Chapter Two: Ocean's 12
By Brett Beach
December 16, 2009
And now to put myself and my varied tastes out there for inspection (once again). After a few false starts I read Marcel Proust's Remembrance of Things Past in all its seven volume, six thousand-plus page glory in the fall of 2002. I list that as one of my major accomplishments of the decade. Last summer, I got almost through David Foster Wallace's thousand-ish page Infinite Jest, throwing in the towel with about 90 pages to go. This same decade, in 2004, I got hooked on Fearless, a 38 book series about a girl born without the fear gene. I was perusing the young adult section at Barnes and Noble looking for any Buffy novelizations of interest (oh, to be recently divorced and with too much time on one's hand) when I saw several of the Fearless installments and read the back cover descriptions. It struck a familiar chord with the synopsis of a television show I had heard about but that had never actually aired. The pilot featured Rachael Leigh Cook as Gaia Moore, an FBI agent without fear. I wondered if this might have been the inspiration for said unaired show. As it turns out, I was correct and upon reading, was soon ensnared.
Aside from the hook of an ass-kicking heroine trying to balance a "normal" life of high school and romance with quite outlandish clandestine spy stuff, there was the fact that it was set in Lower Manhattan, near NYU, where I had recently graduated/moved back from and the same Starbucks the heroine frequents is the one I would go to on my break from classes. Truth told, after a particularly nail-biting resolution to several plot lines in Book 24, Fearless would become even more byzantinely ridiculous and less engaging before sputtering to a few anti-climaxes. Several years after the fact, a Fearless FBI series was launched (to succeed perhaps where the television medium had failed) and it only lasted four, not-very-good installments. The postscript to it all: imagine my...surprise when I discovered that series creator Francine Pascal is best known for unleashing Sweet Valley High on the world.
The closest I have come to being a follower of something I would almost be embarrassed to admit to liking is (it's a tossup): when I watched Guiding Light for a solid year at college with my friend Angie, who was a lifelong fan of it; or when I watched the first two seasons of The Hills. For brevity's sake, I'll focus on the latter. I never thought I could get into a show like The Hills because I didn't know what I would focus my brain on. My girlfriend was into it (and had been also into Laguna Beach) and when I would actively pay attention to it, I felt like I was being x-ray scanned for 22 minutes (plus commercial breaks). The show would just pass right through me, supposedly doing no damage, and I was amazed to find that it was entertaining, like staring at very colorful wallpaper capable of bantering.