Whacking The Witchblade

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One of the things I really, really, despise is when a storyline jacks me up to the point where I want something significant and important to happen, and instead I find some idiot doing the equivalent of peeing on my boot.

Now, I have been able to forgive this in The X-Files for various reasons, including the fact that part of the ride was the obfuscation, confusion, and sheer weirdness going on — sometimes it really didn’t make sense, if only because Chris Carter was making it up as he went along. It fit the theme.

With Dallas, I didn’t give a damn when Bobby turned up in the shower. Big dumb joke, that.

What they did with Witchblade, though, utterly pisses me off. Worse yet, everybody involved seems to believe that they’ve contributed a masterpiece of television to the world. Well, sorry, folks, it ain’t so. It wasn’t so before the last first-season episode, but at least it was tolerable, and, in quite a few places, actually gripping.

To back up a little bit and explain, Witchblade is the story of New York Police Detective Sara Pezzini, who is pushed into contact with an ancient artifact called the Witchblade. This gives her useful abilities, including the power to spring a three-foot sword from her wrist and do some time-twisty things. Also involved is billionaire Kenneth Irons and his henchman Ian Nottingham, Sara’s first partner, Danny, and then her rookie partner, Jake, who turns out to have more than a few secrets of his own. Then there’s good cop Joe Siry and bent cop Bruno Dante, and his team of White Bulls. Finally, we have Gabriel Beauman, the sidekick she acquires, and Conchobar, her short-lived boyfriend. It’s based on the Top Cow comic, which is so much about t&a that I’ve never been tempted, thanks (if I need the stimulation, Avatar Breast, errr, Press features heroines with much bigger, err, assets and then there’s Jim Balent).

Between the two-hour pilot and the following eleven episodes, Witchblade follows Sara as she learns more and more about the Witchblade. Irons, meanwhile, has his own agenda (exactly what it is, is unclear until the last couple of episodes), Nottingham goes all weird over Sara, Jakes gets involved with the White Bulls, and Dante decides to kill Sara. It gets messy, it gets difficult, and then, in the last episode, it gets damn near terminal. Nottingham turns out to be clones, Irons needs Sara’s blood to survive, and everybody gets killed (listen to the uh-ohs when Danny’s ghost touches Gabe) except for Sara, who isn’t feeling so well then. Jake exits in an impressively tacky scene, having surfing flashbacks as Nottingham throttles him.

This is when we’re introduced to Lazar. “Who?” you ask. “Lazar,” I say. Yes, yes, I know, cluelessness results. Well, we’ve seen Lazar from time to time — a wrinkly blond shamanic type popping up silently here and there. You can’t miss Lazar, actually. Every time he turns up, they stay with him in slow motion for something like ten minutes. Nobody ever explained anything, however, or even hinted. Well, Lazar is quickly mentioned in this episode, then it’s a reminder about something Sara learned in “Periculum” (the episode where Yancy Butler is strapped to a bed in her underwear) about the way time is supposed to work. Except that now it’s “you can turn time back, but only once!” Errrr, well, wasn’t that having the ability to go back and forth through time at will? Apparently not; she can turn time back full tilt.

So she does. Bang pow! Funky light out of the Witchblade, and smash cuts through the episodes until we get back to a scene from the pilot ... except this goes a little differently. Everybody’s alive again, Sara’s forgotten all she learned, and the series has been, in one shot, rebooted completely. They can now do a second season exactly like the first.

I am so thrilled I could barf.

This is unfortunately the typical TV industry mentality. It’s only fantasy, so who cares about the rules? There was little consistency in the series, with the possible exception of Nottingham’s increasingly daffy behavior. After “Periculum,” with Sara being bonded to the Witchblade, one could expect some interesting elements to pop up. Never happened. If anything, the fantasy elements became duller and less pronounced.

On the other hand, I will say this — there were some very good cast choices made, including the selection of Yancy Butler as Sara Pezzini. The bullfrog voice is actually a perfect grace note. Alas, as I won’t be watching the next season, I won’t be hearing it....

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