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23 September 2004 @ 09:50 pm
Slashy Nominations 84: the Fan That Has Time to Mourn Has Time to Mend  
Canon repair is one of the most common and most irritating types of fan fiction. Why common? Well, canon creators seem to delight in breaking our hearts, hurting the characters and destroying the worlds we love. It's only natural to want to make it right, to fix the owie owie badness somehow. (Or, alternatively, bite the creators. Or, in many cases, both.) Why irritating? Because it doesn't work, is why. You have to dance with them what brung you, and that means you have to work within the canon instead of fighting it. Yes, you can write AUs, and if you're good then they will be, too, but we all know that a story in which Sirius miraculously turns out to be just pining for the fjords - and the Veil just teleports you to northern Norway (which some would argue is not all that far from the truth) - isn't an AU. It's a dream world. (A weird dream world.) Denial may be the third most popular fan sport, but it's fundamentally useless when it comes to fiction.

Except, of course, when it isn't. Because sometimes denial and fury and desperation produce works of phenomenal quality, stories so good, so perfect, so right, that I find myself cursing the canon writers for failing to think of this themselves and save us all this trouble.

That's what we have here. Repair work as it should be: better than the canon itself. Some of these are AUs. Others are interpolation or extrapolation built around the troublesome canon. But they all fix what I consider to be errors. (And of course we're using my own definition of canon errors; this is a supremely self-centered LJ, after all.)

The Best FF That Almost - Almost - Makes a Whole Wretched Season Worthwhile, Though I Imagine That I Might Feel Differently on That Point If I'd Actually Seen the Season in Question, as Opposed to Just Reading the Summaries with Ever-Increasing Horror: Poison, by Mandy, aka geneticallydead. Oz, Tobias Beecher/Chris Keller. OK, so we all know that season 6 of Oz was one big fan-fuck in a show full of fan-fucks, right? Some people have tried to deal with this by expunging the very memory from their minds. Others have regressed, fleeing to happier times in earlier seasons (and when you're defining the second season of Oz as a better place, you know you're in some kind of trouble). Mandy's taken a different approach; she twists the results of Keller's suicidal leap a bit, and suddenly we're back on the right path. Well, back on the true path; it's not like anything could be right and good and happy in Oz. But this comes as close as anything will, and it's satisfying on other levels, too; we get a really good look at what's going on in Keller's mind - a scary proposition, I'll grant you, but a worthwhile one - and we get to see Beecher using his brain and his will together for once.

Best FF in Which the Grounds of the Beverly Hills Hotel Have the Same Effect on the Characters That They Do on Me, Namely a Strange Sense of Unreality, As Though I'd Been Transported to Las Vegas, and a Strong Desire to Be Elsewhere: The Memory of Hurts, by Sinead, aka smallbeer. Sports Night, Dan Rydell/Casey McCall. It's not like Sports Night ever broke the way, for example, Oz or Homicide or Buffy did. It wasn't around long enough to deteriorate that badly. But the second season is harder to take than the first for a lot of reasons, most of which arose, I suspect, from Sorkin angst. (Hint to all TV writers out there: we use therapists to deal with our problems. We use television for entertainment. Try to keep the two separate, OK?) It's hard to explain the abrupt changes in Danny's personality from season one to season two, for example. And when you look at the way Casey and Danny behave right at the end of the show and compare it to the way they behave in the pilot, it's clear something has changed a lot. But we're never shown what that is, so it's jarring. Sinead fixes all that, and blends her story seamlessly with canon. (Note for sensitive Danny/Casey shippers: This story is definitely a season two story, but it does have a happy ending.)

Best FF That I Love Even Though Everyone I Know Who Has Read It Has a Different Opinion About What Happens in It (and Do Feel Free to Weigh in on That Point, Because - Surprise! - I Am Convinced I'm Right): What You Wish For, by nwhepcat. Buffy the Vampire Slayer x Angel the Series, gen. This story is amazing because it fixes two major canon irritations (which isn't to say that there aren't lots left in the Whedonverse for other aspiring writers to address) - one for each show. And, in the process, it shows just how much better FF writers can do on occasion than, for example, Joss Whedon. In season four of Buffy, Giles and Xander get sort of lost - it's like the writers just couldn't think what to do with two handsome, strapping men who had lots of experience at fighting demons and bouncing back from personal trauma, even though that is the ideal resume in Buffy's world. And in season one, episode nine of Angel, Doyle dies. For no real reason. Just because the writers wanted to prove that they'd damn well kill whoever they wanted to kill. (Yeah, right. We believe that. Because they were so likely to kill off, say, Angel, right?) The problem of Xander's aimlessness is totally solved in this story. And even though Doyle doesn't actually live on in this fic, somehow it made me feel a whole lot better about his death.

Best FF Featuring a Title That Sums up Both the Story and the Canon Problem the Story Fixes. Plus I Just Really, Really Love the Title and I Wanted to Spend Some Extra Time Talking About It. Tepid Apocalypse, by Molly, aka molly36.* The Sentinel, Blair Sandburg/Jim Ellison. And here we have a series ender that just made no sense. Because, OK, I've never actually watched the series, but I know enough about the situation in "The Sentinel by Blair Sandburg" to know that a) there were other and better ways of resolving it and b) the way they picked wouldn't actually work. So that's fairly irritating. Also, way to destroy the character of Blair and the relationship balance between Blair and Jim, folks. Just in general, this episode's plot says to me, "We needed a dramatic last episode, and after 20 minutes of vodka-ridden thought, this was the best idea we had on the table." So post-TSbyBS stories that make that concept work impress me - I mean, the fic author is doing way better than canon writers did, yeah? And "Tepid Apocalypse" also manages to find a new balance between Blair and Jim, repair the character damage the episode did, and just generally fix what went wrong when the fine writers of The Sentinel had whatever massive brainstroke they did. In other words, this is a textbook case of canon repair. Go, Molly.

* Thanks, pearl_o!
Cimorene: heavenly chaos fandom (by Celestina)minkhollow on September 23rd, 2004 09:37 pm (UTC)
As far as Angel goes, I think part of the reason they wrote Doyle out was because the actor was sick.
Not that that justifies killing off a really really really cool character (I sort of stopped watching the show after that episode), but still.
Iphiginia Saberhagen: From makesmewannadie and thefourthvinefanofall on September 23rd, 2004 09:50 pm (UTC)
That's really interesting. I don't think I've EVER heard anything other than the writers had always planned to kill off Doyle (which, now that you mention it, is really quite weird). What sort of illness did he have?
tried to eat the safe banana: angry elektra - wanderlustloverthefourthvine on September 23rd, 2004 10:08 pm (UTC)
Hmmm. Well, you're right. It doesn't help; just kinda makes the whole thing, you know, sadder. But it is interesting, because I'd wondered if there was some kind of behind-the-scenes problem. But is this one of those cases where "sick" means "totally unable to control his addiction anymore?" Because I thought he died of a heroin OD. Or did he have something else wrong with him?

And, for the record, even though I totally resented the death of Doyle (and even though I would totally love to have Xander in the show - Xander for visions, Cordelia for snark and screams, and Wesley for research would make so much more sense, assuming I'm right about what happens in the story), the shows that come afterward really are still good. At least, OK, the ones I've seen, i.e., part of the rest of season one so far.
thuvia ptarththuviaptarth on September 24th, 2004 03:22 am (UTC)
But is this one of those cases where "sick" means "totally unable to control his addiction anymore?" Because I thought he died of a heroin OD.

Yes. He was apparently more difficult to work with than anticipated, and the public statements about plotting were a way to explain this without revealing personal information about the actor in public, or tarring his reputation so badly that he'd have a hard time finding other work. Though given that I heard rumors about this within weeks, and I'm not particularly in the loop, I always figured it was an open secret.

As opposed to Nick Brendon's alcoholism, which was never mentioned up until he made a public statement about it. And which some people speculate has something to do with the reduced Xander plotlines in later seasons, although I'm not entirely convinced.
HJhjcallipygian on September 24th, 2004 01:13 pm (UTC)
S4 Angel
Personally, I think that S4 of Angel was the best work ME's done to date. But that's just me, take it for what it's worth.

And, yeah, Glenn Quinn OD'd. Not sure on what, though; I've heard the "difficult to work with" story is the truth and the "always planned to kill him off" story was just a polite cover or something. I dunno.
Virtual Insomniavirtualinsomnia on September 28th, 2004 02:34 am (UTC)
Yes, there is still much Ats goodness to come after the death of Doyle (sad though I was when that happened). Season 2 is what many consider to be the best one of the bunch. Others will say S4, I've found, but most people *I* know find S2 to be the best. I guess it depends on which characters and pairings you like best, though, not to mention how you feel about a certain "controversial" character who is introduced in S3 and has a rather big arc in S4....
the opposite of batmanpearl_o on September 23rd, 2004 11:25 pm (UTC)
Molly = molly36.
tried to eat the safe banana: namastethefourthvine on September 24th, 2004 01:00 am (UTC)
Thank you! All updated and friended and so on.
Iphiginia Saberhagenfanofall on September 23rd, 2004 11:57 pm (UTC)
GUH. And, I love you. That is all. Except for one thing: You recced gen Buffy/Angel? Girl, what the HELL is wrong with you? *boggles*
tried to eat the safe banana: universal fandom green - MMWDthefourthvine on September 24th, 2004 01:05 am (UTC)
It's an aberration! It won't happen again! And, um, there'll be extra porn for you to make up for it!

No, wait, wrong attitude.

Why, yes, I did rec BtVS/AtS gen, and I am damned proud to have done it. It is a fantastic story, and, really, must we always have smut? Must we always have hot men getting hot with each other? Must we always have them pressed together, hands sliding from neck to back to waist to ass, grinding their cocks desperately against...

Um. Perhaps we must. I'll do some research and get back to you.

(And now you know why I don't write porn.)
Hepcat: ludditerobot wes blackteenwhepcat on September 24th, 2004 11:12 am (UTC)
Fear not. I'm about to finish a Xander-meets-Angel AU fic that is definitely not gen.

(Deleted comment)
tried to eat the safe banana: Violet's ass - wanderlustloverthefourthvine on September 24th, 2004 11:25 am (UTC)
Rem acu tetigisti. Because you can't fix what isn't broken, and unless you're pissed off that RayV went to LV (which I, of course, am not), there isn't much to fix about due South. I, at any rate, don't know of any episode that left most fans angry or sad; even the last episode, which is traditionally a place where the creators throw everything to the winds and the fans throw major tantrums, is pretty much perfect from a fan perspective.

Unless you wanted Fraser to end up with RayV. I've read some fix-its of that type. Aside from my natural RayK alignment, I tend not to like those stories too much because of the Fraser that's in them; he's just different when he's with Ray Vecchio, at least in fic. And I prefer the Fraser people write with Kowalski, who feels - to me - more three-dimensional and real.

So, while I'm sorry for depriving you of your dS fix, really it's the Pauls et al that you ought to be blaming. If they'd made worse episodes, I'd've had something to rec in dS for this set.

(Unrelated query: who is that in your icon?)
kassrachel on September 24th, 2004 06:15 am (UTC)
I've never actually watched the series, but I know enough about the situation in "The Sentinel by Blair Sandburg" to know that a) there were other and better ways of resolving it and b) the way they picked wouldn't actually work.

I'm actually going to respectfully disagree with you, here. I think this was one of the strongest episodes in the show (at last, a script Burgi and Maggart could do something with!) and I think it's a fine ending to the series. There's a way in which the whole series shows us Blair's character-development arc; though the show (like his thesis) is called "The Sentinel," there's an argument to be made that the one who changes over the course of the series is Blair. From worshipful wannabe to genuine partner; from sidekick to fellow hero. And there are some excellent, excellent post-TSbyBS stories that (to me) illustrate why the ending works. I used to maintain a list of my favorite post-series stories. I haven't added to it in a while, but it's still a good list of links to good, good stuff. It's here.

(You're totally entitled to your opinion about how the show ended, obviously -- I just wanted to agitate briefly for it being a good ending, at least in my mind. :-)
tried to eat the safe banana: what big eyes I have - wanderlustloverthefourthvine on September 24th, 2004 11:41 am (UTC)
I can totally acknowledge the acting thing, and I can even see that it is, in a way, the completion of Blair's character arc. (Although one of my problems with the concept of Blair as cop is that he then loses the last thing he had that was entirely not Jim's.) But I can't see it as a solution to the problem they created in the same episode - the outing of Jim. If you can, please help me do so, because I'd really like to. (And it's entirely possible that I'm just missing something.)

Blair saying he lied is going to work for, well, about a week. (And not even that with the people who know Jim well, like his fellow cops, who are detectives, and who know how to weigh evidence. It just explains too much that's otherwise hard to explain about Jim.) Journalists don't leave a story just because it changes underneath them; if it was a big enough deal to have a press conference, it's a big enough deal that at least one newbie reporter who never gets assigned any good stories is going to start looking at Jim's record. And saying, hmmm, this doesn't look like a lie to me. This...sort of clears up a lot of questions, actually.

And then there's the government. If they were going to come after Jim based on what Blair wrote about him, Blair's lie isn't actually going to protect him.

In short, Jim's out. You can't put the genie back in the bottle. That's my biggest problem with the episode right there, and the only one I have that isn't entirely personal.

But, you know, despite my quibbles with the actual episode, I do love post-TSbyBS stories. They're good, and they have the depth that stories based in the early often don't have. (Which I think is because the series didn't exactly have it either, back then.)
Rhyo: Will Shawrhyo on September 24th, 2004 03:53 pm (UTC)
I'm in the "ummm, this isn't going to work as scripted" camp (and that is leaving *aside* the reality holes big enough to suck entire galaxies through.) While it's an interesting idea, having Blair declare his research fraudulent to protect Jim, and wonderful that his friends in Major Crime tried to "catch" him, there are major problems with it.

The episode has some wonderful moments between the characters and GM turns in one of his best acting performances in the series, it's true. But there are a lot of questions this episode leaves open, and it's a shame with never got the full season to answer them. Which is why the TS fandom is *full* of episode "fix-its", some of them very good.
Hepcat: thefakeheadline anya bunnynwhepcat on September 24th, 2004 11:15 am (UTC)
Thanks for the rec! I'd love to know all the different interpretations of that fic. I know a couple.

I've thought about maybe writing a followup, but no actual bunnies have arrived.
tried to eat the safe banana: sharing - MMWDthefourthvine on September 24th, 2004 11:06 pm (UTC)
Follow-up urgently required. Need more fic in this universe pronto!

(And if you want to know the various interpretations I've heard, I'll be happy to tell you via email. I just don't want to say them in the comments and, you know, prejudice future readers.)
Virtual Insomniavirtualinsomnia on September 28th, 2004 02:28 am (UTC)
Oooooh, love the Whedon-verse rec. And man, I have all sorts of theories!! So fun. *g*