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Very Hot Topic (More than 25 Replies) Mary Straker (Read 12272 times)
dragon
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Re: Mary Straker
Reply #15 - Jul 29th, 2010 at 6:34pm
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There was a rumor that when the pilot was shot, they didn't really expect the series to be picked up by anyone. Shock! It was and they had to come up with storylines, etc. And, as you say, Anderson was used to working with puppets and voice overs ... real actors are soooooo much harder to keep up with. Wonder what they would have done had CGI been available for their use?  Smiley

Hmm, UFO as anime ... <pardon the drool. cleaning up the mess.>

I think Mary was ignorable when I first watched the series. Incomprehensible, but ignorable. I was, after all, far more interested in Alec, Ed and the aliens, not to mention Ford and the intriguing Doug Jackson. Mary and Johnny were window dressing and that's how they were treated.

The only really comprehensible part of Mary was when she screamed at him over Johnny's death ... and such a wierd dichotomy in her character there, she's got a perfectly good spouse, but it's Ed she wants to fix things because he's got pull ... a studio head has enough pull to get an experimental antibiotic???? The whole problem with the antibiotics had me confused anyway. If someone could foot the bill, why didn't they just have them sent from the US anyway?  Shocked

Still, the kid died and moms get distraught about that kind of thing. The only thing that they still had in common, possibly the only thing that they ever had in common (lust does not count here) was gone and not wanting to see him ever again was pretty much a good call. The only good call the writers ever made with that twit.

The writers were much at fault for the scramble of Mary and Ed (and Alec, who introduced them and still thought it was a bad idea to get married; thus leading to speculation about Alec, but that's another analysis entirely.)

I suspect it's a tribute to the concept and the rabidity of the fans that UFO is still functioning as a basis for fandom, that it's expanding and that there is so much fan fiction coming to the fore for it now.

Matt: No, they aren't dead. There's a sequel. (Hey, at least the car wreck didn't put him in the hospital! LOL)

As noted, I've been known to write mary centric fics. I think they're all posted in the stacks at the SHADO Library (unabashed self promotion)  Grin

I think I got into defending Mary because another writer spent a lot of time bashing her. Sometimes it is sheer joy to torment other writers ... Cheesy (then again, that one was highly uncomplimentary about our Ford, also)

laters

d

  
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Guina
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Re: Mary Straker
Reply #16 - Jul 29th, 2010 at 6:35pm
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Hi Louise,

I do not really agree with that general take.

The series was quite well thought out, in fact it scores on many planes as true science fiction. By that I mean as compared e.g. to the works of Isaac Asimov or Richard Bach (and later screen adapations thereof). To achieve that amount of advanced thinking you've got to give it a lot of thought and heart's blood. In fact UFO was quite a step ahead of Star Trek on that count.

Regarding the characters and their development, with Bishop so totally making the role his and being in every single episode, in fact with Straker being almost from the start the most important person of SHADO itself, it is only logical that his character achieved the most depth of all.

However, I disagree that the rest was mostly one-dimensional. Even those I dislike due other reasons (e.g. Col. Lake) had their backstories, had quirks and lines which made them tangible and "real" to watch. Just think of Doug Jackson, General Henderson or Mark Bradley (whom I see quite differently than some here). Even most of the one-time characters were of rather astonishing depth for the constraints of the production at the time, e.g. the old lady in Priorities.

This is why Mary Straker strikes me as such an awful waste.
  
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Matt
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Re: Mary Straker
Reply #17 - Jul 29th, 2010 at 7:42pm
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Mary Straker:

For a character that appeared in only two of the twenty six episodes Mary has quite a bit written about her in Fan Fiction.

My first impression of Mary was a vain spiteful woman who wasn’t very bright. In the episode “A Question of Priorities” she allows her eight year old son to run out into the street after his father when she could have easily stopped him. Smooth move lady! And then she screams at poor Ed like it was his fault. A little shifting of blame going on here.

In “Confetti Check A-OK” we see Mary and Ed at their wedding and what looks like a promising life together, which shortly goes straight to hell! I actually felt bad for Mary in this at least at first. It really sucked to be cheated out of her honeymoon by circumstance and in her defense she had no idea what she was getting into marrying Ed at that time in his life. The biggest mistake she made here was listening to her meddling mother. Meddling parents can destroy any marriage. Had she not listened to her mother Mary might have put two and two together. That would have been interesting. I saw both of them as victims of circumstance, and it was quite sad for both of them.

In Fan Fiction she is all across the map. Denise wrote a story a while back called “Full Circle” where Mary discovers the truth about Ed. The story portrayed her in a much better light than the series did and it was a great read. It’s one of my favorite Mary stories.

Dragon wrote a story called “The Mary Chronicles” which also painted her in a good light. I think Denise’s story was based on this one but I’m not sure.

Alison wrote a story called “Someone else’s Battlefield” that cast Mary as a vampire. A scary one at that.

I dealt with the Mary issue in my story “Mission of Mercy” where Colonel Lake was the envoy that tried to deliver the medication John needed to survive. In my story Virginia witness Mary screaming at Ed saying “I never want to see you again!” I was very tempted to break cannon at that point and have Virginia walk up and slap the snot out of Mary. Alas discretion prevailed. I was going to include a Mary/Virginia confrontation in “Soul Mates” but I opted not to as it had been done before and really didn’t forward my plot. I still have my story scraps of that confrontation.

Although I disliked Mary in the series (mostly in QP), I really liked Dragon’s and Denise’s portrayal when she was being decent.
  

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Lightcudder
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Re: Mary Straker
Reply #18 - Jul 29th, 2010 at 7:47pm
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I have a Mary story ( A Matter of Degree) in which Mary loses custody of John.  It's waiting for me to post the ones that come first.....Castled and Combined Operations,  and I still have to finish Combined. so it will be some time before I can post my Mary story.. and, like most of mine it's violent...(but good fun!). snigger.

  

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Neesierie
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Re: Mary Straker
Reply #19 - Jul 29th, 2010 at 8:00pm
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Thanks, Matt, for the plug!  But in all honesty, I could never have seen Mary as anything other than the way the series portrayed her if not for Dragon.  I tend to take my characters at face value unless given a different insight by someone else first.  It's one of the limitations of my creativity.  But having said that, 'Full Circle' remains one of my favorite stories of mine.  The story helped me air a lot of feelings I had to deal with in my own divorce, and gave me the chance to show how Mary could have grown past her mother's influence to become her own person.  I still enjoy the symbolism in the story and the sweet ending.  So I guess I don't do too badly after all within my limited sphere of creativity.  Wink
  
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Matt
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Re: Mary Straker
Reply #20 - Jul 29th, 2010 at 8:08pm
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Louise, I'll be looking for your Mary story! Smiley

Denise, as I said "Full Circle" was one of my favorites! I think it was the first story of yours that I read. And you did a great job with Joan as well. I see her as a gossip queen busy body, but I liked your take on her as well! Wink

BTW, I agree with Louise, see below! Cheesy
  

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Re: Mary Straker
Reply #21 - Jul 29th, 2010 at 8:18pm
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Denise.....

Limited Sphere of Creativity?

YOU?

You cannot be serious. Wink

I stand in awe of your ability to write such a range of beautifully crafted, well-thought out stories in such a range of styles;
When you consider some of your recent work;
Face Off, Kid Stuff, Writer's Block, Devil is a Woman, Bodyguard, A Little Magic, Beyond Repair

  not to mention the Shakespeare Saga and of course Devilsgate, you have to admit you are a very talented and creative writer.. and not only that , you can punctuate properly... which I can't! Angry

I would never have had the courage to write if you hadn't encouraged me.
Thankyou.  Kiss
And don't ever let me hear you say you have a limited sphere of creativity again. Shocked
  

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dragon
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Re: Mary Straker
Reply #22 - Jul 29th, 2010 at 8:19pm
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The Mary Chronicles came after Illumination, Second Illumination and The Moorcock Legacy in which Mary makes some of the same connections she does in the
Chronicles, but with a differing outcome. The final installment is an xover with War of the Worlds (TV series 1985). And then there's the one where Ed shows up at her door at 10pm and the aliens have them. LOL.

Thank you, Denise. I am glad that spotlighting her gave you inspiration. I'm a "what if" person, so I twist things. (Mary: intelligent if slow; robot; demented ... I had a lot of fun with her character.)

Heck, I even worked on redeeming her mother in one of the stories, having her also lose a child so that she understood what Mary was experiencing. I guess my objective is to make the characters human and Mary needed a lot of work to make her anything more than the shrew they wrote into the show. Fortunately, it's difficult to only be that one dimensional and finding explanations for bad behavior is an interesting pass time.

Yes, sometimes dragon has too much time on her hands.

d
  
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Re: Mary Straker
Reply #23 - Jul 29th, 2010 at 8:50pm
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Dragon... I always thought that the scripts were a little 'haphazard' shouild we say.. even to the extent that there was no definite running order, and that there is still a considerable amount of controversy over the order.  I was intereseted to read that Bishop was only actually intended to be the man behind the desk.. a very peripheral character, but when they realised how good he was he was 'bumped up' to be the main man.
They did that with Martin Sheen (?) in West Wing..only meant to be in a couple of episodes. And yet the Andersons had seen Bishop acting in Doppleganger ( and Delrosa) so why weren't they more attuned to the actual abilities of the actors?

There were some very good actors Grant Henderson, the guy who played Schroeder, George Sewell, for example, but others were really quite poor adn as Bishop said, a lot of them treated UFO as almost a joke. Ands it shows with some of them.
Mary was well acted, but a poorly written character.
ADN i like your versions of her.. especailly the one where they have been married for 15 years (or more) and she is pregnant again!   MOre of that ..please? SOmetime?
  

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MkIXHawk
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Re: Mary Straker
Reply #24 - Jul 29th, 2010 at 9:12pm
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My take on Mary:


The woman sighed. Her husband should have been home hours ago.
Yawning, she placed her book on the cushion beside her then got up from the sofa.
Wearily, she made her way into the hall. Picking up the telephone handset, she dialled a number.
“Heathrow Airport, can I help you?” The voice at the other end betrayed no surprise at the lateness of the hour.
“Arrivals please. ” A pause. “Hello. I wonder if you can tell me when the 7pm flight from New York is due to touch down?”
“Just a moment, please…” She could hear the rustle of papers, obviously as the clerk checked her schedules. “Ah, here we are: Pan Am flight PA131 arrived at 21:15 hours. ”
“Thank you”. She replaced the handset.
The grandfather clock in the hall struck once.
That did it. she wouldn’t wait any longer.
Pausing only to switch off the lights, she made her weary way upstairs to bed.
As she climbed the stairs, she reflected on the book, ‘That Summer’ by Allen Drury, a cheap and trashy paperback that she’d picked up at the airport and which in an earlier age would have been referred to as a penny dreadful; The plot seemed to revolve around a newly-wedded husband having an affair behind his bride’s back, all the while claiming that the late nights were as a result of pressure of work.
As she reached the top of the stairs, she smiled. It was rather a silly book really. No one would carry on like that in real life. Would they?
Suddenly, Mary Straker wasn’t smiling any more

  
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Guina
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Re: Mary Straker
Reply #25 - Jul 29th, 2010 at 9:29pm
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Hi Louise,

Quote:
I was intereseted to read that Bishop was only actually intended to be the man behind the desk.. a very peripheral character, but when they realised how good he was he was 'bumped up' to be the main man.


But ... how much of this is Bishop's speculation? Or his obviously pretty regular attempt to take himself back?

I am struck by a couple of other things instead: the fact that already with Captain Blue the Andersons had wanted the puppet to bear his features (plus fair hair). The care which went into both setting up Straker as a "type" and tailoring the look to perfectly exploit Bishop's beauty and built. The fact that what he reports in other interviews as to how he was asked to audition and with what words, that there appears to be quite some premeditation, albeit possibly one at shorter than usual notice.

I really don't share your take of things, especially in view of what the then times were and the fact that the Andersons did operate on not that much more than a few shoestrings.

I usually compare UFO to Space Patrol (instead of Star Trek) because those two are much closer linked in style and basic lookout of society and politics. Space patrol had salt shakers (well, Bones had those too...) and (electric) irons for rudder and radar instruments, the models used where built with minimal ressources and some of the achieved effects (e.g. of the aliens) are still chilling, to the day, too.

Space Patrol had an even darker universe than UFO, with severe cold war influence and a constant spy (of the military intelligence) onboard the ship (imagine a Doug Jackson sitting in Straker's office all day and reporting to the brass above General Henderson if deeming Straker's behaviour out of line!). The basic premise was the same, indeed Space Patrol might have been a few years in the future of UFO, with the first spaceships built by mankind defending Earth solarwide, even along a perimeter of defense against aliens as far off as Vega.

Space Patrol was produced 1966, 3 years prior to UFO, filmed in b/w. The storylines were even more haphazard and vague (you never knew what those aliens were about or what they wanted) and just like UFO it worked and was effective inspite of that.

So, when comparing those two, which have way more in common regarding production and background than ST and UFO, I can't find myself judging UFO as harshly as you do. I don't think any European company, especially such a small one, had the means to satisfy such a perfectionism.  Grin
  
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Neesierie
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Re: Mary Straker
Reply #26 - Jul 30th, 2010 at 3:57am
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Yeah, Louise.  I was there at one of the Cons when Bishop dissed the guest actors for their disdain of the series.  I was shocked to hear it, since I never saw UFO as anything other than a serious attempt at sci-fi.  I couldn't figure out why anyone would see it otherwise!  One of the wonderful things about all the regulars on the show was the seriousness they showed in their portrayals of their characters.  Even the peripherals were serious about their roles, which says a lot for the loyalty that Gerry Anderson was able to inspire in his people.  Even all these years later, it still makes no sense why some of the guest artists acted that way.  Huh

As to Straker's part in the show originally being meant for a desk job, I think if you read it in an interview, it might have been misquoted.  What Bishop told us at the Con was that when the Andersons asked him to take the role, he thought it would be like a desk job type of thing.  Aren't we all glad he was wrong!  Cheesy
  
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Neesierie
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Re: Mary Straker
Reply #27 - Jul 30th, 2010 at 4:35am
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Also, thanks for defending me against myself!  Grin

I wasn't dissing my writing or my creativity.  Honest.  I was merely stating that I know my limits when it comes to thinking outside the box.  The only analogy that comes close to explaining what I'm describing is 'Nuns Fret Not' by Wordsworth.  The poem talks about sonnets and how their shorter form restricts the poet and makes them work harder to say everything they wanted said in a limited space.  I personally love writing sonnets -- and for that very reason.  Restrictions actually help me to grow and develop as a writer. 

So when I say that my creativity is limited to using characters pretty much as is from a series unless someone else gives me a different perspective, I'm only saying that I have that limit in my mind when it comes to writing.  Other writers may have completely different limits.  Perhaps they can't play out scenes in their mind beforehand and have to shape their story as they write it.  Or perhaps they can't help but bring in characters from other shows into anything they write, making everything pretty much a crossover (remind you of anyone?  Wink)  We all have our quirks.  I mean, some people can't seem to write a story without lots of bloodshed.   :Smiley

But I promise that I wasn't saying I'm not creative.  I wouldn't say that ever.  Because it would be a lie.  I have a hope that someday I will be able to do the mental twist thingy that Dragon does and see characters in new lights never before visualized.  And I feel that as I steal borrow ideas from her, it's helping me to grow and stretch so that someday that hope will be realised.  But I am always aware that -- for now -- I am inside that box. 

Does that clear things up for you?  Or have I totally lost you?  Huh 

  
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Lightcudder
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Re: Mary Straker
Reply #28 - Jul 30th, 2010 at 9:03am
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Quote:
   But ... how much of this is Bishop's speculation? Or his obviously pretty regular attempt to take himself back?   

Welll, if The  Man said it, I generally tend to believe it! Grin


Quote:
    
So, when comparing those two, which have way more in common regarding production and background than ST and UFO, I can't find myself judging UFO as harshly as you do         
         


and I don't judge UFO harshly, just without  rose-tinted glasses. It was a wonderful programme, but if it had been better, it might not have been cancelled. For all its faults it still gives me a great deal of pleasure to watch various episodes.. (Not Ordeal or TCWTL, though.. and there are some others I have only watched a couple of times!)
and the mere fact that the characters are pretty one dimensional gives Fanfic writers the opportunity to flesh them out .
Great!
'Glitching' this week....  what fun!
Speak to you all soon...hopefully!
  

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Guina
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Re: Mary Straker
Reply #29 - Jul 30th, 2010 at 11:49am
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Hi,

Quote:
As to Straker's part in the show originally being meant for a desk job, I think if you read it in an interview, it might have been misquoted.  What Bishop told us at the Con was that when the Andersons asked him to take the role, he thought it would be like a desk job type of thing.  Aren't we all glad he was wrong!


Well, that's exactly what I meant  Grin He, repeatedly I believe, made it clear that that was his personal impression. Not what he had been told or what had been confirmed by the Andersons. So that doesn't consequently mean that the Andersons didn't have a good enough idea regarding what Straker would be or look like.

Quote:
It was a wonderful programme, but if it had been better, it might not have been cancelled.


Was it indeed cancelled? UFO wasn't in the same fix as ST:TOS, the airing was well after full production,? Many British TV series of the time were of that one-season format and it had been my impression that 26 eps. were what they had aimed at and Anderson had already moved onto planning for Space 1999 when the discussion came up.

Quote:
without  rose-tinted glasses.


Chuckling.

I think that you maybe apply the rose-tinted glasses instead to production nitty-gritty of the then times. Modern perfectionism wasn't on the table in the sixties and seventies. I very much remember it being a very "flower-powery" era even among such exacting and dour people as architexts and engineers, at least that's how I remember my parents and their friends (all in that age bracket of the Andersons or the actors).

That the extras treated UFO as a weirdo/kiddie program probably was inevitable. In many countries those actually groundbreaking early sci-fi series were placed in the children's programming in the late 60ies and early 70ies. Both ST:TOS and UFO definitely were deemed kids' stuff in several countries. It's hardly likely that the contemporary actors not firmly attached to the production would know better and I can't really fault them. It took the concerted efforts of such people as Isaac Asimov or Stanislav Lem to get the general public to respect SF.

Quote:
nd the mere fact that the characters are pretty one dimensional gives Fanfic writers the opportunity to flesh them out


Difference in perception then. The only truly one-dimensional characters I found are apart from Mary Straker a few of the studio circuit, who quite clearly were stereotyped. But then I tend to watch for minute expressions and actions while watching an actor, which others may simply overlook, given my profession and a couple of other occupations.

As to more seasons for UFO, I think the main problem here was the fact that unlike as with ST:TOS UFO wasn't aired while still actively being produced. Instead that happened well after the deed. Star Trek too had been slated down for an early demise and it were the active fans who coaxed more episodes from the producers. Who knows what might have happened with UFO if there had been but a 4-week or 8-week delay between finished production and airing?

BTW, the early ST:TOS episodes, especially the pilot (with the original Chris Pike) were also quite low in quality and acting. To that I find Identified comparing even quite favorably.  Wink

Oh, and as an afterthought:

Do you all remember the movie "Blow Up"? A 1966 cult movie by Antonioni, mainly filmed in the UK and with UK actors. That one's regarded as an all-time classic and winner of many awards. It features also an abrupt change of lead actor just during production start, has gaffes galore (like visible equipment etc) and a more than just haphazard script. Still it is quite a masterpiece. In our modern day and age it probably would have gone straight to DVD for such imperfections and indeed the modern US remake of that one is totally lacklustre, dull and uninspiring compared to the still fresh and phantastic original...

  Wink
  
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