Monday, November 18, 2013

Star Wars as Comedy: That 70's Show & Friends

KATE SAYS everybody does the scrolled words!

That 70's Show is one of those shows that I enjoy but don't watch that often. However, I happen to adore Kurtwood Smith and consider Debra Jo Rupp one of the funniest comediennes on television. Interestingly enough, she shows up in our other sitcom as Phoebe's sister-in-law.

Subsequently, my favorite episodes from That 70's Show highlight the dad and mom characters. And Smith makes an awesome Obi Wan Kenobi. In general, I think the "adults" on the show far funnier than the "kids" though Topher Grace does make a good, believable Luke.

Regarding Friends . . . well, Mike will have to speak to the Princess Leia fantasy. In general, I like Friends' episodes that highlight Monica and Chandler far more than I like episodes that highlight Rachel and Ross. This episode happens to fall in the season where Ross and Rachel eventually break up (for the first time) because of their ridiculous, infantile personalities. So it's kind of hard to watch.

Which doesn't mean I didn't enjoy it; Friends is so well-written, it is hard not to enjoy. And the episode did send me back to Return of the Jedi for possibly the first time in about 20 years.

And . . . I decided that although Return of the Jedi is better by far than Lucas's prequels (the story is at least a narrative about individuals rather than a badly-written "political" drama), I still hate the Ewoks. Even as a teen, I found the idea of winning a war with teddy bears absolutely ridiculous. As an adult, let me tell you, wooden spears and Tarzan ropes will NOT win against armor and freaking big guns. It just don't happen.

Outside their relationship to Star Wars, however, both sitcoms hit a nerve/raise an issue with me: the idea that sci-fi is ONLY the province of geeky males. I suppose this is true enough to make it sitcom fodder (even on Big Bang Theory, for shame). But since I'm a fan of such writers as Connie Willis, C.J. Cherryh, and Diana Wynne Jones, I get tired of the assumption that women are NEVER interested in sci-fi.

And yet . . . having written the above, I have to admit, I prefer my sci-fi people-oriented to machine-oriented (although I still consider Iron Man one of the best of the Marvel movies). And I completely support the idea that woman/male interests are not merely due to social conditioning; brain-wiring, hormones/physical development are also factors.

On the other other hand, rather than argue that men are from Mars and women are from Venus, I agree with those who contend that men are from North Dakota and women are from South Dakota. Or, at least, North Vulcan and South Vulcan.

MIKE SAYS this post is so late, I probably shouldn't comment on it. I could go on explaining a whole lot of stuff, or, I could apologize, so, I'm sorry!

The Friends episode took me back;  the Ross/Rachel relationship was the talk of the hallways in school, and the whole will they/won't they thing was the stuff of legend. After watching the episode, I'm not sure what surprised me more: how much I remembered of what was going on, or just how much they crammed into one episode!  Each character, with the exception of Phoebe, had their own little arc, though the Leia fantasy was little more than a running gag.  Star Wars in general wasn't really mentioned.

 As far as the Princess Leia fantasy goes, well, to be honest, my first viewing of this episode back in the 90's may have been the first time it ever occurred to me to think of Leia or the golden bikini in that way.  And in the years since, well, Carrie Fisher isn't really my type.  As such, I can't really speak to the whole gold bikini fantasy other than this:  For most guys my age, Leia was the first character we saw in such a state of undress, and well, she kicked some serious butt in the meantime. So it's easy to see how that might be the first real fantasy of a lot of guys... though I think it'd take a pretty adventurous and non-judgmental woman to fulfill that for them.

That 70's Show has become a favorite in my house in the last few months.  Not only is it witty, fun, and nostalgic, but it's great to see how some ideas, worries, and dumb decisions really are timeless.  The episode about Star Wars strikes me on numerous levels.... like the shoe string budget of the dream sequence.  The cool thing is that I actually owned the remote control light saber that Eric uses in the sequence (which was a model of The Return of the Jedi saber).

Between the two episodes, Star Wars fuels fantasies that affect how we see the world, which is really what fiction and film is all about.  The whole point is that we might be able to see our lives in more exciting way, and see news ways of facing our fears.  Star Wars is one of the best ways to do this, especially for those whose lives aren't nearly as... fulfilling.

The best advice that I gleaned from these episodes may be this:  If you ever fantasize about being a character in Star Wars, it may be better for everyone if you keep it to yourself.

1 comment:

Kate Woodbury said...

Mike's comment about lightsabers reminded me:

One Christmas when I was very young, I requested a lightsaber from Santa. I got a legitimiate product, but it was really just a flashlight with a long plastic tube. I was super-disappointed. I had actually expected my parents to get me a REAL lightsaber . . .

Because parents always buy their kids "toys" that can slice off arms, legs, and heads.

Go figure.

But such was the effect of Star Wars on my youth.