I’ve Been Sherlocked

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With a pair like Freeman and Cumberbatch, you can’t go wrong.

It’s official. I’ve fallen into yet another fandom. It was only a matter of time before Sherlock wandered into my life. If anything, it’s a natural progression from both Doctor Who and The Hobbit. Ok, not really, but there’s the BBC angle and another show that they both were in, so it’s close.

If anything, starting viewing this late into the seasons is a bit of a perk. I don’t have to wait as long between seasons, which has been the number one complaint with the show. At the same time, I’ve seen so many spoilers that the epic moment when Sherlock tosses himself from the building has been completely spoiled. (And if you hadn’t heard that, what rock have you been living under?) I’m still a season out from that point.

When you only watch between 30-45 minutes of grown up programming a day it takes a while to get through a season of anything.

Sherlock has a lot of great stuff going for it. First of all, the stories are well written, which as a writer means a whole heck of a lot. Secondly, they found a truly inspired pair to play Sherlock and Watson.

Everyone loves Benedict Cumberbatch’s performance of Sherlock in much the same way that everyone loves Leonard Nimoy playing Spock. He’s broody, he’s complex, he’s hyper-intelligent, he’s got a sensitive underbelly that he very rarely shows, but when he does it is overwhelming. It makes him instantly fascinating to watch, like some rare exotic animal. And then there’s his voice, which can be compared to rich deep dark chocolate ganache.

Sherlock would not be half as interesting without his Watson. In the literature Watson is there as Sherlock’s foil. He responds to Sherlock’s bizarre behavior as any normal person would and gives the viewer an anchor to hold on to as well as perspective. Martin Freeman serves as a perfect foil. He’s smart in his own way, but his is an accessible and useful knowledge. He knows how to function as a normal human being, where Sherlock often forgets. It’s his responses to Sherlock, his bafflement, his willingness to help a friend, his innocence, that makes the whole program work. He gives the audience that much needed dose of reality. He is the warmth against Sherlock’s frosty exterior, he is the humanity against Sherlock’s disregard for other’s feelings. And he is completely adorable.

The show itself tends to be dark and brooding and for me it’s best sampled in small doses. Most of the crimes to be solved revolve around murder and the basest elements of society and the show has no qualms dragging the viewer into the thick of it all. There is adventure and intrigue and the thrill of the chase paired with this really unique and often charming relationship between two unlikely friends.

All in all I consider it a hit and hope that by some stroke of luck they release another season before I get to the end of this one!

Getting Angsty?

In a recent book review I mentioned that angsty teenage books aren’t my thing. It’s nothing personal, I’m not into romance for the sake of romance either. For me, the stakes aren’t high enough, or at least I don’t care enough about them, for either to draw my attention.

Which is why I was really surprised when I found that my own writings and also the TV shows that I prefer watching have plenty of super angsty moments.

What’s the difference?

For me it’s motive and reach. In all stories the main character has a really big problem that he or she needs to overcome. In teenage angsty novels these problems tend to revolve around the internal needs of the teenager. She needs to feel accepted. Her boyfriend is cheating on her. She is dying of a terminal illness. He is a wimp. Her boyfriend is a vampire. Not all in the same book, although that would be awesome.

None of the problems extend beyond the main character or their immediate friends. If the worst should happen, yes it’s devastating for the character, but it the effects rarely leave the community.

In my preferred fandoms, and also in my fiction, the scope tends to be larger. The problems affect whole cities, worlds, or even universes. When something goes wrong, it threatens more than a few emotional teenagers, civilizations are at stake. The problems can include anything including universe eating temporal rifts, demon fueled armies, megalomaniac wizards, and gods squaring off against each other.

That’s not to say that the same internal problems don’t exist, they most certainly do. But they exist layered along side much bigger issues.

Last night I had my own personal angst fest with non other than our friend the Doctor. Doctor Who is a great example of how layering massive universe-sized problems alongside intense personal conflict makes for some very compelling stories.

I have a few favorite doctor moments, specifically with the 10th doctor.

In the episode Journey’s End, the season finale for the fourth season, there are lots of different angsty elements at play. It’s touted as the most tragic episode – guaranteed to give anyone the feels. The villainous Daleks have kidnapped planet Earth to create a reality bomb that will in essence destroy all matter in every universe. The Doctor has found several of his previous companions to come help avert the crisis. These include Rose Tyler, the companion he loved and lost; Donna Noble, the closest person he’s had to a best friend; and Martha Jones, the woman who loved him but he didn’t love back.

In the course of the episode a second Doctor is created, who is essentially a clone except for one vital difference – he is not a Time Lord and will age and die like a human.

I’m a sucker for a good tragic character. I love Hamlet, Frodo, and now, the Doctor. In Journey’s End. The angst comes from the multitude of problems that can’t be solved without sacrifice. The Daleks must be defeated to save Earth. Rose must be returned to her own parallel world. Donna, being human, cannot sustain having the knowledge of a Time Lord.

The Doctor must sacrifice his love for Rose by sending her off with the clone doctor to repair the rift in time. To save his best friend Donna’s life, he must remove all knowledge of himself from her mind, and lose her forever. His clone has committed genocide on the Daleks, getting him, a man who abhors violence, named the Destroyer of Worlds. In essence, everything that is important to him is ripped away and he is left alone once more. doc who rain

Take that teenage angst! I know it’s unrealistic, but it’s oh so good.

Doctor Who – Farewell to David Tennant

doctor-who-more-smith-tennant-570x294As I have recently revealed, I have started watching the ever famous Doctor Who. Although I would love to take in whole seasons in single sittings, life has a way of keeping things in check.  I just finished the fourth season and watched the passing of the torch from David Tennant to Matt Smith in the bittersweet episode “The End of Time.”

You can’t help but fall in love with the tenth Doctor. He’s witty, vibrant, intense, deep, and a touch unstable there at the end. All of the Doctors before him share many of these traits but the Tenth deserves the title of the ultimate Doctor, the one who by his brilliance, defines the rest. He had a flair for the dramatic paired with moments of tenderness and deep felt caring that endeared him to everyone around him.

It will be hard to accept Matt Smith as the doctor, at least at first.  Although I expect it to be about the same as when Christopher Eccleston regenerated to David Tennant. There will be that awkward period where it just doesn’t feel right for anyone else to step into the previous doctor’s shoes. No one likes change, and this is no exception.

Here’s to the next series, I’m looking forward to more adventure, thrills, goofy aliens, and all that space timey-wimey stuff. And Amy Pond, I hear she’s awesome.

TV Talk: Downton Abbey Season 5

downton-abbeySeason 5 of PBS’s smash hit Downton Abbey wrapped up this week with a feel good, everyone (well, nearly everyone) ends up happy, finale episode.

It will be hard to tell about this season without dropping a few hints, so be warned. THERE BE SPOILERS AHEAD.

First let’s meet a few of the new faces that surface during this episode – 

da-s5-characters-hero-bricker-188x209-crop-190x210Simon Bricker – Played by the talented Richard E. Grant, enters the scene as an art authority interested in a priceless art piece of the Grantham estate by the Renaissance artist Piero Della Francesca. His visits to the Abbey come more frequent as it seems another beauty has caught his eye.

da-s5-characters-hero-kuragin-188x209-crop-190x210Igor Kuragin – Played by Croatian actor Rade Serbedzija, is a displaced prince from Russia’s bygone era of glittering balls and endless evenings of dancing.  Events that the Dowager Countess lived for. Political turmoil separates Kuragin from his wife and forces him to live as a refugee.  He finds an unusual ally at Downton Abbey to aid him in his search for his lost wife, but it is uncertain is that is what he truly wants.

da-s5-characters-hero-atticus-188x209-crop-190x210Atticus Aldridge – Played by Matt Barber, is the son of the wealthy Lord and Lady Sinderby.  He is charming and delightfully shy and finds love in Lady Rose. He finds her open-mindedness and innocence appealing.  However, one crucial element cannot be overlooked.  He and his family are Jewish immigrants, and a mixed union is certainly frowned upon.

da-s5-characters-hero-lordSinderby-188x209-crop-190x210Lord Sinderby – Played by James Faulkner, is a severe man of few words.  Those he does say are well placed and unapologetic. He is a proud man, and has worked hard for his success.  As a Jewish immigrant he is wary of anyone outside of the faith, and the appearance of Rose in his life is a direct challenge to his beliefs.

da-s5-characters-hero-ladySinderby-188x209-crop-190x210Lady Sinderby – Played by Penny Downie, is the mother to Atticus Aldridge and is warm and affectionate, making her a perfect compliment to Lord Sinderby’s austere manner.

da-s5-characters-hero-denker-188x209-crop-190x210Gladys Denker – Played by Sue Johnston, is the new Lady’s maid to the Dowager Countess, and a very experienced one at that. Her quarrels with Spratt are a constant source of amusement and annoyance for the Dowager.

About the season itself –

The fifth season is filled with a lot of one thing. Relationship changes. Nearly every single character faces a serious relationship change or drama. This includes a surprising number of proposals, I counted three but I might have missed one. One of these proposals does result in a wedding, although with it comes plenty of drama and intrigue. The issue surrounding Mr. Green’s murder continue, making life for Anna and John Bates difficult. Also the intrusion of Simon Bricker into the lives of the Granthams is a cause of turmoil.

Dear Edith continues with her struggle to be a mother to a child she wasn’t supposed to have.  She does her best to find inventive ways to be a part of little Marigolds life but they ultimately fail. Edith spends the entire season very glum and depressed because of it.

And then there’s Mary. What to do with Mary?  She’s clearly still hurting from her loss of Matthew, but also ready to move on and explore her options. This causes even more drama when she can’t seem to open her heart to love again, even when there are suitors that deeply care for her waiting for her to simply say “yes.”

In contrast to other seasons, this one thankfully does not end on a cliffhanger. No one dies at the last-minute. Don’t get me wrong, there are still plenty of issues that need to still be resolved. But in contrast to other seasons, this one ends on a generally happy note for almost everyone.

The season is filled with intrigue, delightful characters, drama, and all the great things that make a costume drama fun to watch.

TV Talk: Super Bowl XLIX

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Yesterday I did something I never imagined I’d do. Yes, yours truly attended a Super Bowl party for the first time.  It’s a weakness, I know, strictly unAmerican to some even, to have lived this long and not participated in the annual event that commemorates eating obscene amounts of junk food while watching what is essentially Gladiatorial combat. But the fact is, I’ve never been all that into sporting events of any flavor.  Blame it on the introvert in me.

Until yesterday, no one was able to convince me to leave the comfy bubble of my own little space to join in the madcap that is the Super Bowl. And I’ve never had a reason to either, hubby isn’t all that interested in sports either (which is yet another reason why we are so perfect for each other).

We choose our team to root for, the Seahawks, based mostly on proximity, we live closer to Seattle than New England, and also the pesky fact that the Patriots were accused of cheating.

We made a fabulous snack – a earth-shakingly good cookie bar that tastes like a twix, brought a store bought veggie tray, you know, to balance out the butter and caramel laden goodness of the cookie bar. We wore the closest we could get to team colors. We cheered on our team until they were defeated.

Those last 20 seconds were pretty nuts. I’m still mad that they decided to throw the ball instead of run it.

All in all, I think I’ll do it again!

TV Talk: Once Upon a Time

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Because I write in speculative and fantasy it would seem like watching Once Upon a Time would be an obvious choice.  It is loaded with magic, which I love, and fairy tale characters, which I have a love/hate relationship with. However, the small snippets I have seen haven’t yet appealed to me mainly because it feels so much like a fantasy soap opera.

So, I’m giving it a try.

From what I’ve gathered so far there is a fairy tale world and the real human world. Neither of the world’s populations know of the other world’s existence except for the Evil Queen Regina and the naughty Rumpelstiltskin. The queen curses the people of the fairy tale world to live in the real world with no memories of their past.  They live in a small quiet community in Maine called Storyebrook.

There is one who can break the curse, the daughter of Snow White, Emma Smith, who managed to escape the curse by being sent to the real world as an infant before it happened. Her son, Henry has a book with the clues to help unlock the memories of the fairy tale characters.

Once_upon_a_time_season_three_castI haven’t watched more than the first episode so far but I can see lots of promise. There’s good storytelling and cool costuming and that’s enough for me to stick around a bit longer.

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Are you a fan of Once Upon A Time? What is your favorite episode? Favorite Character?

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Before I forget – the awesome folks at Xchyler Publishing have released a knock-your-socks-off trailer for this year’s fantasy anthology that features my story Breath. Check it out!

Winnie the Pooh – Who are you?

I’ve been reliving many of the cartoons from my past, including a few from the Winnie the Pooh franchise. Even as a kid these weren’t my favorite, I grew up in the middle of great cartoons such as Duck Tales and Rescue Rangers.

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Winnie the Pooh has had staying power, I’ll give it that.  They are classics and will be perpetually renewed, just like Treasure Island and Swiss Family Robinson.

Part of the reason that Winnie the Pooh tends to stick around is that each of the characters are so distinct.  There’s Winnie of course, the bumbling silly bear who’s none too bright but friendly nonetheless. He has an obsession with honey and will do anything to get it, including putting himself if danger.

Then there’s Piglet, who is scared of everything to the extent that he won’t try anything new without a whole lot of support from his friends.

Tigger only wants to have fun and is the Polly Anna of the group.  This fun often bothers those around him and causes him the majority of his problems.  He can’t see the effect his actions have on others and is selfish.

Eeyore is perpetually depressed.  He believes that nothing can go right for him and as a result nothing ever does.  He’s not very pleasant to be around but is lucky that he has a great group of friends willing to overlook is dour demeanor.

Rabbit always has a goal, and will do everything in his power to get to that goal, even when it means sabotaging everyone else’s fun.  He is responsible, dependable, and perpetually cranky because no one can manage to do anything right in his eyes. If anything he is the most grownup of all the characters.

As I was watching this with my three-year-old this week I had a chilling realization.

I’m Rabbit.

This stung more than you’d think. You see, I hated Rabbit growing up.  He was the one who was always ruining everything for everyone. Sure, he knows what it takes to get things done, but those things are often not worth doing. Or if they are, they don’t have to be done in the precise anal OCD way that Rabbit insists on.

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What character are you?

Related pages:

Mental Disorders of the Winnie-the-Pooh Characters

A Very Brief History of Idiots Banning Winnie the Pooh

19 Incredibly Wise Truths We Learned From Winnie The Pooh