Gave Pottermore a whirl yesterday on my last sick day. Got 242 points for Slytherin, won a mess of wizard's duels, brewed a couple of potions, found all the books & chocolate cards. It reminds me exactly of the way plots in Neopets would work. Clunky & mandatory setpieces to click through & repetitive but addictive games. With any luck it'll learn the Neopets lessons of giving out virtual cheese for pressing the lever, once it gets out of beta. Other than that, I gave Sherlock a whirl. I don't usually like long-form television. Or short-form film. I want things to be half an hour or three hours. That alone kept me from giving it a whirl before, plus the fact that Jenny watched the first two episodes & remained unimpressed. I will say this: because it is an hour & a half, & most programs of its type are only an hour, your brain isn't ready for another twist, so that gives it the feeling of a coda that turns into an entire act. From what I picked up off the hivemind, I figured a lot of Moffat's less flattering tendencies had come home to roost. Which isn't wrong, either; it is very much a boys club, with the women in the story-- lets see, there is the landlady that they walk all over, the lady cop that they shame, the lady coroner they ignore & the texting lady who is a cipher. I think that covers all the women in the show, not a speck of agency among them. I wish bromance didn't have such a backwash like that, because if I was able to like it as the story of two broken men bonding, I'd like it! Alas, the saga of straight white male friendships saturates the medium to a distressing, choking point. That is how I watched it, though-- as a funny buddy cop movie starring Bilbo Baggins & Smaug the Magnificent. Come on, you knew this was going to end up being about J.R.R. Tolkien, didn't you? That is why I gave it a shot in the first place!
I talked about this a bit on Twitter, but my first impression was less that it was a reimagining of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes, but more like it was a reimagining of House, which is a reimagining of Sherlock Holmes. Oh, the rude sociopath, got it! Sort of like what Robert Downey Jr. does in his sociopathic Sherlock Holmes imaginings! I don't think it is anything other than convergent evolution-- like I've talked about with space opera in Oubliette & Pathfinder-- just an exempli gratia of how social context can bear on fiction. I mean, given the current state of psychology & literature, of course everyone is excited to look at Holmes as an asocial psychopath. Lets you have a good old fashioned struggle with alienation, which I confess I'm a sucker for. I'm pleased as punch to see Mycroft playing such a big role in the series, because Mycroft was always my favorite part of the Sherlock Holmes mythos. The smarter older brother who plays kingmaker to the little brother who plays detective. It is a nice way of introducing scale, a way to tell us how smart Sherlock is by comparison to his family, & a way to keep him from being too Mary Sue. Undercut him a little without undermining him. Which...is the big problem with the show. I don't want to feel smarter than Sherlock Holmes. I watched the first episode, & then when Jenny came home we watched the third-- I was told to skip the second because it was bad & racist-- & in both episodes there was that element of dramatic irony where the viewer has it figured out but the characters don't. It is a fairly standard trope in mysteries these days, I think...but I don't want that in my Sherlock Holmes.
Yes, duh, the taxi cabs! & I'm not just saying that because the director has been lingering on shots of black cabs from the beginning, you should figure it out! Come on, idiot, of course it is a super nova, you're supposed to be Sherlock Holmes, you saw Chekhov's telescope sitting on the mantle in act two! In the latter case it is a little bit forgivable, because it ends with Watson teasing Sherlock about his boasted ignorance of basic astronomy, which in & of itself is a metacommentary on the original text, which also includes Holmes getting angry about simple facts about the solar system. Sort of a comeuppance on that trope. If the bit with the cab had been played off-- "Holmes is a genius, but so stupid he couldn't see the obvious, which is why he needs a Watson"-- it would have been one thing, but nope. Instead it leads to a Princess Bride stand-off...but no mention of iocane powder or land wars in Asia or anything. That got under my skin, but in the third episode the appearance of Moriarty made up for a lot of flaws. That guy seems crazy. There is a sort of "Joker" vibe coming off him, but Sherlock of course isn't Batman. Maybe the Riddler, but not Batman. Which, wait. A world without Batman where a morally ambiguous Riddler battles the Gotham villains would be...pretty great, actually. Without the black & white of Batman, Two-Face could be more greyscale-- Riddler is outclassed by a lot of the Big Bads & would sometimes need to risk the flip of the coin-- & the crime syndicate of Penguin would be an almost welcome alternative to the hellscape that people like Scarecrow or Poison Ivy would bring. Huh. Anyhow, the second season-- second series, sorry-- is supposed to be the bee's knees, so maybe I'll check it out.