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Date Posted: 06:36:14 07/23/02 Tue
Author: Robert
Subject: Watchers: black, white or grey


I see a lot of fics which only mention the Watchers to bash
them, or use them as enemies of the Scoobies. I don't find
such fics plausible, (most of them seem to be based on the
assumption that everyone in authority is automatically wrong, if not outright evil) but people keep writing them.

It makes me wonder what people actually think about the
Watchers.

Don Sample has a good summary of the range of attitudes at:
http://www.synapse.net/~dsample/BBC/ramblings.html#Council
ranging from completely evil at 1 to perfectly good at 5.
He plumps for 3, maybe shading towards 4

I'd summarise my views as 4, with a touch of 3 and 5. The
Watchers are well meaning, but a century out of date (not too bad for an organisation whose roots may stretch ten thousand years into the past). Office politics is a
problem, but under control, and some of the things that make them look bad are really part of a good but poorly
executed master plan.

What do you think of the watchers?

Do you have strong opinions either way? How many people
would be put off stories, which might be good, by either
needless watcher bashing or by an overly positive
portrayal.

Are there any good fics that portray the watchers as three
dimensional villains, without sounding like a reflection
of the author's prejudices?

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Replies:

[> Re: Watchers: black, white or grey -- Cas, 01:29:49 07/24/02 Wed

>What do you think of the watchers?
>
>Do you have strong opinions either way? How many people
>would be put off stories, which might be good, by
>either
>needless watcher bashing or by an overly positive
>portrayal.

Part of my problem with the Watchers is that they are portrayed as such stereotypical Brits. People like that don't exist, or haven't for donkey's years. Most of the fic that I've read that includes them is worse, so whether they're portrayed as good guys or bad guys is irrelevant they're not believable for me to start with. (I can believe the vampire stuff but not the Brit stuff? Go figure.)

That having been said, I can overlook the stereotypes and they usually work best for me when we see them in the past - stuffy Victorian does work for me, but not if it's overdone.

Cas

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[> Re: Watchers: black, white or grey -- Jacqui, 04:08:13 08/01/02 Thu

I'm in the process of writing my first fic. I'm basing it on Giles in England during season 6. This has led me to give a great deal of thought to the structure of the council. To do this I had to look at what sort of people are members and what they do. So from there I look at 3 types of people - the researchers, the operatives and the administrators.

The researchers I tend to think of as good, if sometimes impractical; perhaps ivory tower types, some of them enthusiastic amateur sleuths, little experience with the brutal realities of the death/loss/trauma aspects of the war they help wage. They are the intelligence corps for the war against evil.

The operatives I tend to also think of as basically good. They are special forces, perhaps ex military personnel. They are the ones who deal with the harsh realities. They trust the rest of the Watchers Council to make the judgement calls as to where, when and how hard they hit. They are the tacticians.

The administrators are the ones I conceive of as being a mixed group of good and evil. They form the policies based on the findings of the researchers. They enforce the policies through the operatives and the slayer. They are the one to judge what resources are used. It is with these that the 'politics' start, as ambitious, self serving individuals try for power within the organisation not really understanding the responsibilities and duties that come with it.

Just my opinion for what its worth.

Jacqui

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[> [> Re: Watchers: black, white or grey -- Robert, 07:54:50 08/02/02 Fri


>The administrators are the ones I conceive of as being
>a mixed group of good and evil. They form the policies
>based on the findings of the researchers. They enforce
>the policies through the operatives and the slayer.
>They are the one to judge what resources are used. It
>is with these that the 'politics' start, as ambitious,
>self serving individuals try for power within the
>organisation not really understanding the
>responsibilities and duties that come with it.
>
Another thing that's easy to overlook is that the watcher's
council is old. Administrators playing politics isn't going
to be a new problem, but the council has stuck to its
mission for centuries. Somehow the council must have found
a way to keep the politics under control, or it should have
fallen apart centuries ago.

Of course drastic shocks, such as having two slayers or
Faith going rogue, could cause a lot of turmoil in the
ranks, but for the most part the council should be stable,
an organisation that can weather centuries with little
change.

The way the council is often depicted, full of feuding
bureaucrats and moustache-twirling villains, it would fall
apart in an orgy of back stabbing within five years.

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[> [> [> Re: Watchers: black, white or grey -- Jacqui, 10:51:40 08/02/02 Fri

>Another thing that's easy to overlook is that the
>watcher's
>council is old. Administrators playing politics isn't
>going
>to be a new problem, but the council has stuck to its
>mission for centuries. Somehow the council must have
>found
>a way to keep the politics under control, or it should
>have
>fallen apart centuries ago.

I agree with this, but I think the key problem from the administrators is in fact the age of the council. I don't think they look at the underlying reasons for some of the policies they enforce - just enforce them because that's 'the way it has always been done'. The reasons for the introduction of a policy in the 9th century may still be there, but are the means by which they address those reasons still relevent?

I think there is the old problem of tagging odds and ends on to existing regulations if there is something new that needs addressing rather than stripping things down to basics and addressing everything from scratch, (which may indeed mean keeping the original policy with an addition - but at least the reasons for it would be analysed and understood).

Jacqui

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[> Re: Watchers: black, white or grey -- Amaltheia, 16:01:51 08/01/02 Thu

I also think that the Watchers are overall good guys, with the few corrupted souls thrown in. And I don't think Travers is evil either. I just think they've got a little stuck in the past, (OK maybe a lot), and are now a little removed from reality.

I'd also imagine that the events in Checkpoint have caused a reassement of how they run things and maybe even an overhaul.

Fics where the Watchers are all evil psychos really do annoy me - they seem to be particularly prevalent within the B/G 'ship. I think that Travers is normally pissed off that his wife fancies Giles. Either that or he's trying to kidnapp Buffy and Giles' baby. I really want to read some sympathetic Travers fic - and not sympathetic 'cos he's pathetic either.

Anyway... So... Watchers Not Bad. Travers Not Evil.

Amaltheia

PS Jaqui please tell me your not relocation Giles from Bath? Everyone keeps on moving him into London and as a Bathonian it really annoys me. If Bath's good enough for Tony, then it's good enough for Giles. (If you want any info on Bath I be more than happy to provide.)

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[> [> Re: Watchers: black, white or grey -- Jacqui, 04:19:09 08/02/02 Fri

I'm starting him off in Bath (at one of the churchyard cafe's by the Pump rooms, sipping coffee waiting for some people). But I'm basing it in Devon on Dartmoor. You remember in the S6 final Giles mentions a coven in Devon informed him of what is happening, lent him their power and teleported him to Sunnydale; I asked the question of myself how do these people living about 100 miles from Bath know him and why do they think he is the one to deal with this problem, let alone trust him enough to give him access to a large amount of their power? So not much on Bath, quite a bit about SW Dartmoor.


>PS Jaqui please tell me your not relocation Giles from
>Bath? Everyone keeps on moving him into London and as
>a Bathonian it really annoys me. If Bath's good
>enough for Tony, then it's good enough for Giles. (If
>you want any info on Bath I be more than happy to
>provide.)

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[> [> Death Brings Clarity does it quite well, I think. -- Ruth, 16:03:12 03/22/03 Sat

>I also think that the Watchers are overall good guys,
>with the few corrupted souls thrown in. And I don't
>think Travers is evil either. I just think they've
>got a little stuck in the past, (OK maybe a lot), and
>are now a little removed from reality.
>


Me too. Good intentions but hidebound by too much tradition and too little field experience or too long ago at the top.
For pretty sympathetic Travers see JK Philip's major oeuvre as per post title.

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