How belated? Well, I hope you’re following me on Twitter if you want news, that’s all I can say for myself; the first thing on this list is from January 5. (I tried to alert everyone to the live-action drinking game that is the Shannara Chronicles.)
I’ve been keeping more regular tabs on Reign, which has vacillated wildly between being sort of dreadful and being camp glory, with no real internal logic as to how any given episode reaches either one of those goalposts. (Example: Did it actually kill Francis? It sure did! Twice!) Season highlight so far is probably “Our Undoing”, which decides to take the usual Reign strategy of doing fifty things and just does them harder, and it all works out beautifully. Costume post forthcoming, though honestly at this point I am actually so used to the visual vocabulary of the clothes that I only get angry when one person is in pointedly period wear and everyone else gets Marchesa.
I’ve had a more fraught relationship with Elementary, which continues its post-season-one tradition of being perfectly competent and having a ton of lovely grace notes but somehow leveling off rather than soaring. Some of this is, as usual, a sacrifice to the CBS episodic-TV gods. Some of this is just that the show has forgotten Joan, which leaves Sherlock emotionally adrift until outside force act on him and sidelines a character whose growth in the first season was amazing and who has been such an afterthought since that they’ve never even addressed the time she was kidnapped and held hostage for several episodes. The best episode in terms of the procedural is probably “Miss Taken,”, which introduced a genuinely interesting case with some nicely far-reaching implications; it also had the most egregiously bullshit Joan subplot you can imagine. (Her stepdad’s writing books about her in which she’s having sex with Sherlock; believe it or not, it actually goes downhill from there.) She fares better in “Down Where the Dead Delight”, which offers her a chance at vigilante justice while she’s in the middle of a sticky case. If they return to this and Joan actually has to confront a personal impulse and we get to see it play out, however it actually plays out, I will be so excited. My hopes are not high.
I even got to drop in on Brooklyn 99, and lucky for me it was a charmer. “Karen Peralta” was a great episode for Jake, somehow an even better one for Amy, and as usual, proved that you can pair up literally anyone in this ensemble and they make it work.
And in January, I had the opportunity to honor Alan Rickman’s career and talk about Alan Rickman’s work alongside Emma Thompson, a friendship that delivered some great onscreen moments.
I’ve also reviewed some books for NPR!
The Deep Sea Diver’s Syndrome, a tone poem of psychedelic, nihilistic narcissism (also technically about art in a way that only books that involve commercialized vomit can be).
Giambattista Basile’s The Tale of Tales was a rollercoaster; amazingly energetic language, Baroque flourishes, enough footnotes to sustain a college course, and some moments of such exuberant racism that if you are me, at least once you close the book and look around your living room as if someone can help you out. It’s a fascinating text; reader beware.
And it will surprise nobody that I really enjoyed How to Be a Tudor, a beautifully researched book in which the past is reconstructed via laundry receipts that have survived centuries, and people circulated pamphlets expressing concern about the bawdy lyrics in today’s young-people music.
Creative stuff coming in my next post!