Tuesday, September 27, 2005

If Purple Horses Could Fly

This weekend at my house, I was treated to a couple of new entertainments that both involved, quite by coincidence, the name PEGASUS. And what a coincidence. They couldn't have been more different from one another. The differences, in fact, were quite shocking.

Friday night saw the season finale of Battlestar Galactica with an episode called Pegasus, loosely based on a two-part episode of the original series, in which another Battlestar long though destroyed suddenly returns from out of nowhere and has a happy reunion with the Galactica. This episode, more than any other before it, shows just how hardcore and nasty the new show can be compared to the old one.

To put it bluntly, there is a rape scene. It doesn't go too far; a vicious officer from the Pegasus who specialized in the rape and torture of female Cylon prisoners is killed in a scuffle with a pair of heroes from the Galactica before he can perform the act. Nonetheless, it is without question the most disturbing sequence thus far seen on BSG. And it wasn't gratuitous, either. The scene, with all it implies and foreshadows, is as inimical to the storyline and the equally disturbing opening scenes on the various Law & Order programs.

Aside from that, the episode was tense and thrilling, leaving us a lot to look forward to when the show returns from mid-season hiatus in a few months. Not that I am unaware of what to expect; I am a spoiler enthusiast. I keep no secrets from myself, and I like to have some idea of what to expect before I watch something. Besides, I like knowing stuff that others are oblivious to. It's a kind of mini-power trip.

Now then -- the other Pegasus-related entertainment for the weekend was a birthday present for my baby's third birthday. As most parents of little girls are probably aware, Mattel has been releasing a series of straight to video CGI movies starring Barbie dolls for about five years now. Most of these are based -- some more loosely than others -- on familiar fairy tales and stories that haven't been done by Disney. Each film follows the same formula -- a lead character, played by Barbie, falls into peril, meets up with a Ken doll character, and ends up hooking up with him, usually after she saves his sorry hide. The newest one, Barbie and the Magic of Pegasus (henceforth known as BATMOP) takes place in what appears to be a Scandinavian setting where the townsfolk ice skate every evening and everyone is dressed in sweaters of the sort that most Americans only ever see in a ski lodge. They also battle magically powered villains to a soundtrack by Grieg. I was not familiar with the story, but I can assume that it may have been based on a northern folktale. Ridiculous. Who ever heard of Pegasus in a Scandinavian folktale?

Ah, but this is not about Pegasus. BATMOP is about the "Magic of Pegasus". It just happens to have flying horses who are based on a familiar mythical figure from Ancient Greece. My girls enjoyed the movie for what it was: a charming and colorful spectacle with fluffy pink clouds where demonically grinning Kelly dolls ride Pegasus Ponies and manipulate the day and the night. They were not expecting to see Pegasus springing forth from blood dripping down from Medusa's severed head. My kids saw a show with Medusa a couple of weeks ago. She absolutely terrified them -- just as she did me when I was little. (I look forward to the day when Mattel releases Barbie and the Terror of the Medusa, in which brave Barbie as Andromeda helps wimpy Ken doll Perseus defeat the Gorgon and recover his self-esteem.) But no -- there was nothing as scary as Medusa in this movie.

The closest thing to scary in BATMOP was more of a Daddy character than a little girl character. He's Ollie, a green-skinned giant whom I have come to think of as The Ollie Green Giant. This character, who adds little to the plot other than to show how brave and resourceful Barbie is, seems to have been included as nothing less than a tribute to everyone's favorite big green ogre, Shrek! Ollie sticks Barbie -- who really is the size of a doll next to him -- in a big old pot with the intention of making Barbie stew, complete with yummy carrots and turnips. He takes a break from stew prep to eat a sizeable chunk out of a huge onion, and immediately proceeds to let fly with a BIG STINKING ONION FLAVORED BELCH RIGHT IN BARBIE'S FACE. You can't get much more Shreky than that.

As a Daddy, I found it quite inspiring. I know what I'm going to be doing next time my girls are playing with their Barbie dolls. After a visit to the produce aisle.

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