Tag Archives: Mark Gatiss

Nights Out in London

24 Jun

It’s getting closer… in just over a month my London trip will be a reality.

Regular readers of my blog will be aware that I have a ticket for this year’s hottest London show: “Hamlet” starring Benedict Cumberbatch.  However, in the last month my theatre going in London has gone from one show to three.

I am now fortunate enough to be attending “Constellations” starring Loo Brealey that is transferring to the West End for a run.

Then, to put the icing on the cake of my trip, I will also be attending the Proms concert at the Albert Hall – “Sherlock Holmes – Music of the Mind”.  To place a metaphorical cherry on top of this, Mark Gatiss is reading excerpts from the original Sherlock Holmes stories at this.

I know I had said to friends that one can’t go to London without going at least once to the theatre, I have to admit that I wasn’t expecting to go three times.

I would like to see Mark Gatiss in “Three Days in the Country”, but I think that would be stretching my budget just a little too far.

This trip is going to be magical.  I expect to come home with lots to blog about.

Sherlock in Gloucester – On a Bicycle?

22 Jan

I am absolutely fascinated by the photos coming out of Gloucester today.

Be warned.  I am about to speculate on one particular costume.  If you consider costume discussions spoilers then step away from this blog now.  Nothing for you to see here, move along, there’s a good chap…

Have they gone?  They have? Right…

Amanda Abbington’s costume both fascinated and delighted me.  The photos of her walking out of the cathedral with Benedict showed her wearing a very interesting costume.  She was dressed in a Victorian ladies’ bicycling costume.  The advent of the bicycle during the Victorian period created quite a vogue for ladies to take the air in a variety of only slightly scandalous attire.

It’s not the whiff of naughtiness around the costume that fascinated me, but rather the fact that I can think of only two Sherlock Holmes bicycle related things.  One is canon, involving the character Violet Hunter being followed when she cycles, but we are dealing with Mary Morstan here, NOT Miss Hunter.  The other is far more intriguing.

The movie “The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes” starring Robert Stephens and Colin Blakely had a cycling scene.  Holmes, Watson, and Madame Valladon aka Ilsa von Hoffmanstal (Genevieve Page) cycling around the Scottish Highlands.

Given both Mark Gatiss and Steve Moffat’s love of that movie, I am wondering if they are adapting that scene for Sherlock.

Amanda Abbington’s Mary Morstan has much more in common with Ilsa von Hoffmanstal than with Arthur Conan Doyle’s creation.  His Mary was a brave, but put upon, young woman.  Gatiss and Moffat’s creation is an assassin.  Ilsa von Hoffmanstal was a spy.

Mark Gatiss has form for sneaking bits of “The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes” into Sherlock.  He had me damn near falling off my chair laughing when I watched “The Empty Hearse” after he gave Una Stubbs’ Mrs Hudson one of Irene Handl’s Mrs Hudson’s lines from the movie.

A sudden thought… they were shooting in a cemetery the other day… there is an excellent graveyard scene in “The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes” as well!!!

Time will tell what they are doing.  I do know one thing.  This synthesis of traditional Holmes/Watson and modern Sherlock is delighting me no end, before it even gets to the screen.

Sherlock: The Empty Hearse

2 Feb

I received my Sherlock series 3 dvds last week, and settled down yesterday to watch the first episode “The Empty Hearse”.

I’ll state here and now that I was absolutely blown away by the episode for a hell of a lot of reasons.

Mark Gatiss’ brilliant script for a start.  It was a gorgeous balance of humour, drama, and whimsey.  Mark is a known fan of the Billy Wilder movie “The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes” and absolutely delighted me by popping one of my favourite lines from one of my favourite scenes in that movie seamlessly into “The Empty Hearse”.  I have to stay, Una Stubbs delivered the line with as much wealth of meaning as Irene Handl did. 

There is just so much to love about this episode, that I warn you now, this is probably going to be more a Sherlockian fan girl gush than a measured review.

The reunion scene with Sherlock and John was superb.  Martin Freeman deserves another BAFTA on the strength of that scene alone.  The mingling anger and pain gave the scene an intensity rarely seen in television performances.  It’s the sort of thing many lesser actors would save for a chance to win an Oscar.  Martin gives his best regardless.  And Benedict played to him perfectly.  Giving that scene to Martin.  An extraordinary gift from an extraordinary actor.

Amanda Abbingdon’s Mary Morstan is fantastic.  I loved her from her first appearance.

One of the best scenes in the episode, in my opinion, is the juxtaposition between John’s day and Sherlock’s day.  It was one of the funniest things I’ve seen in ages.  Beautifully balanced and hysterically funny to watch. 

The bonfire scene is probably one of the scariest things I have seen in ages, even though I KNEW John would be okay, I was perched on the edge of my seat absolutely bloody terrified!  Though I can’t help but wonder if Mark Gatiss was having a little dig.  Anyone who knows the fandom knows that Martin Freeman is often likened to a hedgehog.  During the run up to Bonfire Night in the UK councils and animal welfare associations constantly remind people to check their bonfires for hedgehogs before lightening them!

Another thing about the bonfire scene.  I found myself remembering Moriarty’s words in “The Great Game”:  “I will burn you.  I will burn the heart out of you.”  John H. Watson has always been Sherlock Holmes’ heart.

The best thing about “The Empty Hearse” had to be the echos of other episodes.  The one that made me smile gently was the “It wasn’t working for me” line, first said by Molly in “A Study in Pink” about lipstick, and echoed by John about his moustache in “The Empty Hearse”.  Sherlock echos Mycroft’s line from “A Scandal in Belgravia” back at Mycroft.  It served to emphasize that “The Empty Hearse” is a new beginning for both Sherlock and his friends and family.

I loved the little bit of back story we got on Sherlock and Mycroft’s childhood and getting to meet their parents.  Played wonderfully by Benedict’s real parents, Wanda Ventham and Timothy Carlton. 

There is also a sense of reversal of position with Sherlock and Mycroft.  In series 1 and 2, Sherlock was the lonely insecure one with no friends.  Now, he has the strength of friends around him to support him.  Mycroft is denying he is lonely, yet Sherlock sees through that for the bulldust that it is.  Sherlock has realised that Mycroft’s cant from “A Scandal in Belgravia” of “All lives end.  All hearts are broken. Caring is not an advantage”, is just plain wrong, and John’s insistence that friends protect, is indeed the truth.  This makes “The Empty Hearse” a lot deeper than it immediately appears.

Oh and how Sherlock survived the jump?  I loved the fact that 13 possibilities were mentioned.  The one Sherlock told Anderson was the most feasible.  For the purposes of my sanity I will ignore Anderson’s overly romantic version.  And I am definitely going to scrub the Sheriarty version from the walls of my Mind Palace!

But here’s the thing… did Sherlock actually tell Anderson what happened?  Was Sherlock even there?  Was it all in Anderson’s mind?  Because it become clear in that scene that Anderson has had some form of mental breakdown, possibly guilt induced, and is clearly certifiably insane.  Kudos to Jonathan Aris for that scene.  It was brilliantly done.

I can hardly wait to watch “The Sign of Three”.

A Few Speculations on “His Last Vow”

7 Jan

There’s a lot of talk on Twitter, and such like internet sites, about the forth coming “Sherlock” season 3 episode “His Last Vow”.  I’ve had a few thoughts on this that I thought I might share.

The thing that is freaking more than a few “Sherlock” fans out is the hospital scene.  We don’t know what happens in the hospital yet, but exterior scenes were shot with John and Lestrade and, of course, rumour is running around like a hamster in a wheel.  Going nowhere fast and ultimately futile.

A section of the fandom seems to think that it is Sherlock who is hospitalised.  There is nothing to support this speculation at all.

Those of us who are Sherlockians, and have read all the stories more times than we care to count, do know one thing.  Don’t get too attached to Mary Morstan.  She didn’t survive long in the books.  A  few times Mrs Watson is mentioned, then *BOOM* – gone.  Over the years there has been lots of discussion as to the disappearance of Mary Watson nee Morstan.  Apart from the obvious one that ACD realised that she buggered up the action and so just quietly dropped the character, or given his cavalier attitude to continuity (DO NOT get me started on Watson’s Wandering War Wound) just forgot her, one or two ideas as to her fate have been discussed deeply.  One very popular theory is that Mary died either in childbirth or while miscarrying. 

Mark Gatiss, Steve Moffat and Steve Thompson are all Sherlockians.  They have not deviated from the spirit of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s immortal creations.  However, if they allow John and Mary to have children and allow Mary to live, that would be shifting “Sherlock” into the realms of “Elementary”.  Just another show that happens to use the names of famous characters.  The spirit of the original stories would be well and truly violated.

There are some good clues that Mary is deeply involved in “His Last Vow”.  The message she got at the wedding that was signed “CAM”. Charles Augustus Magnessun.  Somehow, in some way, Mary has fallen into his clutches.

Steve Moffat has written “His Last Vow” – I cannot see him being so damned obvious as to have Sherlock’s life hanging by a thread at season end. 

There are a few possibilities as I see it.

1. Mary Morstan is hospitalised after suffering a miscarriage.

2. Mary attempts to commit suicide, either because of CAM or because John discovers what it is CAM knows about Mary.

3. Mycroft has Sherlock committed to a psychiatric hospital.

4. Mycroft has a heart attack.

Of course, knowing Steve Moffat, I will be completely wrong on all counts.  I look forward to finding out.

26 Seconds of Beautiful Agony

4 Aug

I have spent a large chunk of the weekend carefully examining (ie drooling over) the first Sherlock season 3 trailer.

It is 26 seconds of sheer, gorgeous, agony.  I love it.

Beautifully put together to tease and tantalize.  I think I’ve been teased to the very edge of my reason.

As Mark Gatiss wrote the first episode, “The Empty Hearse”, I am guessing that the snippets of footage used all came from his masterpiece.  Make no mistake, it will be a masterpiece.

I will admit I kept getting distracted.  Sherlock shucking his coat as he walks into (I think) a restaurant resulted in me becoming mesmerized and totally fixated on that damn errant curl on Benedict’s neck.  I just want to curl it around my finger.  I spent most of the preview muttering “Down Girl” and “Sit! Stay!” to myself. 

Then there is the expression on Sherlock’s face.  Fear, determination, and hope all chasing across his face as he crosses the room.  The urge to cuddle him into a coma becomes irresistible.

I’m still not sure if Sherlock was entering a restaurant to meet John or heading into the Diogenes Club to see Mycroft.  Incidentally, I can’t imagine Mark Gatiss wandering too far away from ACD canon with Sherlock’s return, so I am supposing the Mycroft knew Sherlock faked his death all along.  After all, in the books, Mycroft kept his brother in the loop and continued to pay the rent on 221B Baker Street.

The trailer is absolute perfection.  I adore it.  I kept sneaking back to YouTube for one more look.

There is one meeting I really do want to see though.  Anderson and Sherlock.  I have been amusing myself imagining the sick, horrified look on Anderson’s face when he realises that Sherlock isn’t dead.  I do hope we get to see that.


The Vesuvius Club

4 Jun

Just finished “The Vesuvius Club” by Mark Gatiss last night.  It was recommended to me by a good friend.  I have to say I’m going to listen to her recommendations more often.  “The Vesuvius Club” is one of the best books I have read in ages.

“The Vesuvius Club” is the first book in the Lucifer Box trilogy.

The book itself is hard to describe.  It is a thriller.  It is a spy novel.  It is an historical novel.  It is a boy’s own ripper of an adventure yarn.  It is deliciously wicked and the hero, Lucifer Box, is, in the words of my friend, an exquisite brute.

Lucifer Box is an artist, a bisexual playboy, and one of His Majesty’s most secret agents.  But don’t expect James Bond in Edwardian frills.  Lucifer Box is more amoral and immoral than Mr Bond is capable of on his worst days.  Though Mark Gatiss’ devotion to the immortal Bond shines through the story.

“The Vesuvius Club” supplies thrills, danger and excitement, leavened with a generous dash of wit and humor.  Many times I had to put the book down because I was laughing so hard I was in danger of dropping the book.

The plot of “The Vesuvius Club” revolves around British scientists mysteriously dieing in Italy, and a murdered secret agent.  Lucifer is also wooing a beautiful woman, AND a handsome youth, all while someone is trying to kill him!

Any sharp eyed Sherlock fans may spot a line that was subsequently stolen by Steve Moffat for “A Scandal in Belgravia”.  Not telling you what it is.  Have fun finding it.  I couldn’t help laughing out loud when I came across it.

I hadn’t been aware that Mark Gatiss had written original novels until my friend drew my attention to the book last week.  The book was originally published in 2004, but I think “The Vesuvius Club” is still in print, as another friend just purchased a copy in London.

Track down a copy for yourself if you can.  It will be well worth the effort.  Lucifer Box is a brilliant addition to the world of print heroes.

Doctor Who – The Crimson Horror

5 May

I want to get one thing perfectly clear before I start.  I hadn’t been a Dr Who fan since the Jon Pertwee years when I was very young.  I hadn’t liked Tom Baker’s Doctor, then had nosed around Peter Davison’s version, and been mildly interested in Colin Baker’s.  The modern reboot hadn’t registered on my radar at all.  Until last night.

I discovered that the episode “The Crimson Horror” was written by Sherlock co-creator Mark Gatiss.  As a devout admirer of that man’s twisted mind, I felt that the episode would be worth watching.  It was.

I’m trying to write about it without spoiling it for anyone who hasn’t yet been fortunate to see it.  Try to imagining a Doctor Who episode collaborated on by Jules Verne, H P Lovecraft, Mary Shelley, and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and you get “The Crimson Horror” – more or less.

It was weird.  It was dark. It was totally enchanting.  And we didn’t get to see the Doctor until it was almost half way through.  When I was a kid the Doctor tended to be front and centre from the opening credits.  This, oh this was so very, very different.

I’m going to have to spoil a tiny bit.  If you don’t want to know, look away now!  Thank you.  Right, everyone else huddle round.  Matt Smith does a brilliant impersonation of Benedict Cumberbatch’s Frankenstein’s monster.  Those who, like myself, weren’t fortunate enough to see him on stage, watch the Sherlock episode “A Scandal in Belgravia”.  Matt Smith lurches up a corridor EXACTLY as Benedict lurched around Sherlock’s bedroom.

Speaking of Matt Smith, the Doctor has well and truly changed from the early days.  He’s running around, admiring the female form and smooching women!  When did the Doctor discover sex?  He was always such an asexual being.

I’m quite taken with Matt Smith’s Doctor.  He has all the eccentricity that I loved about Jon Pertwee’s Doctor, combined with the hyperactive energy of Tigger on anabolic steroids!

The last thing I expect from Doctor Who is to fall off my chair laughing.  But Mark Gatiss managed to do that to me last night.  There is a small boy giving directions.  I thought “He sounds like a GPS”.  Then the boy’s name was given as Thomas Thomas.  Tom Tom being a best selling brand of GPS units.  That was the point I landed on the floor in an untidy heap laughing hysterically.

Dame Diana Rigg turned in a wonderful performance as the villain.  She was such a joy to watch.

Mark Gatiss’ wonderful script has catapulted me straight back into Dr Who fandom.  Mr Gatiss is a Dr Who pusher…enabling my addiction once again.

A Study In Pink

21 Apr

Having got everything arse about face by writing about Reichenbach Fall first, I decided that I really need to write about each Sherlock episode and from this point forward actually be logical about it.

First off, I have to say that “A Study in Pink” (written by Steve Moffat) is one of my favorite Sherlock episodes.  I was hooked from the opening scenes of John’s flashback dream. 

The press conference scene started reeling me in.  Reporter: But if they are murders, how do people keep themselves safe? Lestrade: Well, don’t commit suicide.

You have no idea just how much the sheer absurdity of that scene delighted me.

The final scene that frankly had me landed and gaffed was the scene in the mortuary with Sherlock beating the corpse.  As a Sherlockian since the age of 10, seeing the scene that is mentioned in passing in “A Study in Scarlet”, actually acted out on screen was the icing on the cake.  I knew then that this show was for me.  Clever, witty, and loaded with treats for Sherlockians.

The chemistry between Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman was immediate and electric. They are just pure joy to watch together on screen.  I think the scene in the taxi on the way to Lauriston Gardens is one of my favorite scenes across the entire series.  Sherlock explaining his deductions and John’s stunned, awed reactions.  And in that scene there is the moment when you know those two characters are bonded for life.  Sherlock: That’s not what people normally say.  John: What do people normally say? Sherlock: Piss off!

Watching again for about the fifth time, one thing struck me about the first scene with Donovan and Anderson.  If our Sherlock is a virgin I’ll eat Benedict’s coat!  Sherlock’s comment on the state of Sally’s knees could be construed as innocent.  Except for the sarcastic tone and the snide expression on his face!  How many virgins do you know that know about blow jobs?  All answers in the comments section below please.

The scene where John meets Mycroft is pure perfection.  I guessed that the character was Mycroft not Moriarty.  Mostly because something in Mark Gatiss’ body language immediately put me in mind of Christopher Lee in that role in “The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes”.  Best exchange in that scene: Mycroft: You don’t seem very afraid.  John: You don’t seem very frightening.

Also the text messages from Sherlock to John in that scene are canon.  They comprise a telegram sent by Holmes to Watson in one of Conan Doyle’s books.  Not telling you which one.  Chasing around looking for the reference will do you good.

The scene in the restaurant is good too.  Even if our Sherlock slips up.  He misinterprets John’s comments, showing a rather sweet, naive side to him.

The drugs bust at 221B Baker Street shows Lestrade has an edge which makes him a more interesting character than one immediately supposes from his first appearances.  Lestrade is more than a generic police character.  Rupert Graves was the perfect choice for Lestrade.

The scenes with the cabbie.  Okay.  Those were just damn creepy, though not without a sort of macabre humour. Jeff Hope: I’ve out lived four people.  Most fun you can have with an aneurism. 

The very best scenes of the episode come right at the end.  Sherlock realizing that it was John who saved his life.  The grin on Lestrade’s face as he turns away from a blustering Sherlock says clearly that he, too, knows who killed the cabbie, and has no intention of doing a damn thing about it.  Best exchange comes from this scene.  John: We can’t giggle at a crime scene! Sherlock: You’re the one who shot him!

The revelation that Mycroft is Sherlock’s brother and basically the entire British government sets the tone for the future, as he intones their names as they walk away towards the camera.

Absolute perfection.


Shooting Sherlock

14 Apr

I have been following the news detailing the shooting of the first episode of season 3 of Sherlock, “The Empty Hearse”, with great interest.  And, having seen many of the photographs, also with great envy.  I so wish I could be in London right now to get the chance to see Benedict, Martin and the crew at work.  It’s times like this that you realize Australian really is too damn far away from anything.  *feels sad*

Some brilliant photos have emerged.  Benedict Cumberbatch at his most gorgeous…not to mention his nuttiest.  It is great to see a man so comfortable with himself that he has no qualms about looking like a complete dork in photos.  No raging Hollywood ego in action here.

One other thing has emerged.  Just how damn unusual the cast and crew of Sherlock are.  Most would get annoyed at the number of fans turning up to watch.  Not this lot.  The fans have been warmly welcomed, and in turn have responded by being well behaved and respectful (mostly).

Crew members have taken fans up to the door of “221B Baker Street” to let them be photographed…and sometimes Benedict or Martin have made their day by inserting themselves in the shots. 

Both Benedict and Martin have happily posed for photos and chatted with fans.  Not by word or look has it even been intimated that the fans presence is a nuisance.

Stories have come out of fans, having been all day at the shoot without food, being fed biscuits by Benedict, and pizza by Martin.  And non-fans wonder why we love these men?

As a complete back room geek girl, I am adoring the photos of the technical aspects of the shoot.  Particularly the recreation of the fall from The Reichenbach Fall.  Even if I did almost fall off my chair laughing at the photo of Benedict suspended in mid air keeping the rain off with a large umbrella.  The  lyrics of the Mary Poppins song “A Spoon Full of Sugar” kept going through my mind: In every job that must be done, there is an element of fun, you find the fun, and snap the job’s a game. 

Yup, sounds like working on Sherlock to me.

One unsubstantiated story from the shoot really delighted me.  Allegedly a fan had nothing with them for Mark Gatiss to sign and asked if Mark Gatiss would high five them instead.  Mark’s response was supposedly “I only do french kisses.”  I did find myself wondering just what Mark’s response would have been if said fan had called his bluff.  Which is exactly what I would have done if I was that fan.  Mark Gatiss would probably still be running.

The Sherlock fandom is probably the luckiest fandom in the world.  Not just tolerated, but encouraged, one could almost say loved, by the cast and crew.  It isn’t the usual toxic co-dependency you often get between shows needing an audience and fans needing something to follow. 

Together we are something unique.

Wandering the Halls of My Mind Palace

7 Apr

I had it driven home to me yesterday morning that my mind doesn’t quite work like other people’s.  Saturday night I had been listening to my iPod when “Maxwell’s Silver Hammer” came on.  This song immediately made me think of Sherlock co-creator and writer Mark Gatiss.  To me it was logical.  To my foster sister, when I mentioned it yesterday morning, it was another sign of my incipient insanity!

Her reaction made me stop and think about my mind, my memory and the storage of facts and figures therein.

Long before the Mind Palace theory came along (and was immortalised on Sherlock), I tended to view my mind as being like a library with information stored in various sections for easy access.  Mostly works for me.  I can usually recall most information I need in seconds.

All my life I have heard things like “Gee, you’ve got a good memory” or the occasionally muttered “Freak!”  What impresses one person scares the crap out of another.

When I started thinking seriously about the subject yesterday I came to the conclusion my good memory is down to two things.

The first was learning to read when I was 3 years old.  Meant my mind was logically ordered at an early age.  When most toddlers were playing in sandpits, I was curled up with the Secret Seven.  Of course, this early reading of mysteries probably also helped hone my natural curiosity aka my innate nosiness.  I discovered Sherlock Holmes at age 10 and then there was no holding me back.  I think I spent my adolescent years yearning for a deerstalker hat of my very own!

The second was my fascination with playing Kim’s Game.  I don’t know how many of you are familiar with Rudyard Kipling’s book “Kim” and the game the hero plays to strengthen his memory.  Items are placed on a tray.  You study them for about a minute.  The tray is taken away and you attempt to write down every single item that was on the tray.  At my best I could get 90-93 percent of the items.  I loved this game.  My mother was always happy to prepare the trays for me.  Mostly I think because it kept me quiet for hours.  She had time to herself whilst I was frowning over trays of odd objects, scribbling lists, then working out what the heck I had forgotten each time.

One thing I have always found interesting is the fact I cannot remember dates.  If I don’t write important dates down, I forget them.  I can superglue them to the walls of my Mind Palace and they still don’t stick.  Never mind one drop holding a tonne.  Nothing holds dates in my mind.

Names, places, faces, song lyrics, weird facts…. not a problem.  Just don’t ask me to remember your birthday without writing it down!

Oh, and for those of you still puzzling over Mark Gatiss and Maxwell’s Silver Hammer… that quirky, rather cute, little song by the Beatles is about a serial killer.  I don’t think it’s much of a stroll down the halls of your Mind Palace to make a connection.

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