Posts Tagged ‘television’

sherlock-season-4

Sherlock’s Series 4 has been, rightfully, criticized, both by Rotten Tomatoes certified critics and little wordpress group blogs. But there’s been a running theme of positivity amidst all the criticism: The second episode, “The Lying Detective,” was a strong episode bookended by poor ones. I’m here to tell you that “The Lying Detective” actually doomed Series 4, and quite possibly, Sherlock itself.

OK look, in a vacuum, “The Lying Detective” is the best episode of the series. It’s the most creatively shot of the bunch, with a great villain performance and some thrilling bits of dialogue by Steven Moffat. Take this episode removed from the surrounding series, and it’s a solid work of TV mystery. But I’m not here to tell you it’s the worst, I’m here to tell you it doomed the series. There’s a difference, and the devil is in the details.

So let’s talk about Mary. Mary, Mary, Mary. Her introduction in Series 3 went very quickly from her being a passable side character to a stain on the show. Her character’s reveal as a super special secret agent with a dark past that’s so dark and secretive she can’t tell anyone about it dragged down series 3, and took the show away from its genesis as a modern re-telling of classic stories and into something more along the lines of high budget fan-fiction where Sherlock and Watson wander into James Bond stories. Her character crossed a line into being straight up unbearable in the series 4 premiere, where her super special secret dark past is revealed, and is absolutely underwhelming. And unnecessary. And distracting from the heart of the show. It was bad, and we here at LAS gave it perhaps a too-favorable score. But the episode did do something to set up the rest of the series for success.

It killed Mary.

As if the Sherlock team was aware that her inclusion was hurting the show, they killed her off in the opening episode for series 4, which should have freed up the remaining 180-ish minutes of the series for a return to form. And what did we get?

Mary.

Unwilling to commit to the decision, Moffat instead has his cake and eats it too, bringing Mary back for hallucinatory witticisms that detract from the main story and, again, seem to indicate that her last name is Sue. Mary leaves a posthumous tape behind for John to watch, and it’s after watching her tape, and her warning to him, that John rushes to the hospital to save Sherlock just in the knick of time. Mary. Nevermind the issue of convenience of John watching that exact section of the tape at that exact time, it’s that the writers couldn’t commit to keeping her dead, and still rely on her as a superpowered crutch instead of cleverly writing John and Sherlock out of a problem in a way so as to have them earn it, rather than luck into it.

It’s not just Mary. Allow me to remind you of the scene near the beginning of the episode where Sherlock takes a walk with Faith, the daughter of the episode’s villain, Culverton Smith. On first watch, it’s a wonderful scene where Sherlock makes a rare connection with another person, slowly unravelling the mystery of her past and her father’s. The moment where Sherlock analyzes the note she had by having her imagine a window with sun shining through it? Best moment of the series. Except…

It means. Nothing.

Surprise! It wasn’t Faith! It Was Eurus, Sherlock’s EVEN MORE super special super smart superpowered sister, who’s like Mary turned up to eleven. It was all a fakeout. Sherlock never met the suicidal, memory-lapsed daughter of Culverton Smith. That personal connection was fake. His analysis of her note was actually wrong. The things he learns about her background and Culverton are false. It’s actually ten minutes of filler, a good scene sacrificed in the name of arbitrary plot twists.

That’s the main tragedy of the episode. Moments of drama are insincere, undercut later on with a revelation that takes away from scenes which should be stellar if left untouched.

Culverton isn’t a mystery. The episode wants you to question his motives, if Sherlock’s really gone crazy or if Culverton’s a killer. But it’s all false tension because it shows you the truth in the first scene.

It introduces the concept of a memory-altering pill, and then abandons it. It’s like it’s set up for some sort of resolution or solution involving the pill, but it’s never heard from again. Chekov’s gun is left on the desk unfired.

Sherlock’s drug addiction? Nah, just all part of an elaborate, convoluted, nonsensical plan. Devised by Mary.

None of the tension in the episode is genuine. Everything established in the episode, Culverton’s mystery, Sherlock’s drug addiction, the memory pill, Faith’s midnight trip to Sherlock’s door, none of it actually carries any weight. Culverton’s mystery never becomes compelling because the show tells you the answer before introducing the question. Sherlock’s addiction isn’t as serious as it seems since it’s his own plan. The memory pill never goes anywhere. Faith isn’t actually trying to recover her lost memory and never actually meets Sherlock. It all goes nowhere. It means nothing. It’s filler. The only things in the episode that actually wind up mattering are Mary and Eurus.

I think they tried to put make-up on a pig here. They tried to dazzle with technical pinache, intricate camera-work and trippy moments meant to look cool and obfuscate the increasingly thin story. But it’s different here than in past episodes. I’m starving so allow me a food analogy: In the past, Sherlock’s visual style was like garnish. Visually pretty but complementing an already great work. It helped to accentuate the modern take on Sherlock and his inner thoughts, but didn’t distract you from the main story. The camerawork here is more like drenching an overdone steak with BBQ sauce. It’s trying to hide mistakes.

OK quick lunch break…


“The Final Problem” was atrocious. But that trainwreck of an episode doesn’t happen if “The Lying Detective” stuck to its guns. This is what I mean by it “dooming” the series. Sure, the technical side of things was great, but the events this episode sets in motion culminate in the worst episode of Sherlock’s history, and the show’s future is now in doubt. I honestly can’t blame “The Final Problem” or “The Six Thatchers” for it. It was “The Lying Detective” that was supposed to right the boat, which was unsteady after the first episode, and already capsized by the time the finale came around.

This episode is the one that ends on the mind-boggling moronic cliffhanger revealing her character. This is the episode which is retroactively ruined by her existing in this show’s universe. It sets up the finale for failure and it seals the fate of the first episode by undermining the one useful thing it did. Every interesting thing introduced in the episode itself is undone after one viewing.

It doomed Sherlock.

Welcome to Living Authors’ Society’s Doctor Who Discussions. This week, we’ve called a special discussion to deal with the fact that parts of the Internet are, metaphorically speaking, currently on fire.

Jaden: Emergency the Doctor is a woman discussion?
JA: I mean, I don’t know how much I have to say.
Jaden: You mean this casting didn’t literally ruin 54 years of history for you and signal the demise of the franchise?
Jaden: yeah but this time it’s different
the doctor has boobs
JA: Sweet Omega, you’re right. I can take the Doctor being old, young, Scottish, northern, but having boobs is the last line.
It’s like the Doctor’s whole body changed during regeneration or something.
Jaden: Although I am a little bit afraid they are gonna Supergirl it
JA: This would be my one fear.
But bad writing occurs regardless of the Doctor’s genitals, so I’m not too bothered.
Jaden: But bad Doctor Who is often uniquely bad, in a way no other show can be bad,
There’s no other show on earth where you can say an episode was terrible because a moon was an egg, or a woman suggests leaving children to die so they dont miss their mothers during a crisis of sentient trees
JA: Because there’s no other show willing to engage in stories that mad and wild. Doctor Who is bold and bright and beautiful and it always aims beyond its reach. This means, of course, that it often misses more spectacularly than any other show, but I’ll take Love and Monsters if I can get Blink and I’ll take In the Forest of the Night if I can get Listen.
Jaden: So please dear Chibnall don’t be lame and make this a “the universe learns a GIRL can save the world too” series arc.
JA: I second this. I think that this is an area where showing not telling really applies.
Just give us women being awesome. You don’t need to tell us how awesome they are.
Jaden: Moffat, for all the praise I heap on him, was guilty of that sometimes.
JA: Very occasionally, I think.
There were a lot of men being rubbish jokes, which aren’t quite the same thing.
Although I could have done with less of them.
Jaden: Well whatserface and lizard lady wound up saying “look, we’re GAY” every five minutes despite good setup
JA: True.
But they were so awesome I didn’t care.
Jaden: Don’t give whatshisface any excuses
I’ve been up since 5, I’m too tired to remember names
JA: I don’t intend on giving Chibnall any excuses.
But today, for once, I’m not annoyed with him. lol
Jaden: Do you think there should be any sort of explanation for the female incarnation?
JA: No.
Say that it’s rarer, maybe, but otherwise, just leave it as a regeneration.
I would assume that Time Lords tend to stay closer to their “baseline” form, but some regenerations cause more major differences.
Jaden: yeah I agree.
Just basically I hope they dont treat it as all that different
JA: Same.
An idea I can’t take credit for because I found it on the Internet:
The Doctor suddenly freaks out about the regeneration and tries to find a mirror. She looks at it and says “It’s been a while since I was blonde.”
Jaden: I’ll be waiting for a “ohhhh and STILL not ginger”
though when is the last time we had a blonde doctor?
JA: Colin Baker?
I think.
Yeah, Colin Baker.
Who has been pretty amazing on Twitter today.
Jaden: is his childhood ruined?
JA: 
20158126_791032761073239_1025136780_n
Jaden: I’m sure he’s just hiding his devastation
JA: Clearly. After, how could a former Doctor be OK with the DEATH OF THE SHOW?
Jaden: “I’m not the worst thing to happen to the show anymore?”
JA: Hey. It wasn’t his fault.
He wanted a black costume. They gave him an outfit in every color except black.
colin-baker1
Jaden: btw I just made the entirely reasonable decision to check the youtube comments for this announcement. Top one: “I’m not mad because it’s a female doctor. I’m mad because the only reason they did it was political correctness.”
I facepalmed so hard i think i have a concussion
JA: See, here’s the thing. And this goes into a lot of this “I’m not racist/sexist/homophobic, but…” BS.
A white man is not neutral.
You’re still making a statement.
Choosing to cast a male Doctor over a female would be just as much of a biased choice made for political reasons.
Also, don’t read YouTube comments. lol
Jaden: I don’t really think casting the doctor is/should be a statement. It’s whoever fits the vision for the moment. Like, had Tennant not been the doctor maybe Chibnall would’ve picked him for the same reasons (I’m assuming) they picked her. Talented actor not too big a name who has worked with him before.
JA: I think Chibnall said he wanted a female Doctor. Which I will defend, because we’ve had 12/13 male Doctors. It’s well past time for something else.
Jaden: Yeah the “it’s been male for 54 years” thing works both ways
Like the Doctor amirite
JA: Yeah, the only question for is whether Jodie Whittaker is the right choice, not whether a female Doctor is the right choice.
And I think she is.
Jaden: Shes got intense eyes. The only physical trait that is a must
jodie-whittaker-doctor-who-reveal-portrait-300x450
JA: This clip sold me:
That’s some quality Doctor-esque speechmaking.
And you are spot on about the eyes.
Jaden: The Doctor sounds weird with an english accent
JA: I really hope she keeps her natural accent.
Jaden: is that it?
JA: In the clip? Yes.
She’s done different accents in other things.
Jaden: yeah i can imagine that working. just as long as the monologue is less preachy than an episode of cosmos
JA: There are few things more preachy than Cosmos.
Jaden: I think I’ve seen sermons less preachy than Cosmos
Do you see sermons?
Attend?
JA: I do.
Most are less preachy than Cosmos.
Jaden: So it sounds like Chibnall has literally one job now. Putting odds 2:5 on him screwing up Supergirl style
JA: I keep getting all excited about the Doctor and then remembering it’s Chibnall and getting hesitant again.
Please, Chibnall, prove me wrong about you.
Jaden: I should watch more than the first episode of broadchurch
JA: Broadchurch is actually really good for the first series.
And then series two is so boring.
So I don’t know what to think.
Jaden: So iZombie?
JA: More than iZombie.
Jaden: I’m trying to remember my other question I was interested in hearing your thoughts on
JA: The problem of evil? Is the cat alive or dead?
How much do I hate Hemmingway?
Jaden: Why are there no fish in the fish pond?
JA: Ducks.
Jaden: whatever.
JA: Apparently they filmed an explanation and it was cut. I assume it was the cracks.
Jaden: the doctors a girl now the shows dead anyway
JA: Very true.
RIP the show
Jaden: at least we still have ghostbusters
JA: Oh, yes, that time Hollywood tried to get people to see a crappy remake by saying it was feminist.
Jaden: 9 and 13 talking about democracy or something
I like how people are saying her being a woman is the only reason she got the role. Not having worked with two doctors and the showrunner before
I’m on the Whittaker hype train. The only brakes are Chibnall
JA: I would like a ticket for that train.
Let’s hope a mummy doesn’t kill us.
Jaden: lol good a line to end on as any. though im trying to think of a shoehorned twilight zone reference
And yet he never did. Join us for our discussion of the Christmas Special, when we’ll see Peter Capaldi bow out, Jodie Whittaker step in, and the ghost of William Hartnell just hang out. 

Welcome to LAS’s final Doctor Who Discussion of the series! Read on to find out what J.A. Prentice and Jaden C. Kilmer thought of the episode and the series as a whole.

There are SPOILERS ahead.

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Welcome to the penultimate Doctor Who Discussion, as Jaden C. Kilmer and J.A. Prentice discuss the first part of the Series 10 finale, World Enough and Time. For our discussion of the poem from which the title comes, see our upcoming series J.A. Prentice talks about Elizabethan poetry while everyone else falls asleep.

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Read on for almost as many SPOILERS as the BBC Marketing Team has already provided.

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Welcome to Living Authors’ Society‘s latest Doctor Who Discussion. Jaden C. Kilmer and J.A. Prentice take a look at Saturday’s episode, Lie of the Land, the conclusion to the story begun in Extremis. Read on for our thoughts.

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There are SPOILERS ahead!

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Welcome to Living Authors’ Society’s latest Doctor Who discussion with J.A. Prentice and Jaden Kilmer. This week we’ll be discussing Pyramid at the End of the World, which might be the best title any human being has ever created, by Harness and Moffat. Read on to find out if the episode lives up to the title.
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Be warned. There are SPOILERS ahead.

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Welcome to the Living Authors’ Society Doctor Who Discussions, where the arguments are made up and the scores don’t matter. Join J.A. Prentice and Jaden C. Kilmer in our look at the latest Doctor Who episode: Oxygen by Jamie Mathieson.

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There are SPOILERS past this point. And believe me, this episode had a big one, so consider yourselves warned.

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