Monday, August 24, 2009

Phineas Bogg Character Study: Part 3~The Bogg & Jeff Dynamic

Before I begin to break down this partnership,  it would be good to relate how the Bogg and Jeff dynamic all began....you can literally watch it from my video post here.

One very windy night, Phineas Bogg accidentally crash lands into the bedroom of 11-year-old Jeffrey Jones.  This is only mere minutes after we are introduced to the character and his current life situation at hand. It's not a very pleasant one...you could call it a modern Dickensian existence. A few months or weeks earlier, Jeffrey lost his parents in a tragic camper accident, and now he is stuck living with his aunt and uncle. It is unbelievable how callous his aunt Elizabeth is when she says things like... 

"Do you think I like being saddled with an 11-year-old kid? Why did Bill and Kathy have to die?"
  Elizabeth says this, not with remorse or grief for her dead siblings,  but rather like a spoiled brat who is stuck babysitting her surviving nephew. I can only imagine her crocodile tears at the funeral. Poor uncle Tom doesn't know what to do...Jeffrey will ruin their trip to Cancun! Too bad he couldn't reason that maybe a nice vacation is what the boy needs, and a man to talk to about his feelings.

Needless to say, the opening scene is all at once heartbreaking and cringe worthy...thanks in part to Meeno Peluce's great/believable acting and the terrible acting of the aunt and uncle. Thankfully, the fantastic occurs. The series did not waste any time sweeping you into this adventure!  It always boggled me how Jeffrey's aunt and uncle didn't hear all that glass shattering and dog barking racket coming from his room...but that's a dispute to take up with the writer and director.
 Phineas crunches his way into Jeffrey's room. He is disheveled, cranky, and very befuddled! He is looking for Christopher Columbus and senses right away that he hasn't landed in 1492. 
Within moments, Jeffrey's trusty dog Ralph leaps to his master's rescue and begins a tug of war with Phineas for his Voyagers Guidebook! Jeffrey tries mightily to hold the dog back. As he edges toward the open window, the unthinkable happens...he falls out!

Another qualm I must mention...less than 2 minutes earlier, Phineas landed on a balcony, You heard him hit the pavement and give a big "OOOMPH!"...now all of a sudden...the balcony is gone! Doh!

Jeffrey's sudden fall prompts a look of pure shock from Phineas and an immediate response...he risks his own life and dives straight after him. In this one action, we learn that Phineas Bogg is a man of great courage and valor. When ultimately tested with fight or flight, Phineas nobly chooses the fight for Jeffrey's life, and that decision changes his life forever.
I write this assuming you already know the evolution of Phineas and Jeffrey's relationship....if you don't, then you aren't a fan of Voyagers and probably just stumbled on this blog by accident! Still, continue reading and you just might want to see this great series!
Jeffrey Jones, although a streetwise kid from New York City, is also profoundly sensitive. He can be very sweet, intelligent and cloyingly precocious at times.  Phineas often calls him, the "History book in pants." His endearing ways truly grows on Phineas to the point where Phineas blurts out in the Trial episode...

"I love Jeffrey and I would never let anything happen to him!"

The love that Phineas has for him is extremely evident by the excellent episode, 'Bully and Billy.'
 'The Trial of Phineas Bogg' was supposed to be the series finale, so it was rather fitting that Phineas finally admitted his true feelings for the little guy. However, the show carried on for another 7 episodes. This admission by Phineas was both the first and last time you hear him say he loves Jeffrey.


Phineas and Jeffrey have a very funny, brotherly, borderline father-son relationship. This is due mostly to the off-screen chemistry of Jon-Erik Hexum and Meeno Peluce. They claimed to have a friendship very similar to Bogg and Jeff. You can see it shining through their performances. There is a depth and realism that cannot be denied. They were acting partners, but they were buddies. Phineas Bogg is only about 13 years older than Jeffrey Jones and in many ways, was still like a big kid. The same is often said of Jon-Erik himself.

Jeffrey's presence forces Phineas to be a responsible adult...much in the same way Jeffrey's aunt and uncle would have had to be if they accepted the challenge of raising him. Jeffrey probably never saw them again and I doubt he even wanted to. He never looked back in regret or missed his beautiful aunt Elizabeth...his only deep sense of loss was for his parents. He even worried more about school, then those two. In a very tough manner he tells Phineas point blank,

"You got me into this, you're getting me out! I've got school tomorrow!"

It's only natural that Phineas wants nothing to do with Jeffrey from the beginning. He makes no bones about his feelings throughout the Pilot episode. He is in a massive hurry to get Jeffrey back, but alas, his omni can only go up to 1970 and it is somehow stuck in the automatic mode. So we get a plethora of loving one liners from Phineas...

"I gotta get you back! What year?"
"Nice to know ya, kid, but I work alone!"
"You little toad! Don't you ever touch this omni again!" 


Jeffrey doesn't take any of Phineas' guff, and Jeffrey gives it to him good, after Phineas rattles on that he's going to lose his job because of him.

"Who do you think you are? You knock me out a window, you bring me here, wherever I am, you deserve to lose your lousy job!"

Jeffrey can be one tough kid, as is evident in 'The day the Rebs took Lincoln.' He's all ready to rumble with a street urchin whose wise mouthing him.

In a beautifully shot and acted scene on the beach during the Pilot episode, Phineas and Jeffrey have their first real blowout. The scenery is breathtaking, the clouds are gorgeous and heavy against the ocean and sets up the mood perfectly. Phineas is very angry that Jeffrey made him leave Mary Murphy in the midst of World War I, and that he interrupted his little romantic moment with her. Not to mention that Jeffrey told Mary that he's Phineas' son and that Phineas is a widower. The Voyager is just furious at his situation and ranting aloud...again. At this point, all he cares about his reputation, the one I like to call, 'Playboy of the ages.'

Jeffrey, looking too adorable for words in Phineas' hat... berates him publicly, telling him to,

"Can it! You're stuck with me until you put me back in my room where you found me! Besides, you don't know anything about history, you messed the whole thing up!"
Phineas is at his wits end and feels very dumb and foolish that he couldn't figure out the cause of the red light in 1914...he then says something that pierces Jeffrey's heart after Jeffrey tells him his father's dead.
"If he's anything like me, you probably did him in too!"

WRONG THING TO SAY!
Jeffrey tosses that hat and runs away in tears. Phineas literally has to wrestle him to the sand and hug him close to calm him down. Up until now, Phineas didn't think about how this whole cosmic trip has affected Jeffrey. Like mean aunt Elizabeth and uncle Tom, he was being self-centered. 
Phineas sincerely apologizes for his mean remark and in the next scene the two are sitting on the rocks having a long heart to heart...something Jeffrey probably had not done with anyone since his dad died.

 Jeffrey's story about trying to save his parents in the burning camper is so sad, you want to burst into tears with him. Beware the syndicated version, which cuts out how there was a fire and he couldn't get them out! I compared and was shocked at how much syndication actually cuts from every TV show.

 At that moment, Phineas comes to understand Jeffrey's vulnerability and deep guilt over his parent's death.  He seems at a loss for words as he thoughtfully ponders the story. He gently removes his coat and places it over Jeffrey.

"Don't blame yourself, kid. Just get some rest."

From that moment on, Phineas handles Jeffrey's bouts of tears and frustration with patience and tenderness, always remembering that,  

"You're still a kid....a pretty good kid."

Phineas doesn't treat the boy like an infant or coddle him.  An arm around the shoulder, and his quick wit is enough to bring Jeffrey back to his senses and carry on with their important assignments. Don't take it from me, watch some of the crying scenes in 'Bully and Bully,' 'Agents of Satan,' and 'Cleo and the Babe' to see what I'm talking about. Meeno certainly knew how to pull our heartstrings and cry at the drop of a hat...which some critics would say he did too often.  I say then, that they don't understand the emotions of children.

Jeffrey Jones was a child who lost everything he had in the world and became displaced from the last bit of comfort he knew. He was a stranger in strange lands and first and foremost...he was still a kid.
You can literally see Jeffrey grow up before your eyes in the series. His experiences are unlike anything a child would or should ever have to face. Jeffrey proves his deep intelligence and value as a true Voyager in 'World's Apart.' He is literally forced into another time zone without Phineas. Through his boyish enthusiasm and quick thinking, he helps the invention of the electric light bulb come to pass.

Jeffrey comes to the rescue again in 'Cleo and the babe' when he teaches Phineas how to pitch 1982 style and Babe Ruth 'The sultan of swat' himself, how to hit 1982 style. He had a chance to use the general knowledge only kid would consider in that situation. There is the daring rescue attempt of Harriet Tubman in 'Created Equal' which gave Phineas cause to both scold and praise him for acting like a "Real Voyager."

There are so many examples where Jeffrey is allowed to shine, it would be impossible to mention them all here. As all fans of the series would agree, he is just a real, 'pretty good kid.'

There comes a point where he has to correct Phineas for his wayward thinking in 'Barriers of Sound.' Reminding Phineas of something he once told him....
Near the end of the Pilot Episode, Phineas consoles Jeffrey and tells him of their great responsibility to help others. It is one of my favorite quotes ever, it reminds me of certain vows I personally made a long while back. 

"I know it's hard, I've been there too. Whenever you feel that way you got to think of all the interesting people in front of you, who really need your help. We've got responsibilities, we're Voyagers!"


At the turning point on the beach, I believe that Phineas secretly decided that Jeffrey was there to stay. In the remainder of the Pilot and any subsequent episodes until the the trial, he doesn't makes mention again about bringing Jeffrey home. In fact, Phineas cements the relationship at the closing of the Pilot by emphatically telling him,  "We're Voyagers!"
After which, the cannons roar and he races with him like a football to safety. A little tidbit, Jon-Erik did this scene with a damaged thumb...caused by Meeno of all people, after he slammed a door on it. How Bogg and Jeffensian! I think I just coined a new phrase!

  I often wondered why Phineas didn't ever think to bring Jeffrey straight to VHQ and demand to know why and how he got time warped to 1982 and stuck with a kid? That answer doesn't come until the Trial episode. By then, Phineas and Jeffrey are what I like to call, 'PB and J.' They go together just like peanut butter and Jelly. We learn that Jeffrey was meant to be a Voyager and they had chosen Phineas to handle the responsibility of giving him hands on training...how clever. I like to think that it was a new teaching technique the Headquarters was developing, training them young before they go to Voyager school!

I believe that Phineas knew how to bring Jeffrey to VHQ, he just never tried...because deep down, Phineas wanted to keep him.

"That aughta give you a pretty good idea why you'll never touch this omni again...oh, what am I saying...nice to know ya kid..."

 He enjoyed the boy's company. You can see he appreciated having someone to pal around with and share his thoughts and feelings. Despite the little funny bickering and disagreements, Jeffrey's presence widened his heart to more than just the pretty ladies. he had opened Phineas up to the possibility of being a real father.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Phineas Bogg Character Study: Part 2-My Susan musing

As promised, I wanted to delve a little further into one more relationship Phineas had, and that is with beautiful Voyager Susan. I believe that Susan was Phineas' ultimate crush. She made him weak in the knees. She distracted him with her draped gowns and peek-a-boo "real nice legs..." His gaze would turn far away and distant and he found himself enamored with her "mole right...here..." right from the Pilot episode. It was only a matter of time before the show brought her in.


And they did introduce her, in a big way. Susan expresses a bit of regret over Phineas' shyness and "subtle, discreet" ways in the 'Trial of Phineas Bogg' episode. That is the one and only episode we get to meet her.

"I wish you'd been a little less subtle...give a girl a chance.."

Susan's not saying there could never be another chance, but in that statement you could almost hear her disappointment in Phineas. Its as if he left her behind and didn't try for her.
He had a playboy reputation, but Susan was gold, like the fine China you leave on display and admire from afar, but not eat off of. Isn't that unfair? It's still a plate. Its function hasn't changed. Why not enjoy it? 

 Voyager Susan means business–with a dash of elegance and class.

 My analogy of plates is not to make you hungry. But to compare. Susan may seem mysterious to Bogg, but she is still a woman, who obviously had her own secret interest in him. She shouldn't be left behind. I think that Phineas presumed that maybe she was too good for him. He put her on a pedestal like a Roman goddess statue. I like to believe that Susan originally hailed from Ancient Rome.

That's right Bogg, you think about what you're missing!
 
 One thing I've come to notice in the latter episodes, it seemed like the series was prepping Bogg for 'true' love. If you look at all the episodes before Mabel Hubbard, 'The Trial of Phineas Bogg,' 'Sneak Attack,' 'Titanic,' 'Pursuit'...they all had a potential lady friend for Phineas and he was no wallflower! They finally gave us a break from the women with 'Destiny's choice'-though Veronica Bliss was adorable and you could tell Phineas sort of adored her… and 'All fall down' (That episode is strictly for the boys!)...and then came, 'Barriers of sound.'

There is the kissing factor that is blatantly missing in 'The trial of Phineas Bogg.' I really
like Susan, she deserved at least one Bogg kiss! I find it quite strange she never got one, because Phineas always tries! BOO! If you notice at the end Susan had to forcibly grab him and Jeffrey and smooch their cheeks. Leaving fine red lip marks. I'll give Bogg some slack on that one. He was excited they won the trial and that Jeffrey gets to stay with him.

But that goes back to my point. I sense that Phineas is intimidated by her. As in a Hitchcock film, she's the unattainable, blonde, ice queen. The writers could have given them a private moment to smooch, but they purposely didn't. Susan is an independent lady. She wasn't licking her wounds and dreaming about Phineas and the day he returned...unlike all the other women he may have abandoned in history. She had a job to do too. A very important one, like saving Bogg's tuba from banishment! Susan was a Lawyer for the Voyager Courts.

Subtle? Discreet? How about foolish Bogg?

 
If Phineas has another a chance to rekindle their spark, because I definitely noticed one on the show, then I'm sure Susan would attempt a relationship. I get the feeling that she may have viewed Bogg as a little immature for her tastes. At least the younger Bogg she knew in class. Who could really blame her? This is supported by Phineas throughout the series. He slept in class, didn't pay attention, doesn't know Eisenhower from Einstein, yet the irony was that she was the distraction!

You can tell her disappointment by the way she chastises him,   
 "You could have been anything you wanted..."
 
Susan regrets the fact that Phineas didn't use all his smarts while in school. His foolish behavior may have turned her off. She may have never caught Phineas ogling, but you can't tell me she didn't feel him ogling her. It must have really confused her. He liked her so much, but never admitted it. Talking from a woman's perspective, that could be a real punch in the gut. We might start to think we're not good enough either.  Or just feel like a piece of eye candy, nice enough to look at, but not the kind you have a real relationship with. Like that poor fine China plate. Susan may have felt these things from time to time. But obviously it didn't tear her up and she went on to her own successes.

So, with the show long over, we'll never know what will become of the Bogg and Susan relationship.

I like to imagine that Bogg would muster up his courage, return to Headquarters, and try for her once more. It would work out, they are both Voyagers and know the deal.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Phineas Bogg Character Study: Part 1

Phineas Bogg is an amalgam of all the heroic 'types' found in literature and movies. I find that putting a singular label limits this vibrant character. I would venture to say he is first and foremost a 'Romantic Hero.' Using a plethora of descriptions I found on the web, I will now attempt to give my explanation of the great and gorgeous, Phineas Bogg.

~Many Romantic heroes may have somehow been rejected by society or are otherwise non-conventional in their ideas and ways of life ~

Hmm..this is a tough one. Voyagers! never had an opportunity to delve into Bogg's past. While that's great for Fanfiction (Shameless promotion for my 'Origins of Phineas Bogg' story, sorry!)
it doesn't add much to this character study. We know Phineas was a pirate. Look at his clothes. Have you ever really studied the design? Billowy white shirt with string? Check. Suede, slightly worn and torn vest? Check. High brown boots? Check and Check. A pirate sash? Of course. And check out the detail on this belt...very nice!

We don't know when Phineas traversed the high seas or for how long. If he had been a pirate since young adulthood, I would assume he would be gnarled and weather beaten. But, Phineas Bogg has skin as smooth as my newborn nephew's bottom. I'm so jealous! Planet Voyager probably has a killer spa treatment for these ragamuffins they "pluck out of time and train to travel through the ages."

Is Phineas from the 'Golden Age of Piracy' perhaps? Anywhere between 1600-1800 is my best guess. In the episode 'Old Hickory and the Pirate' he tells Jeffrey that he was a "pirate long before being a Voyager"...in 'Created Equal' he claims to have been playing cards when they were still, "made out of rocks." Just how old is this man? Methinks Voyaging through the centuries has given old Phinny the swiss cheese brain and he confuses his 'Voyaging years' with his actual age! If you were basing it on Jon, then Phinny is a very young and plucky 24 years old. (Gahh! It's really starting to hurt me to say that...being 29...and it doesn't help that my sister already is starting to tease and calls me a cougar!)

~Some might be recluses, some might be obsessed with a lost love.~

"Nice to know ya kid, but I work alone." Never was a bigger lie uttered from a man who boasts, "I never lie!" Phineas a recluse? I highly doubt that. He is amiable and friendly. He has to be, it's part of the job description. How are you going to help anyone or convince a founding father to sign the declaration of Independence or that sort of thing if you are a grouchy Voyager? Phineas Bogg has boundless optimism and hope. His words are inspired.

~"A Voyager's got to have spirit, so when everybody's telling you you're wrong you got the courage to fight back. And a Voyager's gotta be able to make people take a new look at a situation, to give people that confidence to take that one extra chance."~

Phineas' smile alone can draw people of all sorts to him in droves. Tell me you wouldn't want to at least say 'hello!' to this guy?




I believe Phineas' loneliness stems mostly from his clandestine career as a Voyager field worker. "I'm a Voyager! Ever hear of one? Of course not, no one has..." He tells Jeffrey with a twinge of bitterness. You can sense that it bothers him, at least when he actually stops and thinks about it. Phineas may not have realized it then, but he had finally found someone he can tell his troubles too, or at least vent about his situation. In other instances he complains about "No paid vacations." Do you think there should be a Voyagers Union? I do. As long as Phineas plays his cards right, no one ever would or should learn about the Voyagers. However, throughout the series that was not always the case, and it all started with Jeffrey Jones.

As far as a lost love is concerned...that's another thing sort of left up to the imagination, it's something I tackled in my Origins story. Based on the series we know that Phineas did fall in love with the sweet Mabel Hubbard...only to nobly give her up and break her heart in order for history to continue on it's course. :Sniffles:
"I love Mabel!" He admits to Jeffrey. That's quite an admission to make...because I was all with Jeffrey when he rolled his eyes and said, "I've heard that one before." But then Phinny knocked the wind out of us with his stern, "No you haven't!" While he may had "fallen for a few" in his time, he had never said that he "loved any of them."
Was Mabel his love of a lifetime? At that moment... I say an emphatic, yes! But probably not in the long run. He simply couldn't have her. He had his whole life ahead of him and who knew what other wonderful woman awaited him in his future? That's a lesson many of us, male or female, could learn, but it is a very, very hard one to overcome. I can empathize with Phineas' situation.

Phineas does strike me as overtly fickle in the romance/love department. He certainly loved to kiss them! For proof of this watch this fantastic video created by BlueCanvas2. It's hysterical! (Uhh, hey, watch it AFTER you finish this blog!)

It would take someone very spectacular to make Phineas ever consider dropping the Voyager cause again...what if he didn't necessarily have to? Unlike the limited 2 days he had with Mabel, this new woman would probably be someone he could befriend and really come to know and admire...or perhaps someone he has known all along?

Your next guess would probably be Olivia Dunne. They did hit off at the end of 'Voyagers of the Titanic' didn't they? While they do kiss each other well enough, the reality of a true, loving relationship is not based on competition of the sexes and huge egos. Nor is it overly cute when you and your man have petty arguments every five minutes...that stuff only works out happily for lovers in books and TV. I must admit, I used the ploy in 'Origins' and it's very fun... but the reality is that love takes time and a lot of patience and giving...it involves sacrifice. Despite having the key to universal time travel attached to his belt, that was something Phineas was short of...time. And, with sayings like...
"I'm not a man known for being patient," the Voyager doth protest too much. I think he was very patient, especially in his dealings with Jeffrey and the poor boy's volatile emotions.

Back to the love theories...Olivia turned out to be a good egg after all, but I think there would always be an underlying rivalry between her and Phineas that would wear them both out. A good man like Phineas needs to be built up, not torn down and made to look a fool as she tries so mightily to do in the episode. I don't think there is any man that likes that feeling. I'm not sure Olivia was 'the one.' I'll just come out and say it, as much as I loved the episode...I'm not an Olivia fan! Whew!!! That felt good to get off my chest.

This now leads me to a very overlooked Voyager lady I have come to admire. The pretty, dimpled, blonde with the mole that has no last name. She is just, Susan...it sure adds to her mysteriousness, doesn't it?

I have a lot to say about Phineas' relationship with Susan and much explaining to do in regards to his other attributes. So, I will leave you hanging until the next post!

Jon-Erik in oil

What could that title mean? I'm not talking about Jon in those smothered, greased up, shake and bake photos Lennon had taken of him during his brown haired perm phase...
Nothing against Lennon the Photographer! He has taken some of the most beautiful shots of Jon-Erik, and has a special section for him on his website. You can also find all those images on the Jon-Erik Hexum Photo Archive. This series of photos...gives me a slippery, ala mode feeling...it's all a bit unnatural. :O These 2 photos by Lennon are particular favorites of mine, I love how he gives Jon a seasonal air, brisk fall and late summer on the beach.

I'm talking about a gorgeous oil portrait of Jon, painted by a very talented woman named Charna. Charna is a true artist in every sense, put a paint brush in her hand and the impossible happens. I never met her in person, but she is a lovely and beautiful lady whose work is prominently featured on Flickr, where she is known as Walls Wear Art.

A few months ago I decided to do a massive overhaul of my website and I wanted a place to put every image and screencap of Jon and Voyagers I had made in one place. Flickr was my website of choice. One day I happened to see a series of comments on my pictures of Jon. It was Charna. She was captivated with him. I checked out her page and was flabbergasted at the quality of her art. I literally thought to myself that if anyone is going to paint Jon-Erik, I would love to see her try.

Wouldn't you know it? Not long after that, Charna and I had a few email discussions and she immediately went to work using one of Jon's Member's only Jacket portraits. She felt it captured Jon naturally, especially the color of his eyes. I also liked her choice, it is one of those pictures that haunts and soothes you. There is a deep calm upon his face and if you stare at the picture for a while, you can literally drown in the pools of his eyes.

Charna paints fast! Within days she had posted on Flickr with continuous photos of her progress. It was like seeing a master at work and the subject coming to life...almost akin to a male Pygmalion. Follow along with her progress here. It continues into the page before it. Charna's strokes and the way she captured the lighting and highlights in his face and hair was amazing. I learned a new artist trick, work on the shadows at night, and the highlights during the day. I'm sure that's in no way 'new' but I never had a chance to do a real oil painting myself. Her work is inspiring to all artists.

The question finally came...'What will you do with this painting, Charna?" I can say that I will never regret asking that and can only hope to guarantee that this brilliant oil will be well preserved now and into the future. ;)