So, in order:
-Avatar, the last Airbender:
Coming late to the bandwagon on this one, I know… Set in a pseudo-Asian continent divided in four nations, each with their own element of predilection (earth, water, fire and air), it follows the adventures of Aang, the goofy titular character, last of his tribe and destined to restore balance to the world. Complete with flying bison, a fabulous supporting cast which includes a compassionate girl from the Water Tribe, an emo Fire Prince and his tea-loving uncle, and all sorts of awesome beasts and lovely settings. There’s some atttempt to differentiate between nations, with the Fire Nation being more or less an explicit parallel for Japan, the Earth nation strongly inspired by the more stagnant eras of Chinese history, and the Water nation by Inuits (we see very little of the Air nation, which has been wiped out, but it brought Tibet to mind as far as I’m concerned).
It’s actually pretty darn good, striking a very good balance between independent episodes and a larger story arc. Bonus points for making efforts to actually get it right culture-wise (not an expert, but I recognised a bunch of customs from Chinese history), and for having a very strong female cast on both “good” and “evil” sides.
I have seen there’s going to be a movie, which I’m not impatient for. It looks like the humour and self-deprecation that was so much a part of the series went through the window–meaning I’m afraid this is just going to be one big old “Chosen One” movie, heavy on the cool martial arts and light on actual characters. And while I’m not necessarily gunning for 100% racial representativity… seriously, guys? You needed to cast pale-eyed, pale-skinned actors everywhere you could? (except Zuko, who just looks weird). I’ve seen the trailer, and I was traumatised big time by all those pale faces in pseudo-Inuit costumes.
-The adventures of Sherlock Holmes and Doctor Watson:
AKA Sherlock Holmes, Russian style (made in the 70s or 80s). Apparently for afficionados. Only watched a bit of the first episode so far, and it looks to be freakishly faithful to the books. We shall see.
Started on Charlaine Harris: read the first Sookie Stackhouse book, Dead Until Dark. Not wildly original, but well done; the book equivalent of comfort food. I’ve gone on to the next one while I was at it.
Also finally reading the Miles Vorkosigan books in sequence. They are made of awesome.
Yup, my fave characters are Zuko and Iroh. How did you guess?
Yeah, a small niggle… Not a big fan of how they played this whole nation business out, which was “everyone with their own kind” (there was only one trans-nation couple, and it formed way too late for them to do anything about it). Would have been nice to have the occasional mixed-nation character in the 70-odd episodes of the show. But I quibble. It was still very good