cuz:

She’s a leader | Eve is an experienced NATO counter-terrorism agent; she leads missions and accomplishes goals like a boss.

She keeps her cool | Eve performs calmness admirably. This matters because unexpected magical things can be quite stressful, but she never lets the unexpected get in the way of solving problems.

She’s on the ball | Side note: Flynn is the Librarian, he has three movies telling his own stories, and he has more degrees than I have fingers. Yet from the moment Eve and Flynn meet, she can keep up with him, thinking fast, solving puzzles, and saving the day.

She’s encouraging | Eve may not be the cuddliest woman, but she notices her team’s emotional state, and she always gives them the words they need to hear in their most dire moments.

She stays real | Eve isn’t skeptical, per se, but she doesn’t accept the magical world as “normal.” She keeps one foot on the ground—a useful (and amusing!) tether for viewers.

She challenges the unknown | Facing magic is scary, often because the Librarians-in-Training don’t know what they’re up against until they’re up against it. Despite this, Eve takes everything in stride, and her systematic, organized line of thought provides order amid the mysteries.

She makes sacrifices | Part of being The Guardian means that Eve must be willing to sacrifice her own life for those she protects. Beyond the life-threatening events, though, she also sacrifices everything from her career to her privacy for her people.

She’s a builder | Amid magic that is fluid and unreal, Eve still finds a place to stand and create something. Her relationships, her successes, and her goals make her legacy as The Guardian an indelible thread in the lives of those who love her.

Did I mention she’s The Freaking Guardian?! | Eve is so cool! She fights things and tells people what to do and goes on a road trips with Santa and Moriarty and punches Morgan Le Fay in the face and jumps off buildings and everything! She’s amazing!

I love Eve, but Jenkins—one of the Library’s caretakers—is my favorite character. Jenkins can be prickly, but I also love the friendship he builds with Eve over the course of the series. He reminds Eve that she is neither a glorified bodyguard nor a perfunctory fixture at the Library. There’s a special reason the Library chose her, too, and Eve shouldn’t undervalue her own role in the cosmos. Which is about the nicest thing I can imagine a cantankerous guy like him saying. He’s adorable.

Have you seen The Librarians? What TV shows are you watching?

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Scooby-Doo, Why Do I Watch You?

I’m bringing up Scooby-Doo today, on account of I have watched eighteen Scooby-Doo movies since December 2016. It takes up enough of my time that I thought it worth reflecting on.

Here’s the big question: Why watch Scooby-Doo?

It’s a question I’ve asked myself many a time. In fact, if you ever have the misfortune to watch Scooby-Doo and the Reluctant Werewolf, you will probably spend the second half of the movie seriously contemplating a premature end to the whole affair.

Nonetheless, Scooby-Doo draws me. Here are a few reasons why.

It’s funny. This is probably the easiest way to get me to watch anything, whether it is Scooby-Doo, Fight Club, or Night Court. The recent Scooby-Doo films are playful and almost self-aware. Fred believes that everyone runs into as many monsters as the gang; it would be too much of a coincidence otherwise (Stage Fright). Shaggy justifies not packing for a week-long trip because they always wear the same clothes (Wrestlemania Mystery). Scooby-Doo is an old enough franchise that there is not just a pattern, but room to make fun of that pattern moving forward.

I can study change. Scooby-Doo has received several redesigns and new series. Each iteration brings something different to the table. The first season of The New Scooby and Scrappy-Doo Show cut Fred and Velma’s characters; now it’s rare to see the gang apart (Scrappy excepted). Most films end with a human culprit, but in others, the supernatural situations are real. In one series, the gang is in middle school (A Pup Named Scooby-Doo). In the late nineties, the humans are in their post-college lives. The interplay between fact, freedom, and friendship varies with every show. It’s fascinating.

Variety creates conflict. The different portrayals of Scooby-Doo also reflect different values. I mean, diversity has never been a big deal on Scooby-Doo, but sometimes they’re more willing to play with gender. Scooby and Shaggy are always cowards—never a really “masculine” trait—but they also confront their fears and save the day by dressing in drag to gain entrance to a party (Scooby-Doo and the Goblin King). In the films sponsored by WWE, though, Shaggy and Scooby tend to have an almost childish fascination with wrestling and racecars, which also results in a fascination with the more masculine moral and social codes that an organization like WWE might promote. Different films prioritize different character traits, and so it is interesting to see where characters diverge from the patterns—if they do at all!

I keep an irrational hope when I watch Scooby-Doo. It certainly has its problems, but I also see where they could surpass those issues. Maybe someday Daphne will not ditch Velma every time a wealthy, “empowered” woman comes along. I hope Velma receives well-rounded interests and more respect. I hope someone recognizes in the future that dinosaurs could literally not be encapsulated in quartz. Anything’s possible, I suppose.

At any rate, there’s enough humor and change to keep me interested. I hope there’s more to come.

My favorite Scooby-Doo films are Music of the Vampire, Big Top Scooby Doo, and Stage Fright. Have you watched any Scooby-Doo movies?