Tag Archives: reviews

Sherlock Season Four Reviews and Recommendations

BBC Sherlock looking dazed, confused and fearful with blurry John Watson and Mycroft Holmes in the background

First Brexit, then Trump and now Series 4. Will the nightmare never stop?

Not having seen all of BBC Sherlock Series 4 (life is too short, especially at my age, and we really should reduce the amount of bad and horrible images and trash we lock into our brains and fill it with good things) and having too many serious issues to focus on at the moment (You see, Humans, this is why we can’t have nice things! We forget Why we aren’t suffering from economic collapse, terrorizing regimes, world wars, and disfiguring, disabling diseases like polio and suddenly think “Oh, the Great Depression, WWII, the McCarthy Era and near nuclear annihilation during the Cold War sounded like jolly times of camaraderie (especially if you were a straight, white male), and weren’t Thatcher and Reagan such lovely parental figures taking such good care of all of us and creating perpetual homelessness to allow us to say at least we aren’t homeless?”). So instead I’m providing links to an excellent review of Sherlock Series/Season 4 by Vox (which brings up several points I’ve been making since S3 Episode 3 at the least (okay, I’ve been complaining since Irene Adler in series 2, but the series didn’t completely derail until S3 E3)) and a compilation of reviews by various press:

(for those who didn’t click on the highlighted links above and want the links spelled out for them)

Seriously, you have to be white, privileged and probably male to say in 2015-2016, “Hey, the world is becoming a really scary place for those poor peasants who don’t have a lot of money. I think we should stop writing bright, witty, fun scripts with a sense that all people have some control over their lives and write dark, nasty, self-referential and self-applauding cynical scripts showing the non-wealthy — and psychopathic — that they are just mice to be toyed with by the fat cats.” Hey, Mofftiss, did you miss the history lecture where it was explained that Oswald Mosley and his buddies were wrong? Women are competent, capable humans without being whores, psychopathic killers, psychotic, camp followers, or submissive supporters. People of color and other ethnicities are not just tokens or excluded from positions of power. And a sense of personal control or ability to alter one’s environment, however slight, is a key aspect to successful human societies, and not just sentimental claptrap of unsophisticated and not cool. Cynicism doesn’t make you cool, sensitive awareness to your environment makes you cool.

This is why Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes series is enduring; intelligence, knowledge and persistence pushes back the darkness of ignorance, brutality and privilege. There’s a reason why Vanity Fair (subtitled “A Novel without a Hero” is a darling of the academic classes, but not as universally beloved as The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes or even Hound of the Baskervilles. Hell, it’s the reason why A Christmas Carol is more popular than Bleak House! (Why look. She apparently did read the classics and the literary critiques and yet still likes good television. How odd.)  Soap opera has it’s place, but inspiration is enduring.

Look, a bit of side history that folks have apparently forgotten. “Star Wars” didn’t  remain in the movie theaters for over a year and change the course of film history because the writing, directing and acting were so scathingly brilliant. You have to look at the times and the other movies that preceded it. By the mid-70’s much of the U.S., Britain and Europe were in the throws of declining economies, oil shortages, layoffs, inflation, rising crime and drug use, urban decay, and pretty bleak times. Movies were pretty bleak: Taxi Driver, Marathon Man, The Omen, The Outlaw Josey Wales, Robin and Marion, The Shootist, The Enforcer, Silver Streak (even the comedies were “life sucks and then you die”). There is a reason why Rocky won the Oscar for Best Picture for 1976 that year! I mean, how do you choose among so many depressingly, gloomy alternatives?  I mean seriously. We were ready for something positive! The year before Robert Mitchum is cutting off his finger in “The Yakuza” and that’s considered a positive outcome! On television we’re watching M.A.S.H. show us the insanity of war and laughing through our tears.

And after years of this relentless gloom and doom parade comes “Star Wars!” (it was — and remains — “Star Wars,” people. That’s what my poster says, that’s what my VHS tape says, that’s what my pre-release poster says. It ain’t “Star Wars: A New Hope.” It’s “Star Wars”. Thank you.) A movie that says that a “farm boy,” ne’er-do-well outlaw with a good heart, and an intelligent and plucky princess can make a difference against all odds (and remember “Rocky” won Best Picture just before the release of “Star Wars”…seeing a pattern?). We all went mad. Multiplexes showed it on as many screen as possible, and the lines still went around the mall to buy tickets eight hours in advance of the midnight showings that were tacked onto the schedule on weekends — six weeks AFTER it was released! In dark periods we don’t need — or want — more dystopian stories, we want stories of hope and a sense of personal agency (preferably without too much treacle).

“Star Wars” has endured because we go back to well-crafted stories of heroism and heroic journeys (surely Moffatt or Gatiss studied Campbell at Uni, didn’t they?). Yes, “The Empire Strikes Back” has better direction and cinematography (okay, the best), but we want and need our heroes to learn and triumph — and work for heroic causes!

In Doyle’s stories, Sherlock Holmes did not work out of greed or personal gain (except the pleasure derived from solving complex and interesting puzzles). He worked to increase knowledge (his own and ultimately general knowledge, hence, the monographs) and for justice. Mofftiss forgot this (or never noticed) along the way and present us not with an eccentric hero but with a self-absorbed “lad” (“frat boy” for U.S. readers) looking to stave off boredom and show off.

And just to remind us, I’ve found a couple of fan videos to “Holding Out for a Hero” (FYI, anyone who has links to some of the original ones from the 80’s and early 90’s, especially the mixed fandom ones, that used to show up at MediaWest*Con until you nearly went made from the song ear worm, please post the links below. Thank you!):

(I threw The Avengers in for Heidi and because I like the original Bonnie Tyler version of the song as well.)

Okay, I’ll will now make a noise like a hoop and roll away (the birds and wildlife are having trouble finding enough food in the 6″ of snow out back). Some day I’ll get back to my stack of Sherlock Holmes pastiche novels to review…

BBC sherlock Inspector Lestrade peering around corner tensely

I hope that’s a psychopathic serial killer around the corner and not Mofftiss with a Series 5 script.

 

You’re Missing the Point of NaNoWriMo, Sherlock

Benedict Cumberbatch as BBC Sherlock Holmes looking disapprovingly at a paper he's reading

Honestly, John’s NaNoWriMo project is worse than his email letters to his girlfriends. I do NOT have “tumbled locks of curling midnight”!

Yes, I’ve almost caught up on my NaNoWriMo project (and no, there are no “tumbled locks of curling midnight,” although I actually did come across that phrase in Google Books not long ago).

I’ll have MissSabre’s videos up tomorrow. Today I’d like to share the list of artists, writers,  and video makers who left a trail to their works at the Sherlock Seattle Convention.

The two lovely ladies from Pullman, WA who had the extremely popular pin and poster table can be found on Etsy. Check out pepperspins.etsy.com and unicornempireprints.etsy.com for all your fan button and fan print needs (including publicly hangable Johnlock).

Brief Review of Colin Fischer by Ashely Edward Miller

 

Thanks to the lovely folks at the Odyssey Bookshop (Port Angeles, WA) table, I was introduced to a terrific new book that I believe a lot of Sherlock fans will enjoy. Colin Fischer is a Young Adult (YA) novel about a 14-year old boy who suffers from Asperger’s Syndrome embarking on his first year of high school. What does this have to do with Sherlock?


Well, there are definite Sherlock Holmes references in the book, like the poster of Basil Rathbone as the character in Colin’s bedroom, for starters. But there is also the character of Colin who, like Sherlock Holmes, notices things and make some rather amazingly accurate deductions that others find disconcerting. He also requires a “cheat sheet” of facial expressions labeled with the related emotion to discern what the faces of others are conveying about their emotional state. (“Not good. A bit not good.”) In this first book, in what will likely be a series, Colin deduces that the wrong person has been accused of bringing a gun to school that goes off during a scrum in the cafeteria and sets about to uncover the actual culprit. In the process, he makes an unlikely friend and begins taking major strides towards independence. He also has a brother (younger in this case) who resents the disruption Colin’s illness forces on the family and the special attention Colin receives from their parents.

What none of this conveys is the strength of the writing and the clever way Colin’s growth is developed through the story. A potentially unlikeable character (and who does that remind us Sherlockian’s of?) becomes sympathetic and rather heroic as he pushes past his own fears and vulnerabilities to solve the “mystery” and aid the innocent (who isn’t exactly innocent and we realize will eventually be Colin’s Watson, not so much in chronicling his exploits as in watching his back).

Stuck in bed with a stupid cold (look, just give in to them, stay in bed for a day pumping Vitamin C and fluids, and you’ll be able to get rid of a cold much quicker and spread it less), I finished the book in a few hours. It’s a quick but compelling read that makes you want to punch your fist into the air at the end and go “Yes!”

Thanks to Odyssey Bookshop, I’ll be doing a lot of catch-up reading of Sherlock Holmes pastiche and related titles. Let me know below if you’d like to see more reviews and suggestions for Sherlockian reading (I finished “The Art of Detection” during the Sherlock Seattle Convetion which is not a Mary Russell King title but definitely Sherlock Holmes related).