Money being tight and all, I’ve given up my subscription to Hulu (which wasn’t really worth it). I couldn’t find much on it I was interested in watching. Better value for my money on Netflix, which subscription I kept. Last night, I rewatched the first two episodes of Steven Moffatt‘s new version of Sherlock Holmes with Benedict Cumberbatch as Sherlock and Martin Freeman as Watson. (Such a giggle that Sherlock is stalking about London with a hobbit in tow.)
Moffat’s writing is unfailingly brilliant. He wrote some of my all time favorite episodes of the current incarnations of Dr. Who, the episode entitled “Blink,” the two parter “The Empty Child“/”The Doctor Dances” (which introduces us to Captain Jack Harkness played by the irrepressible John Barrowman) (Both it and “Blink” won Hugo awards) and the two-part episode “Silence in the Library“/”Forest of the Dead” (which introduces us to River Song played by the delightful Alex Kingston).
I think Moffat accurately transposed the essence of Holmes and Watson from Victoria’s reign to the second Elizabeth’s. Both roles are perfectly cast and the chemistry between Cumberbatch and Freeman is obvious from the start. They set up this amazing feedback loop of playing off each other and egging each other on. Moffat simultaneously pays homage without idolizing and gently sends up something that was never intended to be taken half so seriously as some people take it. In Moffat’s version Holmes is a bit of a brat, Watson is almost as much of an adrenaline junkie as Holmes is, the action is fast paced, and the dialog is intelligent and witty. It’s one of those shows you can watch more than once, because you almost have to in order to catch everything that’s going on — so many delicious little details.
From that, I went to a 4-part series on Shakespeare, written and narrated by Michael Wood. I like Michael Wood. Not only does he get excited about the history events he’s telling you about, he insists on taking you to the very locations they happened, and this series was no exception. He had some interesting insights into Shakespeare’s life that I had never encountered before. Shakespeare was born in the 6th year of Elizabeth I’s reign at a time when England was still reeling from the see-sawing back and forth between Henry VIII’s divorce from the pope, to Edward VI’s almost puritanical Protestantism, to Mary Tudor’s rampant Catholicism, to Elizabeth’s determined Protestantism. Everyone focuses on Shakespeare’s literary life against a vague outline of history, but Wood put him clearly into a religious context as well as historical context. I didn’t know William’s father John Shakespeare, and his mother’s family the Ardens were both staunch Catholics, or that William was what you might call a “closet Catholic.” Wood shows how the religious conflict played out across Shakespeare’s life and how it influenced both his personal life and his life’s work. The show was fascinating, not only for the new light it cast on Shakespeare, but also for the historical locations. (Not every presenter would stand at the bottom of a medieval privy to show you the actual place where Catholic priests hid to escape Walsingham’s soldiers.) Wood also shows you the actual documents where Shakespeare is mentioned, and has members of the Royal Shakespeare company playing in locations where Shakespeare’s company had played. I’ll be watching that one again.
I tried watching some of the episodes of the old Mission Impossible TV show that Sam Elliott was in (Seasons 5 and 6), but Sam sans ‘stache borders on heresy in my book. The man sports the world’s greatest living ‘stache — so which numbskull network executive’s bright idea was it to make him shave it off? I’m surprised they let him keep the sidies. I had a hard time recognizing him with a bald upper lip.
The weather continues cold and grey. It’s 19F/-7C at the moment, but it’s supposed to warm up a little during the rest of the week. Today’s predicted high is 47F/8C. I’m sure the weather has to do with the fact that while I was sitting here watching Netflix, I was pretty much a kitty magnet. Most of the time I had the black one snoozing between my knees and the grey one sleeping on my chest. I like it, though. Very companionable. Not to mention warm. . .