Elementary After 11 Episodes

Watson and Sherlock. And some books.

I just watched the penultimate episode of Elementary before its triumphant renewal after the Super Bowl. With that in mind, I wanted to respond a little to my earlier comments on the subject. As in the post cited, I’ll be comparing the show to BBC’s Sherlock, as I feel the two are indelibly linked – particularly to those who consider themselves “hardcore fans” of one or the other.

I am a huge fan of Doctor Who, Steven Moffat and Sherlock. That said, Elementary has been renewed for another season, and I have been thoroughly enjoying it. I don’t think it’s impossible to like both programmes at the same time. In fact, I know it isn’t, because I do.

On the one hand, Sherlock has a more cinematic feel, as each episode is a self-enclosed TV movie. Although more pleasure can be garnered by watching them all in sequence, it stays so close to the source that’s it’s really no trouble to pick up anywhere.

That leads me to my second point; it’s closeness to the source material. Sherlock Holmes is an eccentric, brilliant detective who has a close and unlikely relationship with a retired army Doctor who has an eye for the ladies. Moriarty, Baker Street and everything else you would expect from any other Holmes adaptation is present and correct.

No comment on “longing looks” etc. You’ve got the Internet. Look for yourself.

What Moffat and crew add to this adaptation is not only a real love for the original, but also a charm, style and attention to detail which really makes Sherlock stand out from anything else on TV, even the genetically-linked Doctor Who, which must strive to vary its style every week to keep things varied.

On the other hand, we have Elementary. Not quite so slick or stylish, it comes across to begin with as a relatively normal police procedural drama with the mandatory atypical lead. After a few episodes, though, I found that Johnny Lee Miller’s Holmes really began to grow on me. I even stopped noticing his oddly migratory accent.

His relationship with Lucy Liu’s Watson is as interesting as that of Cumberbatch and Freeman, I think, only with less sexual tension. While fans of Sherlock enjoy the potential subtexts of Holmes and Watson’s relationship in the BBC show, it is unthinkable that they should be anything but platonic in a male-female interaction. Although it is kind of illogical, I have to say that I agree, if for no other reason than that it would be nice to see an entirely platonic male-female relationship on TV. It rarely happens unfortunately.

The mysteries in Elementary are all gloriously unconnected to either Moriarty or each other, and in that way are a little closer to Doyle’s original, where the Napoleon of crime only appeared on two occasions. That said, the episode guide on Wikipedia does rather suggest that that might be about to change.

The drug addiction angle they’ve taken with Holmes is very interesting. It makes sense in terms of his addictive personality in the books, but on it’s own merits it give Watson a reason to stay with this awful man until she can see through that to the man he really is. It also give Watson something to do other than be confused with Sherlock is being brilliant. In a very acute way in many episodes, she carries the heart and finds the happy endings where Holmes’ nihilistic logic might let it too often lie on a dark note.

So, yes. For fans of cop shows, Sherlock or just good telly, I’d definitely recommend giving Elementary the time of day. And if you don’t like it, I think Sherlock will be back again in six months or so…

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Is One the Loneliest Number or the Best Way to Be?

Warning: heavy-handed How I Met Your Mother similies approaching.

Amongst single people, you have two types: those who want to be in a long-term relationship (Ted Mosebys) and those who don’t (Barney Stinsons). Equally, as an ex and good friend recently pointed out to me, there are two types of encoupled people: what Bridget Jones called “smug marrieds” (Eriksens) and those who envy the singles (let’s say “envious marrieds”/Robin Scherbatsky).

Regular readers of my blog, if they exist, can probably guess in which categories I tend to fall. Nonetheless, I’d like to make this more of a public service kind of blog. I’m going to discuss singledom and coupledom from these perspectives in order to provide comfort for those in a situation they aren’t entirely happy with. With that in mind, I’ll skip the Eriksons and the Barney Stinsons, as chances are they’re in exactly the situation they want to be in. Instead, this blog is to the Robins and Teds of the world. Skip to the part that most affects you.

A letter to Ted:

Ted, you’re single right now. Since you’re a metaphor rather than the actual character, I won’t tell you to be with Victoria you fucking moron. That’s a blog for another day. Instead, I’d like to list all the things that are good about being single.

  • You have the chance to be alone after a long day
  • You can sleep with whoever you want to sleep with (given the opportunity)
  • You get the whole bed to yourself!
  • You never have to compromise what you want to do, think or say
  • You only have one family to deal with at Christmas
  • In a serious relationship, your future is mapped out
  • You can socialise with friends or family without guilt of neglect
  • Watch children’s TV without judgement to see you at your worst
  • There’s no one to see you at your worst

Good Advice

A letter to Robin:

So, Robin. You’re in a happy relationship, but you envy those friends who are out being fancy free. If you were the character, I’d say DON’T MARRY BARNEY, but you’re not, so I’ll tell you the advantages of being in a (good) couple instead.

  • There’s always someone there when you’ve had a bad day
  • You get to sleep with someone who knows what you like
  • You don’t have to sleep alone
  • You can share responsibility for mistakes, gifts, etc.
  • In a serious relationship, your future is mapped out
  • You always have someone to go to a party or stay home with
  • Watch children’s TV with a partner in mockery and enjoyment
  • There’s someone to love you at your worst
  • Someone will always think and say good things about your looks/personality/insert your insecurity here

I can’t think of a way to bring this post to a satisfying conclusion without undermining the above, so have some more Alyson Hannigan instead.

Failing that, just try to be happy with what you have until the situation naturally changes. I’m trying to teach myself that life is a journey. Some views you see alone, some together, and others still you have to see in both lights to get the full effect.

Peace out.

30 Days Challenge: Day 26: First 10 songs to play on shuffle on your iPod

Okay, so here we go. Any errors are due to this being written on my phone while waiting for a student to turn up.

First is Katmandu by Bob Seger. I discovered it by accident when downloading a different song (Old Time Rock and Roll), and I absolutely love it. It represents a love of one’s home country and also the utter need to run away. He has a great voice for singing about a hard decision.

Next up: She’s Got the Look by Roxette. “And I go la la la la la she’s got the look” – with lyrical magesty like that, how could I not?

Just My Imagination by The Cranberries. Mostly, I admit, because of her accent and the way she sings the word “imagination”. I also love the line: “I have always kept my faith in love: it’s the greatest gift from the man above.”

That’s three, right? Okay, next up… Bad Things by Jace Everett (also known as the theme to True Blood). The deep, gutteral tones in hos voice just really draw me into what I imagine is a series of dank bars and danker motel rooms. It really tells me a story. Is also recommend The Good Life by the same artist. No, it isn’t about suburban rebellion.

(Skipped one because The Good Life actually came up next. Loved for the same reason. These songs make me think of a sleazier CCR.)

Andrew In Drag by The Magnetic Fields. I first heard about this song from Neil Gaiman’s blog. It makes me smile, it tells me a story, and to me it sort of sounds like Jeremy Clarkson’s coming out song. Particularly: “…I would even sell the Jaaaaaaag…”

Stay by The Hollies. Shut up. This was bound to go downhill coolness-wise. Anyway, it makes me tap my foot and smile, which can help on my regular, sweaty commutes.

We Want the Same Thing by Belinda Carlisle. Largely the same as the above, really. It also combines that cheerfulness with a kind of aggression in the verses which also helps to perk me up.

Nickelback singing How You Remind Me. Again, the aggression and loud guitar can get me up and going in the morning. There are better Nickelback songs for the purpose, but this was the one on the compelation I downloaded.

Leave Me Alone (I’m Lonely) by Pink. This is a favourite I share with an ex of mine. Great tune, with a kind of aggression that can really get you onto the Metrobus in the morning. Favourite line: “All I ask for is one fucking hour!”

Foreigner, Cold as Ice. Um… I don’t know. I like it. Shut up. Although it does have some nice imagery around the repetitive chorus. And I like it. So there.

Lodi by Creedence Clearwater Revival (CCR). Other than the very chilled sounds, this song really speaks to the baffled, planless way I progress through life. The confusion, adventure and ennui of that kind of life that you can hear in the performance speak to me on a personal level.

I have some time, so I’ll give you one more (and partly because it’s difficult to scroll and count on my phone’s screen.

Paradise City by Guns ‘N’ Roses. Travelling and looking for pretty girl’s? Yeah, I totally get that. Also the sheer confidence, the guitar, the chorus – like I said before, sometimes I need these things on my daily commute.

So if you see me walking down the street nodding my head mouthing words, chances are it’s to one of these songs. The examples could’ve been so much worse. I though that went rather well!

Speak soon, true believers!

Elementary, my dear CBS* (a review of the new new new Sherlock Holmes)

The way I see it, there are three main questions with regard to this new incarnation. Four if you really want to discuss Downy Jr.’s outings. I don’t. I prefer Iron Man. Anyway, my three questions are this (in order of importance to me personally):

  1. How does it compare to the BBC’s slash-tastic1 Sherlock?
  2. How does it compare to the source material?
  3. Is it any good?

Let’s start at the very beginning. A very good place to start2.

BC has both the best coat and the best British accent. JLM has been in the colonies far too long.

So, how does it compare to Sherlock? Well, this does feel very well into question 2, too. It… doesn’t compare to Sherlock. Not at all really. Nor the source material. Beyond being about a surly private investigator with a British accent, there isn’t much to connect the two.

As an astute fellow Sherlockian pointed out on Tumblr, I’m not sure why they used Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s character names in this new piece. There’s no London, no Lestrade, no… Sherlock. It’s just a dick with a funny name and a sidekick solving crimes. It’s not like this paradigm hasn’t been plumbed before without using the Great Detective’s name. So why tack it on to this unique piece of drama? I’m not gonna go into it here. Ask Mrs. Moff.

Regardless, beyond getting people to watch the thing, the name adds nothing to the series. It has charms of its own – the guilt-ridden ex-surgeon taking care of the manic, poorly-accented addict who solves crimes because he’s bored. The police are predictably contrary during the pilot whilst being non-characters in the background of Jonny Lee Miller’s mania and Lucy Liu’s straight-woman.

So – is it worth watching? I’d say ‘yes’. At least test it out for a few episodes after the pilot as I will. It’s a very American product – I’d put it closer to Dexter than the BBC’s Sherlock. It has all the nasty murder stuff without the witty interplay or textual-subtextual homoerotic but it has a certain… something that I’ll keep trying. The ending of the pilot was lovely.

Anyway, yeah. How is it possible that JLM – a British actor – has such an appalling British accent? He sounds like Daphne from Frasier!

I’ll leave you on that note and I’ll try to construct something a little more coherent for my next post.

 

* Yes, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s original Holmes never said “Elementary, my dear Watson”. That doesn’t make it any less real than how much excellent and often angry sex goes on in the TARDIS. Case in point behind this link (take a lesson in context before you click that).

1 If you don’t know what I mean, follow the link then do your own research.
2 Okay, that was too British even for me. I apologise. I also blame Genevieve Charnaux.

30 Days Challenge: Day 24: A song that makes you smile

Sorry about the delay. I assume, of course, that the Internet waits with baited breath for my new posts.

Anyway, here are a couple of songs that have a tendency to cheer me up when they float to the top of my playlist. As always, melody* is important to me. The feeling comes second.

For slightly angry, fast-walking music, I like:

Now in Spanish!!

And a couple more for your listening pleasure:

Pretty obvious why I like this one, I think.

Now with bonus Spock. Here’s the main official video, because I like that too: 

So… there ya go.

 

* Yes, her too (see picture 1, right).Figure 1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

30 Days Challenge: Days 12 and 13: Your favourite and least favourite female group

These are tough, because as previously mentioned, I’m, not a massive music fan. That’s why you’re getting a twofer today. I’ll try to think of a way to make it up to you.

There few girl groups that come to mind. For example, I have a strong memory of B*witched. No, I don’t know why there’s an asterisk in there. Particularly this song:

I don’t know why. Maybe because they were making thinly-veiled innuendo in what I remember to be my early puberty, or maybe because they’re all cute girls dressed like (stereotypical) boys. My attraction to accents different to mine has also been well documented. I respect the rebellion of Russian group Pussy Riot versus an immensely powerful regime, but I’ve never heard their music. Hm. Musically speaking, no one really springs to mind. A few individual female acts, but girl groups tend to be kind of manufactured and homogenous, I think. Oooh, I know:

Depression: Blockbuster or Indie success?

A disclaimer before we begin: this post is based on my own experience and how it has affected me. I’m well aware that many people have it better, worse and different to me.

Okay, with that out of the way and before we begin, I’d like you to image what a depressed person looks like: how they dress, what they’re doing, what they do for a living…

Got it? Good. Now, I’m not going to be all preachy about how anyone can be mentally ill, just like anyone can have the flu. Not only is it obvious, but it you’re searching on a tag that gets you here, you’ve heard it all before.

VincentThat said, you’re probably picturing someone middle-aged, drink-reliant and you might throw in ‘artistic’ if you’re feeling generous. You’re thinking of someone who can barely function when Churchill’s ‘black dog’ hits, but who is otherwise brilliant. If you’re one of my Doctor Who fan readers, you may be thinking of Van Gogh in Vincent and the Doctor. In truth, depression can be like that. It can also be different.

I’ve been thinking about it, and I’ve come up with another wafer-thin metaphor to describe it. I can divide my own depression into two horror movie themed categories: Hollywood blockbuster and low-budget indie flick.

In a blockbuster, you have a big, terrifying monster. It might be an immortal serial killer or a clown-dragon-nun from Mars. Whatever it is, it’ll be terrifying, loud and impossible to escape; SFX coming out of its ears.

This is the kind of depression that’s easy to identify in the street. It’s the guy railing or crying at the lack of cinnamon in Starbucks or the lateness of his train. It’s hard to battle when you’re in the midst of it, because it’s such an all-encompassing tsunami of emotion. That emotion is everything there is, and everything feeds it.  Once it’s over and normal service resumes, however, it’s hard to imagine what got you so upset in the first place, and the opinions therein can be filed under ‘depressive’ and never considered again. This is if you’re one of the lucky ones like me, for whom this state itself isn’t ‘normal service’.

The other kind is that one movie you’re cinephile friend told you you had to see. It’s low-budget, slow-paced and was probably filmed in a language that isn’t your own. It’s a movie where the guy you fell in love with in the first reel was the monster all along; the one that makes you slide your eyes over to whatever potential-murderer you happen to be watching the movie with. It’s the kind of movie that feels like it could happen, and sticks with you longer than you’re happy to admit.

This the kind of depression I get most frequecanntly, though unmanaged it can turn into the first kind faster than a bad American remake can hit the screens. It’s the insidious kind of depression that sneaks into your thoughts without tripping your internal alarms. It creeps in an begins to colour your thoughts about anything and everything. It’s the kind that makes you know for a fact that that girl could never be interested in you, that you’d never get that job, or that your family are utterly ashamed of you. It’s like that feeling of waiting for a text after a first date multiplied a thousandfold. This is the kind of depression that really has the potential to undermine your well-being. If you don’t identify it as the malign presence it is as early as possible, you never know how many thoughts or decisions it could have effected in the interim.

One also finds that the holes that are already there in the psyche can invite in this monster. Just like going to see Stephen King’s It with a pre-existing clown phobia* will leave you more afraid that you might be otherwise, so too can pre-existing neuroses allow in the Indie Depression DemonTM.

It’s been a while since I’ve had a Hollywood BreakdownAlso TM, but the Indie Bastard is constantly on my back, threatening to find a hole in my defences. I think he found one earlier, but I was expecting it (from prior experience) and I’m fighting it even as we speak. My guard’s up, but the little twat is behind it. Now all  I have to do is take the blows and wait until I can give him a taste of his own medicine.

Anyway, yeah. Back to silly challenge questions tomorrow. 🙂

*Coulrophobia if you’re interested.