Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Speak of the Devil

And I wake this morning to find news that CBS is doing its own modern-day Sherlock Holmes show (called Elementary), which will star Jonny Lee Miller as Holmes -- a quirk of casting which is seriously amusing if you know the history here.

Now, look, I'll be the first to admit that I initially avoided Britain's modern-day Sherlock in the fear that it would suck donkey balls, but was proven oh-so-delightfully wrong in about the first 10 seconds of the pilot episode.  The folks who made Sherlock know what they're doing.  So, I will be nice and open-minded and give CBS's Elementary a shot, on the basis, that, hey, despite the facts that (1) a great deal of American remakes of British shows are humiliating embarrassments (Life on Mars, anyone?) and (2) Sherlock is pretty much all the modern-day Holmes I can conceivably need, it is possible that they'll get it right, right?

Honestly, I doubt it.  American television has been dancing around the edges of a modern-day Holmes for years.  (Monk and The Mentalist both have aspects, although I think House takes the cake for the sheer ballsiness of it.)  Elementary is going to be different, because it is a full-on Holmes update; they're not just sneaking Holmes-esque characters in there and hoping we won't notice.  But, based on past experience with the dumbing down of American television, I really question whether we're going to get all the adorable nods to the original Holmes stories that Sherlock gives us.  Sherlock works on two levels -- it's a great detective story even if you aren't familiar with the original; but it has an extra level of inside jokes if you do.  Is Elementary going to give us such delightful throwaways as "The Geek Interpreter" and "The Speckled Blonde"?  Man, I hope so -- but I fear not.

The casting of Jonny Lee Miller raises another question -- is he going to play an Englishman in New York or an American Holmes?  Lord knows, Miller can play American -- I thought he was American after his creepy run as Jordan Chase on Dexter -- but he is an actual Brit. 

And then there's also that amusing bit -- the British Sherlock is played by the terrific Benedict Cumberbatch (who was recently cast as the villain in the next Star Trek pic, and has been getting all sorts of film work of late because he's just that good).  Cumberbatch and Miller have shared roles before -- they alternated in the roles of Frankenstein and the Creature in the National Theatre's production of Frankenstein (painstakingly reviewed by yours truly over here) (and to be rescreened in cinemas this summer, keep an eye out).  Alternating roles, the two of them worked together, copied bits from each other that they liked, and generally pushed each other to better work.  Will any of that happen again, if they're both playing modern-day Sherlocks on TV? 

Best Valentine's Day Ever

OK, admittedly, not the most traditional Valentine's Day ever, but if I was going to spend it alone, I don't think I possibly could have chosen a better way to spend it if I'd planned it.  (I don't think I planned it.  If I did plan it, it was subconsciously.  So, way to go, subconscious!)

Basically, I'd been sitting on the third episode of the second season of Sherlock (thank you, for a couple weeks, and, in the absence of anything else to watch tonight, I thought, hey, let's crank up the code-free DVD player and check it out.

Now, I realize this doesn't live up to my usual standard of insightful critical commentary, but "OMG!  THAT WAS SO FREAKIN' AWESOME!"  I spent at least an hour of it leaning forward on the edge of the couch, just grinning like an idiot.  (And it was all the more impressive for the fact that the previous episode kinda, well, blew.  Maybe they do this intentionally -- but it certainly made me lower my expectations.)

The fine folks at PBS are going to be airing this on Masterpiece Mystery in May, but spending my Valentine's Day with Sherlock and Moriarty fighting out the final problem (and a plot point that actually had me yelling "thank you!" at the television) could not have been more perfect.  

(Also:  It's Jen!  From The IT Crowd.  I knew I recognized that not-nearly-as-bright-as-she-thought-she-was characterization from someplace.)

Happy!  Happy!  Happy!  

Sunday, February 5, 2012

That Can't Be Good

Went to see Chronicle yesterday.  Clearly, I was misled by all the snippets on Rotten Tomatoes that said it was a unique origin story.  Really?  "Guys find bizarre alien-type thing underground that gives them special powers" is unique?  I'm pretty sure I've seen that, like, a zillion times before.

This is how not-exciting the movie was.  My one abiding thought as I left the theater was:  "Really?  They have Strepsils in Seattle?"

OK, some background.  Strepsils are these pretty awesome throat lozenges which I have found in England and pretty much every country Britain used to own except us.  (Have purchased Strepsils in:  England, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, Canada and Hong Kong.  Also Iceland, which I don't think Britain had a hand in, but I am American and therefore my knowledge of World History and Geography is a bit dodgy.)  In any event, as I'm sure I've posted several times before, the damn things are awesome, and completely unavailable in the U.S.  (I'm sure there's some global conspiracy to keep us from the good lozenges the rest of the planet has access to.)  I keep stocked up thanks to international travel, my friends' international travel, and (when all else fails) Canadian pharmacies on the internet.

So, imagine my surprise when a character in Chronicle strolls on up to a pharmacy counter, and we clearly see a couple of boxes of Strepsils prominently placed on the shelf behind the pharmacist, in what is either a case of blatant product placement or a prop guy who just really likes Strepsils.  Because I'm pretty sure this movie is taking place in Seattle and its environs -- and, last I checked, Seattle is part of the U.S., and is therefore a Strepsil-free-zone.

I noted in the credits that a lot of this thing was filmed in South Africa.  (The Brits had a hand in there, so I wouldn't at all be surprised if they do, in fact, have Strepsils in their pharmacies.  But I would be surprised if Chronicle went to a local pharmacy to shoot the scene, rather than, y'know, building one.)  I also noticed in the credits (at least, I thought I did -- I don't see it in the listing on imdb) that someone was credited for "U.S. Props."  If that means this person was in charge of making a South African set look American, I'd say there was a fail there.

I've ultimately concluded that it wasn't a mistake.  It was intentional product placement and Strepsils may have even ponied up for it.  My conclusion is based on the premise that the other thing I noticed about Chronicle is it wasn't very talky.  There wasn't a ton of dialogue in it -- and where there was dialogue, you very often didn't see the face of one of the people in the conversation.  In other words:  Big action movie; easy to dub.  This is probably meant for a big ol' international release, and folks in other countries will be totally receptive to the whole Strepsils thing.

Either that, or this is the first step in a covert advertising plan to prepare the United States for an upcoming release of Strepsils here.  A girl can hope.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Hi. I'm me.

I blame Facebook.

See, back when I first used AOL (aka: Internet With Training Wheels), everyone was all concerned about anonymity.  So you'd make up your cute little "screen name" and hide behind it, and never mention your real name, or where you lived, or post photos of your kids, or anything like that.  Because people could stalk you, or steal your identity, or kidnap your kids.  The internet was a scary, scary place, and we all had to take PRECAUTIONS.

Somehow, that's all changed.  Somehow, we're permitted -- even ENCOURAGED -- to use our actual identities online.  

And I do blame Facebook.

Or, rather, I think that is the actual genius of Facebook -- the thing that makes it worth tens of billions of dollars.  (At least, I think it is -- seeing as my only real knowledge of Facebook comes from The Social Network.)  But since Facebook started off as an exclusive, private in-school-only thing, everyone was encouraged to use it as themselves -- you know, like an actual facebook.  Cause it was safe, and everyone knew everyone else anyway.  Eventually, membership gets opened up to the general public and next thing you know 800 million people are their actual selves on the internet.

I mention all this because, as of today, if you put any sort of effort into it, you could pretty much find me.

See ... I'm a theatre critic -- and when I review, I review under my own name.

And the Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle, of which I am a proud member, has just decided to leap into last decade and start a twitter feed.  Which, of course, encouraged me to finally make with the tweets my own self. But if I'm going to actually be all tweety in a theatre sense, I have to use my real name.  And when twitter asks if I want it to link to my blog, I thought, "Hell, with it, let's go public!"

(I also thought:  Oh crap.  Did I ever blog anything bad about an actor that I wouldn't want getting back to me?  And I'm sure that if you looked closely enough, I probably did.  But, mostly, I've been very careful to not publish anything I wouldn't want to get back to me -- on the theory that, even with anonymity, it probably would.)

So, there it is.  @perlmutterS

My theatre geek self will now overlap with my regular geek self.  My universe will implode in 10...9...8...