Friday, September 28, 2012

TV Review: Elementary - Pilot Episode

Jonny Lee Miller and Lucy Liu as Sherlock Holmes and Joan Watson in Elementary Pilot Episode
 Jonny Lee Miller and Lucy Liu as Sherlock Holmes and Joan Watson in CBS Elementary

The pilot starts with a struggle inside a house between a red-headed woman and an unknown assailant and the scene closes with the assumed murder.

As is usually the case with other adaptations and the Canon itself, we first meet Watson. In this instance, it is Joan Watson, played remarkably well by Lucy Liu. She has been hired to be the sober companion to Sherlock Holmes (Jonny Lee Miller) by the latter’s father.

Sherlock is a recovering drug addict and escapes from the rehabilitation facility he was admitted to, right on the day of his release. He attributes his action to sheer boredom.

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Captain Tobias Gregson (Aidan Quinn) calls in Sherlock to solve the aforementioned murder. Detective Javier Abreu (Manny Perez) is not very keen on getting outside assistance.

Click on the link below to buy your copy of Season 1:

The rest of the episode goes along predictable lines: Holmes and Watson get to know each other and the murder case is resolved as well.

This adaptation in addition to being set in the modern times has a female Watson. What’s more, Sherlock’s father is around and is playing an active role in Sherlock’s life. To the best of my knowledge, this is a new in the annals of Sherlock Holmes adaptations.

Jonny Lee Miller makes an OK Sherlock Holmes. This version of Sherlock worked as a consulting detective in London, before moving to NY. Miller's Sherlock does not have any idiosyncrasies or quirks that can make his portrayal unique or stand out from the crowd.

Jonny Lee Miller and Lucy Liu as Sherlock Holmes and Joan Watson in Elementary Pilot Episode
Lucy Liu as Joan Watson

Lucy Liu gives the better performance (in my humble opinion) as Joan Watson, the everyman we can relate to. Her interactions with Miller’s Holmes are very typical of the ones we have read in A Study in Scarlet. Liu successfully sells the concept of a female Watson and deserves credit. The casting of Liu raised a lot of eyebrows and I can say with confidence that Liu makes a great Watson.

Jonny Lee Miller and Aidan Quinn as Sherlock Holmes and Captain Gregson in Elementary Pilot Episode
Aidan Quinn as Captain Tobias Gregson

Aidan Quinn makes a likeable Tobias Gregson. He respects Holmes for his skills. I still miss Lestrade. The Official Police Force is never the same without our little sallow, rat-faced Inspector!

The direction by Michael Cuesta is competent. The music and cinematography are adequate.

Canonical References
  1. In the story His Last Bow, Sherlock mentions he is writing a book on Bee Keeping entitled “Practical Handbook of Bee Culture, with some Observations upon the Segregation of the Queen”. Miller’s Sherlock quotes the exact name of the book and also maintains a bee hive on his terrace! This is easily the best Canonical reference and I am curious as to how they are going to top this one in the upcoming episodes.
  2. In The Adventure of the Red Circle and The Adventure of the Red-Headed League, Sherlock Holmes displays his enjoyment of music. In Elementary, Sherlock’s father informs Joan Watson about his son’s love for music!
  3. In The Adventure of Charles Augustus Milverton, Holmes breaks into a house to secure some documents. In a superb twist, Miller’s Sherlock breaks out of a facility.
I liked the modern updates to Sherlock’s methods – using Google and Facebook. Nice touches and very Sherlockian in nature.

The episode moved at a good pace and the acting is commendable. The solving of the case involves teamwork from Holmes and Watson.

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Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Elementary - Behind the scenes tour

Jonny Lee Miller and Lucy Liu as Sherlock Holmes and Joan Watson in CBS Elementary

Lucy Liu gives an exclusive behind the scenes set tour of Elementary.

Elementary has Jonny Lee Miller as Sherlock Holmes, Lucy Liu as Joan Watson and Aidan Quinn as Captain Tobias Gregson.

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Friday, September 21, 2012

Book Review: City Under The Moon by Hugh Sterbakov

City Under The Moon by Hugh Sterbakov

NYC finds itself the target of a carefully planned series of werewolf attacks that start on the night of Dec 29. Main target – the New Year's Eve celebration at Times Square. FBI Special Agent Brianna Tildascow zeroes in on one Demetrius Valenkov. An European Werewolf hunter is brought in. The Government and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) work together on finding a solution to the outbreak. Body count rises and the resolution is suitably climactic.

Emmy-nominated author Hugh Sterbakov’s writing is smart and the book has a crisp sense of humor throughout. The characterizations are excellent: Brianna Tildascow – FBI Special Agent and the protagonist, Rebekkah Lufts – National Security Advisor, Dr Melissa Kenzie – the doctor, Lon Toller- the geek, William Weston – President of the US, Dr Jessica Tanner – Director of CDC and Elizabeth – Lon’s girlfriend.

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The story is well-paced and sustains interest from start to finish. There is enough gore around to satisfy the gorehounds. Hugh has paid homage to the Werewolf legend through references to the actor Lon Chaney and the movies Silver Bullet and An American Werewolf in London. Hugh also gets brownie points for his jabs at Twilight and other books of that ilk.

Hugh Sterbakov, author of City Under The Moon
Hugh Sterbakov, the author

What is more striking is his devotion to Bram Stoker’s Dracula. The book has some scenes set in Transylvania and Romania. There are direct references to the Carpathian Mountains and the horse carriage ride while being surrounded by wolves on all sides. The line in the book – “Those hills are alive with the sound of music” instantly reminded me of the classic line in Stoker’s book - "Children of the night. What music they make…".

The book ends with a potential for a sequel. I am definitely looking forward to that one!

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Image Source: City under the Moon

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Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Happy Birthday Hans Zimmer

Hans Zimmer

Hans Zimmer was born on this day in 1957. He is my favorite music composer working in Hollywood today and has done some amazing work in 2 of my all-time favorite movie franchises: Guy Ritchie’s Sherlock Holmes movies and Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy.

Check out this interview of Hans about creating music for Sherlock Holmes. Hans has been a longtime fan of the Sherlock Holmes canon and no wonder that he created absolutely mesmerizing soundtracks for the two movies.

Hans is equally at home, whether working on a fun soundtrack for Sherlock Holmes or a brooding one for the Batman movies.

Hats off to you Hans! Looking forward to your soundtrack for the upcoming Superman movie, Man of Steel and the next Sherlock Holmes movie. 

Here’s wishing You Many More Happy Returns of the Day and a Long and Healthy Life ahead. 

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Image Sources: Wikipedia

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Sunday, September 9, 2012

Blue Iguanas

Blue Iguanas Shedd Aquarium

Blue Iguanas are the most endangered species of iguanas on Earth and fewer than 30 are left in the wild.

They are one of the largest lizards in the western hemisphere and can easily be recognized by their spiny crests and long, curved claws.

Blue Iguanas Shedd Aquarium

Here are some sites for Blue Iguana conservation:

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Taken at Shedd Aquarium, Chicago.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Book Review: A Study in Emerald by Neil Gaiman

Neil Gaiman Sherlock Holmes pastiche A Study in Emerald

Neil Gaiman (The Sandman series) has delivered a Sherlock Holmes pastiche that scores big on Canonical references and is just about adequate on the mystery element.

In the classic tradition, Inspector Lestrade comes knocking at 221 B, seeking Holmes’s assistance. A German royal has been murdered and the word “RACHE” has been inscribed nearby. Holmes applies his powers of observation and deduction and brings the case to a successful conclusion. The story is very brief (about a 9 page PDF to be exact) and revealing any further details will be going into spoiler territory. 

As readers of the canon would have realized, the story is influenced by both A Study in Scarlet and A Scandal in Bohemia. The first encounter between Holmes and Watson at St Bart’s Hospital has been expanded on and Gaiman nails this one perfectly.

Another nice touch is related to Holmes’s advice to Watson in The Final Problem about picking not the 1st or the 2nd hansom. I loved this part and I am sure other Sherlockians will do as well. 

Overall, a decent effort from Gaiman. The House of Silk by Anthony Horowitz is still my favorite Sherlock Holmes pastiche. 

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Image Sources: Neil Gaiman 

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