Monday, 28 February 2011

Which Blade?

A while ago I got a large compendium of Witchblade, seeing good value for money (and an extremely heavy weight to hold while reading!). However, I had a hard time following the story, and a harder time telling two significant characters apart (one a cop, the other a bad guy, drawn the same). [And vol 2 now ordered!]

I was also aware of, and watched to catch up with some time, the Witchblade TV Series, and have now just finished season one (of two). I don't know how much of the story was dumbed down for the viewing American audience, but I certainly appreciated the easier bite-sized plot chunks.

However, it is, in many ways, still just as confusing. Deliberately confusing too, it seems, like the comic. The Witchblade is a mystical artifact that ends up on the arm of Sara Pezzini through a monumentally stupid coincidence, and proceeds to screw up her life. At many moments, Sara can tap into the Witchblade to see beyond the natural and to call upon the blade to help defend and/or kill people. There are lots of (extremely badly composed) shots swapping between normal Pez and Pez in armour, showing that she's a knight, and she's reincarnated through the ages and... lots of other surreal directorial techniques to demonstrate weirdness that just confuses the audience. (Just look at the episode titles to see how pretentious the series is.)

[Interestingly, the series was broadcast mid-2001, and the pilot/first episode is dated '10th September, 2001'. And some of the later establishing shots feature the twin towers. I'm sure the producers were later doing the 'nervous collar tug'...]

There are two sets of bad guys, dirty cops (the mundane threat) and Kenneth Irons, who wants to Witchblade for himself, although the Witchblade can only be possessed by women. The show actually kills people, but then in the last episode... bah! Every episode we get a little bit more of the puzzle, and have to say that the arc over the first season is paced well.

The lead is Yancy Butler, who was... (sod it, insert your own 'drug use' euphemism here), which might explain why every shot of her is with her looking as if she's about to break out sobbing. Yes, the character had problems, but the one expression was all she gave in any situation! (Recently, she was on The Mentalist, and... bam! there's that expression again!) It's rather off-putting to wonder if crying is the response we should expect in every scene.

Anthony Cistaro nearly steals every scene, but he gets given all the "I know everything, you know nothing" moments so the script is on his side there. The rest of the main cast were distinctly cast, so I had a lot easier time tracking who was who.

Aside from the 'spooky' moments, this series is moderately watchable. Onto season two, and I might try to dig out vol 1 of the comic again...


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