Hello, internets! Poking my head up from my main occupation of working far too hard for my employer to remind people that I'm still here, and miss you all!
- I must say I truly enjoyed this, and will probably continue to watch. It is as many have said essentially a procedural show, but the emphasis on the characters and their relationships, and their abundant chemistry sold me on it.
- Above all, I love that the show wants us to respect and be intrigued by Watson as well as like-and-identify her, much as it wants us to respect and be intrigued by Holmes. I was truly interested in both of them, and felt that Johnny Lee Miller kept the annoying-genius-shtick to a minimum. (Let it be said that I was utterly unable to get into Sherlock.) There's a real sense of equality in their relationship, given the way that Watson pushes back, and hard, when Holmes tries to ride roughshod over her, and that Holmes not only apologizes to her like a decent human being when it's more than called for, but admits that she is able to handle a witness better than he can.
- Also, the beekeeping was the best canon allusion ever. I especially like the way it connects the show to the ACD canon--to Holmes after he has moved out of London and is trying to make a change in his life. (What can I say? My family raised bees alongside larger animals when I was a child.)
- I also felt that this adaptation takes the drug issue from the original Holmes stories seriously in a way I appreciate; one of the problems of modern adaptations is that Holmes's cocaine use signaled something very different to a Victorian audience than it does to modern viewers, and when subjected to modernizing adaptation often leads to clashes with other important themes of the original. I felt like they managed to avoid such traps here.
- Among other things, the idea that Joan Watson is used to dealing with addicts puts Holmes's eccentric and bad behavior in a different light, and Lucy Liu conveys that a lot of what he's pulling isn't actually that different from what she usually faces and fits into a familiar framework until fairly late in the episode.
- I like the fact that both Watson and Holmes have family conflicts in their backgrounds that seem likely to get further development.
- As has been mentioned by Racialicious.com, the show actually looks like it takes place in NYC instead of a segregated area of California in which all extras are white. I can't remember the last time I saw that. They also note that Joan's why-I-left-surgery backstory forcibly dismantles some of the racism of the original ACD stories that linked people of Chinese descent to drugs in stereotypical ways.
- Also, Joan the Mets fan was adorable.
- In conclusion, I am intrigued and will watch more!
Doctor Who Series 7 part 1
A few years ago I decided to try out New Who, and concluded that while it was a show with many wonderful qualities and I could easily see why many people would love it, it wasn't for me. I was right about that, and ever since, when the show disappoints, I tend to feel that it's my fault for watching. But Amy Pond, Eleven, and River Song (really "The Eleventh Hour" and the Library two-parter, still favorite episodes) changed my mind, and though it was inevitable, I'm terribly sorry to see the Ponds go.
Some quick thoughts on Series 7a:
- I really, really couldn't stand the fact that I knew the black guy on the Dalek Asylum planet was going to be a disguised Dalek as soon as he showed up, simply because he was black, and therefore would be evil or dead or more likely both. Likewise, I hate that the otherwise adorable "Power of Three" included as its only character of color a creepy black child with natural hair who turns out to be both villainous and not actually human (hence the need not to care about her death, I mean deactivation). And let's not forget Scary Black Henchman gloating cruelly over Rory in "The Angels Take Manhattan." Nefertiti was lovely, but one Nefertiti does not make up for it, and this is one of the main reasons I'm unlikely to continue watching.
- Speaking of Nefertiti, "Dinosaurs on a Spaceship" was surprisingly enjoyable and utterly lovely, with great use of its ensemble cast, the Ponds, and Silurians. I do love ensemble pieces, which is probably while I enjoy Pond!Who while not actually being a good fit for the show--when Amy, Rory, River, Brian et al. are around, the show feels more like an ensemble piece, though that's very much not its nature. By rights I should have enjoyed "Asylum of the Daleks" more than I did (and Oswin was lovely), but I found that episode far too predictable to get emotionally invested in it.
- Also, who is Ben Browder? I mean, I get who he played, but why was fandom so worked up about him?
- Despite the clunkingly awful how-not-to-do-noir teaser, which had me worried, I enjoyed the Ponds' final episode, which reduced me to tears. Amy's decision to walk away from the TARDIS to be with Rory in a true marriage (rather than, say, what the Doctor and River have) bookends nicely with her original entry, moving away from Rory on the eve of their wedding; and I appreciated how well the previous episodes had set up the idea that for Amy and Rory themselves, a decisive end to their relationship with the Doctor and a happy ordinary life is not only possible, but desirable. But I can't help mixed feelings that to provide their relationship with the Doctor with an end point, they had to give up the lives, house, careers, friends and family members (alas, Brian and the senior Ponds!) that they so loved at the same time.
- The sheer number of times someone took their eyes off the angels in that last episode drove me crazy, though I get that it was all part of the setup and complacency necessary for Rory's ending.
- I have always adored Amy Pond, but I have had some doubts about Karen Gillian's acting ability, which had some weak moments early on. So one of the great pleasures of this half-series for me has been watching the amazingly adept way she plays Amy--recognizably Amy, but clearly more adult and mature than we met her (in a show known to be more interested in childhood and agelessness than maturity). It's a subtle and beautiful job; kudos to her.
- Also, the fact that Amy has left modeling--a career for the young--for a more long-term gig like travel journalism was a lovely touch. Much could be said about Amy moving from jobs that rely on her body (kissogram, model) to be a writer after the revelation that Madame Kovarian and the team at Demon's Run had rendered her infertile. From the very beginning, Amy was a character who used her body to connect with the rest of the world, and had difficulty with other methods, but she's come a long way since, and the show clearly intends this as a sign of maturity. Both she and River grapple with aging in different ways here.
- Every part of the Doctor/River relationship really worked for me. I especially liked their argument after River's broken wrist was inevitably revealed, and the way it points out the great cost to her of the Doctor hiding his knowledge of her death. It makes so much sense that not knowing that he's already seen her ending, she is worried about it, about his response to her aging and human vulnerability--which she only has because she gave up her regenerations for him. No wonder she's furious when he reminds her of the fact by using regeneration energy to heal her wrist. And a very nice pickup on the early joke about Melody Malone's "vulnerable side she keeps well hidden." (Also, I know of no actor who can go from being flirtatious femme fatale to heartbreaking as effectively as Alex Kingston.)
- As usual, we had some nice revisions of pre-existing imagery, like River effectively handcuffed by the chained Weeping Angel. On the symbolic level, of course, the fact that her broken wrist prevents her from running with the Doctor like the usual Companion moment when he grabs her hand in that oft-repeated gesture is a succinct message of both how River differs from usual Companions and how her mortality shadows their relationship.
- I also loved the connection between these conflicts and the fact that River fights so hard for Amy & Rory's happiness together--for their ability to have the continuity and co-temporal relationship she and the Doctor don't--both in the hotel, when she argues the case for Rory running, and in the graveyard, when she understands and encourages Amy's choice to sacrifice herself to be with Rory. Her farewell to Amy was so touching; a pity she didn't get one with Rory.
- Also, the fact that Professor River Song is tromping around Depression Manhattan as Melody Malone investigating angels, with no sense that the Doctor and her parents are involved until Rory shows up, demonstrates that despite her beginnings, she (much like her parents) has gone on to have a more separate her own life and career that does not revolve around the Doctor. Which I am very glad about. The fact that the Doctor's progressive erasure from the world set her free was a nice touch, and delivered in such a way as to imply that it happened a while ago and she's been out having adventures ever since. As are Chapters 1-6 of Melody Malone, which show River's time on the case alone has been rich in incident.