Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Meow Mix, Meow Mix, please deliver

Messing with your mind: Victorian Christmas cards

The Victorians had kind of an odd sense of what was festive. Large jellyfish suspended in mid-air seemed like an unusual choice. Not sure what the child (dressed very strangely) is doing. Or is he/she perhaps underwater?

Now, here is the true Spirit of Christmas: a child taking a savage beating from Father Christmas. Or maybe this is our good friend Belsnickel! Didn't he used to tie kids to trees?

The Victorians loved anthro - anthropo -anthropomor - oh screw it, birds that looked like people. To me, this is remeniscent of Hieronymus Bosch and his bird-headed demons in Hell, but at least these guys are decently dressed.

Cards with dead birds on them. These just kept showing up. I don't think you'd send a card like this now, except maybe to a cat.

This looks kind of like a human dung beetle. I hope he doesn't have to go to the bathroom any time soon.

For some reason this reminds me of Terry Gilliam.

Merry Molluscs to All! And a loaded New Year.

This one is handsome, if oddly Satanic. Maybe it's the hornlike ears.

Frogs! Frogs everywhere, falling on their backs, murdering each other, marching in frog bands.

It seems that terrified children have always been part of the Yuletide scene. We've covered this in a previous post: Belsnickel and his terrifying sidekick, Krampus, but I really think this is a little extreme for Christmas. And why is he driving a car?

Now this is my favorite. It would make me scream out loud! I am not sure how this (and it looks a bit like a coaster for a drink) would convey The Compliments of the Season, but it must have, or nobody would have sent it.

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I can't BELIEVE I used to watch this. . .

Does humiliation ever have an end? I used to watch this show slavishly, loved it, in fact, even while I had a sneaking feeling it was the worst dreck I'd ever seen. And now I know! My kids were teenagers then and made horrible fun of it, calling it "Buddy and the Buh". I've tried to watch bits of the thousand or so episodes that are now posted on YouTube, but I can't. Something always stops me. (Good sense? Sanity? Taste?) I do remember, for it was on Friday night, which is a magical time already (is it not?), drinking a gallon of peach cider and weeping because Real Life Should Be Like This, and isn't. I'd get pretty soused and pretty self-pitying. I no longer drink, at all, because I've since come to realize it plays crazy-eights with my brain (all that Irish DNA, no doubt). And I don't think I'd watch a show like this, of which even the introduction is smarmier than smarmy. But in a cringeworthy sort of way, and as a big chunk of Gorgonzola-like nostalgia, it's almost a little bit fun.

At the end of Season 2, ratings were beginning to slip. Even the most ardent 70-year-old woman was beginning to find the show too predictable. Also, I think people came to realize that Ron Perlman wasn't the handsome hunk they assumed he was (which see, below).

So. . . in a bold ratings grab, the producers decided to have Katherine and Vincent finally Come Together. This had a Thorn Birds effect and drove the final nail into the Nielsen coffin. (The Big Bang Theory recently did the same by having Amy and Sheldon have "coitus". The idea so sickens me that I haven't even watched the episode on my DVR.) From this point on, BATB plummeted in more than just ratings. Unresolved sexual tension between Katherine and Vincent (who had an awfully low libido for a beast) was the only thing holding the whole preposterous mess together. But this montage from the "sex scene" is the most ludicrous moment of all, accompanied by someone singing a syrupy version of the theme music.

Does any of this have anything to do with sex? You tell me. Sliding your hands together in slo-mo, then pulling them apart again, must be symbolic of Something Else. At least Rachel Ward and Richard Chamberlain (who is resolutely gay) got to run along the beach in The Thorn Birds before collapsing into bed. I do wonder how that whole rose-blooming/ball of flame stuff would play now, almost 30 years later: to me, it's kind of like that famous Monty Python montage with the collapsing tower.

Ay-ay-ay! The entire show self-destructs in one scene. Katherine then has Vincent's fuzzy little baby, which predictably gets lost in the dense labyrinth. Whether "above" or "below", I don't know or care. Then she is killed off and the show has to limp along without her. Linda Hamilton, following the trend of many an actor in a successful series, wanted out of her contract, certain her career would explode without it - followed by the inevitable return to obscurity and deep-dish unemployment.

This commentary by Christopher L. Bennett kind of sums the whole thing up:

Anyway, the second season ended with a cliffhanger where Vincent was lost in his rage and Catherine went in to try to help him, and in the third season premiere, that “help” evidently consists of the physical intimacy the show aggressively avoided until now. Although the avoidance is still intact, because their “love scene” is in the form of a hilariously cheesy video montage of blooming roses and explosions and hands clasping, with the song version of the main title theme playing over it. This cheesy montage has two effects: One, it gets Catherine pregnant, and two, it breaks their empathic bond so that Vincent can’t find her and save her when Gabriel abducts her (before she can tell Vincent about the child). But Gabriel learns of Vincent and wants to possess his child, keeping Catherine alive until she delivers and then killing her, with Vincent just too late to save her. The show remains intensely euphemistic about sex even in her dying words to Vincent: “We loved. There is a child.” Christopher L. Bennett

So Katherine had to TELL him they had done the nasty. Good grief: didn't Vincent even remember his one opportunity to make the beast? This show was even sadder than I remember.

P. S. TOTALLY looks like Will Ferrell's uglier brother.

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