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Snowflake Challenge: Day Eleven

In your own space, share a favorite piece of original canon (a TV episode, a song, a favourite interview, a book) and explain why you love it so much. Leave a comment in this post saying you did it. Include a link to your post if you feel comfortable doing so.

This was incredibly difficult. My first thought was to choose a really good episode of something; but then the full extent of the prompt got me thinking, because there's movies and books to choose from as well. Also, the mention of "a favourite piece of canon" suggests that the choice shouldn't be a favourite episode, but a favourite thing that happens in a particular episode. Which complicated things even further. Eventually I narrowed it down to a shortlist of about twenty episodes, films and books; but since I had no over all favourite, I decided in the end to go for the one that's arguably the least well known. There's too much good stuff out there to try deciding whether one thing is better than all the rest; and small fandoms need support. Shortlist included at the end, just because.

So, there's a programme in Britain (or there was - it was axed in 2008, having run since 1978). It's called Grange Hill, and it depicted the lives of children at secondary school (ages 11-16). It followed kids throughout their time at the school, so we'd get to see them grow up, and go through all those many little dramas associated with adolescence. Grange Hill was well respected for its uncompromising approach, and its acknowledgement of the fact that school can suck, and that kids can be extremely unpleasant - as can teachers, all too often. Teachers didn't always like it, and neither did parents, but it told the truth, even when the truth was anything but nice.

Grange Hill: Season Six (1983). The race riots.

It was a hell of a brave storyline from a children's show. School bully Gripper Stebson, losing interest in beating up on smaller kids, turned his attentions to the black and asian kids instead. He encouraged, or when necessary intimidated, the other white kids into backing him up, and soon the school was a pressure keg. Racism is hardly a rare plotline on television, but I've never seen it done so well, and in such raw, honest detail, on British TV - and this was a kids' show. For once the white cast weren't the heroes. Too afraid to stand up to Gripper, for the most part they muttered about how it wasn't their fight anyway, with only little Stewpot being brave enough to do what he knew was right. I rewatched the first ten series of Grange Hill just recently, for the first time in a whole lot of years, and there were a lot of storylines, short and long, that impressed me. This one stood out head and shoulders above the rest. You wouldn't get children's drama like this now. Hell, I haven't seen adult drama like this in a long while. The raw pain that racism causes; the damage that it does; the sort of people who propagate it, from thoroughly nasty troublemakers, to ordinary people who just don't want to rock the boat. Outstanding acting from everybody, be it helpless teachers, anguished kids, and evil Gripper himself. Stand out scenes? Stewpot realising that his best friend thinks racism is somebody else's problem; Precious Matthews, taking all she can from Gripper and fighting back, in a scene that's about as punch-the-air as you can get; Mr Hopwood, everybody's favourite form tutor, standing toe to toe with Gripper in a scene so tense it could almost make the screen snap - although of course ultimately there's nothing that he can do.

Not just great kids' TV, but great TV all round.

The runners-up:

  • Highlander: "Comes A Horseman" (The revelation of who Methos really was).
  • Buffy The Vampire Slayer: "Hallowe'en" & "The Dark Age" (The revelation of who Giles really was). Apparently I like questionable yesterdays.
  • Buffy The Vampire Slayer: "Becoming" Parts 1+2 (Just about everything really).
  • Angel: "Five By Five" (The birth of the new, improved Wes)
  • Angel: "Salvage" & "Release" (Faith and Wes as the dark, flip side of Buffy and Giles. Still waiting on that spin-off...)
  • Babylon 5: "War Without End" Parts 1+2 (Just an amazing collection of shards of the show's mythos, coming together in wonderful ways).
  • Doctor Who: "Earthshock" (Heroes in a children's show really can die. Quite a revelation when you're six).
  • Torchwood: "Captain Jack Harkness" (One of the best episodes of anything ever).
  • Robin Of Sherwood: "The Greatest Enemy" (Every character gets the chance to do something awesome, and then one Robin Hood legend makes way for another. And it hurts in all the ways that good television sometimes should).
  • The Tribe: (No episode titles, but 1x08 and 1x09, with the relevation of Bray's connection to Zoot).
  • Bonanza: "Same Wind, Different Pines" (Watching it nowadays, it's everything I loved about the show as a kid, all distilled into one episode. All the fun, all the excitement, and all the reasons why I wanted to be Joe Cartwright. And probably still do).
  • The West Wing: "Two Cathedrals" (The coming together of everything in the preceding episodes, culminating in Bartlett's tirade against God. And the little bits. His anger. His grief (and ours) over Mrs Landringham. His acknowledgement of Josh as a son. His determination to carry on fighting. And, damn it, why isn't he President in real life).
  • Return To Treasure Island: the mini series or the novelisation by John Goldsmith (Every moment of it, with all the swords and the pirates and the excitement, and everything that it shows the future to be for Jim and Silver).
  • Between The Lines: "Big Boys' Rules" (Spend two seasons shaping your lead character, then throw everything you possibly can at him, break him in every way he can break, and then stand back and see what happens).
  • Sleepers (All four episodes. Every moment of).
  • Wolf Lake (All of it. It didn't last nearly long enough, but I love it simply for existing).

  • Stand By Me: (Chris and Gordie, and the fact that they had each other, when they didn't have anybody else).
  • Merry Christmas, Mr Lawrence: (The whole, tangled mess of it).
  • Arsenic & Old Lace: (Everything. Mortimer, raised by those batty old sisters. The fact that these two sweet little old ladies are mass murderers. Doctor Einstein and everything he does. The Boris Karloff in-jokes that don't entirely work once it ceased to be a play and became a movie, but who cares).

  • Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman: (Glorious, murky, involving story of the world beneath London).
  • The Temeraire series by Naomi Novik: (As if the story itself wasn't good enough to begin with, suddenly she gives me Granby and Iskierka. Iskierka is a dragon who's a pirate. Dragons and pirates, not just in the same book, but in the same character. That takes some beating, you have to admit).

    So yeah. That's day eleven. I'm going to shut up now, don't worry.
  • Comments

    Jan. 18th, 2013 05:01 am (UTC)

    I think I must have been about four or so? So, it wouldn't have had to be all that scary. I just remember the villain finally arriving in his ship and it was this huge scary moment in my head.

    I think I'd heard that. Hmm, looks like they've got you either way! ;-)

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