Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Elementary - Season 5, E2 (#98) - 'Worth Several Cities'

With the centenary episode fast approaching I almost chose not to review this episode.
'Worth Several Cities' fell into what seems to becoming a habit for this show; overcomplicated plot with little Sherlockian substance.

We open with Joan showing Shinwell an apartment and Holmes being kidnapped by a gang.
Holmes has been kidnapped by the gang to help the gang leader find who killed one of his smugglers.
For me, this element of the story took Holmes way to far out of his comfort zone to make for a good plot. While we must always realize Holmes is just human and is as susceptible to the pit falls of all men, we should never, fictionally, see Holmes in a situation where we don't feel he could be in control, at least by the end. The gang kidnapping scene left me feeling that people like the gang leader only leave Holmes free because he can't harm them and he is no threat to them and that he is just a minor irritation. "Let Holmes play in his sandbox, we have the whole playground."
While Canonically we find that a little in the realationship with Moriarty, we learn that in the end Holmes proved to be more than a minor irritation.
I don't however think that will be the case with this gang.
The exchange also left me feeling like Holmes was making a deal with the devil. While Canonically we accept the fact the Holmes will allow fate to handle some situations, this aspect of this episode was a little over the line, for me.
Nor did we get the sense that Holmes ended up having anything on the gang leader that would keep Holmes and Joan safe in the future.
And he just "convinced" the leader that the outcome should be acceptable to the gang.
While it is acceptable to see Holmes fail, he should not been seen as out of control in the end.

We also once again see Millers Holmes unable to find a Holmesian way to bring down the real murder and he resorts to standing outside with a bull-horn. Too much of Millers Holmes from season one.

Once again the story got too big for the conclusion and was too much of the same.

Millers Holmes is not a strong enough character to carry the show if you do away with any connection to the Canonical Holmes and have a too repeated storyline.

Now we can argue that that is one of the strong points of 'Elementary', that Holmes is only human, it allows to much for the character to stray to far from Canon. (Which many argue it already has.)

Canonically we do hear about monographs, and his observation of some of the clues is good.

The Joan/Shinwell story was a little too co-dependent this week.

Hoping to really like this season, I can only fairly give this episode;

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Gordon Speck, BSI - RIP

As with so many Sherlockians this week, we are morning the loss of a good man and a good friend.

I met Gordon through my involvement with the Harpooners of the Sea Unicorn many years ago and it was always a big disappointment when he no longer attend those events.
And as has been stated by many others, Gordon could best be described as a Gentleman.

We always looked forward to what ever he brought to a discussion and his always good humor.

The last time I saw Gordon was at the Gillette to Brett IV in 2014.

If he was the mark of a true Sherlockian, many of us can never hope to make those ranks.

He will be missed by many.

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

'Elementary' Season 5 - Episode 1 (97) - 'Folie a Deux'

This episode started with a bang and then kind of went into a slow sizzle or maybe fizzle.

Once again it has been proven that the point the actual case has less to do with making the show good than does the character stories.

The cases lack any "wow!" factor or any idication that Holmes will or can spot clues that no one else is likely to see.

The solution of this case basically involved following a paper trail and making an observation at the scene of the crime (the first bombing) that should now be standard procedure at any public crime scene (spotting a suspicious individual at a bombing or arson).
After all, that is what Sherlock Holmes is all about; spotting things others will miss.

It may be a sign of the times that coming up with Holmesian traits in the modern era is too difficult to incorporate into 'Elementary', so that the characters around Holmes become more important than the personality of Holmes. Miller's Holmes still lacks the ability to convince us that he can be good representing an image of Sherlock Holmes. While we all have our own images of Holmes, there are certain individual traits we expect Holmes to have.

While we may have given up on that ever happening in 'Elementary' it doesn't mean we still can't have some Canonical fun with the show.

A new face was introduced this season in the character of Shinwell Johnson (actor Nelson Ellis). Bearing many similarities to the Caonical Shinwell, former criminal, willing to do the dirty work, informer, etc., he should be a welcome addition to the show. Just like in the Canon, at least in this episode, Shinwells involvement keeps him clear of actually having to deal with the police.

Also explored in this episode is Watson's possible need to be involved with something other than Sherlock Holmes. Canonically we see Watson okay with following Holmes around for a while after his return to London. His healing process needs a distraction. Than eventually he needs something more. He needs once again to be involved with something that makes him feel helpful before it's to late to help. Let's face it, some of the best lines and/or scenes in the Canon involve Watson being summoned to or dropping by Baker St. I don't think we come away from the Canon thinking of the relationship between Holmes and Watson as co-dependent (at least I don't), and perhaps 'Elementary' is making that even more clear than 'Sherlock', but the seperation of the two will become important at some time.

Lucy Liu's Watson has also reached that point. While Miller's Holmes tries to convince her she is doing good, she needs more than just helping to clean up a mess after a crime.
Part of that it seems maybe to involve Shinwell Johnson and his relationship with Joan and her once again helping someone heal. I doubt that we will see Joan moving out and moving on to other things besides detective work any time soon, but maybe we will she her taking up other pursuits.

While once again I find the exploration of character backstories the most interesting thing about 'Elementary', it's lack of any really good Holmes habits or interesting case keeps this episode in too comfortable a routine for me to give it more than

But I do believe it was a good start for the season.

Monday, October 3, 2016

'Sherlock Holmes and the Cryptic Clues', New book offers quite the howl this Halloween! By Michael McClure

Sherlock Holmes and the Cryptic Clues

By Michael W. McClure

From the publisher;

THE FINAL WORD in Sherlockian scholarship, this book takes you on a tour of the resting places of over 300 creations that were brought to life by that master storyteller, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Each Canonical cemetery represents a different adventure of the master detective, Sherlock Holmes. The illustrated tombstones found in the graveyards offer epitaphs that reveal the honoree's ultimate demise or particular plot in life. Whether funny, punny, poignant, or just plain awkward, the engravings represent the plights of hundreds of Canonical characters taken from all sixty stories. Every member of the elite Baker Street Irregulars and the nonpareil Adventuresses Of Sherlock Holmes is listed after the tale from which their Investiture was taken. Hundreds of detailed illustrations and humorous cartoons reveal that A.C. Doyle’s creations must have died laughing! Beware ... deathly prose doth lie within !

Having spent quite a bit of time with Michael at Sherlockian and other events and really appreciating his humor, I am really looking forward to this book and intend to get him to sign it very soon.
I always have a great time at his meetings and look forward to them every chance I get. We also share a love of Scotland which never hurts.

While I have yet to view the book (it was only announced today) I will give my thoughts on it as soon as I get it.
Get a copy and put one in your Halloween stocking!

Get a copy here!

Love the cover Michael!

Elementary Season Five has started. . . .

 . . . . but I didn't get to watch it yet. So. . . look for my thoughts tomorrow.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

It's a bust!

It's speculation time.
I must admit I am not one to follow closely the news about upcoming episodes of 'Sherlock'. Feels to much like watching the news and the info you really want is not till the very end of the broadcast.

That doesn't mean I don't catch some of what is going on.

Two of the upcoming episodes have supposedly been named and the names released to the public.

They are; "The Lying Detective" and "The Six Thatchers".

While the web site, The Blog of John Watson has already done a piece on a broken statue mystery, we probably should not expect that to be the same story coming to us as "The Six Thatchers".

And, it would be very un-"Sherlock" to allow 'The Six Thatchers" to follow to closely the story line of "The Six Napoleons."

So what else could it mean?

Are Thatcher look-alike's being knocked-off?
Are roofing thatchers being knocked-off? Perhaps due to a thatcher strike.
Is there really something hidden in statues of the former Prime Minister? Probably something like a flash-drive or clues to who Moriarty really is.
Or maybe clues to when Natalie Dormer is coming back to 'Elementary'? (Oh, please, Oh, please, Oh, please!)
Or are six people being targeted, belonging the an organization called 'The Thatchers'?
Or (which is more than likely) am I not even close to what it could be?

What do you think?

Friday, September 23, 2016

Nope, I didn't make the party . . .

While I look forward to reading this, I see my name is notiecably absent from the list.

For good reason; I was never invited to the party.

Oh, well.

I look forward to anything by Chris Redmond, so it should be a fun read.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Stay tuned. . . .!

Revered British actor Sir Derek Jacobi to play Sherlock Holmes in new adaptation of The Hound of the Baskervilles

Hot on the bloody heels of their Dracula adaptation starring horror icon Tony Todd as The Count, Canadian audio drama collective Bleak December have just announced that British stage and screen legend Sir Derek Jacobi (I, Claudius, Gladiator, The King’s Speech) will be donning the familiar deerstalker and pipe in a new audio adaptation of The Hound of the Baskervilles.
Sherlock Holmes: The Hellhound is a darker retelling of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s terrifying thriller involving a family curse and a horrifying legend. The full-cast and lushly-scored audio drama will be released initially through Fangoria magazine’s “Musick” label later this year. Like Dracula, this Sherlock Holmes adventure will be executive produced by filmmaker and Bleak December founder Anthony D.P. Mann; Mann will also appear as Holmes’ faithful sidekick Dr. Watson.
Mann is “…simply over the moon to have Sir Derek play Sherlock Holmes for us. He is one of those golden actors that other thespians (including myself) look up to and aspire to achieve that level of rare ability as an artist. I’ve been a fan of his for many years, and can’t wait to hear him as Holmes.
Bleak December’s audio productions celebrate the rich history of radio theater and the spoken word format. Future audio releases planned include full-cast adaptations of Frankenstein, The Phantom of the Opera and Dr. Jekyll and Mr. HydeSherlock Holmes: The Hellhound will be available for download through Fangoria Musick in late 2016. Dracula will be available as of September 30th – just in time for Halloween.

Thursday, September 8, 2016

"The Theatre, the theatre . . what's happened to the theatre?" Danny Kaye

Arts Club season opener Baskerville a thrilling comedic homage to Sherlock Holmes

Sept 8 – Oct 9 | Stanley Industrial Alliance Stage
Tickets: starting at $29, artsclub.com
Comedy, mystery and Benedict Cumberbatch — well, two out of three ain’t bad.
The English actor who has helped repopularize Sherlock Holmes in recent years won’t be part of the cast when Baskerville opens at the Stanley, but a satisfyingly Sherlockian mystery and plenty of laughs ensure a good time will be had by all.
Written by Tony Award-winning playwright Ken Ludwig, Baskerville is a stage-bound take on one of Arthur Conan Doyle’s most famous Holmes adventures, The Hound of the Baskervilles. The third Holmes novel, first published in 1902, finds Holmes and his trusty companion Dr. Watson investigating mysterious goings-on in the English countryside, and determined to save the latest heir to the Baskerville line.
The twist in Ludwig’s version, first produced in early 2015, is the addition of heaps of comedy, supplied by the supporting cast of characters — more than 40 roles, played by just three actors.
Auditions for the Arts Club production were held earlier in the year.
“I just brought in people I knew had really good comedic skills, are naturally funny people, are really good at English accents,” said director John Murphy. “There’s a Spanish, Swedish and German accent as well.”
The director says it was also important that cast members have “a lot of grace under pressure in terms of running around, sweating like crazy, changing a costume and coming on as a completely different character with a completely different mood, and able to pull it off.”
Alex Zahara, a mainstay of the Vancouver theatre scene in the 1990s before venturing into TV and movies, stars as Holmes.
“He’s perfect for the role,” Murphy said. “He’s a super dynamic actor, he looks great for the role, he’s got the intelligence, the intensity.”
Mark Weatherley is Watson. “He’s a great stage vet, he’s done shows for the Arts Club over the past 20 years. He’s very funny, but also very dry and very straight. He’s the character who grounds the whole play.”
It falls to Lauren Bowler, Kirk Smith, and Mike Wasko to handle the rest of the characters. “They’re all very funny, natural comedians, and chameleons as well. And they’re incredibly good at accents. It’s wonderful to watch those guys.”
Although much of the enjoyment of Baskerville is in the supporting characters, the mystery itself is satisfying.
“Absolutely, the mystery is there,” Murphy said. “And there’s a real gothic element to the original story that I’m trying to bring out. Conan Doyle said in A Study in Scarlet (the first Holmes novel) ‘without imagination there is no horror.’ So I’m taking every opportunity I can to engage the audience’s imagination.”
One method is to use shadow puppetry in a section where a character tells the story of one of the Baskervilles, Sir Hugo, and the notorious hound thought to be exterminating the Baskerville line.
“It’s such an elemental, childlike, imaginative exercise,” Murphy said. “If we can get the audience into that headspace where their imagination is cranked up and running on eight cylinders, where they can believe that shadow puppets are real, they can possibly believe that the hound is real. Maybe the hound of the Baskervilles is really more than just a story.”
Besides shadow puppets and costume changes, Baskerville’s mood and setting will be accented by video and props. 
“There are all sorts of moving pieces involved,” Murphy said.
The production that comes closest to it in terms of logistics is The Santaland Diaries, he says.
That show “has 600 lighting sound and visual cues. I would say this has less cues but is more ambitious in its movement. There’s someone who flies in the show, there’s rigging, there’s one projector in the front, two projectors in the back, there’s a large scrim that’s 20 feet by 12 feet, there’s a smaller scrim, all on wheels. There’s just so much going on. It’s definitely up there as one of the most complicated shows I’ve directed. Which I love.”
The only thing missing is Cumberbatch, whose depiction of a contemporary Holmes in the TV series Sherlock has helped renewed interest in the detective.
“He (Sherlock Holmes) is just a fascinating character,” Murphy said. “There have been so many film versions of him, going back to Basil Rathbone, and stage versions of him. There’s this version of Baskerville, there’s another one with just three actors. It’s definitely something in the collective unconscious that’s going on now, that there’s a spike in interest.”