[In the wake of SpecGramMedia’s acquisition of Word-TV (currently under investigation by the FCC, FTC, SEC, DoJ-AD, IBB, IRS, NEC, NSA, FBI, CIA, NLRB, OSHA, EPA,1 CDC,2 NHTSA,3 MSHA,4 BEP,5 FEC,6 USGS,7 USCIS, NCSD, USITC, CPSC, INTERPOL, and several other bodies), and leaping boldly into the market fray and vacuum created by the condign Old Testament destruction of a once-leading online media company, SpecGram has created an earth-shattering, ground-breaking lineup of new, innovative, earth-shattering, and even ground-breaking original programming for both streaming and broadcasting. As the AV Club is too busy morphing into a site hosting avant garde cat videos to pay us any mind, we hereby provide an independent outlet for reviews of these ground-breaking, earth-shattering offerings. Hard-hitting, hard-drinking, hard-squinting, and hard-headed, our troupe of reviewers are glutting themselves as we speak and you read in bingefests that would quail lesser men and women—but it’s all in a fortnight’s work for these intrepid commenters. Thus, we are pleased to present our maiden review. —Eds]
Miff-Conceived, Miff-Guided, and Miff-Executed:
Season 1 of Miffy the Selkie Slaughterer
by Margaret Pearl Collier
Lecturer, School of the Communicative Arts and Sciences
University of Even More Northern British Columbia, Atlin
TV programming repeats itself, first as tragedy, then as travesty. This seems to be the motto of Word-TV creative director S.T. Spew-Monty, who never met an original idea he didn’t bronze, stamp with his own image, and hock at a pawnshop for pence on the pound. Certainly he ran true to form in greenlighting this show and gas-lighting his superiors into emitting it. Admittedly, after two decades of vampires, zombies, werewolves, outlaw mutant yeti, and rabid gangs of Bruce Campbell fangirls rampaging through suburbs and shopping malls, I was intrigued by the thought of something a little less ordinary in the mythopoeic vein, even if, alas, Celtic. Unfortunately, this series is to its unacknowledged fons et origo as Thorne Smith was to H.P. Lovecraft, only not nearly as intentionally funny.
Miffy the Selkie Slaughterer stars Gwyneth Lloyd as Miffy Evans, a Welsh teenager who is suddenly imbued with magical powers to defend humanity, or at least the Welsh, from selkies. Why selkies are so dangerous as to provoke the continued existence of a secret organization that has fought them for millennia is never very clear, but then neither is Ms Lloyd’s diction. While her name suggests some of her ancestors four or five generations back had Welsh accents, they have since died and were unavailable to provide the authentic article. This is especially unfortunate as much of the notional humor of the series revolves around the inability of Englishmen and Englishwomen to properly pronounce the heroine’s full name Myfanwy—thus, her Gazer, Tiler Spurge (played, if this verb may be used for something that yields so little fun, by Festus Scruggs, previously known only for his work in commercials for three companies that each went bankrupt the month after his work was broadcast), chooses a different pronunciation of her name in each episode, none of them resembling any pronunciation of the name current in any part of Wales...which would be rather funnier if only Ms Lloyd did not do the same.
This is only the first and far from the worst verbal tic characterizing the wordplay (if this term may be used for something so much more ludicrous than ludic) infesting this series. In a step down from the rather tedious teenage argot and banter of its model, MtSS imposes on its cast first-language acquisition deficits and previously undescribed speech disorders. As one example among the pullulating masses wriggling across the screen like sterile grunion futilely trying to spawn in the moonlight, the only distinctive feature of Xither Paris,8 the more hapless sidekick in Miffy’s coterie, the Gwn Squad (a spelling chosen, one suspects, more to evade posthumous detection by the outraged ghosts of the tributaries than to strike a genuinely Welsh note), is his compulsive suffixation of -strosity to every noun in direct contradiction of what is known of either English or Welsh prosody. Similarly, Miffy’s slightly less hapless sidekick Gwenorre Billows (posed, if not played, by a certain Gladys Rhys, whose ancestors, one suspects, migrated to the less developed parts of Yorkshire a couple of generations back; certainly English dialectologists would find her a valuable informant for that variety) is notable mostly for...well, nothing at all, really, which at least makes her a more attractive and fleshed-out character than Xither. Alas, her verbal tics range from the occasional unconvincing spoonerism to the desultory anagram, and it is left to the extras (if such a word may be used for characters that subtract from their scenes) to
liven things up pass the empty hours till the blessed release of death with malapropisms that land as thuddingly as their pratfalls. (One specimen: After Xither became unaccountably smitten with Miffy, one of his fellow students ribbed him, “Oi, Xither me mate, she’s playing you like a dulcimer.”)
The astute viewer might remember the Gateway of Lost Souls in the dubious errantry spun off from the model for MtSS, which we know was called the Gateway of Lost Souls because its name was inscribed...in Modern Greek with lower-case letters but without accent marks, to the dismay of all classical scholars. Would that the Celtic philology on display in MtSS were so accurate! The closest that MtSS attains to such heights of learning is a sign from Celtic antiquity reading “Accept User’s License: Yes/No?” in Modern Welsh, which Xither makes fun of solely for being carved in Comic Sans when it was clearly carved in Papyrus. More often one suspects the writers chose to refuse the user’s license, for instead of Welsh most signs were picturesque gibberish. The folklore side of things is no better: In the fourth episode Miffy and the Gwn Squad have to defeat a water leaper (llamhigyn y dwr), but the best the designers could manage was a consistently back-lit Cthulhu plush toy with the back legs ripped off. Similarly, in the sixth episode the writers showed unwonted originality by creating a bus-sized insectoidal monster from thin air; unfortunately, the suspended disbelief of the viewer came crashing to the ground amid polite laughter when the monster was revealed to be an earwig filmed in extreme close-up against a green screen, after which our intrepid heroine earned the sobriquet Miffy the Bug Sticker.
Word-TV has been much ballyhooing Miffy the Selkie Slaughterer with such slogans as “Don’t Miff It!”, “Major in Miffology!”, “Celtic Miff comes alive!”, and “Don’t Meff with the Miff!” Alas, the series neither attains nor merits such a high level of wit, and one suspects would mostly appeal to Americans, the slower sort of four-year-old, and customers of meff labs. My recommendation is to just give it a miff.9
1 Don’t ask.
2 Don’t ask.
3 Don’t ask.
4 Don’t ask.
5 Don’t ask.
6 Don’t ask.
7 Definitely don’t ask.
8 Unfortunately, the actor
playing suffering as Xither Paris was so forgettable that even the person responsible for the credits forgot to include him.
9 Reviews of original Word-TV programs have been suspended pending further review of the reviews and reviewers.