Showing posts from January, 2014


One of the good things about the long, two-year gap between Sherlock 's second and third seasons (aside from the fact that in it we discovered Elementary , and suddenly Sherlock and its flaws seemed a lot less important) is that in that time the mainstream conversation about the show shifted from a tug-of-war between near-ecstatic praise and near-total denigration to a more universal acceptance of the show's massive flaws--which leaves more space to acknowledge its good qualities.  (This shift, I suspect, has a lot to do with the increasingly fatigued reactions to Stephen Moffat's work on Doctor Who ; it's easier to see the same flaws occurring in Sherlock when you've already cataloged them on a show that is more blatantly running out of steam.)  If you're a fan of pop culture criticism, this is a bonanza; fewer people are attacking or defending the show, and more are considering it more deeply, and from different angles.  I've collected a few interesting

The Detective Dances: Thoughts on Sherlock's Third Season

As the 2014 Sherlock extravaganza draws to a close, let's pause and reflect on a single moment.  The star of the show is buttonholed.  In front of an expectant audience, he's asked to read words not of his own composition.  Words of an emotional, overheated nature.  Words that might be considered embarrassing.  Great merriment is had, both at his embarrassment and discomfort, and at the silliness of what he's saying in those plummy, aristocratic tones. I could, of course, be talking about the by-now infamous incident at the BFI preview event for Sherlock 's third season, in which Times columnist Caitlin Moran asked Benedict Cumberbatch (and Martin Freeman) to read an explicit Sherlock/John fanfic out loud.  But just as easily, I could be talking about an incident from the third season itself.  In the season's middle episode "The Sign of Three," Sherlock, acting as John Watson's best man at his wedding to Mary Morstan (Amanda Abbington), has the tas

Becoming Something Else: Thoughts on Arrow

For the last decade and a half, as superheroes have migrated from the pages of comics to the very heart of mainstream pop culture, they've been almost exclusively the purview of feature films.  This despite the fact that the long-running, episodic, open-ended comics medium and the bite-sized film medium map very poorly onto one another, a disconnect that has told in what passes for most superhero films' plots.  So the X-Men films have warped an ensemble story into a star vehicle for one character, the Marvel films have uniformly sketchy plots and forgettable villains, the Spider-Man films remain, even before the unnecessary reboot, caught in the gravity well of their hero's origin story, and the Superman films have simply failed to take off.  Only Christopher Nolan's Batman films, for all their problems , have managed to tell an actual story, and even then, it's a story that tends towards its hero's abdication of his heroic role, not his continuing adventures.