Tag Archives: tv series

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:
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To Quote You, Sherlock, I Got It Right.

Empty hearse with flowers spelling out 01-01-14, the air date for Sherlock Series 3, Episode 1 in the UK

I hearse you were coming back. Why do I think this promo idea was dreamed up by Mark Gatiss?

I’ll refrain from doing a Sherlock-like gloat… Okay, I can’t help it. I was right. I correctly deduced that Sherlock Series 3 would air 1 January, 2014 in the U.K., giving Moffat and Gatiss the double Holiday punch of a Dr. Who Christmas and a Sherlock New Year’s. There’s a very nice piece, with photos, on the Guardian site here.

Benedict Cumberbatch as BBC Sherlock in deerstalker and coat with sour frown on his face

My sentiments exactly, Sherlock, over the change in plans. Now where can I find an otter who looks like he’s sucking lemons for my desktop?

I am, however, only mildly consoled in my grief that my U.K. Holiday Invasion was canceled due to circumstances beyond my control (although, if I wasn’t already committed to classes starting the following week, I’d seriously consider doing damage to a credit card and fulfilling several items on my “bucket list” in one fell swoop to the London). Meanwhile, I am questioning the psychological affect of the delay in Sherlock Series 3. I find myself unreasonably cheered and excited by a new blog post appearing on the official John Watson blog site. I’ll refrain from commenting on the comments, since I don’t want to have to deal with any spoiler alerts (there are people in developed countries who don’t know who Mary is, seriously?), however, the blog post ties in nicely with the social media teaser video (below) and the hearse promotion.

 

No, Thank You, Ms. Adler. I’m Already Tied Up.

As some of you may have noticed, I’ve been a tad busy lately — and I fear it’s going to continue at least until the end of the year. I am, however, hoping to move Sherlock Cares to a new hosting service and definitely a new theme. The old one is no longer supported by the developer and I’d rather build my own theme than wrestle with any more 3rd Party issues. For one thing, I plan to do some simplification and speed optimization (I’ve been taking a few classes online to hone the brain and update the coding repertoire). I’m also wrestling with the fact that Google appears to be under the influence of Moriarty’s Minions (or possibly is being blackmailed by Charles Augustus Milverton) and is making RSS news feeds, particularly on specific subjects like Sherlock Holmes, problematic. I’m toying with the idea of writing a program to parse a Google news results pageview and then feeding it into my site, but I’m not certain I wouldn’t rather spend the time writing some new fanfic (and non-fan fic). 

I’ve also been re-reading the Canon (inspired by the visit to The International Sherlock Holmes exhibit presently at the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry) as well as quite a few spin-offs and pastiches. I hope to get some book reviews and recommendations posted soon with some suggestions for Holiday Gift Giving to share Sherlock Holmes with the world.

Martin Freeman as John Watson and Benedict Cumberbatch as BBC Sherlock Holmes reading pages over someone's shoulder.

Oh, look, Sherlock! We made the Nice AND the Naughty List this year.

I’ll be re-posting the Sherlock Gift Tags PDF from last Holiday Season and coming up with a few Holiday gifts as we work our way towards the Big Day.

Here’s wishing everyone in the U.S. had a Happy Thanksgiving and a lovely Holiday Season of Sherlock Holmes.

 

A Nicer Sherlock With a Bigger Star Than Benedict Cumberbatch? Really BBC?

Benedict Cumberbatch as BBC Sherlock with blowtorch and goggles reading computer over John Watson's shoulder

Over at Deadline London, Ben Stephenson, BBC drama head, confirms that if Sherlock had been made with a focus on international sales it would have been with different casting, specifically someone other than Benedict Cumberbatch. The article states:

If Sherlock had been made expressly for international, Stephenson told me recently, it would have been cast differently. In the early days of the show, he said there were concerns that Benedict Cumberbatch’s high-functioning sociopath would not be embraced. “Couldn’t he be slightly nicer? Couldn’t you have a bigger star?” are questions he said were bandied about. “Ultimately it was the courage of convictions. It made Benedict a star and people love those rough edges.”

Why am I thinking that “the courage of convictions” were Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss throwing polite but firm fits at casting “a bigger star” instead of using the right actors?

Although, I do have to mention a recent “Happy Hour” conversation I had with someone who said she couldn’t watch Sherlock because “he’s just so mean to people.” I should mention that this person is a graphic designer who announced in the same conversation that she had just used Adobe Photoshop layers for the first time. After I picked my jaw up from my cheese plate (she’s not that young or a new designer), she explained she used Illustrator for all of her design work and used Photoshop to crop pictures. In other words, this is not someone who handles change in her life, or contradiction, well.

Fortunately, a large part of the prime PBS demographics disagrees with her and likes a character who says what we all wish we could say but are too polite to do so.

“What’s it like in your funny little brains? It must be so boring.”— Sherlock Holmes in BBC Sherlock, A Study in Pink

Taxes nearly done. Class materials prepared (and class starting tomorrow). Alas, I won’t be able to make 221B Con (despite having a membership), but I will get a chance to work on the fanfic and some more captions this weekend. Ta for now.

But Santa Moftiss, We’ve Been Good!

A series of images of Andrew Scott as BBC Sherlock James Moriarty looking disturbed and then screaming; text reads "A 3 month delay for Sherlock S3 production? Why not just KILL ME NOW!"

NO-OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!

Yes, that eery, horrific noise you heard was the sound of millions of BBC Sherlock fans screaming in pain at the news that production for Season 3 is being delayed for at least 3 months due to scheduling conflicts for Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman.

This is what happens when you have so much incredible talent working together. *Heavy sigh* Well, kids, I guess we’ll just have to find ways to keep ourselves entertained (notice I did not say sane) until late 2013.

 

Did You Really Say That, Sherlock?

Benedict Cumberbatch as BBC Sherlock curled up on sofa looking up to ask a question

Does this robe make my bum look fat, John?

It’s okay. We all love it when you pout, Sherlock. And besides, there are non-fattening treats later in this post.

To jump to the treats, click here. (I really thought they’d show up sooner.)

Oodles of catch up to do this week (and I still haven’t physically recovered from the Seattle Sherlock Convention (the brain may still feel 30, but the body is reminding me that my motto at that age was “I can rest when I’m dead.”) which explains the fact that I still haven’t finished unpacking from the convention — okay, that and the fact that my Sherlock: The Casebook arrived from the UK on Saturday so it was waiting when I got home on Monday…It’s very well done and, like the show, was done with love and care about the characters, the series, the people involved, and the fans.).

I’ve been pretty quiet on the Elementary front because a) I don’t have TV reception and CBS’ on-site episode streaming has been highly problematic for that series and b) it’s not good Sherlock Holmes. I’m sorry, but really the kindest critique I could make is to borrow from several other reviewers who’ve said that it would have been much wiser and kinder to the show to call the lead characters anything *but* Sherlock Holmes and Joan Watson because it’s really just another formulaic CBS police procedural with quirky characters like “The Mentalist.” However, by calling it a “modern Sherlock Holmes” it not only comes with certain expectations but demands comparison with BBC’s Sherlock. And it can’t begin to hold up to the comparisons.

There’s a wonderfully insightful piece over on Inside Blip about Why “Elementary” Fails Sherlock Holmes Fandom. For my part it lands pretty squarely on what John Scalzi calls in his fabulous science fiction novel Redshirts: A Novel with Three Codas
“lazy writing” combined with writing a series with input from the marketing department.

My concerns from the beginning was with the apparent marketing mindset of “we gotta have a gimmick” (to paraphrase the strippers in “Gypsy”). Changing the gender of one of the lead characters would require changing at least some of the dynamic between then, but this would have been fine — except I was suspicious from the start that the show creators chose to make the emotionally supportive and less ostentatiously bright partner (Watson) female instead of tackling the harder task of making Sherlock the woman, so my concerns from the start was that Watson would become a “wife”/caregiver. Granted we have this done already in Bones, so I could understand the idea of doing a different gender-swap and choosing Watson, however, I was also dismayed by the choice of Liu as Watson which I felt was another marketing choice (“We can appeal to the Asian demographic as well as attract the nerd/geek/tech fanboy demographic who might tune in hoping to see her in a cat suit.”).

One of the key dynamics of the  original Holmes/Watson partnership is the pairing of Sherlock’s cold, taciturn, inscrutable behaviour with Watson’s passionate, demonstrative, transparent personality. Cumberbatch and Freeman capture this yin and yang perfectly with Freeman’s face expressing entire three-volume-novels of emotion while Cumberbatch can drop an Iron Curtain of enigmatic complexity across his face that lets us see that the CPU is overclocking at an alarming rate, but gives no hint as to what the results will be. Liu has never been known for the openness of her expressions and the preview made her appear Botoxed into a rigid mask of obscurity.

But even having two enigmatic, mysterious characters might have worked for Elementary (although not as canonical Holmes & Watson) if they’d made Lui’s Watson dynamic and strong. I’d been afraid when I first heard of the casting that they were going to have Lui act as a sort Kato (martial arts sidekick and chauffer to the Green Hornet) to Miller’s Holmes, but frankly, that would have been a better choice than the emotionally-damaged, low self-esteem, wimp Watson. One of the things that makes both Jude Law’s and Martin Freeman’s Watsons work so well is that, while they try so hard to fit into the social norms of the middle-class, they are zestful and vital and delight in the opportunities to action. Given Miller’s Sherlock roams NY looking like a gay, emo, addict, I’d expect attacks by gay-bashers, bully-boys or general muggers to be fairly common and having Lui’s Watson apply a little Sandra Bullock/Miss Congeniality self-defense ,or demonstrate she’s not the victimizable “weaker sex” that canonical Victorian Holmes considered all women, would go a long way towards bringing some life to her Watson. Right now, her Watson is like a small black hole sucking out what little energy the show has and Miller can’t possibly generate enough thrust to avoid being pulled in.

Since I didn’t really intend for this to be an Elementary critique post, I’ll skip breaking down why Miller’s character fails as an effective Holmes (it’s not Miller’s fault, but the writers, producers, and directors; he’s working his heart out). But I will point out that what works for Robert Downey, Jr.’s action-man Holmes is that he isn’t angst-filled emo. He is totally self-centered and so we don’t feel guilty about our enjoyment of his rather callous fun. Cumberbatch’s Holmes understands that he is disconnected to the emotional lives of others (“Not good?” “A bit not good.”). This single vulnerability, and his charming dependence on Watson like a child clutching another child’s hand on a Field Trip outside the safety of the classroom whenever he must deal with the emotional lives of others, allows us to connect with Sherlock. But the writers of Elementary do Miller no favours by trying to make his Holmes a tough “bad boy” who also self-analyzes on a daily basis while trying to pretend he isn’t just another rich, white boy with a good education and no excuse for failure.


Right. Well, I’m glad I got that off my chest. Now to the treats.

Sherlock Quote Artist Trading Cards

For the convention, I wanted to create something that could be given away and possibly used as a conversation starter for the less outgoing or newbie (at least to conventions) fans. It’s always a bit awkward showing up at a party where you don’t already know most of the people. My friend, Heidi Berthiaume, has been in the Artist Trading Card (ATC) movement for several years which gave me an idea. Alas, I’m a very slow artist so there wasn’t time to make a series of “art” cards, but the thought occurred how about some Quote cards? So I started making quotes laid out to print on the self-perforated, create-your-own-business-card stock available at office supply stores. Somewhere around page 12 I realized I had to stop because it was going to cost me a fortune to print out enough copies to provide enough variety to allow folks to exchange them at the con. I’m not certain everyone understood the entire concept, but folks seemed to like the quotes and were having fun with them, so I promised to post the entire set (120 different quotes on 12 sheets of 10-up cards) in PDF format so people can print out their own.

  1. Simply download the 12 different sheets in PDF format below.
  2. Print each sheet on card stock (the pre-perforated, business card stock from the office supply stores is the easiest and best solution).
  3. Separate your cards and use them however you wish.

Some possible uses are:

  • Exchange with others (either as Artist Trading Cards or fellow Sherlockians)
  • Print your fandom IDs, URLs, email address, or other note on back to give out to others.
  • Use as gift labels (the holiday season is approaching and you don’t want to make Molly’s mistake).
  • Create random acts of Sherlockian street rebellian by leaving them in public places to be found by others. (You can even add “I believe in Sherlock Holmes” or “Moriarty was real” to the back to promote the movement.)
  • Do your own artwork on the back.
  • Use to communicate with people when you don’t want to actually say what you’re thinking (“You lower the I.Q. of the entire street.” or one of the nice ones even.)

Sherlock Quote Cards Page 1

Sherlock Quote Cards Page 2

Sherlock Quote Cards Page 3

Sherlock Quote Cards Page 4

Sherlock Quote Cards Page 5

Sherlock Quote Cards Page 6

Sherlock Quote Cards Page 7

Sherlock Quote Cards Page 8

Sherlock Quote Cards Page 9

Sherlock Quote Cards Page 10

Sherlock Quote Cards Page 11

Sherlock Quote Cards Page 12

(I should also mention that these are the corrected cards for those who got an early version card with typo in their convention bags.)

Even Sherlock Needs a Bit of Recovery Time

Benedict Cumberbatch as BBC Sherlock Holmes lying on sofa in dressing gown and pajamas

A Supernatural cosplay won the Seattle Sherlock Con competition?! I still maintain that we would have won, if you had let me explain how to identify 243 different cigarette ashes, John.

You should have worn the hat, Sherlock.

Right. So I made it back from the Seattle Sherlock Con Monday in time to feed cats, clean the litter boxes, and dash off to my NaNoWriMo group meeting where I finally decided which Sherlock novella project I would work on and started roughing out the outline (only 7 days  behind schedule).

Thank You to Everyone Who Donated or Bought a T-Shirt or Tote Bag

I met some lovely people at the Sherlock Convention and really appreciated the support, both verbal and tangible. We are completely out of both Small and 2XL quote t-shirts. Some folks had some smashing ideas for taking a Large t-shirt and recycling it into something they could use even though it was too big. Some of my favourite ideas was a pillow, a purse and a laptop case cover. I may play with those this winter.

I’ll be posting a big Thank You Shout Out tomorrow for as many of the lovely folks who assisted, said kind, words, and so forth at the SSC. I’ll also be getting up the promised PDF files for the complete set of Sherlock Quote (Artist) Trading Cards so that folks can download the sheets and print out their own set on business card stock. I’m glad so many folks enjoyed them.

Meanwhile, I’ve decided to try to add the rest of the non-Holmes Boys fan fiction to the PDF compilation Sherlock Cares Volume 1, that folks  can download, and if they want to kick it old school, print out and turn into a physical zine. I’m also going to test my copy of Scrivener to see if I really can create an epub in multiple formats (including Kindle) with cover. I have a few of the “What Might We Deduce About His Heart?” double-sided mini-posters/fanzine covers left and will figure out something to do with them later this year. So be a little more patient with me on that (I have to catch up on being roughly 12,000 words behind on NaNoWriMo (not to mention those pesky things like paying bills).

Oh, and naturally, my copy of Sherlock: The Casebook arrived on Saturday while I was gone so I’m trying to not spend the day reading it instead of actually getting work done.

Laterz!

The Real Reason Sherlock Went On the Roof

Close Up Benedict Cumberbatch as BBC Sherlock on Bart's Roof with mobile cell phone

Can you hear me now?

Can I Borrow Your Phone?

by J.H. Watson
~ 400 words

Sherlock Holmes looked down at his phone and frowned. “John, I need your phone.”

John Watson face expressed his exasperation as he got up and walked over to where Sherlock was sitting looking into scope in a lab at Bart’s Hospital. John fished his mobile out of his coat pocket and placed it in Sherlock’s  demanding, out-stretched hand. “What do you do when I’m not here to loan you my phone?”

“Borrow Molly’s,” Sherlock said as he made one more adjustment to the scope before looking up and adding, “Or go up on the roof. I get perfect reception on the roof.”

“That could be dangerous.”

Sherlock made a derisive face as he finished typing his text and hitting send.

Watson said defensively, “You could fall off.”

Sherlock stared at his friend as he held out the phone in return

John blinked and added, “Or get struck by lightening.”

Sherlock held the stare and the right corner of his mouth curled in a derisive smirk. John snatched the phone from Sherlock’s hand. A blush crept up John’s face as he stuffed it back into his pocket. As he turned he muttered, “Or someone could push you off.”

Sherlock had returned to peering through his scope.”What did you say?”

“I’m just going to push off.”

Sherlock slid another slide in place as he said, “Right. You might  try the ginger barmaid who paints.”

John turned back. “What?”

Sherlock was peering through scope making an adjustment as he replied, “At the pub. She’s interested in going out with you.”

“How —”

“She deliberately turned around to look at your backside last night and smiled.”

John paused. “Right. Thanks.”

John left the lab. Sherlock smiled to himself. A few moments later he spotted something, quickly replaced the slide with another, made another adjustment, then sat up and pulled out his phone. He started to punch in something, stopped, looked at it and made face. “Damn! I’ve got to get another carrier.”

He stood up and collected his scarf and coat.

### End ###

Sorry. Another bit of niggling continuity issues that get to me is that in the Sherlock-Watson “cute meet” scene in A Study in Pink, Sherlock needs to borrow John’s phone because he can’t get a signal inside Bart’s, but after that he never seems to have any trouble. Especially in Reichenbach Falls when he can’t afford to have any interruption with his phone service because of the intricate timing of his final move with Moriarty. I’m mentally justifying it with some backstory that Sherlock changes his mobile carrier after the initial meet-up with John. It’s the simplest explanation…

Oh, alright, I’ll throw the slash/shippers a bone (no pun intended) and say that another alternative answer is that Sherlock looks John over and decides he wants to impress and connect so he pretends he can’t get service inside of Bart’s so he can borrow John’s phone because he’s already deduced that Stamford doesn’t have his. But I’ll let someone else write that story.