Tag Archives: Show of the Day

Show of the Day: Playmakers

30 Aug

These are the PLAYMAKERS

Controversy ensued recently after ESPN announced it was pulling out of a partnership with PBS over a special report on Frontline on concussions in football.  ESPN was accused by many of being at the beck and call of its NFL overlords, who don’t take kindly to negative talk of any variety about their product.  While ESPN vigorously denied these claims, the allegations were more believable because ESPN has a history of giving way to the NFL in the past, most notably when it stopped production of ESPN original series Playmakers.

Playmakers is one of only two original series ESPN ever produced (the other is a poker series called Tilt, produced at the height of the poker boom, though that’s a story for another day).        .  Playmakers was the story of a professional football team, named the Cougars, from an unnamed city (my friend and I tried to make some educated guesses by eliminating the homes of the rival teams they played but we didn’t make a whole lot of headway) which plays in “The League,” similar too but not explicitly titled the NFL.  The show revolves around the players of the team are the main characters are as follows: the hard-boiled coach, Coach George, put under all kinds of stress by an old, rich owner who expects to win, Leon Taylor, an aging running back who is seeking financial security while concerned about losing his playing time and his effectiveness, Demetrius Harris, a younger up-and-coming running back who is having a hard time separating himself from ill-meaning friends from his prior thug life, Derek McConnell, a cocky quarterback who pops anti-inflammatories like candy, and a Eric Olczyk, a middle linebacker dealing with depression and insecurity.

Nearly every scandal and controversy that can befall an NFL team or befalls someone or other in the eleven episodes of Playmakers. There’s domestic abuse, a gay athlete (which the NFL still hasn’t gotten to deal with with yet itself, at least publicly), cheating on piss tests (a la Onterrio Smith, which hadn’t happened yet), abuse of anti-inflammatories, regular old drug abuse, weight issues, brutal constant injuries, involvement in shootings, difficulties staying away from potential bad influences from childhood , and so much more.   Football is the star of the show; while it’s not so much about the games themselves (it’s got to be expensive and difficult to film football scenes), every outside aspect of the players’ lives displayed on the show is relevant in as much as it relates to their careers on the field.  Romance and off-the-field drama is subjugated to the gridiron.  During the season football is a 24/7 occupation and it dominates and permeates all of the players’ lives.

Playmakers is not a particularly great show or even a particularly good show but it is both an interesting artifact due to its place as one of only two ESPN original series, and for really being the only scripted show to ever focus on professional football.  Considering pro football is such a popular topic, and has been the subject of many movies, it’s a little bit surprisingly that there’s never been another show about on football on this level.  Friday Night Lights tread over some very similar ground, issues-wise, with high school football players with much better characters and writing, but if you like football, there’s definitely something worthwhile about an 11-episode show about pro football.

The Wikipedia page for Playmakers is very strange. It’s missing some extremely basic data that would be quite helpful but it partially makes up for that loss with some incredibly fun and random information.  Someone somehow has put together the entire roster for the Cougars, including the kicker, the punter, and three tight ends.  It has no section for “reception” but has a remarkably complete list of what foreign channels the show was displayed on.  There’s very little character biographical information, except the mention of what school the main characters graduated from, and what year this is for them in the league (Example: elder statesman running back Leon Taylor is in his 9th year from USC).

Playmakers was fairly well-rated for ESPN but the NFL made its might felt and basically told ESPN to shut it down because it didn’t like the way football was being portrayed.  Sensitive, much, really? Playmakers pretty much tread on stories that happened in real football, and it’s not like it was a big secret that these happen, or that people don’t know every scandal that engulfs the league.  Nor that any Playmakers viewers, likely to be big NFL fans, would mistake reality for fiction.  I’ve my problems with NFL over the years and this is certainly a good example of why.  There are serious issues to solve (concussions, anyone?) and ESPN’s worried about a TV show hurting its brand, the most popular league in the richest country in the world. This cancellation could have lead to classic Streisand effect;. It clearly didn’t and most people who weren’t there don’t even remember that this show ever existed, but for one fall, before ESPN actually had football it was a minor deal. Wikipedia linked to a New York Times article describing the NFL’s putting the kibosh on Playmakers which contains the following hilariously un-prescient sentence, “”We proved that we could succeed in doing a dramatic series,” Mark Shapiro, the executive vice president of ESPN, said.”  Hence the many successful dramatic series ESPN has produced since.

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Show of the Day: Criminal Minds

20 Mar

They use their minds to find criminals

I’ve watched the first episode of every network show the past couple of years (I’m still working on this spring, but I’ll get there) and I’ve seen many of those that existed before, but there’s still quite a few on the air that I’ve never gotten to.  I’ve seen bits and pieces of Criminal Minds over the years, and probably even a 20 minute segment or two, but I don’t think I’d ever seen a full episode.  That is, until bonding with my dad over an episode recently.  Criminal Minds is a favorite of my dad’s, a fairly loyal viewer of CBS procedurals; other favorites include NCIS, Person of Interest, and his new top choice, Elementary.  Every once in a while, I try to suggest a show that I like, that I think my dad would like as well, like Dexter, and sometimes he gets around to them, and sometimes he doesn’t.  When he put on Criminal Minds, I was at first tempted to tell him there was some sort of sporting event I wanted to watch at the time (I don’t remember if there was, but probably), but I decided to see it instead as an opportunity to check off one more currently airing show from my list.

Like any good police procedural, Criminal Minds features a team of do-gooders, in this case, working for the FBI”s Behavioral Analysis Unit.  The two hooks that separate it from just any ol’ CSI rip off is that first, instead of just solving any ol’ homicide, they focus on tracking serial killers.  Second, rather than typical police focused on forensics and evidence, the Criminal Minds team is more focused on profiling, figuring out the murderer by tracing the pattern of behavior.  In addition, rather than being tied to any one city, the BAU travel throughout the country to wherever they’re needed.  The cast appeared to me, at least in this one episode, as a true ensemble without any one or two characters standing far above the pack.  The cast has also changed throughout the series; in my episode, Season 4’s “Conflicted” the core team was made up of Thomas Gibson, Shemar Moore, Matthew Gray Gubler, A.J. Cook, Paget Brewster, Joe Mantegna, and Kirsten Vangsness.

“Conflicted” featured the case of male frat boys in Texas being raped and killed at hotels during spring break.  The team flies down, seals off the scene, and brainstorms a variety of different possible scenarios, trying to figure out who they’re looking for.  The doer is referred to as the unsub, and I don’t know if this is the case in every episode, but they must have said the word unsub at the very least 20 times over the course of the episode.  Matthew Gray Gubler as once child prodigy Dr. Spencer Reid seems to be the chief theorist, positing first that the killer is a woman, and then later on, after that theory didn’t quite fly, that the crimes were committed by a male/female team.  Throughout the episode, we get a couple of flash forwards, which serve to needless confuse and attempt to add suspense, but are, like many flashforwards, pointless at best, and contrived at worst.  Kirsten Vangsness plays the computer-technology expert, mirroring the Pauley Perette character Abby from NCIS.  Aside from Vangsness and Gubler, it was unclear what the singular specialties or traits of the other main characters were.

The super crazy twist in this episode was that the unsub was two people, and was not two people, at the same time.  How, you ask?  It was an unsub (I’m gong to keep using the word to give you a sense of what watching an episode is like) with multiple personalities, a kid Adam with a troubled past, who had a dark female personality who was the one behind all the killing.  The worse part was that, even though everyone agreed he/she was nutzoid rather than criminally liable (nutzoid is a legal term), the events forced the good Adam personality to be trapped below the evil female personality.  Matthew Gray Gubler, who thinks about these things deeply and has a soft spot for the mentally ill, as his mother is schizophrenic, continues to come back and visit the boy, we see, long after the events of the episode are over, hoping he can one day goad the kid’s good personality to the fore.

I don’t see within this episode any reason to elevate or demote Criminal Minds in the pantheon of crime procedurals.  I suppose the presence of deranged and psychotic serial killers, over workaday murders with regular motives, ups the stakes significantly.  They apparently slowly move forward with bits about the personal lives of the characters, but those were largely not in evidence in the episode I watched.  Like most procedurals as well, it was eminently watchable; if it was on at an airport TV, I’d probably try to follow along.  I can’t say I greatly enjoyed my hour viewing the show, but nor did I feel bad about it afterwards.

Also, randomly, this episode was directed by Jason Alexander (He’s also directed a Mike & Molly, a ‘Til Death, and a Franklin & Bash in recent years.  He appeared in an earlier episode and must have enjoyed it so much that he wanted a shot behind the camera.

Show of the Day: Luther

20 Aug

British drama Luther is a House M.D. of crime.  Detective John Luther is an eccentric, kind of crazy, but extremely devoted and brilliant policeman who gets stuck with the big hard-to-solve cases.  He also has an extreme temper problem, and possible internal sanctions hanging over his head after, in the first couple minutes of the show, he drops a probably guilty man to the ground in a chase on a bridge rather than arrest him.  Luckily, the victim is in a coma and can’t talk.  Additionally, his ultra-driven career has led to him losing his wife and love of his life Zoe to another man.  Luther works with a team of generic cop characters to solve a new crime in every episode, generally involving serial killers, but with a kidnapper and the like here and there.

There’s one very intresting character in Luther, and it’s not Luther.  Luther’s good, well, because Idris Elba (um, Stringer Bell from The Wire is actually British, and speaks with a British accent – too weird) is good.  Otherwise, Luther isn’t really that interesting.  We’ve seen this character before, as mentioned before, he’s good, he’s damn good at what he does, but he’s angry and tormented and obsessive.  Every time you want Luther to do something just slightly different than you would expect, he almost never comes through.  He’s still the second most interesting character in the show by a long shot.  Also, it’s worth noting that Luther, the show, and Luther, the character, have absolutely no sense of humor, which, as House showed (House, the show, and House, the character, had some issues, but plenty of good points as well), would lighten up the show and the character a little bit (Humorless shows can work; not every show needs humor in its arsenal, but there’s a risk run of episodes really slogging along without it).

The most interesting character is Alice, who I haven’t mentioned before in the short sum-up, because her role actually requires an explanation.  First episode SPOILER – in the first episode, Luther attempts to solve the murder of Alice’s parents, and while he’s nearly certain Alice did it the entire time, he’s unable to prove it.  Instead of ever being found guilty, Alice gets away, and Luther develops a grudging respect for her, while Alice, who is a sociopathic nihilist, but not always nefarious, comes to respect and like Luther.  Over the course of the season, she acts somewhat as Hannibal Lecter to Luther’s Clarice Starling, helping him solve other crimes by viewing them through a sociopath’s perspective.  Not only is Alice the best character in the show, but Luther is also at his most interesting when dealing with Alice, and their tet a tets discussing Luther caring too much and Alice caring not at all are the best parts of the show altogether.

Here’s the other problem with Luther.  When extremely dramatic events occur late in the first season, you realize that not only do you not really care about the characters, but that you barely known any of their names.  Cop who is kind of friends with Luther and he talked with for five minutes in the first episode?  Cop who is his boss and is generally friendly to him but sometimes restrained?  Cop who is his younger protégé and new partner?  I don’t know what their names are and I finished the first season.  I know it’s only six episodes, but that’s enough time for a modicum of name-saying.  I don’t really care about any of them either either.  As long as they get the murderer in the end, that’s pretty much what does it for me.

In short, here’s what’s good about Luther; you mostly watch it for the cases, you watch it for Alice, and you watch it for Idris Elba.  For six episodes that’s enough, and I have four more in the second season which I’ll watch soon.  The cases are actually well executed and interesting and enough to make the show somewhat compelling as a simple procedural without all the baggage of Luther’s temper and personal problems.  It could be a lot better, but it slides in above the worth watching line, especially for so few episodes, if not much higher.

Show of the Day: Wilfred

17 Jul

Wilfred is about a loner experiencing a third-of-life crisis, burned out from a job he never wanted as a lawyer, and on the brink of mental exhaustion, reenergizing himself through a friendship with his attractive female neighbor’s dog, who he sees as a man dressed in a dog costume, and converses, watches TV, and smokes pot with.

There you have it; the central partnership of the show is man and dog, with the dog, who no one else can hear, acting as a kind of id to the man, urging on his baser instincts and wants, sometimes for the best, sometimes less so.  The man is played by Frodo Baggins himself, Elijah Wood, while the dog is played by Jason Gann, the Australian actor who played the dog in the original Australian version (I haven’t seen the original, so I can’t compare the American version to it; I do hear that it’s notably adopted a different and sometimes less dark tone).

The man, Ryan, does have the hots for his neighbor, and the dog, Wilfred’s, owner, Jenna, but while I thought that would be a central plot, it’s more often in the periphery.  Ryan’s crush on Jenna comes up here and there, whenever the show decides to remind you that it’s still a thing, but the show is about Ryan and the dog  (Jenna’s current boyfriend Drew is played by former American Pie co-star Chris Klein AKA the one that gets with Mena Suvari).

The show is occasionally funny, occasionally difficult to watch, and more often than not relatively enjoyable.  It’s not a great show; it doesn’t work on enough levels, and there’s no one element it’s brilliant at, but it’s a good enough show, and I mean that generally as a compliment.  I’m absolutely glad I watched it considering the value, in terms of episode number and length.  The last show I watched was Sons of Anarchy, which I liked overall, and while the two shows could not possibly more different, I’m not sure that four seasons of 13 hour long episodes of Sons was worth my time more than one season of 13 half hours episodes of Wilfred.

One of the strangest sub-levels of the show which is odd is the question of whether Ryan’s special, crazy, or whether seeing the dog is just a sort of magical realism.  What I do like is that to start the show, rather than having Ryan wrestle for a while with the fact that he sees Wilfred as a human-in-dog-suit, he pretty much accepts it almost right off; yes, obviously it’s crazy that he sees a man in a dog suit, but get on with the show, already, that’s the premise, and so Wilfred did.  I also like that for the most part Ryan doesn’t constantly screw up and accidentally acknowledge the fact that he’s talking to the dog all the time, which would make him look crazy to outsiders.

The show veers dark, but rarely too dark; sometimes the quasi dark episodes are the best.  My favorite two episodes were probably the darkest and at the same time most absurd; the absurdity probably keeps the level of darkness from getting too high.  The genuinely strange moments are both the best and the funniest (and yes, in a show where a man sees a dog as a human in a dog suit, there are still relatively stranger parts).  The last couple of episodes move further into the actual matter of why exactly Ryan can see Wilfred, whether he’s crazy, etc, and while if you had told me the show would deal with this topic again I would have said, terrible idea, just let it be, these episodes were actually incredibly bizarre and oddly satisfying.  The second to last in particular involved a man Ryan saw, or thought he saw, who claimed to be a previous best friend of Wilfred’s, and claimed that Wilfred ruined his life.  We have no idea if this person actually exists, existed, or whether he also has the power to see Wilfred, or whether Ryan is totally crazy or hallucinating.  Which is actually true is less important than the surreal nature of the situation.  Another surreal aspect I enjoy is that Wilfred is continually humping a stuffed bear named Bear and it seems like he’s always talking to and recieving answers from Bear, and occasionally other stuffed animals, making me wonder whether, like Ryan sees Wilfred as a human in a dog suit, Wilfred sees the stuffed animals as living and talking.

It’s not a great show, but it’s an interesting show, and it’s a short show, and that’s enough to make it recommended viewing.

Show of the Day: Treme

2 Dec

I just finished watching the second and most recent season of Treme.  I don’t know anybody else who is interested in watching it and while I can’t say I blame them for not knowing better, I feel the need to do a little bit of proselytizing.

Treme is about a variety of characters in post-Katrina New Orleans, picking up a few months after the storm.  I ironically watched the majority of the episodes as Hurricane Irene swept through New York which hopefully made the show more poignant.  I have never met anyone who watches Treme, and I honestly had no interest in the show except for the outstanding reviews it was getting and the fact it was created by David Simon who created one of my favorite shows of all time, The Wire.

If you think The Wire was rather unsubtle about pointing out the dysfunction of the police and the media in Baltimore (which it was), you’ll have to deal with just as much and more of that unsubtlety regarding the mishandling of government money and the obstacles in the struggle to rebuild in New Orleans.

In most shows the main characters are connected by some combination of three bonds.  The characters are usually co-workers, friends or family (co-workers in particular I am stretching to mean a lot – people stuck together in the same physical location, like prisoners in Oz).  In Treme, many of the characters are not related at all to other characters, or at most come into contact with one another once or twice at chance times during the course of the show.  In theory, this approach means there’s a concern about a lack of cohesion in the show and a worry that there won’t be enough time to tell complex and interesting stories about the number of characters that Simon tends to cram in, even with full hour episodes.

In spite of all these potential problems, creators Simon and Eric Overmyer have a gift for storytelling which transcends all the challenges laid out before them.  Even though there’s plenty of relatively heavy handed lessons about the troubles of New Orleans, Simon and Overmyer generally do a good job of letting the characters show these issues rather than lecturing at us.  Even more importantly, via the excellent writing and acting the characters come to life before us and are three dimensional, interesting, and cause the viewer to actually care about them.  The plots continue to take interesting turns.  There’s nothing sudden and exciting like in Breaking Bad, but these characters’ arcs weave in ways that hit the sweet spot of being not always predictable but feeling consistent with the characters.

Like The Wire in Baltimore, Treme examines a number of different facets of New Orleans culture, but instead of the police, the drug trade, the schools, dock workers and the media, it’s the music world, the restaurant industry, real estate development and well, the police and the schools.  Like The Wire, depression is all around at various times, but there’s just enough hope to keep you from getting too down at any one point.  I might even dare to say Treme is more hopeful than The Wire.  Music is extremely important in Treme; almost half the characters are involved with music professionally one way or another.  The roll call of characters include Davis, a goofy DJ, Annie and Sonny, a pair of street musicians, LaDonna, a bar owner, Antoine, a trombone player, Toni, a civil rights lawyer, Janette, a chef, Albert, a Mardi Gras Indian Chief, and his son Delmond, an esteemed jazz trumpeter, Terry, a police officer, and Nelson, a developer.  I know the list of characters is long, but I wanted to give a sense of the occupations.  I’d love to expand, but talking about the characters in any more depth is going to require additional entries.

As much as anything, Treme is a paean to the city of New Orleans.  I was concerned I wouldn’t care for that.  Not because I don’t care for New Orleans, but because I really don’t understand any of the extremely distinctive bits of New Orleans culture which represent major moments in Treme.  I don’t know anything about Mardi Gras or the Feast of St. Joseph or Jazz Fest or anything about the New Orleans music scene outside of Lil Wayne and I thought that would affect my enjoyment of the show.  I was wrong.  The show is very much about New Orleans, but even more than enjoying the show without knowing anything about New Orleans, you can enjoy the show without caring anything about New Orleans.  Simon’s shows are so successful because no matter how important the messaging is to him, all of this comes in second to strong story.

Show of the Day: Sesame Street – Snuffleupagus edition

25 Nov

There’s pages and books and so forth that could be written about Sesame Street, a kids show that’s run on PBS for over forty years and which several generations of children, including my own, have grown up with.  That’s way too much to handle in one entry.  Instead I’m going to focus on two moments both revolving around Snuffleupagus which I find particularly interesting.

Snuffleupagus (actually a last name – his first name is Aloysius) is a wooly mammoth-like creature with a trunk-like nose known as a “snuffle” (these are all technical terms).

The first moment is in regard to the ongoing question, which lasted for the first 15 years of the show, over whether Snuffleupagus (“Snuffy”) was real of merely a figment of Big Bird’s imagination.  Big Bird was constantly trying to convince everyone on Sesame Street that Snuffy was real, but there were many who didn’t buy what Big Bird was selling.  By the mid-80s, two camps had emerged – Snuffy believers and Snuffy non-believers.  As part of his attempts to persaude the adults, Big Bird would set up many scenarios to prove Snuffy’s existence, but Snuffy would walk away just before the adults could see him.  Kids and occasional guest starts sometimes saw Snuffy, but Big Bird was at loose ends trying to show the adults.

Eventually in episode 2096, airing on November 18, 1985, Big Bird concocts yet another plan to show the adults that Snuffy is real.  By now, he’s won some support to his side.  Gordon, Linda and Maria are in the Snuffy camp, but Bob and Susan still think he’s  imaginary.  Big Bird’s latest plan is to shout a secret word while Snuffy is present, in this case “food”, at which point the adults will run quickly and see Snuffy.  Bird tries it quickly once, but Snuffy has already run off to tell his mom about Big Bird’s plan.  Determined not to be foiled again, Big Bird assigns Elmo to watch out and ensure that Snuffy does not leave when Big Bird next yells the secret word.  Elmo does his job, hanging on to Snuffy’s snuffle, even as the snuffle goes flying back and forth, and just in time the adults come in and meet Snuffy for the very first time.  The disbelievers are surprised and very apologetic to Big Bird who reveals it was hard on him to know that his friends didn’t believe him.  Eventually all the adults introduce themselves to Snuffy, including Phil Donahue (what could be more ‘80s?) who was on Sesame Street to pick up his toaster from the fix-it shop.

The primary motivation to introduce Snuffy as real to the world was in response to a series of prominent child sexual abuse scandals in the early and mid-80s.  Sesame Street’s writers were concerned that the message they were sending, by having many adults not believe Big Bird, was that you couldn’t tell your parents everything because of the risk that they wouldn’t believe you and that it was better to just say nothing at all.  By showing that Big Bird is right, they were hoping to convey the opposite message, that parents will listen to their kids and that kids should not be afraid to tell their parents anything.  Secondarily, the writers may have been tired of constantly making up new ways for Snuffy to just avoid being seen by the adults.

The second pivotal Mr. Snuffleupagus moment is Snuffy’s parents getting divorced, which is part of an episode which never actually aired (colloquially known as “Snuffy’s Parents Get a Divorce”) from 1992.  Sesame Street doesn’t do “very special” episodes very often, and whether you love the show or not, I think it takes its responsibility with young children very seriously, so when it does an important episode, it’s worth taking notice.  The most notable of these episodes is the death of Mr. Hoooper in 1983 but perhaps the second most is “Snuffy’s Parents Get a Divorce.”  After years of debate, Sesame Street writers decided they wanted to attempt to address the issue of divorce on the program, and quickly decided that it would have to be related to the puppets rather than to any of the adults on the show.  Snffleupagus was chosen and the initial script was passed around to psychologists as well as members of the show’s advisory board.  Edits were suggested to quell the worry that children would think that arguments between parents automatically led to divorce.  The episode was filmed with these edits, but test audiences did not take well to the episode.  Even with the edits, kids still felt that arguments between their parents would inevitably lead to divorce.  They also were confused about whether Aloysius and his sister Alice would ever see their father again, and he was a rarely used character.  Maybe even worst of all, many of the kids watching got the idea that after divorce their parents would no longer love them.

The entire episode was scrapped and replaced with a storyline about Oscar’s brother visiting Sesame Street.  It was a noble attempt, but the writers decided that divorce was outside of the realm of issues they could address to kids of the age Sesame Street is aiming for.

Show of the Day: Sherlock

11 Nov

I do look forward to writing about some shows that I haven’t seen yet, but until then I’ll feel free to write some occasional glowing reviews for shows that I think everyone should give a chance.

In this case, it’s the BBC’s Sherlock, a modern day adaptation of Sherlock Holmes, taking Holmes and Watson to the 21st century without losing the feel of the original stories, which is no mean feat (though taking place a century before animated program Sherlock Holmes in the 22nd Century).  British TV is a whole treasure trove of television with which I’m not entirely familiar.  I’ve dipped my toe in occasionally (Extras, Peep Show) but there’s so much more (I’ve just watched the first episode of Dr. Who, and I hear great things about Luther and Spaced) that I haven’t even given a try yet because these British shows find their way out of mind since it’s hard to read about them unless you specifically look for them.

I’ve only seen a handful of the Jeremy Britt Sherlock Holmes (The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, technically) which was filmed from 1984 to 1994, but I’ve always liked them, and they were extremely straightforward attempts at capturing Arthur Conan Doyle’s stories.  Sherlock is a little bit more loose but I think bigger Holmes fans than I (and I’ve read a number of the stories) would still appreciate the adaptation.

Holmes is portrayed by an actor with the most British of names, Benedict Cumberbatch (his middle names are Timothy Carlton, which could be an extremely British person by itself).  Watson is portrayed by Martin Freeman who played Tim in the original The Office and Arthur Dent in the film version of A Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (and will star as Bildo Baggins in the 2012 Peter Jackson adapation of The Hobbit, giving him key roles in adaptations of three of Britain’s most treasured literary works of the last century or so).  Instead of typical dramatic hour long episodes, the BBC produced three 90 minute episodes each structured around one mystery.  These mysteries are not taken directl from Holmes stories, rather they’re combinations of stories modernized for the present time.  Watson, for example, is a veteran of the Afghanistan war.  Holmes constantly uses modern technology such as texting or GPS or other computer related help, keeping up with Holmes’ devotion to the latest technology, albeit a bit different than the latest technology in the early 20th century.

I watched all three episodes with bigger Sherlock Holmes fans than I and both of my friends noticed allusions and references everywhere to various events in various stories.  The mysteries in each were compelling and delightful, but importantly, for a show like this, they were enjoyable aside from just wanting to know what happened and who did it, adding replay value.  Both actors and the excellent writing foster a compelling relationship between Watson and Holmes.  Compared to the ongoing Guy Ritchie Sherlock Holmes franchise with a dashing action hero Holmes, Sherlock, though it takes place a hundred years in the future, is more faithful to the spirit of the original Holmes stories.  It does exactly what the best indirect adaptations do; modernize or put an interesting spin on beloved source material while keeping the elements of what people loved about it in the first place.

It’s a relatively small time commitment for a show of very high quality, a worthy investment of time all around.  It was so successful that it will be back for three more hour and a half episodes early next year.