My Theory on “The Reichenbach Fall”

Okay, hopefully this will be the last Sherlock-related post you have to deal with from me for awhile.  Maybe…  We’ll see.  I’ve watched the whole show twice through now, and I’ve watched the final episode, “The Reichenbach Fall,” three times.  (I’ve also gotten both my mother and my friend, Nathan, to watch the first episode, and will soon be making sure they watch the rest of the series too.)

While watching “The Reichenbach Fall” I actually sat down and took THREE PAGES of notes (and my handwriting is small, so that’s a lot of notes).  And I THINK I may have found a small detail/clue that might be the one Steven Moffat was hinting at.  Now, I haven’t read every single comment, tweet, blog post, etc ever written on the subject of the last episode and theories about how Sherlock faked his death, and I doubt I’m the only who to ever notice this.  HOWEVER, based on the blog posts, comments, etc. that I HAVE read, it doesn’t look as if many people have noticed it yet, at least.  This little detail, that I’ll actually tell you about in a minute, doesn’t (I think) really change the basic theories that have been thrown around about how Sherlock faked his death, but I think it does help to confirm the theory (at least if I’m not seeing things).

So, before I get into explaining my theory, here are a few of the things that I took notice of while watching the episode that directly impact my theory.  All of these are things that others have mentioned/noticed before, though some people don’t notice them all at the same time.  I’m just laying them all out for you here. (Don’t worry, I’m not typing out all three pages of notes, just some of the major things).

- we know that Moriarty creates an alias, Richard Brook, who is an actor; we can assume he had access to other “actors”

- Molly notes, long before Sherlock admits that he knows that Moriarty is trying to ruin his reputation, that he looks sad when he thinks no one is looking (or more specifically when he thinks John isn’t looking), thus implying that Sherlock already suspected that the end game would be his death

- the girl who was kidnapped by Moriarty (or more likely, Moriarty’s men) sees Sherlock and screams, thus implying that Moriarty has some kind of Sherlock impersonator (an actor?) who looks enough like Sherlock to convince a girl she has seen Sherlock before

- we, of course, know that Sherlock goes to Molly for help – though he does not, of course, specify what he wants her to do, we know that Molly is the coroner, which gives us some ideas

- and of course it is obvious that Moriarty does not think about Molly and so can’t anticipate Sherlock’s plan, because he claims to be threatening the only three people in the entire world that Sherlock cares about: John, Mrs. Hudson, and Lestrade (one would assume he doesn’t bother with Mycroft because Sherlock ACTS as if he doesn’t care about him, AND Mycroft would be ridiculously difficult to get to, even for Moriarty)

- I have watched and watched and watched and I’m almost certain that Sherlock and Moriarty are alone on that roof top (of course, if they were playing tricks with the camera angles, we’d have no way of knowing, and that’d be cheating)

- I’m almost certain that Moriarty is really dead (though no one mentions finding his body at the end of the episode, so who knows?): Sherlock is standing RIGHT IN FRONT OF HIM when he shoots himself in the head, they show the body quite clearly at several angles, and there is no one else on the roof, so I’m pretty damn sure Moriarty is staying dead

- Sherlock is definitely the one who jumps off that roof, (in other words, there is no way he just threw an already-dead body off the ledge): they show him quite clearly standing on the roof with the phone, talking to John who’s standing below (and the camera angle again leaves little doubt that there is no one else on the roof, and Sherlock is not holding up a dead body in front of him or something like that); his arms and legs are actively flailing as he falls (so its definitely not a dead body) (Also, on a side note, Sherlock is crying in this scene. CRYING. It’s so hard to tell how much of that is real with him, though.)

- The camera actually blinks out for a second right before the body hits the ground and changes angles, so we DO NOT see one straight shot of Sherlock jumping, falling, and landing.  AND there is a truck full of bags – trash? old hospital gowns? – RIGHT beside where the body lands.

- John is standing below, near the building, but he’s at an angle to the point where the body lands, and he has to round a corner to actually see the body.  Plus, he is struck by the man on the bike (which I am, like everyone else, assuming was planned – perhaps one of Sherlock’s homeless network?), so that he is not the first to reach the body.  By the time John gets up and over to the body the truck has driven away and the body is surrounded by other people.

And now we come to the detail that none of the other theories/blogs I’ve read have mentioned: in all the scenes prior to Sherlock jumping off the roof (sitting in the lab with John, telling John to go check on Mrs. Hudson without him, and going up to the roof to meet Moriarty), he is wearing his purple shirt.  Now, I could be wrong, and I want some others to take a look and tell me what you think, but I’ve looked and looked and looked, and I’m pretty sure the shirt the body is wearing a dark navy or gray shirt.  What do you think?  Am I just seeing things?

This, to me, confirms that the body John sees on the sidewalk is NOT Sherlock.  Obviously, plenty of people had already assumed that (though I also read one or two theories that he said he took something to make his heart slow to near-death), but this would seem to be proof.

So, here’s my theory, which is not at all different than most of the others, though perhaps a bit more specific.

Having figured out what Moriarty intends, and having guessed that Moriarty must have had some kind of Sherlock-impersonator in order to frighten the kidnapped girl – Sherlock finds (or has someone) find the impersonator (who, I would assume, Moriarty had already had killed and hidden somewhere).  He enlists Molly’s help to prepare the corpse, and to later (after the jump) to make sure she is the one who does the autopsy/coroner’s report.  He enlists the help of his homeless network or others to have the body ready in the truck (and to keep John distracted for a moment).  When Moriarty kills himself, taking away Sherlock’s last ditch effort to avoid the faking-his-death scenario, Sherlock does in fact jump from the roof, landing in the truck, at which point the person helping him throws out the body of the impersonator (dressed, of course, in Sherlock’s clothes), which John does not see because it’s around the corner.  And then the truck drives away, with Sherlock probably injured but relatively whole.  John, being distraught and, of course, looking into a face that’s smashed and bloody, is fooled by the impersonator – though I would guess that a very thorough report on Molly’s part to keep him from suspecting after the fact.

So, there’s my theory.  At least for now.

I’d like to think I’ve got it figured out.  But I have no delusions of grandeur and I have no doubt that Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss are WAY smarter and way more devious than I am, so they’ve probably got something up there sleeve that I’ll never see coming.  But it was a ton of fun trying to figure it out.

For an even better run-down, check out this beauty from Flick Filosopher.

There are plenty of other little things of note through out the episode that are fun to point out, but don’t bare specifically on my theory.  For instance: the “I O U” message spray-painted on a wall across the street of 221B Baker Street when John is jumping into the cab to go after Sherlock.  Moriarty’s ring tone is “Staying Alive” which cracks me up and plays to the whole theme of the episode.  I’m wondering if the gunman who was trained on John might be Sebastien Moran (maybe?).  All the references to Bach seem important: Reichenbach, Rich Brook (Brook being “bach” in German); “Bach couldn’t stand an unfinished melody,” the fake key code is a melody by Bach (Partita #1, I think Moriarty says) – but I’m not entirely sure what all of that points to.

Of course, I still have questions.  For one, the sudden introduction of the Chief Superintendent, who orders Lestrade to arrest Sherlock, seems important to me.  When you’re dealing with the kind of economy of time/movement/character that you are in a movie or tv show, every new character needs to be there for a good reason.

Also, WHY IN HELL’S NAME, if Mycroft had Moriarty captures and in a secure facility, would he EVER let him go again? I keep wondering if Mycroft has more to do with this than we realize.  Perhaps he orchestrated the whole thing to get Sherlock out of the country for some covert job?  He would certainly be able to get a hold of a Sherlock look-alike for the body-swap.

And lastly: how in hell’s name is Sherlock going to clear his name?!

Okay, I’ll stop bothering you with posts about Sherlock for awhile now (maybe…).  Oh, except to give you the best Sherlock fan-girl Tumblr blog EVER: We’re Basically Filling In For Your Skull; which is the perfect thing to help keep you sane while we wait for the new episodes.  Just be aware that there is some spoilery stuff on there if you haven’t seen season 2 yet.

God, those EYES! I can’t even–! GAH!

Totally, Completely, and Ridiculously Obsessed With Sherlock, Pt 2

Totally, Completely, and RIDICULOUSLY OBSESSED with Sherlock, Pt 2: 

*drools*

Okay, where was I?  Oh yeah, raving about Sherlock like a lunatic.  That sounds about right.  Again, I want to remind you, if you have not watched Sherlock yet and intend to, DON’T read this.  There is absolutely no way to talk about this show without giving away too much, and these are MYSTERY stories after all.  It’s no nearly as much fun if you know what’s coming.  So, once again, if you haven’t seen this show yet, you can watch season 1 on Netflix streaming and season 2 on PBS.org (but PBS only has season 2 on their website for a limited amount of time, so you might want to get cracking).

As for me, I just caved and bought the DVDs on Amazon so I could watch the series again straight through, even if PBS gets rid of their videos.  Also, I want to show it to my mother and she doesn’t like watching things on the computer, so the DVDs will be useful.

And just to prove how obsessed I am, I also bought the Sherlock Holmes 2: Game of Shadows movie on Wednesday and watched it straight through twice.  And I’ve got a new hobby browsing through Sherlock fanart on DeviantArt.  Yeah, I’m pathetic, I know.  But that’s okay, I’m used to it by now.

So, let’s get down to business, shall we?

Next episode: “Hounds of Baskerville” –

Now, anyone who knows anything about Sherlock Holmes knows that The Hound of the Baskervilles is one of the most famous of the Sherlock Holmes stories.  It’s the third of the four novels Arthur Conan Doyle wrote along with the short stories about Sherlock Holmes.  Basic premise of the original novel: When Charles Baskerville, a baronet, is found dead on his estate of an apparent heart attack, his doctor James Mortimer fears that the only heir, Henry Baskerville might be the next to die.  It is revealed the Charles Baskerville believed in the legend of family curse that claimed a hellhound would kill all of the Baskerville family in retaliation for the death of a girl several generations ago.  Sherlock Holmes is called in to find out what really happened to Charles Baskerville, investigate the mysterious threatening letters Henry Baskerville has received, and decipher the truth behind the reports that a gigantic hound has been seen out on the moor.

In this modernized version of the story, Mark Gatiss has written something AWESOME. (Also, apparently Mark Gatiss the co-creator is the series is also the actor who plays Mycroft Holmes! Why didn’t I notice that before? WTF is wrong with me?)  In this incarnation, Henry Baskerville is a man who suffers from severe PTSD after seeing his father killed by a gigantic hound as a child twenty years ago.  He has been convinced by his therapist to return to the moor where his father was killed in order to jog his memories and prove to himself that he didn’t really see a monster.  However, when he goes he find enormous paw prints and is convinced that the monstrous hound is still there.  So he goes to Sherlock for help, who does not at first seem interested, until he learns that the moor is near Baskerville, a top-secret military facility where all kinds of scientific experiments are reported to take place.

Mark Gatiss takes a somewhat convoluted story about a pair of greedy people trying to literally scare a man to death in order to inherit his wealth, and turns it into a crazy awesome story about genetic experiments, the moralities of science, coming to terms with truth, AND greatest of all – Sherlock dealing with self-doubt and fear for practically the first time ever.

And Sherlock is definitely the highlight of this episodes (well, okay, all the episodes, but you know what I mean), because in one scene he is convinced that he has also seen the monstrous hound, even though he knows logically it cannot possibly exist.  He is actually afraid, and begins to doubt his senses, which practically never happens.  He takes it out on John more than a bit, which was part-sad, part-funny, but it was just so fascinating in terms of character development to witness Sherlock having to deal with doubt and fear even though he constantly claims to be in perfect control of his emotions.  The scene in the inn, when he’s sitting in front of the fireplace and freaking out (those of you who’ve seen it know the scene, I’m sure) was fantastic!

Of course, I felt REALLY bad for John in that scene too.  When John says that, as a friend, he’s worried about Sherlock, Sherlock shouts at him, tells him he has no friends, and to leave him alone.  It was SAD, damn it!  I just wanted to jump into the tv and hug Martin Freeman.  He’s just so damn adorable and likable!   Gah!

Ahem… anyway… yes, Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman were wonderful as always in this episode (I am more than little in love with both of them), and they had a chance to stretch their emotional ranges a lot, which was a joy to watch. This is especially true for Benedict Cumberbatch, obviously, since he had to show Sherlock afraid and shaken, but still arrogant and sharp-tongued as ever. But Martin Freeman has this fantastic scene inside the Baskerville labs, where he thinks the hound has gotten loose inside and he’s locked in with it.  I love the way he tries so hard to stay calm and in control, but eventually completely panics and calls Sherlock to help him.  His voice cracks because he’s freaking out so bad, and it’s so funny!  And then it turns out that Sherlock was doing it all as an experiment, while he watches it on a CC-TV, and that made it even more hilarious.

There’s also a little part when John gets to use his army training, and pulls rank on the military base as he and Sherlock are pretending to be inspectors.  We don’t get to see the soldier-y side of John very often, and it’s always a pleasure, because John is completely bad-ass in those moments.

And the plot of the episode was absolutely awesome.  I tip my hat to Mark Gatiss for making the story of The Hound of the Baskervilles into something new and exciting and clever.  It fit the times, it fit the characters, it kept enough elements of the original story to satisfy all of us old-school fans, and it was just plain COOL.

And now – drum roll please – we come to thing we’ve all been waiting for, the big season finale, the epic episode of epicness: “The Reichenbach Fall” – (THERE ARE SO MANY SPOILERS IN THIS YOU WILL PROBABLY WANT TO KILL YOURSELF IF YOU READ IT BEFORE YOU WATCH THE EPISODE)

“The Reichenbach Fall” is based off the Sherlock Holmes story “The Final Problem,” one of the most famous stories and the one of only two stories in which Moriarty makes an actual appearance.  As you may have noticed from some of the comments I made on Facebook and Twitter, this episode was MIND-BLOWING. Just… just… MIND-BLOWING.  I can’t even…! Gah!

Okay, okay… deep breaths.

It opens with Sherlock becoming a minor celebrity as he helps solves higher-profile crimes, with higher-profile clients, and with the media and paparazzi taking notice and following him around.  While the title of the episode comes from the Riechenbach Falls (the waterfalls from which Sherlock Holmes falls to his apparent death in the original stories), in the context of the episode it comes from the name of the famous Turner painting he helps to recover, after which the press call him “The Reichenbach Hero.”  His growing fame apparently irks Moriarty, however, who (in order to get his attention, among other things), breaks into The Bank of England, Pentonville Prison, and the case where the Crown Jewels are kept – ALL AT THE SAME TIME.  Like I said, MIND-BLOWING.  The scene, as he dancing around in front of the Crown Jewels and pressing buttons on his cell phone to open the prison, is hilarious and fantastic.  And then he climbs into the case with the jewels, sits on the throne, puts the crown on his head, and just SITS THERE waiting for the police to show up.

I mean, MY GOD, the man is INSANE.

All of this leads up to the main point, though, which is that Moriarty is slowly and subtly poisoning everyone against Sherlock, so that one a couple children are kidnapped, all the evidence could be construed to point to Sherlock.  And Sherlock and John go on the run.

In an interview, Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss claimed that they thought they’d actually gone one better than Doyle himself had, in their version of The Final Problem. This is, of course, the height of hubris and probably said at least partially in jest, but honestly – THEY’RE NOT WRONG.

Sherlock’s brilliance turned against him?  Sherlock made a fugitive?  Moriarty’s perfect revenge being the destruction of Sherlock’s legacy?  Totally and completely BRILLIANT.

It was nice to see Lestrade trying to stay on Sherlock’s side even though the rest of the police force has turned against him.  And, of course, John is the only who completely believes in him, and stays with him, and even goes on the run with him.  Would we have it any other way? Of course not.  It was also fascinating when John realized that Mycroft is the one who gave accidentally gave Moriarty all the ammo he needed against Sherlock, as Moriarty uses bits of truth and his abilities to fake records and change identities, to make it look as if Sherlock has fabricated Moriarty as a fall guy to cover up the fact that Sherlock is the real perpetrator of all the crimes he attributes to Moriarty.  And then he tells Sherlock to kill himself.  Or Moriarty will kill John, Mrs. Hudson, and Lestrade.

BRILLIANT!  And, okay, I sound (and feel) a bit like Sherlock when he’s admiring a particularly clever crime rather than lamenting the evil of it, but SERIOUSLY.  BRILLIANT.

I mean, my God, Moriarty in the books is a genius, but all he’s really after his money.  In the movies, it’s the same thing.  He’s not crazy at all, just very greedy, very smart, and very willing to hurt people to get what he wants.  But in THIS series, Jim Moriarty is NUTS.  Seriously, seriously NUTS.  And it is AWESOME.  (I have thing for really crazy villains – The Joker and Knives from Trigun are the first two that come to mind – the whole chaotic evil alignment category.  I LOVE IT.)  Anyway, I was a bit unsure about Moriarty in “The Great Game,” but this episodes won me over completely.

And then there’s the ending. OMFG.  Now, I’ll admit, I have a hard time figuring out what to make of Sherlock’s little phone call “suicide note.”  Obviously, when he tells John that the accusations are true and he’s a fake, that’s the lie, but what about the fact that he’s getting choked up?  Is he really getting emotional, or is that part of the act for John’s sake?  And then again, even though he knows he has to “kill” himself to protect John and the others, why doesn’t he TELL John that’s the reason, rather than claiming that he really is a fraud?  I suppose it could be to spare John the thought that it’s John’s fault he’s dead, maybe?  And why demand that John watch him as he jumps?  (I am again assuming that everyone still reading this has seen the episode already, so don’t blame me if I’m ruining anything.)  My initial thought is that Sherlock wants John to be a witness, to be able to say definitively that yes, Sherlock did jump from that roof, yes, he saw it with his own eyes, yes he’s certain that Sherlock is dead – thus, insuring that Sherlock can fake his death in safety.  But it still seemed a little weird – and cruel, to make John watch it.

And John’s face!

(both gifs from this Tumblr page – thank God for gifs!)

His expressions in that moment were pretty brutal.  But it was just as bad later on at the cemetery, when he asked Sherlock for one last miracle, to not be dead.  OMG! I nearly cried (it takes quite a lot of work to actually get me to cry, but my eyes did sting a little).  Martin Freeman does such an amazing job conveying powerful emotion without going overboard.  No screaming, no bursting into tears. He speaks quietly, just starts to get choked up, and then he does that soldierly stoic thing, suddenly straightens up and turns on his heel away from the grave as if he was in uniform, and walks away.  And my God, it was hard to watch!

So, now I get to wait probably a year or more for the next season to come out – which is RIDICULOUS, by the way! They aren’t even starting production until NEXT January.  WTH?  And I have so many questions!  I’ve been trying to figure out exactly how Sherlock faked his death.  We know he enlisted Molly’s help, who probably found a body in the morgue that could be a replacement for Sherlock.  But when did the switch take place?  Because as far as I can tell, Sherlock really was the one who fell from the roof.  It doesn’t LOOK like he threw a dead body off.  Though maybe they did something in that shot to trick us.  It’s hard to tell.  But they don’t just show that scene from John’s point of view on the ground, they show it from Sherlock’s, up on the roof, as he leans forward and lets himself fall.  It really does look like its actually Sherlock falling.  So then, okay, there’s a moment when John is trying to reach the body and he is hit by a man on a bicycle (which yes, I’m definitely assuming was planned) so he’s not the first one to the body.  So maybe the switch happened then?  But then we’d have to assume that Sherlock actually landed, in which case even he managed to survive he would be a mass of broken bones and there’s no way he could moved that quickly.  So I go back to the switched-before-the-fall thesis, though I’m not convinced that’s possible.

Then there’s the fact that in an interview, Moffat claims that “there is a clue everybody’s missed … So many people theorising about Sherlock’s death online – and they missed it!” (from this article).  So, I’m flummoxed. (Also, I have never used that word before in my life! Cool!)

Then, of course, we have to wonder HOW THE HELL Sherlock is going to clear his name.  AND what happened with Moriarty?  Is he really dead?  I’m guessing he is, but its not outside the realm of possibility for him to have faked his own death as well.  I’m also DYING to know how long Sherlock will be gone.  In the books his faked death lasts for THREE YEARS.  Honestly, if the writers do that to John I may break the tv (or my laptop, whichever), because that would be CRUEL!  Really REALLY cruel.

And now we’ve come to the end. This post is ridiculously long, and I should probably cut it in half again, but I’m not going to bother.  If you’ve stuck around through the whole thing, I’m impressed and grateful.  And if you haven’t actually watched the series yet and you read this, well, I pity you, because you just took half the fun out of the experience of first-time viewing.  But you should go watch the series anyway.  SERIOUSLY.  Now I’m going to shut up.  See you folks later!

I leave you with one last image of John, sitting with his therapist a month after Sherlock’s “death,” looking quietly, stoically heart-broken.  It’s about the same way I feel having to wait for a year or more until the new episodes appear (except I’m not stoic at all…).

Totally, Completely, and Ridiculously Obsessed with Sherlock, Pt 1

(Note: I’d originally planned to talk about all three episodes of Sherlock Season 2 in one post, but by the time I’d finished raving about “Scandal in Belgravia” I’d already reached 1600 words, and so I figured it might possibly be a better idea to break them up.)

I TOLD you this would happen.  I warned you, and I warned myself, and still I was knocked over backward by how quickly and vehemently I have become obsessed with Sherlock.  Seriously.  I’m a total mess now.  You should see the tweets and facebook posts from last night when I watched episodes 2 and 3 of season 2 (which I stayed up til 3am to do).  In fact, in case you missed them, here:

From Facebook:

First – “I knew this was going to happen! I waited and waited and waited to watch Sherlock because I KNEW this was going happen. By now I’m so obsessed I feel like the show has sucked my brains out through my eyeballs. I’ll be quoting it wholesale by the end of the week. And in the meantime, ‘The Hounds of Baskerville’ episode has me so wired I probably won’t sleep for hours.

Maybe I should say screw it to trying to make it last and just watch the last episode now…”

Followed by – “Yeah, I just said ‘screw it’ and watched the last episode. AND OH MY FUCKING GOD! *headdesk*”

And – “…it’s by Steven Moffat and Mark Gattis. But you still DEFINITELY need to watch it. EVERYONE needs to watch it. WATCH IT! (can you tell I haven’t slept much…? I feeling a little manic…).”

From Twitter:

First – “Oh God, by now I’m so obsessed with Sherlock I feel like my brains have been sucked up through my eyeballs. *drools & returns to watching*”

Then – “Screw waiting til tomorrow, I’m watching the last ep of Sherlock right now. Who needs sleep anyway?”

And – “First 10 mins of ‘The Reichenbach Fall’ : O.M.F.G. #Sherlock”

Finally – “Oh God. I’m going to be a mess for days after that. #Sherlock #ReichenbachFall”

Plus, in response to a comment – “@miriamjoywrites lol, see, I’d waited & waited to watch Sherlock b/c I KNEW I’d end up ridiculously obsessed. I get so addicted to things.”

Did I mention I’m a mess?  I’m a mess.

So yeah, prepare for manic raving.  Also, this is COVERED in spoilers, because there is no way to avoid them when talking about how awesome this show is, so if you haven’t seen the show yet…

DO NOT READ THIS POST. DO NOT STOP AT GO.  DO NOT COLLECT $200. GO DIRECTLY TO NETFLIX TO WATCH SEASON 1 AND THEN GO TO PBS.ORG AND WATCH SEASON 2 (which will be disappearing off their site soon, so be quick about it!) And THEN you can come back and read my rant and see if it meshes with your thoughts.

YOU DO NOT WANT TO SPOIL THE MYSTERIES IN THESE EPISODES. DO NOT READ THESE SPOILERS. YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED.

Now, moving on, let’s go through the three episodes of season 2 in order.

First: “Scandal in Belgravia,” ie, the Irene Adler episode.  Okay, so this episode opens directly from the cliffhanger at the end of season 1 – Sherlock and John with sniper rifles trained on them while Moriarty stands by, and Sherlock threatens to shoot a bomb and blow them all up.  Honestly, I was kinda hoping for some big huge explosion that both Sherlock and John barely escape from.  What can I say?  I like the pyrotechnics.  But the way this scene was resolved was, instead, pretty hilarious, because Moriarty is distracted a by a phone call and changes his mind about killing Sherlock and John (again), and simply walks off.  So funny!  The scenes after that show Sherlock and John solving a whole slew of little problems, with Sherlock interviewing possible clients with his usual and completely HILARIOUS lack of tact, patience (or sanity, really).

But the real fun is when Irene Adler shows up.  I LOVE this incarnation of Irene Adler. She’s a dominatrix who caters to a very high-end clientele.  She’s sexy and fierce and smart and really really wicked.  In the original story, “A Scandal in Bohemia,” she’s more than a little sympathetic, nice even.  But wicked Irene is so much COOLER.  Some critics think this portrayal is too sexist, but I disagree.  She’s powerful, she knows what she wants, and while she is certainly unscrupulous, she is not portrayed in some kind of simplistic whore/angel dichotomy.  She’s WAY more complicated than that.  And the way she plays off Sherlock is fantastic.  Seriously, when she walks into the room where Sherlock is pretending to be a priest, and she’s completely naked, I just about DIED laughing.  His FACE!  And then John walks in, and HIS face! OMG!  I had to pause and laugh for a few minutes.

And that happened several times throughout the episode.  That’s one thing you can always count on with Steven Moffat.  Even in a serious drama, even in a crime drama, he inserts just the right amount and kind of humor, and it is so totally worth it.  OH! GOD! That reminds me, I almost forgot one of the best parts: when Mycroft first brings Sherlock in on the Irene Adler case, Sherlock goes to Buckingham Palace wearing NOTHING BUT A SHEET, and then Mycroft nearly pulls it right off him!  Oh, how I (and every other fangirl ever) wishes he had.  *drools*  Ahem, yeah…

This, right here, best lines of the episode:

Mycroft Holmes: Just once, can you two behave like grown-ups?

John Watson: We solve crimes. I blog about it, and he forgets his pants. I wouldn’t hold out too much hope.

Or maybe these are the best lines?

Sherlock Holmes: ‎Please don’t feel obliged to tell me that was remarkable or amazing, John’s expressed that in every possible variant available to the English language.

Irene Adler: I would have you, right here, on this desk, until you begged for mercy twice.

[A long silence in which Sherlock and Irene maintain eye contact]

Sherlock Holmes: …John, please can you check those flight schedules, see if I’m right?

John Watson[Looking stunned]…I’m on it, yeah.

Sherlock Holmes: …I’ve never begged for mercy in my life.

Irene AdlerTwice.

Honestly, there is so much to love about this episode.  When Mycroft shouts at Mrs. Hudson to shut up and both Sherlock and John exclaim: “Mycroft!” with the most furious, shocked, disapproving you have ever seen.  When Mrs. Hudson is attacked and Sherlock gets SERIOUSLY pissed, breaks the guy’s nose, and throws him out a second story window.  And when John suggest Mrs. Hudson go spend some time at her sister’s house and Sherlock says: “Mrs. Hudson leave Baker Street? England would fall!”  I love Sherlock’s relationship with Mrs. Hudson in this version.  In the movies he is extremely dismissive and rude with her.  In the Granada tv show he’s mainly polite the show writers mostly seemed to forget she was even around.  In this one, she is counted among one of Sherlock’s few real friends, and it’s ADORABLE (yes, I just called Sherlock Holmes adorable, he’ll get over it).

But, okay, back to the main point of the episode: Irene Adler.  The layers and complexities of the plot in this episode were absolutely fantastic.  It was quite a ride.  And the Irene Adler character was so devious and seductive that it just made it extra awesome.  Also, it was really fascinating to watch Sherlock falter just a bit and make a big mistake when he trusts Irene just a bit too much, and then catch himself just in time to shock Irene and fix it.

HOWEVER, I have one complaint, not so much with the episode as with the way most of the fandom portrays the relationship between Sherlock Holmes and Irene Adler.

I know plenty of people are going to disagree with me (as it evidenced by the way Irene is portrayed in the movies, and in Sherlock, and in most fanfiction and in comments from fans, etc), but Irene Adler is NOT some great love of Sherlock Holmes’ life.  Folks, she is in exactly ONE Sherlock Holmes short story, and mentioned a couple times after that.  Now, I am not denying for a second that Sherlock Holmes admired her, respected her, thought that she was perhaps the only really intelligent woman he’d ever met.  He might even be accused of being somewhat attracted to her.  But one adventure in which he goes up against her and is outwitted, and is perhaps attracted, does not mean he’s in love with her.  Or even that she’s in love with him.  They have an interesting relationship, sure, but let’s not over-do it, okay?  Okay.

(I would, at this juncture, also point out that Moriarty is, ironically, only in TWO of the Sherlock Holmes stories (with mentions in 5 others): “The Final Problem,” which is the story in which Moriarty and Sherlock Holmes go over the Reichenbach Falls, and The Valley of Fear, which was written AFTER “The Final Problem” but is intended to take place before it.  This is because Doyle had intended to kill Holmes off in “The Final Problem” and then a few years later brought him back to life.  The point being that even though Moriarty is cast as Holmes’ great rival, Doyle did not originally intend him to be a recurring character.  So, even though I LOVE the character of Moriarty and how he is portrayed in the recent reincarnations of Sherlock Holmes, I still find it rather amusing how much cult status he gained so quickly, though Doyle does at least expressly state that Moriarty IS Sherlock Holmes’ great rival and intellectual equal – so that makes more sense that claiming that Holmes is “in love with” Irene Adler.)

I did think, however, that in this episode Moffat and Gatiss (I never spell his name right, I’ve noticed), keep a pretty good balance.  Sherlock is definitely intrigued by Irene, and possibly a little attracted to her, and there’s some definite tension, and he obviously admires her, but it never falls into Sherlock outright drooling over her or mooning over her (though he does seem to get depressed for awhile when he thinks she might be dead – however, SEEMED is as far as you can ever say with Sherlock, ’cause God only knows when he’s faking and when he’s not).  Moffat and Gatiss also continue to carefully tread that line where the jokes about Sherlock and John being a couple isn’t quite JUST a joke, but isn’t the literal truth either.  They are trying very hard not to come out (so to speak) on one side or the other about Sherlock’s sexuality, which I appreciate.  Because, as I’ve mentioned before, based purely on the original stories I have always believed (and quite a few critics, fans, and Holmesian “experts” would agree with me – though, obviously, not all) that Sherlock Holmes is either completely asexual or he’s gay.

Back to the episode at hand: the ending, when Mycroft and John are worried about how Sherlock will handle finding out that Irene has been killed was really sweet.  But the very very end, when we watch Sherlock actually saving Irene from the death Mycroft and John think she’s suffered: awesome.

All in all, this episode was fantastic, and hilarious, and sexy, and cool.  And yet, the next one, “Hounds of Baskerville” was WAY BETTER.  But I’ll get to that one next time.  BYE!

Sherlock, Sherlock, and More Sherlock

Last night I watched the rest of season 1 of Sherlock.  SO MUCH FUN.

Yes, there will be spoilers in this.  It’s impossible to talk about the episodes without giving some of it away, sorry.

First off, in episode 2, “The Blind Banker,” the scene near the beginning when Sherlock is in the bank, bobbing and weaving around the offices as he investigates: totally hilarious! I could not stop laughing.  And then in episode 3, “The Great Game,” it opens with Sherlock lying in the apartment, shooting holes into one of the walls and yelling that he’s bored bored bored.  And then when John walks off, he curls up into a little ball on the sofa like a little kid! OMG! I thought I was going to die it was so funny and so adorable.

I loved the plots for both episodes.  I’m really impressed how Mark Gattiss can take little whiffs of elements from the original stories and strewn them across his plotlines.  The mystery of how someone can be murdered in a room that is locked from the inside, and the Chinese acrobat to name just a couple.  Also, that Sherlock uses a network of homeless people as his eyes and ears, like the Baker Street Irregulars from the books.  Nice touch.  And again, I’m very impressed by how well they can translate the characters into a contemporary framework without losing sight of the characters themselves.

I honestly can’t decide if I love Sherlock or John more.  Benedict Cumberbatch is AWESOME (and those EYES!), but Martin Freeman is totally amazing too, and so wonderfully sympathetic!  And I love the mix of resigned stoic and adorably flustered reactions he has to everything Sherlock does.

Let’s see… what else can I talk about…?  Oh! Sarah.  Sarah is a likable character, so far as we actually get to know her in episode 2 anyway.  But I have a hard time believing that this woman, who seems fairly normal and quiet and stable, is really going to stick around after her first date with this guy she barely knows ends with her being held hostage and nearly murdered.  Seriously.

Okay, okay… so let’s get the elephant in the room.  Moriarty.  I’ll be honest, I was hugely HUGELY surprised by the appearance of Moriarty – the way he shows up the first time AND the casting choice.  Andrew Scott was definitely an interesting choice, and while his portrayal is different than anything I would have expected, but it was very compelling.  The whole set up of “The Great Game” was fantastic.  I loved how intricate the various tests were.  I also loved Sherlock’s portrayal in the third episode.  How excited and focused and gleeful he was about the tests, how he could save lives and not quite care at the same time.

And the final confrontation scene at the end of the episode?  BRILLIANT.  I loved every second of it.  Sherlock’s face when John walks out with the bomb strapped to his chest.  The way John jumped on Moriarty’s back to give Sherlock time to escape (which, of course, he wasn’t going to do).  How completely PSYCHOTIC Moriarty was.

Best line: 

Moriarty: “Kill you? Um, no. Don’t be obvious I mean, I’m gonna kill you anyway, someday. I don’t want to rush it though. I’m saving it up for something special! No no no no no, if you don’t stop prying… I’ll burn you. I will burn.. the heart out of you.”

Sherlock: “I’ve been reliably informed that I don’t have one.”

Awesome!

And the cliff-hanger was cruel! Too cruel! It reminded me of Star Trek: The Next Generation, the season finale of season three, “Best of Both Worlds” – when Picard has been turned into a borg, and Riker orders the Enterprise to open fire on the borg ship that Picard is on, and then it goes black. SO MEAN!

When I finished the episode at about 2am last night, I was in a panic.  I couldn’t believe no one had warned me that I shouldn’t watch that episode before I was sure I could get my hands on season 2 – because season 2 is not on Netflix streaming, and I hadn’t been able to find it ANYWHERE.

Thankfully, when I complained on Twitter, one of my wonderful Twitter friends sent me a link for the season 2 episodes streaming on PBS.com.  Three guesses what I’ll be doing tonight, and the first two don’t count.

And yes, I already know about the third episode of season 2 – well not everything, but when an episode is called “The Reichenbach Fall” a Sherlock Holmes can guess what to expect, and I’ve heard a few hints as to how the writers pull it off here.  Expect a rant later.

In other news:  I was horribly shocked and upset by Ray Bradbury’s death this week. I thought about writing a blog post about it, but I read a few very well written ones already, and I couldn’t decide what I wanted to say, so I’ll just leave you with a couple links: “Ray Bradbury” by storiesbywilliams, “Ray Bradbury on Sci-Fi, God, and Robots: The Late Author’s Biggest Ideas” from Wired.com, and Neil Gaiman’s beautiful tribute: “Ray Bradbury.”  I might change my mind and write something about him later, we’ll see.

Also, I will be seeing Prometheus sometime this weekend, so expect a review of that, probably on Monday.

See ya later, folks!

Sherlock Holmes Looks Good in Contemporary Trappings

I finally FINALLY got around to watching the first episode of Sherlock (from BBC) on Netflix.  Those who know me know by now that I absolutely ADORE Sherlock Holmes and everything related to him, and I knew for a fact that I would love Sherlock.  It was just a matter of finding the time to actually sit down and watch it, and that certainly wasn’t going to happen during the semester.  But today I finally made some time and sat down during lunch to watch the first episode.

And let me just say, though I already knew I would love it, I was seriously impressed by how incredible it was.  The writers did such a fantastic job of updating the characters and the story without losing any of what makes Sherlock Holmes and John Watson so completely awesome.  The show was sharp, quick-paced, funny in all the right ways.  It helps that Steven Moffat was one of the creators.

I completely understand the appeal and obsession of Benedict Cumberbatch. I mean, I’d heard he was good, and I’d certainly seen enough pictures and commercials to know he was good-looking, but it was nice to finally see first-hand how well he handled the character of Sherlock Holmes.  His mannerisms and facial expressions were very well-done.  I loved his face when he the cops come to do a drug-search in his apartment, John tries to defend by saying he couldn’t possibly be the type to have drugs, and Sherlock is trying to get him to shut up.  HILARIOUS!  Also, on a random note, he voice was much deeper than I would have guessed it to be judging by his face.

And I already loved Martin Freeman, but now I absolutely ADORE him.  He was an inspired casting choice for John Watson.  He gave the character just the right balance of sympathy and vulnerability, with an intelligence that is clearly sharp but obviously not on par with Sherlock, and a bit of calm, collected, bad-ass soldier-ness to top it all off.

I also really liked Lestrade.  I was so glad they didn’t make him a total idiot, as some versions are wont to do with the character.  I mean, it’s always amusing when the Lestrade character is just a bumbling idiot, but in a modern-day police force it is not entirely believable for a detective to be complete moron.  He can be far inferior to Sherlock (and often out of his depth), and it’s still possible to be a capable police officer.  I’m glad the writers realized that.

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SPOILERS ALERT:

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I was a bit surprised that they made mention of Moriarty so quickly.  The big-boss bad guy is usually something you save for awhile.  But then again, considering the first season is only 3 episodes long (the British are so weird about their extra-short tv seasons), I guess it’s not so surprising after all.

I confess, however, that I was a bit put off by how slow Sherlock was to figure out the killer was a taxi driver.   The very first time he said something to the effect of: “who do we trust even though we don’t know them? Who can hunt in a crowded city without being noticed?” etc… I said out-loud: “a taxi driver, duh!”  I thought for sure Sherlock was just leading John along, trying to get him to come to the conclusion himself, but no!  He said he didn’t know.  Then they chase down a taxi and I think, for sure, Sherlock had figured it out, but no: he questions the passenger, not the taxi driver!  It didn’t click until the taxi driver is standing right in front of him half an hour later!  Come on! He should have had that figured out WAY more quickly than that.  I get that the writers were trying to keep the audience in suspense, but if I could figure it out that easy, there’s no way Sherlock wouldn’t have.

Anyway, I’m so glad I FINALLY got around to seeing this.  I’ll definitely be watching the next episode shortly.  Like, probably tonight…  It’s sad that Netflix only has the first season on streaming though.  I’ll have to find the second season somewhere else.

Happy New Year the Science Fiction Way

Science/Fantasy Monday: Happy New Year the Science Fiction Way

Happy New Year to everyone!

On Saturday night, as I was waiting to welcome the new year, I kept thinking about my two favorite science fiction new year’s events: The pilot episode of Futurama, and the Doctor Who made-for-tv movie from 1996.  And I suddenly I found myself trying desperately to remember what other tv shows featured an important New Year’s Eve related episode.  I could only come up with a couple more.  Here’s what I came up with:

Doctor Who (made-for-tv movie, 1996):

In this movie, the only on-air portrayal of the 8th Doctor by Paul McGann (though he is featured in many radio dramas and in the comics and tie-in books), the 7th Doctor is killed while attempting to bring the remains of the (supposedly executed) Master back home to Gallifrey, and the 8th Doctor awakens in a hospital on New Year’s Eve in 1999.  While the Master (in the form of a strange ooze) takes over the body of an EMT with plans to eventually take over the Doctor’s body instead, the Doctor finds himself working with a medical doctor, Grace Holloway to stop the Master and save the world (again)… just in time to ring in the New Millennium.

Futurama – “Space Pilot 3000” (Season 1, Ep 1, 1999):

This, the pilot episode of Futurama, began us on one of the greatest animated televisions shows of all time, as Philip J. Fry, hapless pizza delivery boy, falls into a cryogenic chamber on New Year’s Eve 1999 and awakens on New Year’s Eve 2999.  Having found himself alone in the future, Fry quickly befriends the smart-ass robot Bender and the tough one-eyed woman Leela, and finds a new job of a delivery boy working for his Great-great-great(ad infinitum)-nephew Professor Hubert J. Farnsworth.  And thus, a legend was born.

Babylon 5 – “Chrysalis” (Season 1, Ep 22, 1994):

This was a BIG episode, folks.  It was the finale of the first season of Babylon 5, and almost every single scene in this relentlessly paced episode was vitally important to the complex main story arc.  This is the episode the kicks off all the major events that will comprise the main conflicts of season 2 and onward.  Mollari makes his infamous devil’s deal with Morden, leading to the deaths of 10,000 Narns, and leading G’kar to leave the station to investigate.  The President of Earth is assassinated, making the corrupt Vice President Morgan Clark President.  And Delenn enters the cocoon that will eventually lead to her transformation from a pure Minbari to a Minbari-human hybrid.  Like I said, folks: this was a BIG episode.

X-Files – “Millennium” (Season 7, Ep 4, 1999):

And speaking of big episodes: this episode of X-Files was big for a couple reasons.  First, it was a cross-over episode with Millennium, Chris Carter’s other big conspiracy theory mystery tv show, which followed ex-FBI agent Frank Black as he investigated the mysterious criminal actions of the shadowy Millennium Group.  This cross-over was important because Millennium had been unceremoniously canceled and Chris Carter wanted to give the show some kind of closure.  But the REAL importance of this episode, as all true fans know, comes from the ending of the episode.  After the events have been wrapped up, with Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve playing on a television in the background, Mulder and Scully share their first on-screen kiss.  The thing we’d been waiting for practically since the pilot episode in 1993.

I keep thinking there have to be more science fiction episodes that feature New Year’s Eve, but I just can’t remember anymore!  If you can think of any I’m missing, please let me know!

In other New Year’s news:

2011 was an interesting year for me.  After graduating with my Master’s degree in 2010, failing to get into a PhD program that year, and going through a bad depression cycle in the second half of 2010, I entered 2011 with very few expectations and quite a lot of bitterness and cynicism.  But 2011 proved an important year for me.  I traveled a lot to visit friends one of whom I had not seen in 3 years!  I went to Disneyland for the first time! I got my footing in blog-writing, and was even featured on WordPress’s front page “Freshly Pressed.”  I was FINALLY accepting into a PhD program in the Spring, and then began the coursework for that PhD program in the Fall.  Two of my papers were published in a brand new small academic journal at University of Houston.  And over the summer, I did something I had begun to fear I would never do I finished a whole draft a novel.

I cannot begin to explain how grateful I am to the Powers That Be that 2011 ended up being a much better year than I thought it would be.

And now I have big plans to make 2012 just as good, or even better.  the Spring 2012 semester will be the first big sign of whether I can actually survive the PhD program or not.  One of my papers will be published in a larger, fairly-well-known academic journal in Summer 2012.  And I plan to finish revisions on the second draft of the novel I finished writing last year.  And that’s all for starters.

Now, if only I get a date on occasion, I’d be all set… ^__^

In any case, I have high hopes for 2012, and I hope you all to do.  Hope can be difficult, and sometimes silly, but sometimes it makes all the difference, and sometimes it’s the only thing we have.  So here’s hoping!

If you’d like to share some of your hopes/plans for 2012, please feel free! I’d love to hear about them!

The Fairy Tale Is Going Strong

(edit: it occurs to me I should probably link to my original reviews, so I have added those beneath the related show)

Science/Fantasy Monday: The Fairy Tale Is Going Strong

*slowly emerges from a hole in ground*

Hello all you lovely people.  I’m supposed to be writing a paper right now on Membership Categorization Analysis, Twitter hashtags, and the methods used by Occupy Wall Street Protestors to construct group identities.  But I missed you all, and I would have felt horrible if I didn’t put at least something quick on the blog.

I don’t have a lot of time, and I don’t have any brilliant ideas.  But I thought I’d leave you a few new comments on Once Upon a Time, and Grimm, which I have talked about the last couple Mondays (I know, I said I wasn’t going to do anymore tv reviews for awhile, and these aren’t exactly reviews, just a couple quick notes).

So, Once Upon a Time:

My original review is here: Once Upon A Time.

Robert Carlyle as Rumpelstiltskin

This show continues to impress me.  I’ve gotten over the first initial “they calls that special effects?” moment, and I’m really enjoying learning more about the characters.  Last night’s episode was great because I am seriously fascinated by Mr. Gold/Rumpelstiltskin.  He makes a wonderful Faustian devil character — the one you should never ever EVER make a deal with, and he is played with imminent creepiness by Robert Carlyle.  I also really love how tough and no-nonsense Emma is about everything.  She is a fantastic heroine and I really look forward to seeing how things progress with her.  Finally, last week’s episode, which gave some much-needed back-story on the Snow White character, was highly enjoyable, and made me like both the character, and Ginnifer Goodwin’s portrayal of her, much more than I had previously.  And, on a side note, I really want to know what hell Sheriff Graham is up to (I assume he’s the Huntsman, but I’m not really sure, and he’s definitely an enigma).

For those of you who have missed out on these so far, ABC is still putting full episodes up on their website here: Once Upon a Time full episodes.  Go, and enjoy!

And, Grimm:

My original review is here: Things Look Grimm.

Silas Weir Mitchell as Monroe

This show is following the formula I assumed it would so far: monster/crime-of-the-week episodes, with bits and pieces of big looming overarching plot mixed in for good measure.  And I’m really enjoying it.  As I said before, it hasn’t grabbed me as much as Once Upon a Time has, but it’s definitely fun.  I still like the main character, Nick.  And I still REALLY like Monroe, his new de facto sidekick.  I was, however, wrong about Nick’s boss.  Looks like he’s gonna be all tangled up in the big-bad element after all.  Why is it always the boss?  Can’t it be someone less obvious for once, please?  Last friday’s episode was fun, but nothing spectacular.  However, I did really enjoy the guest appearance of Nana Visitor as Mellifer/Bee Queen Melissa Wincroft — my fellow scifi geeks should recognize Nana Visitor as Major Kira Nerys from Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.  I haven’t seen her in anything in quite awhile, so that was a nice surprise.  Also, look how clever the writers are: Melissa means ‘honey bee’ (lol!).  I look forward to next week’s episode, and anticipate Monroe remaining my favorite character throughout the season.

For those who have missed them, the episodes can be found on NBC’s Grimm website.  Have fun!

So, for those who have been keeping up so far, what do you think now that we’re a few episodes in?  Meeting your expectations or not?  Surpassing them, perhaps?  Please chime in below!

And now, excuse me… I must return to PhD torture and writing my paper… *dashes back down the dark hole*

Things Look Grimm

Science/Fantasy Monday:  Things Look Grimm

Hello all! I don’t have a ton of time on my hands today, so I’ll keep this relatively short, but I wanted to share a few thoughts on NBC’s new fairy-tale show: Grimm.  It has, of course, already received wonderful in-depth reviews last week from the marvelous Tiffany A. White on “Why It’s Worth a Watch Wednesday: Grimm Versus Evil” and from Kait Nolan on “Thoughts on the Grimm Plot.”  But I only got to watch the pilot and this past Friday’s episode (FINALLY) late last night (my crazy schedule just does not allow for consistent tv viewing), and I was pretty excited about it, so I thought I’d share.

For those who aren’t familiar with it, the basic premise of Grimm is this: Nick Burckhardt is a homicide detective who was raised by his Aunt Marie.  In the first episode he is starting to see strange things that he can’t explain or understand, but he tries to ignore them, while he and his partner Hank Griffin try to solve the murder of a young woman and the disappearance of a young girl (both wearing red sweatshirts, one might add).  However, is Aunt Marie, who is dying of cancer, appears to tell him something important, only to be attacked by a man carrying a scythe before she can tell Nick what she needs to.  As the episode progresses, Nick discovers that there are group of people called Grimms whose job it is to police and hunt down supernatural creatures when they go wrong.  His aunt is a Grimm, and now that she is dying, the duty (and the ability to see through disguises to the creature beneath) has passed to Nick.  To make matters worse, there is a race of creatures called Grimm Reapers whose sole purpose is to hunt down and kill all Grimms.

I won’t go into detail about the actual plot of the first episode both Tiffany’s and Kait’s reviews give detailed run-downs of the first episode instead I’ll give you some of my initial impressions of the series as a whole, based on these first two episodes.

First, the characters: Nick Burckhardt is a likable, conscientious, intelligent character played well by David Guintoli (whose not bad to look at either).  I do not foresee any problems with following this character around for a few seasons, which is good.  Sometimes even if a show is well-written, the main character is so hard to like that it becomes impossible to watch.  Also, his partner Hank, while often skeptical of some of Nick’s theories (because he doesn’t know what Nick knows) is still willing to trust his partner and go out on a limb to follow his lead.  That kind of trust is refreshing I get tired of the characters who absolutely refuse to believe their partners when things get weird, even when they’ve never given them any reason to doubt before. Even more likable than Hank, at least for me, is Monroe, played by Silas Weir Mitchell, who will become (as far as I can tell from the first two eps) Nick’s de facto sidekick in his work as a Grimm.  Monroe has a world-weary and dryly-humorous attitude that amuses me, and I’m guessing an interesting back-story to go along with it (you’ll see what I mean when you watch it).

The plot of the show looks to be your traditional new-mystery-every-week format, like any mystery/crime drama, with monsters thrown in instead of human criminals, but also with some kind of overarching plot line to tie it all together and keep the magic element at the forefront at least, that’s what I’m guessing based on some of what’s been hinted at so far.  I LOVE crime dramas, and I love a good fantasy show (like Supernatural), so this should keep me happy for at least a couple seasons, provided the writers don’t do anything incredibly stupid.

My own complaint, as with Once Upon A Time, is an obvious lack of budget to give the show the special effects it really needs/deserves.  I suspect the monsters and transformations, etc, are going to remain fairly cheap and a little cheesy throughout the season.  But I’m willing to let my imagination do some of the visual work as long as the story lines and characters stay interesting.

I’m going to leave it there. I definitely recommend this show.  So far it’s not catching my attention quite as much as Once Upon A Time did, but it’s still very good.  And we definitely need more fantasy television nowadays, so I’ll stick around for awhile and see how it turns out.  As with ABC, NBC is getting smart and has the first two episodes available to view online at their website: Grimm Season 1 Eps.  Go, and enjoy.

If you’ve seen it, please share your thoughts here! I’d love to hear what others have to say.

Side Note: This is probably the last television review I’ll be doing for a little while.  My schedule simply makes it nearly impossible for me to catch anymore of the newer shows coming out.  For instance, I haven’t seen any of American Horror Story, which is sad to me because it looks absolutely fascinating.  But oh well…  Also, Wednesday posts may be a bit sporadic for awhile, as I am nearing the end of the semester and things are CRAZY.  Just to give you a heads-up.

Once Upon A Time

Science/Fantasy Monday: Once Upon A Time

So, I finally had a chance this afternoon to watch my recordings of the first two episodes of the new ABC show Once Upon a Time.  While others have already written some great reviews of this show, such as Kait Nolan’s great detailed run-down of the pilot episode, I thought I’d share a few of my own thoughts on the show anyway.

First off, for those not in the know, the premise of Once Upon A Time is this: on her 28th birthday, lonely Emma Swan (played by Jennifer Morrison) is visited by 10 yr old Henry, the son she gave up for adoption as an infant.  When Emma takes him back to his home in Storybrooke, Maine and his adopted mother, Regina, the boy tells Emma that all the citizens of Storybrooke are fairy-tale characters.  All these characters are frozen in time, not aging, with no memory of who they are.  Henry explains that his adopted mother is the Evil Queen (Lana Parrilla), his teacher is Snow White (Ginnifer Goodwin), and Emma is actually Snow White’s long lost daughter.  And folks, that’s just the first fifteen minutes.

Each episode so far alternates between scenes mainly following Emma in Storybrooke, and scenes that relate the events leading up to the fairy tale characters being trapped in the “real world.”

So, let me say this: the premise is fantastic!  It must be pretty clear by now that I love things that re-imagine fairy tales (Ever After? Loved it, even despite Drew Barrymore’s horrible fake accent; every version of The Little Mermaid ever? Have it; Kait Nolan’s take on Red Riding Hood in Red? Wonderful!); anyway, I loved the idea.  I was skeptical about the execution.  Would it too cheap, cheesy, badly written, badly acted?  I was terrified to find out.

Well, have no fear.

Admittedly, the production values leave something to be desired.  Some of the special effects look a bit cheap; some of the costumes are a little costume-y; and the green screen bits!  Pretty bad.  But they are trying to get some pretty big film-like visuals out of a (I imagine) fairly small budget, and you have to admire the effort.  So, pressing on…

The writing so far has been pretty good.  The plot looks to be just complicated enough to keep things moving for awhile (and it seems that Snow White may have done something to earn the Evil Queen’s ire, which is interesting), and the dialogue (while not brilliant), is painless and semi-believable.  Except in the second episode when Regina states: “You have no idea what I’m capable of” — cause, really, do they ALL need to say that?  Honestly?

And the acting is surprisingly good.  That’s not to say I didn’t think Jennifer Morrison would be good — I liked her on House, M.D. — but it did seem like an interesting cast choice.  But Jennifer Morrison is believable as a half-vulnerable orphan, half-tough-as-nails bail bondsperson, who seems entirely capable of going toe-to-toe with bitchy manipulative Regina/Evil Queen.  Speaking of, Lana Parrilla is fantastic as Regina/Evil Queen, who is believably evil but not without complexity and emotion.  Ginnifer Goodwin as Mary Margaret/Snow White (to me at least) hasn’t done much but look pale and pretty and sad, but there’s still plenty of time for her character to get more interesting.

These three women are definitely the heart of the show, but there’s also Jared Gilmore who does a decent job playing smart and endearing Henry.  And Robert Carlyle (who some might, as Kait Nolan points out, recognize him as Durza from Eragon), is wonderfully creepy and manipulative as Mr. Gold/Rumpelstiltskin.

If you haven’t seen either the pilot or this past sunday’s episode, they are both available to watch for free on the ABC website: here.  I definitely recommend you check it out!  It looks to be a fun ride, and if the show keeps improving, it may end up being the best show of the Fall.

Top 10 SciFi Television Shows, Pt 3

Science/Fantasy Monday: Top 10 SciFi Television Shows, Pt 3

Here we are at last!  The end of my three-Mondays-long countdown of my personal Top 10 SciFi TV Shows.  For those of you who missed the first two parts, or just need a refresher, you can find them here:

“Top 10 SciFi Television Shows, Part 1”

“Top 10 SciFi Television Shows, Part 2”

Back?  Good.  Now, let’s get down to business.  I’m sure that most, if not all, of you can probably guess what shows are coming.  The big question now is what order did I put them in?  Which show got #1 and which got pushed down to #2?

Well, wonder no longer!  We have a tie for First Place!  And it goes to Star Trek and Doctor Who!  (Who’s shocked?  Raise your hand.  No one?  Didn’t think so.)

#1: Star Trek (whole universe) and Doctor Who (original and revival)

I love them both.  They are both amazing and brilliant.  They were both so foundational to science fiction television, and scifi of any medium.  I simply could not find any way to say definitively that either was better than the other, so a tie seemed the best solution.

Star Trek:

Star Trek: Original Series

Star Trek was created by Gene Roddenberry and first aired in 1966 and ran for three seasons before it was canceled due to low ratings.  It wasn’t until it went into syndication that Star Trek: the Original Series (TOS) truly gained the immense popularity that made it the icon it is today.  It was followed by a short-lived Animated Series, and six movies: Star Trek the Motion Picture, The Wrath of Kahn, The Search for Spock, The Voyage Home, The Final Frontier, and The Undiscovered Country.

Star Trek: Next Generation

Star Trek: The Next Generation (TNG) started in 1987 and last seven seasons, during which time it became, I believe, the most popular of all the series.  Even many of those who grew up with TOS are usually willing to admit that TNG is better.  There is a decent-sized group of people who would argue that the third series, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine (DS9) is actually the best incarnation of the show.  My brother, a few of my friends would count themselves among that group.  I’m sort-of, kind-of there too, though I’m a little more on the fence.  For a more detailed discussion of my reasoning behind that argument please see: “The Age Old Question: Which Star Trek is Better?”

Still, TNG was an absolutely fantastic show.  And even if I like some parts of DS9 better, Captain Jean-Luc Picard of the Starfleet Enterprise NCC-1701-D will always ALWAYS be MY Captain.  He is one of my favorite characters ever.  Data, the android who wants to be human is definitely near the top of my favorite list also (and TNG’s answer to Spock who is also one of my favorite characters).

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine

As for DS9… it was much darker than either of the two series that came before it, which is also cited as a mark against it, but which I really enjoyed.  And it had a large overarching plot that really tied the show together and gave it an amount of tension and suspense that TNG only managed on a few occasions (though it was AWESOME when TNG pulled it off, most especially in “Best of Both Worlds,” Pt 1 and 2).  But again, you can get more of rant about DS9 on my previous post, linked above.

During this time, there were four more movies, focusing on the TNG crew: Generations, First Contact, Insurrection, and NemesisStar Trek: Generations was emotionally-taxing because we all had to watch Kirk die not once, but twice.  But the best of the bunch has to be Star Trek: First Contact, which featured fantastic special effects, the creepy arch-nemesis of the TNG crew The Borg, a cool plot, and Picard at his absolutely most awesome.

Star Trek: Voyager

After DS9, we had Voyager. This was the first Star Trek show to feature a female captain (there have been plenty of woman captains within the universe of Star Trek, of course).  Voyager has been argued about for a number of reasons.  It is very popular with some fans, and hated by others.  It was, admittedly, a little hit-or-miss sometimes, but the first four seasons, at the very least, were consistently good.  Most of the characters were well-written and complex.  But I think many people didn’t like the heavy focus on romance in a number of episodes, especially in the second half of the series.  This is a complaint I understand, and I would admit that some of the relationship stuff definitely got tiring.  But overall, the show was intelligent, well-acted, exciting, and fun.  And Captain Kathryn Janeway was an absolutely KICK-ASS female character.

Star Trek: Enterprise

Last on the list is Star Trek: Enterprise.  I watched most of the first season, and I have seen a few other episodes here or there.  But this series just could not match up to the Star Trek tradition.  The producers/writers tried to change too much, make it more “theirs” instead of Roddenberry’s, and it just didn’t work (though Capt Archer, played by Scott Bakula, was a pretty good character).

What I think makes Star Trek so important, despite its flaws, the occasional hit-or-miss series, the cheesiness, etc… is that it is able to critique society (like much of scifi) and show us ourselves in all our nastiness, but it is ultimately built on a fundamental hope and optimism.  Star Trek: The Original Series featured the first interracial kiss aired on television.  It attempted to show the world that tolerance and peace and prosperity were possible, despite all the problems we face.  And that optimism seems even more important now than it did in the 60s.

I will add, briefly, that the newest movie was very good.  I approached with trepidation, but it seriously impressed me, and I’m looking forward to the next one.  There are also rumors of a new Star Trek series, which would be AWESOME, because it’s just a tragedy that it’s been so long since we had a new Star Trek adventure to enjoy every week.

Doctor Who:

The First Doctor: William Hartnell

Doctor Who premiered in 1963 and run for 26 consecutive seasons until 1989, making it the longest running science fiction television show of all time and one of the longest running tv shows of any genre (even before its revival).  In 1996 a television movie was released in the hopes of reviving the show for an American audience. This failed.  But in 2005, the show was finally revived by BBC and has now run for 6 more seasons.  This revival is not a reboot, but an actual continuation of the same universe and timeline, which means that seasons 6 of the revival can also be called season 32 of Doctor Who.  And the show is still going strong.

Anyone who knows me (and people who have been following this blog for awhile), knows that I am obsessed with Doctor Who.  I could go on about the show for hours if you let me (I don’t suggest you let me if you plan to do anything else for the next few days).  Thankfully, I have already written three blogs about various aspects of Doctor Who. So, rather than ramble for quite as long as I did for Star Trek above (which I haven’t written about as much before), I will now start by referring you to those previous blog posts:

“The Doctor Is In: A Brief History of Doctor Who, Pt 1”

“The Doctor Is In: A Brief History of Doctor Who, Pt 2”

“They’re Never Really Gone: The Top 3 Doctor Who Villains”

These three posts should give you good handle on some of the major elements of Doctor Who.

DALEKS!

It always fascinates me that Doctor Who was originally intended as more a history lesson for children disguised as action-adventure television.  But very very quickly the historical episodes (which are still a ton of fun) gave way to the flashier, more dramatic, more iconic Doctor Who-ish space/alien episodes.  Doctor Who is still the most popular television show in England, and whoever is playing the Doctor at the time, is consistently one of the most popular actors of the time.  Every single person in England knows who the Doctor is, what Dalek is, understands the significance of celery and a really long striped scarf, and realizes that the Master is never really dead.  Now, thanks to the revival’s growing popularity in America (which, I think, was actually spurred on by Torchwood: Children of Earth, surprisingly), almost everyone in America is beginning to know these things too.

Doctor Who is smart, crazy, exciting, hilarious, dramatic, intense, and occasionally depressing, all wrapped up into one insane hour-long program.

10th Doctor with companions: Rose, Martha, Donna, and Sarah-Jane

It has featured some fascinating characters as the Doctor’s companions, such as his granddaughter Susan Foreman, The Brigadier, Sarah-Jane Smith, Ace, Rose Tyler, Jack Harkness, Donna Noble, and most recently Amelia Pond and her husband Rory Williams (who is awesome, by the way).  While the Doctor does sometimes travel with a variety of aliens and even robots (such as the robot dog K-9), he has always had a special affinity for human companions (despite the fact that he often looked down on humans as the First Doctor).  And these human companions are US.  They are our entrance into his world, they are our emissaries into the insane, exciting, dark universe of the Doctor.

John Sims as the Master

What I think makes this show so amazing and enduring is that it can take the strangest characters, the strangest places and plots, and make them emotionally important.  We care about alien races destroying each other.  We care about the Companions who die, or get left behind.  We are terrified (and exhilaratingly fascinated by) the Daleks and the Cybermen and the Master.  But really, it’s all about the Doctor.  He is a genius, a pacifist and warrior at the same time, compassionate and, at times, ruthless, always off for an adventure, with a entourage of humans and aliens and robots, and yet ultimately alone.  He is an alien, of course, and in so many ways he is completely non-human.  And yet, he is very human.  And that’s what makes him so amazing.

To end, here is a quote about the Doctor from episode 9 of Season 3 of the revival, “Family of Blood.”  It’s a little melodramatic, but it’s awesome anyway: “He’s like fire and ice and rage. He’s like the night, and the storm in the heart of the sun. He’s ancient and forever. He burns at the centre of time and he can see the turn of the universe. And… he’s wonderful.”

All Eleven Doctors

That concludes my Top 10 SciFi Television Shows list!  Please let me know what you think!  I love to hear from you! See you on Wednesday! (and I’ve got to stop using so many damn exclamation points!)