Sherlock review – Episode 3, Series 4: ‘The Final Problem’

sherImagine a world where the first ever episode of Sherlock was like The Final Problem. A mind-controlling supervillian kidnaps Sherlock Holmes and puts him through a series of dastardly puzzles on her island lair, in an episode where action hero Sherlock and trusty sidekick John Watson jump out of a building as a fireball explodes behind them. Would the show have been as critically revered if this had been the first episode?

That description is exactly what you would expect from a clueless, modern update of Arthur Conan Doyle’s detective stories, and it was the defiance of this expectation that made Sherlock so refreshing, so incredible in its early episodes. Unfortunately, with each subsequent episode, the show got closer and closer to a parody Sherlock Holmes, littered with incredulous twists, illogical plot developments and cringey, wacky hijinks.

The Final Problem could well be the last episode of Sherlock, as a result of Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman’s Hollywood careers. With the massive downturn in quality over the last two seasons, that may well be for the best.

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An interview with Scottish Comedian Limmy

limmyI interviewed Limmy back in 2009, just after the pilot of his television show – Limmy’s Show – aired. I was still working out how journalism worked at the time, so the questions maybe aren’t the best, but I post the Q&A here, for anyone interested, and as part of my commitment to regularly update this website, at least once every year or two.

For those unaware, Brian Limond – Limmy – is a Scottish comedian, who had a three-series sketch show on the BBC. His sketches regularly do the rounds online, particularly the ‘steel is heavier than feathers‘ one.

When I interviewed him, he was known for a dark, comic podcast called Limmy’s World of Glasgow. The pilot of Limmy’s Show had recently aired, and the first series was about to be broadcast a few months later in 2010.

I fucking love the guy’s comedy. It’s very Glaswegian, and he has a great grasp of the absurd. These days, he has a huge following on Twitter, were you can find a lot of his sketches. Before clicking through to that though, take a trip with me back to a pre-Brexit, pre-Trump, pre-2016 world known as 2009:

Q: How would you describe the comedy you do? And what influences it?

A: Black comedy with a bit of The Twilight Zone. I’m influenced by life in general, The Twilight Zone, horror films, bits and pieces.

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Sherlock review – The Abominable Bride (2016 special)

Sherlock 2016 Bride

Welcome, then, 2016, and with it, another bi-yearly, sharp, short dose of Sherlock. 2014’s offering was pretty awful, a huge drop on the quality of the first two seasons, the reason for which I went into great depth about here, here and here.

This year we got a one-off special, The Abominable Bride, which was billed as a period piece set in the original 19th century world of Sherlock Holmes. It was instead our 21st century Sherlock dreaming up a 160-year-old version of himself in order to try and work out how Moriarty could be back from the dead, as he appeared to be at the end of series three.

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Black Mirror: White Christmas review

black mirror White Christmas Jon HammBlack Mirror is not, according to its creator Charlie Brooker, anti-technology. It’s concerned, rather, with technology’s potential to worsen human weaknesses. “I think that’s what Black Mirror is saying,” Brooker said in an interview to promote series two of the show. “What if the pace of change [of technology] is out of control, and we haven’t evolved to deal with it yet in the same way that we as basic apes haven’t really evolved to take responsibility for nuclear weapons?”

In White Christmas, a feature long episode that follows the previous two series, that theme is certainly visible. Utilising a format that seems particularly Christmassy, the film began with Matt Trent (Jon Hamm) and Joe Potter (Rafe Spall) – workers, seemingly, in an isolated location – sitting down to tell each other stories in a cold cabin.

Like most of Black Mirror, Matt’s story dealt with a society more connected than ever thanks to technology, and yet one in which isolation and loneliness remains, and if anything is made worse by that technology. In this world, everyone has gadgets implanted into their eyes, presumably at birth, that opens up a world of possibilities and problems.

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Utopia review – Series Two Episode Two

Utopia Episode Two Series 2Episode two took us back to the present day with a sort of ‘where are they now?’ catch-up with all the characters. It was a table-setting episode more than anything, and a little slow as a result, but there were a few outstanding moments and, if nothing else, the aesthetic on Utopia is so unique and beautiful to look at that even a quiet episode is seared in yellow onto your eyeballs afterwards.

In the episode’s first third, most of the characters had retreated to the humdrum lives of people not caught-up in a massive conspiracy. Ian was back at his IT job, a disconcertingly older looking Grant was confined to a flat – unable to leave because he’s supposed to be dead – and Becky, suffering from Deels Syndrome, has been forced to join up with Donaldson, the self-interested scientist with a stock of the drug that helps manage the disease (Donaldson is played by a new actor, which is a shame, because Simon McBurney was great last series).

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Utopia review – Series Two Episode One

Utopia Series TwoUtopia returns at a time most appropriate. Suspicion of the establishment is at an all time high. Parliament, it seems, is an unregulated hotbed of paedophilia, fraud and cover-ups. Newspaper editors are hacking your phone, BBC children’s entertainers are touching up your kids and the government is giving them all knighthoods. The world of the conspiracy theorist has come crashing into the world of the sceptic.

Episode one of this second series played up to this conspiratorial climate, mixing real-life events with the show’s confusing world of rabbit-holes and rabbits. It began at the beginning, as Jessica’s father, brilliant but slightly nihilistic scientist Philip Carvel, was recruited by the nascent organisation that controlled the world of series one.

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37 Days review – Episode One: One Month in Summer

37 Days BBC37 Days was a bit like an Open University docudrama, the type of thing that normally airs at 3am on BBC Two, but with a bigger budget and more recognisable actors. There were individual moments of captivating drama but they were continually broken up by pointed and unsubtle history lessons.

The first part of this three-part drama, airing over three consecutive days, followed the lead up to WWI – from 37 days before the war to 13. The episode focused mainly on the British Foreign Office’s attempts to read the situation in Europe, and the German high command’s instigating of the conflict.

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