Tag Archives: Moriarty

Sherlock, series 3

mast-Sherlock-Benedict-Martin-COVE-hiresI have waited almost two years for the next season of this show.  It’s amazing how much you can anticipate something, and then you blink and it’s over.  Just like Christmas.  This season started on January 1st, and was over less than 2 weeks later.  Three episodes, even if they are 90 minutes each, doesn’t seem like it should qualify as a full series.

Past here, there be spoilers!  You have been warned!

In episode one, The Empty Hearse, we see Sherlock return to London, and admit to being alive.  We also see John’s terrible mustache.

imagesThankfully, it’s short-lived.  I’ve never been less attracted to Martin Freeman.

The mini-episode at Christmas gave us a taste of what has been happening to our characters since the last season. Anderson has grown a terrible beard, lost his job, and become a Sherlock conspiracy theorist.  John has moved out and is very sad and makes me feel all the feelings.

In The Empty Hearse, Sherlock comes back and assumes all will be the same, assumes nothing interesting can have happened since he wasn’t around. John’s reaction to seeing him again is pretty intense.  The more Sherlock explains who knew he had faked his death (Molly, his parents), the angrier John gets.  Who can blame him? My reaction would have been far more wrathful, but John has a soft spot for Sherlock, and I think his relief outweighs his anger pretty quickly.  That being said, Sherlock deserved a good punch in the face.

The most brilliant part of this episode were the various theories on how he faked his death.  The first one, the very first scene of the episode, had me going for a split second, and it made me very angry. It made no sense at all! But the second one? with Sherlock and Moriarty on the roof? Hilarious.  And a scenario that has no doubt already appeared in at least one fanfiction in a dark corner of the internet.

In episode 2, we see John and Mary’s wedding, with Sherlock as the best man…

sherlock-wedding-john-mary-sherlockJust looking at this picture makes me feel the need to improve my posture. I liked this episode, but in it, Sherlock seemed too normal. Too able to and willing to be charming.  One could argue that he was putting on his best behavior for John and Mary (who he obviously likes).  But he’s cultivated a personality that is callous and rude, because he truly thinks he is more important than the average riff raff he encounters. I find it hard to believe he could turn on the charm and flirt with the maid of honor and etc.  Of course, when I saw episode 3, his behavior toward her made more sense. And, I suppose he has been able to affect normalcy before–e.g. when he pretended to be a vicar who had been attacked outside Irene Adler’s building.

And episode 3? What the hell was that?!  Before it started, I was complaining to my boyfriend that we’d barely seen this supervillain Magnussen, and it wasn’t a very good way to build up the tension.  Moriarty had been discussed in every episode of the first two seasons, and had been like a shadow hanging over all of them.
And this Magnussen?  What did we know about him going into episode 3? Almost nothing.  Of course, turns out he only took about 3 seconds of screen time to completely repulse me in every conceivable way.  I was so disgusted I think some of my innards turned inside out…

lars-mikkelsen-charles-augustus-magnussen-600x398Gross, gross, gross. Why is he so plastic looking and terrifying? I had nightmares about him!

But was he a supervillain?! no.  He wasn’t even the most villainous person in this episode, despite being the human equivalent of the word ‘moist‘.  I feel like bleaching my skin just thinking about him. But the real shocker in this episode was not him, obviously.

I feel like (and I’m hesitant to criticize Sherlock as a whole, but) Mary seemed to earn her forgiveness extremely quickly.  Our acceptance of her is based on a-Sherlock saying she had ‘saved his life’ by not killing him and by calling the ambulance, and b-John being ‘attracted’ to sociopaths because he is an adrenaline junkie.

a- is hard to stomach.  Couldn’t she have just knocked him out?  Or shot him in the shoulder or something?  And why not just shoot Magnussen, instead of shooting Sherlock?  I just don’t buy it as some great act on her part to show she’s a good person.  Yes, calling the ambulance was good, but not shooting him would have been better. He almost died even though she was trying not to kill him, so not a great plan.

and b?  It’s true.  No matter what iteration of these two characters (Sherlock, Elementary, House, etc) you enjoy, you start out thinking ‘how does this Watson guy/girl put up with it all?  (S)he is so normal comparatively’.  But eventually, you realize that people get into these relationships because they want to. And they stay in the relationships because they get something out of it.  Probably a relief from boredom.  Much like what we get out of watching someone like Sherlock.  On the other hand, I think it’s a little ridiculous for everyone to say ‘Oh, of course you married a killer, John, you’re attracted to psychos’.  This is only the second unbalanced person we’ve seen John with, so it’s not exactly an established pattern.  He was clearly bored with his ‘normal’ girlfriends in the previous series, but this is  bit extreme.  I really liked Mary’s character, and I like the actress (Freeman’s real-life partner). I just find her deception and her actions unforgivable, and I can’t trust her as readily as John and Sherlock seem to.  Of course, it’s easy for Sherlock to trust people, because he usually knows more about them than they do.

And I have one major gripe about this episode.  One thing that makes no sense to me.  Magnussen apparently had no actual proof of anything he used to blackmail people?  So killing him (a pretty serious breach of protocol from our hero that is glazed over very very quickly) destroyed all the ‘evidence’ in his mind?  Even if you accept that he somehow saw/found enough proof to blackmail seriously powerful people, and that blackmail worked on them even though he didn’t keep any records, and that killing him would end his threat..there’s still a problem.  He showed the letters to Sherlock.  Had them in his pocket.  So he obviously had evidence of those in hard copy, not just in his mind palace.  I suppose you could surmise that they were just random scraps of paper bound together, rather than the actual letters.  That’s conceivable, but you have to let your audience know that, otherwise it just seems like a mistake.

My only other complaint about episode 3 is the serious lack of Lestrade! Give that man more to do, even if it is just to be humiliated and called ‘Graham’ or ‘Gavin’ by Sherlock.

But of course, there are only two big important moments in episode 3.  The moment we realize the truth about Mary, and…the bit after the credits.  I hope you watched until the end of the credits?

sherlock-his-last-vow-moriarty-miss-meCan I just say that I am so happy and terrified of this, all at once?  I don’t care why or how he’s back, I just want to see more of him.  Andrew Scott, you are the most terrifying and wonderful villain ever.

Gatiss and Moffat have confirmed that there will be a series 4, to start filming as soon as the actors have room in their schedule.  Some people are speculating a premiere as early as Christmas 2014.  I hope it’s that soon, but I don’t really care when it is.  Even when this show isn’t at its best, I would still wait years and years for the next episode.  Each episode has enough moments that are shocking, affecting, funny, and scary; each one is worth waiting for.

Advertisements

Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows

I finally got to see the latest of the Robert Downey Jr. Sherlock Holmes movies, and to rewatch the first one.  Warning, past here, there be spoilers.

I remember when the first movie came out, I really enjoyed it.  I thought it was a really fun movie and loved RDJ, as always.  But…now that I’ve seen Sherlock, it is hard to think of these movies in the way I once did.  It is difficult to compare them.  The BBC version is modern, taking place in 21st century London.  But in many ways, it is far more true to the ideas and the characters of the original stories than any other adaptation I can think of.

My problems with the RDJ movies mostly come up when I compare them to the BBC series or to the original stories. Starting with RDJ as Sherlock Holmes.  There are some parts that work–the boredom, the erratic behavior, the somewhat co-dependent relationship with Watson.  But much of what they do in the movies does not work. For one thing, RDJ seems to be mostly playing himself. Or he’s playing Tony Stark, who I imagine to be just like him.  Arrogant, strutting, egotistical and self-aware simultaneously.  In many ways, a petulant child. In the BBC series, on the other hand, Benedict Cumberbatch (and the writers, obviously) portray him more as someone who lacks empathy, a ‘high-functioning sociopath’ with no time for details (or people) who detract from his desire to occupy his mind with a mystery.

Another problem I have is that there is very little of the actual deductive skills on display in these films.  In the first, the most obvious example is when Holmes meets Watson’s fiance. In the second, his meeting of Madam Simza (played by the kick-ass Noomi Rapace) is the best example of his deductive skills.

In the BBC series, we see multiple examples in every episode of these deductive skills, displayed both through dialogue and through text on the screen to indicate what, exactly, Holmes can see when he looks at people. The closest to this that we get in the RDJ movies is the prescience he has about physical combat.  They spend time in every fight scene (and there are multiple per movie) to display Holmes’ ability to know what will happen before his opponent moves. This is the most powerful of his abilities in the movies.  And even when he is fighting Moriarty, the big climax between two brilliant men, their incredible powers of deduction lead them to…be able to anticipate the fighting skills of the other.

And what of the enemies, the arch-nemeses of Moriarty and Holmes?  I do like Jared Harris as Moriarty, perhaps because he was such a good baddy on Fringe.
But the movie barely features him, and his grand evil plan is…to acquire guns, money, and power. To make war in order to sell the implements of war? How common. Boring.  I didn’t feel any of the tension that came with the Moriarty and Holmes of the BBC series.  Those two seemed evenly matched.

So in comparison to the BBC series, obviously I find the RDJ movies severely and incredibly lacking.  But…on the other hand, if I do not compare them, then I can tolerate the movies much better.  If I do not think of these movies as in any way affiliated with the Doyle stories or the Holmes characters, then they are quite good.

I like the cinematography and the amazing job they did recreating 19th century London for the exteriors.  RDJ is entertaining to watch, even as he is being goofy and ridiculous.  Jude Law is awesome as Watson, and I even like him with a mustache. (A side note that I prefer the vulnerability of Martin Freeman as Watson, but I digress). And the sequel even had Stephen Fry as Mycroft!  He was nothing like I would expect Mycroft to be, and he was shockingly nude for much of the time, but I love Stephen Fry no matter what he does. These are great comedy/action films, and that is high praise from someone who normally doesn’t like any action films and not a lot of comedies ever. If you’re in the mood for a little mindless fun, they’re perfect.  My only problem is that Sherlock Holmes is the last person who should ever be associated with mindless fun.

Surfing the Channels: Sherlock Season Two

I had high hopes for season two of Sherlock, since I absolutely adored the first season and the wait was just long enough to make me want it all the more. This season, the writers tackled the stories “A scandal in Bohemia” (renamed a Scandal in Belgravia), “the Hound of the Baskervilles”, and “The Final Problem” (renamed the Reichenbach Fall).  These are perhaps the most famous Holmes stories.

Belgravia tackles “the woman” as she is known. Irene Adler.  For the first time, we see a Sherlock Holmes who might actually be interested in a woman. And she is more than interested in him. If anything, I think this episode improved upon the first season. I loved the pacing, the action, the wit. I loved the last 2 minutes. I loved the first ten minutes. I’ll be honest and say I thought the answer to the passcode riddle was corny. But, I can forgive any episode that provides a moment as ridiculous as this one:

I also found this episode particularly lovely in terms of the relationship between Sherlock, Watson, and Mrs. Hudson.  They do care for each other and we really start to see the human side of Sherlock in this episode, even as he pushes people away who care for him. There’s plenty of Watson and Sherlock banter, and Martin Freeman is somehow even better as Watson in this season than he was in the last.

Also, I must take a moment to point out something I forgot to mention in my first review. The music! I adore the music from this show, and I’m not someone who particularly notices peripheral things like music or set design, but I notice, connect with, and appreciate all of the little things that go into making this show wonderful.

The “Hound of the Baskervilles” is, I would guess, the most famous Holmes story in the original canon. With such large expectations, and such a strange story (more ghost story than typical detective fodder), I wasn’t surprised to find myself a bit disappointed in it.  There are good moments, particularly with Watson, and the awkward men on holiday together feeling of it, but overall it was my least favorite episode of the show so far. The resolution was a bit far-fetched for my liking. What I did enjoy about it thought was seeing a Sherlock that was actually fearful.  It is refreshing when someone so seemingly all-knowing is confronted with something simultaneously unbelievable and terrifying. It is good to see him humbled, and I think it is necessary to prepare him and us for the next episode.

Also, I have to say…I know a lot of people love Russell Tovey, who has had roles in Being Human, Dr. Who, Little Dorrit, and loads of other British stuff, but I dislike him for whatever reason.  He’s very odd looking, but then again so is Benedict Cumberbatch and I adore him.  So that can’t be it.  Perhaps it is that in absolutely everything he seems to play a whiny complaining incompetent. Could he ever just be happy in a role? If so, maybe I wouldn’t dislike him so severely.

Finally, we have “The Reichenbach Fall”.  I’m not sure I can talk about this episode, to be honest.  I might need a few months of therapy before I get over it.  No, I don’t think I can discuss it in full.  Needless to say, it is a beautiful and tragic and horrible and wonderful episode and truly brilliant work on the part of everyone involved. I won’t go into details, but I will say that we see relationships truly tested, and Sherlock truly tested. And he proves to be not just a great man, but also a good man.  And, oh god, Watson. Martin Freeman does an amazing job and made me cry repeatedly. And that’s all I think I can say, because I’m just too emotional about the whole thing. Plus, I don’t want to give anything away.

I think that series two is actually far better than series one, and that’s pretty remarkable considering how much I loved that first season. Thank the lord they are making a 3rd series, and it shouldn’t be too long before it’s on TV. This is my favorite show on TV right now, and the best thing I’ve seen on TV for years.

Surfing the channels: Sherlock season 1

You know, when I started watching Downton Abbey, I thought it must be the greatest thing on British TV right now.  And when I saw the Sherlock Holmes movie with Robert Downey Jr, I thought it was pretty damn good, and RDJ was a good Sherlock.  I was incredibly wrong on both counts.

The fact is, the BBC series Sherlock is my favorite thing that has been on TV for years.  I adore it so much that I’m going to devote two posts to it, so that I can concentrate on each season in turn.

For those who haven’t seen it, it is a modern retelling of the classic Arthur Conan Doyle tales.  Martin Freeman (whom I have loved since The British Office, adored since Love Actually, and would watch anything if he were in it) plays Dr. Watson. Of course he is about to be a lot more famous around the world, since he is starring in the Hobbit later this year. Before seeing him in this, I would have found it difficult to imagine him as a soldier, and as a serious man.  But he is flawlessly good at portraying everything about Dr. Watson, without being derivative. And Holmes?  Well.  His name is Benedict Cumberbatch–yes, that is his actual name. And, while some say he looks like that sloth from Ice Age, after a few episodes of Sherlock, I found myself putting him on my relationship-exception list. He isn’t very well known yet, outside of England at least, but he will be soon.  He was in War Horse this past year, and coming up he’s got the Star Trek sequel and some voice work in the Hobbit with Martin.

So why do I love it so much?  Part of it is the format.  Even a one hour show would be difficult to work with in terms of the depth of the mysteries and the adventures involved in solving them each week. Instead, the BBC, quite smartly, ordered 3 90-minute episodes per season.  Ok, 3 episodes is a torture, to be honest. I just start to get really obsessed and it’s over. But each one is like a little movie, so it gives you a lot of time to get invested in what’s happening. There is time to set up the mystery, time for lots of banter between Holmes and Watson, time for adventure and danger, and of course time to wrap up the mystery. By the time you watch all 3 episodes, you feel like a season’s worth of pathos and drama have gone by.

The first season had “A Study in Pink”, “The Blind Banker”, and “The Great Game”.  All the episodes are based on the classic stories, but updated and varied in some ways you expect and some you don’t.

Another reason to love it is the actors and the dialogue.  Perhaps that’s two reasons, but the point is how they work together. Cumberbatch’s Sherlock is a “high-functioning sociopath” with little social skills, a sadistic enjoyment in humiliating others, and, as is eventually revealed, a soft spot for a select few people in his life. He is brilliant, he is cruel, and he is absolutely impossible to look away from. Watson is, as in the books, more of a human being, with more recognizable feelings and moods. He is the everyman witness to the brilliance of Holmes, but he is essential to the whole thing. He is also quite funny, and very moving when the situation calls for it.

There is even the all important Moriarty. He is not what you would expect, which makes him all the more brilliant.  I won’t give anything away, but he is scary and funny and witty and memorable, all at the same time.

It’s the mark of a truly remarkable show when a complete novice like me recognizes the brilliance of the direction and the set design.  How can everything about this show be completely modern, and at the same time, reflect so well the Victorian era of its source material? Through incredibly good work on the part of everyone involved.  I can’t praise it highly enough, it is perfect. It is smart. It is a ton of fun. GO see it immediately. It’s on Netflix Instant and it’s been on PBS Masterpiece theater lately. Go, now, GO!