Television

Sherlock and Our Final Problem

SPOILER ALERT. SPOILER ALERT. If you have not watched all of BBC Sherlock’s season 4, stop reading immediately. SPOILER ALERT. SPOILER ALERT.

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As of last night, we’ve come to the end of an era. Although some reviewers have been saying things like “this certainly can’t be the last season” of Sherlock, I disagree. Last night’s episode, “The Final Problem,” was indeed the final episode—and the show’s creators, Gatiss and Moffat, had been preparing us all season long.

Well. I say “all season,” but it’s not like we had ten episodes. No, as Sherlock fans, we always only get three, but, in the case of this final season, the three episodes were really just one long episode that culminated in fully developed characters and plot lines decisively closed.

I won’t get into the nitty-gritty. If you watched all of season four, you know what happened (good and bad). After last night’s episode, my husband expected me to be sobbing. I wasn’t. In fact, I was grinning like a goose, possibly relieved that everyone important lived, possibly because the final montage was just so damn cheerful. It took hours for me to wind down from my Sherlock high.

This morning, I reassess as I take a look back at season four in its entirety.

The first episode, “The Six Thatchers,” was brilliantly acted, had a kick ass Cumberbatch fight scene, and killed off one of the show’s lead characters. The second episode, “The Lying Detective,” was arguably the best of the entire series (despite poor Sherlock looking like a beat up drug addict for its duration). “The Lying Detective” is the episode that will win this show awards. Awards should, in fact, be thrown at Cumberbatch and Freeman’s feet for that episode and no one could tell me otherwise.

sherl4Then, “The Final Problem” premiered. I loved the casting of Sian Brooke (I adored her as Ophelia in Cumberbatch’s Hamlet and really enjoy seeing them work together). The revelation of a secret psychotic sister was brilliant. Despite the amazing, again, emotional performances from not only Cumberbatch and Freeman but also Gatiss and Brooke, the episode took suspension of disbelief to a whole new level with its escape room tactics and melodrama.

The further revelations into Sherlock’s childhood were heart-wrenching (as was that tragic “I love you” moment between Sherlock and Molly). Yet, in the end, everything was all right. Sherlock even managed to save his crazy sister via the medium of music. They could finally “play” together.

“The Final Problem” wasn’t my favorite episode. I haven’t read many reviews yet today, and I don’t plan to. I don’t need to. I also haven’t perused Tumblr, because I know the Johnlock hordes are going to be up in arms over the fact that John and Sherlock never kissed and the series is over. Resolutely, the series is over, although for the Johnlock shippers, it could be argued that John and Sherlock are some sort of couple—platonic—as they are back living together and raising a child while Sherlock apparently balances the women who try to love him: Molly and Irene Adler. More importantly, they’re back to being the crime fighters of Arthur Conan Doyle canon.

What mattered most to me in season four was the character of Sherlock and not only because I’m singularly obsessed with Cumberbatch. The show is called Sherlock, after all. The show is about the man, his friends background noise to the great detective’s struggles.

As a writer, I was impressed with what Gatiss and Moffat achieved with Sherlock’s character development. We all remember the coarse man of season one, blind to social graces. In season four, we find a man who has learned to love his friends, protect his friends. He was so soft, even giving a comforting hug to John Watson after the loss of his wife. He saved John. He saved his sister. He even saved his imperious elder brother.

The moment that resounded most was in “The Lying Detective,” after Sherlock’s pained pronouncement of “I don’t want to die” in the hospital bed. It happened while sitting in the quiet warmth of 221B, chatting with John. Sherlock suggested he might come and see John’s daughter, and that moment—that single look—showed how vulnerable our coarse, biting detective had become.

ouch

I realize the famed stories of Sherlock Holmes are thrilling mysteries, and from my time spent reading Conan Doyle, he wasn’t huge on character development, which is where Gatiss and Moffat surpass him. This show wasn’t about a calculating, brilliant man solving mysteries; it was about a calculating, brilliant man becoming weak, human, and ultimately, loved despite his flaws—by his fellow characters and by us, the fans.

People are going to complain today that they didn’t get everything they wanted from Sherlock’s final season. I get that. (For instance, I would have liked the reappearance of Irene Adler in the flesh, as opposed to just on Sherlock’s phone, since she is arguably the love of his life.) Despite complaints, we will all remember this show fondly for not only introducing many of us to Benedict Cumberbatch but for introducing us to a new Sherlock Holmes: a man riddled with demons and yet fighting to keep them at bay for the sake of the people who love him.

As Sherlock perceptively said, “Taking your own life. Interesting expression. Taking it from whom? Once it’s over it’s not you who will miss it. Your own death is something that happens to everybody else. Your life is not your own, keep your hands off it.” Thanks for sharing your “life” with us, Sherlock. It was one hell of a ride, and we will indeed miss you an awful lot, you beautiful bastard.

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Sara Dobie Bauer · Television · Writing

Why write Sherlock fan fiction?

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Most people don’t know there’s a community of writers out there who pen what’s known as “fan fiction.” Fan fiction is when you take your favorite show (in my case, BBC’s Sherlock), steal the ready-made characters, and put them in whatever situations and scenarios you can imagine.

As devout fans, we know our shows and their characters, so we’re best suited for writing fan fiction. For instance, I know literally everything about Sherlock. I’ve watched every episode a million times. I can practically think like the lead characters, which is why I gave Sherlock fan fiction a try. That and, oh, I GET REALLY FREAKING TIRED OF WAITING A YEAR FOR A NEW EPISODE!

Ahem.

Excuse my outburst, but see, this is part of the draw of writing fan fiction: During the off time between seasons, we as a community band together and keep each other warm and fed via the medium of the written word. My favorite community is called Archive of Our Own (or AO3), where my work is not only read but applauded, championed, and followed by other Sherlock nerds like me. (But don’t feel left out. There’s fan fiction for Supernatural, The X-Files, Harry Potter, the list goes on, too.)

It’s amazing, really. An example: I saw a picture on Tumblr last week that inspired a quick, little thousand word one-shot called “Making History.” I typed up the story, posted it on AO3, and congratulated myself on a job well done.

The next morning, though, I received reviews. Here’s a taste:
Oh my god you have to continue that was so great.
You’re doing the Lord’s work here. You’re a hero.
WORDS NOT WORKING. FIC TOO AMAZING.
I didn’t know I needed this until now. Oh God, yes, this was wonderful.
You are so amazzzing. It’s so beautiful I can’t even …

I had never planned on writing a chapter two, but I couldn’t just let my fellow Sherlockians stew. I posted chapter four yesterday, and the dialogue between writer and reader continues, because that’s a big part of writing fan fiction: the reviews and conversation between fans.

Fan fiction is an outlet for fan imaginations, and it feeds our addiction (especially us poor, desperate Sherlock fans). In our case, fan fiction also allows us to entertain the infamous idea of Johnlock: that Sherlock and John are actually romantically interested in each other. Trust me: this craze is devouring Tumblr–and, honestly, it’s practically written into the actual TV show …

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For the curious reader, you’ll find names, synopses, and links to my fan fiction on AO3 below. Most of it is for mature audiences only, because another thing about Sherlock: the sexual tension is everywhere and yet it seems no one is getting laid. We fan fiction authors make damn sure everyone gets laid.

If you have a fandom you follow, I suggest searching A03 and finding your niche. I will warn you, though: it’s a dangerous game, as fan fiction is terribly addicting.

Making History
Sherlock Holmes lay unconscious and handcuffed to John’s bed. John had been waiting for this day ever since he’d first met the consulting detective. He’d been waiting for centuries really. (John/Sherlock. Vampire John. Things get dark.)

This is Not a Safe House, Part I
Sherlock is shot while rescuing Irene Adler in Karachi. Fighting to stay alive, they seek shelter in a safe house, and Irene must help the consulting detective who needs help from no one. (Irene/Sherlock. First of a popular series of three.)

You Were Wrong About Him
An aging John Watson looks back on how he fell in love with his husband—and how it was all due to a nightmare. (John/Sherlock. A real tear-jerker.)

Promise
Sherlock takes a bullet for John, and John forces him to make a promise he can’t possibly keep. (John/Sherlock just friends.)

Mating Habits
At twenty, Sherlock Holmes was already handsome. Luella suspected he would one day be decadent. He would one day be very bad for someone. (Fictional female character/Sherlock. Angst!)

Mine
Having only lived in 221B for a month, John Watson is still learning the ways of his bizarre yet entrancing flat mate. However, one night, when he finds Sherlock Holmes being kissed by a married man, John realizes he doesn’t want to share his brilliant consulting detective with anyone. (John/Sherlock. Lestrade/Sherlock.)

Catching His Scent
After the fall, Molly Hooper is alone in the morgue when she catches Sherlock’s scent. (Molly/Sherlock.)

Hidden in Plain Sight
What if Sherlock Holmes isn’t as asexual as John Watson thinks? Following a near death experience, John’s anger at his flat mate leads to an admission, followed by a slight sexual identity crisis. (John/Sherlock.)

Touch
Sherlock notices how much John likes to touch him. Nothing deviant or anything; there’s just a gentle intimacy between them. Men have always liked touching Sherlock—touching and tasting—but not like this. Not like John Watson. (John/Sherlock.)

That’s a smattering of my stuff. To see the full list of my fan fiction works, go HERE. See what I mean? Writing and reading this stuff is addicting, but it is a nice break from real life and work, isn’t it?

Entertainment in AZ · Television

How Benedict Cumberbatch helped my career

1469a00fa4b6e1cc37e6620e88533c1fBenedict Timothy Carlton Cumberbatch is a thirty-seven-year-old British actor who closely resembles either an otter or space alien. I’m really not sure if he was even considered mildly good-looking until 2010, when he premiered as title character Sherlock in the BBC’s modern adaptation.

Co-creators of the show Mark Gatiss and Steven Moffat have famously been interviewed as saying the BBC didn’t think Cumberbatch was sexy enough to play Sherlock. Now, oddly enough, he’s considered one of the sexiest men on Earth, with a trove of maniac fans known as “Cumberbitches.”

Empire Magazine listed him number one in their list of 100 sexiest movie stars. He made Glamour Magazine’s list, too. Oh, and number one in the British Sun (two years in a row). In response to this, Cumberbatch says, “I enjoy being considered handsome, even though I think it’s hysterical.”

Do I think he’s good-looking? Yes. God, yes. (See obsessive Pinterest board.) That’s right, folks. Embarrassing as it is, I’m a member of Benedict’s maniac fanbase. And it is kind of embarrassing. When I was a kid, I had this thing for Brad Pitt (posters on the wall, signing my name “Sara Pitt”). I haven’t had that kind of obsession again until now, and I’m thirty-two and married.

What does this have to do with my career? Since getting to know Mr. Cumberbatch via BBC’s Sherlock, he has inspired countless fictional characters in my work, most notably in “Don’t Ball the Boss,” soon to be published by Stoneslide Corrective.

When he got his Emmy nomination.
When he got his Emmy nomination.
The TV show inspired me to write fan fiction, as well. I’ve written five pieces of Sherlock fan fiction and have been shocked by the overwhelming response.

I’ve had women and men send me emails requesting more, more! They shout to the rafters that I should be published immediately. My Twitter following has possibly doubled. In fact, I once found my name mentioned in a Twitter conversation involving no less than six Cumberbitches. When I chimed in, one of them tweeted, “It’s her! It’s HER!” as if I were a celebrity.

My stories get upwards of two hundred hits per day. As writers, we very rarely get such immediate praise and develop such a fast following. Benedict Cumberbatch has unknowingly made me famous.

But the actor is more than creative inspiration. This is going to sound sappy, but he’s a life inspiration, as well. He was almost killed after being kidnapped in South Africa, but due to this terrifying experience, he just says he learned “not to sweat the small stuff. And just enjoy the ride of being alive.”

Apparently, he’s impossible to interview, because he’s like a fish with a shiny object. He’s easily distracted, due to his overwhelming enthusiasm. According to GQ writer Stuart McGurk, “I feel, compared with Cumberbatch, like someone going through existence with the contrast dial turned down. To him, it seems, everything is neon bright. The barbs may sting more sharply, but his sun must shine that much brighter.”

Taking pictures with fans.
Taking pictures with fans.
Sherlock co-star Martin Freeman said, “He’s sweet and generous in an almost childlike way. I could take advantage of him playing cards.” Other male co-stars seem to have developed complete bromances with Benedict (Michael Fassbender and Zach Quinto, for example).

Cumberbatch admitted recently that he’s seeing a therapist to deal with his new fame, and he admitted this with no shame, saying mental health should be more openly discussed.

In everything he does, he seems exuberant, fun loving (see U2 photo bomb), and incredibly polite. He worships his fans, and he says “thank you” every five minutes, even in the middle of the Oscar’s red carpet. When I said earlier he looks like an alien, he might really be an alien, because no human being can possibly be so damn sweet!

This is what I mean when I say life inspiration.

The man’s behavior, even as he has become a superstar, is jaw dropping. He has yet to go the way of Bieber or Lohan—stars who got famous and lost their shit. Instead, Cumberbatch has become more gracious, and according to Steven Moffat, “better looking the more famous he gets.”

Today, I say thank you to someone I’ve never met and will probably never meet, because unknowingly (and over and over), he has inspired me, made me laugh, and made me want to be a better person. He has improved my career (something even I never saw coming). And it all started while watching PBS, when I thought, “Wow, that man has great hair.”

Bromance dancing with Fassbender.
Bromance dancing with Fassbender.
Television

Sherlock Season 3 Recap and Review

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THERE BE SPOILERS HERE! IF YOU HAVEN’T WATCHED ALL OF SHERLOCK SEASON THREE, DO NOT READ. YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED.

Episode One: The Empty Hearse

We all wanted to know how Sherlock survived the dive from St. Bart’s. Within the first three minutes of season three, we get an idea via an action-movie style montage including a bungee chord, a hair ruffle, and a sexy smooch. I loved this opening. Completely unbelievable and hilarious, and of course, it was a mere flight of fancy from Anderson.

Sherlock-Molly kiss. And tumblr EXPLODES!
Sherlock-Molly kiss. And tumblr EXPLODES!
The tempo of this episode was a little off, but I forgive, especially because of Martin Freeman’s face when he realizes Sherlock is alive and standing at his dinner table. Priceless, followed by several punches to the face. We also get to meet Sherlock’s parents, played by Cumberbatch’s real mum and dad. Adorable. We meet Mary, Watson’s soon to be wife. There was even a Sherlock and Moriarty almost-kiss—which begs the question, what the hell really happened on that roof at the end of season two?

I don’t think the truth was made clear, but I do think this was done on purpose. Co-creators Moffat and Gatiss knew how many theories there were, so they gave us three, the third of which being the most likely—but nothing is for sure. Did I feel a little cheated by this hedging? Perhaps, but this episode felt more about character than plot. They made Sherlock softer, almost a real human being, and this theme of Sherlock’s sentimentality stretched the whole third season.

Episode Two: The Sign of Three

An episode about a wedding but not necessarily a detective. I call this episode “odd,” but I enjoyed it because I like odd things (like Benedict Cumberbatch’s face, for instance).

Highlights included John asking Sherlock to be his best man, after which, Sherlock resembles a frozen computer screen; comedy gold. Speaking of, the stag night within which the boys get horribly drunk and try to solve a case. Instead, Sherlock passes out on a floor, vomits, and they both end up in jail. Finally, dear Janine the bridesmaid falls for Sherlock. (Janine: “Do you always carry handcuffs?” Sherlock: “Down girl.”)

So Mary and John are married, and the grand finale: they’re expecting a baby! I really enjoyed the dialogue and back and forth. True, not too much of a mystery here, but one hell of an adorable best man speech from Sherlock and lots of laughs. Which prepared us for …

Episode Three: His Last Vow

Oh, dear.

Mary is a bad, bad girl.
Mary is a bad, bad girl.
Well, this one wasn’t very funny at all, was it? And yet it’s one of my favorite episodes of the series. We meet the odious Charles Augustus Magnussen (CAM), who actually accomplishes a face lick without being silly. He is the man Sherlock hates the most and must bring tumbling down.

First off, Sherlock has a girlfriend in this episode—Janine, of course, from the wedding, which is just so, so awkward. I knew something wasn’t right; we all did. We soon find out he’s only dating her to get to CAM. He even proposes to her to get into CAM’s office, which is when …

MARY SHOOTS HIM! MARY! Yeah, John’s wife is some sort of super killer assassin person. That was shocking, yes, but I must say, the entire sequence inside Sherlock’s mind as he fights to stay alive was fan-freaking-tastic. It even featured Moriarty, who I love, but really, amazing, amazing sequence. Gorgeous. So well done.

In the end, Sherlock survives the bullet wound and John forgives his wife. The coup de gras: Sherlock murders CAM, and there’s a sweet goodbye between John and Sherlock as Sherlock goes off to die in East Europe on some undercover assignment. But then … but then …

MORIARTY IS ALIVE!!!!!! Sherlock gets called back to London!! Closing credits!!!

My brain exploded—almost. Would have been a hell of a mess. But this whole Moriarty thing raises so many questions. For instance, what about the body on the roof from season two? Someone must have known Moriarty was not dead, and my money is on Mycroft. Maybe Mycroft was hiding Moriarty (God knows why), and with Sherlock’s life in peril, he brought Moriarty back to life?

Well, the speculation now begins, as we are on hiatus—again. Weren’t we just on hiatus? Yes. Yes, we were, and we’re back, and who knows when we’ll get season four? But I’m sated, for now, and it’s a good thing; I’ve been Sherlock-obsessed for months. Time to get back to real life. But take heart: Moriarty lives.

YES!! YES, WE MISSED YOU!!!
YES!! YES, WE MISSED YOU!!!
Television

Sherlock Season 3 … Or Why I’m Angry at England and On Hiatus From Social Media

The moment it all began ...
The moment it all began …

The day of my fangirl birth stands out in infamy. I was minding my own business, and my husband was scanning Netflix. From my office, I heard snippets in the background: British snippets. Next thing I know: “Babe, come watch this scene.”

“What is it?”

“The BBC’s Sherlock. You gotta watch this part.”

It was the scene where Watson and Sherlock first meet in the lab at St. Bart’s and Sherlock tells Watson his whole life based on nothing but observations. I remember thinking, “Well, this Sherlock guy is cute, isn’t he?”

I sat down and watched the first episode with my husband. Soon after, we finished season one. Then, season two. By that time, I was enamored with the show and the odd fellow with the odd name: Benedict Cumberbatch. And … oh, right, Sherlock had apparently jumped off a building to his death.

sherlock.2x03.the_reichenbach_fall.hdtv_xvid-fov 421What follows is what can only be compared to mourning a lost relative because I realized there were no more episodes and there would be no more episodes for a very, very long time.

I sated my addiction by following the hype. I became a Pinterest addict and a dedicated (obsessive?) Cumberbitch. I read fan fiction (I don’t read fan fiction). I found out everything I could about the show and the forthcoming third season.

Finally, the release date reached American shores: January 19, 2014.

And disaster struck.

The BBC followed up on the American release date by announcing Sherlock’s much-awaited premiere would play in England on January 1, 2014.

There were fountains of cuss words, threats of flights to England, and then, the only reasonable conclusion hit me like a London black cab: a total avoidance of Sara’s social media. That’s right: no more Twitter, very little Facebook, and a complete blind eye to my beloved Pinterest.

I see no alternative, because I will not have some crazy Brit telling me how Sherlock survived the fall from St. Bart’s. The only way I want to hear about Sherlock’s survival is from Sherlock’s cupid’s bow lips. Got it?

Do I feel punished for being American? Do I want to ring Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss and ask them what the hell they’re thinking, doing this to us poor, sad little Americans? Yes! And yes!

On January 1, 2014, the geeky underworld of England will erupt in cheers. I will be silent, stewing, mourning the loss of my favorite internet addictions. My silence will continue until January 19, when I will finally sit in front of a television, geek out, and swoon because Sherlock has come back to life.

Image from season three. My guess? Watson's going to punch him out.
Image from season three. My guess? Watson’s going to punch him out.