Jan 22, 2009

Heartland: If Wildfire and Caitlin's Way had an illicit love affair in Canada...

1.1 Coming Home

So I'm going to start watching this show. On Youtube, I guess, because Canadian television is all, I don't know, caring about who watches their programming for some reason. Look, Canada, I get that this is a Canadian show and all, but if and when you feel like publishing a tween book series about horses set in your own country, feel free to hoard the resulting tv show for Canadian eyes only.

Perhaps I'm being too hard on Canada. Or maybe it's just that I'm royally pissed off that this series gets a whole FREAKING TV SHOW and Thoroughbred didn't. Granted, Wildfire is basically a Thoroughbred fanfic, but that doesn't exactly count, now does it? So, I guess ultimately these entries will become giant rants about the unfairness of life and television. Hear me people that make these decisions: Thoroughbred tv show. You know you want to.

Okay, back to Heartland. I haven't read the books. I figure that I don't need to, given that Monique has laid down a solid primer and I really don't care. Let us watch the opening credits, because that's usually a good indicator of if a show is actually viewable.

So, damn it, I like the opening credits. They're actually way better than the opening sequence, which involves Amy and her mom stealing a horse from someone who is presumably abusing it, because they are morally superior to all other humans in the western half of the United States. Or Canada. Unfortunately for them the guy comes along and immediately shows some rage about the fact that this mother/daughter team has come along and decided that, you know, they'd really like his horse on grounds of their deciding he's an asshole. He rushes in and flips out entirely, deciding that the only appropriate response to this is to beat the horse more. Amy and her mom are shocked by his behavior, and the horse knocks him down. They tell him that they could call the cops, but they'll just take his horse and let him sit there on his ass and think about what a jerk he is, or something to that effect. They load up the horse and go, only to run off the road and into a tree.

There you have it. Horse and Amy survive, but mother dearest kicks the bucket. Amy's sister, Lou, is in a city that does not at all look like New York, and gets a phone call about the accident. She rushes home to be the pillar of strength that Amy can beat on angrily later, when she's feeling bitter and downcast about everything that life has thrown at her. When Amy gets home, looking pale but otherwise totally okay (her face was, you know, shoved into a windshield, so you'd think there would be some stitches, if not some serious bruising), she wanders around in a daze while the horse, a big black animal named Spartan, may or may not survive because he has been traumatized and the vet wants to put him down because of the trauma, I guess. It was one of those moments when a vet wants to put a horse down in a tv show, but has no realistic reason to, so they don't bother to state even a probable, yet fictitious, reason. I found this fascinating.

So Amy's grandpa says to keep the horse alive, and Amy continues to wander around and IM people as she holes herself up in her room. Lou learns that the bank is defaulting on their mortgage, and she goes to meet Steve, the crazy obvious Canadian banker, who so wants to go out with her that he does the natural thing and asks her out on a date if he can get the bank to approve whatever it is Lou is selling. Lou accepts.

Meanwhile, Ty has arrived, you guys, and according to Amy's friend Jen, he is hot. In a juvenile delinquent way. Because Amy's mom is an astonishing judge of character, she just happened to hire this guy before she died. I assume this will be explained later, because he has no experience, or clue. At all. Grandpa Fletcher tells him to stay the hell away from his daughters and then puts him to work.

Lou and Amy snip at each other in classic fashion, and Amy is forced to go back to school, where she suffers the advances of her boyfriend, Jesse, and the Classic Blond Antagonist Girl whose name I can't remember. Eventually they all go to a pool party, and this is where the plot probably deviates sharply from the book because there is underage drinking (from an American standpoint, anyway) and these kids couldn't possibly be older than 16. They can drive, so I guess I'll settle on that age. I could not tell what they were drinking, but I like to think they were drinking wine coolers. Just because.

So Jesse gets drunk and starts saying stupid stuff such as: "I drive really good when I'm drunk!" Oh, Jesse, you are so going to get beaten up. And he does, when Ty comes along and goes all Matt Ritter on Jesse's scrawny, drunk ass. At this point...right here...I wanted a Junior Davis to stand by looking bored by the stupid teenage shanigans, and there was no Junior Davis and I was UPSET about this. This show would benefit from the awesomeness of a Brad Townsend character, but that goes without saying.

Ty beats up Jesse and Amy has had enough of this stupidity, so she decides to walk home. Considering this is the middle of nowhere America, this is probably not wise because it's got to be a long walk. Ty finds her and apologizes and gives her a ride back, where they discover the rest of the farm hands doing Ty's work for him. Ty does not appreciate being found out like this, and when Grandpa fires him he has a melt down and Amy storms off after shouting at everyone and wow, teen angst. It is not as good as Wildfire. It's like a Thoroughbred book populated by drunk teenagers, actually. Hum. I would so watch that.

Yeah, well, during all of this Amy has discovered her gift of horse whispering and has whispered Spartan into being sane. In, like, a day. Go Amy. Lou finds out that the bank won't approve whatever she asked for unless she stays to implement her plan, so she has to stay at the ranch. Ty gets to stay because Grandpa Fletcher decides to be nice, I guess. And then Amy rides around on Spartan some more.

The Good:
This is a gorgeous show. Seriously, some of the scenery here is breathtaking. It reminds me a little of Wildfire in this aspect, because there were some scenes in that show's first season that really hit me as beautiful.

The Not So Good:
It's a general horse story. The formula is there, right down to the retraining a horse in a day thing. At least, it felt like a day. The way the shots were set up made it feel remarkably easy, when the dialogue kept trying to convince you that it wasn't.

The Appreciated, yet Hilarious:
The drinking. Okay, that wasn't expected because I had pegged this show to be majorly G rated, to the point of sugar shock. Yet all of a sudden there is this party scene where girls are running around in either bras or bikinis and everyone has red cups. The best part of this scene: when Ty threw his fists around. Not for the throwing of fists, but for the Classic Blond Antagonist Girl's gumption to actually tell him point blank that his hero routine blew up in his face. Nice work, show. Usually, no one bothers to point this out so directly. Ever.

Next up is After the Storm. I guess the first season borrows most of the book titles, but as you can see from IMDB, this stops rather obviously in season two with titles like "Divorce Horse" and "Showdown!" What, we couldn't think of some nice romantic titles? This is remarkably expected.


Linda Shantz said...

Hey, to be fair, we can't watch on demand TV from US network stations up here! So it's not just a Canadian thing! Anyway, Heartland is just a really really BAD show, you'll have a lot of fun with it. See you can find the new Canadian show on YouTube, called 'Wild Roses' not quite as horse-centred but more grown-up.

Mara said...

I had a feeling that was the case, but I like to focus on the injustice of it. YouTube continues to be most awesome, I guess.

Wild Roses, you say? I shall find it.

Monique said...

What I don't get is... why Canada? The books are set in Virginia for God's sake. Biiiig difference there. And there was no drinking in the books, Mara. :P None. Or Jesse, for that matter.

Mara said...

And there was no drinking in the books, Mara. :P None.

As I suspected! Because that would have been weirdly awesome for a juvy lit horse series, and we can't have that.

Behm said...

I must say that I agree with you! I live in Sweden and I have watched all those shows and I love them! At the moment I watch Heartland and I have special sources to find the episodes ;)

I'm now haunting other similar series so if you know one tell me :)

Have a good day!