The Ninja Flu, and Veronica Ringwald-Mars

So I was minding my own business on Sunday night, when suddenly and with no warning whatsoever, I was attacked by the Ninja Flu. Within the space of two hours, my throat was completely closed up, I couldn’t speak, I was hacking up a lung, my sinuses were blocked, and I felt like someone had clunked me over the head with an epic mace (Dork Alert).

No idea where it came from. Very very Ninja. I spent the majority of Monday in bed, hopped up on cold medication and searching in vain for that cool ginger/lemon/orange concoction that I think Gina Black, Robin Brande, or maybe EatRawFish once sent me. I wish I could remember who or where (comment thread? email?) but, as mentioned, hopped up on cold medicine. Please, please, person who sent it once before, send it again!

I’m not good at being sick.

I’m praying Sailor Boy doesn’t get it, since he has two exams tomorrow, and one on Friday. I’ve been trying to force him to take some Airborne, but Sailor Boy will not be forced. Methinks he shall regret it.

In other news, I watched Pretty in Pink for the first time in many years yesterday. When I was a teenager, I thought it was, like, the most romantic thing ever. When I was in college, I was disappointed that Andie didn’t end up with Duckie (judging from Jon Cryer’s complaints in the Special Features, I’m not the only one, and the poor guy has had to answer to that every day of his entire life). By the way, DO NOT be taken in by the ads on the DVDs that say the movie has the “original, Duckie ending” on them. It doesn’t They don’t actually have the original ending scene, just some footage of them shooting the original ending (which they apparently lost or something) while the cast and production crew talk about why they didn’t do it.

Watching it last night made me wonder not only why Andie (Molly) ends up with Blaine (Worst. Name. For. A. Hero. Ever.) but why she’s ever with him to start with! Their date is a positive disaster. He doesn’t take her anywhere, she doesn’t WANT to be taken anywhere, whenever they are together, they both appear to be on the verge of tears all the time, all they ever talk about is how they shouldn’t be together, and then she flips out on him in the hallway like an utter harpy (which I think is deserved by that point, but still). I just don’t see what they see in one another. The only cute scene is the computer trick one.

HOWEVER, watching it last night also made me realize what an utter fan of this film Rob Thomas must be. I mean, I knew he liked it, and I got the PiP references sprinkled throughout Veronica Mars (such as when Meg and Duncan dress up as Andie and Duckie at the 80’s dance), but holy crap — I never realized how much of VM was set up on the PiP template. There’s this great interaction between sexysexy Steph (James Spader) and Blaine early on in the film where Steph tells Blaine about how he’s slumming with Andie that I swear, I swear, I saw Logan and Duncan have re: Veronica. And the whole close daughter-father relationship with the missing mom and etc… And of course the class bias and all the scenes of Andie waiting around at the lockers while Blaine walks on by… it’s very interesting when viewed post-VM.

In the extra where they sit around and discuss why they cut the Duckie ending, one of the main reasons given is that Cryer and Ringwald had more of a sibling like chemistry. Ringwald actually says that she thought the ending worked when they had considered casting Robert Downey Jr. as Duckie, because she was attracted to him, but when they cast Cryer, she was all, nope. And apparently, when they screened it, they got boos. So the director said that he had learned his lesson, that when he’s filming, he needs to watch the chemistry of the couple who are supposed to be together.

Which I also think is interesting vis-a-vis Veronica Mars. Because Kristen Bell never had any chemistry with the dude playing Duncan — none — so though I felt bad that she’d been dumped and all that, I never really felt for her on a romantic level. It was more like Duncan was a symbol of what she had lost: her innocence, her place in society, and of course, her best friend Lilly, who I can imagine that Duncan’s presence couldn’t help but remind her of all the time.

But Jason Dohring and Kristen Bell had heaps of chemistry (much, much more, IMO, than she had with Milo what’s-his-face-Peter-Petrelli). They melt the screen with that chemistry. (I’m not watching Moonlight, so I don’t know what kind of chemistry he’s got going on that show, but I’ll tell you this much: the two leads have NONE. They can be writhing around in the shower with her moaning: “Turn me, Mick, turn me!” as they were in one episode, and I just yawn.)

And I’m glad the writers on Veronica Mars realized it and put those two together, and wrote Duncan out. I think it’s important to follow the chemistry, even if that’s not the plan.

This is important in writing, too. In a movie, something may work fine on paper, in the script, but when you cast the characters and start filming, it’s off. In a book, something may work fine in your head, or in your synopsis, but when you start writing it, and the magic starts happening on the page, it could be off as well.

I’m a big believer in following the chemistry, and not just in the matter of romantic pairings. Another example from film: the character of Spike in Buffy the Vampire Slayer was originally written as a one-off. He was just supposed to appear and be a monster of the week, and a further complication in the relationship between Buffy and Angel. But he was a great character, and he had a ton of screen chemistry with the lead, so they kept bringing him back. (I do not agree that they made a good couple, but I loved all the seasons of them sparring and forming alliances and whatnot, so Seasons 2-5 were great Spike years for me.)

Of course, looking at Pretty in Pink, I didn’t see that the leads had too much chemistry either, though I remember being overwhelmed at sixteen (I think it’s the way Blaine touches her face and neck while he kisses her. That was a big thing for my teen hormones.

However, the lesson remains: follow the chemistry. Trust your instincts. If a character or a relationship is working, go with it. For instance, in my own work, I didn’t plan on Poe being a major character in the story, I didn’t even give him a real name. But he was so much fun to write in the initiation sequence that I kept bringing him back throughout the book (he was always so handy, story-wise) and then gave him an even bigger part in Under the Rose.

I also wrote a character in another book that wasn’t working at all. I kept trying to make him do this or that, and I wasn’t buy the result. So I recast him. I gave him a different name, and bam — he glimmered. (Not that I think Robert Downey Jr. would have made a better Duckie. I thought Cryer rocked.) But sometimes you do have to recast so that the chemistry all works out.

Right. Back to the cold remedies. Darn Ninja Flu

Posted in diversions, sick, TV, veronica mars, writing advice, writing life

17 Responses to The Ninja Flu, and Veronica Ringwald-Mars

  1. Cessie says:

    I was just discussing Molly Ringwald with someone the other day… I really need to buy those 80’s movies. They deserve a shelf of their own.

  2. Bill Clark says:

    Ninja flu = bad for Diana, but good for us – she has more time to write! 🙂

  3. Rhiannon says:

    Did you see teh most recent ep of Moonlight? JD had a lot of screen time, and I think there was chemistry.

    But I think the two main characters have chemistry on that show, as well… Mick just isn’t wearing his heart on his sleeve because he has to hold everything back.

  4. phyllis towzey says:

    Gosh, I haven’t seen PiP in years — I do remember, tho, that I thought she ended up with the right guy (for her). I would have been really disappointed if she ended up with Duckie. Because the point was Blaine’s character growth, too. Plus, it’s kind of a Cinderella story, and Cinderella is supposed to end up with the prince. 🙂 Of course, I never have liked books/movies where the woman ends up with the best friend guy she was too stupid to realize she loved all along and was too clueless to even notice also had a thing for her — for me, it weakens the female character too much.

    The only time I’ve ever seen that type of story line really work is When Harry Met Sally, and that only works because the cross-purposes, timing, etc. are so mutual.

    Hope you feel better soon, Diana!

  5. Diana Peterfreund says:

    Yes, Rhiannon, I broke down and plowed through them after writing the blog post. That show makes me so angry. The plotting is so sloppy, and I don’t think Mick and Beth have any chemistry at all.

    It annoys me to no end how much they recycle from Angel. I guess there isn’t SO much new you can do with a vampire PI in modern LA, but the idea that he killed his ex lover/woman who turned him into a vampire to save his new blonde, human girlfriend, oh and by the way, his ex lover was a former 18th century prostitute who has now, miraculously, become human? I mean, I’ve already SEEN this show.

    Beth just annoys the s*** out of me. Like how she thought it was just okay to stab Morgan/Coraline — vampire or not? That didn’t make any sense to me. I know Buffy always thought she had the right to kill anyone who was a vampire, but that didn’t seem to be the ethical standard that Moonlight was following. Mick doesn’t differentiate between vampire/human like that. He kills murderers and people attempting murder — vampires OR humans. Kidnapping, last I noticed, didn’t come with that punishment.

    And the scene where the dead DA magically shows up in the top security prison? Or why Josh the DA is always doing police work, or why the police never are, just Mick, or, oh, a dozen different things…

    I’d probably forgive any of it if I thought the leads had chemistry, though. They don’t. He had some chemistry with the chick playing Morgan, though, I thought.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Jennifer Estep said …

    I’ve never seen Pretty in Pink, but I may have to now, just for the VM references.

    But I disagree with your comment about Angel being better for Buffy than Spike.

    I always thought Spike was so much better for Buffy than Angel for one reason — Spike always tried to be the best vampire/man he could be for her. Even when he didn’t have a soul, Spike tried to be good for Buffy.

    When Angel didn’t have a soul, he was just pure evil. But Spike — Spike had personality. He wasn’t all evil, all the time.

    Maybe Whedon will make that rumored Spike movie someday …

  7. Diana Peterfreund says:

    I would NEVER say that Angel was good with Buffy. I just didn’t think that Spike was good with Buffy.

    Buffy needed a human boyfriend. My favorite was Riley, actually, but she was too f-ed up to see that.

  8. Karen Mahoney says:

    Great post – made me feel all nostalgic… *sigh* I was alwys disappointed that she ended up with Blaine (yuck!). I much preferred the ending of SOME KIND OF WONDERFUL from that era. Now *that* was a movie that had the RIGHT ending, with the right people ending up together. 🙂

    Hope you feel better soon,
    Karen

  9. Gina Black says:

    Sorry to hear you’re sick, m’dear. Wish I’d been the purveyor of the magic elixir, but ’twas not I. I do remember it though. Think it was a hot lemon drink . . .

    I usually suggest Garlicin CF, which is also good, but better during the coming-down-with-it stage.

  10. Anonymous says:

    Jennifer Estep said …

    I never cared for Riley that much. I believe I read somewhere that Whedon was going to kill off Anya and put Buffy with Xander at some point (maybe in Season 6?). I think that would have been a good match for both of them.

    BTW, if you haven’t read it, the new Buffy comic is really excellent. There are rumors that Rob Thomas is going to do a VM comic. Fingers crossed! 🙂

  11. Jennifer says:

    Great post!

    I have to agree with Molly about the lack of chemistry. To be honest, I have never loved Duckie- he’s just That Guy Who Gets On My Nerves. I wasn’t massively invested in Andie getting Blaine, but I would have actively rooted against Duckie getting her. He’s like that guy who always hangs around hoping some day you’ll cave in and love him, and I hate that guy.

    I think the problem with Buffy was that she really couldn’t have a normal human boyfriend who couldn’t fight along with her (they tried it with Riley, but he just wasn’t quite suped-up enough), but dating supernatural blokes was too much of a problem as well. There just isn’t really a physical match for her out there, seeing how much fighting IS a part of her life. Having her dude be the damsel on the sidelines doesn’t work.

  12. Lis says:

    Hope you feel better soon!

    I agree about Moonlight, zero chemistry and a lot of Angel ripoffs. I like Mick though. But the ending to last week had me shaking my head thinking wth? Definite cop out. I think she’s the recast of Beth, which makes me wonder how bad was the original?

    I don’t agree about Riley though. He ruined that season of Buffy for me. Maybe its the actor, but he seemed too whiny for Buffy. Her and Xander would have been interesting if they’d gone down that road.

  13. Maureen McGowan says:

    His PiP love was showing when he wrote Veronica Mars. Good call.

    Also, I totally agree about the Duncan vs Logan chemistry thing. I just recently watched the first 2 seasons of VM on DVD and I was SURE Duncan was going to turn out to be her brother in the first season, because that was the only way to explain zero chemistry between two characters who were supposed to be an ex-couple. I gave the show the benefit of the doubt thinking the lack of chemistry was foreshadowing. LOL.

  14. Anonymous says:

    Guess I’m the only one who thinks there is a heap o’ chemistry going on in “Moonlight,” and I’m glad to hear that it is doing relatively well for its timeslot, plus it is ‘cheap to produce’ according to TV Guide. So I think it will be around a long, long time and annoy you more. Sorry.

    I will definitely admit, there are problems with some of the stories. But I really don’t care too much…because I just have this thing for Mick when he is in his vampire craziness. He is very dangerous and hot and sexy!

    But since I know Diana thinks Mick/Alex is a ‘weak-chinned’ hero with jowls, guess that is the problem for her from the beginning with any possible chemistry issues.

    I think Alex is beautiful to look at. So I can excuse a few plot issues that maybe some of you can’t stand. And I don’t have a history of “Angel” watching to make me think there is any copying going on.

    Personally, I don’t find David Boreanz very attractive. And it’s one of the reasons I never got into “Bones,” aside from the fact that Emily Dechanel plays her character in this very weird way.

  15. Diana Peterfreund says:

    Yeah, there’s chemistry, anonymous, but it ain’t with Beth. I simply can’t get past the creep factor. He’s been STALKING HER since she was four.

    And this really isn’t me comparing anything with Angel. I woudln’t notice a recycled plot if there were anything else interesting going on with the show. I just don’t have anything there to distract me from the gaping plot holes and lack of charisma. (And Charisma, tee hee).

    I like Morgan and Josef. I iwsh they used Josef more. I liked that there was a Josef-centric episode this week. He’s always a cool character and I like where they went with it. I like Morgan’s descent into vampirism. It’s kind of like Oz on Buffy, huh, thinking herself out of being vampire?

    I thought Morgan had good chemistry with Mick. There’s just nothing there with Beth at all.

    I want Beth to die. She was great in Persuasion as the ditz who fell off the wall, though.

  16. Rhiannon says:

    Diana, I’m laughing so hard right now. You want Beth to die! I haven’t read your new post yet, but I agree, I don’t think the chemistry is between Mick and Beth, and I don’t think there is supposed to be. The creepiness that you feel is the incestious vibe that I think has been holding Mick back. This girl was presented to be his DAUGHTER – how could he have a romantic relationship with her?

    And Coraline was a killer in his eyes. She was about to turn a little girl – and he has hinted that she had done other Bad Things. It wasn’t a random killing by any means.

    I never watched Angel, so I don’t have any hangups about recycled plots. And I’ve always been a fan of cheese.

  17. There is obviously a lot to know about this. I think you made some good points in Features also.