Just Finished Sherlock Series Two

I remember really liking the first series of BBC’s Sherlock. I think I wanted to write about here on UM, but time got away from me, I forgot a lot of it and that post fell by the wayside. At this point, I remember very little of that first season, but while watching the second, a few things came back to me. As far as I’m concerned, this series soars because of two things: performance and style. Benedict Cumberbatch is fantastic as the aloof genius Sherlock Holmes and I’ve been a big fan of Watson actor Martin Freeman since watching the original Office and even Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (I saw it before reading any of the stories, so gimme a break). At the same time you’ve got some brilliant editing combined with this great onscreen thing they do when Sherlock looks people over and words pop up during these crazy close ups that show the things he’s noticing and what they tell him about the subject. The stories are also pretty good, but I don’t know how much of that credit should go to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and what to the show’s writers. Unfortunately, all of those things weren’t enough to get me to really dig this second series. Since there’s only three episodes, I’ll just run them down real quick. SPOILERS FOLLOW.

First up we have “A Scandal In Belgravia” which It hought was the season’s high point. We pick right up from the end of the previous season, but then get into an adventure with a woman named Irene Adler who seems to be his equal. She has a cell phone with a bunch of secrets rigged to explode unless she gets what she wants. Of course, Sherlock figures out the password and saves the day. I really, really liked this episode. I thought Lara Pulvrer, who played Adler, was fantastic. It’s very difficult to pull off the kind of detached super genius that Cumberbatch does without being annoying, but I think she nailed it in this role. This episode was also just a lot of fun with lots of twists and turns that kept me on the edge of my seat.

I can not say the same thing about “The House of Baskerville,” though. This one has Holmes and Watson visiting the small town of Baskerville where reports of giant wild dogs are running rampant. One guy swears he saw a demon dog and Sherlock gets drawn in as well, but my problem with this episode is that it just felt too long. I kind of got where they were going fairly early on — not exactly, but a general idea that was correct — so seeing a genius like Sherlock struggle so hard was not a great viewing experience. I will say that seeing Sherlock struggle with what he saw and what his mind tells him can and can’t be real was pretty fantastic, but all of this could have been done in 60 minutes and would have been a lot more tight. Also, not for nothing, but there were some seriously 90s horror tropes that no one wanted to see or hear again being dragged out kicking and screaming. That thing where the camera gets shaky and then cutting to another scene while playing a woman’s scream? I hate that thing. It’s used A LOT in this. That didn’t garner much favor with me.

Lastly we had “The Reichenbach Fall” which is based on “The Final Problem,” a story I haven’t read, but have read about thanks to League of Extraordinary Gentlemen and some other stories. That meant I knew how this one was going to end too, which wasn’t a huge problem because I generally like how these guys tell stories. And, the story itself was a good one, but I had a gigantic problem: Andrew Scott as Moriarity. This guy made a lot of choices that just drove me nuts. Above I said I liked how Irene Adler was handled because she walked the fine line, Scott just went into annoying, batty territory for me. And, even though I thought his plan was brilliant and brilliantly executed, I could not take this guy seriously. In fact, he was so annoying, I just wanted someone to ice him and be done with it because I was not having as much fun with the back and forth between Holmes and Moriarity that I should have, like I did in Sherlock Holmes Game of Shadows.

And yet, I still want to watch a third series. I might not have been 100% in love with these three episodes, but still, watching somewhat disappointing episodes of Sherlock is still more enjoyable than watching average episodes of other shows. Plus, I’ve got to find out how that guy did that thing that was revealed at the end of the episode. You know what I’m talking about.

The Best Show of All Time

3:10:20 am

Yup, I said it. In my opinion, The Office (the original BBC series) is the best TV series of all time and it only lasted 12 episodes with a two hour special capping things off.

The series started in 2001, dropped 6 episodes, then came back the next year for another 6 and then left fans hanging for a little over a year until they released the two hour Christmas special. The concept is similar to the American version in which a reality TV crew follows a group of officemates, focusing specifically on David, the obnoxious boss, Tim the everyman, Dawn the secretary and Gareth the office weirdo. David’s the kind of guy who doesn’t realize how out of touch he really is, while making uncomfortable jokes bordering on racism and sexism at various times. He also fancies himself a comedian, but his timing is awful.

Tim has a crush on Dawn who’s engaged to a brute of a fellow called Lee. Lee sucks, but then again he’s supposed to as you’re constantly rooting for Tim and Dawn to get together (he even asks her out twice with disastrous results). They’re really the big draw to the show, but it wouldn’t be what it is without Gareth who they often tag team to wind up.

At it’s heart The Office is a love story, though often of the unrequited sort as you root for Dawn to realize she’s making a huge mistake with Lee and run off with Tim so they can both go onto their dream jobs (Dawn wants to be an artist, Tim…well he doesn’t want to work at a paper company). Which brings up another soul-punching aspect of the show: growing up and what that can mean to your dreams. Both Dawn and Tim mention that they started their jobs at Wernham Hog to make some money and get a job while working on other things. Now it’s a few years later and they’re all still doing jobs that were supposed to be temporary. As someone in my 20s, I can really relate to the subject and I’m sure it’ll mean something completely different to me when I watch it again in 5 and 10 years.

I have to thank my good friend Rickey Purdin for turning me onto this version of The Office. When I moved out to NY and we moved in together I was watching the US version and he asked if I had seen the original (and not even in that pretentious way that a lot of people ask, even though he wasn’t a big fan of the US show at the time). I said I hadn’t even heard of it, but I was interested and within a few days we watched the whole thing in 2-3 days. It’s so funny on a moment to moment level that you get absorbed and the late hours don’t seem to matter as you move on to the next episode.

To fans of the UK version who got turned off by the US version’s first season, I have to say give it another shot. The first season of the US series was made up mostly of remakes of the original series, so it seems a little played out if you’ve seen the original. I hadn’t at the time, but its taken on such a life of its own (especially with the background characters) that it’s a completely different animal right now.

I’m not sure if this convinced anyone to really go out and rent or buy The Office box set (which I highly recommend), but I can’t recommend this show enough to anyone. I don’t think there’s anyone reading this blog that wouldn’t love The Office and very few people in the world who wouldn’t like it. In addition to the US version, there’s also Office TV series’ in Germany, France, Chile and Quebec, so it’s got a universal appeal. Also, if you’ve ever worked with other people, you can relate to some of the things on the show and Tim actually plays the pranks on his office nemesis that you want to (like putting his or her stapler in Jello or moving all of his possessions out of the office). Great stuff. Seriously, just go check it out.