Thursday, October 25, 2012

Steampunk Detective . . . . a review.

I like good steampunk. ( 'I like blue lemurs and I don't know why. . .')
I have read a couple I have really enjoyed. (usually by Kenneth Oppel).
I like the idea of taking Victorian atmosphere and mixing it with science fiction. Making things that fly or go under water, that are built out of wood and leather and old iron has an appeal.  (Although the physics of  things can sometimes be a problem.)
Imagine being able to buy a microwave or computer that looks very Victorian! I would love it.
It is kinda like taking all the things we love to use in this day and age and decking it all out very Victorian.
I was hoping 'Steampunk Detective' (by Darrell Pitt) was going to fit into that niche for me.

The book unashamedly advertises itself as a thinly veiled Sherlock Holmes book. And the lead character is a pretty good, older, likable, Sherlock Holmes, although with a different name.
You can tell the writer is very capable, and his style is very easy to read. His locations and descriptions are for the most part pretty well done. However, most of the contraptions and inventions in the book seem to have been used in other books, and then over done in this book.
And the plot is a little weak, mixing characters from late 1800's and early 1900's a little to much.
Just as a part of the story starts to develop it takes either an abrupt end or becomes a little to convoluted. Unfortunately 'Sherlock Holmes' solves things in such a way that makes part of the action of another character rather useless and unneeded. If it had been done in a more comical way, it could have been fun.
Action sequences are repeated to often (how many chases on top of things do ya need in one story?).
Other than the two lead characters, most of the others are rather shallow in development. We have a nice lead female character that is showing some spunk and seems like she will take an active part in the story, then she just basically disappears from the tale.
The use of real or other fictional characters in the book is not done well enough, or is over done, depending on who they are.
It's pacing and weak story line, unfortunately made me wish the book would end so I could get to this review.

This does not mean I did not find things I enjoyed about the book.
At the end of the book, Darrell Pitt asks for thoughts on the book, and I take that as also wanting suggestions, and I intend to do that.

I liked the lead characters, both need some development, but are likable and could be made into good young adult reading.
I think the genre could use a could Sherlock Holmes type story without becoming to science fiction.

But, probably the best use for this book would be to give it  to young Sherlockians and see how many Sherlockian references they can find.
It would make for a fun little test.

It will be interesting to see if Mr. Pitt can develop this into a readable series.

I read the kindle version of the book.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Now you know how it got it's name . . . after all, it is Friday. .

Review 3 Elementary. . .

I have to admit, I am liking the show.
That is not to say it is without it's faults.
But I do look forward to the show now.

I think I will stick by my comment of thinking it is more accessible than 'Sherlock' to the viewers who are not in on all the 'inside jokes'.

I liked the cases referenced in the episode.

Although not as eloquently done as in the Canon, the reference to Watson being a catalyst for inspiration although not being inspiration itself was nice. I am not sure a non-Sherlockian would have picked up on that, but I thought it was good.

As was the lack of sleep when working on cases.

Since gun shoots would not be allowed in New York to spell out 'E.R.'
on the wall, the knife throwing may have eluded to that. And it may also referenced the pinning of correspondence to the mantel place with a pen knife, although I hope not, since there is a good mantel place in the apartment.

Finding and explaining the clues was much better done this week.

I think the case may have been a little reference to Sussex Vampire.

Watson's roll seemed a little diminished in this one, and Lucy Liu's presences was not quite a strong, but I think the rest of the story was well done and made up for that.

Gregson's character needs to expand a little and I hope Bell doesn't give in so quickly.

Mr. Millers performance was a little toned down which allowed for a better story.

All the cardboard boxes probably referred to Holmes' A-Z files.

Holmes' personal habits are still way off from the books, but so far that doesn't cause me much worry
I liked the interaction between Watson and Holmes after some of the possible insight into Holmes' earlier days.
'221b' is looking a little better.

So far I think it is working out OK without a Mrs. Hudson, she would probably have to be played to close to the one in 'Sherlock' and would be to obvious and distracting.

Over all, I am really liking the show.

4 out of 5 pipes for this one.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

On this very spot. . ..

On this very spot. . .

. . . and if you ever get to try Simpson's! . . . .

And just in case you haven't had enough. . .

Steampunk Basil and more. . .

Who would have thought!

GMD fan site.

The mouse and me (well, us.)

The Great Mouse Detective: Rise and Fall of the Mouse

Posted Apr 23rd 2010, 06:59 AM
The Great Mouse Detective
From the beginning the rodents were always there, tiny sidekicks running around in the periphery of Disney animated features, starting with Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. Snow White’s woodland attendants included chipmunks, squirrels and rabbits as well as raccoons, bluebirds and other critters — everything but mice, it seems, though there is at least one mouse in the picture, an irritable little fellow in a mouse-hole in the Dwarfs’ house who objects to the sweeping squirrels using his hole as a dust-bin.
Bambi’s many woodland-creature cameos include a meadow mouse who takes shelter under a mushroom during a rainstorm. I don’t remember whether there are any mice in Pinocchio (where the key sidekick role goes to a cricket) or Fantasia — other than Mickey himself, of course, the Big Cheese of the Mouse House.
At any rate, Cinderella marks a notable turning point, with mice not only taking over the sidekick role as the heroine’s attendants, but threatening at times to take over the picture, too. They have names now, Jaq and Gus-Gus, and they become integral to the story and even to the climax to a concerning degree. It is here that the Disneyfication process begins to show signs of wear.
After Cinderella, they crop up here and there in other pictures, but their next big break is The Rescuers, where the mice actually become the stars of the picture. There is still a nominal human heroine, Penny, whom the mice are helping as their predecessors did in earlier pictures, but the movie is not about Penny, it’s about Bernard and Miss Bianca. The sidekicks have taken over.
Finally, the mice’s ultimate triumph: The Great Mouse Detective, in which the mouse heroes aid a damsel in distress who is herself a mouse, leaving humans out of the picture entirely. (There were no humans in Robin Hood either, but that movie was populated by lots of species, with mice in only a tiny role.)
At last the mice have taken over completely, and the only hint of human personality is the occasionally-glimpsed silhouette of Sherlock Holmes, playing his violin and murmuring in the background in the sampled voice of the late Basil Rathbone. If Mickey was behind the scenes from the start, pulling strings on behalf of his species, this is the picture he wanted to make all along.
It didn’t last, of course. The mice were back to helping humans in The Rescuers Down Under — and then came theDisney renaissance, starting with The Little Mermaid and then Beauty and the Beast, with human beings (half-humans in the case of Ariel’s folk) firmly in the spotlight again. The physical smallness of the mouse heroes of The Great Mouse Detective as well as the Rescuers flicks mirrors the modest ambitions and achievements of this stage in the studio’s history; once Disney found their groove again, the mice were back in the shadows.
On a side note, it was also during this time of post-Walt doldrums that Disney animator Don Bluth, frustrated with the studio’s creative stagnation, broke away to form a rival animation studio. What did he make? Among his most notable pictures are The Secret of Nimh and An American Tail — both starring mice (and both with murine-created gadgetry, just like The Great Mouse Detective). Ironically, although Bluth’s pictures never quite fulfilled the animator’s promise, some credit his efforts to compete with Disney with snapping Disney out of their funk and sparking the Disney renaissance.
At any rate, as Disney features of the post-Walt years go, The Great Mouse Detective isn’t half bad. Based on the series of children’s books by Eve Titus, the story centers on a Holmes-and-Watson-esque pair of mice, Basil and Dawson, who actually live at 22B Baker Street, in the same flat as the real Holmes and Watson.
Dawson’s similarity to Watson is ostensibly coincidental, but Basil consciously emulates his human counterpart, at least in the books (the cartoon doesn’t make this explicit). That Basil’s arch-nemesis, Professor Padraic Ratigan, in many ways resembles Holmes’s Scottish antagonist Professor Moriarty, must be regarded as another coincidence. (That Basil shares the name of the most famous big-screen Sherlock Holmes is an in-joke.)
The story plays to a number of familiar Disney motifs including the ever-popular parental separation anxiety, a flamboyant villain (nicely voiced by Vincent Price) with a scary sidekick, hairsbreadth escapes and a high-flying action-packed finale. There’s a slightly risqué scene set in a tough waterfront pub, but kids are more likely to be struck by the kidnapping of young Olivia’s father Hiram, a brilliant craftsman whom Ratigan wants to build a clockwork Queen to replace the real Queen (the Queen of the Mice; you didn’t think the story would bring humanroyalty into the story, did you?).
Oddly, in the books Professor Ratigan is a mouse who pretends to be a rat, while in the movie he’s a rat who pretends to be a mouse. Apparently he knows that in Disney cartoons, mice rule.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Reviews are in Part Two - Elementary episode two.

Well, I have to say, I am liking the show, and I think that has more to do with Lucy Liu than anything.
You can tell she is a real strong actress, and maybe should be the one playing Shirley Holmes.

With that said, let's take the show for how we have it.
I think Mr. Miller is doing an OK job with the character, and I don't know enough about his other works to know if he could do it better.
His Holmes, however, does come off as a rather immature individual and at times I find myself thinking of 'Without a Clue'. We are so use to Holmes having control over his emotions most of the time, that Mr. Millers performance comes off as somewhat of a surprise. That is not to say that that is a bad thing.
Mr Miller is not convincing, yet, in his delivery of of standard Sherlockian lines. (I am thinking of the mental attic lines in this show.) And that could be a lack of knowledge about the material or any number of other reasons.
We do not see in this Holmes, yet, an individual that we could see Watson somewhat in awe of.
And that could allow for a lot of development in the show.
Where we are use to Holmes always caring about his outward appearances, behavior wise and habit wise, Mr Millers Holmes is not suffering in those constraints. It seems that maybe Watson's roll in this series could easily be directed towards preparing Holmes for the roll we expect of him to fill.
We see in this Holmes a Holmes that is definitely more in need of a Watson than any other Holmes we have seen, with maybe the exception of RDJr's Holmes. ( I still like Judd Law's Watson also.)
And Lucy Liu's Watson is stepping right up into that part.
She is shown taking control of the situation many times so far in the show and standing toe-to-toe with Holmes during confrontations.
She contributes to each cases offering clues and even social guidance.
For Sherlockians who have been longing for a strong Watson, she is giving us that.

What do you think was the purpose of the yelling at the coma patient part in the show?
Was that a tribute to 'House', or just another show of an immature Holmes.
Another place where Watson was more than just a sounding board.

And how about side kick Bell?
A nod to Dr. Bell perhaps.

Over all I am liking the show and find it easier to watch than 'Sherlock' at the moment.

I still find myself expecting things from 'Sherlock' and I don't from 'Elementary'.
Just my thoughts.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Reading for Oct.

1886     Oct. 2      RESI
1887     Oct. 6      NOBL
1888     Oct. 25    SILV
1889     Oct. 1      HOUN

Image from;
Sally Avernier

1890    Oct. 11    REDH

Monday, October 1, 2012

The reviews are in.. . .'Elementary'

If you don't like your stories to deviate far from the original source material, then you probably won't like this modern updating of the Canon.

I have to say I enjoyed the show, and will look forward to the next installment.

I also didn't not find myself looking for faults in the series as much as I though I would.
I think that had to do with the fact that the characters, unlike in 'Sherlock', were not played 'over-the-top'.
It did not feel like Mr. Miller was trying create the definitive Holmes by giving an exaggerated performance.
Unlike in 'Sherlock' where, at least to me, we are becoming a little  afraid Mr. Moffat will take it to far.( I still have not given up on 'Sherlock' yet.)

And although Lucy Liu seemed a little subdued in the beginning, I think she ended up giving Watson some good emotional range. And if she continues with this some what distant Watson, it should, at least for a while, keep any 'romantic relations with Holmes' story-line at bay.

I did miss the introduction between Holmes and Watson not taking place in a hospital setting with Watson coming home from war. But that would have been to close to the introductions in 'Sherlock'.

I could have done without the prostitution connection in the beginning, but I am thinking that is Rob Doherty's way of making it clear that his Sherlock Holmes is not gay.(And it would be OK if he was, if that were what Doyle wrote.)  And leaving room for relationship development (forbid!) down the line.

I have no problem with the overcoming of the drug habit angle, after all, he was a drug addict.

The show does bring in a certain amount of humor that does not appear sociopathic, and, so far, none of the characters appear to be (overly) sociopathic.

His digs need to improve a little. Baker Street is after all. . . Baker Street. (There are certain shrines ya just can't mess with!)

And his father caring about his addiction is a new take on that non-canonical relationship. 
If I was bothered by the usually non-existent fathers involvement I think it is only because his father does not appear in the Canon. And although that story-line has not developed yet in the show, it is unusual for that relationship, in non-canonical works, to be a good one.

Aidan Quinn's performance of Gregson does comes off as a little bored, but this is something that may develop over time.

I think the show is a little more accessible to non-Sherlockian (Holmesian) viewers than 'Sherlock', where you have to be fairly well versed in the Canon to appreciate some of the stuff going on.

The show, however, may not offer enough 'Holmes-isms' to get viewers interested in reading the Canon.
Another fault, along those same lines, is that the lack of Holmes-isms may not make it different enough from other police/detective fare to keep non-Sherlockians interested.

We shall see.

First show; Four pipes out of five.