Elementary – Their Final Bow

This week was the series finale of Elementary and it is with a very heavy heart that I say goodbye. Despite my extremely dubious attitude at the beginning, being certain that no modern telling of Holmes, especially one set in New York, could live up to the original setting, the quality of this show never flagged. Jonny Lee Miller is right up there as my favourite Holmes. Jeremy Brett, in my opinion, will never be surpassed, but of the modern Holmes retellings Miller is now the high bar.

The writers knowledge of the canon was expert level and call outs to the books never felt like they were just wedged in for the sake of it. The character development was great and the last episode could not have been better. A huge thank you to everyone involved with the show. I will miss it.

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A Tale of Two Fandoms

I am an old school Trekkie. Before the future descended upon us, I was used to meeting (IRL, you remember that, right?) once or twice a year, with like-minded geeks and discussing TV in loving, nerdy detail. Then came BBSs & Usenet which allowed us to gather virtually and discuss the currently hot show de jour on an episode by episode basis, in almost real time.

Cut to 2019. Discussion panels at conventions are mostly a thing of the past as cons have gone from being fan-run events to ComicCon style commercial behemoths.  And while online discussion forums haven’t disappeared, they sure have changed.

I am currently watching both Designated Survivor and Lost in Space on Netflix (and enjoying both). Since Netflix has given us the gift of non-appointment viewing which means I can hop on a show whenever, Designated Survivor has two full seasons already and Lost in Space has one.  This means that while I can’t contribute to an up to the minute, topical discussion of the episode, but I can go online after the fact and see what others thought, and see how it jives with my own opinion. Since Reddit is the place to go for online discussion forums on any topic, I thought I would have a look at the relevant subreddits for each show to see what the hot points of discussion were on each episode.

The episode threads for both of these shows are snarky, vitriolic, dumpster fires.

Now, I am used to a certain amount of snark from my many years in fandom, but we snark because we love, and unless the show was particularly awful, the criticisms were always tempered with copious amounts of fannish squee. But holy cow these two subs. The shows are pretty decent, but rarely do I find them saying anything good about an episode. It’s just a constant piling on the the plot lines, acting, special effects and writing (I mean, who cares if the special effects for Designated Survivor were substandard in that one scene – its not an FX based show).

Now, I am familiar with the concept of a hatewatch (link), but every single person posting cannot be hatewatching these shows. It’s not statistically possible. And even with a hatewatch, you generally continue to watch because you had hope for the premise of the show and hope that it will get better (this is how I justify my season and a half of Blindspot). But eventually even a hatewatch has diminishing returns and must have better things to do with your time.

What is my point? That it’s currently cool to hate? That snarky art criticism has moved from oils and interpretive dance to TV? That the current  sociopolitical polarisation is affecting everything? I’m not sure except that I’m a little sad that 2019 culture has poisoned something as banal as virtual water cooler talk about last night’s TV.

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I remember my first Monty Python sketch. It was The Spanish Inquisition (you know, the one no one expects?). I was about 11 and it was shown late at night which was the only time we could get the grainy, over-the-air, low powered public television station from Buffalo. My dad and I loved British TV which, then as now, was the staple of PBS, but we had never seen anything like this before. For about two weeks we shouted “No one expects the Spanish Inquisition” at every opportunity until my mom told us to cut it out.
Until I was telling this story the other day, I never realised how much Monty Python influenced my life. To this day my favourite kind of humour is absurdist. I find juxtapositions in style and situation hilarious and it has influenced my art and writing. The movie Monty Python and the Holy Grail probably was one of the major reasons I became interested in medieval studies and ended up studying it at university. (Ironically I’ve always said I had such a difficult time learning Latin because I didn’t go to university until my late twenties and the portion of my brain that was allotted at birth for learning Latin had long since been filled with Monty Python scripts). When I was in high school all the nerds could rattle off long speeches from various Python sketches. It was a nerd rite of passage.
Thank you Pythons, for everything.

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Revisiting The Magicians

Aaaand … we’re back.
When I first posted regarding The Magicians, waaay back on February 2, 2016, I was not sure it would grow on me. The characters were either bitchy or whiny, and the plot was unnecessarily convoluted. Oh, the humble pie, I now have to eat! Tasty, tasty humble pie. I am ecstatic to say how wrong I was.
We just finished watching the 3rd season and the character growth has been phenomenal. Bitchy characters have matured into responsible and empathetic adults, and whiny characters have toughened up and stepped up. What seemed to be an unnecessarily convoluted plot turned out the be sharp, intricate writing, with call back to arcs of two seasons previously. I still have not read the books, so I don’t know if the sharp writing is a direct port over from the books. The main actors are all amazing finds, and the supporting characters are also really well cast (my personal fave is Tick Pickwick).
I would urge anyone who hasn’t watched this show to give it a try. Like me, you might have to give it a few episodes for the characters to grow on you, but they definitely will.

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Billionaire shaming

One of the most interesting TV shows this past few months is a mid season replacement called APB. The plot can basically be summed up as ‘Elon Musk buys a police station’. Literally, that’s it. Barely fictionalised billionaire spends his money and his genius to help poor but honest cops fight crime in one of Chicago’s worst precincts.
When this show started I was certain there was a ‘political’ motive, sort of a shaping of public opinion, going on, but I couldn’t put my finger on it. It took me a few episodes but I believe that it
might be ‘billionaire shaming’. Why should Elon Musk ‘waste’ money going to Mars, and Bill Gates ‘waste’ money eliminating diseases in the third world, when there are issues right here in the States that could benefit from their money and technical expertise. Continue reading

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