tried to eat the safe banana (thefourthvine) wrote,
tried to eat the safe banana

Fandoms I Have Loved 2: The Sentinel

The Sentinel was my first television fandom, so it was also the first fandom I entered without even the vaguest clue about the canon. I’ve learned a lot of helpful tricks for moving smoothly into unfamiliar territory, but I didn’t know them then, so I experienced some confusion at first. And when I say “some confusion,” I mean “an enormous amount.” I didn’t understand anything – for a while, I actually had (embarrassing confession time) The Sentinel and The Professionals mixed up.

I got that sorted after a while, but it made for some very interesting reading in the interim. Also some very interesting questions. ("Is Blair the ex-mercenary?" "What part of England is Cascade supposed to be in?" And so on. Looking back, it was a remarkably pathetic time.)

Even now, what I don’t know about The Sentinel could fill however many episodes of the show there are, but I know what I like – it’s the stuff that kept me reading through what I think of as my Profentinel Period. And what I like about this fandom is its devotion to humor, to mild angst, and to shorter fiction with resolved plotlines. I like the dialog in the best stories - funny, bantering, with distinct voices for Jim and Blair. I like that the guys are often allowed to act like guys instead of like, you know, teen-aged girls wearing too much eye makeup at the weekly meeting of the Drama Club.

Most of all, I like this fandom’s premise – I mean, really, what giggling cabal of slashers and gay men thought of this show? The whole heightened senses thing sounds like a perfect lead in to porn, and I won’t even talk about the roommate thing or the Guide/Sentinel thing or the touching thing. This show might not have been all that great – actually, many sources suggest it pretty well sucked – but you’ve got to admit it was god’s gift to slashers.

And it was god's gift to me. Or possibly the devil's. Whichever. TS introduced me to the wonderful world of TV FF and showed me that I could read there, paving the way for any number of future FIHL. And it was a much-needed respite from angst-a-thons, web pages with black backgrounds and wonky fonts, and Pretty Pony Boys in Chains, so it will always have a place in my heart.

-Helpful Links for the TS Newbie-

If you don’t know the canon, you can fake it with:

The Nightowl’s Nest: The Sentinel Resource Guide. The formatting can be a little weird on this site, but the information is useful. The character bios in the resource section are quite handy for those unfamiliar with the show. You might also find Canon or Fanon? interesting. Or just amusing.

Becky’s Sentinel Episode Guides. This may be the single most-useful site for the totally unSentineled. Becky summarizes each episode, some in detail, and she describes the show’s background, premise, and stars.

Becky’s Sentinel Episode Transcripts. Please note that I am not advising you to go read every episode. These are mostly useful if you’re trying to find a particular canon quote or event, or if you’re reading a story that is heavily based on a particular episode.

Where to start with Sentinel fan fiction:

I’d suggest starting with first-time stories, partly because they really are the baseline story of the fandom, and partly because other kinds of stories tend to get too far into things that confuse the non-canon reader. So here’s a collection of first times for first-timers. Plus some pre-slash, just ‘cause I love you.

Where I Started: Solitary Creatures, by Aristide. This was the very first TS story I ever read, back when I didn’t know the difference between Jim/Blair and Bodie/Doyle. (And if that’s not enough of a humiliating admission, how’s this: I thought, for the first couple pages of this story, that the Teenagers From Outer Space were actual canon characters. Under that name. As in, you know: Teenagers From Outer Space played by Mary-Kate and Ashley Olson, or whatever.) This story seems to be as good a place to start as any – you get a decent sense of who the characters are and there aren’t a lot of in-jokes or canon references to confuse you.

If You Like Your Beginnings a Little Less Porny: Sixteen Instinctive Behaviors, by Betty Plotnick. I know, I know, you’re asking yourself “is there anyone who likes things to be less porny?” Well, I’ve never actually seen such a creature, but I remain convinced of the possibility of one. And, really, even if you prefer to read under the NC-17 label, this is a good place to start because you get an excellent sense, not only of the characters, but also of the progression of their lives and their relationship. And that last is hard to get without watching the show.

If You'd Like to Begin at the Beginning: A Little Cheesecake, by Kass. (I mean, of course, the beginning of the canon; stories from the beginning of the fandom tend to be tough for the non-canon reader.) This one is set right after the pilot episode, so you get a sense of how they were way back when. Jim’s senses are all over the map, and he's responding to them with the grace and dignity of a rogue elephant on massive doses of PCP. And Blair's still got his own place and his own life. (And a Barbary ape, in case you wonder what sort of pet Jim's smelling on Blair in this one.)

If You’d Like to Start with Dinner and a Movie: A Long Time Looking, by Anna S., aka eliade. This story is a ramble through one night in the lives of Jim and Blair, set somewhere mid-canon. The best part of this one is the strong characterization – you really get to know the guys. These are my favorite versions of Jim and Blair, by the way. Jim's senses are mostly problem-free and he's ramped the Strong Silent Manly Man routine down a bit. Blair's Jim-management skills are phenomenal and he's settled into Jim's life but he hasn't lost his own. And they've not yet encountered all the drama of "Sentinel, Too" (also known as "the episode where Blair dies and comes back to life, causing the FF to slide into the metaphysical and the seriously angsty") and "The Sentinel by Blair Sandburg" (also known as "the episode that ended the series in a very strange place"). Good times, Sentinel-style.
Tags: [fandoms i have loved], sentinel
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