Monday, November 9, 2009

Parks and Re-creation

I'm not much of a TV fan, but I find myself surprisingly devoted to the Amy Poehler vehicle Parks and Recreation, set in the fictional town of Pawnee, Indiana. (I thought about taking umbrage at the fact that Indiana is being used to signify insignificance, but I figure the more people think Indiana is podunk, the fewer people will move here, which means MORE INDIANA FOR ME! Heh.)

Parks and Recreation
posseses the qualities I value most in entertainment:

1) Profound interest in the profoundly unimportant
2) Sensitivity to the hilarity that is falling on your ass

In the most recent episode, Leslie Knope, Amy Poehler's deluded, ambitious Deputy Parks Director, has to save her taciturn boss Ron from his virago of an ex-wife. You can probably still catch the episode on Hulu if you hurry: It's called Ron and Tammy.

The thing that interested me about this one was that it reminded me so vividly of the tale of Tam Lin. You know Tam Lin. A young woman sets out to rescue her lover from the fairies, who have pledged him as part of a teind payed every seven years to Hell. He tells her that she will recognize him by his horse, and that she must hold fast to him at all costs. Tam Lin, under the fairies' spell, becomes a snake, a beast, a hot coal. The girl holds fast until he's once again a man.

I see Tam Lin in this episode. A comic version, spelled by the fairies to look like a bid for laughs, but Tam Lin nevertheless. Her boss transformed by slavish, happy devotion to his ex, Leslie must hold fast to the cranky person she knows is the true Ron in order return him to himself.

The story of Tam Lin, of transformation and devotion, is an old story. It makes me wonder if maybe all of our stories aren't old stories, refashioned to suit the teller and the told.

Other recreations of Tam Lin I've run across:

The Perilous Gard, Elizabeth Pope
Fire and Hemlock, Diana Wynne Jones
Spirited Away, Hayao Miyazaki

What else?


Samantha said...

Well, it's a straight-up retelling of Tam Lin, but it's one of my favorite fantasy books, and you might really enjoy it. It's Tam Lin by Pamela Dean, and it's set in 1970's academia. It's part of the larger "Fairy Tale series" put together by Terri Windling. Other standouts are Snow White and Rose Red by Patricia Wrede and Briar Rose by Jane Yolen. Stay away from White as Snow by Tanith Lee, though.

Ok, I'm done now.

Anne said...

Huh. I should try it! Thanks for the tip. Tanith Lee is weird: I know.

Kirk said...

Concur! Especially about the show's celebration of the nobility of failure.

I also loved the searing (and unexplained) hatred everyone felt towards the library department.