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Direct Beam Comms #57


Sherlock – Season 4 premier: Grade: B+

It’s a bit odd to think that the TV series Sherlock has been around seven years and yet has only ever aired a handful of episodes. Granted, these episodes, 12 as of today, are more like feature films than simple episodes of TV, but in an era when most TV series air in a season in what Sherlock has in four says something about the popularity and staying power of this show.

And so far Sherlock has remained one of the more popular of the BBC export series, turning Benedict Cumberbatch from an actor who appeared on mostly British TV to a legitimate superstar most recently starring in the latest Marvel hit Doctor Strange. And co-star Martin Freeman, who was the one known “face” when Sherlock originally premiered, has gone from “the guy who was in the British version of The Office” to a well-known actor recently starring in the first season of the Fargo TV series, the lead in the Hobbit trilogy of films and now, like Cumberbatch, a part of the Marvel movie universe appearing in several films.

I think the reason for all this popularity is that the tone of Sherlock is just right. It’s mostly light, but sometimes heavy. And comedy plays a large role in the show too, whether we’re laughing at things the characters say or the actions they take. However, this most recent season of Sherlock is reportedly going “darker” than previous seasons which makes me a little nervous in the direction of the show.

This time Sherlock Holmes (Cumberbatch), Dr. John Watson (Freeman), John’s wife Mary (Amanda Abbington) and their infant daughter are back on the case after the events of the third season finale seem to indicate that Holmes’ nemesis Moriarty (Adam Scott) might still have evil plans in the works even after his death. What starts as Holmes believing that the mystery he’s trying to solve is one Moriarty set into motion to harass Holmes post-death turns instead into something from Mary’s dark past that comes to haunt the trio.

And the first episode of the fourth season does go dark, much darker than before. While I thought the episode was still good, I’m not sure how this bodes on the longevity of the show. On the one hand I can’t see Sherlock lasting much longer, especially with Cumberbatch and Freeman being in such demand elsewhere making the gap between seasons of the series so long — other than last year’s Christmas special the last episode of the series aired nearly three years ago. So it would make sense for series creators Mark Gatiss and Steven Moffat to shake things up a bit if they are really getting towards the end, to try out some new kinds of stories that weren’t possible before and take the show in a different direction. Still, even if the series has been on the air for those seven years there’s been so little story covered in that time that going dark now feels really odd. Like, even if Gatiss and Moffat had simply done another Sherlock series in tone with what’s come before I don’t think anyone would be complaining that they’re trudging on story ground covered in previous seasons of the show — they could spend years more exploring that version of Sherlock and never do the same story twice.

The Mick – First two episodes of season 1 – Grade: C

The first two episodes of the new Fox comedy The Mick premiered last week. The show, about Mackenzie Murphy (Kaitlin Olson) who’s forced to raise her spoiled niece and nephews after her sister and husband flees the country ahead of a federal indictment is all right, if I get the feeling this has all been done before. The Mick is equal parts Arrested Development — a family member is forced to swoop in help out their extremely wealthy family after the feds find that wealth was gotten by less than legal means — by way of the raunchy over the top humor of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia. It doesn’t help matters that the Mackenzie character here Olson plays is essentially the same character she plays on It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia. Heck, The Mick might actually be interesting if it were a spin-off of that show since there doesn’t seem to be a lot of originality going on in here.

I think what hurts The Mick the most is that there’s absolutely no characters in it the audience can identify with. It’s okay if a few or even most of the characters in a show are unlikable, but there’s no one on The Mick from Makenzie who’s a self-centered drunk, to the sister who abandons her family or even the niece or nephews who are the stereotypical spoiled rich kids you hope will fail but realize will probably be running the world someday to root for, which makes watching The Mick one long drag.

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This week in pop-culture history

  • 1976: The TV series The Bionic Woman premiers
  • 1981: Scanners opens in theaters