Black Sheep (Professionals story)

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Bodie/Doyle Fanfiction
Title: Black Sheep
Author(s): HG
Date(s): October 1984 and 2000
Length:
Genre: slash
Fandom: The Professionals
External Links: Black Sheep at the AO3

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"Black Sheep" is a Bodie/Doyle slash story set in the The Professionals universe and written by HG. It is a set after the episode It's Only a Beautiful Picture. The story was released as part of the circuit library and in 2000 was re-edited and published in the fanzine HG Collected. The story was dedicated to "Sammie". The story sometimes appears on fan's Desert Island lists.[1]

Parts/Summaries

In 2000, two fans Cassie Ingaben and Dagger compiled an index of many of the circuit stories. They also wrote brief summaries:

Dagger: "In the aftermath of an undercover assignment, Bodie is languishing in jail and Doyle is at loose ends in the country. A PC with a grudge against Doyle, drugs him and makes Bodie angry and jealous, though not in the way he intended."

Their summary of the episode It's Only a Beautiful Picture: "A gang up upper-class art smugglers begin delving into industrial espionage. Cowley sends Bodie and Doyle to the town where the main suspect lives to investigate. Suspecting that the local police there might be being bribed by the criminal, Cowley makes Doyle go undercover as a Detective Constable temporarily on loan to the town's department. Has some nice moments, but this episode would have been a lot better if the bad guys had been even remotely intriguing, which they aren't. They're just boring."

Another review of the TV episode can be read here.[2]

Reactions and Reviews

Trouble in the anti-paradise that is their established relationship here. I like the way that HG *knows* that it'd all be a battle between their prickly personalities.[3]
Black Sheep by HG is a continuation of "It's Only A Beautiful Picture", telling us what happens after Bodie is taken away in handcuffs by the local police, and Doyle finishes laughing... I love HG's writing, and this one is funny, has a plot, and ties up lots of little Pros strings beautifully. What is it about HG's characterisation of the lads that appeals so much... What do you all think?[4]
How can I explain it? – Well, the story left me totally unmoved. Nice enough, but not more.

There is for once Detective-Sergeant Harris. I like good minor characters in Pros stories, but the long conversation at the beginning is quite boring. Then - is it much likely that Bodie has to spend a night in prison? And is it much likely that Cowley would let that happen? And that Cowley would do nothing after Doyle’s 'poisoning'? (Why would everybody be so afraid of the power of CI5, if Cowley would let them treat his men that way?)

But that wouldn’t really disturb me, if I would like the rest of it. Maybe it’s the 'bad' start of the story? Maybe it’s because Doyle didn’t really try to 'free' Bodie, that he is happily having a celebration at the Sangster Arms? [5]
I've got to admit that I barely noticed the pov changes at the end - it was done skillfully, we slid into Bodie as Doyle left the room, and then we slid back into Doyle later on. But I've also realised that I'd not come across the literary obsession with single point of view until I found fandom - I was absolutely used to moving between viewpoints in stories, and not necessarily ones that are obviously "omniescent" in other ways. So as long as the change is done well, as long as it seems natural to the action, then it's all good - and I thought this did.

It's also an interesting question about how much we think an author should explain to us - who's she writing for? I tend to write for Pros fans, and therefore I do expect them to catch smaller nuances I might add from canon without explaining them. I'm not trying to explain the story and characters and fandom to new fans, I'm not trying to explain them to non-fans - I absolutely assume that if I'm writing for fandom, then its their responsibility to catch up on fannish things they might have missed... Or if they're not into it that deeply, then to realise that they may well miss things... I think that's part of the reason I rarely read crossovers if I don't know the other canon - because it'll be a half-and-half thing to me, and I'll know that I've missed something, which I hate!

Anyway - I really like Black Sheep, I think it's classic HG, and great. I love the way she wove the ep into her story, and thought she did a brilliant job tying up loose ends, or at least explaining them away, like Doyle lighting that flaming rag when he must surely have been soaked in petrol himself - and with Bodie in the middle of it![6]
This story is in my "favorites" folder, and I always find it a fun and engaging read!... Mainly, I love the story for the relationship, and how they both care about each other, despite misunderstandings and jealousy getting in the way. It really picks up for me when Doyle collects Bodie the next day and during the drive back to London. Bodie, despite being very angry with Doyle, can't help being worried when Doyle is feeling so ill, and there are all sorts of little hints about their background woven into the story.[7]
I'm surprised more people haven't picked up on the hurt/comfort aspect - maybe it's because Bodie is in a bad mood for a lot of the time he's administering the comfort. But in a way that emphasises how much he really cares. He's mad at Doyle about the redhead, but he doesn't think twice about helping him when he's sick, and as soon as he learns that Doyle was drugged, he's really angry, and is a mother-hen to him for the rest of the evening.[8]
Bodie and Doyle risked their life and Cowley just says: "Hey, it's your fault if the police officers play their little games with you. See for yourself how you get out of it." Ahem... No! That's not the way it works![9]
Ahem... No! That's not the way it works! Yeah... 'tis in my world... *g* Cowley's not their dad... and come to think of it, alot of dads would have left them to it - whose fault was it, after all?! [10]
I struggled with this one too. No way would either Doyle or Cowley let Bodie stay in jail overnight and the whole poisoning Doyle bit was taken way too lightly. The rest of the story was OK, but not one I am in a hurry to read over again.[11]
I adore this fic - and why wouldn't Doyle or Cowley let Bodie stay in jail overnight? Doyle pointed out that once Bodie was in the police system, the police had to carry through with procedure, and Ralston and Gordon were vindictive enough to insist on that - it wasn't worth invoking his small print over that, because interfering with police procedure is difficult to do (for a reason!). Easier by far for Bodie to sleep in the jail rather than in a hotel somewhere - and it was only overnight. Presumably if there'd been anything urgent on (Cowley said there wasn't, in the fic) then he would have been sprung. I don't think the poisoning bit was taken lightly either - the implication was that Gordon would be disciplined by his own mob for what was effectively a vindictive practical joke that went a bit wrong... Doyle didn't insist on starting a civil court case (which would be a very major thing, taking time and money) because he felt that he'd deserved the joke to some extent.[12]
I think the author can assume some familiarity with the 'world' of the fandom (e.g. this is CI5 in '70s London), the names and basic personalities/roles of the main characters (Bodie, Dowle, Cowley plus maybe one or two more of CI5) plus their physical descriptions (no small Doyles!!) and beyond that I think the author should weave information (subtly) into the text.[13]
Details about episodes on the other hand...

Frankly, I don't have time to watch things over and over till they're really familiar. I saw the whole series as it first aired, and have rewatched some, but not all episodes since. And I have some waiting to be watched but...

Like a lot of people, I'm very multi-fandom in my tastes though Pros is one the ones at the top of my 'list'. I am very happy for fics to have layers that will add extra pleasure for fans who are perhaps more committed than me, but I still think the rest of us can expect a little more guidance on what is going on. I had no idea about the minor characters in this and don't have the episode and even if I did, wouldn't have had time to rewatch it before reading.

So maybe this was a fic for fans with greater single-mindedness than me!! [14]
From what I've seen over the last few years, there are definitely different levels of fans, and so there's never going to be a way of pleasing them all at once. Like firlefanzine I adore fics that drop the occasional in-joke to readers, and yet if that same fic stopped to explain a particular plot point from the ep or whatever, it would totally detract from the intimacy it had gathered with the in-jokes. I'm not sure that you can really have both together... I definitely wouldn't expect someone who has only watched some eps once, for example, to remember all the details that I might want to put into a fic - but then I'm not writing for them, I'm writing, basically, for me and the people who like/read fic the same way I do. I'm writing the characterisation and details that I see, because I want, somewhere out there, another person to be going yes! when they read the story (because that's what I love when I'm reading fic, those yes! moments... *g*) I can't make that happen for every reader, just as I don't expect every story I read to have those moments - but it really is that tiny minority of people that I'm ultimately looking for. Everyone else is a bonus, every other fic I read is a bonus, but you can't spoil the glorious potential of the yes! moments by making things more general for the people who aren't going to share those moments in the first place...[15]
The characterisation comes out for me in the plot about the lads being at cross-purposes. There is such a profound misunderstanding, first about Doyle and the "redhead", then Bodie throws in "Sylvia", and each thinks the other has lost interest, just because they aren't up to talking about their feelings. I think that's another reason why they both had to have such a rotten time, Bodie in the cells and Doyle being drugged, because each of them felt so horrible that day that they were even less inclined than usual to communicate honestly. I also wondered about the evil Gordon (must be the Sgt Gorton in the transcript) - carefully telling Bodie about Doyle and the redhead - d'you think he knew that Bodie would be jealous? [16]
HG is one of the writers I really enjoyed when I first entered fandom, and this is one of her more enjoyable stories for me, although as usual I don't think anyone behaves very plausibly and I find the ending off...vaguely disappointing.

If I'm honest, she's a writer I quickly grew impatient with. I find that her pacing is often way off, her endings either too long or too short but rarely on the mark. Her dialog seems to consist of people talking at each other or talking at cross purposes -- it never feels like genuine dialog and it never seems to get to the heart of whatever is being discussed. That's because far too often the plot hinges on one of those ridiculous and elaborate misunderstandings that could be cleared up if the characters had three minutes of ordinary, realistic discussion.

The writing in parts is quite nice, but I just find her generally unsatisfying.[17]
You know, I went through a phase of thinking something similar - HG's plots revolve so often around misunderstandings, and surely if they just talked to each other it would be more realistic, and yet not as much as they tend to do to resolve the issues at the end... But then I read more and more Prosfic, and re-thought again, because actually I can very easily imagine B/D missing each other's points, and preferring to keep quiet than make a fuss about feelings, and I do think it's even worse in fic when an author has them discussing things... And I thought about conversations I've had with blokes over here and actually that's often exactly how it goes (and yes, you do want to bash heads), so...

Interesting that you don't like her endings - I tend to prefer them to many. I've just read the lastest Angelfish for instance, and much as I like other parts of her writing, I do think her endings (in all but her first two stories, I think) tend to drag on past the point of finished. Whereas with HG... no, I don't think I've ever thought that...

To me she's very much one of the more satisfying Pros writers - in fact if I'm ever feeling off-kilter, it's almost bound to be an HG fic that brings me back on track. Like all of us, she has on- and off-days for fic, I think, but I think she catches the essence of the lads, of B/D and CI5 and generally of London/the country as a whole, and that's far more important to me than being extra-clever with a plot...[18]

References

  1. ^ Close Quarters Desert Island Episode/Zine/Fic dated July 18, 2009; reference link.
  2. ^ WebCite for It's Only a Beautiful Picture - meme response posted Nov 5, 2007.
  3. ^ HG Collected 1 Review dated October 2005; WebCite.
  4. ^ The Reading Room - fic for this week at ci5hq dated Nov 19, 2009; WebCite; Archive.is.
  5. ^ comment in the The Reading Room - fic for this week post at ci5hq dated Nov 19, 2009; WebCite; Archive.is.
  6. ^ comment in the The Reading Room - fic for this week post at ci5hq dated Nov 19, 2009; WebCite; Archive.is.
  7. ^ comment in the The Reading Room - fic for this week post at ci5hq dated Nov 19, 2009; WebCite; Archive.is.
  8. ^ comment in the The Reading Room - fic for this week post at ci5hq dated Nov 19, 2009; WebCite; Archive.is.
  9. ^ comment in the The Reading Room - fic for this week post at ci5hq dated Nov 19, 2009; WebCite; Archive.is.
  10. ^ comment in the The Reading Room - fic for this week post at ci5hq dated Nov 19, 2009; WebCite; Archive.is.
  11. ^ comment in the The Reading Room - fic for this week post at ci5hq dated Nov 19, 2009; WebCite; Archive.is.
  12. ^ comment in the The Reading Room - fic for this week post at ci5hq dated Nov 19, 2009; WebCite; Archive.is.
  13. ^ comment in the The Reading Room - fic for this week post at ci5hq dated Nov 19, 2009; WebCite; Archive.is.
  14. ^ comment in the The Reading Room - fic for this week post at ci5hq dated Nov 19, 2009; WebCite; Archive.is.
  15. ^ comment in the The Reading Room - fic for this week post at ci5hq dated Nov 19, 2009; WebCite; Archive.is.
  16. ^ comment in the The Reading Room - fic for this week post at ci5hq dated Nov 19, 2009; WebCite; Archive.is.
  17. ^ comment in the The Reading Room - fic for this week post at ci5hq dated Nov 19, 2009; WebCite; Archive.is.
  18. ^ comment in the The Reading Room - fic for this week post at ci5hq dated Nov 19, 2009; WebCite; Archive.is.