Random Musings: Some Current TV offerings

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    Sherlock season 2

    Sherlock is back.

         PBS is currently airing the three movie-length adventures that make up season two of the BBC series starring Benedict Cumberbatch as Sherlock Holmes and Martin Freeman as Dr. John Watson.

         The stories are set in the present. According to Co-Executive Producer and writer Steven Moffat, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle portrayed Holmes as an up-to-the-minute young man in the original stories. However, as time has passed, the stories have become period pieces, and Holmes, “has become about 50.

         “That’s not what you read in the original stories,” Moffat said in an interview on the PBS website. “By putting him in the modern day, we actually put him back to what he was, originally.”

         He also said Sherlock Holmes isn’t meant to be a relic of a bygone era, but to be ahead of everyone else in the room.

         Co-Executive Producer and writer Mark Gatiss (who also portrays Sherlock’s older brother, Mycroft) said Sherlock Holmes is always a man of his time, and a man who “completely” embraces technology.

         The second season— which is also available on DVD—consists of the stories “A Scandal in Belgravia”, “The Hounds of Baskerville”, and “The Reichenbach Fall.” They’re based, respectively, on the original stories “A Scandal in Bohemia”, “The Hound of the Baskervilles” and “The Final Problem.”

         “This year, knowing we were a huge hit,  I suppose we were thinking ‘let’s do the three big things,’” Moffat said. “And the three big things are The Hound, The Woman and The Professor.”

         Gatiss said the natural obvious choice was to do the three most famous stories from the canon.

         “We have Sherlock and Love, Sherlock and Fear and Sherlock and Death,” Moffat said. “He goes through the mill in this one.”

         Season one ended on a cliffhanger, as Sherlock and John faced off against Jim Moriarty (Andrew Scott) at an indoor swimming pool. Moriarty had a sniper hidden in the shadows, laser gun sights trained on Sherlock, while Sherlock had his own gun trained on a bag of explosives. How did Sherlock and John manage to extricate themselves from that situation?

         You’ll have to watch to find out, but I’ll just say the Bee Gees were very helpful.

         “A Scandal in Belgravia”, aired May 6 (the remaining two episodes will air at 9 p.m. May 13 and May 20, respectively). As in the original “A Scandal in Bohemia”, the story centers around “The Woman”, Irene Adler (Lara Pulver). She has access to such sensitive information that Sherlock is summoned to Buckingham Palace.

         He’s not impressed, and refuses to dress. He’s still wearing the sheet he had wrapped around him while back home. He also questions why he’s been called in, telling Mycroft, “You have a police force of sorts, even a marginally secret service. Why come to me?”

         “People do come to you for help, don’t they Mr. Holmes?” another man asks.

         Sherlock muses for a moment. “Not, to date, anyone with a navy.”

         Sherlock can also be petulant. He starts to walk out because neither Mycroft nor the other man will say who his client would be. Mycroft steps on the sheet, nearly pulling it off. Sherlock threatens to keep going— to walk out of Buckingham Palace stark naked— if he doesn’t get the answers he wants.

         There’s no doubt he’d do it, too.

         Later in the episode he finds himself confronted by a stark naked Irene Adler, which discombobulates him. Not because she’s naked, but because he can’t “read” any clues from her the way he can from other people.

         She also proves to be on more or less the same intellectual footing as him. Sherlock tricks her into revealing ______ by giving her a fake ______. Except he didn’t trick her. She knew the _____ was fake all along, so the information she “revealed” was worthless.

         On the other hand, Irene thinks Sherlock has started to fall for her when he takes her hands in his; but he claims later he did so for reasons that had nothing to do with interpersonal feelings.

         But, to mangle Shakespeare, doth the detective protest too much?

         In an interview on the PBS website, Pulver says the attraction between Irene Adler and Sherlock Holmes is primarily a mental one. She also said the fact that Irene is naked for an entire scene is by the by.

         “It’s not about that,” she said. “It’s not about a sexual connection. That would be kind of obvious, and they just don’t live on that level.”

         “A Scandal in Belgravia” also shows us how much Sherlock cares for his landlady, Mrs. Hudson (Una Stubbs) when he throws a man who attacked her out the window. Several times.

         That’s not to say he’s any good at interpersonal relationships. At a Christmas party, he comments on the care in which Molly Hooper (Louise Brealey), a woman who works in the morgue, wrapped a particular present; how she’s dressed; and other details. All of which provide telling clues about her feelings toward the intended recipient.

         The present was for him.

         Awkward.

         As I’ve said before, Sherlock is well worth watching. And I reiterate that I wouldn’t be surprised if Benedict Cumberbatch comes to be called the definitive Holmes of the early 21st century.

     

         In other TV news, Supernatural is nearing the end of its seventh season, with just two episodes remaining. Brothers Sam and Dean Winchester (Jared Padalecki and Jensen Ackles) haven’t had a good year. But they should be used to that by now.

         At the start of the season, we learned that the angel Castiel’s (Misha Collins) well-intentioned attempts to set himself up as the new God (God himself having long since gone walkabout) by absorbing souls in Purgatory led to the escape into our realm of the Leviathan. Later, the brothers’ friend and surrogate father, Bobby Singer (Jim Beaver) died at the hands of the Leviathan leader, Dick Roman (James Patrick Stuart).

         As I mentioned some months back, the dying Bobby was faced with a choice: Go with a
    Reaper to that Undiscovered Country, or stay behind as a ghost.

         As I suspected, he chose the Casper route. There’d been a lot of circumstantial evidence to suggest that was the case, and Sam and Dean— and the audience— learned that for a fact a few weeks ago.

         At its heart, Supernatural is— as I’ve said before— about family; and Bobby and Castiel were as much family as Sam and Dean are to each other. So Bobby hanging about as a ghost is the last thing the Winchesters want. You see, Bobby’s on the cusp of becoming a vengeful spirit— the kind hunted by Sam and Dean (and when he was alive, Bobby himself); and Dean has asked about the odds of all this ending well.

         There’s a way to get rid of ghosts permanently, but no one knows if that destroys them or just sends them on to another realm. Will Sam and Dean be forced to possibly destroy the last vestiges of the man who’d been like a second father to them?

         As for Castiel, it turns out he’s not dead as originally believed. But he’s also more interested in observing bees than helping to clean up the messes he’s caused. He did, at least, “repair” Sam after having torn down the “wall” that blocked Sam’s memories of Hell.

         Bobby chose to stay on to help Sam and Dean, and Castiel’s actions were motivated by good intentions (he wanted to end the civil war with Raphael, who would have re-started the apocalypse); but as was the case with various bargains Sam, Dean and their late father, John (Jeffrey Dean Morgan), have made over the years, their respective actions will likely only lead to further grief.

         And you can be certain that upcoming dealings with an Alpha (Rick Worthy) and the demon Crowley (Mark Sheppard), the self-proclaimed “King of Hell”, relative to stopping the Leviathan will involve “bargains” the Winchesters will come to regret.

         Supernatural airs Fridays at 9 on the CW.

     

         As a general rule, I don’t watch TV sitcoms. I consider most to be insipid. Especially those that offered re-hashed plots from far superior radio shows. However, I’m developing a liking for The Big Bang Theory. If I’m home and I’m not doing something else, I’ll try to catch either the 7 p.m. or 10 p.m. reruns on channel 50 (and if I remember, the new episode each Thursday on CBS; but I usually don’t remember). For the most part, the characters of friends and scientists Leonard Hofstadter (Johnny Galecki), Sheldon Cooper (Jim Parsons), Howard Wolowitz (Simon Helberg) and Raj Koothrappali (Kunal Nayyar), and Leonard and Sheldon’s neighbor, Penny (Kaley Cuoco), are sympathetic; and some of the situations— such as the unintended purchase of a full-size prop from the 1960 movie The Time Machine— are hilarious.

         I also like that the characters aren’t mocked for their love of pop culture by either the writing staff or by the costume department dressing the actors to look like “dorks.” That’s how it would have been just a few decades ago. What’s more, the characters’ individual shortcomings and foibles aren’t depicted as being the direct result of their love of pop culture. Raj— for example— would have still been unable to speak to women if he’d been a football player.

         On the other hand, some of the humor doesn’t work for me; and there’s no excuse for Penny— a main cast member— to not have a last name.

    Copyright 2012 Patrick Keating.


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