The Sign of Three (Sherlock season 3 Episode 2) TV Show Review

The middle episode in the previous episodes has usually been my least favourite of the three, so I was expected the same of this episode as well. However, The Sign of Three turned out a lot better than I thought it would. The first paragraph will be a spoiler-free review for those who are still waiting to see the episode, until I say “SPOILERS BELOW” where it will be filled with many a-spoiler.

The Sign of Three was written by a Sherlock writer who we hear very little about; Stephen Thompson as well as Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss. Thompson was the same person who wrote my least favourite episode The Blind Banker but also my favourite pre season three episode The Reichenbach Fall, an episode whose credit is mostly given to the two co-creators Mark Gatiss and Steven Moffat. Thompson’s previous middle episode being my least favourite, I was a little worried about how The Sign of Three but it turned out that I had no reason to be. Being slower-paced than The Empty Hearse it was still exciting, emotion-filled, but most of all, hilarious. This episode was single-handedly the funniest episode of Sherlock aired to date, and I found myself laughing out loud more than once while watching. Of course, it ticked both boxes because it made me cry as well, making it a well-rounded and brilliant episode which is typical of Sherlock.

SPOILERS AHEAD (this includes the images as well)

What can I say, other than this was the wedding of the year. I didn’t expect to be based around the wedding, I expected the wedding to just play a small part in the story, but I was wrong. The story wrapped itself neatly and subtlety around the wedding of John Watson and Mary morstan in a way that showed off the brilliant cinematography that was used in the episode. And I really loved the way they did that. The way they moulded smaller stories of cases and stag nights and conversations into the very essence of the wedding. The wedding was the main event, but that fact did not take away from all of the little stories that came together in The Sign of Three.

Now, for what I thought of the actual story. I felt like not much actually happened. There was a recap of some old cases, a stag night, a wedding and an attempted murder, but nothing really seemed to chang. I’m not necessarily saying this as a negative, I just found it interesting how, although so much appeared to happen in the episode, at the end of the day not much happened at all. A wedding began, and a wedding ended, with not many altogether life-changing events occurring.

But then, of course, they were the more subtle things that the episode implied. The Sign of Threeof course, meaning that the family of John and Mary was going to have a baby added. I feel like the whole episode was telling us one thing that can be summed up in one of Sherlock’s quotes;

“You hardly gonna need me around now you got a real baby on the way”

The whole episode seems to be about how John marrying Mary is going to split them up. Mrs Hudson talking about what happened to her and her best friend, Mycroft saying it’s the end of an era and Sherlock leaving a wedding early. “I mean, who leaves early at a wedding?” I don’t know what it is, but I feel like these last two episodes are leading up to something bad happening. No one has died, nothing bad has really happened. They’re been cheerful and funny and exciting, but what will the next episode be like? That’s pretty much what The Sign of Three has left me feeling; what’s going to happen next?

One of my favourite things about this episode was Sherlock’s best man speech. I don’t know what I expected, really, but what was actually shown just made my heart soar. It was rude and abrasive, and yet touching and sweet in a way that only Sherlock Holmes could do. It made me laugh and it made me cry. I especially commend Benedict Cumberbatch’s acting nearing the end of the speech when he had to pretend he was giving he pre-written prepared speech, when instead he was actually trying to solve an attempted murder. I thought it was incredible how he made it seem like he was in two places at once, working on the case, and putting on a show.

Then of course there were the drunk scenes. I don’t think there’s much more I need to say about them except that they were hilariously amazing.

On that point, I noticed a new technique that has been employed this season, less so in the previous episode but a lot in this one. I found this method quite revolutionary, rather like the one that was used in Sherlock‘s first episode, with the text messages and deductions appearing as writing in the air. The technique I’m talking about is the way in which the background changes between what’s actually happening and what’s happening inside Sherlock Holmes’ head. I just think it’s incredible the way they did it, and I personally have never seen it done so flawlessly before. At first they used it to almost surprise us, but afterwards it was used so seamlessly that you barely even noticed, just enough to make it interesting.

The cinematography was absolutely stunning. I don’t think there was have been a single screen-capture that couldn’t be printed and hung in a frame. One of the things I’ve always admired about Sherlock was the cinematography, and this episode certainly showed it off.

The music was good, but to be honest I didn’t find it as incredible as it was in previous episodes. It just didn’t take the limelight in The Sign of Three, but in staying that it still set the scene in the perfect way background music is supposed to, it just didn’t have it

Favourite character/actor: Sherlock Holmes (Benedict Cumberbatch)

Least favourite character/actor: Major James Sholto (Alistair Petrie)

Favourite scene: Sherlock’s best-man speech

Least favourite scene: When Mrs Hudson gives Sherlock tea

Rating; 4.5/5 stars

Picture Sources

All pictures/gifs: http://bbcone.tumblr.com

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The Empty Hearse (Sherlock Season 3 Episode 1) TV Show Review

Can I just say, IT’S BACK! After two whole years of waiting, the first episode of the third season of the BBC’s award winning series Sherlock has finally aired. The first paragraph will be a spoiler-free review for those who are still waiting to see the episode, until I say “SPOILERS BELOW” where it will be filled with many a-spoiler.

Firstly, for those who haven’t seen it, this is the mini-episode Many Happy Returns that is to be watched before The Empty Hearse:

The first episode of the series, called The Empty Hearse, was written by co-creator Mark Gatiss. It did not disappoint. It had everything a Sherlock fan could have asked for. Action, romance, deductions, amazing cinematography, and of course, brilliant acting by the show’s stars Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman. It was like a fanfiction reader’s dream! A brilliant assortment of references and actions that by no means diminished the essence of the show. The crack-shippers will be happy, and so will the more traditional Sherlock Holmes fans like myself. The music, if possible, was even better than in season two. It consisted of some of the older tracks, and well as some new tracks, and new takes on old tracks. As a whole, I really liked the episode and thoroughly look forward to the rest of the season.

SPOILERS AHEAD (this includes the images as well)

Now, a more in-depth review of the episode, for those who are lucky enough to have already seen it.

One of the things that I was looking forward to most in this episode was John’s reaction when he saw that Sherlock was indeed alive. I have to admit, it was a bit different from what I expected but the multiple beatings that John gave Sherlock were more than enough to make me happy. I actually really like how they didn’t make John forgive Sherlock straight away. He was angry, and rightly so. I love how his character was written after seeing Sherlock was alive. It just gave him so much more depth. I’ve always thought that John was portrayed as a sort of one-dimensional character. Not to say that his character doesn’t have depth, more that we rarely saw it. In The Empty Hearse however, we definitely saw it and it was brilliant. Martin Freeman, of course, did a great job of showing this new character development. I especially loved his acting in the train scene when he thought that the bomb was going to go off.

Speaking of character development, one word; ANDERSON. I don’t think a character has ever had such a quick and convincing turn-around that didn’t seem totally cliche. And it just seemed so natural. I never thought I’d ever feel so empathetic towards him. Another great character development was with Mycroft. We barely got to see any characterisation for him in the previous seasons, but in this one episode we really got to see him for who he is; a lonely man who feels like he has no equals.

Special mention of Amanda Abbington who did literally played the best Mary Morstan I have even seen. She made the character so likeable and I could genuinely see how Mary and John could get along together so well, and her friendship with Sherlock was one of the highlights of the episode.

I really, really liked all the shoutouts to the fandom. The Sherlolly kiss, the Sheriarty almost kiss… The way they did it was just absolutely perfect. In fact, the alternate theories were absolutely perfect. When I saw the bungee-jump one, I honestly thought that was what happened and became so confused that I hadn’t seen the bungee cord! The humour, was just amazing. It really helped lighten up an emotion-packed episode. Speaking of emotion-packed, it made me both laugh out loud and cry which gives the episode a big tick for me.

No fanfiction needed with scenes like this:

Then there’s the actual explanation of have Sherlock Holmes survived his multi-story fall, which I was pretty happy with. Although, it was way more extravagant than any of my theories. The only part I guessed right was the ball under his arm to stop his pulse.

The only real downfall I can find with the episode is that it sometimes felt like it was all over the place, switching back-and-forth from John’s to Sherlock’s point of view. However this could also be due to the stop-start nature of the player I was watching it on. *shakes fist at BBC iPlayer* But anyway, I found this to be a very minor setback.

Fun fact: The actors who played Sherlock’s and Mycroft’s parents, are actually the parents of Benedict Cumberbatch.

The music *sigh* was amazing. Like I said in my first paragraph, I thought it was even better than in the previous seasons. The most notable song was the one that played when the bungee-jump theory was being shown. It was an awesome mix of the usual Sherlock theme with electric guitars.

I highly recommend, that if you haven’t already, you give John Watson’s Blog a good read. It’s really very entertaining.

Favourite character/actor: Sherlock Holmes (Benedict Cumberbatch)

Least favourite character/actor: This is actually impossible, because all of the credited actors were actually amazing

Favourite scene: The Sherlock survival theories

Least favourite scene: The bonfire scene

Rating; 4.5/5 stars

Picture Sources

All pictures/gifs: http://bbcone.tumblr.com

The Time of the Doctor (2013 Doctor Who Christmas Special) TV Show Review

As Lord Voldemort once said; “I confess myself… disappointed”. The 2013 Christmas Special The Time of the Doctor aired on the 25th of December and featured the nerve-racking regeneration of the 11th Doctor. Warning that this post WILL contain spoilers.

In a few words, I think Moffat’s writing is starting to go downhill. After the less-than-brilliant 50th Anniversary Special I was hoping Moffat’s writing would make a bit of a comeback with less stress for this episode, but I was disappointed. I’ve never really been a fan of Moffat as head writer. When he was a writer under Russell T. Davies he wrote some brilliant episodes; BlinkThe Empty ChildThe Doctor Dances and The Girl in the Fireplace, but when he took over the show his episodes started going downhill.

Anyway, about The Time of the Doctor. It felt extremely rushed, and like every bad alien was trying to be crammed into it. The Weeping Angels, Dalek, Silence and Cyberman, even the Slitheen were mentioned! It was just too much! I mean, it probably would have been ok if they were just mentioned, but it was like each alien (except the Slitheen) needed to have a starring part in the episode. For the Silence it was when Clara saw them for the first time, which was completely unnecessary and didn’t really help the plot along at all. I mean, why were they even there purposely freaking her out? The Daleks had their ‘shining moment’ when they turned of all the church member into Daleks which, to be honest, was kind of lame. The Cyberman had their focus when the wooden Cyberman came down to Christmas. I have to admit that that was pretty cool, but the Doctor’s big speech to the Cyberman was just plain dull. Then there were the Weeping Angels which were not needed in any way except to have them in the episode. Way too many monsters meant way too much time wasted which could have been used on giving 11 a proper farewell.

The sexual inneuendos at the start between the Doctor and Mother Superious Tasha Lem were just irritating. They were not subtle, they were not needed and they were boring and, like most things in this episode, unnecessary. There wasn’t even any build-up to it. It was like “Here’s a new character we’ve never seen before, she’s a woman so let’s make her a love interest!”. No, just no.

I don’t know why, but when a sentence is quoted that’s been said in a previous episode, instead of it feeling like a callback or a cool little reference, it feels like it’s been shoved in your face. Like “Look guys, this was in a previous episode! Look we’re quoting ourselves! Look aren’t we cool!” kind of way. I like subtlety, but this episode didn’t have it.

I also saw the Doctor kind of slip out of character during this episode. Since when does he tell a really big lie straight to someones face, someone he cares about deeply, and then just walks away. It just seemed so unlike him, and to seem like he barely cared than he would never see Clara again. And for what? For a little town called Christmas, whose inhabitants he could have easily saved by bringing them in the TARDIS and taking them somewhere else. Why would he care so much about a little town he’s never even been to before so much that he would spend hundreds of years there knowing that after he died the whole planet would just be destroyed anyway?

And then there are the plot holes, the Doctor knew he would regenerate again because in the 50th Anniversary there were 13 of his regenerations. Had he conveniently forgotten that? And surely Clara would have known that as well, seeing as she went into the Doctor’s time stream and saw every one of his regenerations, past and future?

Peter Capaldi is the Doctor!

I feel like Moffat keeps trying to make it ‘epic’. “Look how many aliens there are! Look at all the deep speeches! Look at all the meaningful scenes! I even put the Time Lords in!” But enough is enough. You don’t need heaps of big speeches that ended up meaning nothing, or every alien, or the Time Lords! You just need it to be well-paced. Take your time. Make things ‘epic’ subtlety, in a way that a casual watcher of the show wouldn’t fully understand. Take your time to build up emotion. Give your audience an emotional connection so that even if this is their first episode, they’ll still want to cry. Focus on the story.

Wow, that’s quite a bit of angry ranting, so here’s some of the things I did like. I liked the fact that 11 accepted his regeneration. It almost made it happy, like it will be change for the better. Like it was time for 11 to go. I also liked that 11 died of old age, he died waiting… I like that he saw Amy, even if the hallucination was a bit weird, and her quote “Raggedy man, goodnight”. I loved his last words “I will always remember when the Doctor was me”. Peter Capaldi’s entrance was a little odd to say the least, it was very quick. I have a feeling he will be quite a whimsical Doctor. The whole episode actually did keep my attention, as rushed as it was I never really felt like I wanted to stop watching it. For most of the time, it kept my interest.

The acting, like usual, was brilliant. Matt’s acting when he grew older was just fantastic, it almost made me feel like he was a different person. Jenna’s acting was also superb, I could really see her pain when the Doctor sent her away for the second time, and when she was pleading to the Time Lords, and when 11 was regenerating. Just brilliant. Also, a shout out to Clara’s grandma who is awesome in every way. You go grandma!

Of course, the music by Murray Gold was also amazing just as it usually is. I especially liked the song that played when Clara was entering the TARDIS after she thought 11 had already regenerated. It was very dark and one of the few times that I actually felt some suspense in the episode. Because that music isn’t yet available, here’s Clara’s Theme:

I wish all my luck to Peter Capaldi; the 12th Doctor!

Favourite character/actor: Clara Oswald (Jenna Louise Coleman)

Least favourite character/actor: Mother Superious Tasha Lem (Orla Brady)

Favourite scene: When Clara was walking into the TARDIS during 11’s regeneration

Least favourite scene: When the Doctor destroys the Dalek ships while regenerating

Rating; 3/5 stars

Picture Sources

The Time of the Doctor poster: http://screencrush.com

Amy and the Doctor: http://www.mirror.co.uk

Peter Capaldi: http://screenrant.com/

Invader Zim TV Show Review

It all started when I found this post on Tumblr which people were using as a headcanon voice for a character from Homestuck and I was really curious to find out what show the voice was from, so I Googled some of the lines and found the show Invader Zim. It never aired on free-to-air TV in Australia so I hadn’t heard of it before. I looked up some reviews for it and found that is was often praised as a good show, so I watched a random episode from season 2. It didn’t seem that great to me but I decided to give it another chance and start off with the first episode and thus became hooked to a children’s cartoon. Warning that this post may contain spoilers.

Invader Zim is an animated TV show that first aired in 2001 on Nickelodeon. It was created by Jhonen Vasquez, written by Jhonen Vasquez, Frank Conniff, Roman Dirge, Rob Hummel, Danielle Koenig, Courtney Lilly and Eric Trueheart, and directed by Steve Ressel. The main cast is Richard Steven Horvitz (Zim), Rosearik Rikki Simons (GIR), Andy Berman (Dib) and Melissa Fahn (Gaz).

One of the things that struck me about this show was the odd form of humour it employs. It’s a mixture between dark humour (which I enjoy) and stupidity-based humour (which I usually despise) and yet I found the show hilarious even in parts that I would usually just find really annoying. I can’t put on finger on why that is, but I have a feeling it’s because of the charm of the show that grows on you as you watch. I think I found the later episodes funnier than the earlier ones for this reason, and the episode I originally watched to see what the show was like was a lot funnier the second time around.

For a children’s cartoon it has surprisingly good continuity. There are references to past episodes and events that occur that would make less to no sense if the previous episodes hadn’t been watched (for example, Dib possessing Tak’s spaceship). Despite this, however, the actual story progresses very little which is mostly why I’m upset about it being cancelled. It would have so much potential if it was continued with a constant storyline and had a proper ending.

For a show aimed towards ‘tweens’ and children, it’s actually quite gruesome. While there are limitations on the language that can be used and violence shown (‘bloody GIR’ was not put into the show for this reason, but can be seen in a single frame in some episodes) there is one episode in particular that is very violent. In ‘Dark Harvest’, Zim is show replacing the organs of other children and stuffing them into his own body. In fact, this very episode was mentioned in the trial of Scott Dyleski (who was found guilty of murder) because of the comments he made while watching the episode.

The show was cancelled part way through season two leaving at least twenty-three episodes and a TV-movie unfinished (you can still find the transcript for 10 episodes unfinished episodes and some audio transcripts; some fans have even drawn their own animations to fit the transcript) due to having a high budget and low ratings (although the first season was critically acclaimed with the first episode winning two awards and I personally believe that Nick just couldn’t find the right target audience for it). Although, only the first season actually aired on TV in 2001, the completed part of the second season was released on DVD in 2004 and aired in 2006. If only they had cancelled the show one day later, there would be two more completed episodes!

The show is far from perfect, the animation style isn’t what I’d call the best, and the script in some scenes is lacking. I’m not sure if I’d call this a negative but there are a few jokes that are used repeatedly throughout the series and could be seen as monotonous like when Zim asks a question that he’s already been told the answer to.

The music, like the show, is often dark with some pretty random happy pieces. A lot of the music could actually be used in movies and games designed for adults. Most of the music is composed by Kevin Manthei, except for the main title music (Mark Tortorici).

Favourite character/actor: Zim (Richard Steven Horvitz)

Least favourite character/actor: Bill (Adam Paul)

Favourite episode/scene: From the aired episodes; Dib’s Wonderful Life of Doom. From the unaired episodes; Mopiness of Doom

Least favourite episode/scene: The Sad, Sad Tale of Chickenfoot

Rating; 3.5/5

Picture Sources

All gifs and pictures: http://www.zim.wikia.com

Attack on Titan (Season 1) TV Show Review

I didn’t really want to get into anime because there are so many to watch but my friend had recommended one to be on several occasions, and one bored night I decided to give it a watch. Warning that this post may contain spoilers.

Attack on Titan (進撃の巨人 Shingeki no Kyojinis an anime (Japanese animation) that was released earlier this year. It has 18 episodes in season one, each being approximately 25 minutes long. It is only available in Japanese dub but it has English subtitles. At first I was put off by this,  but I quickly got used to it. It is based on the manga series written by Hajime Isayama. This series in directed by Tetsurō Araki with series composition by Yasuko Kobayashi.

It is set in a world where humans are on the brink of extinction because of giant human-like monsters called Titans that suddenly appeared over 100 years ago. Due to the Titan’s appetite for humans, humanity was forced live inside three 50 metre walls. It is based on the stories of three teenagers; Eren Jaeger (Yûki Kaji), Armin Arlert (Marina Inoue) and Mikasa Ackerman (Yui Ishikawa).

One of the things that I really like about this show, is that the decisions that the characters have to make aren’t straight forward. There’s no “this is the right thing and this is the wrong thing to do”, and while you usually want the characters to do one thing, a long of the time you can’t really blame them if they choose to do the other. I love the complexity that this brings to the characters and the plot. It brings more realism into the situation and shows that a lot of the time, there are no right or wrong choices to make. Life isn’t that black and white.

The anime has a unique way of telling the viewer information that is already assumed to be known by the characters. In addition to having it casually mentioned in conversation, in the middle of every episode there are two fact sheets called “Information Available for Public Disclosure”. These give the viewer important information as well as some interesting facts about the world the characters live in.

The first thirteen episodes start with this opening theme, which I think is totally badass. It’s also what a lot of the music written by Hiroyuki Sawano for the show sounds like:

This is one of those shows that I fell in love with in the first episode. I was actually really surprised by how emotionally attached to the characters I had become in just one episode, and the way in which the writers use this to their advantage. In just the first episode, it almost made me cry. That’s in less than half an hour! However, just because this anime isn’t live action, it is not acceptable for all audiences. I would suggest people be above 13 or 15 before watching, this is not a show for children.

Favourite character/actor: So hard to choose! But probably Hanji Zoe (Romi Pak)

Least favourite character/actor: Marquis Bart (Kosuke Takaguchi)

Favourite scene/episode: To You, After 2,000 Years: The Fall of Shiganshina, Part 1

Least favourite scene/episode: Answer: Battle of Trost District, Part 6

Rating; 4.5/5 stars

Picture Sources

Poster: http://www.crunchyroll.com/attack-on-titan