Dispatches from Planet Hockey: The Tragically Jaded Edition

commentary by Jas Faulkner, contributing editor

Sorry, Cap'n Mal! (2002 20th Century Fox)

It all went off the rails when a dozen or so writers from various new media outlets agreed to spend the downtime between the regular season and the playoffs watching a series about a living spaceship manned (or wo-manned, as it were) by a crew of misfits on the lam.  The colleague who organised it couldn’t remember the name of the show, but she said it would be easy enough to find since it was “the show that wasn’t Firefly”.

Okey dokey.

What happened next would set back sexual politics among my circle of puck-mad freaks by at least a generation.

(2003 The Jim Henson Company)

The bulk of us found the show she meant.  Farscape is an epic tale couched in sylvan, almost Campbellesque mythic terms, populated with courageous characters and creatures with pedigrees from the Henson workshop, and blessed with a budget as big as the alternative universe that serves as its backdrop.  It is the sunkissed Aussie ensemble setpiece that raised the bar for large scale sci-fi series for quite some time.

However, and isn’t there always a however?  A ragtag crew consisting of five writers from smaller markets somehow wandered over to the wrong show.  We ended up watching Lexx.

“Nononononononononononono!” wailed my friend on Skype, burying her face in the overlong sleeves of her goalie cut sweater bearing the logo of the Original Six team she covers.  ” That show is…it’s awful.  Lexx?  Really? Lexx?

(2003 Echo Street Video)

Yes, Lexx, really.   In retrospect, I am sure that the other four people who were part of the Canadian Sci-Fi Rebellion of 2012 were making a stand for a chance to see Xenia Seeberg’s, erm, assets.  Me?  In the parlance of geeks everywhere, I think Lexx kind of rules.*  Over the course of  the  four seasons worth of shows we watched,  it managed to be both horrendous and so off the charts creative and surreal that  the idea of not sticking around to see what would happen next was unthinkable.  Only someone suffering from a dearth of creativity and an abbreviated capacity for intellectual engagement on this side of the screen would have considered it.

The Lexx/Farscape kerfuffle can stand as the perfect sci-fi analogy for this year’s playoffs.

Those of us who elected to stick around past the April sell-by date for the NHL were, for the most part, figuring on another two months of epic clashes of titanic battalions of big damn heroes wearing the crests of storied franchises.  We counted on huge explosions of activity at the crease  and mindbending living tableaux of players struggling for domination of the puck and humans defying every natural law that we mere mortals on the other side of the glass must obey.   We expected Han Solo and Captain Mal and Darth Vader.

Darth who? (2002 Global Television)

What we got was Stanely H. Tweedle and a bunch of smartypantsed people waiting for their moment.  You know something?  The playoffs might not have offered heroically scaled events starring the expected matinee idols of the ice.  The history that is being made might stump the mainstream sports media expecting to ask the usual questions to the usual talking heads in front of logos that are part of our day to day visual vocabulary.  This year’s postseason has flung everyone through an unanticipated wormhole into a different  hockeyverse where it has taken a little while to learn the heroes and the villains.  It’s easy and a little lazy to just say “meh” to the Devils and the Kings.  For those who stuck around?  They figured out that Kai is pretty cool for a dead guy, Xev is a whipsmart badass and Stanley Tweedle, who looked so not-the-hero, so very not Cap’n Mal, was actually kind of awesome, kind of like the Kings and the Devils.

You have to feel a little sorry for those people, you know, the Farscape types who were doing all of the posturing about not caring about the playoffs?  If you were one of those people, you missed out on some good hockey.   You missed teams making heroic runs for less populated sections of the bracket.   You missed seeing breathtaking action on the ice by guys you might otherwise have overlooked.   You missed out on getting fluent in Kings and Devils culture.  This is playoff hockey in an alternative universe.   The cup will be raised a few days from now, arguably by hands that belong to beings alien to many fans.  Whether you stick around for it or not, and I sincerely hope you do, you’ll see history being made and by clubs and their fans who laughed and cried  and cheered through the whole damned season and beyond.  This is what it’s about and you shouldn’t want to miss a minute of it.


*For those of you not familiar with Lexx, it is a Canadian-German production that had the same budget as your average MFA film project.  The diff  was that they stole shamelessly and brilliantly from sources as diverse as Brecht, Maxfield Parrish,  Gilbert and Sullivan,  Moebius, Lerner and Lowe, Shakespeare, Umberto Eco and so on.  So why no love for Lexx?  They didn’t mind getting down and dirty with the existential state of human subsistence.  One of the principles was a zombie romantic warrior and everyone else  continually wrestled with being perpetually horny and hungry. Sometimes it could get ugly.