Friday, November 29, 2013

BBC Sherlock - Season 3 "The Empty Hearse" premeries in the UK on Jan 01 2014

Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman as Sherlock Holmes and John Watson in BBC Sherlock Season 3

The UK air date for “The Empty Hearse”, the first episode of Season 3 of  BBC Sherlock has been set for Jan 01 2014.

The second episode, “The Sign of Three” and the the third episode “His Last Vow” will be broadcast on Jan 05 and Jan 12 respectively. 

Benedict Cumberbatch is one of my favorite actors to play Sherlock Holmes and BBC Sherlock one of my favorite adaptations of Arthur Conan Doyle's legendary creation.

I am happy that the British get to savor this excellent show with the advent of the new year 2014.

The acclaimed show returns to the US on Jan 19 2014.

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Image Sources: BBC Wales, Hartswood Films, Masterpiece Theatre

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Canonical Nods in "The Empty Hearse"
Canonical Nods in "The Empty Hearse"
Canonical Nods in "The Sign of Three"
Canonical Nods in "The Sign of Three"

Thursday, November 21, 2013

CBS Elementary Season 2 Episode # 9 "On the Line" - Review

Jonny Lee Miller as Sherlock Holmes and Lucy Liu as Joan Watson in CBS Elementary Season 2 Episode 9 On the Line

Samantha Wabash, a young woman commits suicide on the Brookyln bridge. Samantha has been accusing Lucas Bundsch (Troy Garity), of abducting and killing her sister, Allie Wabash.

Lucas offers to take a polygraph test to prove his innocence in the death of Samantha. Miller's Holmes observes Lucas and is convinced that while he may not have murdered Samantha, he did murder Allie.

Detective Gerry Coventry (Chris Bauer), who investigated the death of Allie Wabash in 2007, is dismissive of Sherlock's attempts to re-open the case and strongly believes that Lucas was not the killer.

Lucas pays a visit to Sherlock and Joan at their brownstone, after being given their address by Gerry. Sherlock and Joan become even more sure that not only did Lucas kill Allie, but several other women as well.

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Sherlock and Joan discover that Denise Todd (Rachel Alana Handler) and Kathy Spalding (Kate Cullen Roberts) were two other victims of a serial killer. Joan and Detective Bell talk to Tim Spalding (Eric Sheffer Stevens), still hopeful that Kathy will return someday.

Lucas continues to taunt Holmes by texting him the location of his latest victim, Jenna Lombard (Dillan Arrick).

Aidan Quinn as Captain Tommy Gregson in CBS Elementary Season 2 Episode 9 On the Line

I recommend the viewers to check out the episode to find out the resolution to the mystery.

Canonical References

1. Samantha uses a dumbbell to sink the murder weapon - In The Valley of Fear, Sherlock Holmes dumbbell was used to dispose of evidence. He states: “When water is near and a weight is missing it is not a very far-fetched supposition that something has been sunk in the water.”
2. Samantha faking her suicide as a murder to implicate Lucas Bundsch - This is quite similar to the main plot of The Problem of Thor Bridge.
3. Elementary Holmes expressing his views of hoping to check out a crime scene before “evidence is trampled” - This reminded me of A Study in Scarlet, in which Sherlock Holmes vents his frustration at Inspector Gregson over the improper handling of the crime scene: “If a herd of buffaloes had passed along there could not be a greater mess.”
4. Miller's Holmes notices a distinctly chemical sea breeze scent after shaking hands with Lucas Bundsch - Sherlock Holmes states in The Adventure of the Blanched Soldier: “I have, as my friend Watson may have remarked, an abnormally acute set of senses, and a faint but incisive scent was apparent.”

Jonny Lee Miller as Sherlock Holmes and Lucy Liu as Joan Watson in CBS Elementary Season 2 Episode 9 On the Line

5. Miller's Holmes refers to Detective Coventry as “Detective Hip Flask” - In The Hound of the Baskervilles, Inspector Lestrade uses his brandy-flask to help revive Sir Henry Baskerville after he is attacked by the titular hound.
6. Miller's Sherlock states to Joan after lifting her wallet during the taxi ride: “It is a mere reminder that however skilled you know me to be at deducing how crimes are committed, I am every bit as adept at committing them itself” - Sherlock Holmes tells John Watson in The Adventure of Charles Augustus Milverton: “You know, Watson, I don’t mind confessing to you that I have always had an idea that I would have made a highly efficient criminal. This is the chance of my lifetime in that direction.”
7. Elementary Holmes deducing the location of the abducted victim based on the plans of the building - Sherlock Holmes solves The Case of the Norwood Builder by deducing that Jonas Oldacre is hiding in his own house.
8. Elementary Sherlock picking the lock to the secret hiding place in the climax - Sherlock Holmes explains to John Watson about his tools in The Adventure of Charles Augustus Milverton: “This is a first-class, up-to-date burgling kit, with nickel-plated jemmy, diamond-tipped glass-cutter, adaptable keys, and every modern improvement which the march of civilization demands.”

Jonny Lee Miller as Sherlock Holmes in CBS Elementary Season 2 Episode 9 On the Line

This is one of the best episodes in a long time. Troy Garity is hands down the best guest star in the second season (so far). His exchanges with Miller's Holmes, in the brownstone and later at his place of business were very good.

Miller's Holmes commenting that the walls of the brownstone are thin and that they don't hold back blood curdling screams was reminiscent of the characteristic dry humor of the Canonical Holmes.

It would be great if the show writers continue to give us more episodes like this, where Miller gets a chance at playing a credible version of Sherlock Holmes.
 
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Sunday, November 17, 2013

Poirot and Me by David Suchet - Book Review

Poirot and Me by David Suchet 2013 book review
 
This is a review of the Kindle version.

The final episode of Agatha Christie's Poirot, the critically acclaimed adaptation starring David Suchet as the Belgian detective aired recently.

To mark the historic occasion, David has released his take on the making of the series, his preparation for the iconic role and the uncertainties faced during the long running production.

Even though I have read only one or two of Agatha Christie's original stories, I confess to have enjoyed David Suchet's portrayal. In addition to being a good physical match for the legendary detective, Suchet also nails his quirks and accent to perfection.



Vasily Livanov and Vitaly Solomin as Sherlock and Holmes and Dr John Watson in the Russian adaptation of The Hound of the BaskervillesDavid Suchet and Hugh Fraser as Hercule Poirot and Arthur Hastings in Agatha Christie's Poirot


David Suchet is my personal favorite actor to play Hercule Poirot. He captures the essence of the eccentric Belgian detective in a way, that reminds me of Vasily Livanov's performance as Sherlock Holmes: definitive and quintessential.
 
It all started in 1988, when David was approached for the role by producer Brian Eastman. An unsure David was further shaken, as Christie's daughter, the late Rosalind Hicks asked him to ensure that his portrayal should not make a laughing stock out of Poirot.

Jeremy Brett as Sherlock Holmes in the Granada adaptationDavid Suchet as Agatha Christie's Belgian detective Hercule Poirot

Determined to do justice to Agatha Christie's work as well as his own artistic integrity, David set out to read the original stories and prepared a list of the all the idiosyncrasies of the fastidious Poirot. This reminded me of the 77 page “Baker Street File” maintained by the late Jeremy Brett for the Granada adaptation of Sherlock Holmes.

David gives instances of how he fought to keep his version of Poirot loyal to his creator, often against the wishes of the director.


David Suchet, Hugh Fraser and Pauline Moran as Hercule Poirot, Arthur Hastings and Miss Lemon in Agatha Christie's Poirot

Any reader familiar with the Sherlock Holmes and Hercule Poirot stories would have easily noticed the similarities: Arthur Hastings (John Watson), Miss Felicity Lemon (Mrs Hudson) and Chief Inspector James Harold Japp (Inspector Lestrade). 

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David confirms the same by stating that Agatha Christie was a fan of Arthur Conan Doyle's stories when she was growing up.

Agatha differentiated her creation from the world's greatest detective in terms of not only his physicality and personality traits, but also his technique of solving crimes.


David Suchet as the fussy and fastidious Belgian detective Hercule Poirot in Agatha Christie Poirot


Sherlock Holmes is renowned for solving mysteries using his skills of observation and deduction. Hercule Poirot approaches his cases from a psychological perspective.

Just as any adaptation of Sherlock Holmes benefits from the ensemble cast, the Poirot adaptation too has had one of the best ever assembled for a production.


David Suchet and Philip Jackson as Hercule Poirot and Inspector Japp in Agatha Christie's Poirot Christmas


Hugh Fraser, Pauline Moran and Philip Jackson are synonymous with their roles of Hastings, Lemon and Japp respectively.

Zoe Wanamaker as Ariadne Oliver with David Suchet as Hercule Poirot in Agatha Christie's Poirot

The series got even better with the addition of Zoe Wanamaker as Ariadne Oliver, a crime author. Agatha Christie created this character to voice her own frustrations with Hercule Poirot.


The chemistry between Poirot and Oliver is the highlight, whenever she makes an appearance on the show.

Bob, wire-haired terrier dog in Agatha Christie's Poirot Dumb Witness

As good as the aforementioned recurring cast members are, the guest stars have often stolen the show. My personal favorite (and to some extent, David's as well) is Snubby, a wire-haired terrier who played Bob, the title character in “Dumb Witness”.

Also of note is the fact that, two Dr Who actors have been part of the series: Christopher Eccleston (“One, Two, Buckle My Shoe”, 1992) and the current Dr Who, Peter Capaldi (“Wasps' Nest”, 1991).

The series has also benefited from having some on of the finest screenwriters: Clive Exton, Anthony Horowitz and Mark Gatiss. Mark Gatiss would also star in one of the episodes (“Appointment with Death”, 2010).

Nothing in life is a walk in the park and it was not the case for this show either. Despite the cast and crew's best efforts, a few episodes did not turn out well as expected. Further, there were times when David himself was not sure if he would be able to complete his dream of filming all Poirot stories.

To quote Agatha's favorite writer, William Shakespeare himself: All's well that ends well.

David Suchet and Hugh Fraser as Hercule Poirot and Arthur Hastings in Agatha Christie's Poirot

Completing the entire Canon of Agatha Christie's Hercule Poirot stories is a crowning achievement. Very few actors have had such privilege and honor. To the best of my knowledge, Clive Merrison is the only actor to have played Sherlock Holmes in all 56 short stories and 4 novels on radio.

A superb lead actor and supporting cast, combined with lavish budgets (especially for the later seasons) and excellent scripts have resulted in a classic adaptation. A fitting tribute to the genius of the best selling novelist the world has seen.

Congratulations, David and wishing you the very best in your upcoming projects.

Recommended read for fans of David Suchet's Poirot and/or Agatha Christie's stories.

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Image Sources: Poirot and Me by David Suchet, Bending the Willow: Jeremy Brett as Sherlock Holmes by David Stuart Davies, Flickr

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Bending the Willow: Jeremy Brett as Sherlock Holmes

Thursday, November 14, 2013

CBS Elementary Season 2 Episode # 8 "Blood Is Thicker" - Review

Jonny Lee Miller and Lucy Liu as Sherlock Holmes and Joan Watson in CBS Elementary Season 2 Episode 8 Blood Is Thicker

The episode opens with the Holmes brothers, Sherlock (Jonny Lee Miller) and Mycroft Holmes (Rhys Ifans) indulging in a bout of single stick fighting with each other.

Haley Taylor (Kersti Bryan) is killed and her corpse lands on top of a parcel services truck.

Holmes deduces the location of Haley's murder. Detective Marcus Bell (Jon Michael Hill) informs him that the apartment where Haley was murdered belongs to business tycoon, Ian Gale (William Sadler).


Ian's lawyer informs Sherlock and Joan that he is in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia overseeing the plans for a new chip processing plant. Sherlock observes and deduces that Ian is using a stand-in and is in hiding.

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Sherlock and Joan track down Ian Gale to his private room in a posh hotel. His wife, Natalie Gale (Margaret Colin) is taking care of him, in addition to the doctors attending on him. Ian reveals that Haley was his daughter.

Ian has had a heart transplant recently, but his body is rejecting it. 

In the customary subplot, Sherlock is avoiding Mycroft after making appointments. Mycroft wants to hand over the keys to 221 B to Sherlock Holmes.

Rhys Ifans as Mycroft Holmes in CBS Elementary Season 2 Episode 8 Blood Is Thicker

Mycroft Holmes informs Sherlock that their father (yes, Holmes Sr does exist) is expecting Sherlock to return to London and show some gratitude.

Haley's mom, Maureen Tyler (Johanna Day) reveals that she and Haley had an argument before her death.

When Joan and Bell interrogate Natalie, they discover that she was a pediatric surgeon and had the necessary medical knowledge.

Detective Bell informs Sherlock that the fingerprints of Ray McKibben (Kieran Campion) were found at the place of Haley's murder.

I recommend the readers to watch the episode to find out the resolution to the mystery.

Jonny Lee Miller as Sherlock Holmes in CBS Elementary Season 2 Episode 8 Blood Is Thicker

Canonical References

1. Sherlock Holmes gets the better of Mycroft Holmes in their single stick fight - In A Study in Scarlet, Dr John Watson notes that Sherlock Holmes “is an expert singlestick player, boxer, and swordsman.”

2. Mycroft Holmes referring to his restaurant, “Diogenes” as his creation and being proud of it - Sherlock Holmes explains about Mycroft Holmes to Dr John Watson in The Adventure of the Greek Interpreter: “The Diogenes Club is the queerest club in London, and Mycroft one of the queerest men...My brother was one of the founders,.. ”

3. Sherlock's statement to Joan: “My wants in life are simple: a loaf of bread and a clean collar.” - In The Hound of the Baskervilles, Sherlock Holmes tells Dr Watson: “I brought Cartwright down with me—you remember the little chap at the express office—and he has seen after my simple wants: a loaf of bread and a clean collar. What does man want more?”


Margaret Colin as Natalie Gale with Lucy Liu and Jon Michael Hill in CBS Elementary Season 2 Episode 8 Blood is Thicker

4. Sherlock's line to Mycroft Holmes: “Well, I have many passions. Work being first amongst them” - Sherlock Holmes states in The Adventure of the Red-Headed League: “L’homme c’est rien–l’oeuvre c’est tout,..”. This French saying roughly translates as “the man is nothing, the work is everything”.

5. Sherlock's line: “I have not had a paying client for a while. I have been approached on numerous occasions of course, but the interests have not been mutual” - Sherlock Holmes often takes cases in the Canon, purely for the intellectual challenge, without any concern for monetary considerations.
 
Interestingly, the plot of this episode too involved horse racing, similar to previous episode, “The Marchioness” (based on Arthur Conan Doyle's story, The Silver Blaze).

Lucy Liu as Joan Watson in CBS Elementary Season 2 Episode 8 Blood Is Thicker

Jonny Lee Miller gets to show some of the characteristic dry humor possessed by the Canonical Holmes. Joan Watson gets to do some of the main deductions (both medical and non-medical).

Margaret Colin gives one of the best performances in Elementary in a long time. This marks her second appearance in a CBS adaptation of Sherlock Holmes. She previously played Jane Watson (a descendant of Dr John Watson) to Michael Pennington's Sherlock Holmes in the 1987 TV movie “The Return of Sherlock Holmes”. (Credit to an anonymous commenter for this trivia)

Rhys Ifans' Mycroft Holmes is beginning to take on a more sinister nature, as he makes a last phone call to someone, I am guessing to be Jamie Moriarty/Irene Adler (Natalie Dormer).

Trivia
The song “Unofferable” by Half Moon Run can be heard in the final scenes between Sherlock and Mycroft Holmes
 

Not a bad episode, but not one of the best either. Hope the upcoming episodes will be better.

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Thursday, November 7, 2013

CBS Elementary Season 2 Episode # 7 "The Marchioness" - Review

Rhys Ifans as Mycroft Holmes with Jonny Lee Miller and Lucy Liu as Sherlock Holmes and Joan Watson in CBS Elementary Season 2 Episode 7 The Marchioness

Sherlock Holmes (Jonny Lee Miller) is in an alcoholics recovery session. Mycroft Holmes (Rhys Ifans) visits New York with his ex fiancee Nigella Mason (Olivia d'Abo).

Mycroft Holmes has been diagnosed with leukemia and needed a bone marrow transplant. He was able to find a match, thanks to Nigella. He wants to return the favor by enlisting Sherlock's help to solve the mystery behind the murder of Nigella's current boyfriend, Dalton Ladd.

Dalton Ladd is the overseer of horses for his master, Robert Suffolk, Duke of Marquess. Though Nigella is married to Robert, his infidelity causes her to focus her affections on Dalton.

Dalton has been shot dead by an intruder trying to break into the stables with the intention of poisoning the champion, Silver Blaze with concentrated potassium.

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El Mechanico (Andrew Samonsky), an assassin for the Robles drug cartel is the suspect in the case as well as 13 others. But when he is apprehended by the NYPD and has his fingerprints taken, they do not match the ones on the police record.

I recommend the readers to watch the episode to find out the solution.

Canonical References

1. Miller's Holmes's line in the opening scene: “My senses are unusually keen” - Sherlock Holmes himself states in The Adventure of the Blanched Soldier: “I have, as my friend Watson may have remarked, an abnormally acute set of senses,...”

2.Elementary Holmes is seen listening to radio transmissions in search for a case - Sherlock Holmes searches the agony columns in the newspapers for prospective cases in the Canon.

3. Elementary Sherlock's statement: “A lingering meal in the midst of an investigation is a hindrance.... A conversation is an annoyance.” - Sherlock Holmes often skips food (and sleep) when he is working hard on a case. He is also known to avoid human company and any conversation for long stretches of time, when he is concentrating hard on a solution to a case.

Jonny Lee Miller as Sherlock Holmes in CBS Elementary Season 2 Episode 7 The Marchioness

4. Miller's Holmes remarks about Mycroft: “He means less work.” - Sherlock Holmes remarks in The Adventure of the Greek Interpreter: “But he has no ambition and no energy. He will not even go out of his way to verify his own solutions, and would rather be considered wrong than take the trouble to prove himself right.”

5. Miller's Holmes waking up Joan Watson with his single stick - Sherlock Holmes often wakes up John Watson from his sleep in many cases. Further, Sherlock Holmes is a single stick expert.

This episode is Elementary's attempt at adapting Arthur Conan Doyle's original story The Silver Blaze. The opening scene in the alcoholics recovery session, where Miller's Holmes explained his desire to be born in earlier times was a nice touch.

Then the episode takes a nosedive with Sherlock Holmes discussing about his bouts of sex in the past with Nigella.

Rhys Ifans as Mycroft Holmes with Lucy Liu as Joan Watson in CBS Elementary Season 2 Episode 7 The Marchioness

Not to be outdone, it is revealed that Mycroft Holmes and Joan Watson have had sex as well during Sherlock and Joan's visit to London in the episode “Step Nine”.

They now join the equally horrendous pairing of Miller's Holmes and Dormer's Moriarty.

Thank you, CBS.

Recommended only to die-hard fans of the show. The lesser your knowledge of Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes Canon is, the more will be your enjoyment.


Rhys Ifans as Mycroft Holmes with Jonny Lee Miller as Sherlock Holmes in CBS Elementary Season 2 Episode 7 The Marchioness

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