“Once more unto the breach.” – Sherlock Recap – The Lying Detective

Source: sheldedlex

Sherlock, Season 4, Episode 2
“The Lying Detective”
Posted by Sage

We are officially going around in circles. Then we are backtracking and going on random tangents and we don’t even get the satisfaction of tormenting Mycroft while we do it.

“The Lying Detective” brought so many of Sherlock‘s favorite devices limping back into an already overstuffed narrative. Were there fun moments? Sure. Was the emotion real? Sometimes. Did Martin Freeman break me with this acting? Absolutely. Even though the pacing of this episode made it an easier watch than “The Six Thatchers,” it still collapsed in the center under the weight of everything it’s trying to do.

Let’s start with Toby Jones as the odious Culverton Smith, a wealthy philanthropist who moonlights as a serial killer. I’m surprised any scenery was still standing after Jones chowed down on it all, but hey, that’s why you hire him. Culverton is the jolliest murderer you’ll ever meet and so eager to share his deeds with an audience that his board meetings always come with a complimentary mind-eraser. But who needs an explanation of why anyone would agree to be hooked up to such an IV, even if asked by someone they trusted, let alone a creepy little troll like this? There are cereal/serial killer jokes to be made!

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How many more times will Sherlock tell us that no, actually, THIS is the worst and most heinous criminal he’s ever encountered? Whatever their methods and motives, so long as Sherlock writes all its uber-villains to be overly articulate, pompous, joyously maniacal, and just half an IQ-point less sharp than its hero, those variations barely register. Andrew Scott’s Moriarty is unsurpassable. And yeah, the show blew that wad in season 1. But that’s no reason to turn every Conan Doyle bad guy into the same monologue-crazy gentleman psychopath.

So Culverton Smith’s taunting of Sherlock wasn’t as effective as it should have been. It did eat up plenty of time though. None of that time was spent explaining what Culverton’s endgame was or how he’d planned to get Sherlock in one of his hospital beds. (I don’t know how he could have anticipated what happened in the mortuary.) He grandstands with his guests in the children’s ward, behaving a way that made me wonder who would ever let him speak to kids, fortune or no fortune. Nothing about Culverton Smith is lovable. He’s off-putting and scary, even when he’s smiling. He’s so clearly operating on some strange and separate plane yet no one but Sherlock and Watson appear to be repulsed by him or even the slightest bit concerned. I wondered at first if we’re meant to be seeing his behavior through Sherlock’s eyes – that in his drug-stupor he was looking beyond the facade and into the guilt. The show could have also made a more trenchant point about the leeway we give to the rich. But as it was, Culverton’s strange personality just hung there, unexplained and unquestioned.

Source: sannapersikka

I’m going to put my murder weirdo hat on right now and say that it is EXTREMELY unusual for a serial killer to want to stand out like Culverton does. Some are extremely anti-social. Most blend seamlessly into their communities. Ted Bundy was famously charming. It’s not Culverton’s hinting at his atrocities that’s unbelievable, it’s that he’d draw attention to himself in other ways, putting his name on hospital wings and appearing on television. His methods are interesting though, and I do appreciate how the show melded the “The Dying Detective” plot with the very true and very fascinating story of H.H. Holmes, the serial killer doing big, big business in Chicago during the World’s Fair. (Have you read The Devil in the White City? You get on it, and Leonardo DiCaprio, get on that movie you promised me.) He’s committing mercy killings minus the mercy and he’s doing it in a tricked-out MURDER hospital. (“I like to make people into things.”) Still, Culverton Smith falls short of being the terrifying presence Sherlock intends him to be because THERE ARE NO VICTIMS. I mean, there are meant to be many, but why are they locked out of the story? It was a nice character detail to show Lestrade so broken after hearing part 1 of Culverton’s lengthy confession. (He’s a good man.) But without context, the whole case felt so…impersonal.

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Naturally, it’s all about Sherlock, who we know from the episode title is keeping something from us. It’s back to another familiar well with the detective getting himself hooked to achieve a goal: this time, it’s to court the sympathy or at least the presence of John Watson. John, you’ll remember, decided to break all ties with Sherlock after the death of Mary.  His grief has left him temporarily incapable of taking care of Rosie, and he takes offense at his shrink approving that choice out of pity. “Why does everything have to be ‘understandable’?” he asks. “Why can’t some things be unacceptable? And we just say that?” John Watson is so alone, with no company but his dead but still cheerful wife.

It’s common in Sherlock for people to communicate with themselves by communicating with their concept of another person, usually, that’s achieved by Sherlock in his mind palace. But there’s something unkind about putting Mary in this position, following John around, existing to only motivate his participation in the world or to stir up his guilt. She’s dead and she still can’t catch a break. Selfishly, I loved seeing Amanda Abbington again. She’s a master of the reaction and made for a charming personal ghost – as nurturing, mischievous, and on Sherlock’s side as ever. And even though the manipulation was strong and so predictable, Mary’s presence broke up the anger that rightly dominated most of Martin’s performance in this episode. She tries to remind him: “John, you’ve got to remember, it’s important: I am dead.” But John refuses to register this information. His stubborn denial was this episode’s most moving moment, though I expect Team Johnlock will disagree. (I’ll get to it, dain’t you worry.)

Source: livingthegifs

High Sherlock is still a sight to behold and I applaud the unabashed Britishness of having Benedict Cumberbatch roaring the most famous speech from Henry V for no detectable reason other than his training. (Question: if Sherlock doesn’t need room in his brain for the solar system, how come Shakespeare gets a spot? Answer: He’s a romantic, duh.) The visual bravado of the scene comes to its slow-mo/sped-up climax when Mrs. Hudson drops Sherlock’s tea so that she can get a grasp on the gun he’s been waving around. (“Of course I didn’t call the police, I’m not a civilian.”) And prepare to hate me, because I’m about to rain on your Hudders parade.

“That’s good.” Source: livingthegifs

I miss the subtlety of early Sherlock, where Mrs. Hudson would make reference to her checkered pass and then chuckle and pass the biscuits. (That never happened exactly so, but you get the drift.) Now all subtlety is gone. Mrs. Hudson drives an Aston Martin like a coked-out 007 and evidently has the upper body strength necessary to shove a 6′ tall man into the boot before she does it. She doesn’t need to do these things to prove to me that she’s a badass. She always has been; those original episodes show us that she endures what Sherlock puts her through because she cares about him but also because she loves the danger.

Source: conduitstr
 

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“The danger was the fun part.” – Sherlock Recap – The Six Thatchers

Source: 1985

Sherlock, Season 4, Episode 1
“The Six Thatchers”
Posted by Sage

As dangerous as it is to hand too much of a popular series over to fanservice, so too is it to treat your audience like adversaries. That’s the feeling I got when I watched the Sherlock Season 4 premiere — like the show was all puffed up and encroaching into my space, daring me to turn against it. “Give the people what they want,” John says. “No, never do that,” Sherlock counters. “The people are stupid.” Why do I get the feeling they were talking about us?

Where was the joy? The giddiness? I felt like my heart would burst during the majority of Season 3. I was so happy to be back watching such a clever and sleek show with characters I adore. Not here. Sherlock is always self-aware, but usually in a way that lets fans share its ego. This episode felt interminably long, because it seemed as if we were no longer included in the fun. “The Six Thatchers” was a dour installment that set up what looks to be a dour season. As Mary says in her video message to Sherlock, “The danger was the fun part.” A slow march to the gallows is not.

The case isn’t tremendously important, but the circumstances surrounding Sherlock’s return are. He must have subconsciously worked out the majority of his issues with the ghost of James Moriarty during his drug trip in “The Abominable Bride,” because “The Six Thatchers” finds him interested in the villain’s next move in his “posthumous game,” but not so preoccupied as to withdraw from life. (This is Sherlock Holmes we’re talking about, the measure of successful social interaction is different.) Anyway, Lady Smallwood, Mycroft, and the rest of their Rulers of the World knitting circle make quick work of absolving Sherlock of the murder of Charles Augustus Magnussen. They rescind his death sentence so he can sniff out the metaphorical bomb Moriarty left ticking away somewhere in London, and Sherlock is only too delighted to tell them that there’s currently nothing to be done in that regard. (“I’m the target. Targets wait.”) He returns to Baker Street and his expectant friends.

Source: sirjohnwatsons
 

Unsurprisingly, my favorite parts of this episode were all domestic. Pregnant Mary heaving about the flat, weighing in on cases. Sherlock’s amused smile when John and Mary simultaneously shut down his offer to give their unborn baby his name. Molly teaching Mrs. Hudson how to focus John’s camera. Sherlock trying to explain his rather reasonable expectation that Rosamund Mary Watson NOT throw a toy back at him that she appears to want. Greg and another Scotland Yard officer making small talk on the landing while they wait for their consultant to be free. Sherlock showing off photos of his godchild to his brother, who offers the kindest compliment he can muster: “Looks very…fully-functioning.”

Source: sherleck

Finally, Giles Greg offers up a case that’s worthy of more than a chat in the living room with Sherlock and John’s balloon stand-in. But determining the cause of the sad end of Charlie Wellsbury isn’t something to be done with a Holmesian flourish. The most dastardly thing the family has done is to have a shrine to Margaret Thatcher.  And though she was no picnic, that certainly doesn’t make them deserving of what happens to their son. This boy cut a trip of a lifetime short to travel thousands of miles to wish his father a happy birthday. He dies alone; his body is burned beyond recognition. But there’s no murderer but Death himself. Death does not always arrive in the body of enemy, but it always gets its man. In the market at Baghdad or outside an English estate.

Sherlock has tossed off condolences before, but he’s never sounded more genuine than when he tells the Wellsburys how sorry he is for their loss. Would it have been any comfort if the great Sherlock Holmes could have identified some nefarious plot and apprehended an assassin on whom they could lay their anger and grief? Maybe. As it is, it’s a hopeless, purposeless death that propels the rest of the episode.

“Well, I like you.” Source: 1985

The episode lags a bit after Sherlock discovers that first missing bust of The Iron Lady. Because the busts don’t matter – only what’s contained within. The dog sequence is cute, but unnecessary. There’s only the symbolism of the market, and the episode was heavy on the symbolism already. Craig is a chubby and bespectacled hacker stereotype in a show that doesn’t need one. (One of the most thrilling things about Sherlock is that – besides the texting – the detective is rather old-school in his methods.) Anyway, while I understand that A.J. is a broken and desperate man, I would think that a world-class secret assassin would know when he was creating a pattern. But he doesn’t, and Sherlock heads him off at the home of one of those crazy Thatcherites. It was brilliant throughout, but I want to especially acknowledge the work of first-time Sherlock director Rachel Talalay here in the fight scene, particularly as A.J. and Sherlock grappled in the pool.

Sherlock gets the upper hand, smashes the bust, and then looks among the shards for the Black Pearl of the Borgias – a link to Moriarty. Instead he sees Mary’s A.G.R.A. flash drive. Sherlock said earlier that he knows when the game is on because it’s his lifeblood and what used to be his only bliss. But Sherlock’s eyes are panicked as he tries frantically to discern who this man is and how he’s linked to his friend. This isn’t a game he wants. It’s all well and good when he’s playing fast and loose with his own life. But there’s nothing to love about a threat to Mary, John, and their baby girl.

Source: rosegoldsherlock
 

Confronted with the drive, Mary tells Sherlock what the acronym means and why she and her three compatriots each carried one. Their last mission went belly-up during a coup in Georgia; Mary believed she was the only one who’d escaped alive. Her past is catching up to her again. And though she’d prayed it wouldn’t, she’s been honing a protocol for that very occasion. Because Mary is a PRO. Since the moment he met her, Sherlock has known that Mary Watson is capable of taking care of herself. He even tries to send John home to be on baby duty in this episode so that he can Mary can follow a lead together. She’s a combination of Sherlock and John: an intelligence agent AND a soldier, smart, always aware, and willing to do what is necessary. She goes on the run – a wife and mother throwing her own peace away so that she can protect her family. And what does Sherlock do? He undermines her agency by tracking her movements and then going to COLLECT her, like an errant child.

Source: sir-mycroft

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“Sounds a bit soppy, this: love conquers all.” – SDCC 2016, Part III

Con Friends are the Best Friends

Con Friends are the Best Friends

Posted by Kim and Sage

Everyone knows that a massive part of San Diego Comic Con involves making tough choices. It’s no secret that Hall H is the place to be on Saturday but it’s ALSO no secret that if you want to score one of those coveted seats, you basically have to lose all of Friday in the name of sitting in the Next Day Line. While we had a BLAST camping out for Hall H in 2015, the idea of camping out for Saturday held ZERO appeal for us, not only because we would have missed all the awesome panels Friday had to offer but because the weather was UNUSUALLY hot and humid for San Diego. People had literally started camping out for Saturday by the middle of the day on THURSDAY, leading to a veritable umbrella city being set up in the parking lot of Joe’s Crab Shack. People were ordering umbrellas from Amazon Same Day Delivery to be sent TO the line and posting pictures of their intense sunburns on Twitter. There were reports of chairs actually leaving divots in the asphalt because it was ACTUALLY melting due to the intense sun. NO THANKS. I love the Marvel Movies as much as the next person, but unless it was guaranteed that Chris Evans was going to French kiss me (Sage: or one of his costars. That would work too.) and Tom Hiddleston was going to public renounce the sham that is Hiddleswift, the idea of waiting close to 36 hours in a parking lot for footage that would be on the internet minutes later felt ridiculous. So until SDCC comes up with some way to curtail the camping (which they won’t because that’s what makes headlines), Saturday Hall H will never be a thing for us. And you know what? That’s okay.  As you will see, there is so much that SDCC has to offer that you can miss the marquee panels and STILL have a full day. Besides, we knew Benedict Cumberbatch would be waiting for us on Sunday. –Kim

Off-Site Mania

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After spending the majority of Friday cramped between manspreaders and oversized cosplay in panel rooms, we thought Saturday would be a good day to stretch our legs and hit the off-sites. San Diego Comic Con is known for taking over not just the convention center, but a lot of real estate surrounding it with branded exhibitions and activities. One of the most popular set-ups is Zac Levi’s NerdHQ, which has its own sort of mini-con benefiting Operation Smile with its impossible to get into Conversations For A Cause and Smiles for Smiles photo ops. We were shut out of those tickets again this year, but it’s always worth the walk to the San Diego Children’s Museum to see what vendors are handing out free ‘ish and what kind of photobooths we can make fools of ourselves in.

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Head Over Feels was here.
 This year’s NerdHQ was a haven for gamers, so there wasn’t much for a couple of hand-eye-coordination-challenged idiots to do there. We moved on to Entertainment Weekly’s Con-X, located at the far corner of the marina. We were among the small group gathered at the gates when it opened, so we had no trouble snagging free Krispy Kremes (best giveaway in history), screened-to-order t-shirts, and photo ops with Tony & Steve, the real American Horror Story: Hotel set, and corpulent space gangster, Jabba the Hutt.

SWAG

SWAG

After Con-X, we made a stop at the Hyatt where SDCC keeps its panel swag. It’s an efficient system. When a studio wants to give out freebies to panel audiences, they send in a group of volunteers to hand out color-coded tickets. During posted hours, attendees can stop by the fulfillment room to pick up their goodies. Our haul included a Colony beret, an exclusive Moana print, and a super-cute Orphan Black muscle tee. When you know this is an option, it makes it especially tacky when Hall H presenters prefer to go over time handing out swag just so they can get b-roll of Hall H fans going all Oprah’s Favorite Things. (Ahem: Warner Bros, Marvel.)

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We were assured by a panel neighbor earlier in the weekend that the tiny Mr. Robot off-site experience was “worth it.” Unfortunately for our feet and nerves, we didn’t realize just how intimate or time-consuming that exhibit was. We got in line around 11:30am, half an hour after it opened. The line was a block and a half long; in SDCC terms, nothing. “This will be fine,” we said. “It’s not too bad,” we said. Smash cut to four hours later when we’re still in line, seething while the staff marches in industry VIPs and press ahead of all the fans who’ve been sweating in the sun for most of the afternoon. (We know you had a press preview night, USA. THE JIG IS UP.) Our wills were tested that day. So much that I swear, I started hallucinating Christian Slater too.

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Holy shit, there he is

But we were committed, and hey, at least we got fsociety masks for our trouble. (I wish the street team would have been handing out those sick hoodies instead, but we’ll take what we can get.)

Being a part of an anarchist hacker conspiracy is NO reason to give up glitter make-up.

Being a part of an anarchist hacker conspiracy is NO reason to give up glitter make-up.

Okay, so it WAS pretty fucking cool. Even through my grumpiness, I could appreciate the work that went into the off-site. The waiting area was a replica of the Mr. Robot repair shop, all for the touching. We rifled through work orders, read jotted phone messages, and held an original Gameboy in our hands for the first time in about 25 years.

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Most of the paperwork in the exhibit looked like the standard business of an electronics shop in the ’80s. But Easter eggs were here and there for those observant enough to catch them. This one was my favorite:

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“1 Human Soul: $9.99”

The waiting area could MAYBE fit 10-12 people at a time. By twos and fours, those people were led into the next room where we were handed our virtual reality equipment. (VR was all the rage at SDCC this year.) Then we were directed into a full-scale replica of Elliot’s apartment and instructed to take a seat wherever we liked. (We chose the bed, for obvious reasons.) After some brief instruction, we pressed play on an original Mr. Robot vignette, written and directed by showrunner Sam Esmail and starring Rami Malek and Frankie Shaw (Shayla). It was beautiful and melancholy, with the added benefit of the sensation of Rami speaking to you right in your ear. You jerks don’t have to stand in line for four hours to watch the scene; the official Mr. Robot website has the clip in various formats, including regular old desktop. (Spoilers for season 1!)

We snagged some extra shirts from the off-site (with permission!), and we’re giving them away on Twitter! Go follow us and RT this tweet for your chance to get one. –Sage

Geek & Sundry Afterparty

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We emerged from the Mr. Robot site in desperate need of food and ice-cold beverages. Being hangry is NEVER a good thing at SDCC and there’s only so much satisfaction Cliff bars and trail mix can bring, so we set off in search of sustenance. With most of our usual Gaslamp haunts being backed up to 45 minute to hour-long waits (“I CAN’T WAIT IN ANOTHER LINE RIGHT NOW.” = us), we opted to ignore my carefully curated list of places we wanted to eat in favor of just going to whatever joint that would be able to seat us right away. Lucky for us, we discovered a new go-to place for next year in The New Yorker. GUYS. The San Diego pizza (spinach, bacon, pepperoni, and gorgonzola) changed my life. BONUS: we were able to go halvesies on our pizza, which let us try the Buffalo Chicken version as well. It just goes to show that you can rarely go wrong food-wise with ANYTHING in the Gaslamp District.

Revitalized by pizza and beer, we made a quick pass through the convention center to pick up some art and then we made our way home for a disco nap before getting dressed up for the Geek and Sundry Dance Party. (Sage: We WILL put on something cute and dance tonight, DAMMIT.) We’ve said before that Comic Con parties are a massive crapshoot and rule held true here. We arrived at the club an hour before the party was set to kickoff and found a minimal line, which blessedly assured that we would make it in.

Here’s where I am gonna go off on a rant about line etiquette though. We got in line at 8 PM, an hour before the doors opened. There were two girls in front of us who we chit-chatted with because what else are you going to do when you’re standing there for an hour? One girl left to go to the restroom, and when I scooted over to make room for Sage to sit on the ledge, the girl’s friend snapped at us for trying to take HER friend’s spot. We assured her that we were just trying to give each other room so we could all sit, we were in no way trying to push her friend out of line. Later, as the line started to condense, more and more people started JOINING these two girls in line. At first it was just two…then two more…then three. Soon, there were TWELVE new people ahead of us in line. A line that now was stretched blocks long. NOT COOL. I realize that we were ALREADY fragile from the 4 hour wait for Mr. Robot earlier that day but that is what kicked us into Sage-Rage and K-irritation. You don’t DO that. We knew it wouldn’t affect US…but what about the people at the end of the line who had been waiting just as long? Sage tried to be nice, but these girls KNEW they had pulled a fast one, as they blatantly ignored Sage when she tried to confront them. One of the latecomers dared to have words with her about how she needed to RELAX. HAAAAAA. While I furiously ranted about the bad form on Twitter, tagging Geek and Sundry every time, Sage tried to flag down a security guy to report the line cutting. The security guy offered to escort us into the party but did nothing to remove the offending parties, which was upsetting. The line-cutters KNEW we were trying to get them kicked out, which resulted in more than a few salty remarks being tossed back and forth between us. TL;DR: people are assholes and Sage and I are ALWAYS looking out for the people in line behind us. You’re welcome.

Actual picture of us in line.

Once in the party, we were greeted with a dance floor full of nerds. While that sounds promising, everyone knows that the success of a dance party hinges on the DJ.  This DJ was THOROUGHLY committed to the whole “geek” theme. While he had flashes of excellence, playing our jam “Africa” and half of “Backstreet’s Back at one point, most of the music consisted of house mixes of TV theme songs and video game music. That’s right. At one point we were actually expected to be dancing to music from “Final Fantasy” which is basically like asking us to get down to the Shire theme from The Lord of the Rings. (Cue me standing in the middle of the dance floor making a turtle face and wondering what in the hell was going on.) And after witnessing an entire room of fanboys losing their SHIT over the Pokemon theme playing, we NEVER want to hear shit about demanding to hear One Direction EVER again. EVER.

But still, parties are always what you make of them, and we had a grand time surrounded by our lady friends who were all dresses as Sith Lords in Corsets. We laughed at the ridiculous music, drank overpriced beers, danced with glowsticks, and gulped down the poorly made mixed drinks we scored when Felicia Day finally announced the open bar. Parties, much like SDCC itself, are what you make of them. As much as we would have liked to party all night, Sunday Hall H was calling our name, leading us to retire before midnight. Just call us SDCCinderellas. –Kim

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Glow crowns FTW

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Fan Video Friday – “I’ll Make a Man Out of You”

Posted by Kim and Sage

Welcome to Fan Vid Friday, our weekly present to you to keep you entertained during those last hours in the office before your summer weekend. Last week, I pondered in our Avengers Post as to whether or not we could fill an entire post with videos to Mulan‘s “I’ll Make a Man Out of You”. Whoops, we doggone gone and done it. This song is perfect for any sort of sprawling ensemble epic, as you will soon see. And let’s be real, who DOESN’T love the gusto with which Donny Osmond sings this? If you don’t finish this post ready to take on the Huns (what ever the Huns may be to you), then you did it wrong.

The Disney Men

Sage: Yassss, starting off TOO strong. Disney princesses get a lot of love, and rightfully so. But let’s give it up one time for all those Disney leading men who ruined for real boys. Real boys who never ONCE started singing me a love duet of which I intuitively knew the other part.

Kim: Aladdin, ruining my life since 1992. What can I say? I’m a sucker for those diamonds in the rough. Also there’s not NEARLY enough Prince Eric in this video. And finally, I have a new appreciation for Shang’s collarbones and it’s just really confusing being attracted to animated characters, okay?

Sherlock

Sage: Well, there’s no shortage of footage of Sherlock yelling at people, so that’s good. Also, since Molly is playing Mulan and Sherlock is Shang, this video is also honorary Sherlolly.

Kim: I love how this video is basically Sherlock telling everyone to GET ON HIS LEVEL. Also got to love the on the nose comparison of the Huns to the villains from “The Blind Banker”. (Undoubtedly the weakest episode of the series, yes? Yes.)

Star Trek

Sage: “Tranquil as a forest” = Spock. “But on fire within.” = Kirk. What makes this song so adaptable for fan videos is that the definition of masculinity (or heroism in general) is really the dealer’s choice. And the crew of the U.S.S. Enterprise have all those bases covered, from intellect to brute strength to selfless leadership.

Kim: I love the use of Captain Pike in this video. He really was the shepherd of this crew of misfits as they grew towards becoming a united crew. What made Star Trek work SO WELL was that it was essentially a coming of age story for characters that we already knew. It was familiar but different all at the same time. The casting is spot on, with Chris Pine’s rogueish charm and Zach Quinto’s even-keeled intensity leading the way. I am SO READY for Star Trek: Beyond even if that is a dumb name.

PS I am still so hot for Karl Urban after AwesomeCon.

X-Men: First Class

Sage: Okay, the layers in this, because Charles wants his students to embrace their powers but also cherish their humanity. Be a MAN.

Kim: I don’t know if I will EVER be over the Cherik scene where Erik moves the satellite dish and they both CRY. This video COULD have used more Fassy, TBH. He’s so perfect, especially in First Class.

The Lord of the Rings

Sage: I’m honestly surprised some Kiwi producer hasn’t tried to peddle a LOTR musical over here. 10/10 WOULD SEE.

Kim: There was some sort of ridiculous LOTR musical in Canada and London in 2006 (thanks Wikipedia) but it never came to America because it was three and a half hours long and had a cast of 65. ANYWAY. I’m emotional over this video. I love these movies, I love the cast, I love the characters and their relationships, I LOVE IT. It is a MASTERPIECE and I need to watch it RIGHT NOW.

Also PERFECT use of Eowyn’s arc in this vid. SHE IS NO MAN.

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“There’s always two of us. Don’t you read The Strand?” – Sherlock Recap, The Abominable Bride

the abominable bride

Sherlock, New Year’s Day 2016 Special
“The Abominable Bride”
Posted by Sage

If you follow Head Over Feels on social media (and you’d better), you perhaps noticed that we didn’t give off our usual hum of anticipation leading in to a brand new episode of Sherlock. Truth be told, I found it genuinely difficult to get excited about a special that looked for all the world like it was going to be some kind of dream or alternate reality adventure, totally outside of the actual show canon. “The Abominable Bride” was a standalone story that put us right back where series 3 left off…and it wasn’t. I admire Mark Gatiss and Steven Moffat for their determination to have their cake and eat it too, even if that doesn’t work out for them all the time. But when years pass between our appointments with this Sherlock and Watson, why not be bold?

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Look, this Victorian Inception thing either worked for you or it didn’t. But the conceit gave the show’s brilliant production and design staff another way to shine; their care and attention to detail showed in every frame. At last year’s Gallifrey One convention in Los Angeles, I was privileged to spend an hour in a hotel boardroom with Sherlock production designer Arwel Wyn Jones and a dozen other fans, 12 Angry Men style. That’s nearly a full 11 months ago, but he was already neck-deep in preparations for “The Abominable Bride.” The task that was keeping him up at night around that time? Finding era-appropriate versions of Sherlock and John’s signature arm chairs.

Production designers spend their lives considering minute details that only the most attentive of viewers will even consciously note. And that’s why we love them. But the scarcity of the new Sherlock episode to the people who make it shows in the final product. In “The Abominable Bride,” I see a piece of work that’s been made in its own sweet time with the cool, shrugging confidence that can only come with runaway success and a heavily tumbled slash ship. I also see that the artists behind the show had months (and years in the case of the writers) to think about how to do it and how to do it right. Contradiction, my dear Watson. It makes for a divided audience. About a third of my Twitter timeline really hated this episode.

Me? I’m fine. “The Abominable Bride” didn’t have the giddiness of “The Sign Of Three” or the cold dread of “The Reichenbach Fall,” and believe me, I’ll get to the problematic bits. Still, I enjoy Gatiss and Moffat’s textual high-fiving over their own cleverness – you kind of have to, to be a fan – and the one-off did push the story forward incrementally. Or at least, a couple of characters.

Though the first five minutes did nothing to allay my fears in that respect. The episode opens and proceeds for a while as a straight-up Victorian re-telling of “A Study In Pink.” John Watson is injured in the war; runs into his old friend Stamford, and meets his new flatmate Sherlock Holmes whilst he’s wailing on a dead body in a morgue. It’s all very twee, aside from Martin fucking Freeman. Sherlock is always Sherlock – a “man out of his time” or any time. He’s timeless. But “Bride” showcased the traditional Watson who runs parallel to the modern one in Freeman’s performance. He plays this Watson so differently, though there’s never a doubt that the partnership is still the same. As always, I marvel at his talent and get more excited when I should when he gets to yell.

good lord

Then the episode fast-forwards a bit to an established sleuthing duo returning home from another adventure that’s sure to be written up for publication in The Strand magazine. The time-warped Baker Street is proper thrilling, as is the appearance of Mrs. Hudson. She’s the first in a series of women to be overlooked and undervalued in the episode. And while she may be used to reading her name in a perfunctory context in John’s stories, she’s not over it. “Well, I never say anything, do I?” she challenges her tenant. “I’m your land lady, not a plot device.” (THAT’S EXACTLY WHAT A PLOT DEVICE WOULD SAY.) Inside their rooms is another woman is taking drastic steps to be seen. Mary Watson resorted to gaining access to 221B as a client, since it’s the only way by which she can see her husband. Not that her husband is really worth the trouble. 0/10 recommend dating or marrying 1895 John Watson, ladies. His painfully bored wife misses him, and offers up her assistance on the next case. “What would you do?” John asks her, befuddled by the suggestion that she might be of help. “Well, what do you do?” Mary shoots back. He doesn’t have much of an answer.

Sherlock ignores the domestic happening behind him and murmurs some foreshadowing about going “deep” within himself for a case. (“Ummmm…” – Tumblr.) Then a pair of mutton chops walks in, followed quickly by Detective Inspector Lestrade. He’s shaken, and certainly there on business. But first, a drink. (“Watson, restore the courage of Scotland Yard.”)

waltz

Lestrade (still FINE AS HELL, even with the face-warmers) begins weaving the tale of Emilia Ricoletti. On her wedding anniversary, Ricoletti put on her wedding dress, smeared red lipstick onto her mouth, and then stepped out onto her balcony in full view of the busy street below. Bystanders ran for cover as she shrieked (“YOU?”) and fired shots at the ground, the whole ordeal ending when she pointed the gun at herself and pulled the trigger. Or so that’s what rationality would predict. Later that night, none other than Emilia Ricoletti’s husband Thomas meets “the bride” on his way out Lime House. The dead woman, whose body he was certainly on his way to identify, shoots him in front of several witnesses and disappears into the foggy night.

bride

I want to talk about storytelling for a minute. It’s happening on every level of Sherlock. Every case starts with a story, whether that comes from the law or from the client. It’s never nothing. There’s never no information. There’s a version of events from a specific point of view. There are prejudices and assumptions about what humans are or are not capable of. It’s Sherlock’s job to suss the truth the out, his lack of emotion (keep telling yourself that, Shezza) making him the ideal editor to cut through the bullshit. (“Poetry or truth?” “Many would say they’re the same thing.” “Yes, idiots.”) Once that happens, the story is re-written yet again, this time by John Watson. Whether he’s writing for a blog or for the Strand, he’s writing for an audience now. Sherlock’s work doesn’t make him a legend. John’s stories do. And they’re nothing without a little flair. My head canon is that every Sherlock episode is a “filmed” version of a Watson blog entry, and maybe the cases themselves weren’t quite so melodramatic. It’s all about framing, you see.

Lestrade’s narration is enhanced by a cool visual trick. The Sherlock crew set up the sitting room of 221B in the middle of the street where Thomas Ricolletti is shot; the camera zooms in and out of the meeting of minds and back to the murder, so it’s as if Lestrade, Sherlock, and Watson are actually witnessing the crime. That technique also backs up my unreliable(ish) narrator theory. The sleuths are seeing events as Lestrade describes them. He’s the storyteller.

Not that Sherlock trusts him. The first stop is the morgue, to ascertain whether or not what’s on the slaaaab is truly Mrs. Ricoletti. A “moron” has strapped the corpse to the table (hi, Anderson!) and is rewarded for his stupidity with verbal abuse by “Hooper,” the mustachioed, no-nonsense coroner. I do believe I love this. Modern Molly is a very feminine character who doesn’t see why her desire to date, wear lipstick (right shade or not), or be a low-key cat lady should at all undermine her authority in the lab. (Or in Sherlock’s mind palace. HM.) Molly could have been written into this special as a barmaid or something and the cross-dressing out of necessity could have been given to a female character who’s less stereotypically girly. But our Molly Hooper is a little ruthless. And she’s certainly brave. I could see her gaming the system to live the life she feels she deserves and do the work no one could do better. My shipper heart also leapt at the brief yet weighty interactions between Holmes and Hooper. There’s something about Holmes not noticing something very off about the coroner that calls back to the bad timing, misunderstandings, and tentative healing of their 21st century relationship. I ship it in every era.

hooper hooper 2

Anyway, the dead body is (or was) unquestionably Emilia Ricoletti. The only change from the body’s previous day spent in the morgue is the smear of blood on one finger – the finger “she” used to write “YOU” in her own blood on the wall. (Anderson’s precautions aren’t so stupid after all, maybe.) Watson offers a meat-dagger-quality theory that Sherlock shoots down immediately: twins. SECRET twins. (“This whole thing could have been planned.” “Since the moment of conception?”) The good doctor does make a helpful note on the way out, however. The body shows signs of consumption. Sherlock doesn’t hear this part, since he’s already decided he’s learned all he can from these people. (“Thank you all for a fascinating case. I’ll send you a telegram when I’ve solved it.”)

never mention me never mention me 2
Oh, and there have been more murders pinned to “the bride.” All men, which has Lestrade shaking and Sherlock scoffing. It’s copycats, the detective reasons. With hysteria in the wind, why not add the bells and whistles the public associates with this ghostly terror to throw Scotland Yard off the actual scent? Sherlock’s interest in the case waning, Mycroft sends for the men to call on him at the Diogenes Club. But before that, we get a very strange scene between Watson and his maid. Mary isn’t in (and hasn’t been much since she received a cryptic telegram at 221B); the maid is quite intentionally impertinent in asking about it. John’s response is such a perfect jab at the designation between real duties and “women’s work.” (“If it wasn’t my wife’s business to deal with the staff, I’d talk to you myself.”) This hint at the conspiracy behind the city under siege would have worked better if the maid had appeared in one or two more scenes to underline the role she plays in the Watsons’ life and how enraged she is at being ignored. Instead: fat suit Mycroft.

wilder wilder 2
Besides the fact that Mycroft Holmes is quite rotund in the Arthur Conan Doyle stories, I don’t understand this choice. I suppose the goal was a spot of dark comedy, with Mycroft eating himself to death just to win a bet with his brother. But it doesn’t fly. It’s too meanspirited a take on Modern Mycroft, who’s come to show real regard for and loyalty to Sherlock. The visual gag is easy and vile; John’s sign language hack-job is just as predictable, but much less uncomfortable. The success of the scene is that it’s where I began to really question what was going on backstage of this episode, if you will. Mycroft does delight in being the puppetmaster, but the way he fed this information to Sherlock and Watson (a Lady Carmichael will lead them to the perpetrators of these acts, “an enemy we must lose to…”) is too contrived for a regular Moffat/Gatiss script.

cards right cards right 2

Brother Mine meets with Lady Carmichael, who also has a story to tell. Her husband has been acting strangely since the morning he received five orange pips in the mail (classic Holmes reference), apparently an omen of death. “She’s come for me, Louise,” he chokes out. From that morning, he’s a haunted man. This is terrific news in Sherlock’s book, since it gives him a solid opportunity to see “the bride” in the flesh. Or not, whatever.

Sherlock: “Eustace is to die tonight!”
Watson: “Holmes.”
Sherlock: “…And we should probably avoid that.” 

The boys take a field trip out to the Carmichaels’ country mansion. On the train, Watson’s uneasiness starts to show. He’s accepting the stories as they’ve been told to him. Based on the witnesses and the positive morgue ID, there can be only one conclusion: Emilia Ricoletti is terrorizing men from beyond the grave. He forgets how facts can be twisted, until Sherlock accuses him of letting his pathetic fancy run wild. “Since when have you had any kind of imagination?” Sherlock asks. “Perhaps since I convinced the reading public that an unprincipled drunk addict was some kind of gentleman hero,” Watson answers back. And….fair.

come to mention

Sidebar: I love it when Sherlock gets all macabre and says things like, “There are no ghosts in this world, save those we make for ourselves.” I bet you all a million dollars each that James Franco has whispered this exact sentence into the ear of at least one NYU co-ed while drinking small-batch whiskey from a chipped coffee mug in a Brooklyn speakeasy.

Eustace is not psyched about being the carrot dangled in front of a misandrist spirit. He even attempts to convince the detective that his wife is overreacting, even though he was the one sobbing on the floor in his pajamas the night before. Sherlock will have none of it. He met Lady Carmichael and in an instant knew that she wasn’t the type to be held hostage by a scary story and a creaky step on the stairs. “She’s not a hysteric,” Sherlock reminds her husband. “She’s a highly intelligent woman of rare perception.” He does smell one rat in the house though. And I wonder if Sherlock’s enthusiasm for this rather dangerous plan has anything to do with his assumption that Eustace probably deserves what’s coming to him.

rare for us

“Mm, I should think so. Murder on the knees.”

At last, we’ve arrived. The gay greenhouse scene. *cracks knuckles*

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Fan Video Friday – “Raise Your Glass”

Posted by Kim and Sage

Hey there, rockstars. You made it through another week! Your reward is a brand new edition of Fan Video Friday, the series that enables your work wind-down.

Today’s FVF is all about Pink’s party anthem “Raise Your Glass.” That’s right – after last Friday’s ode to bittersweet soulmates via Of Monsters & Men’s “King And Lionheart,” we are lightening up everything but our blood alcohol level. (Hey-ooooo!) This song is a tribute to the misfits, so I hope you’re ready for rowdy times with your favorite groups of underdogs. Here’s to the “dirty little freaks.” AMERICA.

–Sage

Rose and The Doctor – Doctor Who

Sage: Like the Doctor told Jackie, all the troubles and the near-deaths are just the “bits in between.” Whether you ship Ten and Rose or not (And if you don’t, I’m amazed that you’re still here!), it’s impossible to deny how much they enjoyed each other. They made traveling through time and space look like an afternoon lark – like they were playing hooky from real life. Why so serious?

The Cast of Community

Kim: “So raise your glass if you are wrong in all the right ways, all my underdogs!  We will never be never be anything but loud and nitty-gritty, dirty little freaks!” 

Is there a more perfect song for my beautiful misfits of Greendale Community College? I think not. I love how this video not only focuses on the Greendale Seven but also all the dirty little freaks that make up Community‘s ensemble from the faculty members to the students to all the guest stars.  The vidder also makes excellent use of moments like Troy and Britta’s recital for “let’s get dancey” and Todd crying over his microscope for “treated like a fool”.  But my favorite part of this is the shot of Abed as Batman for “Why so Serious?”.  GENIUS.

The Cast of The Office

Sage: Sometimes “wrong in all the right ways,” but often wrong in all the wrong ways, the employees of Dundler Mifflin Scranton have always lived outside the norm. The everyday setting of the show led to the most ridiculous of sitcom antics. This video makes incredible use of so many of them, from Jim’s “Future Dwight” fax to Cafe Disco to Meredith’s penchant for flashing. The Office is all about people who never would have chosen to hang out with each other, but whom fate decided to throw together anyway. Weird apart, but even weirder together – that’s the best kind of accidental family.

The Cast of Parks and Recreation

Kim: First, I have to say this: there aren’t NEARLY enough Parks and Rec fan videos out there.  I don’t understand why.  It’s a perfect show for fun ensemble videos to peppy songs (for example: “It’s Time”…HOW is there no video to that?).  Needless to say, we were delighted to find this one.  Like Community and The Office, we love Parks and Rec for its ensemble of misfits.  All of the employees of the Parks department are incredibly different, and had they not all been working in the same place, they probably never would have become friends (or in Ron’s case workplace acquaintances).  But they DID and they are all the better for it.  They’re like 5000 Candles in the Wind, you guys.

The Lads of One Direction

Sage: If Tumblr, Twitter, and Instagram had been around when *N Sync was touring, I never would have graduated college. As it is, my fall down the 1D rabbit hole has already generated a lot of unnecessary distraction. In the time that I’ve cared, the band has only played shows overseas. Yet, thanks to vigilant and plugged-in fans, I’m pretty sure I’ve seen and reblogged every waterfight, telling reaction to a pro-Larry sign, fan-mocking, and slaying of a Zayn solo, proving that four are just as strong as five. Before I became a person who talks seriously about the viability of using the 500 gigawatt smile of Harry Styles to bring about peace around the globe, I complained that boy bands these days don’t dance. But the lack of any choreography in a 1D show just means more time for fucking around. And those are the most gif-able and fanvid-able kind of moments anyway.

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Martin Freeman – The 2014 Showman of the Year

snl my name is martin

Posted by Kim and Sage

Middle fingers up for Martin Freeman, our Showman of the Year!

2014 marks our second annual awarding of this title, and the criteria are getting a little more clear. Just like 2013 winner Tom Hiddleston, Martin represents the range of what we appreciate here at Head Over Feels: unquestionable talent, a heavy impact on pop and fandom culture, cuteness, and – above all – a proclivity to burst into spontaneous dance. He’s also got the best face in the business; an endearing fondness for ascots and colorful socks; plus the lovely and equally talented Amanda Abbington for a partner. (Great taste.) And Martin’s kept us entertained throughout the year, from Sherlock‘s third series run in January all the way to The Hobbit‘s Christmas release.

Yes, mainstream fame now belongs to our Fisher Prince Man. (And he’s just going to have to deal with it.) Having adored him since a DVD of the original run of The Office found its way into my hands, I felt a massive swelling of pride (and a few falling tears) to see him standing in front of the house band in Studio 8H. And I’ve got a feeling that Martin Freeman won’t need to introduce himself to American audiences for much longer.

–Sage

Stuff happens to John and John happens to stuff, on Sherlock:

watson am i a pretty lady

It’s no wonder the Sherlock fandom is certifiably insane. It’s pure torture that we are only blessed with Martin’s John Watson every three years or so.  NINE EPISODES.  That’s all we’ve had.  It feels like more and it feels like nothing all at the same time.  Sherlock Series Three lasted a blissful 12 days, if you went by the UK Schedule, which obviously we did.  It was over as soon as it started.  Series Three hooked up with us and then refused to cuddle afterwards…but we were fine with it.  Sage has said it before, but most of the series felt like a love letter to the fans, giving us everything we wanted and more.  We got to see John grieve over losing Sherlock and then his OUTRAGE at his return (poor bb didn’t know what to do with himself).  We got to see John fall in love with Mary (she can stay cause she understands that John needs his boyfriend as much as his wife) and subsequently stand by her when her shady past came to light.  Is there anything more romantic than “The problems of your past are your business. The problems of your future are my privilege.”? I don’t think so.

john watson his last vow

The highlight of Series Three, however, was John and Sherlock’s drunken Stag Night.  I’m not gonna SAY Martin’s delivery of “Yeah, but am I pretty lady?” tipped the scales in his favor when it came to him winning this honor, but I’m not going to deny it either.  I think I can safely speak for Sage when I say we would have watched an entire episode of those drunk idiots gleefully clueing for looks.

Well, now he can say “Fuck you, I won a BAFTA and an Emmy.”  Also, I don’t think I will ever forgive the circumstances that made him miss the Emmys this year, therefore denying us an acceptance speech. (FINE.  It’s because he was playing Richard III in London.  Whatever.) Martin and Benedict BOTH won and NEITHER were there…probably because they knew that their collective wins and speeches would have plunged Tumblr into a black hole, never to be heard from again.  Worth it, I would say. (And I think Tumblr would agree.)

— Kim

Recreating mid-’90s indie magic in Fargo:

fargo bad boy

There were a lot of things that could have gone wrong with Noah Hawley’s miniseries adaptation of the Coen Brothers’ 1996 film. It could have turned off viewers by re-writing a beloved screenplay, alienated new fans by being too precious about the material, or missed the tiny, moving target that is the movie’s brand of dark comedy. But Team Fargo succeeded by combining serious respect for its inspiration with audaciously doing its own thing. “Its own thing” included casting an internet-famous British actor to take the lead as a Minnesotan sad-sack who becomes a soulless bastard. Cut to Martin being nominated for all the awards.

fargo nifty pens

To begin with, HOW DOES THAT ACCENT COME OUT OF HIM? I might not believe it if he hadn’t DONE IT FOR ME HIMSELF. Yes, this year I got a few minutes with Martin on the red carpet for the Paley Center preview of the show, and I managed to somehow stay upright and vaguely human for the entire interview. We chatted about the challenges of the part (including the dialect) and of the brutal weather on location. I waited until the end to begin gushing about his work on this past season of Sherlock, which he graciously endured and thanked me for. It was because of him that I tuned into the PBS premiere in the first place. (Benedict Whom-berbatch?) He’s my favorite living actor and I’ll be forever grateful that I had the chance to tell him how much I appreciate the humanity he brings to every role. I also want to note that a small group of fans waited just beyond the red carpet and I witnessed their interaction. One such fan – who’d worn a suit for the occasion – held out his hand and said it was a pleasure to meet him. Martin shook his hand heartily, thanked him for coming, and even complimented his ensemble (“Very sharp.”), all without a hint of irony. CLASS. I feel that some interpret Martin’s sarcastic humor as ungratefulness or an unwillingness to engage with the adoring masses. But what I saw was sincere. My hero-worship of him only got worse that day.

fargo lester diner

ANYWAY, FARGO. If you watched it, you get it. If you didn’t, get on it. Those people didn’t hack each other up in sub-zero temperatures for you to not tune in. Dontcha know.

–Sage

Taking on Richard III, and our beard fetish:

We weren’t there, as we tragically live in America, but we are SURE he was awesome.  Plus, beard porn.

In lieu of being able to share our own experiences, let’s look at Martin’s reviews, shall we?

The Guardian: Martin Freeman is an original, not massively humped Richard, who coolly examines each phrase as if it were a poisoned proposition. Contained and caustic, he gets his way not by seductive snarling; not even exactly by fear, but by careful planning.

The Guardian (again): It’s fair to say that Freeman’s Richard is perfectly suited to the concept. This is no grandiose villain but a dapper, smooth-haired figure who only gradually reveals his psychopathic tendencies. And although Freeman chops up the verse into neat little segments rather than giving us the architecture of a speech, he has the capacity to make each phrase tell: “simple, plain Clarence”, for instance, becomes a withering put-down of his gullible brother.

 

Variety: He nails the self-satisfied psychopathic side with tiny, well-placed bursts of self-satisfied humour. Even when furious at his loss of control and power, he always keeps the audience with him because he never shouts or loses control.

HuffPo: Martin Freeman has a well-deserved reputation for interesting approaches to text and impeccable comic timing and both those talents are well-used here. He has a great knack for using pauses for dramatic effect and sources of humour, such as when he’s asked to address the nobles, all of whom he will of course murder on his way to the top, the disdain is palpable as he starts “Amongst this princely…heap.”

The Independent: Freeman gives a highly intelligent, calculatedly understated performance, full of witty mocking touches in his rapid line-readings (he refers to “this princely….heap” with a comically fastidious pause) and creating a rapport of shared superiority with the audience over his dupes.

BEARD.

You get the picture.

— Kim

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The Top 20 Television Moments of 2014 – Part One

hannibal love your work

Posted by Kim and Sage

As all our shows go home for their winter breaks (with 60 pounds of laundry for mom!), it’s time to embark on our annual year-end coverage!

We kick off our celebration of all things 2014 with part one of our Top 20 TV Moments. Trust us when we tell you that this has been a 12-month discussion; we’ve been analyzing and re-analyzing our picks since this year was even a thing.

A few disclaimers:

1. These moments are presented in no particular order. Feel free to rank in the comments, but we’re not doing the dirty work for you.

2. Spoilers obviously present. If you are phobic, you might want to scroll down and take a look at the tags to keep yourself safe.

That said, here are half of our favorite TV moments from this jam-packed year. Remember – there are ten more coming. So you can’t yell at us for leaving anything out. Yet.

1) Sherlock kisses Molly – Sherlock

Watching any episode of Sherlock is a heady experience. They are few and they are precious. When I watch one for the first time, I’m caught between a desperate need for the adventure’s conclusion and “DON’T FORGET ONE MOMENT OF THIS, SAGE.” It’s a thin line to walk.

After two years of the waiting game, season three opened with an escape sequence of Bond-ian proportions. And the cherry on top of the whole sexy spy act was the moment that Sherlock Holmes crashed through a glass window like a damn hero and reminded Molly Hooper why she keeps on dealing with his nonsense.

It is a genuine, pearl-clutching moment and, as Kim just said to me, “pure fanservice.” Up until this point, this swashbuckling, bodice-ripping Holmes only existed in fan fiction. And then Benedict Cumberbatch is on our TV screens (laptop screens, for those of us who are crap at waiting) ruffling his Sherlock locks (Just keep the curls for ONE hiatus, BC. We’re begging you.) and taking Molly’s face in his hands to give her something to remember him by. It was barely January and the first entry on this list was locked down like a cell block.

I maintain that this moment is canon, even if the rest of Anderson’s action-fantasy is not. My reasons for this are four-fold. Firstly: Molly Hooper deserves this. I want so much to believe that Sherlock acknowledged her sacrifice; she had more to lose than anyone. Secondly, they’re suuuuuper weird around each other the rest of the season, especially when the conversation comes down to love and sex. Something totally went down. Next, we find Molly in Sherlock’s mind palace in “The Last Vow.” She’s vital to him. And finally: I ship it and I want this and this is about me.

Irregardless of the reality of the situation, this was good, panty-droppin’ stuff. I’ll leave you with Louise Brealey’s thoughts on the matter, because she sees us.

louise tweet kiss

And maybe she is us.

–Sage

2) Pierce Hawthorne’s Last Will and Testament – Community

Season Five of Community was a mixed bag creatively, especially in the back half of the season after Donald Glover left the show.  Maybe it is because the show blew its wad on the one-two punch of “Cooperative Polygraphy” and “Geothermal Escapism” because those two episodes were perfect send-offs for two of the Original Greendale Seven, Pierce Hawthorne and Troy Barnes.  The final scene of “Cooperative Polygraphy” is the perfect mix of sweet and sour that is oh so Community that I am going to just paste all of the dialogue here.

Mr. Stone: Britta Perry Do you know that you hate yourself more than you should and that your passion inspired me?
Britta: No.
Abed: That’s true.  She didn’t know.
Mr. Stone: To Miss Perry, I leave my iPod Nano filled with music to take life less seriously by.
Shirley: Oh, that’s nice.
Mr. Stone: I also leave you this liquid nitrogen cooled cylinder of my hyper-virile sperm in case your lesbian lifestyle one day wears out and you wish to raise an army of geniuses.  Shirley?
Shirley: Hmm?
Mr. Stone: Did you know that you are not only a credit to your race and gender, but to our species, and that I was intimidated by your strength of character and business acumen? To Shirley Bennett, I leave my spacious timeshare in Florida, where she can take What’s-his-name and however many children she has now. I also leave you a cylinder of my sperm. Annie Edison. Did you know that you were always my favorite?
Annie: You mentioned it once, but…
Mr. Stone: I leave you this tiara, which you once refused to accept. It’s the same tiara I used to wear when my mother would verbally assault me for not being a little girl. Also sperm. Jeff Winger, did you know you’re gay?

Jeff: No.
Mr. Stone: Agree to disagree. To you, I leave this bottle of fine scotch so that you’re less tempted to drink this cylinder of even finer sperm. Abed Nadir, did you know that you are insane and nothing that you said ever made any sense to me?
Abed: Yep.
Mr. Stone: Here’s your sperm. Troy Barnes, did you know that you possess the greatest gift life can give: The heart of a hero. And that it’s up to you not to waste it like I did?
Troy: I think.
Mr. Stone: To Troy, I leave the obligatory sperm.
Troy: Maybe it’s because everyone else got one, and because it’s an old man’s semen, but, um, I’m kind of disappointed.
Mr. Stone: In addition, I am prepared to leave Troy Barnes my remaining shares in the Hawthorne Wipes company, currently valued at $14.3 million. On one condition. You must first sail my boat, the Childish Tycoon, by yourself around the entire world.
Troy: What?
Mr. Stone: When I was 23, my father asked me to do the same thing to earn my adulthood and his fortune. Of course I cheated and floated off the coast of Belize for a year doing coke with John Denver. I always regretted it. I’d like to give you a chance to do what I never did…Become your own man.

The INSTANT Britta was given the iPod nano, I started sobbing and cursing Dan Harmon’s brilliance because of the above image, hilariously from one of the most loathed episodes of Community, season one’s “The Art of Discourse”.  It’s a little serendipitous that Chevy Chase left the show in 2014 (hell, it’s serendipitous the show was still even AIRING in 2014) and while I doubt that this moment was planned from season one, the fact that the writers added in this callback shows JUST how much attention they pay to the rich history of the show (and that makes me angry when they DON’T pay attention like when they create a brother for Annie Edison out of NOWHERE.  I digress).  The whole scene was a love letter to the fans of the show, between the iPod, Annie’s Tiara, and Pierce getting one more “Gay” dig in at Jeff.  But most of all what this scene did is exemplify that Pierce, though he may have been a bastard and he may have been bad at showing it, truly loved and respected  his study group friends.  They were his family and he loved them and at the end of the day, he wanted to be sure they knew that.  The gifts he gave to them all proved that he knew all of them better than they thought he did…and that he believed in them.  And finding people who believe in you and love you FOR your weirdness?  That’s what Community is all about, my friends.

— Kim

3) Diamond Dan Dances for Mindy – The Mindy Project

For most of the year, Danny and Mindy’s first kiss on the airplane had a solid slot locked down on this list.   On September 16th, everything changed.  Sage and I were at a screening of Gillian Anderson’s A Streetcar Named Desire the night of the season three premiere of The Mindy Project.  When we emerged emotionally exhausted from the screening, both of us had multiple (spoiler-free) text messages from friends making sure we were alive.  I rushed home as fast as the MTA would carry me and immediately queued up “We’re A Couple Now, Haters”.  When it was revealed that Danny Castellano had a stripper past, I immediately started saying Hail Mindys that we would get to see Chris Messina show off his moves (as we all knew he had them, thanks to “Christmas Party Sex Trap”).  And in the last minutes of the episode, my prayers were answered and I curled up on the couch making dying animal noises at my television screen.  “What did I do to deserve this wonderous moment,” I wailed at my TV.  “I must have been very very good this year.”  And then I promptly texted Sage to check to see if she was conscious.  (She was.  Barely.)

Danny Castellano dancing to “American Woman” for his girlfriend is important for many reasons, not just for the fact that these gifs exist on the internet to cheer you up on a dreary day from here to eternity.  (Seriously…having a shit day?  Stare at these gifs for a while.) Diamond Dan is important because in a culture where it’s usually the woman doing the sexy striptease (Magic Mike aside), Mindy Kaling flipped the script and had the MAN be the one being blatantly objectified, while the woman greedily watches.  As Sage pointed out in her recap of this episode, the fact that both Danny and Mindy are DEAD SERIOUS in this scene is what makes it so special.  Mindy is not hooting and hollering like so many women tend to be portrayed as doing in a male stripper situation.  Danny is not doing some half-assed version of his routine as a joke.  He does the routine full-out, never taking his eyes off her.  In his seriousness, he makes it known that he completely trusts Mindy with his past. He also makes it known that this is a seduction to please HER and that there are going to be some SERIOUS sexytimes to follow.

He IS like a thirsty camel at a desert oasis, after all.

— Kim (and I am sure you won’t mind one more gif so here you go.  I SAVED THE BEST FOR LAST.)

4) Clara Gets a Phone Call – Doctor Who

It took us about 30 seconds to accept the Twelfth as our Doctor and savior, but Clara Oswald needed just a bit more time. “Deep Breath” did a fabulous job of transitioning a companion from a familiar, cuddly Doctor to his more dangerous and less knowable regeneration. And we can argue over the rules and what we consider to be the breaking of them, but that won’t make this surprise cameo by Matt Smith any less powerful.

My heart aches for anyone who was spoiled for this scene. I myself was sitting in the dark among a few thousand Whovians (annnnnnd Peter and Jenna and Moffat, thank you very much) at the Ziegfeld screening when Eleven called Clara from Trenzalore. I promptly burst into tears.

Clara: Hello? Hello?
Eleven: It’s me.
Clara: Yes, it’s you. Who’s this?
Eleven: It’s me Clara. The Doctor.
Clara: What do you mean “The Doctor”?
Eleven: I’m phoning you from Trenzalore, from before I changed. It’s all still to happen to me. It’s coming. Oh, it’s coming. Not long now. I can…feel it.
Clara: Why? Why did you do this?
Eleven: Because I think it’s gonna be a whopper. And I think you might be scared. And however scared you are, Clara, the man you are with right now, the man I hope you are with, believe me, he is more scared than can imagine right now, and he needs you. Is that The Doctor?
Twelve: Is that the Doctor?
Clara: Yes.
Eleven: He sounds old. Please tell me I didn’t get old. I was young. Oh. Is he gray?
Clara: Yes.
Eleven: Clara, please, hey, for me. Help him. Go on. And don’t be afraid. Goodbye Clara. Miss ya.

Most of the criticism that this scene was met with accused it of being gimmicky – a shortcut to full companion/audience acceptance of Twelve. For me, it was a proper goodbye to Eleven, since “Time of the Doctor” was a sloppy travesty.

Moreover, I don’t think that the call left the writers or the actors off the hook. If anything, Matt’s appearance highlighted the stark differences between Eleven and Twelve. “Miss ya,” Eleven says, with so much emotion in his voice that it hurts to hear it, right before Twelve reacts to Clara’s hug like she’s crawling with cooties. These are different men, and we’re going to deal with that. You better believe we’re gonna deal with that.

“Deep Breath” is a suspenseful debut in need of an emotional center. This scene brought us a welcome quiet moment for the Doctor and his companion to take stock and get back on the same page. And all three stars acted the hell out of it. Matt with his weary cheerfulness; Jenna putting on her brave face because she knows it’s the right thing to do; and Peter infusing this thorny Doctor with heart wrenching vulnerability. (“Please…just see me.”) Things for Clara and Twelve wouldn’t be easy from this point on, but at least she finally saw the person standing right in front of her.

–Sage

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