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August 2nd, 2007

TV's HIdden Components

I was watching some episodes of the Second Season of Dark Angel about a week ago when something struck me. While Jessica Alba, Michael Weatherly, and Jensen Ackles (YES! YES! *ahem*) are very good actors, it was still obvious as I watched why this season was its last.

A successful show has to have multiple components that jive and end becoming more when brought together. Also add in a little luck, a decent time slot (so it can be discovered), and hopefully minimal executive meddling.

Components going into the show would be the actors, the special effects crew, the filming crew, the support staff, the creator, the music (one ignored a lot), and the writers. If any one or two of these components have issues or don't mesh well with the others, what is filmed can turn out adequate or sub par, even if the other pieces are outstanding.

Of all these, probably the most critical are the actors and the writers. You can have the best actors in the world, but if the story bites, they won't be able to carry it. Inversely, you can have the greatest story ever, but if the actors can't bring it to life, it will come across as stale and boring.

Yet it seems like fans forget that shows are more than just the faces they see on the screen. That the very success of the series they love so much, is dependent on more than just those they can physically see.

Let's take Dark Angel's second season as an example of what can go wrong. The main character, Max, escapes Manticore and tries to go back to the life she had before the final showdown in season one. Unbeknown to her, she has been infected with a DNA specific virus which will attack Eyes Only when she comes into physical contact with him. She does, and he almost dies. Since they are the love couple of the show, this throws in a nice angsty dynamic for the writers to play with. Introduced into this season are Alec, another bio-engineered warrior like Max, whose morals tend to play on the loose side of life, and Joshua, one of the first successful DNA cross experiments.

While Jessica and Michael do very well with the brooding and downhearted expressions as they search fruitlessly for a cure for the virus, and Alec throws in some spice just by his general quirkiness and sex appeal, the stories that their efforts are put into, do not live up to the talents being evidenced. Several new side characters come across as caricatures rather than people to be taken seriously as threats, and tend to suck away from the show rather than add to it. The Halloween episode looks to have been intended to be comedic, but falls pretty much flat - in a society such as the one they live in, the comedic element takes away rather than adds. Then throw in some convenient hackneyed plots so we get the bio-engineered freak of the week, and no matter how much talent oozes from the main actors, nothing can save this. Which was a total pity, as the world, most of the character, the angst venues, and several plot threads had a lot of potential.

Luckily there are a lot of shows, Sci-fi and other, that do end up getting all the right ingredients together to where they sing to the audience. Firefly was one (doomed by those execs! Stay out of things!!!). The writing was crisp, the actors awesome, and there was a rapport between them and those they worked with on set that came through every episode. Boston Legal is much the same, and they take you from the ludicrous to dead weeping serious. Supernatural has top notch actors, incredibly sneaky and evil writers who beneath a monster of the week venue weave threads for season long plots almost to where you do not see them until the bigger plot hits, very good special effects, and one added thing this show does squeeze out to awesome effect is the music! 80's rock thrown in for effect and topic, giving an added layer of depth to the stories, something you just don't see much of in TV land.

Gloria Oliver
Unveiling the Fantastic

Gloria Oliver
Unveiling the Fantastic



(2015) Fantasy

The King is Dead! Long Live the Undead King!

"What are you implying?"

The magister glided forward and scrunched down beside him.

"That in order to bathe, you must first actually get into the bath."


(2014) Urban Fantasy

It took everything from her, except revenge!

The muscles in my right arm jerked from tension as I tried to make it move and it resisted. A shrill scream inside my head insisted I didn't want to do this. That if I did, there'd be no way to take it back. "I...I'm afraid."


(2011) Young Adult – Fantasy

Which is worse…the monster without or within?


Home—family—the two things he would never have, the two things forever denied him…because of her.

Anger welled inside him, the heat of it suffusing him to the core, gurgling with seething emotions the total opposite of the coolness splashing down from the fountain nearby. Before he realized what he was doing, Jarrin stepped inside the gazebo.

(2007) Young Adult – Fantasy
“Harry Potter meets Dragon Riders of Pern”


“Do you need any help?” she asked. “Just tell me what you want me to do. If you prefer, I’m sure I can round up at least a few people to come over and give you a hand.”

Kel slowly shook his head. “It’s all right. Thanks anyway.” His voice lowered to where she almost couldn’t hear it. “This is all part of my punishment.’

She frowned, not understanding what he meant. “Punishment?”

Kel cocked his head in Clarence’s direction. In a flash, she understood. None of this was an accident. Clarence had landed there deliberately, hoping to make Kel pay for all he went through in the past month. She shook her head, not wanting to believe this, but what the dragon said next took any doubts right out of her head.

(2008) Young Adult – Fantasy
“To save the world she must DIE! Or must she?”


Panic and fear filled with utter helplessness made her dizzy. She knew what would be done with her, she knew what they planned. But there was nothing she could do to stop any of it.

Sharp gasps echoed in her ears as she felt the room’s cold air caress the Eye.

“You were right. She is the one.”

(2002) Adult/YA – Japanese Fantasy Adventure
“The Last Samurai meets Pirates of the Caribbean”


Laying the blade on the floor before him, Toshi parted his kimono until his stomach lay exposed. He tucked his sleeves beneath his legs to hold him upright if he should falter. Ignoring Asano, he took up the blade. His shoulder flared with pain and he tried not to flinch, as he grabbed the blade with both hands. He turned the wakizashi until its sharp point was aimed at his belly, the residence of his soul.

(2004) Adult/YA – Fantasy Mystery
“He tried to forget his past, but his past wouldn’t forget him”


Torren took a step back a sudden shudder racking through him. It was as if he’d never left, as if the boy he’d been would be coming back-though the one who’d loved this room and all these things was long, long dead. That boy died when he’d watched his father’s blood pour forth from his mouth, the end of a sword protruding from his abdomen. That boy died when he survived while everyone else lay dead.

Info, sample chapters, and free reads at www.gloriaoliver.com

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