Saturday, January 9, 2016

Sherlock Special: The Abominable Bride

I'm not sure I ever came back here, (after yet another hiatus,) and gave my thoughts on the Charles Magnussen episode of Sherlock; however, I have reviewed every other episode, so it seems only fair that I review this one. This may be in two parts, however, since there is a lot of ground to cover in this episode.

On January 1st, I got home from work and eagerly searched through the channels for which one Sherlock would play on: BBC America, or PBS. Turned out it was PBS, so I sat back, watching other things as I patiently waited for 9 pm to get here.

It first comes on, and we get a brief overview of 'So far on Sherlock' that gives highlights of the past three seasons. Then, 'Alternatively . . .' and the clock begins winding backwards.

Showing Watson wounded in action and then his narration over it when he comes back to London I found wonderful. Especially when he makes mention that his health is irretrievably damaged, or however his exact phrasing was.

It's when he runs into Stamford and they begin talking that I was a bit, for lack of a better term, disappointed in the writing. I understand they wanted to show the meeting between these two iconic literary figureheads, but it felt very rushed to me. Also, while I did enjoy that it was basically the Victorian version of what they'd done in a Study in Pink, that was exactly what it felt like -- a rehash, old-fashioned version of what they'd done in a Study in Pink, right down to Holmes's (now needless, since Stamford had introduced him,) announcement of his name, and where they were to meet.

When they're seen at Baker Street and Mrs. Hudson greets them, I kinda wondered about the Victorian aspect. If they were doing a "true Holmes" (I'll explain later why that's in quotes,) then why would Mrs. Hudson be going on the way she does in the modern take? Don't get me wrong, I liked how she went on about not having any lines, and how in the stories her sole purpose was showing people up the stairs and getting them tea. It just didn't say 'Victorian' to me. It more said, as is her famous line, "Not your housekeeper."

Clues are dropped about the eventual reveal in the show, (caught by me on the second time around watching it,) and we fairly quickly get into the case. Emelia Riccoletti, a woman seen pointing guns at men in the streets and shouting, "You!" has committed suicide, yet somehow she came back from the grave to kill her husband before disappearing into the mist.

When Holmes and Watson, (because despite the reveal, when they're in the Victorian setting, I can't help but think of them as Holmes and Watson instead of Sherlock and John,) go to the morgue, the audience discovers that Molly Hooper has dressed herself up as a man to work in the mortuary. I thought that bit was ingenious, because seriously, a woman wouldn't have been able to have the kind of job modern-day Molly does. The only way she *might* be able to get away with it is to disguise herself as a man, and I thought it was positively brilliant. I also thought it brilliant that Watson catches onto that little gem and makes it very clear he knows what she's doing, and yet Anderson, (unnamed in this episode, but still lowering IQ's street-wide,) is left clueless.

When they visit the Diogenes Club to see Mycroft, that, that was a treat. Though since I'm used to seeing Mark Gatiss as a tall, thin man, that may have contributed to the fact that the fat suit he was in looked more than a bit ridiculous. The face, hands, and neck, especially. But before we get to Mycroft, can we just talk about how hilarious it was to see Watson completely botch British Sign Language? I'm casually conversational in ASL, so I got a bit of what they were saying, (not enough, since BSL and ASL are different. I only caught two things I know are the same: face and thank you,) and I was laughing at Watson's attempts. "I'm glad you liked my potato." Then Holmes excusing his partner and making fun of him at the same time, and Watson's there, "Sorry, what?" Then realizes his mistake and before he goes to follow Holmes, he gives the other guy a thumbs up. Priceless. Absolutely priceless.

All right. I am going to make this a two part post. I'll end off here and come back soon with the rest of my thoughts.


Monday, December 8, 2014

Happiness!!!

That feels like such a weird title to say on today, of all days. I'm a huge Beatles fan, and anyone else who is knows why this day absolutely sucks for Beatles fans. It's the day John Lennon was murdered outside the Dakota by Mark David Chapman thirty four years ago.

However, this day was absolutely awesome, because I went into Manhattan and got to meet up with the one and only R.L. Stine for an interview. I haven't transcribed it yet, so it's not going up on the blog right now; however, I will tell about the experience.

First, he'd suggested three pm, so I planned on getting into town with enough time to go to a couple stores, then get to him. Unfortunately, I read the bus schedule wrong, and had to catch a bus an hour later than I planned. No big deal, though, it still gave me an hour to get to him, I'd just go to the stores afterward. So that's exactly what I did. I got there early by some miracle, so waited for a bit, then was invited up.

That's right. Invited up. The interview took place in R.L. Stine's apartment. IN HIS APARTMENT. Not only that, but he'd gotten a package delivered just after I came in, so when he called down to the doorman to send me up, the doorman asked if he wanted me to bring the package up with me and he said yes! So I got to bring R.L. Stine's mail up to him!

I had a slight Fangirl breakdown in the elevator.

Then it opened, and there he was, because unlike apartments that I'm used to where the elevator opens into a hallway and there are the individual doors to the different apartments, the elevator here just opened straight to where he and his wife live. And their dog, who was all barky at first, but adorable, just the same.

My mom made some cookies over the weekend, so she made a small box for me to take to him, so that's the first thing I handed him when I set my stuff down and took off my coat. Then, I gave him my early Christmas gift to him, which was a DVD of the Vincent Price version of House of Wax, which he then told me he'd seen with his brother in the movie theater in 3D.

Anyway, long story short, we had a great talk, and I'll come back soon with the transcribed notes from my tape recorder. All in all, though, today was awesome.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Excitement!!!

Okay, so I'm back after another hiatus. I lost the password for this blog and had some major troubles getting back into it. While I haven't worked on anything Holmes-related in several months, save for several days when I looked over the Ripper novel, I have had a rather exciting past couple of weeks. On October 1st, I went to a signing given by R.L. Stine at the Union Square Barnes and Noble in Manhattan. He was there to advertise the release of his new Fear Street book, Party Games, the first new one in almost twenty years.

Now, I started reading Fear Street back in 1995, when I was twelve years old. I've always loved reading, and back in middle school, there were always those tissue-paper thin, four page book "catalogues" that would get handed out in homeroom or whenever. Well, I would always see two books in particular. Call Waiting, by R.L. Stine, and The Whisperer, one of the Nightmare Hall books by Diane Hoh, and I was really interested in reading them. I never got to order them from that catalogue, but I found them one time I was at the local Barnes and Noble. The Nightmare Hall one was good, but the R.L. Stine one reeled me in. I read several other standalones of his, then found the Fear Street series. I think the first one of that I read was Switched. Anyway, I read Fear Street through seventh, eighth, ninth, and tenth grade. I think it was the summer between tenth and eleventh that they stopped being released. They were getting rather formulaic by that point, but I was still sad to see them come to an end. I have a complete collection, except for about eight of the Graduation books, and two of the Fear Street Saga ones.

Fast forward to 2001, Halloween night. My aunt told me that R.L. Stine was doing a talk and signing at the Menlo Park mall. She brought me and my cousin there and I got not only his autograph in The New Year's Party, but a photo with him. :)

Fast forward again to October 1st, this year. I figured hey, why not get his autograph again, and it'd be nice to see him again and maybe get some more pictures. I went, and wound up meeting this really cool and funny person named Stephanie who goes to every signing of his she can. And I found out from her that R.L. Stine was going to be at Comic Con this year. The same day I was going. So I happily spazzed, and was even more excited when I found out Stephanie would be there Thursday as well. We agreed to meet up, which we eventually did, and amidst the other stuff I was doing and panels she wanted to go to, we found ourselves on line for R.L. Stine's autograph. I had him sign my Fear Street Diary, and I'd found out his birthday is October 8th, so I got him a couple cards, and several Tales from the Crypt reprint comics of stories from the fifties that he liked reading. One thing that I put in the card is that I'd love to be able to talk writing stuff with him, or at the very least interview him for this blog. So I've been obsessively checking my email since the day after Comic Con, even though logic told me it would take time for him to write back. But I went online tonight, and at 2:58 pm, he wrote back to me! He said he could give me the interview after all the Halloween craziness, and to email him in mid-November.

So, hopefully, the next time I write, it'll be to feature an interview with the one and only R.L. Stine!

Thursday, January 16, 2014

So The Hearse Was Empty. But How Did He Escape???

As with The Sign of Three, this is NOT a spoiler-free review, so if you have somehow not seen The Empty Hearse, Season Three's first episode, and would like to remain in the dark, do not read on.  You have been warned.

As I've mentioned previously, I have a friend who is very good with computers, and finding TV shows streamed online and such.  I am no such computer whiz, and in fact, accidentally gave my computer a virus while trying to make the link for The Empty Hearse work.  Heh . . .  I wish I was joking about that.  Unfortunately . . .

Anyway, enough about my ineptitude with technology.  He showed me the proper thing to click, and I was able to see the episode.  I loved how it began with a teaser "explanation" of how Sherlock did it.  I didn't completely buy into it, because A) I was watching The Reichenbach Fall as I was starting The Empty Hearse, and B) Sherlock never would have truly kissed Molly like that, so as much as I loved seeing it, I had my suspicions on whether or not it was real.  And of course, soon enough, Lestrade breaks in to Anderson's "explanation" and we find out the entire thing is a fabrication.

Now, I have to interrupt myself here and explain that the same night as my technological snafu, I was only able to watch the first minute or so of the episode, and so only saw Anderson's explanation, but didn't quite get to it being his own creation.  I got sick of the pauses and loading screen right after Sherlock kissed Molly.  So, I went to work the next day and saw my friend who gave me the link.  He had been able to watch the entire episode, and enjoyed tormenting me with bits of information.  I'd decided early in the day that I just wanted to ask three questions about the episode, and that would be it.  My first one was, "Does Sherlock reveal himself to John?"  Yes.  Okay.  "Does Sherlock get punched when he does the reveal?"  (Remembering Scandal, there.  "Punch me in the face."  "What?"  "Didn't you hear me?  I said punch me in the face."  "I always hear punch me in the face when you're speaking, but it's usually subtext.")  Not punched, but John does attack him on three separate occasions.  Lol, okay.  Damn, he's pissed.

And he told me about the random disguise thing Sherlock does at the restaurant, that yes, Mycroft was in the episode, and that he was in on the fake death, and he told me there was one thing they find that I would totally spazz about.  That he was warning me not to, but that I completely would.  (I actually didn't spazz at anything in the episode.  There were "Squee!!!" worthy moments, sure, but nothing I felt was actually spazz-worthy.  He was referring, I found out later, to the Jack the Ripper thing.  He knows that's what the third Holmes novel I will eventually get back to writing is about, and he knows I've learned all the different stuff about the killer and victims and such.)  Oh, and I almost forgot about this little tidbit, I began watching the show after closing at work, because I had my laptop there so he could show me the correct link to click on.  Well, I saw Watson, and I'd forgotten about that awful mustache, and made some kind of comment about how bad it was.  My friend kinda laughed and said yeah, it was a point of contention for pretty much everyone in the episode.

Anyway, when I was finally able, that night, to sit down and watch the episode, I loved John attacking Sherlock.  Headbutting him the third time, and it just cuts to Sherlock with a bloody nose.

The whole terrorist thing, as I believe Charlotte Anne Walters said, was such a throwback to V for Vendetta, I almost expected Hugo Weaving to pop up in the train car, and for that classical music when Parliament blows up in V to begin playing.  I actually stared at my laptop and said, "Really?  This is straight out of V for Vendetta!  Seriously?"  And that, after the beginning of the episode when Sherlock pulls off his waiter disguise, and I felt it was just like the scene in the RDJ movie where RDJ grabs random items and makes a disguise to approach a hansom cab.  Though I felt Sherlock did it much better, but two throwbacks to two movies in the same episode?  Really, guys?

And while I enjoyed the fantasy sequences of 'how he did it,' it still bugs me that they haven't revealed how he really did do it.  Though I have a theory on that.  Let's face it.  Just about anyone who's read the Canon believes that Sherlock lied to John, probably not only about where he was the three years John thought he was dead, but also about how he survived in the first place.  I think Moffat and Gatiss had a lot of fun at our expense, reading the different, and sometimes far-fetched and insane, theories that were out there.  I also think that from the beginning, they had no intention of explaining it to us, because of what they know about the Canon, and how they set up John's character.  That line John says about, "I don't care HOW you did it, I want to know why."  I literally said to my laptop, "But the REST of us do!!!"  But John, he wouldn't.  It would be more important to him why Sherlock did it.  Because John was more of a victim than anyone in that whole scenario because he was the one Sherlock talked to while he was up on the roof.

Honestly, I wish they would explain it, but I don't think we'll ever actually know the truth.  We just have to accept that 'why' is more important than 'how,' and that Sherlock is sorry.

And because he is Sherlock, we will forgive him and keep watching.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Help. Baker St. Now. (BBC's The Sign of Three.)

I watched The Empty Hearse several days ago, and I will come back on here and give a review of it, but just today, I saw The Sign of Three, and I knew I had to write a review of it immediately.  I read another blog by Charlotte Anne Walters before seeing this episode, and she seems rather lukewarm about it.  Not enough mystery, doesn't seem very Holmes-ish, and the way she describes it, I completely see it.  However, when I actually sat down and watched the episode, (I love my friend who gives me links to TV shows streamed online,) I was laughing, becoming emotional, and just all-in-all, greatly enjoying the ride.

As Ms Walters said, the show begins (and please, if you want a spoiler-free review, this is not it, so stop reading now if you don't want to know things that go on in the episode,) with Lestrade about to make a crucial arrest when he gets texts from Sherlock asking for help.  Lestrade drops everything and calls for maximum back up to Baker Street, and when he gets there, finds out Sherlock's crisis was in writing a best man speech. The end of the scene is positively brilliant.  As is the scene where Sherlock is recalling John asking him to be his best man.  Sherlock, just standing there, completely dumbfounded, and John's eventual reaction: "Now it's getting a bit scary," almost had me on the floor laughing.  And the fact that Sherlock actually showed humility, kindness, and love in parts of his speech were terrific to see.  It was . . . it was a way of making Sherlock Holmes, the deductive, analytical machine into someone human.  Someone who recognized his own character and personability flaws, yet knew that to someone else, he held such great value, and not because he was a consulting detective, but because he was that someone's best friend.

To be honest, I can't praise this episode enough.  Some may feel that the mystery was slapdash, or seemed like an afterthought, or that it was too focused on Mary and John, too focused on the wedding, etc, but I don't see it that way.  I feel BBC did it right with this one.  (And come on, who didn't get a grin out of Mycroft on a treadmill, and then seeing his bare stomach?)  This episode, since they decided they were going to show John and Mary's wedding, was more about the characters' interactions than anything else.  How they get along, how the others see them, how even with all of Sherlock's deductive powers to figure out so much about a person from a single glance, someone like Molly can still figure out how Sherlock would react to a best man speech.  And not only the speech.  (I'll only say one word here: telegrams.  Okay, and I'll say that I loved the scene with John walking in on Mrs. Hudson just laughing hysterically.)

Of the eight episodes I've seen, The Sign of Three is my favorite.  Don't get me wrong, I love the other ones.  However, this one just has something for me that the others don't.  And this, I believe, is a rarity for me where these episodes are concerned.  Season one, I wasn't wild about the Blind Banker.  I liked it, yeah, but not as much as the first and third episodes.  Same with Season two.  I felt Hounds of Baskerville was the weakest of the three.  And I admit, part of that may be because it didn't take place in or anywhere near Baker Street.  It was in a foreign place, and therefore may have just felt foreign to me.  I'm not sure.  I'll have to watch the episode again and really go in-depth with myself.  However, this season so far, The Sign of Three is my favorite.  I can't wait to see what the third episode holds, and I look forward to writing a review of the Empty Hearse soon, because I have a ton of thoughts on it.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Lyndsay Faye and Seven for a Secret

September 18th was quite a few things this year.  It's the 30th birthday of someone I knew from high school, it's my parents' wedding anniversary (36 years,) it's the day my parents left for their vacation until October 3rd, and it's also the day I went up to New York to go see Lyndsay Faye's talk about her new book, Seven for a Secret, which is out in bookstores and online.

It was great to meet Lyndsay.  She was very personable, funny, and friendly.  Her talk was informative, and considering she's writing historical-based novels with Gods of Gotham and Seven for a Secret, she's clearly done her research.  As she said while answering questions, (though avoiding spoilers!) for the Q&A part of the night, she's read journals, newspaper articles, all of that stuff to make things as authentic as possible.  While I haven't read either book yet, I love how it seems she's found a great balance between what to include to flesh out the actual world of old-time New York, and also what she needs to NOT say, because it's not something her main character would take the time to care about.

Anyway, I know, this is a pathetically short entry, but I wanted to get down about meeting Lyndsay and help promote her books.  Gods of Gotham and Seven for a Secret aren't Sherlock Holmes, but she's also the author of, and this is how I initially heard of her, Dust and Shadow, which was her imagining of if Holmes and Watson had gone up against Jack the Ripper.

All in all, this September 18th was a terrific, tiring, completely worth it endeavor.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

New York And The Mysterious Bookshop

On April 23rd, my cousin was going into Manhattan for a concert.  Being only sixteen, my aunt obviously didn't want him to go alone, so I went in with him.  (Seriously, there was virtually no point.  We split up almost as soon as we left the train station, but oh, well.)  Anyway, I had a mission.  I wanted to go to The Mysterious Bookshop, because another Holmes author (probably more than one,) had gone there, and told how it had a full wall of Holmes books.  I knew I had to check this out.

I went to Forbidden Planet first, (SO happy to find out they hadn't actually moved, though I was disappointed there was no upstairs to go to like there was the first time I was there,) and was geeking out at the Doctor Who stuff they had there.  I ended up buying two Doctor Who shirts, getting a pic of the golden Dalek cutout they had, and spazzing about the Beatles stuff I wasn't able to buy.  Must go back there soon . . .

Anyway.  I ended up catching a cab down to Warren Street, where the Mysterious Bookshop is.  I walked in, and the first thing I see is a Holmes silhouette on a messenger bag kinda thing.  I walked around the store for a bit before going to the back wall, where what do I see, but Holmes books!  I looked at them, reading blurbs, investigating covers, quietly exclaiming over seeing ones in my own collection, but that were different editions, or hardbounds where I had the paperback.  I saw Darlene Cypser's The Crack in the Lens, among others that I own and recognized, and plenty that I'd never heard of, or only saw on Amazon.  One such book was The Canary Trainer, by Nicholas Meyer.  I've wanted to collect that one for awhile now, and seeing it right there in front of me, in hardbound, I decided this book was mine.  I also got one, I believe called Revenge of the Hound.  Then, I came across the majority of MX books, and imagine how surprised and pleased I was to see copies of my own standing right there, displayed on the shelves!  :)  I looked through them and saw The Detective and The Woman, by Amy Thomas.  I'm in the process of reading both hers and Canary Trainer (because it's yet another Holmes/Phantom crossover that I've been curious about for awhile,) and when I'm done with both, I'll review them on here, hopefully with a follow up interview with Amy.

Until then, happy readings, writings, and other Holmesian endeavors!