January 2016 Media Round-up (TV)

Current shows: 8 Out of 10 Cats Does Countdown, And Then There Were None, Brooklyn Nine-Nine, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, Elementary, Grandfathered, It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, iZombie, Jane the Virgin, Marvel’s Agent Carter, Mozart in the Jungle, Shameless, Siblings, The 100, The Flash, The Good Wife, The Perfect Insider, The X-Files, War and Peace 

Pilots tried: Angie Tribeca, Cuckoo, Desperate Romantics, Idiotsitter, The Magicians

One-off specials: Sherlock: The Abominable Bride, The Big Fat Quiz of Everything

Also: Assorted episodes of Never Mind the Buzzcocks, The Graham Norton Show, and 8 out of 10 Cats Does Countdown because I am a disgusting Anglophile.


Things of note:

Sherlock: The Abominable Bride

I’ve been keeping up with Sherlock more or less from when it first aired, but I somehow never got emotionally invested in it. I don’t care about the characters and I don’t care about the plot, and this has basically been true since the beginning1. It is one of the main reasons why Elementary is the superior modern Sherlock Holmes adaptation2 to me—it’s maybe not as stylistically distinct as Sherlock, but the Holmes/Watson dynamic feels more organic and earned, I think. Part of this is just a basic structural thing: Elementary‘s 24-episode seasons airing every year allow more room for character growth and development than Sherlock’s three part series airing every two years.

It bothers me that Sherlock seems to hit the reset button on the Sherlock/John relationship every episode; this might be an oversimplification because I haven’t actually watched any of these again since they aired, but I feel like each episode will start with Sherlock being super cold and inconsiderate, have some sort of big fight between Sherlock and John in the middle where John demands that he act more human and Sherlock claims to be a “high functioning sociopath”, and end with Sherlock saving John’s life and revealing that oh, he really does care about John more than anything else. And within that episode that’s treated as a major turning point for their relationship, and a bunch of GIFs of it will be made, but it loses its impact and becomes less interesting as the same conflict and (temporary) resolution occur over and over again. But maybe if you only get three episodes every two years you don’t want any major changes to the Johnlock dynamic you signed up for?

Anyway, The Abominable Bride was super dumb and not even in an especially fun way, but I just don’t care enough about the show to be angry or anything. I’m surprised I didn’t see more outrage on Tumblr about the implicit comparison being made between suffragettes and the KKK, given the original “Five Orange Pips” story. Either I stopped following anyone who cares about Sherlock or everyone stopped caring about Sherlock, I guess.

And Then There Were None

I think this gifset is what convinced me to watch this, and I don’t know if there’s anything more important to add to that, really.

Haven’t read any Agatha Christie so can’t comment on how faithful this is as an adaptation; it does a good job of setting the ambience/tension, though—it definitely got more stressful to watch as the series progressed and the number of survivors decreased, to the point where by the last half hour or so I was just super creeped out and unhappy to be watching this alone in my apartment at night.

War and Peace (2016 BBC series)

I have never actually read War and Peace3, so, again, I can’t comment on how this works as an adaptation of the source material. There are maybe some pacing issues—in particular, the whole Natasha/Anatoly engagement and failed elopement seems to happen too quickly, although perhaps that was on purpose to get across the whirlwind romance feel—and the dialogue is mostly bland and/or clunky, but fuck it, I am so into this miniseries. Some reasons why:

  • The sets and costumes and people are gorgeous; parts of the show are filmed in the Catherine Palace, which I have been lucky enough to see in person and also maybe own a dress of it? Baroque Russian opulence is basically the aesthetic ideal.
  • The soundtrack has this fascinating traditional Russian hymns meet Philip Glass thing going on.
  • The show’s cinematography is great at conveying different types of dreamy ambiences—in particular, the Significant Dance between Andrei and Natasha and the entire battlefield sequence in episode 5.
  • The show fucking loves having James Norton emote with trees, and I love the show for that.
  • Tom Burke going around ruining people through cuckoldry and gambling: delightful and much more attractive than he is in The Musketeers.


1. Why watch the show at all then, you might ask? I think I was forced to watch the pilot at a sleep-over, and as for the rest: high production values and a need/desire to keep up with a certain strain of nerd pop culture, I guess? Although given how little I saw on social media about this latest episode, the latter reason may no longer be as valid as it was like 5 years ago. ^
2. Well, I’m not super familiar with the Sherlock Holmes canon—I’ve read The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, but that’s it—so I’m never actually evaluating either series in terms of how well it functions as an adaptation. ^
3. And I still don’t feel super compelled to, given how much of a chore it was to get through Anna Karenina when I had to read it for a Tolstoy & Dostoevsky course in college. In fact, I’m not sure I ever actually finished it? ^


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