Friday, August 17, 2007

The Bluest Skies...

Recently my great hubby-Eric introduced me to a TV show that aired before I was born and I somehow managed to miss any reruns of: Here Come the Brides. I knew about the show, but had never actually seen it before. The theme song is one of my favorite tunes from way back.

The show is set in 1860's Seattle, and is loosely based on the story of the Mercer Girls. Back in the late 1800's, Seattle was a lumber town thick with men and thin on the women. Asa Mercer went to the East Coast in two trips and brought back women, many of whom eventually married and settled in the area. The descendents of those women are still around in Seattle.

In the TV show, the two trips were combined into one. And to add tension, there was a bet involved. The Bolt brothers bet their "mountain" that they could bring 100 marriageable women to Seattle and keep them in town for a full year. On the other side of the bet is the greedy mill owner, Aaron Stempel (played to perfection by Mark Lenard), who is honorable enough to not pull too many tricks to get the potential brides to leave, but certainly doesn't go out of his way to keep them in town.

Hubby-Eric and I watched the entire first season by borrowing the DVD set. I really enjoyed the whole thing, although I laughed heartily at the many, many historical errors. Overall, though, the show was a lot of fun. Even if the set looked nothing at all like Seattle.

While we were in the middle of watching the first season, I recalled a book I had once read that I knew was based on the show. It's a Star Trek novel, of all things, called "Ishmael", written by Barbara Hambly. I read the book in college, just after I'd discovered Doctor Who, when someone told me that there were Doctor Who references in it.

At the time I read the book, I caught some of the references... but oh, I missed so many more. Although I'd never seen Here Come the Brides, I knew that Spock's father was Aaron, so I got the biggest reference. But everything that referred to the Bolt brothers and the brides themselves went over my head. One night after watching an episode of Here Come the Brides with hubby-Eric, I hunted around in my room and was pleased to find that I still owned a copy of "Ishmael". It immediately went into my "to read" pile, and once we finished watching the first season I re-read Ishmael.

The set-up of the bet between the Bolt brothers and Aaron Stemple is different in the book. There are 30 brides involved, and they don't know about the bet. Furthermore, the bet is that they will all be engaged or married by the end of the year, not just staying in Seattle. Other differences include a MUCH more realistic description of Seattle, including tantalizing clues that suggest the Bolts' mountain is probably actually Beacon Hill (it certainly isn't a real mountain, like Rainier).

And now... I've finished re-reading Ishmael. And while I think I got most of the references, I need a little help with some of them. As a warning, Barbara Hambly had a fun time putting in references to popular TV into this book, which was published in 1985.

There are two main spots for the references. In one scene set in a bar on Starbase Twelve, we get to meet Hokas (from the stories by Poul Anderson and Gordon R Dickson), a "scruffy looking spice smuggler" (Han Solo?), a "pair of brown-uniformed pilots from some down-at-the-heels migrant fleet" (Apollo and Starbuck from the original Battlestar Galactica), and "a tall, curly-haired man in the eccentric garb typical of space-tramps" (the fourth Doctor) who escorts away the girl (Romana? Leela?) who the others were fighting over.

Much later in the book, an amnesiac Spock, now dubbed "Ishmael", is gambling in San Francisco with the Bolt brothers. At a bar, Spock sees "a good-looking boy in the dusty clothes of a trailhand just in from Virginia City and his oxlike older brother" and "a dark-haired gambler" arguing with them over a girl. The girl eventually leaves "on the arm of an untidy little man with a flute sticking out of one pocket of his threadbare velvet frock-coat" (the second Doctor). There's a later reference to "a mining-man from Virginia City" who is involved in a high stakes game of poker, but I don't know if that refers to anyone recognizable. If you know who the folks are in that bar in San Francisco, I'd love to hear it.

There's also a later reference to Time Lords: "There are legends of a civilization out in the galaxy of Kasteroborous that mastered time travel, and promptly stagnated because they never dared do anything again." If there are more references beyond those, I probably missed them.

All-in-all, I enjoyed my sojourn in the old TV show, and in the less-old Star Trek novel. I sometimes wonder what the next trend in releasing old TV on DVD will be, and if it'll be something I want to see.