04 November 2007

Paranormal Marathons and the Future of Television

DVR is the greatest thing since sliced bread. In fact, it goes Modern Medicine, Harnessing Electricity, DVR, Sliced Bread, and Everything Else. While dealing with illness, deadlines, and the rest of life, my DVR stacked up five weeks worth of Supernatural and Blood Ties for my weekend viewing pleasure. Yay. Now where I love to catch my favorite shows every week rather than go longer between fixes, there is something supremely satisfying about a good preternatural marathon.

Following the adventures of Sam and Dean on Supernatural as they battle the forces of hell on earth, well, it makes my job seem rather relaxing in comparison. The show has everything you could want in a good urban fantasy; preternatural beasties, handsome heroes, sex, violence, and a frantic deadline as Dean’s deal with a crossroads demon bears down on them and his one year to live winds down. Add in an ever-expanding gray area of what exactly is good and evil and--who is on what side--and you have the makings of a wonderful series exploring the human condition through inhuman characters and situations. All while providing lovely eye-candy in the form of the Winchester Brothers and the inhuman hotties they track down on a regular basis.

The Lifetime series Blood Ties is another orgy of otherness that is a personal fave and one I’m oh-so-happy to have caught up on. Here we have another exploration of what it means to be human as seen through the non-human lens of vampire Henry Fitzroy and the supernatural forces he and human private detective Vicky Nelson track down each week to bring to justice. But the monster-of-the-week isn’t the most compelling thing about Blood Ties for this watcher. This, as the fact it’s on Lifetime might give away, is a show about relationships above all else.

Vicky has a past relationship with her former partner on the police force, Mike Celluci. The on-again/off-again relationship is given long term distance when Vicky quits the force due to her degenerating eyesight. The two are brought back together when her new enterprise as a private detective takes the sudden supernatural twist of a demon seriel killing in the city. Just as they rejoin one another’s lives, Henry enters Vicky’s life as the only one willing to believe what’s going on because he himself is part of the preternatural community of things that go bump in the night.

The attraction between Henry and Vicky is obvious from the beginning, as is the fact that Mike wants what he and Vicky once had, along with what they never quite achieved. It leaves Vicky caught between two men and her own fear of commitment. Watching her try to have both without committing to either is worth the price of admission alone. Meanwhile, Henry and Mike develop a begrudging respect over time and the mental dance between the three of them makes for the best scenes in the series in my opinion.

Shows like Blood Ties give me hope for the future of urban fantasy and paranormal romance on television. It’s a story we’ve seen a thousand times yet placed in a paranormal setting that makes it new again. Its success could open the doors even wider for new and varied shows proving there really is something for everyone if studios are merely willing to take the chance. (And it doesn’t hurt that the better UF/PR does on television, the more likely we are to find viewers seeking books while their shows are on hiatus and that means more readers for us. But really, it’s the future of television I’m looking out for, honest.)

With more and more shows deviating from the mainstream each season, and more finding their audiences each fall and summer, I think we’re at the tipping point of taking over the airwaves the way UF and PR are taking over the bookshelves. I know that the statistics say we have fewer people reading, but the shows out now are shaping the imagination of future readers and I can’t help but think that there’s a middle ground between the watchers and the readers that will soon be hit upon. It’s a great time to be paranormal and there are great shows displaying the value of what we love for all to see.

Okay, back to soaking up a few episodes before heading out for the vampire shift at work.

Paranormal Marathon Ramble Done

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