Sherlock Holmes 2

Guy Ritchie’s second foray into the world of Sherlock Holmes, in Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows, opens with a bang. The first question one should ask about a sequel is if it lives up to the first one (actually, the first question should be whether or not to make a sequel). A Game of Shadows definitely lives up to the first Holmes movie, not the least because of Robert Downey, Jr. and Jude Law.

The villain is much realer and more sinister, in that he is a respected individual with a twisted soul. Moriarty is perhaps the most dangerous type of villain–the one who doesn’t dirty his own hands, but has minions to do his will.

Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows is perhaps even more English than the first movie, and has even more intense fight sequences. The addition of Stephen Fry as Mycroft Holmes was brilliant, as well.

It’s a wonderful movie, made better by the excellent writing. One of my favorite quotes is, “Don’t be a dingy bird, bad people do bad things because they can!” The movie is full of lines like this, quotable outside the movie, yet even better in context.

Treat yourself to a Christmas present and watch A Game of Shadows.

I mentioned the BBC show “Blackadder” in one of my previous posts, but it deserves a review of its own.  The first season of “The Black Adder” or “Blackadder” was released in 1983, while the second season didn’t air until 1986.  It seems the writers took that time to solidify the characters, since the show takes on a new depth in the second season.

I managed to get my hands on a complete set of “Blackadder” (four seasons).  I wasn’t that impressed with season one, but I kept watching.  Rather glad I did, wot?

Like I said, in the second season, “Blackadder II,” the characters are solidified, and people like Hugh Laurie and Stephen Fry become regular cast members.  In fact, Fry plays Lord Melchett, advisor to Queen Elizabeth–played as wonderfully insane by Miranda Richardson.

Rowan Atkinson is, of course, Edmund Blackadder, no matter what the era or season.  Blackadder always has his faithful idiot companion, Baldrick, played by Tony Robinson, no matter his own station in life.

The third season may be one of my favorites, if only because of Hugh Laurie as the incredibly stupid Prince Regent George.  I recommend that anyone who likes the show “House, MD” should watch “Blackadder III” so they can see Laurie’s talent as an actor.  Those used to his arrogant swagger as House may be surprised at his ability to play someone who is too stupid and pampered to dress himself properly.

For those who have ever seen any of Atkinson’s “Mr. Bean” movies or shows, they may be surprised by “Blackadder.”  “Mr. Bean” is mostly slapstick comedy, full of pratfalls, facial contortions, and stupidity.  Edmund Blackadder, on the other hand, is clever, sarcastic, witty, and ambitious.  It is Blackadder’s ambition, both to gain power and money, that often gets him in trouble.

“Blackadder” is full of British humor, which means there are many references to boys’ schools, as well as the typical bathroom humor.  However, there is a certain wittiness in the presentation and in the subject matter that makes it appealing.  And since each season takes place in a different era, one can learn a little bit about history, or at least how the English might view parts of history.

I’ve jolly well had loads of fun watching it!

I read a number of P.G. Wodehouse’s stories when I was younger.  Instead of being "the butler did it" stories, they are "the valet saved the day" stories.  The stories are about Bertie Wooster, a rich young man, and Jeeves, his valet.  Wooster spends most of his time in his men’s club or other such brainless pursuits.  Jeeves spends much of his time fixing the messes that Wooster makes.

In the early ’90s, there was even a British TV show called "Jeeves & Wooster."  It starred Hugh Laurie as Wooster and Stephen Fry as Jeeves.  Brilliant casting, I must say.

Laurie is able to play the dumb, happy Wooster so well that viewers might think he really is stupid.  Fry, on the other hand, it spot-on as the imperturbable and intelligent Jeeves.  He can inject layers of meaning into his very proper responses to his master.

"Jeeves & Wooster" is a pleasant, amusing show, and gives viewers an interesting view of England between the wars.

I recently discovered a good English TV show on Hulu.  It’s called “Kingdom,” and I would recommend checking it out.  It stars Stephen Fry as Peter Kingdom, a small-town solicitor (lawyer), who has to deal with mundane legal problems and sticky family problems.

It’s quite a lovely show, without much violence, vulgarity, etc. that seems to be the norm for TV shows.  However, the sad part is that after the third season–which ends on a dramatic cliff-hanger, I might add–the show was canceled.  Why do they do this?  It’s not fair!  Shows like “Nip/Tuck” and “Sex in the City” drag on (shouldn’t have even been made, in my opinion), and a show like “Kingdom” gets shut down?  It’s almost enough to make one boycott TV.

Except then I wouldn’t be able to watch NCIS…