Tag Archives: BBC

Sherlock: The Abominable Bride

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Oh, how nice to have Mr Holmes and Mr Watson back! The hour and a half special brings back our two favorite detectives, but in 1895 London, as opposed to the usual contemporary setting. After a bride kills herself on her own wedding anniversary, her ghost goes on a killing spree around London. Holmes and Watson are on the case, while the former works out a parallel case in his head. Watson and Mary do their usual marriage troubles dance along the way as well.

Except for the the time period, it’s the same basic show we all know and love. The opening credits, our characters’ backstories, and more are all familiar, yet with its original Sir Arthur Conan Doyle spin. (I truly enjoyed the Mycroft surprise.) It’s a fun change of pace for the show in a rare appearance.

All of the actors are back in their roles or at least their Victorian England counterparts, male or female or swapped. The episode keeps the same quirks as the previous seasons: the on screen text, flashback set pieces, and unique transitions. Of course, it’s all just the cherry on the Martin Freeman and Benedict Cumberbatch chemistry sundae. I much prefer their Sherlock and John over Smaug and Bilbo. sherlock-abominable-bride-trailer-2They’re still as sharp as ever, clearly having a great time having slipped back into these comfortable characters. Their banter, camaraderie, and working relationship is all on point, as is the writing for most of the episode. It flows nicely with the main mystery over shadowing any of the smaller plots for most of the running time. Beautifully shot, the episode’s style stays true to the previous iterations in this BBC series.

Thematically, the episode deals with ghosts and how the past affects our present. Everything that has happened throughout the run of the show still exists in this timeline, so our favorite characters are still dealing with their same demons. Moriarty, drug abuse, and Irene Adler all come back into play, some more than others. And then the twist that could have been called from a mile away happens, but it’s still pretty rewarding.

*SPOILERS FROM HERE ON OUT. SKIP TO THE LAST PARAGRAPH TO AVOID THEM.*

Again, spoilers. Okay. You good? Great. So, the 19th century sequences are actually Holmes in his mind palace while on the plane at the end of the series 3 finale. He’s attempting to solve how Moriarty can be back, but by understanding the centuries old mystery of the bride. (Of which the answer is a little lame.) Once we’re back in Victorian England, Holmes gets a telegram from Mary conveniently leading him and Watson to the church of pissed off wives. Holmes easily solves the case, which in another episode would seem pretty dull, but here, since it’s in his mind palace and we’re now engaged in the Moriarty storyline, it’s forgivable.

The final ten minutes are extremely entertaining, if not a little convoluted. The idea that Moriarty is so in Holmes’ head that he infects every dark corner of his mind palace is interesting. The writers explore it nicely, if not unevenly. It’s always an maxresdefaultadded bonus when Andrew Scott gets to reprise the role of the crazed professor, Moriarty. However, what I found the most fulfilling is how Sherlock allows Watson to help him. Holmes may be the same arrogant, narcissistic sleuth, but his acceptance of Watson’s help in this dire situation is a rewarding character development. Of course Watson is always there to help, but Holmes calling upon him in his own mind’s eye was pretty sweet. Additionally, the episode ended on a fun note, blurring the lines between which time period is reality and which is the mind palace. Essentially it doesn’t matter because he’s a man of many times, but it answered my biggest pet peeve of the entire episode: How does Sherlock of the 19th century know what a jet is and why didn’t Watson question the word/ concept earlier?

*END OF SPOILERS*

It’s not my favorite of the Sherlock episodes, but I had a great time delving back into this world regardless. The first two acts are a little stronger than the third and Holmes doesn’t really do any detective work, per se. Everything is handed to him, 404246-sherlock-the-abominable-bride-fb-cropwhich may or may not be the point, but things are a little too easy and clear cut. It’s heavily reliant on his drug use than any other season and the twist almost cheapens the whole experiences, even though it ties a lot together. All of the smaller plot lines are lost along the way, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, as they didn’t have a strong introduction. However, these characters, the chemistry between actors, and witty writing are always welcome, even if they come in fits and stops. I will wait for however long it takes Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss to get the gang back together, as there are still mysteries afoot.

Keep on Watchin’!

-Bryan

The Binge Sessions – Broadchurch, Series 1

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To alleviate your worry: My intention with this blog post is to encourage you to watch ‘Broadchurch,’ so I will avoid spoilers at all costs. THIS IS A SPOILER FREE ZONE. Have no fear. There’s nothing I hate more than a devastating spoiler when you’re not looking for it. Yeah, I’m talking to you Facebook Mini-Feed! So, moving on–

Monday night was the first time in a very long time in which I was more or less* caught up on all the TV I needed** to watch.***

KEY

*: More or Less means that I will truly never be caught up on everything I should be Broadchurchwatching

**: Needed should really be “wanted,” but it’s become a need to watch everything and I am both blessed and cursed by that desire.

***: Sort of a lie, as I decided to skip ‘Castle’ for the night. I’ll eventually get to it.

‘Broadchurch’ has been on my must watch radar even before it received more traction in the US, due to its poorly made remake ‘Gracepoint’ on FOX. Laundry and room cleaning seemed like the perfect set of activities to complement popping on this BBC series, currently streaming on Netflix. Yeah, so much for laundry and cleaning. I barely got up from my bed from start to finish. Eight, 45 minute, episodes later, I was done with one of the more complete, engaging, exciting, and thought provoking small town murder investigation pieces I’ve seen in an extremely long time.

Created and written by Chris Chiball, best known for ‘Dr. Who’ and its spin-off ‘Torchwood’, ‘Broadchurch’ focuses on the murder investigation of 11-year old Danny Latimer (Oskar article-2290816-181F43F8000005DC-289_634x427McNamara), discovered face down on the beach in the small hamlet of Broadchurch. It chronicles Detective Sergeant Ellie Miller (Olivia Colman) return to work after some time off and subsequent discovery that the Detective Inspector promotion she was promised is no longer vacant. The job has been filled by Alec Hardy (David Tennant), a disheveled, no nonsense, semi-introvert and the two must learn to work together in order to solve the most important case they’ve ever handled.

Tennant and Coleman are excellent. While Tennant seems to oversell Hardy’s quirks early on in the series, he falls into the part nicely as the show carries on. Coleman is pitch perfect as a detective trying to find the balance between the ability to step outside of her village mindset, protect her family, and fully invest in the case. While Hardy and Miller are the driving force of the show, other standouts include the series’ heart and soul–Danny’s parents Beth (Jodie Whittaker) and Mark (Andrew Buchan). The two capture the anger, turmoil, teamwork, hatred, apathy, and sympathy of two people under the most terrible of circumstances. David Bradley, as Jack Marshall, is also excellent.

Each major character gets his or her due as pure citizen, shady suspect, or sounding board for others. Unlike a majority of genre shows that deal with the of subject of small town broadchurch_s1_ep02_029murder solving, ‘Broadchurch’, never abandons a character just because their alibi checks out. Being crossed off of Hardy and Miller’s suspect list doesn’t mean you’re written out in this world. Each person is a part of this town and the circumstances affect everybody, regardless if they’re being hounded by the detectives. These Broadchurchians breathe life into this town, bringing an empathy and judgement that  is both featured and stealthily hidden in the fibers of every scene.

The music and cinematography creates desolate, hopeless, and a tense atmosphere. Striking images repeatedly fill the screen as motifs: waves crashing into the shore as the world keeps turning, overshadowed by the cliffs, a viewpoint for the end of the world. We are fed quick shots of Danny’s memorial to remind us that everything is about Danny. The show never loses sight of that, even  in the face of so much fall out drama. It’s about a life being cut short and how this throws an entire town into tumult. Families crack, people fall apart, and others find the inner ability to unite. Broadchurch is a place where people with secrets come to start over. All of these story themes and images are interwoven before you even realize they all perfectly overlap.

The show spreads its exploration of the media’s place in an investigation and the power of broadchurchcliffs1religion, faith, and otherworldly epiphanies very thin, but they incorporated into the fabric of ‘Broadchurch’ nonetheless, deepening the layers of characters, plot, and theme. It’s not perfect, but gets its point across. Some details of the murder plot are still fuzzy to me, and a handful “red herrings” were a little bit over the top when everything else seemed so organic. Additionally, some of the characters started to abruptly play “potentially evil” after being introduced as normal, instead of relying on the perception of the audience based on the changed circumstances.

I’m sorry to have gotten on the ‘Broadchurch’ train so late because I enjoyed it so much. It’s pace and slow burn of character reveals kept what could have been an over the top, ungrounded thriller of a TV series, based in the themes and straightforward drama it promised and presented. The mystery and intrigue is well balanced with backstory and fully fledged, deeply flawed, human characters.

I understand that I am an anomaly and can sit in one spot, for hours on end,  absorbing content like a sponge in a pool. That being said, this is still an extremely binge-able show. broadchurch-09The flow, pace, investment in the characters, addiction to the mystery, and automatic episode queue all create a seamless marathon. (PS: The ending totally works and adds a entire new level of thought to all of the previous seven episodes .)

A second series, focusing on the aftermath of Danny’s murder, is currently airing on the BBC and will premiere on BBC America on March 4th. I would highly suggest a series one Netflix marathon, though I wouldn’t necessarily advocate for a single night viewing. The last thing I want you worrying about is the health of your eyes and soon to be fried brain–like me.

Keep on Watchin’!

-Bryan