Tag Archives: archetype

The Flash is Superman in disguise

I’m the first to confess – I’m not a comic book aficionado. I haven’t picked up a good Archie comic since I was 12. I’ve never read superhero comics, though I  have to admit, I LOVE the upsurge in superhero television. I was sad to see Smallville go, and I look forward to my weekly dose of Gotham, Arrow and The Flash. I understand the hero and villain archetypes are at play here, but this week, The Flash patterned itself a little too closely after the Superman archetype  than the generic superhero one.

[Tweet “#TheFlash is patterned a little too closely on the #Superman #archetype.”]

In The Flash, Barry Allen is struck by dark matter lightning after a supercollider explosion. He is left with the ability to run incredibly fast (an understatement). He teams up with Star Lab’s Dr. Caitlin Snow, Cisco Ramon, and Dr. Harrison Wells, the scientists responsible for the explosion, to fight crime perpetrated by “meta-humans”, other people affected by the explosion in  Central City. Barry’s mother was killed when he was a child by a man wearing a yellow suit who possessed Flash’s speed, and his father was jailed for the murder. He was raised by his father’s friend, Detective Joe West, alongside Joe’s daughter, Iris. Barry’s in love with Iris, but because he’s too afraid to tell her, Iris is currently dating her father’s partner.

[Tweet “Iris and Barry ARE the new Lois and Clark! #TheFlash #Superman”]

This week on The Flash, Barry defeated a literal “Man of Steel”, the story of Barry’s mother’s murder was re-opened by Joe who believes Barry’s father is innocent. He suspects Dr. Wells was the murderer. He also reveals he knows about Barry’s attraction to his daughter. Meanwhile, Iris is penning a blog about “The Streak”, which puts her in danger. Barry and Joe try to dissuade her from continuing the blog and are unsuccessful. Finding his name in this episode, “The Streak” is renamed “The Flash”. He, too, tries to convince Iris to discontinue the blog. These are the scenes in which The Flash thinks it’s Superman.

In Superman, Lois Lane works with Clark Kent. Clark loves Lois, but he’s too scared to let her know. After meeting him, Lois falls for Superman. Seeing a chance to finally be with the woman of his dreams, Superman capitalizes on the situation. What he does is dishonest, but maybe Lois deserves it, seeing as she can’t see past Clark’s suit, glasses, and awkward social graces. Fans live for the moment when she finally uncovers his ruse.

In The Flash, Iris and Barry are friends. Barry loves Iris, but he’s too scared to let her know. After meeting him, Iris seems to be falling for The Flash. Seeing a chance to finally be with the woman of his dreams, The Flash capitalizes on the situation, flirting with Iris in a number of scenes. What he’s doing is dishonest, but maybe Iris deserves it, seeing as she can’t see past Barry’s geeky exterior and the fact that they were raised as foster brother and sister. Fans will live for the moment when she finally uncovers his ruse.

Get the picture?

[Tweet “Flash IS Superman. Think about it: Dr. Wells is Lex Luthor. Joe is Jonathan. Barry is Clark.”]

Don’t get me wrong. I’m enjoying The Flash. I can’t wait to see what Lex Luthor’s Dr. Wells’s plan is, and I love the fact that Joe has assumed the role of Jonathan Kent to Barry’s Superman. I just wish they stopped hitting us over the head with the comparison.

Dracula is a page turner

Bram Stoker’s Dracula is the gothic horror story that put down roots for modern day vampire lore.

In Dracula, lawyer Jonathan Harker is sent to Transylvania to close a deal on the sale of a house for Count Dracula in England. Confined to a limited number of rooms in Dracula’s castle, Harker goes  exploring where he discovers siren-like creatures and Dracula’s dark nature. Harker eventually escapes, goes nearly mad, and convalesces in a hospital where fiance Mina Murray retrieves him and marries him. They return to England to find Mina’s friend, Lucy, mysteriously ill from blood loss. Harker and Dr. Seward enlist a retired Van Helsing for help. They replenish Lucy’s blood nightly to no avail. Eventually Lucy dies, her body claimed by Dracula. It’s not long before Mina falls prey to the same “illness,” with one strange symptom–she has a connection with Count Dracula. Harker, Seward and Van Helsing use this connection to ambush Dracula and kill him for good at last.

Fan of vampire stories that I am, I had always meant to read the original Dracula, but never got around to it. But after watching NBC’s Dracula, I needed to go back to the archetype to see which characters and events were borrowed from the original and which were new.

In NBC’s Dracula, the count assumes the name Alexander Greyson and pretends to be an American newly arrived in England on business. In a grand spectacle opening, Greyson holds a party at his mansion where he introduces his guests to free, wireless power which sends the oil magnates into a tizzy. At this gala is socialite Lucy Westenra who has invited her friend and medical student Mina Murray and Mina’s boyfriend, reporter Jonathan Harker. When Dracula sees Mina he sees his wife’s doppelganger and is determined to have her, but not by force. To that end, he hires Harker as his assistant, puts him up in a mansion and pays him enough to marry Mina and live happily ever after. The idea is to keep Mina close and gradually insinuate himself into her life. Pursued by the Order of the Dragon, an ancient organization whose members are involved in (among other things I can’t figure out) maintaining a power monopoly and killing vampires, Greyson’s goal is to punish members of the Order for their role in making him what he is today.

Other than character names and the time in which the story takes place, there is little comparison between the original book and the television show. In the book, Dracula has no alter ego and there is no mention of Mina the doppelganger. TV’s Renfield is Dracula’s manservant, a far cry from Stoker’s raving, bug-eating lunatic and Stoker’s Van Helsing is out to kill Dracula, not form an unholy alliance with him in order to seek revenge on the Order of the Dragon. Reading the book  also shed some light on other supernatural works, including  an explanation as to why the brothers on Supernatural bear the last name Winchester and the origin of the title “Vampire Diaries”, adopted because most of Stoker’s novel is told in journal or diary format.

The novel is a page turner at times, boring at others, but worth the time to read.

The series picks up pace midway through episode two and becomes the television version of a page turner. I binge watched the first three episodes and regret not watching the fourth as well (but Once Upon a Time was about to begin and priorities must be set).

Are you watching NBC’s Dracula? What do you think?

“Sleepy Hollow” builds rich mythology

Fox’s Sleepy Hollow premièred last week to rave reviews. Like its predecessors Grimm and Once Upon a Time, Sleepy Hollow offers an interesting spin on an archetypal story.

The town of Sleepy Hollow was a small valley in the settlement of Tarrytown, New York in 1820 when Washington Irving published his short story about a Revolutionary War soldier in search of his head, lost when it was taken by a cannonball. In Irving’s The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, which takes place in 1790, Ichabod Crane is a gangly schoolteacher in competition for the love of Katrina Van Tassel, the daughter of a wealthy farmer. His competition is the burly Abraham “Brom” Van Brunt, who sets Ichabod up as an object of ridicule. Katrina sees through Brom’s antics and appears content to give her heart to Ichabod when he meets the horseman and disappears. Katrina marries Brom instead. Other than his horse and a shattered pumpkin, there is no sign of Ichabod to be found. Ichabod considers the horseman might be Brom in disguise during the attack, but the description of the horseman, headless and awash in fire and brimstone, is too horrific to have been pulled off by Ichabod’s rival, given the technology at the time. When the horseman throws his head at him, Ichabod falls from his horse and is never seen again.

Irving’s Sleepy Hollow is a typical horror story. Its setting is a place reputed to have been bewitched by “an old Indian chief, the prophet or wizard of his tribe”. People believe it to be overrun by “haunted spots and twilight superstitions” where they “see strange sights and hear music and voices in the air.”  In this way, Sleepy Hollow is no different than Vampire Diaries‘s Mystic Falls or Buffy the Vampire Slayer‘s Sunnydale. Similar to these towns, witches, ghosts and evil supernatural entities abound. Irving’s Ichabod is the stereotypical geek, described as tall, lank, “narrow shoulders, long arms and legs,” small head, “huge ears, large green glassy eyes and a long snipe nose.” He is later described as scarecrow-like, hardly the physique one would expect from a leading man. The fact that he would have the girl in the end were it not for his disappearance, shows the advantage of brains over brawn, which may very well be the moral of the story. Also, don’t go out at night, particularly alone and on a path reputed to be haunted by a headless Hessian hefting a pumpkin head.

In the Fox series, Sleepy Hollow is a thriving town with a Starbucks on every corner. Abbie Mills (Nicole Beharie), a black, female police lieutenant finds a decidedly anti-gangly Ichabod Crane (Tom Mison) wandering around town and arrests him for a series of murders. People report sightings of a headless horseman and since Ichabod seems to know quite a bit on the topic, Mills enlists his help to try to stop the body count from rising even further. The backstory, we learn, is that during the Revolutionary War, a Hessian soldier mortally wounded Crane, and Crane beheaded him with his sword. They died together, their blood mixing in the field, forever linking their souls. When someone in 2013 resurrects the horseman–believed to be Death, one of the horsemen of the apocalypse–Ichabod is similarly resurrected. Mills convinces her colleagues to let Ichabod go free to help her stave off the supernatural and catch the horseman before the coming of the Apocalypse.

I love the Supernatural-slash-Fringe-slash-X-Files vibe of Sleepy Hollow. I was a little upset when Officer Andy Dunn (John Cho) and Sherriff Corbin (Clancy Brown) were killed off in the first episode, but delighted to see their return in the second. Cho plays a (literal) devil’s advocate with creepy excellence while Brown’s character’s ghost becomes Mills’s Yoda, giving her cryptic clues when she asks for help. Mison is more than competent as the handsome yet fearless hero-type, solving problems with ages old wisdom over technology. Subtle humour is hidden in Crane’s curiosity about the modern world, feeding much of the banter between he and Mills.  Unlike many of the new science fictiony shows of last season (Zero Hour, Do No Harm, Cult and 666 Park Avenue, to name a few), I think Sleepy Hollow can look forward to finishing out this season while building a rich mythology with the potential to move forward for many seasons to come.

Can “Defiance” Defy the Odds?

Defiance is a combination of both a TV show and a video game

Defiance premiered on Showcase Monday night, to lukewarm reviews. I, on the other hand, rather liked the show, and will be watching further episodes. Defiance takes place 33 years after Earth is invaded by an alien ship, called The Ark, transporting seven different types of sentient beings from the same solar system. They arrive on Earth, terraform it to their liking, and now the aliens and humans are trying to co-exist in the dystopia. Defiance is the town that rose up from the ashes of St. Louis.

Julie Benz is terrific as Mayor Amanda Rosewater. She plays her with a maturity that haven’t yet seen in her other roles. Grant Bowler is Joshua Nolan, a scavenger who makes his living collecting and selling the remains of The Ark as they fall to Earth (a phenomenon known as Arkfall). He arrives in Defiance and gets into trouble defending a boy accused of murder. He gets out of trouble by agreeing to find the real murderer and winds up staying on as sheriff of the town.

Defiance may suffer from a case of trying to do too much too soon. I don’t think I’ll ever learn all of the alien species (collectively known as The Voltans), and the soap-opera style subplots pile up until the last minutes of the two hour episode. In spite of the premise’s predictability (for example, I knew Nolan would become sheriff the moment the current sheriff is killed), and inconsistencies (Why terraform a planet to rid it of its greenery when it is the greenery of the planet that makes it desireable?) I enjoyed the show due to its nod to Shakespearean archetypes. I loved the Romeo and Juliet vibe going on between the son of the Tarr family and daughter of the McCawley clan. Just as entertaining is the scene between Datak and Stahma Tarr in the tub. Upset that his son will marry a human, Datak rants that his wife will spoil his bath if she continues to talk about his son’s choice for a mate. That’s when Stahma channels her inner Lady Macbeth and convinces Datak that if the children marry and something were to happen to the girl’s father and brother, then their family would stand to inherit the McCawley business and eventually control most industry in the town. The implication is that Datak will have something to do with the death of the male McCawleys. Later, when Datak is disgusted by his son’s conformation to the human custom of giving the McCawley girl a ring as a promise to wed, Stahma calms him by suggesting the mere fact the children are engaged will be enough to prompt Papa McCawley’s demise.

Defiance is unique in that quite a bit of money and planning has went into the simultaneous release of the show and video game and (according to online sources) the hope is that watching the series will unlock hints for the game and playing the game will further endear viewers to the characters. While I won’t be playing the game any time soon (that’s just not my thing), I am looking forward to next Monday’s episode, especially in light of the cliff-hanger posed by the episode’s final moments in which former Mayor Nicky Riordan, played with sinister flare by Finnoula Flanagan, hints that there is something subversive about to happen in the near future that will change life on the planet as they know it.

I will definitely be watching; will you?

graphic from:http://www.slashgear.com/defiance-is-both-a-tv-show-and-a-video-game-08276908/#entrycontent

About the Author

Elise Abram, English teacher and former archaeologist, has been writing for as long as she can remember, but it wasn’t until she was asked to teach Writer’s Craft in 2001 that she began to write seriously. Her first novel, THE GUARDIAN was partially published as a Twitter novel a few summers back (and may be accessed at @RKLOGYprof). Nearly ten years after its inception Abram decided it was time to stop shopping around with traditional publication houses and publish PHASE SHIFT on her own.

Download PHASE SHIFT for the price of a tweet. Visit http://www.eliseabram.com, click on the button, tweet or Facebook about my novel and download it for FREE!


An archetype in literature is like a prototype, a version after which other versions are patterned. This is, I think, what makes me a fan of Once Upon a Time. In television’s Storybrooke, archetypal characters are brought to life, both as archetypes and as modern versions of themselves. In season one, it was the dichotomy of their personalities that drew me in, the difference between Storybrooke’s David and Fairytaleland’s Charming. The self-assured Snow versus the meek and unconfident Mary-Margaret. What made it especially fun were the peeks into the archetype that I imagine to be bubbling just beneath the surface in Regina and Gold, the only two characters with intact memories, and the repartee between them. I named my blog “My Own Little Storybrooke”, because I understand that all imagined characters and storylines are based on archetypal ones, new spins on old ideas. As I’ve already mentioned, it’s the deviation between the traditional and the new that makes these stories so exciting.

Take Smallville for example, the last spin on the Superman archetype. The Superman legend enamours me for its romanticism, in which the archetypal story is the boy next door who turns out to be the strongest, most virtuous and handsome person on the planet. Or maybe it’s about the nerdy guy that has a crush on you who is just as worthy as the captain of the football team, but you’ll never know because you can’t get past his nerdy exterior. Revenge of the Nerds just popped into my head, a group of nerds who are shunned until their superpower (great sex) is discovered. They get the girl, but continue to battle the jocks in the sequel. Read: Superman/Clark Kent hooks up with Lois Lane but continues to battle Lex Luthor and other villains in the sequels.

It is The Beauty and the Beast archetype that spurred this blog entry. When read as even the lowest creature is worthy of love, the archetype has merit. But this archetype could be seen to have a darker meaning, one with undertones of Battered Wife Syndrome and/or Stockholm Syndrome, in which the victim begins to identify with her attacker/captor, using love as an excuse to stay. In The Beauty and the Beast legend (and I’m going with popular culture’s version and not the original archetype which I haven’t read), a brave girl (Belle in the Disney and ABC versions) breaks the damsel in distress mould and decides to save her family rather than having them protect her. She volunteers to go with the Beast who mistreats her and locks her in the dungeon. Eventually, he releases her so she can take care of his castle. Because he shows her sporadic kindness, she falls in love with him. Once he wins her love the spell is broken and he is no longer a beast.

While I love the OUaT version, Rumple is really rough with Belle, to the point where one might ask how she could possibly fall in love with him. Perhaps Gold’s confession that he is a difficult man to love tugs at her heart strings. Belle, ever the martyr, sacrifices her own happiness to save the man she loves. I have to admit I was looking forward to the new Beauty and the Beast television show, premiering on Showcase last night. This version closer parallels the eighties show starring Linda Hamilton than the Disney one. In it, Kristen Kruek plays Catherine, a police officer (Linda Hamilton’s Catherine was a reporter) who meets up with Vincent, a genetically engineered super soldier turned vigilante who once saved her life. If this series is anything like the eighties one, the two team up to fight crime. While I love Linda Hamilton from The Terminator (and more recently Chuck) days, I remember watching BatB sporadically.  I never quite understood why Vincent looked the way he did or why she was so attracted to him. This iteration of BatB takes place in a New York which looks a lot like a dressed up downtown Toronto (the only information I could find online was that it was filmed in Canada). Catherine meets Vincent in the first minutes of the show in 2004 when he saves her life and then we flash forward to 2012 where they meet again. Once more, he saves her from certain death and she is intrigued by him, especially when she learns he’s supposed to be dead. Long story short, they meet up, he spills the beans about his history and she agrees to keep the fact that he’s still alive a secret. So much for the slow build. Truth be told, I won’t be watching again. If I want a police procedural with a built-in love story, I’ll watch Castle instead. Speaking of Beauty and the Beast and police procedurals, Rookie Blue’s Sam and Andy kind of fit the bill—loner Sam is reluctant to succumb to Andy’s charms but eventually does. After a fellow cop is killed on his watch, Sam blames Andy and is horrible to her, playing beast to her beauty. True to archetype, even when Sam emotionally abuses Andy, the residual, reciprocal attraction remains.

Rumbelle still intrigues me, though I don’t understand Belle’s interest in staying, other than that she can’t leave Storybrooke or she’ll lose all memory of who she was. Being Beauty is much better than being a basket case locked up in the mental ward in the equivalent of Storybrooke’s dungeon. I love the new Rumplegold, a little bit Gold, a little bit Rumplestiltskin, and Robert Carlyle plays the part with slimy precision. Emilie De Ravin’s Belle is a young woman with a maturity beyond her years. She treats Gold as an impetuous child who, once he realizes he is indeed loved unconditionally, will stop playing manipulative games, grow up and be a man. Sounds a little like the relationship between Wendy and Peter Pan, doesn’t it?

Darn those archetypes.

Image from http://www.fanpop.com/spots/once-upon-a-time/images/29123371/title/rumpelstiltskin-mr-gold-belle-wallpaper