London Calling

Well, that went better than Halifax.

I’m not being facetious… well, maybe a bit, but the London reading did go quite well, even though we attracted fewer people than in Halifax, when it was just the Librarian, a old down-east couple, and an individual who came every week to these things and had his worldview somewhat shaken by the fact that we’d moved the chairs.

We arrived in London around 6:30 pm in a light rain, and discovered that the reading was at 7:30 and not 7, as we’d expected. This gave us time to have dinner at a local roadhouse in the assimilated village of Wortley. It’s an interesting old neighbourhood, that’s trying (and apparently succeeding) in maintaining its local character inside the London metropolis. Anyway, we walked back to the library (a building that’s bigger than it looks and contains some excellent stained glass windows) and were in the reading room at 7:30 with myself, Erin, the bookseller and the librarian.

No one else.

So, we sat and chatted a while, and when the librarian mentioned that her co-workers were poetry fans and a little jealous that she got to go down to the reading while they worked the front desk, we decided to leave the reading room, relocate ourselves behind the front desk, and start reading. We even collected one individual who had arrived late for the reading.

Everybody listened attentively; people in the library passed by and listened when they wanted to, Erin experimented with her repetoire, and in general there was just a good vibe. We made fans out of the attendees (and if you can convince booksellers and librarians to push your works, that’s a great help) and there is talk of bringing Erin back for a reading in the spring, along with a local poet who wanted to be there but unfortunately had to send her regrets.

The last scheduled reading for the year is Toronto, next Thursday at 6:30 pm (not 7 pm as previously mentioned) at Nicholas Hoare Books (45 Front Street East). Erin’s looking forward to it for, not only will it be a big party, but she can finally relax after having read in five provinces in four weeks. We’re both pretty tired and run off our feet, and are looking forward to December to sleep in and concentrate on the housework.

Angel this week was good, though not as good as Lineage. I do think they’ve finally run out of the stories that were commissioned before James Marsters was forced on the Angel production crew, because at last Spike was front and centre, mixing it up with Angel, and the season has turned in such a way that Spike is no longer looking like a fifth wheel.

There was something a little bit off about this story, however. I can’t fault the acting or the direction (the fight scenes between Angel and Spike were quite well done) but the dialogue wasn’t as crisp, and a lot of things happened and resolved themselves by authorial fiat. For instance, the whole thing about the fact that there are now two corporeal, heroic vampires with souls upsetting the balance of the universe is an intriguing premise, but it’s pulled out of a hat. When Gunn goes to the white room to talk to the big cat and instead sees a yawning abyss, it’s told in the third person. J. August Richards does a fantastic acting job conveying Gunn’s shock and horror, but it’s still distancing. The flashbacks to Spike’s first days as a vampire and his growing rivalry with Angel are well shot and well acted, but from a script point of view, they seem a little forced (and Darla’s absense, even if only for a cameo, is glaring). When the Senior Partners restore the balance temporarily, it’s more of a sign that the authors wanted to tip us into chaos and create as much action as possible in the short term, but did not know how to restore things in such a way that the threat could be maintained over the longer term.

The whole episode has the feel of a massive info dump, raising a lot of key questions that could be story gold in future episodes, but overwhelming the immediacy of the episode. Clearly, we are shown that other groups have their own agendas independent of Angel and the Senior Partners — that’s all very interesting, but it was a lot to take in and still appreciate the story.

This episode was still pretty good, and it was shot into the stratosphere with the final frames, which changes the whole character of the season in a way reminiscent of the best plot twists of Buffy Seasons 2 and 3. I won’t spoil it for you, but suffice it to say that my jaw dropped to the floor, especially after just seeing a few episodes of the Angel Season 2 DVD.

Erin points out that Angel and Spike used the “B” word a lot (by which I mean, “Buffy” — what did you think we meant?). It’s interesting because, save for the first episode of the season, we haven’t heard her name mentioned for almost two years. Buffy’s long shadow is starting to come back to haunt the show.

Sarah Michelle Gellar is expected to show up for a handful of episodes either in the February or May sweeps. Although the flashbacks to Drusilla (always welcome to see Juliet Landau, but could we please bring her back for a flashback free episode?) show that Angel and Spike’s rivalry was there from the get-go, Buffy is about to take that rivalry to a new level. The fight scene was well done, especially in the way that stray mentions of the other’s love/lust for Buffy took the other into a new level of ferocity.

It’s been called a love triangle, but it’s not really a love triangle. Buffy isn’t involved. She’s loved Angel, and she’s had a passionate affair with and now respects Spike, but she’s finished with both of them. She’s moved on. I would love to see Spike and Angel’s reaction should Buffy ever return and bring her slightly-gawky, very human boyfriend with her.

(Angel and Spike fighting)
Buffy: Guys? Guys? Guys! STOP FIGHTING! (Angel and Spike stop fighting) I’d like you to meet Danny? My new fiance?
(Still gripping each other’s throat, Angel and Spike look at Danny, a Jonathan clone with glasses. He smiles and waves. Angel and Spike look at each other)
Angel: I’ll grab his left leg, you grab his right.
Spike: We’ll make a wish!

But with Buffy or without Buffy, Angel and Spike’s rivalry comes down to the fact that Spike has always felt himself in Angel/us’ long shadow. He’s the younger brother clamouring for attention in the face of his older brother’s fame. They would have killed each other long ago, but Angelus had his soul forced upon him and went into hiding for a century. They’ve been on different sides of the war for most of Spike’s life as a vampire and even during Season 2, when Angelus came back, the strain between the two was a major force on the plot. The town really isn’t big enough for the both of them, and Joss Whedon has found himself a lot of dramatic potential to mine.

blog comments powered by Disqus