Monday, September 04, 2006

Here's a thing.... my hungover lethargy at the weekend I watched a couple of DVDs while slumped on the sofa eating pizza. A couple I'd got from Amazon earlier in the week, specifically:

the first series of A Bit Of Fry And Laurie, and


Now you could be forgiven for thinking that these two, fine artistic achievements though they both are, don't have much in common, on the face of things. And you'd be right. However, as a prelude to a full-length PhD thesis on the subject, and possibly a lecture tour, I'd like to offer a parallel: it's all about language.

Fry and Laurie's sketches are all about language, from the absurd macho blustering of John and Peter in Uttoxeter ("Damn!") to the ridiculous circumlocutory nonsense of the critics ("Precisely my point. Could one say, from any critical standpoint yet devised, that you are any distance at all from being utterly repulsive?").

Joss Whedon's trick in Serenity is a bit different - to plausibly come up with a view of how language might have evolved several centuries in the future. The answer, it seems, is a mixture of borrowings from other languages (they swear in Chinese!) and a kind of oddly courtly throwback to pre-20th century idioms ("we mean to be thieving here....let's have no undue fussing" when robbing a bank is particularly nice), plus a nice line in humorous put-downs.

The zesty dialogue should be no surprise to anyone who's seen Buffy The Vampire Slayer (which Whedon also wrote), of course, though there's no getting away from the fact that the other great selling-point of Buffy was seeing a fragile-looking (and let's face it, attractive) young woman kicking a great deal of undead vampire ass. And, wouldn't you know it, the central character around whom the plot essentially revolves in Serenity (Summer Glau as River Tam) turns out to be a one-woman balletic slaughtering machine who makes Buffy look like a schoolgirl. Hang on, she was a schoolgirl. Well, you get the idea anyway.

Well, I think I've made my point. Bedtime.

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