Posts Tagged ‘tv’

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 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 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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NERDFIGHT!!!

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Was the most recent Doctor Who episode empty nonsense or a solid commentary on industry and humanity? Well Jaden C. Kilmer and J.A. Prentice are about to duke it out.

There are Spoilers for Thin Ice past this point.

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landscape-1492185026-12919221-low-res-doctor-who-s10And here we are, with a new episode of Doctor Who. Not an appearance on Class, not a solitary Christmas special, but a real, genuine first episode of a new series. It’s enough to get anyone a little emotionally.
It is with pride that we present this Discussion, wherein Jaden C. Kilmer (JC) and J.A. Prentice (JA) talk about a great many things, including, on occasion, the episode they’re supposed to be discussing.
Be warned. Ahead lurk spoilers – nasty, slippery, shadowy things with siren calls – for The Pilot. (And not the one with Hartnell.) Proceed at your own risk.
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At the end of Tangled, Princess Rapunzel looked like this:

In the trailer for her sequel TV movie/show, she looks like this:

You might have noticed some small differences.

Disney seemed reluctant to commit to the bobbed version of Rapunzel. They animated her with the new hairdo in the short film Tangled: Ever After and in her Frozen easter egg, but if you bought any merchandise with her depicted on it, she still had the long hair.

Ruminations on unintentionally undermining the movie’s own message about self-image aside, this sort of liminal, Schrodinger-esque existence for Rapunzel’s hair only became a problem when the TV series was announced.

The return of Rapunzel’s magic hair is a writing catch-22. Her hair was the driving force behind Tangled’s plot. With the hair gone, the conflict was neatly resolved and expectations for a Rapunzel movie neatly subverted. Now that it’s back, problems arise. Is the TV movie just going to rehash the same plot, then? Doesn’t its return more or less nullify the climactic moments of Tangled?

And most importantly, since we know Rapunzel has short brown hair in the Ever After short, and that the TV series will take place before the short, then we know that she’s going to lose the hair again. Which also means that we know that we are going to roughly see the same story again. And if that’s not the case, then either Ever After is getting retconned out of existence (unlikely, seeing as Before Ever After is the series subtitle) or the series is non-canon (again, unlikely because of the subtitle.)

There is perhaps opportunity for a miracle, that the creators truly thought of a brilliant way to reincorporate the hair in a way that makes things new and fresh, but the most likely conclusion is this:

The Tangled sequel is doomed.

How Galavant Subverts Disney’s Formula

Posted: November 16, 2016 by Jaden C. Kilmer in Article
Tags: , , , , ,

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Galavant is the best show you’ve never seen. Let’s just get that out there. This wonderfully strange and silly musical/fairy tale/satire went quietly into the night after two seasons on ABC, but mark my damn words it will have a resurgence somewhere in some medium in the next five years. It’s too good to die for good.

Created by Dan Fogelman (director of Tangled) with music and lyrics done by Alan Menken and Glenn Slater (who worked on every movie of your childhood, most notably Aladdin) this parody of Disney musicals comes from a place of personal experience. They know exactly how Disney musicals are supposed to work, and exactly how to twist the structure for max hilarity.

Also, this gives me a chance to revisit one of my favorite pieces I’ve done for this blog: A WAY too in-depth Breakdown of Disney Songs.

Briefly recapping that article: Almost every Disney song ever belongs to one of four categories and appears in this order: The Exposition Song, the I Want Song, the Wake Up the Kids Song, and the Love Duet. 

 

For brevity’s sake, I want to focus on ways Galavant reverses the I Want Song and the Love Duet to humourous effect.

You know how the first song after the opening number in every Disney musical has the princess sing about her hopes and goals?

“I Want much more than this provincial life/I want adventure in this great wide somewhere”

“Do you wanna build a snowman?”

“I wanna be where the people are/I wanna see ’em dancing”

Well, Galavant gives the I Want Song to the villainous King Richard. The result: A slew of unexpectedly PG-13 images that pretty much sum up how I feel most cackling villains really feel.

I want to shoot him with a crossbow/I want to stab him in the eye/I want to liberate his head from his neck and then punt the bloody wreck sky high”

And the delightfully bloody lyrics come accompanied by a major-key waltz that sounds nice and happy. Fit more for a princess than the evil king.

I want to hurl him out a window/and shove explosives where the sun don’t shine.”

Perhaps giving their villain the I Want Song was carefully planned rather than a simple reversal. As the show unfolds, King Richard emerges as the central character, even more so than the title character and Prince Charming stand-in. The show ends up being about his journey. And I’m sure that was planned from the start, because these Disney experts intentionally gave him the I Want Song.

Next up: the Love Duet.

Let’s get real for a moment. The Love Duet is usually the song that doesn’t hold up. They’re typically too sweet, too perfect, too groan-inducing. And Glenn Slater is well aware of this. In “Maybe You’re Not the Worst Thing Ever” the Love Duet gets flipped completely on its head and turned into a passive-aggressiveness competition instead, with two separate pairs of love interests exchanging insults and disparaging remarks.

“You’re worse than crabs/worse than scurvy/worse than lice or plague/but truth be told/you’re growing on me just like mold”

“You’re utterly disgusting/I loathe your manly stink/I see your mouth start moving/And God I need a Drink”

But, not wanting to entirely desecrate the good name of Disney love songs, the crew do give us one duet played straight at the end. And perhaps to re-iterate how this second one, “Love Is Strange,” is the serious love song, they gave it the exact same chord progression as “A Whole New World.”

Or maybe they didn’t. I’m not a music major, but saying that makes me sound smart.